Past Wedding, Full Forward on Inspiration!

First a moment of shamless personal happiness:  our older son was married over the weekend in Baltimore.  It was a glorious event!  I enjoyed every detail of it starting with our private time with the almost newly weds when we arrived on Wednesday evening last week, right through to the after-wedding-Sunday-brunch.  It was a small wedding, but the honored guests came from as far as San Francisco and Denver and Florida, to as close as right down the street.  It was a congregation of close knit friends and relatives.  It couldn’t have been better!

rob and kandice wedding begins

 We invited our very oldest friends–two couples we’ve known since long before either Rob or Chris were born–Chris and Pat and LeaAnn and Garrett– and a dear friend, Craig, who has been more than an uncle to our boys….and my sister Sheryl and her family–Carl, Madison and Chloe.  It was perfect!

Elevator selfies are certainly the rage now!

IMG_1282 The wedding party was large for so small a wedding– 6 bride’s maids, 6 groom’s men,
1 groom’s dog, 3 flower girls, and 2 ringbearers.  The groom’s dog may have stolen the show.  After walking down the aisle with the groom, he then gave the groom a ‘high-5′ moments before the bridesmaids entered.

rob and Kandice wedding Bosun procession

 He lay down peacefully between the bride and groom when the vows began.

Rob and Kandice wedding vows with Bosun

When he began to make nesting movements with the bride’s beautiful wedding dress, he made no fuss at being moved in front of the groomsmen. Just look at all those Chuck Taylors!

Bosun and groomsmen

He got to spend a few moments at the reception before he was sent up to the bridal suite to to relax with a very attentive friend.

rob and kandice wedding rob and dad bosun

Here are more moments from the day… I loved every minutes of it!


Photo ops in the beautiful Hotel Monaco in Baltimore.


The best man and the mother of the groom–moi!

rob and kandice wedding Chris and me

I am shamelessly proud of these two young men–the groom and his best man brother!

rob and kandice wedding rob and chris

The finale of the ceremony!

Rob and Kandice wedding the kiss

That wonderful moment for any mother of the groom!


The very best moments of this weekend aren’t documented with photographs.  It was spending some wonderful time with both our sons, our new daugher in law, our friends, my sister and her family.  It was finding two very sweet handwritten notes from my son thanking us for so much, acknowledging what a wonderful relationship we’ve had over the years behind us and the years to come.  This note arrived with a gift just moments before I left our room to go down to the ceremony.  It just doesn’t get any better!


With a little help from my friends (there’s always a Beatle theme when our family is together) Bob and I hosted a brunch for the newly weds on Sunday morning at their new house in the suburbs of Baltimore.  If not for Pat and Jeremy, and of course Bob, the brunch would not have been nearly as buttoned down as it was!  I guess we were way too busy hosting to get any photos.

I am so indebted to our old friends and my sister’s family for making such a long trek to be part of this event.  Being with them put the frosting on the cake and the cherry on top!

Now back at home I am relishing the all the memories and enjoying looking through all the candid photos taken by friends.  We’ll have the photographer’s images shortly.

I have turned my attentions back to the tapestry presentation I’ll be giving in early September to the weavers’ guild in Rhode Island, to working on what I’ve lovingly called the “Archie Project” for the past ….. years.  I refuse to admit how long this project is taking!

Bob and I took inventory of his stash of dowels in the workshop to determine what he might need to buy in order to make a backstrap for loom for me.  It looks like we have everything needed!  I might be weaving by early next week.

This morning LeaAnn sent me links to a wonderful illustrator and writer who lives in Wales – Jackie Morris.  My imagination took off while reading her blog.  On Saturday, while we were celebrating a wedding, she wrote this:

The summer is always busy. It’s hard to find the silence required for clear thought. George MacKay Brown talked of writing poetry as ‘the interrogation of silence.’ I know not everyone needs it to work, to think, but I do.
…I become more fascinated by silence as I grow older. But finding silence is different to being silent. When you choose to stop speaking you unnerve people. They fill the silence, the space you leave. They interpret your silence in their own way. 

At the end of her post she invited people to comment on how they achieve the silence they need to think and work, or to respond that they do not need to find this silence.

I agree whole heartedly with her description about needing inner silence and attempting to find it. There is no one place where I find mine. Sometimes it is easy to retreat to a wonderful silent place, and sometimes, no matter where I go I cannot get to it. I’m certain it has more to do with the state of my mind than the features or faults of any physical place. It all comes down to me. I just have to learn to be still and let it come.

