Monday, December 27, 2010

Quilting on a Snowy Morning

On a snowy morning, a group of quilters braved the weather to gather and share their latest projects. What a mix of colors and techniques we had. Linda was hand quilting a gold and blue piece in the Hawaiian style. Anna was trimming her emerald gre en and raspberry table runner of traditional pieced stars and Irish chain. Pam shared her hand dyed silks, soft blues, reds and green on a sunset yellow background. She had made these into scarves. Becky was attaching the binding on a couple of machine quilted lap quilts in soft hues of greens & tans. And Mary's quiltof blues, greens, and grays had been machine quilted just in time for her son's Christmas. Lucy and Molly were knitting socks. I glanced out the window, there was the white blowing snow and you could almost feel the cold winds. Inside, it was warm and dry, with all these vivid colors and laughter; people sharing their passion. I remembered why I quilt.

Friday, December 17, 2010


Everyday, weavers sit down at their looms to create something, it may be something as simple as kitchen towels or as exotic as an art sculpture. In the creation there is an incredible pleasure. It's the fiber, the feel, the rhythm, the challenge and for some, it's the sheer joy of throwing that shuttle back and forth and watching something develop.

Couple that excitement with Weaving for a Reason. Our weavers have handcrafted baby blankets for The Nest who provide these blankets with other necessities to families in need. We also provide pillows for patients after breast cancer surgery or chemotherapy at UIHC. The pillows are designed to protect the surgical or chemotherapy site from seat belt rub. The individuals who receive these items are so appreciative. One chemo patient said that on a really difficult day, she glanced at her pillow, and it "made me smile." I think that says it all.

Currently, we have a warp on the Newcomb upstairs at the Guild House for folks to weave a piece or two for the pillow fabric. One of our new weavers, Jill, looks like she's really enjoying her piece. We have a list of folks scheduled to weave, but if you're interested in making someone SMILE, give Anna Alexander or Vicki Tardy a call and we'll include you.

Weaving for a Reason...Making Smiles.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Gift of Friendship

Turkey Day has come and gone...did I really have to eat a piece of every dessert?? Yeap, and they were soooooooooooooooo good. Well, now for a reality check, the holidays are upon us. Regardless of which holiday you celebrate, there are "so-called sales" everywhere, and you just have to buy this gizmo for this distant relative who probably doesn't need it and save all that money you really didn't have to spend in the first place. Gotta love consumerism.

But in the arts, gifts are truly from the heart. You think about the person, what you'd like to do for him/her, work many hours planning and completing something special...a part of yourself to share with an individual. Nothing is more incredible than a gift of mind, body and soul. With that in mind, I want to share a note I received from the weavers...

Gretchen's Coverlet

In 1983 and 1984 a group of weavers at the Craft Guild of Iowa City organized a Friendship Coverlet exchange. Each person chose a four harness overshot pattern and a pattern yarn color. Everyone wove a square in their pattern in each of the colors chosen by each participant, plus their own, resulting in everyone receiving a square in each pattern in their chosen color. Everyone completed their squares and went home with enough to make a coverlet. Over the years a few were assembled and completed though many are still just a pile of squares waiting for time and inspiration to converge.

One of the participants was a new weaver named Gretchen Grimm. She got a lot of help and encouragement to weave her squares and is still somewhat amazed that she really did them all. She never got around to assembling her coverlet though. In the early 2000s, her squares were among some things sent to an auction by family members. As luck would have it, they were retrieved by a friend and brought home again. In the fall of 2010 she decided to move from her rural home to an assisted living apartment in town. In the process of this move, with its many difficulties, the squares were once again nearly lost. They were taken to a second hand store by a family member. Gretchen called to see if they were there and a wonderful volunteer rescued them and delivered them to her apartment. At this point Gretchen sent them home with a friend for safekeeping.

This friend conferred with others in the Craft Guild weavers group and told them of Gretchen's wish to have the coverlet squares crocheted together. A plan developed and the squares were washed and passed out to several members to machine zigzag stitch all around, trim off the headings and single crochet around each one.

At one of the monthly daytime meetings they were arranged, labeled for location, and whip-stitched together. A couple of members took the pieces home to finish the assembly and add a simple decorative crochet border around the whole coverlet.

