Autumn Distractions

The views from various windows in the house have been thoroughly distracting!  Sometimes I just stand and look while the minutes tick past.  How weird is it to take photos of my windows?

The Living room, where I have my new spinning wheel and my lace pillows.

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I love the brilliant yellow, even through lace curtains.

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The kitchen sink

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My studio where my friend’s wonderful stained gla enhances the autumn show.

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Even from the upstairs hall bathroom, the colors stop me in my tracks when I come up the stairs or pass this view on my way heading downstairs.

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We are bathed in yellow light that has shifted from chartreuse to brilliant yellow/orange and now into deeper orange and russet.

Up the street is a red house with a bright red maple in the front lawn.  Last week the lawn was covered in bright red leaves.  Which was brighter?  The leaves on the tree or the leaves on the ground?

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Okay, one last photo before I move on….

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I’ve been thinking about weaving with braids.  I rather like the snake skin braid I made a few weeks back, so I’ve been considering how to use it in a tapestry design.  I thought a woven image of dry, cracked earth with some kumihimo snakes woven in flying shuttle technique would be interesting.  Bob thinks it sounds creepy.  Perhaps he’s right, but it may still appeal to me.

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Well, I  have a few other things to do before I get distracted with this!

 

 

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Autumn Energy

It’s the first Saturday in November, and on this dark morning the autumn colors are glowing!  New England may have long winters (and equally long summers), but you just can’t beat the wonderful change of seasons here.

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Tonight we’ll change our clocks back to standard time, and we’ll have some morning light for a few weeks before we head into the short days of winter.  Tuesday is election day, and Thanksgiving won’t be far behind.

At this time of year I have a surplus of energy and good intentions.  October was a great time for me to take a long weekend class at Red Stone Glen and then attend the 2nd annual kumihimo conference called the Gathering.  I returned home from both with some new skills and lots of ideas for using those skills.  What would the world be without teachers?

This is a shot of my class with Makiko Tada at the Gathering.  We were learning a braid structure that she designed, called “Baby Bamboo”–Takenoko Tedori.  The little chevron type figures in the braid suggest young bamboo shoots.

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Mikiko is on the far right, in the front.  I enjoy her teaching style, which is to give each student just enough info to set off on a journey to figure out some important tenets of braiding.  It’s frustrating for sure to learn this way, but you can’t beat the thrill of discovering something on your own when it finally clicks!

Based on the movements that create Takenoko Tedori, we were to figure out how to make two smaller braids that could separate and rejoin, like buttonholes; and how to manipulate the color sequence into other patterns using the same movements.

This is Makiko’s sample braid that we studied in class.  At the top of the photo is the section of the Takenoko Tedori that she taught us.  Right below is the buttonhole variation that we had to figure out on our own.  Below that are the variations that are based on changing the color positions of the tama and tweaking at the braid movements slightly.

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For me, the biggest learning curve in this class were the plain color sections that separate the pattern sections.  Those plain color areas are done by carrying one set of colors in the core while braiding only one color on the outside.  I just happened to take a class on core braiding the previous day, but we had used core stands to achieve this.  A core stand allows you to hang the unused tama above the working area where you actually braid.  It’s a marvellous solution for keeping the core color out of the way as your braid.  In Makiko’s class we did not have core stands, and she taught us how to braid by moving the UN-used tama along with the tama you want to braid.  It was a mind boggling to do.  The tama that carry the core move with the active tama, then have to get moved in the opposite direction to get out of the way of the tama that are actively braiding, and it was pretty hard to keep track of which direction I actually needed to go while doing this!  It is considerably easier to do at home, with no other classmates, no background noise, and maniacal concentration on the braid.  Whew!

Here is a small section of braid where I have manipulated the pattern by rearranging the color order of the tama.

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And here is a section of buttonholes.

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In the previous day’s class, taught by Rosalie Neilson, we learned to do core braiding with the aid of a core stand.  Here is the braid I made in that class.  I learned something brilliant in that class about how to save a braid to continue in future.  Take off the tama and replace with ‘easy-bobs,’ then put each element on a foam braiding disc in the order they were in on the marudai.  Later, you can put the whole thing back on the marudai.

