Friday, December 9, 2016

Kitten Approved Quilting

Hmm, this was an interesting morning. The quilters gathered to share their latest work and to seek input from the group. Marilyn shows her almost completed mystery quilt and its wonderful machine quilting. However, looks like we have a little lady checking out Marilyn's handiwork up close and personal.  She seemed to voice her approval,  purring away as she nestled in for a a scratch behind her ears and a lap to nap on.
Thanksgiving is behind us; the true test of an Iowan is upon us. And yet, when those winter winds blow and snow envelops the landscape,  it is this love of fabric and fiber that keeps our minds and bodies happy.  A warm fire, friends around, a quilt in progress and a little love from a wee one...what more can we ask. Happy Quilting

Monday, November 21, 2016

What to do with sampling fleece?

Last year, the spinners group decided to study various British breeds. We each received a sample, took it home, spun and plied it, and thought,  Hmmmm, now what am I going to do with this small amount of yarn. 
Terry, one of our members, proceeded to envision clothing for an American Girl doll. She wove the fabric for the hooded cape, knitted the sweater, skirt, socks, tam, and felted the shoes. Each breed was highlighted in some piece of clothing.  Last Fall,  her creativity and handiwork was the focal point of the Coralville Library Display.  Outstanding, isn't it? 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Weaving Rag Rugs

Last Spring, in addition to our Tuesday evening study group, the weavers began a daytime Rug Study Group and began the first project: Rag Rugs/Runners

The 12 or so weavers involved selected a common pattern and color way. As a group we warped the two looms upstairs, one for runners using the same structure but on a differ scale, and the other for rugs.

Oh, my, what a adventure it has been. It was a challenging learning experience from the get-go. I really did learn a lot. I did learn to carefully count when using the warping wheel (that wheel goes around really fast), and to read and reread the threading count prior to winding day.  Selecting the fabrics to use lead us to discover that some color combinations don't work. The fabric weight and printing method(as with batik or silk screening) differs among fabrics and that difference impacts the compression of each strip.  Thus, the width of strips necessary may differ.  Hmmm, there's that nasty word...SAMPLING is essential. And NEVER, never, never precut all your strips. We learned how to repair a brake on the vintage Tricks of the Trade loom. We learned a temple is important and purchased a new type for the rug and learned how to use it.  And yet, with all the snafu's and challenges, we all completed our rug/runner project by the state fair time! Some even submitted their projects and two won ribbons.

All that being said, it was a wonderful experience, even to those of us who wove in the intense heat of last summer in the attic room that houses our looms. We're off and running again. This time we are warping and threading for Rosepath.  Each time I begin these projects, I think I have so much to learn. Experiential Learning is often the way to cement the process into the brain. Personally,  I just wish I didn't always learn it the hard way by messing up and having to unweave. Oh, well, Let's see what I can learn this time.

Just an FYI: Janet Meany's classic rug book, "Rug Weaving" and Tom Kinsey's "Weave a Good Rug" Video are great resources.

Anyone interested in Rug weaving, contact Cathy Willoughby at the guild for the specific information.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Spinners to study "Local" fleece.

Spinners gather with drop spindles and wheels to share their craft
 Exciting plans are underway for the spinners group. Greg announced that there will be two workshops and we will be studying "local" fleece this year. Local refers to fleece from animals raised within a two hour radius. He's so thrilled, he's already found quite a few. "My garage is full of fleeces,  I cannot wait to get my fingers into them." Similar to last year's breed study, he will distribute samples of each breed to "play with".  There will also be a spring workshops, April 8 & 9 at the Solon library, on the uniqueness of and the expectations for spinning specific crossbreeds and purebreds.  Each day is $110, and limited to the first 20 sign ups. Contact Greg if you weren't at the meeting if you'd like to be included in either of the workshops or the local breeds study.