Just before Thanksgiving, Gretchen was persuaded to attend the weavers meeting, despite her painful knee, and she was very much surprised to receive her finished coverlet.

The Craft Guild has always been a special place for Gretchen and this gift is a wonderful example of how the Friendship Coverlet lived up to its name.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Fall Excitement...It's More Than Football

So much has happened since my last entry. I cannot believe the leaves have fallen and the frost is upon us. Just a review of the last month or so, the knitters had a really large group, needing several tables to accommodate us all. They begun with knitting problems, those with experience helping those of us without or simply one of those...what do I do now? questions. It's always so clear when you're on the outside, not blogged down by the task at hand. They had a book exchange...nothing like someone else's junk becoming your jewel--great way to expand your resources.

The split-ply braiders had beginner classes and have continue to produce everything from a simple bookmarks, vases to gorgeous pieces of art.

The spinners met with the most unique program...a spinning race. How long a fiber could you spin in a specific time frame? And which fiber? Amazing to hear the laughter and wheels whirling in unison.

The weavers had a basket workshop one Saturday, producing a remarkable wastebasket type basket. It's interesting how different were the shapes and finished sizes of each basket woven by these 8 people who were flowing the SAME instructions. The weavers' study group is learning about designing scarves which may be our MidWest conference Aurora Borealis exhibit. They also had a program on Shibori, and are sharing a warp upstairs at the guild house. Looks rather strange right now, with all these loose threads, but I am assured that it will all fall together after the dying.

The, if you just look into the potters room and see all the dishes, bowls, and vases, its apparent they're having a productive year. And there's talk of a raiku firing?

The quilters took a road trip to Hills to a new quilt shop, which just happens to be next to a bakery/restaurant...quilting and eating, what's not to like.

The beaders continue their quiet and patient focus, I personally don't have the patience, but they produce the most incredible pieces.

Nothing like a great group of people with lots of creative ideas...and we get involved as well...

Service Projects

While having fun, the groups also work on their additional service projects. For example, the weavers made pillows for UIHC mastectomy patients; a quilter worked on a quilt for an Autism fundraiser, while another on one for the Veterans at the VA.

As you can tell, we as a group have been really busy, working hard at our respective crafts and enjoying every moment. Bring a friend along to see what we offer, it will amaze and perhaps encourage them to find their own inner soul.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Annual Open House

The weekend began as a cool football Saturday with Iowa winning over ISU. And then the piece de resistance...The Craft Guild's Open House. Each September we open the Guild House to the community as an opportunity to learn what we have to offer. More than 100 people toured the house, viewed it's exhibits and watched individuals demonstrating their art/craft, or simply had a cookie. It's always a fun afternoon, we members get together to renew our memberships and to see what the others have been doing all year-an exchange of passions and artistic expression.

Members demonstrated spinning yarn with wheel or spindle, knitting a blanket or sweater.

One potter demonstrated "throwing" while the others showed their work

Quilters, weavers, beaders, ply-braiders had items in the exhibit.
It was a great day.

Weaver's Potluck

On August 30, the weavers met at Vicki Tardy's to share quite the feast. It always amazes me how a potluck works out, great foods, great diversity and great comradery. There was much discussion of the coming year's events. There will be a basket workshop in October, the beginning weaving class begins mid-September, there's plans for a linen workshop come Spring, and exciting programs for the upcoming meeting year.

The next year will be a challenge. The spinners from our guild are hosting the Iowa Federation meeting in the Spring with some help from the weavers. Vicki offered patterns for those weaving book marks for the meeting. In addition, Mid-West Weavers will be in the UP of Michigan, with the theme Northern Lights/Aurora Borealis. The weaver's study group will meet September 14 as a preclude for designing scarves for our guild exhibit. Put your thinking caps on, what are you going to weave?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The State Fair...Wow

The craft guild was well represented at the Iowa State Fair, winning numerous ribbons in Fiber Arts, weaving, spinning,towels, best of show, and a special ribbon as the person who won the most ribbons. There currently is no category for ply-split braiding, however, a display of ply-split braiding items by our group was presented at the fair.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Quilters Learn Landscape Painting

Last Thursday a small group of quilters gathered at Pam's home, where under the trees in her gorgeous garden, Pam taught us how to paint fabric as landscapes. Whether you wanted a sunrise, sunset, seascapes, waterfalls, grass, or groups of flowers, she demonstrated each technique. We began to practice...there in lies the challenge!