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I learned some wonderful skills at this event, and spent time infused with good food and terrific camaraderie!

1-IMG_1731I also took one class that was just pure fun–making two bracelets in the Sami style of braided tin and beads on a reindeer leather base, with reindeer antler used for closures.  Our teacher was Katherine Buenger from Minnesota. Do you know the Sami?  They are the people who live above the arctic circle in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.  They are the foundation of our wonderful fairy tales of father Christmas and his reindeer-driven sleigh.

Here are my two bracelets.  Who knew that reindeer leather could be dyed?  I could not resist the bright green!

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So I’ve returned home full of ideas for incorporating braids into my tapestry work.  I realize now it will be some time before I feel ready to tackle my large PMoW (Portuguese Man of War) idea, so in the meantime I intend to play with the concept of braids in tapestry.  It will be good experience.  I’d better get a lot of work done in the coming weeks, when there is still light in the morning and the autumn scenes continue to amaze me.

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A Weekend at Red Stone Glen

It was a near-perfect weekend for a long drive to central Pennsylvania, where two friends and I took a class at Tom Knisely’s new weaving studio called Red Stone Glen.  It’s a bucolic setting, far from the rush of nearby Harrisburg–except on Saturday nights when there is some kind of race car track nearby that makes quite a racket until about 9pm.  In the stillness of the woods it is quite a surprising background sound!

This is the main house, where the weaving classes take place and where you can shop.

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Isn’t this just the spot to have lunch and admire the view across the valley to the distant hills.

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Julia, Clare and I were taking a class on the taka dai with Rodrick Owen and Terry Flynn, in the smaller farmhouse down the long driveway from the main house.  We had a large room for the three of us upstairs on the right side of the house.  The room goes from the front to back of the house.  We had a private bath in that room as well.  The mornings and nights were chilly, but I was determined to have coffee outside each morning–totally worth it!

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The back of the farmhouse has some lovely views as well.

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There was fog each morning.

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Oh yeah, and the class we took was great!  We were so busy working that I didn’t take enough time to get photos of that! This class took place in the farmhouse.

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Rodrick is watching Clare braid.

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One of the staffers took a photo of all of us together on Phyllis’ phone. Those are all of Rodrick’s braids on the table!

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Rodrick always travels with a treasure trove of the braids he has made over the years.

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When you’re not working in class you can shop on the lower level of the main house.  These are the samples from the book 18 towels on Four Warps.

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Here are three of the four braids I’ve made lately (one has gone awol, but I hope it’s still somewhere in my studio).  The braid on the left is one of the first braids to make since it is plain weave with a color and weave effect known as log cabin.  I made that on Clare’s taka dai during the summer.

The braid on the right is unfinished because I plan to put it back on the taka dai today to continue making it.  It is a twill such an interesting pattern.

The middle braid was quite a bit harder.  I was making some weaving mistakes and getting an interesting pattern….you know the adage “a mistake made over and over is a new pattern!”  Well, I wanted to make the example in Rodrick’s book, so in the 2nd half of this braid I have corrected my mistake.  The beginning of this braid is a technique called braiding from the point so that there is no fringe at this end.  Terry Flynn helped me with that, and she also helped me learn how to do a hemstitch finish at the other end.  This is a technique that Terry figured out how to add to the ends of braids.

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This is a close up of the correct part of this braid.

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You can see how it has two lattice work areas in different colors that weave through the background color.  All these braids were made with 60/2 silk on cones from WEBs.  I don’t have a lot of color choices in my stash, and I was not particularly happy with these colors.

Figuring out how to get a wide variety of colors without taking out a 2nd mortgage is a challenge in making kumihimo!  For the moment I will have to make do with what I have!

Take a look at the Red Stone Glen website and see if you don’t find plenty of temptations in their class choices.  I hope to go back in March!

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October Day at Six Paca Farm

Clever name, right?  Six Paca Farm.  Each new cria born on the farm gets named after a brew.  It was a soft October day, well ahead of the height of fall color, heavy with the coming rain.

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Joe introduced to us to some of the females and the quickly growing brood of cria.  Patriot is the youngest of the herd, born on Memorial Day.  He is a cutie!