As a weaver I often find that being at one of my looms is the best place for me to be silent and reap the benefits of where silence can lead. It doesn’t always work, but it is almost foolproof. On a floor loom or at a spinning wheel there is a rhythm of mechanical music that takes me deep into my inner self where there is a vast landscape of something like silence.

In tapestry I almost silently lift each warp thread by hand to create an image, and in that case it is my own deep thinking about the image that draws me away from the world, from any other noise but that deep music inside me. These are the reasons I return to weaving again and again.

After all the busy-ness of this summer–the SSCA extravaganza, visiting friends, the biennial weaving conference, and the wedding–it’s time to find that silence and get some good work done.

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A New Direction…

It’s less than a week until my son’s wedding!  I have finished my projects, but I’m still deep in lists–  lists for everything we need to bring to the wedding– a list of  what I need for myself as well as what I’ve promsied to supply for the ceremony…..lists for meals before the wedding,  and a list for what I need to host the wedding brunch at my son’s new house the day after the wedding.

Meanwhile, I can’t help thinking about weaving projects.  I’ve gotten precious little weaving done on the small tapestry I started onboard late winter this year.  What I have done on it has been quite fun–lots of swirling water and the beginnings of the tentacles of a Portuguese Man of War. Very soon I will have my first attempt at pulling the warp around the loom so I can continue weaving up the warp.  I’m more than a little anxious about this, but once I’ve done it I hope it becomes something I can count on doing.  It will allow me to have smaller looms on board if I use this kind of warp.  Check out my new attempts at holding my cartoon in place–a small, very powerful magnet.  These little magnets will jump right out of your hands to fly together they are so strong.  And a very large paper clip.  Neither is a good solution, but I muddle on.


And I’ve been planning my next floor loom project.  It’s so hard to choose what to weave when I have so little time at home and so many ideas.  I think I will weave yardage in Plaited Huck (same structure as my recent linen tote bag).  This time I will make a warp of tussah silk in natural (sort of a pale oat color–not shown in the photo because the cone is the size of a small loom) with random stripes of several  silks from SanJo that are also cool natural colors, but matt–no sheen like the tussah.  One is smooth, another is boucle and the third has wonderful dark flecks in it.  The weft will be golden tussah, in the center of the photos.  It will become yardage for a top I hope to make…


But here’s my NEW DIRECTION–all caps because I am very excited about this!  At this time of year for the past 3 years– the threshold of late summer–I have become rather anxious and a bit cranky (might be an understatement) that my weaving time at home is rapidly diminshing.  This year I have even less to show for myself than previous years…  sigh…

Yesterday morning I was looking at some messages on Ravelry and then clicking on various links to other things.  Isn’t that the recipe for suddenly losing half a day?  Following various links on Ravelry, a site for knitters, I stumbled on Laverne Waddington’s website about backstrap weaving.  Here is the first photo that caught my attention.

Are these not WONDERFUL???  A little voice is saying to me:  Are these not exactly what you’ve been wanting to weave???  Book covers and handbags. The little voice again: That’s why you’ve woven and sewn two tote bags in the past year.  That’s why you took a class on making paper forms for handmade books… can do this….YOU can do this on a boat! 

Look how Laverne personalized these book covers with the initials of the lucky friends who will receive them!

There are lots of small bags on Laverne’s site too, and lots of simply beautiful pick up designs.  Go take a look!

Oh, be still my heart!  I think backstrap weaving might be a wonderful new direction for me.  It will fit on the boat.  It will satisfy my need to weave somewhat complex cloth.  It will allow me to continue my new interest in making book covers and handbags.  It is taking all my willpower not to make a loom right now…  I must stay focused on the wedding for 8 more days, then I can come home and get started!

Funny how things come to you when you need them.  I’ve known of Laverne for a number of years now.  She and I are in a number of the same online groups.  I see her stuff on these groups now and then and marvel at her beautiful weaving.  It just never occurred to me until now that this type of weaving may be the perfect solution to weaving onboard.

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It’s summer and I’m thinking about Linen…


There was a recent post on Facebook that linked to a May 16th  article in the New York Times about the two brothers from Pennsylvania who wrote The Big Book for Flax.  Most anyone who attended Maryland Sheep and Wool festival a few years ago saw them there, selling their beautiful coffee table book about linen when it was first published.

The article points out the hardships these two men have faced in trying to build a commune where members would work together to live off the land, including growing flax and spinning and weaving it to make their own clothing.  Their lifestyle is modeled off the colonial Moravian communities that settled in this part of Pennsylvania a couple of centuries ago.