Initially, this quilter's pieces looked more like wet dirty rags than landscapes. But as we progressed they began to take on a semblance of what Pam was this stormy sky. It was an incredible morning and Pam's magnificent and refreshing Peach sorbet was a fitting end to this sultry morning.

Thanks, Pam!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Paper Pieced Mariner's Star

The quilters gathered at Nancy Granner's Studio for a quick lesson in paper piecing. Nancy began with a simple beginner design for the mariner's star.

Paper piecing is ideal for sharp points, but you do need to remember a few don't cut off your fabric.

Nothing like quilting to keep you humble!

After we master this one, we'll be able to produce the more elaborate ones you see here.

We had a great time plus, y'all know Nancy's a great cook...incredible date bread.
Remember we meet in July 22 at Pam Ehrhardt's.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Weavers Host Towel Exchange

A towel exchange? ...sounds a bit risky, like you're getting someone else's dirty linens...


The towels are woven in the color, structure and fiber of a weaver's choice and inspiration, then exchanged for another. This exchange highlighted the last Weaver's meeting of the year. I missed all the excitement because Texas was calling my name, but it sure looks like y'all went home with something special from this incredible selection shown in Lucy's photo.

The Study Group's focus next year will be the MWC 2011 Guild Exhibit; the theme is “Aurora Borealis”. The idea is to create scarves and/or shawls inspired by photos of the northern lights. This will be open to all weavers. Over the summer we are encouraged to come up with a plan: weave structure, fiber, colors, etc. Our study will be "how to get from the plan to the finished piece—designing the fabrics."

See you all at the Potluck in August.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Spinners begin Summer hiatus.

On Tuesday, the spinners got together to spin, chat, discuss the programs for next year's meetings and plan for the Iowa Federation meeting at the Johnson County Fairgrounds in April, 2011. There will be classes, food, and simply a spin-in; more information later as it becomes available.

Lots of ideas for next year's programs were banded about, from drop spindle types, drop or Navajo spindle spinning, to Alpaca fleece; "What I did at Convergence" or "Ooops, mistake or creative license" were possibilities. Pairing up a spinner with a weaver for a "sheep to shawl" experience was mentioned. If you have any ideas, call or email Trish Turner. The programs will be finalized by the Open House September 12, 2010.

During the discussion, Wendy began working with some red/orange/white dyed tencel roving. The color looked loud and flashy as roving, but as it spun, the most incredible shade of soft coral began to appear and looked like fine silk. I wonder, is there any special handling needed to spin the Tencel? ...perhaps a program in the future.

As the summer begins to roll in, get out into the yard, take a hike, bike, or simply play in the dirt. You'll feel invigorated, and it just may get your creative juices dangling.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

REMINDER... Daycrafters' Potluck will be June 17 at Betty Shreeves' home.

Daycrafters began as a daytime meeting of the spinners, and it has evolved to be the most eclectic group of crafters. We meet to work on some type of handiwork or UFO (Unfinished objects) while sharing the comradery of like minded folks. Last Thursday morning at Vicki Tardy's home was no exception. Pam had a hand dyed wall quilt she was binding and wanted input the piping and binding. Others had those knitting needles flashing. Betty ran over during her lunch break and was using a "weavette". An interesting weaving loom which produces 3 x 4" squares when joined together could be scarves, purses, cases, etc. Lucy and Vicki demonstrated the technique, ply-split braiding. We were also excited to see Jeanette out of the house after her broken ankle, still unable to weight bear, but her smile was a vivid as ever. And she was able to see the ply-split braiding she missed because of her fall. We were also discussing our plans for study group, how to interpret "The Northern Lights" in a scarf. One thing, this group does is bring everyone together to share that it passion for wool, fiber, cloth, or simply conversation or enthusiasm.

