Sunday, May 10, 2020

Limited Reopening -Guild House

Johnson County is now allowed to open some businesses, gyms, and dental offices.  The Guild Board has decided it is appropriate to modify our policies regarding building use to be consistent with the local guidelines.  
Use of the Craft Guild building will be allowed for craft activities with the following provisions:
Only one person may work in a room at a time.  Masks must be worn at all times.  
If more than one member is working in the building (in separate rooms) they must use social distancing when passing in the common areas.
All guild rules must be strictly followed, including cleaning of all work areas, sanitizing of all common areas accessed, and no work produced for personal sale.  
The Board hopes all members are doing well and staying safe.  We will continue to modify our recommendations as the situation changes.  Thanks for your cooperation.  
Deb Zeitler, President

Adventures During a Pandemic

Good afternoon, I hope you're finding fun things to keep your mind, hands and heart busy. I'm sure y'all are a little tired of the word "Unprecedented" and hoping things change sooner rather than later. We do live in the midwest, where although not unscathed, life has mostly been challenging. Some are struggling with the illness itself, some are struggling with the financial burdens, and some are strugging with the isolation and stress. We will get through this and everyone is in this together. There maybe a light at the end of this tunnel; it will just take time.

We are fortunate in that most of our activities can be accomplished while homebound. Of course, I put new warps on three of my looms, and finished one. I have a quilt that needs binding, and I did get the binding cut and that sweather I started in February, well, it is six inches longer... PROGRESS.

All pretty and ready to weave.
I'm getting decided to weave off that warp that's been on my Macomber since who knows when. However, Mac had other plans for me...Mac thought I needed to learn how to take my Macomber B1, a 50 year old loom apart. You see, it jammed, nothing moved. Nada! I didn't have any manual, I'd bought it used and mechanics, well, not my long suit. I am in trouble. Should I sacrifice the warp?  What was it to start with? Oh, yeah, it was a runner woven by the children at various exhibits/events  that I've done over the LAST 4-5 years. At each event, each child added a piece, an inch or two. Sacrifice,  it is, and the runner will now become either place mats or lots of mug rugs.

How do you service something you know nothing about?  Today we first check the internet, blogspot, YouTube, our friends and lastly, the manufacturer.  I did discover that the first thing you do before you touch anything is take pictures, so that when you take it apart, you'll know how it goes back together. Did I do that, no, of course not.

Long story short...I discovered the lubricant on the lam mechanism had jelled into something resembling dried rubber cement. After many hours of picking it off and out on the "wheely" parts, and cleaning, I now have a prestine loom. I cleaned, shined, lubricated, beewaxed, and lemon oiled the appropriate parts.

And there is a manual online at the manufacturer's archives that I have now downloaded and READ. Amazing how helpful that was.

Ah, the learning curve of life.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

CoVid19 Closes Guild House

Govenor Reynolds announced the newest closures of public and private organizational buildings and meeting places to limit our individual potential exposure to the Covid 19 virus. Obviously, that means us. It really is difficult to close our building, when the rest of the world seems threathening, it has been the one place we could wander in to weave, knit, spin, throw pots, fire clay, all while maintaining that ever present social distancing.  Yes, a pandemic is bigger than our respective needs and yes, most of us can practice our craft at home. But the "Guild House" has also been home for many many years for many people. All that being said, we know it is the right thing to do, to be part of the solution in whatever small way we can.
This began with: leftover stash: handspun, sweater, weaving& sock yarns, worsted & wool.

So I challenge you, each and every one of you, get your creative mojo going. Send me pictures of whatever you are doing, in any stage of progress. Let's keep each other in the loop. Remember the history of the craft guild. Wars, floods, campus calamities and politics haven't stopped us, we will not let a little social distancing.  Well, ok,  it is more than a little, but we have technology and a determination that when this is all over, we will still be here. Probably with a larger stash, but still here excited to play with our fibers, threads, or clays.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Willow Basketry and Caning of the Amana Colonies

 Joanna Schanz:  "Willow Basketry & Caning of the Amana Colonies"  
Willow Baskets written by Joanna Schanz 
A couple months ago, before our worlds changed, this incredible basket maker came to our guild house and shared her joy and skill in weaving baskets and caning using natural materials.  She shared the history of basket making in the Amana Colonies. When she first started weaving she said she hoarded her baskets but realized they were meant to be used and shared; another one could always be made. She makes baskets largely from willow, usually from one of her willow plots. Historically, each of the seven Amana villages had their own willow patches and basket makers. As time went on, only one remained and he taught Schanz how to plant, harvest and weave baskets with her own cultured willow. She has continued his legacy and has taught classes, workshops, presentations and helps organize the annual basket show held in Philip Dicket Basket Museum in West Amana. 
One of Joanna’s Willow Baskets

Joanna has spent many years researching and preserving the heritage of the Amana baskets. Her book Willow Basketry of the Amana Colonies continues to share that heritage with future generations.

Joanna has also written an instructive book for beginning basket weavers. Most basket weavers settle on one style that becomes their favorite. For Joanna, it’s the apple picker, which obviously is used when in the orchard.
Joanna's apple picker

The baskets shown have replaceable bases.

There are different types of bases for the baskets and many are constructed so they can be replaced, extending the life of the basket. 

In addition to weaving baskets, she canes chairs and bench seats for furniture produced by her husband and son at Schanz Furniture and Refinishing in South Amana. Joanna’s knowledge of the history of basketry and caning here in Iowa as well as her skill in making them was an incredible opportunity for all who were present. 
Joanna's samples of caning and intruction resources available 

Spring has begun to creep into my garden, and we’ll soon be talking about the time when Everything Changed...when we all stayed home and sheltered in place...