I’ve never been certain how well flax grows in the US.  I know Sara von Tresckow has good success in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.  Her website boasts a flaxcam, although I did not see live video of flax growing!–truly like watching grass grow!  Instead there is an interesting photo essay of the whole seed to harvest process. Sara spins and weaves with her homegrown flax.  I loved her solution to the volatile weather that the midwest gets each summer.  She cordons off her fields with baling twine to help keep the plants vertical during a blow or a thunderstorm. Now that’s an attention to detail and a labor of love!

Last year I met a woman from New Hampshire who demonstrated flax preparation at the Bushnell Farm in Old Saybrook as part of an annual historic festival of ‘life on the farm’ in our area of the Connecticut River Valley. Gina Gerhard brought locally grown flax from New Hampshire along with all her tools for demonstrating  the whole process from harvest to stricks that are ready to spin.  I described the whole process last year in this blog post.

Still, I can’t help thinking that flax is easier to grow in northern Europe where the weather is more reliable, where the  light is gentler for softly bleaching the fibers to that perfect silver.

Linen is such beautiful fabric that I have always wanted to spin it.  I have made a few attempts in the past and have enjoyed it.  I have a few spools of wetspun linen waiting to be plied and then utilized in some way.  I have a lovely image of myself in a simple handwoven jacket–where I also am a perfect size 6.  It’s always fun to dream….

Last week at NEWS I saw some beautiful linen stricks at the VavStuga booth and couldn’t resist buying one. It has that beautiful color that I associate with flax from Belgium or Netherlands.   Now I wish I’d bought two–or three!  I can’t do much with 4 oz!


 Then today I stumbled on a link to a beautifully done vimeo video on current European flax processing.  After seeing so many demonstrations and videos of traditional techniques for retting, breaking, scutching and combing flax it was very interesting to see the same processes done by machine.  It still appears to be a low impact way of using a natural product–far less environmentally challenging than most cotton.  Check it out.


And there is a sequel that includes some high tech applications for using linen in the automotive industry, for sports items such as bicycles and surf boards,  and even for fishing rods!  There is exciting information in this video about quite innovative uses for linen and flax fibers,  and yet the mechanics of processing flax are fairly basic compared to other high tech fibers. Fascinating!


There is about 25 minutes of video here, and all my words.  I think I’d better stop for now!

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Whirlwind Tour of NEWS in a Summer that is Zipping Past

This year I decided against registering for NEWS, New England Weavers’ Seminar.  Instead, I thought I would make a day visit and include some good friends from my old stomping ground in New York and New Jersey.  I would give them a little taste of NEWS just before their own regional conference, MAFA (Mid-Atantic Fiber Association) began.

Here we are at the end of the day….a bit worse for wear, but so happy to be together and to have been so inspired by all the exhibits at the conference.

NEWS friends

We had a terrific time at NEWS, although I did feel a twinge of regret when I saw that Margo Selby was offering a class in double weave.  Take a look at the work she exhibited in the faculty show.  Who wouldn’t want to study with her??


Maybe I should start with the faculty show… This is Barbara Herbster’s work.


This is a repweave table runner by Lucienne Coifman from my own guild in Connecticut.  She is a superlative teacher, and someday I hope to study rep with her.


The Gallery Exhibit is always exciting, and I was particularly excited this year!  I won 5 awards for my tapestry “Sunset on Wilson Cove.”  It is most likely the last time I’ll exhibit this piece so I was pleased that it had quite a swan song.  The three awards that blew me away are “1st Place Tapestry and Transparency,”  ”Judges’ Choice,” and “Peoples’ Choice.”  I am thrilled!  The other two are “First Time Entrant at NEWS” and “Best in Tapestry from the Textile Arts Center.” Can you tell how happy and surprised I am!


We all loved the upholstered footstool right below my tapestry, woven by Susan Wright. What great use of color.  It’s a beauty.


This stunning runner caught all our eyes.  Ruth Buchman manged to create a threading that is mirrored but gives such sense of assymetry.  Then her color choices were superb–greys and blacks with just the right touch of yellow that also gave a strong impression of assymetry.  So the piece has a calm balance in color and weave struture while also giving the impression that it is not symetrical.  Brilliantly done!


This is another of Ruth’s pieces in the gallery exhibit.  Stunning doubleweave.


This is Sarah Fortin’s double weave fabric.  I have no idea how she gets some areas to pleat and rise off the flat surface of the background fabric.  Beautiful colors and beautiful weaving.



IMG_1103IMG_1103This piece by Suzi Ballenger is stunning!  It has silk cocoons attached to it and the weaving was done with her open top beater tool that allows you to move warps, which creates the warp undulations in the fabric.


This fun–and beautiful– bag, called “Take Me Shopping” is by Karin Borden.