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There are 37 alpaca on the farm at the moment.  They live in a bucolic setting in Bozrah, Connecticut.  Along with the farm, there is a nice shop full of alpaca things–from yarn to finished garments and hats/mittens/socks, and items from other local farms, such as cheese, milk, meat.  The owner Linda is a gracious host!  She set up tables and chairs under an awning for us to enjoy the lunches we brought, and she had coffee going, both at the farm and her mill that is just down the road.

The alpacas came out of the barn in small groups.  They weren’t entirely sure about visitors at first.

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They each had such unique features.

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Eventually they all came out and enjoyed some attention.

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It’s clear that Joe loves these animals, and they love him.

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He told us so much about raising alpacas–their life span, what they eat, how to keep them healthy on a farm, pregnancy and gestation (11 months!), weaning the babies, and breeding for soft fiber and color.

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Prior to visiting the farm, we met at the mill down the street.  Linda owns the mill and the farm, and she started the mill about 9 years ago, when she was tired of waiting for her fiber to be processed at outside mills.  Back then it might take as long as 9 months to get her alpaca yarns back from a mill.  Now that she takes outside orders at her own mill, she says it sometimes still takes about 9 months to get her own fiber processing done.

Linda (behind the desk) is giving us some background information before go into the mill.

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All her mill equipment is brand new.  She bought equipment from all over the world and learned to use it as quickly as she could.  The picker is from New Zealand.  The carder is from Italy.

This is a pretty fancy washing station.  There are seven separate bins, each with a heating element and a drain.

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Freshly washed fiber is about to go through the carder.

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She dyes fiber as well.

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Her carder produces a semi worsted roving.  These rovings are being sent through the pin carder.

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Then comes spinning….IMG_1620

…and plying

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We couldn’t resist fondling the end product, even though we were told that this particular yarn was not the best quality alpaca fibers.  It was still soft!

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Last week I dyed two onesies to give to our grand-twins, Emme and Rhett.  Barbara from my small weavers’ group gave them to me when we all met for our annual dye day.  I was not able to stay and dye, so I brought them home.  In my dye stash I have a color I love called ‘wasabi.’  It’s a ProChem MX dye.  I thought it was the perfect name–and color– for a couple of babies who are peas in the same pod.  This is Emme’s.

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and Rhett’s too.

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When we got back from our visit to the kids and grandkids, I decided to make a project I’d once made ages ago.  A few decades ago my embroidery guild in New Jersey asked each member to make a tote bag for small projects. It was so clever.  You start with a store-bought placemat and coordinating napkin.  It’s a quick project and feels a bit like a magic trick when it’s done.

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I’ll post more photos and the instructions for this when I return from my next jaunt.

I’m heading off again for another fun workshop.  I’ll be at Red Stone Glen for the weekend to take a class with Rodrick Owen on the taka dai.  Remember my practice pieces from the summer in preparation for this class?  If not, you can see them here and here.  I haven’t seen Rodrick in 20 years.  It’s going to be fun, and I only have about a year left to wait for me own taka dai.  Patience….

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Done!

Some things take a long time to finish.  This little piece was one.  I wove it mostly while onboard Pandora for the winter.  For a couple of years in a row we encountered Portuguese Men of War while we were sailing in warm waters.  This tapestry is from the second sighting.  We were in Lake Boca, on the eastern side of Florida, and a few of these had been pushed into the harbor by strong winds.  I think it was just after a long session of strong easterlies that blew them inshore.  Normally they float up the Gulf Stream (which was our first encounter with them, which is another story entirely).  The one I’ve chosen for this tapestry had been blown into the harbor, and Bob and I motored right near it when we headed ashore in our dinghy.  I spotted this creature floating closer and closer to the dock.  I don’t think it had much longer to live in the murky harbor water.  It was strange to see this, when I associate these creatures being in the clear, pure waters of the ocean.

It is mounted on green dupioni silk that matched the murky green harbor water.  I felt it needed a braid, but I cannot tell you why.  It took me several months to decide what kind of braid.  This is a 16-tama braid called Hira Kara, which Claudia Wollny demonstrated in a 3-color placement that she calls a snake braid.  Although it does resemble snake skin, there is something about the color placement and design that seemed to go well with my little Portuguese Man of War.   Sometimes there is no reason, there is just a strong sense of this is it.