Folks have been busy, spinning up last year's samples from the breeds study and other fleece found at the sheep and wool shows last summer. As we all know, spinning takes time and practice, yet amazingly, we see results. We do tend to be our own worst critics and fail to see the beauty and success of a not so perfect yarn. I often take my wheel camping. It sits proudly in the passenger seat, all buckled in, ready to ride to wherever our journey takes us. It doesn't care if it's raining, cold, or the campsite is less that ideal.  However, I do use a large mat under my wheel and basket after I absent-mindedly added leaves to my yarn.  It really wasn't a great disaster, just not fun picking out the leaves rather than spinning. Thankfully, spinning is an addictive and soothing activity in which perfection is not always the goal. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Weaving at the Iowa State Fair

Over the years, the Craft Guild of Iowa City has had a strong presence in the fibers and threads exhibits. This year, in addition to many entries, many ribbons, we had weavers demonstrating the fine craft on handweaving from 10-3 daily throughout the fair. 

Every day weavers worked at the loom, answering questions and hearing stories of parents and grandparents at their looms. One gal said her mom never bought a wedding present, but instead wove a rug for every couple. Handwoven rugs last forever. Another couple stopped by asking how to fix a long standing problem with a warp. Some just stood there and watched. 

A child asked,  "how's is that done, its string and then its cloth."  One little girl was delighted to help one of our weavers weave. "Mom, she says, look, I'm making colors". The joy and excitement we feel as weavers when it comes together as a towel, rugs or scarf, was obvious in many a child's delight.  I think we had as much fun as the fairgoers did. 

One weaver, Stephanie,  summed it up best. "...Love sharing my skills  and hearing the stories of our fiber history  💕💕" 

Monday, July 11, 2016

OPEN HOUSE: September 11, 2016

Come by and see all the work our members have been doing over the past year, renew your membership or simply to enjoy the cookies, comradery and members  demonstrating their various crafts

Historical 200 yr old Woven Coat Found

Historically, Independence Day reminds us with patriotic excitement, what challenges and struggles have been overcome in the last 200 years ago, a step back into time, a glimpse into the past. A glimpse into the past became most interesting to one of our guild members who came across a trunk that hadn't been open in at least 100 years.  The key had been lost and it had been passed down through the family, the inside of which ne'er to see the light of day.

And then...She says with a pregnant pause.  I will not be swayed, I will open this truck. We tried every key anyone had, we tried to jimmy the lock, and we even tried to pick the lock. But she did refuse to cut the lock off or cut the hinges. Long story short through perseverance, a emailed picture, a pencil tracing of the lock and all the numbers found anywhere on the truck, a locksmith was found in Pennsylvania who thought he had just the key.  AND HE DID.

She had it open, a grand unveiling. Inside were vintage clothing, furs, and newspapers from the late 1800's.  Amazingly, the clothes were a little dusty perhaps, but largely in good condition.

The pi`ece de re`sistance was a coat which had a note in the pocket, dating it to approximately 200 years ago.   "This wrap is about 200 years old.  The material in the wrap was woven by Mrs. K........'s great grandmother."   

Always curious, she started to research its origins.
Usually, this items would have been passed down through the women in the family and it is believed to have come to this country in 1866 with Birgitte who was born in 1835 and would have been the weaver's granddaughter.  The weaver (Maren) was born in 1751 and had her first child in 1777 and the mother of Birgitte in 1790.  Googling Orum, Hjorring, Denmark history says the town was begun in the 1250s and was a trade center among other things.  

This suggests that it is possible some of the materials for the coat could have been purchased but also suggests that knowledge of weaving may have come in as well.  The coat lining appears to be silk, woven in a damask pattern.  One would first assume that it was purchased although could a draw loom have been used?  Also in the history, a report of fire in the 1820's may have destroyed relative information. She has also contact a fiber center in Denmark and is awaiting their reply. 

There were other items in the trunk, a suit ensemble obviously designed for a pregnant women, a gentlemen's evening coat, a beaded cape, a fur coat (you could still feel the oils of the animal) and several other items. I must admit we were like little kids reveling in the "what could this have been?" and "how was this made?" 

The coat was shared at the recent weavers meeting and as she moved around the room, the weavers fingering the fiber, examining the weave structure, and oohing and aahing a fine piece of craftsmanship. 

Anytime we step back into time whether it's through a holiday remembrance or a trunk in the attic, there is a story to tell, a time to research, a history to be learned. 

Even as she cleaned the clothing (with careful archival instructions from her fabric designer granddaughter) and returned them to the trunk, the quest for the coat's history continues. Stay tuned, Denmark may just add more to the story.