There was also a special exhibit of Mary Merrill’s tapestries woven over the decades from the 1950s when she began weaving until her death in the 1999.  Her family generously shares her work at gatherings like NEWS.  Look how fresh and lush her colors and her shape making are in these two works.  This was when I wished I could be at the conference for the entire weekend, so I could come back and visit more than once!



I’ve only been to NEWS twice now, and both times I have to say that my favorite displays are the guild tables.  Unjuried though they may be, the work is excellent, and both times I’ve been so inspired that I simply cannot take it all in.

Each guild chooses a theme for their display.  This year one guild did textiles inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, another displayed projects woven by one of their members who has passed away, and another guild woven projects based on personal memories.  There was a guild whose inspiration was gardening.  I have a photo of a curtain called “Spinach and Blackberry Salad” from that display. Our guild did a display of handbags based on the project that Area 4 did last year of weaving lunch bags and matching napkins to coordinate with a mug that belonged to someone else in the group.  It was a grab bag choosing of mugs, and then you designed and wove the lunch bag and napkin to give the member who owned the mug  you selected.  It was such a wonderful way to weave for someone else, and it honed our design skills along with our weaving skills.  My lunch bag was not part of the display since I gave it away last summer, but I have been so intrigued with making bags lately that I submitted my newly finished large tote bag for this display.  My photo makes the bags look like a bit of a jumble, and the lighting was harsh.  It was actually far more striking than it looks here.

Connecticut Guild’s display of Area 4 lunch totes and handbags.



The Frank Lloyd Wright display.



I think the next image may have been from a picnic themed project, although if so, I missed reading the details of what this group’s theme was.  Lovely weaving!– a basket tote and a handwoven band for your stawhat.


“Spinach Salad with Blackberries” from the gardening inspired display.


Stunning tableware woven by Jo Ann Miner.


None of us supported the vendors as we should have.  I hope they fared better with other visitors.  I was looking for some fine silk to add to my upcoming project for plaited huck blouse fabric, but  no one had what I needed.  I have some fine tussah silk from my stash as well as some silk I got last summer at Convergence from a vendor called “SanJo.”  I want to get the warp on sometime in August so I can get the fabric woven in time for a workshop in October with Sarah Fortin on sewing with handwoven fabric.

Why am not tackling that warp sooner?– BECAUSE we have our son’s wedding in less than three weeks!  I am feeling rather confident about my two wedding projects–the ring pillow is done!



And here is my wedding outfit.  The blouse is a vogue pattern for a boatneck tunic sewn by a wonderful seamstress in Amston, CT.  I then embellished it with silk ribbon embroidery to coordinate with the brown silk pants.


Want to see a closeup?  I’ll take that as a ‘yes.’


And to top off the outfit I am having some ballet slippers embroidered by a woman in Altanta who has an Etsy shop called AJuneBride.  My shoes will look something like this.

Well, I let this get absurdly long so I’ll stop for now even though I had lots more to say…  next post.

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Memories of Lace Weekend….

It seems like a year ago that I spent a wonderful weekend at the New England Lace Retreat in Wareham, MA–but it was mid-May–just 6 weeks ago.

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My photo makes this house look rather imposing!  It was actually very inviting, full of lovely antique and vintage furniture.  Those two large windows on main floor of the front are two generous ‘parlours’ where our classes were held.  To the rear was a large dining room where we had our meals.  For three meals each day someone would ring a bell to invite us to gather in the dining room.  My bedroom was on the 3rd floor, the window all the way to the left in the photo.  Since my room was in the corner it also had a side window with a lovely view of the pond.  This house sits right on the the bay side of Cape Cod.  It is quite a spot!

There was a wonderful glass enclosed porch at the right side of the house (not visible in my photograph) where we could congregate to work on our projects.  Some people chose not to take a class and spent their time on the porch working on projects they brought with them from home.

 During the weekend I learned a bit about Idrija lace from Allie Marguccio, who also gave a stunning presentation on her apprenticeship in Slovenia. In this photo our revered teacher, Allie, is the top most person on the right.  Can you find me in the topmost left??  My good friend and amazing lace mentor, Mary, has been obscured behind two heads on that top row with me.  Mary!  She has the patience of Job with me,  and she is a very accomplished lace maker.  I’m sorry you cannot see her.  A number of the women in this photo are in my Ct. lace group, and they have all been very supportive of my lack of knowledge!  What a great group of women, and what a great weekend we spent together!

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Here are a few photos of Allie’s work in Idrija lace.  Be prepared to be stunned!

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I’ve never seen a lace covered box before.  And how about this lovely heart surrounding a flower and the necklace in progress on Allie’s pillow?