It now hangs on the wall in my weaving studio.

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Lace, Large and Small

The “Lace, Not Lace” exhibition opened at Hunterdon Museum on Sunday afternoon.  There were crowds there….a line to get in the museum, a line to buy the catalog, a line to get into the room with the full size, bobbin lace carriage made of copper wire, and quite a traffic jam at the stairs.  All the lines were worth it.

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The Urchins were, of course, the largest scale pieces in this exhibit.  But there were other large pieces inside.  This piece by Pierre Fouche is a mixture of bobbin lace and macrame.  The shadows were fascinating, even though it’s now hard to tell the piece apart from its reflection on the wall.

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This might be the tiniest piece.  Three little vehicles–a catboat, a yellow cab, and an airplane, all done in needle lace– suspended by thread across a corner, casting larger than real shadows on the two walls.  Dorie Millerson has a lot of miniature needle lace items that often cast HUGE shadows.

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Here are a couple of other lace pieces done on a typically small scale.  First is a piece by Dagmar Beckel-Machyckova, a series of bobbin lace dwellings, called “Habitats of Hypocrisy.”

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Lenka Suchanek has two pieces in this show that are very different.  The other piece is an elaborate silver wire neckpiece embellished with garnet beads.  While it is extragavant and exquisite, this piece has such beautiful form, it was the one I had to capture.

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This piece is so elegant and mysteriously UNdecipherable.  In the catalog, Veronika Irvine gives her math equation that helped her design this piece.  It’s pretty daunting–like a moebius on steroids.  She marvels that 17th and 18th c. lace display “an astounding mathematical complexity, although made by an entirely illiterate workforce.” Her website give more information.

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And here is the piece shown on all the promotion materials for this exhibit:  Lieve Jerger ‘s “Carriage of Lost Love, 1977-2018.”  It was housed in its own room, where the shadows cast on the walls and ceiling by this bobbin lace construction of copper wire was lit from within.  A staff member of the museum stood at the entrance to limit the number of people entering at one time.  It allowed all of us to see this work and enjoy the shadows cast all around us.

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At the end of opening we were led outside to hear Choi and Shine talk about designing and creating the large Urchins.  Each one is crocheted from one long length of cord, and Jin Choi told us about her design challenges in creating these orbs.

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At the end of the talk, we were all invited to enjoy live music and dinner from two food trucks, while we waited for the lighting at dusk.

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The view from the museum across the spillway.

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Dusk at last!  Beautiful!

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And then it was fully dark, on a night that included a 2-days-short-of-full moon.

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The “Urchins” will only be on display for two weeks, so if you want to see them, better get on the road right now! The rest of the exhibition will continue through January 6, 2019.

Three good friends joined me for this adventure, and sharing something like this is definitely multiplied by enjoying it with like-minded compatriots!  We sat in a cafe along the river to wait for dusk to arrive and the lighting of the “Urchins.”  It was a memorable excursion that we’ll remember for decades to come.

In other life news, I got this card in the mail from a friend on the West Coast.  It just makes my day every time I see it!  I think I’ll frame it so it can be a ‘memo to self’ that it’s not always about the outcome as much as it is about the dream and the journey.

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Lastly, I need to show you my grandchildren!  First, two wonderful photos of Tori.  In this photo, she’s a magical princess in a fairytale land created by a local photographer who has documented the arrival of the twins.

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And to balance– here is ‘real life’ Tori, helping her Daddy with some yard work.  She loves to help outside, so he bought her some hearing protection.  He’s such a thoughtful daddy.

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This week the twins visited the pediatrician for their first vaccinations.  Emme needed some support from little Rhett so she grabbed his hand….or maybe she wanted his cute binky holder.  I’m going with the former.

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And a little frosting on the cake for last week! — Bob has put a beautiful finish on my new Jensen wheel.  It spins like a dream.

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And my good friend, Susan, has cut fabric off her loom that she wove for me!  She is now making me a tote bag and napkin that was a guild project a couple of years back.  I don’t care how long I have to wait!  The fabric is gorgeous, so I don’t mind waiting a bit longer for the tote bag and napkin.  Lucky, lucky me.