Yes, Everything has changed, at least for a while.

EXCEPT our joy in weaving, our common friendships and the simple gifts of spring remain. Life continues with that same smile, the feel of fiber in our hands and simple sharing of our craft seen here. We will get past this and oh, what stories we will tell.

Lois shares her stash bash scarf

Monday, March 23, 2020

Scandinavian Weaving Workshop

8-shaft krokbragd
As winter ramps up, so does the Craft Guild of Iowa City Weavers. Usually late February through mid-March, our weavers have a round robin weaving workshop focusing on a given theme. This year it was Scandinavian Weaving. Our study group had focused on Scandinavian Weave Structures over the past two years. What a great way to experience and share the opportunity with the guild at large. Our workshops are geared to all levels of weavers and is sort of a finale to our beginning weaving class. Most of the new weavers have a mentor to assist them during the workshop and there is always someone else present for advice.  The best part is we prep one loom and have 22 to weave; two solid weeks of drop in and weave, share and weave, and be darn the winters winds and snow, simply get out of the house and weave. 
Rya Pin Cushion 

Each participant is given a packet which contains their fiber, the pattern draft and instructions for the workshop. They warp a loom and produce two samples before the workshop begins. The first sample is cut off and used as an example and will be archived in the weavers' library.  The second remains on the loom along with the ones that each weaver completes. These samples are cut off and returned to the original weaver, thus giving each weaver a sample book after the workshop. 

Each weaver shares their experience, their hints and cautions for success and leaves this with the loom. Definitely makes a more pleasant experience when you have a resource person. Below are just some of the exciting samples woven this year.


Telemarksteppe is a Norwegian weaving technique which uses 6 harnesses and 5 treadles. It is a three-block structure woven on a tabby ground. Traditionally woven on a linen warp with wool pattern weft, Telemarksteppe includes weft loops on the selvages. One of the pleasures of this weave is the opportunity to design at the loom.

Norse kitchen - Overshot
Summer & Winter - Wonky Blocks

Vertical and Horizontal Monk's Belt

Tapestry example woven with 1/4 inch fabric strips

Tapestry can woven with fiber of any kind. This used an array of 1/4" stripes of quilting fabrics to design your image. I have seen a weaving by Daryl Lancaster using a photo printed on fabric, cut into stripes and woven to create a dynamic small expression tapestry.

Often, there are other resources noted as references in the instructions, i.e., tapestry or edging techniques can be found on YouTube, websites, and handwoven archives.

I do remember my first workshop after my beginner class, excitedly I put my pile weave on my loom. I was so proud that the sample turned out, only to find out I was weaving it backwards. Although I was a little embarrassed by my error, it bodes well to share that every one makes mistakes, and you learn from it. I can honestly say that I do know how to read from right to left today and that sample's still pretty.

 This workshop wrapped up just as our new reality hit home.  Our guild house has emptied of those looms and yet our online presence exists through this blog, our Facebook page and basically any technology we know how to use. Weaving focuses the mind, calms the soul and reminds us that we are not alone, but united in our common goal; our doors will be open again and we will recover soon. In the meantime, happy weaving.

Monday, March 16, 2020

All Programs Suspended until 5/1 in response to Covid19 pandemic

This is never the kind of entry I want to make, but this was not done lightly and it is following the recommendations addressing the spread of Covid 19. As creative people we are fortunate to have an outlet for our energies enabling us to refocus our minds and time. Spring is beginning to awaken my woods and we look forward to a time when we can share our crafts as well as our experiences from these unique times.  

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Rigid Heddle: Another Loom Choice for Weaving

Wow, we had another full house at our recent weavers meeting. Could it be the winter cold has all of us wanting to get out of the house or was it the draw of learning about Rigid Heddle Weaving.

Jackie, Stevie and John shared their knowledge of rigid heddle weaving at a recent meeting. Jackie reflected on a sampling runner woven on her rigid heddle (shown below).  She demonstrated how to warp the loom, discussed the many opportunities for learning the process online and at workshops,  or through printed resources and dvd's etc.
Jackie reflecting on her sampler made on her rigid heddle

There are many versions and sizes of rigid heedle looms. Most are compact; many fold, some have stands. But even with the stand, they have a much smaller footprint. They use less fiber because there is minimal loom waste and are perfect for sampling or workshop. This photo shows just a few of the looms available.  

As weavers, we know what begins as a small hobby becomes a way of life. One loom begets four, one cone of fiber becomes a stash. I do believe this stuff breeds in the night.  

That said, this little workhorse does have benefits.  The cost of these looms is modest, depending on size,  brand, accessories.  Like all looms each has specific virtues and limitations.  The weaver should try as many as possible to be sure to match the weaver with the loom. 

I must admit the thought of another loom to warp and "get it done" inhibits me. However, after this presentation, it certainly would make my summers "on the road", weaving and camping a whole lot easier.  It was a fascinating program. Well done. 

You can tell the winter is here with a vengeance; check out some of the recent show and tell. 

Bev used pendleton selvedges
to weave this mat.
Nita's Mohair Shawl
Cathy's "bust your stash" scarf
Vicki's towels
Mary shares her "bust your stash" scarf.
David finished his double weave Ruana.

Pat wearing her beaded woven scarf,
and sharing her doubleweave runner 

 Spring will come, until then,
  Happy Weaving.