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You really need to see a close up of the heart project! This project is a good example of both the wide tapes and narrow tapes used in Idrija lace.  The wide tapes are made with whole stitch and the narrow tapes are linen stitch.

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What intrigues me most is using this lace to adorn clothing.

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With that in mind, I am making a small project that can be used to edge a neckline.  I don’t think I’ll ever use this project on a garment, but it has been a good learning exercise.


That is my new bolster pillow for making Idrija lace, and my new bobbins which are bigger than the bobbins used for the types of lace from northern Europe.  I am enjoying working on a bolster.  And here is a close up, showing why this project will never be used on clothing.  It’s not ready for prime time….but I have learned a LOT!


As you can see, Idrija lace is a tape lace, using linen stitch for the narrow tape.  The tapes get connected with ‘winkies’– a new term for me–which are loops that get ‘sewn’ together. “Sewing” is the term used when you take one bobbin’s thread and put it through the loop of its partner bobbin.  You can see ‘winkies’ where the tapes are coming close together. Not something I can show here, but if you are a lace maker you will know what I mean!

Allie’s husband Tom makes the bolster pillows which are stuffed with sawdust and are quite heavy, and he turns the pretty bobbins.  Allie makes the cotton covers.  You can find them both here.

Allie share with us a good website for ordering traditional Idrija patterns from Slovenia. So many patterns to look at, you will need a couple of hours to peruse them all.  I have ordered a number of patterns for embellishing clothing, and I hope I’ll be ready to tackle one of them when they arrive!

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6-Block, 8-Shaft Plaited Huck Tote Bag


The draft for this pattern is from a workshop Laurie Autio gave our guild in fall of 2014, called “Designing for Block Weaves Using Twills as Profiles.”  In the post I wrote I about this I called it a ‘blended draft’ which Laurie says it is NOT!  So I’m not certain what to call the procedure of taking a twill circle (1-2, 2-3, 3-4, 4-5…etc) and using that sequence as a profile draft for plugging in a different weave structure, such as huck.

Here is the plaited twill draft that was used for the profile:

plaited twill draft Here is the draft.  The huck draft of little sections of 5-thread repeats that create either a weft float or warp float are threaded according to the twill pattern above.  There has to be a better way to say this, and when I find it I will rewrite!

Laurie Autio 8S 6B huck on braided twill (1)

I  wanted a subtle woven huck fabric so for the warp I used three very close colors of 2-ply wet spun linen whose weight is a bit heavier that 16/2 linen.  I’m sorry I cannot say exactly what it is.  I have a large stash of unlabeled linen cones of linen and silk cones from a dear weaving mentor, and none of them are labeled!

Laurie recommended that I give the McMorran yarn balance information about the yarns I used.  I have never felt confident in trusting this little device.  When I perform the procedure on the same yarn multiple times I never get the same number!  My three warp yarns gave me a range of yardages from 1325 yards per pound (ypp) to 1750 ypp.  They are slightly different  grists, so it is conceivable that their yardages would be somewhat different, but a difference of over 400 ypp is a bit untrustworthy to me.   And here is another reason that it is hard for me to trust this little gadget!  My cones of linen are thicker than 16/2 Bockens linen, yet they also look like they have less twist.  That might make them lighter weight in spite of looking thicker.  Yardage for 16/2 linen is 2700 ypp, and my ‘thicker’ yarns ranged from 1325 – 1750 ypp.

I made the warp by holding the three yarns together, separated between my fingers.  I put the spools on a spool holder and ran the yarns up to a hook in the ceiling and then down to my finger tensioning technique.  I made a 1 x 1 cross since the yarns are a little hairy and I didn’t trust having adjacent yarns in the same cross.  My warp was sett at 12 epi, and sleyed 2-per-dent in a 6-dent reed.  The warp was 25″ wide and I used my Baby Wolf for this project. The pattern repeat for this draft is 30 threads.  At 12 epi with 10 repeats I needed 300 warp threads, which was 10 pattern repeats across the warp.

The weft is a single ply linen that is rougher than the warp.  It has lots of thick and thin areas, so I think the McMorran yarn balance will be even less accurate.  I measured three times and averaged my findings for a result of 1900 ypp.  I wove to square the pattern. After weaving the necessary yardage for the front and back of the bag, I wove plain weave to the end of the warp for the handles and the top of my lining.