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Life is full of so many wonderful textiles, isn’t it?  Lace is only one wonderful piece of it.

 

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Flapping in the Breeze

Isn’t August the month when almost everyone goes on vacation? …when almost everyone takes some time off to relax and recharge?  I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed this month, like I’m hanging on to a frayed cord that is snapping in a gale.

But most of what is happening these days is good news.  If I weren’t so slow at accomplishing the things I am driven to do, I’d be thrilled at what’s coming down the pike.

Here is the postcard for the upcoming exhibition of fiber art at the Eclipse Mill Gallery in North Adams, Massachusetts.  I had no idea that my tapestry would be included on the card.  What a happy surprise!

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I joined this group when it was formed by Betty Vera this spring, but I have not yet met the other members.  This weekend I am going to one of the monthly meetings and am looking forward to getting to know the other artists.  I think Betty Vera and I are the only weavers in this group (not entirely certain about that), so I am interested in learning more of what the other artists do.

A few weeks back I was catching up on reading the various journals and magazines I miss when I am away for the winter.  In an issue of  “The Journal for Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers” (from the UK guild), I saw an advertisement for an iphone case made of Harris Tweed.  I became single minded about obtaining one of these.  A google search led me to Amazon.  Yeah, Amazon.  There are more, if you’re tempted too.  I just love it!

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My two small tapestries are now mounted.  It feels so good to finish things.  I wish it happened more often.  I think I’ll call this one “Primary Source.”   I hope some of you get my signature.

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And here is the other, “Blown Off Course.”

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I think it needs a braid, and with that in mind, I am sampling.  My first attempt is too thick, but I like the design.  I will try it again as soon as I finish this one.  Next time I’ll put fewer strands on each tama. And next time I’ll take a better photo! Now you know what a mess I work in when I’m on a role.

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My generous friend Clare is still letting me use her taka dai.  Really!  After this I think I’d better let her play with it again, since it’s her toy.  This time I am trying a 2/2 twill.  With these experiences under my belt I hope to work up to double weave braids in my class with Rodrick in the fall.

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And here is a close up so you can see the colors better.  I like it!

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So, why am I doing all of this?  I haven’t touched kumihimo in about 15 years.  Well….. I only recently learned that an American kumihimo society has been formed.  It piqued my interest to get back to this.  I’d like to use the flat braids from the taka dai as embellishments on clothing and handbags.  As of yet, no fabric with which to implement these ideas!  Isn’t that always the way? —  at least for me! —  to put the carriage before the horse.  It’s thrilling to be enthusiastic though!  Clare and Julia and I are investigating other silks for these braids…that is, other than the pre-cut fine silks you buy in packages.  We want to find the same fineness on cones so we can choose our warp lengths.  Hopefully we’ll have a source soon.

And I’ve been thinking of adding other braids to my tapestries.  In fact, for my ‘real’ Portuguese Man of War tapestry, that currently only exists in my dreams, I plant to use a number of braids, along with other handwork techniques for embellishment.  In my mind this piece is a tour do force.  No cartoon yet …..because I actually don’t know if I can capture something so wonderfully ephemeral down on real materials, like paper or warp and weft.

So August marches on like a house on fire.  I hope I can keep up….

 

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September around the Corner

Imagine my excitement when I saw a recent post on facebook that some large scale lace I admired from images on the internet is coming to the US! — Not only to the US, but within driving distance for me!

These were the images that piqued my interest in large scale lace installations in the environment.

This is a large crocheted piece based on a traditional Dutch head bonnet.  Delicate lace made on a huge scale to interact in the environment.  Hanging over a canal, in Amsterdam, it reflects on the water beneath, whether ruffled by wind or calm and still.  It casts shadows day and night on its surroundings.  When I saw this online I dearly wished I could see it in situ.  There is an excellent description of how this piece was made and assembled.