I wanted the front and back of the bag to be roughly square before doing the box corner at the bottom.  I have a tote that I made from commercial fabric that I cut 24″ square to begin and I love the proportions of that bag.  I knew I would not get a finished fabric 24″ wide on the Baby Wolf, so I thought I would just use whatever width I did end up with for making my size determination.  After washing the width of the bag was about 20″.  I put in cutting lines (two plain weave picks in a contrasting yarn) after weaving 24″.  I thought the shrinkage would be greater lengthwise than in the width, but my cutting lines ended up longer than my fabric was wide.  If I had not woven in these cutting lines, I could have changed the proportions of my bag.  With the cutting lines I put in, the bag became somewhat taller than it is wide.

This photo was taken after I machine washed the fabric on a normal setting and set outside to dry.  You can see the cutting lines and where I switched to plain weave (at the top of the photo) for the handles and part of the lining.  I used a commercial linen fabric for the lining;  it is brown/tan/black plaid that you can see in the little loop for the button in the next photo.


You can use the directions I wrote for the smaller tote bag that I made last summer, changing the size of the pieces you cut to match your fabric, roughly 20″ wide by 22″ long.

For this particular bag I used the directions below.  After some thought (and because I did not have enough handwoven fabric!) I decided to omit the zipper that is detailed in the beginning of this video.  I am now happy that I decided to omit the zipper since the bag opens wider with only a button and loop closure.  The contstuction method for this bag has different order of sewing the pieces than my written instructions from the previous bag, and I just loved having the handwoven fabric at the top of the lining.  I think that is more professional looking.



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Once again, it’s been a month since I’ve posted here, and usually when that happens I’ve been writing posts in my head for weeks and weeks before finally getting to a keyboard.  Not this time–I haven’t even thought about posting.  Old age? Beginning senility?  I’m dancing as fast as I can and the music is still accelerating!

The past month has been quite a confluence of all the facets of my life.  Don’t we all have competing interests and obligations that keep us juggling things to try and get just the right mix?  Too long without weaving and I become cranky; at the same time too much solitude in my studio and my hermitic tendencies start to drag me down.

The two big June events in my life were Bob’s 60th birthday, which he glided through like a swan.  He doesn’t look or act a day older, and he enjoyed getting together with some of his dearest friends to celebrate the landmark.  I still have more than 6 months to go, and I am feeling older and older each day.  Hmmm….

Last week Bob and another local sailor hosted a large sailing event for the Seven Seas Cruising Association.  George and Bob put on a three day conference with speakers and social time, a fancy dinner at a yacht club, and a dinghy raft up on the river.  It was a lot of work, but something both men really enjoy.  I sort of go along for the ride, although I did have a house full of overnight guests and made some breakfasts and one rather large dinner for 12!

Here we are with in our den with two couples who have helped us immensely in getting used to living aboard.  Both of these couples live aboard full time, unlike Bob and I who only live onboard during the winter months.  They are truly nomads.

And here is the young man who gives all the live aboards their daily weather information.  This is the man who kept us safe through hurricane Sandy two years ago, and has kept us safe through many other storms over the past 3 years!  He was our honored house guest for the weekend, and he even used Bob’s office to broadcast his daily weather information over SSB radio.  He had some way of connecting to his radio tower in Florida in order to do the broadcast. The amazing Chris Parker:

While both these events were fun, I have not had any time to work on tapestry or fabric weaving.  I have certainly had some important ‘thought time’ making plans for two projects that I will put on a couple of my floor looms.  Hopefully I can finish weaving at least one of these before we leave again at the holidays.  More on that in a bit….

After the guests left I turned my attention back to the linen fabric I took off the Baby Wolf about a month ago.   I spent some time over the weekend sewing a tote bag.  The linen is a medium weight fabric.  The warp was a mixture of several colors of a rather thick 2-ply wet spun linen.  In the photo below the 3 spools used in the warp are lined up together and the golden colored spool on top is what I used for the weft.


And here is close up of warp threads; you see they are a bit coarse and hairy even though they still have the sheen of wet spun linen.


This is the fabric off the loom in May, drying outside after machine washing.  You can see the cutting lines I wove in to help me in making the tote bag.  The fabric for the handles and top of the lining is at the top of the photo and is woven in plain weave.


And here is the finished bag.


The draft for this fabric is a blend of plaited twill with huck blocks.  It makes plaited huck!  How cool is that?  I got this draft from Laurie Autio when she gave a talk called “Designing for Block Weaves Using Twills as Profiles” at our guild last fall.  This particular design is a 6-Block, 8-shaft structure using huck threading on a base of plaited twill.


My warp was threaded at 12 epi and woven to square.  The fabric is close to burlap weight, but not nearly as open as burlap.  I am very happy with it.  If you weave this structure with a lot of color contrast between the warp and the weft you’ll get a good contrast between the plaited elements, those that go over and those that go under.  I am more a fan of subltety, but the downside is that you probably cannot see the plaited effect in my photos.  I also blurred the woven effect by using multiple colors in the warp.  This is just my preference.  It would be quite dramatic woven in two very contrasting colors.

I plan to write up the procedures for weaving this project very soon.  Stay tuned!

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Wonderful to be HOME!

It is glorious in southern New England and I am thoroughly enjoying all the perks of living in a house!  Laundry!  Cooking!  Puttering in the dirt!  In spite of the harsh winter all my perennials are showing signs of life–except one peony, but I’m pretty sure it had died before last fall’s first frost–and I have scattered some seeds which causes me to excitedly search for signs of germination each morning and evening when I walk around the gardens to take stock of new life emerging.  As of this morning I have poppy seedings! Rejoice with me!  I plant poppy seeds every year–and never get any.  Dare I hope??  Rain is expected tomorrow and I sure hope it will be gentle on my tiny seedlings.


There are a couple of wonderful volunteers in the lawn this year.  Some pansies from my window boxes self seeded along the front walk.


There are violets everywhere in the lawn… makes me want to dissuade Bob from mowing. He’s not here now to mow down these sweet gems.


And this is a new volunteer this year, and something completely unknown to me.  I have just googled yellow wildflowers in spring and found that this is Leopard’s Bane (Deronicum).  It blooms at the same time as daffodils.  I hope to transplant this into one of the gardens before Bob arrives home with mowing on him mind…

My first bouquet from the garden….daffs, hellebore and forget me nots on a handwoven runner on my desk where I write these posts at my computer.


And now, along with getting as much weaving done as I possibly can, I am turning my attentions to my older son’s upcoming wedding.  It’s time to look for a wedding outfit.  I am in the unfortunate, but not so unusual, predicament of having two, yes TWO, mothers of the bride, so my fashion choice must accomodate theirs!  Anyway, I have decided to attempt making my own outfit.  This decision is entirely based on catching up on two seasons of Downton Abbey since I returned home one week ago.  My son calls that ‘binge’ watching–and he’s right!

I am thinking of making a boat neck tunic out of pale to medium blue silk charmeuse and embellinging the neckline with ribbon embroidery….. very like this tunic that Lady Crawley wore in a couple of episodes. (I have a collection of photos of Downton Abbey costumes–taken while pausing the show to snap the pix! I wonder how many others do this too!)


I am imagining trailing vines in greens and browns with some roses and other flowers thrown in (color choices will be based on the overall effect going with my favorite brown silk pants with the pretty Chinese knots that run down the outer leg). I will stop by Banksville Fabrics on my trip to New Jersey later this week.  If I can get a lovely blue silk there I will then make a trip to Thistle Needleworks in Glastonbury to get the silk ribbons for the embroidery.

I am also dabbling in some Romanian Point Lace that intrigued me at Saturday’s monthly lace gathering.  My friend Mary is trying it and she shared the information that she has found recently.  There is a lot on Pinterest, and there are two older issues of Piecework that describe this technique  (March/April 1998, and one from 2001).



I must have garments on the brain (too much Downton Abbey for sure!)….I think a border of this lace would be stunning on a tunic.  This time I envision a handwoven silk fabric with Romanian Point Lace at the neckline.  It would also look wonderful on the collar of a melton wool coat.


So, with puttering in the gardens and doing just the smallest bit of spring cleaning in the house, I have not yet managed to touch any of my looms.  As I finish this I plan to bring up my portable easel and get back to my small Portuguese Man of War tapestry that I started on the boat.

Today is a glorious day for weaving outside!



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The Journey Home

It has been a bittersweet journey home–the drudgery of packing up years of stuff from one boat, then riding around in an overstuffed van for 10 days before unpacking it all onto another boat.  In the middle of the 10 days between one boat and the other we were driving south–inland to Columbia, South Carolina–to attend the wedding of a very dear friend.


It was one of the sweetest/saddest things I’ve ever participated in.  My younger son, now 29, became friends with groom in kindergarten, when they were both five.  They went all the way through high school together, and I have lots of photos of them–mostly predating digital images.   I have vivid memories of playdates from those early school years when the two of them had a massive collection of mutant ninja turtles.  Either one of them would arrive at the other’s house with a black garbage bag full of action figures.  I remember the yearly man hunt game on New Year’s Eve which always ended with sparklers at midnight, preceded by wonderful dinners together for the parents.  I remember hearing all that wonky music from the various Nintendo games–Mario ad infinitum, Donkey Kong, Dungeons and Dragons.  These games led to more complicated computer games and more geeky science and computer interests as the boys grew.  When they were young many people thought they were brothers.  They each had a brother, but it seemed they looked more like each other than their real brothers.