It has two sister pieces called the Urchins, and these will be part of the exhibition at the Hunterdon Museum in Clinton, NJ, that opens in late September.  These two urchins will hang over the Toshiko Takaezu Terrace at the museum, which overlooks the waterfall on the South Branch of the Raritan River.  It will be their first trip to the US.  They will only be on view during the first two weeks of this exhibition.  Inside the museum will be many other pieces of lace, including bobbin lace and needle lace, done on large scale.  I can’t wait to see them!

So, the big decision is….. do I go for the opening?  The pluses of that would be getting to hear two lectures on the lace exhibit — one by the curator Devon Thein, and another by the creators of the Urchins, Jin Choi and Thomas Shine.  Afterward, at dusk, the Urchins will be lit.  Those are big pluses.  The downside?  Well, I never fully enjoy the artwork at an opening.  It’s crowded, I can’t fully see the pieces on display, it’s noisy….it’s a party.  The likelihood of me getting to this exhibit twice is pretty slim.  I have to choose.  What would you do?

My friend Clare is letting me use her taka dai once again, so I have put on a warp for a 2/2 twill design out of Rodrick Owen’s book.  I dressed the taka on Thursday and will spend some time at her house tomorrow weaving.  I almost live there now….not sure what her partner thinks of always finding me in their sunroom.  Here’s a look at the first braid in progress.  I’ll take photos tomorrow of my twill attempt.

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With luck, my next  post will have photos of the finished mounting of the little Portuguese Man of War tapestry and maybe a new flat braid from the taka dai.  Oh yeah, and the last of those lace blankets I’ve knitted for my three tiny grandchildren.  Don’t you want to see them?  (the grandchildren, that is, not the blanket)

This is just pulls my heartstrings! Rhett is holding Emme’s hand in his sleep.  I wonder if he did this in utero as well.

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And here is big sister Tori with little Rhett.  I just love being their YaYa.  I hope I get to see them in September.  They are growing up so quickly!

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Dog Days are Here

It must have been moments after my last post that summer’s heat arrived with a vengeance. Ouch!  We’ve had a full week now of temperatures close to 90 and even a little higher.  I’ve been hiding inside my climate controlled house.  I miss fresh air, but it’s hard to breathe 90* air with an equal amount of humidity.  Boy, have we had some impressive thunderstorms.

Hiding out from the heat is a great way to get things done.  I finished my first attempt at weaving on a taka dai, thanks to my friend Clare allowing me to use hers while I wait to for mine to arrive.  It’s an 18 month wait, so I won’t be holding my breath.

This is the standard first braid that almost everyone makes.  I used 60/2 silk from WEBs.  There are 12 strands on each tama, and a total of 25 tama make this pattern.  It is just plain weave, and therefore it’s relaxing to weave.  I twined the fringe that comes to a point at the end of the braid.

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It’s been a good week for doing a little re-organizing.  Bob built some shelves for me in our den where we had a useless closet that had only one shelf and a horde of items we need on occasion.  I wish I had taken a before photo.  In a closet with 8 feet of height there was only one shelf at the halfway point.  Now it holds an array of things, neatly organized.

You must be thinking I’ve lost my mind to take a picture of a closet!  Well, that’s how excited I get when chaos is momentarily curbed by order.  Thank you, Bob!

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This little activity sent me down to my studio to re-organize some of my cabinets and drawers there.  I won’t bore you with more photos.  My studio is still quite a mess at the moment, but it’s comforting to know that my cabinets look a lot better and are more useful.  Once I knuckle down on some projects I’m preparing I can straighten up the studio–just in time for fall.

The Big E is coming in about a month.  For those of you outside New England, this is a nickname for the Eastern Exposition, a mammoth country fair that includes all of New England.  There are all the traditional country fair events on a large scale–livestock judging, baked items and canned items judging, dairy judging, butter sculpting competition, handwork competitions in various categories, and of course there is a midway.  Members from my bobbin lace guild always submit an arry of entries in order to educate the public on what bobbin lace is and to demonstrate that there are people who still make lace by hand.  I’ll be demonstrating there on Sept. 19th, which is Connecticut Day this year.  I thought that was a good day to be on hand.  If you’re in the area, please stop by and say hello!  I’ll be in the building that has displays of handwork.