Now both boys have grown into handsome men–refined, even elegant.  Seeing them together as adults makes me wonder where the boys have gone.  Chris’ friend is tall and lean, and very handsome.  He is articulate and moves with grace.  He was recently ordained a Lutheran minister so he is comfortable in crowds and is surely a good public speaker.  He looked perfectly comfortable with his stunning bride who made us all think of Kate Middleton.

In this photo Chris (on the left) is standing with his two oldest friends– the groom is in the middle. I took almost the same photo 11 years ago when these three graduated from high school.  They were so awkward and youthful then–so comfortable and confident now.


The saddest thing about the wedding day was that the groom’s mother and father could not be there. The father was in the hospital at the end of a long 18 months of trying to stop the cancer that had been spreading for over a year.  He lost that battle only 3 days after his son got married.  It was heartbreaking to be there without the presence the parents who have been such good friends to us for 25 years.  It will probably be one of the happiest/saddest events of my life.  I would not have missed it.  In fact, Bob and Chris and I jumped through more than a few hurdles to get there.  It breaks my heart that the hurdles for getting to this wedding were bigger than humanly possible for the parents of the groom. (yes, I am wearing the sweater I had hoped to finish in time for this occasion.)


After the wedding we had a couple of days with Chris as we continued south, back to Florida, with a destination at our new boat.  Chris flew back to San Francisco; Bob and I began unloading that van into the new (improved!) Pandora.  Bob and I had barely gotten all the boxes onboard when it was time for me to fly home.

Now I’m back in Connecticut, in the blinding yellow of daffodils and forsythia and the deep blue of the Connecticut River that glints like a sapphire in the silver setting of last year’s marsh grasses glowing in the late afternoon light.

Today I bought pansies for the window boxes on the front of our house.  I’m waiting for the trees to leaf out.  I’m going to start weaving the projects that I left on my looms in December.  Right now there is a pot of carrot tops simmering on the stove and a hank of silk waiting to be dyed.

Life goes round and round–until it doesn’t.


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The Sublime to the Ridiculous!

Let’s start with ridiculous.  This is day 1 of unpacking Pandora–utter chaos, and NO fun!

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It’s hard to pack things when you don’t even have room to move….

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I thought packing up a boat would be a piece of cake compared to the three houses we have packed up in the past few years…..but in some ways this is harder!

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Bob put boxes in the rented van while I tried to straighten up the main salon so we could have dinner without too much clutter.  The van is now 2/3 full, with the back seats folded down, and we still have a long way to go!

At the end of the day we decided to go for a walk.  First we passed this other example of living small.  I bet it wouldn’t take any time at all to pack up your belongings from this little abode–but I wonder how many people think that about our boat!  I guess there is always something smaller!

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And always something larger….

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Of course, if I lived here–Tryon Palace– I certainly wouldn’t be doing my own packing, would I?

Tryon Palace was the Governor’s Palace of provincial North Carolina in the 18th c. before the American Revolution.  After independence it burned to the ground just before the end of the century.  This reproduction was built in the 1950s and is now a museum.  I thought I was done taking photos of gardens, but I guess I just never will be!

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Walking through the gardens at Tryon Palace is rather difficult on a Sunday afternoon at the height of spring.  I can’t speak for other times–but it would not surprise me if this place is popular all year ’round.  There were two brides, each with her own camera crew, and a newly engaged couple with a crew of camera toting family.  Everywhere we moved we heard sighs and saw gestures–frustrated gestures, not rude!–that we were invading someone’s Kodak moment.  In trying to get out of the way of one bride we were always moving into the way of the other!–or the engaged couple!

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But I would not have missed a walk through these gardens for anything!  What surprised me most were the anemones and batchelor buttons.  You expect to see tulips and daffodils, but anemones are such a happy surprise!  This is not a great photo, but I love these iris which were in gardens all over town–mixed with batchelor buttons.

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Tryon Palace is in a residential part of town that has houses from all the architectural periods since this town was settled in the early 18th c.   Since each house has a formal garden I wonder if you have to prove your gardening skills before you can move here.

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The daffodils, tulips and wisteria are already past their prime…but en masse they still have a vivid impact!  I have been seeing tiny yellow rose like flowers on a climbing vine everywhere, even along the highway climbing up trees.  I just learned it is a climbing rose named Rosa Parks.

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I can just imagine these homeowners picking their colors to coordinate with the azaleas.

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Now it’s the morning of day 2.  I am going to have some coffee, or rather Bob’s amazing latte, and get back to packing. We hope to end each day around 4pm this week so we can take a walk through this pretty town!







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