I’ll be submitting the christening dress I made for Tori last year.  It has about 2 1/2 yards of lace on it, and I made the dress to boot.  I’m no seamstress so making the dress was a bigger hurdle than making the lace.  Also, I’m far from the best lace maker in CT, much less in New England, but I’m submitting the dress anyway.  It’s not about getting an award; it’s just about showing that it’s still possible to make enough lace for a garment.  Even a clumsy newbie can do it!

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I still haven’t mounted my little Portuguese Man of War tapestry, but I have got all the mounting materials gathered in one place now.  I just need to do it.  Perhaps today.

While escaping the heat I’ve been googling around.  Did you know that Jean Pierre Larochette and Yael Lurie have a daughter, Yadin, who weaves tapestry? She wrote a brief post about her family tradition of weaving related to the exhibition “Woven Gold: Tapestries of Louis XIV.”  You can scroll through photos of this exhibition on the Getty site.

I’ve watched this 10-minute video before, and may have posted it here in the past.  It’s worth a re-visit if you have a few minutes.  It makes my fingers itch to be weaving!

But first I need to mount that little Portuguese Man of War tapestry.  It’s certainly too hot to do anything but gaze out at the garden!

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And speaking of heat, someone came to clean our cedar roof this week.  It was a hot, hot job.  I’m glad he had an umbrella!

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July on the Fly

Are you old enough to remember this lyric?  “July, she will fly”…  That’s what this month has been doing.  It’s been a month jam-packed with the fullness of a summer on steroids.  (By the way, that phrase is from “April, Come She Will“).  And ha!  It’s now August 3rd.

First, there are the gardens and the farmers’ market.  I’ve waited almost a year for cukes to be ready for making pickles again.  This year I’m starting pickle season with sweet pickles spiked with hot, dried piquin peppers from France.  It’s my version of hot pepper jelly in a pickle.

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The gardens are flourishing in the mild summer.  We seem to have stolen all the best qualities of summer from England and left them parched and dry as our Arizona desert.

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I’m picking bouquets of daisies and globe thistle now, instead of roses.  And tiny bouquets of Legion of Honor poppies.

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Yet no summer is complete without its downside.  Last year it was voles.  This year the deer are getting a bit too comfortable coming right up to the house, eating my window boxes!

Two are unharmed and looking great!

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While the other two have been a great treat for deer.  Grrr….

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A few weeks back, I celebrated finishing two tapestries that have been languishing in my stash for a couple of years–one actually longer than that.  Well now they are ‘finished.’  If you’re a weaver you know the adage, “it ain’t finished ’til it’s (wet) finished.”  In tapestry, there is no wet finishing, but there is a tedious process that needs to happen before the piece is truly finished.  Here are a few photos of my process.

First you have to tack all those lose warp threads to the back.  This is my least favorite task.

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Then the piece can be mounted.  I plan to write up a little tutorial on this shortly.  Full credit to Susan Martin Maffei who taught this to the Wednesday Group.

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Saving the best for last!  The height of July brought the birth of our twin grandchildren on Tuesday last week. A tiny girl named Emmeline, and a tinier boy named Rhett, have joined the family.  They are preemies, and there were some hurdles, but all is going quite well for both of them. Here are a couple of close ups and then a family shot with their big sister, who is only 18 months.  Three under two.  Whoa. Our son now writes his last name O5born.

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Rhett and Emme
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And here they are with the big sister, who now looks SO big to me!IMG_1297

And so goes the summer.  I have splurged on some new equipment in my studio! I have a new loom.  It’s a Baby Wolf with what must be all the bells and whistles.  It has a second back beam with sectional warping capability.  It has a compu-dobby.  It can be returned to its traditional weaving function with treadles.  It can do anything!  I have a deflected double weave warp waiting to go on, but at this point I can’t envision when that will happen. And my 8S Baby Wolf has gone to live with a member of my current guild.  I hope she will enjoy using for years.

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I have a Jensen 30″ Norwegian style wheel on order. I might have it by early fall.  In anticipation of getting that gem, I have been spinning through some stash and dreaming about weaving with these random bits I’ve collected over the years.  Surely there is a project waiting to be born amongst some of these yarns.

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And there are evenings in the garden.  Summer is often too long, but not when the weather  has been this mild.  Keep it coming!

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