Vicki reminded everyone the June Potluck will be June 17 this year at Betty Shreeves in Lone Tree. Bring a dish to pass, your favorite chair and some busy work. See y'all there..

Thursday, May 6, 2010

What can we do with "leftovers"?

Amidst the paint flumes, the knitters group meet Wednesday afternoon. Everyone had a project going, an argyle sock for competition, lace socks, boot socks, a baby blanket, and a lace scarf. One knitter even found time to show the others her ply-split braiding.

It seems that a few folks have it figured out, how to use all that leftover yarn that we seem to accumulate. A yard here, a couple yards there...hhhmmm... HATS. Grace had a basketful, yes, it really was a basketful of hats. Terry was knitting hats for the premie project. Both were using up their stash and providing something for another in need. Knitters are those folks often seen in corners, needles rhythmically singing, and producing yet another item. Not only are they good sports (about the painting and the noise), but they are creative, productive folks with good hearts.

Craft Guild holds Annual Meeting

On Tuesday evening, we gathered to share an outstanding potluck and to hear "the state of the Craft Guild". Potlucks are unique, almost an art, and how it works out always amazes me... from the marinated asparagus to the rhubarb pie... there was such variety, a little taste of everything....the results...a delightful meal was had by all.

The State of the Craft Guild is that membership is growing; weaving, spinning, and pottery classes have been offered; several workshops have been held; the house in good shape, and we are in the black financially. I call that A Really Good Year. Thank you to everyone for their time, energy and donations; it is through your participation that we have this incredible place to release and refine our creativity.

Our newly elected officers beginning June 1, 2010 are Charles Scott, President; Lucy Hansen, Vice President; Bev Pennell, Secretary; and Linda Bergquist, Treasurer. The group chairs are Beading-Dara Dick, Ceramics/Potter-Craig Margulis; Knitting-Jackie Harb; Spinners-Trish Turner; Weavers-Betty Huttner and Quilters continue to be represented by a standing board member. We look forward to another exciting year.

Louise French Ply-Split Braiding Class

This weekend the weavers offered a class on Ply-split Braiding by Louise French. Ply-split braiding is an interlacement technique found in northwest India, where men make girths, bags and other accessories for camels. In this class they learned the basics of ply-splitting. It was so intriguing that the group has decided to continue gathering to refine their techniques. The first group meets Thursday 5/6/10 at 7:30pm. Looks like we have another artform in the making.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Potters Firing Up

The pottery group meets monthly, and yet they do seem to spend a great deal of time at the house. On a non-meeting nights, you might find them preparing their pieces, painting, and/or firing those works. I never realized you have to "cook" or fire the items, or that it required someone to come in and out several times during that evening and the next and sometimes even the next. Beautiful pieces have been completed lately, in fact there's a table full right now.

Vesterheim Norweigan American Museum presents for the Weavers

Last night, the weavers filled the house to hear a presentation entitled “Warmth and Color: Traditional Norwegian Coverlets.” Laurann Gilbertson, Textile Curator at Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum, began with a slide presentation showing some of the old coverlets and describing how the various techniques are woven.

Sandy Somdahl and Barbara Berg of the Oneota Weavers Guild joined Laurann in sharing their woven samples and Barbara shared a little of the work she does in liturgical weaving in the Theo Moorman technique.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Quilters' Meeting

The quilters group meet yesterday at Vicki Tardy's. On a beautiful sunny morning, among the colors of the day, were the colors of the quilts. Two traditional design charity quilts in neutral tans with red and blue accents were being bound; an Amish style solid block quilt in autumn colors was being hand quilted. Another art quilter brought a completed piece, vivid reds, yellows, and blues for help in selecting a machine quilting design. Another brought her hand appliqued landscape pieces, which will eventually be finished as a triptych. The fabric used in the skies was typical of a Iowa summer day. Another individual brought a recently completed cross stitch angel, resplendent in navy, burgundy, gold and white. Have you ever ordered a kit and found out you were short in materials/fibers? We all tried to help problem solve this dilemma in a gorgeous gold/rust/orange/brown sweater which is under construction.

As you can tell, it was an exciting meeting. The colors of the day both inside and out just made you want to oh and ah. We also shared a few techniques: how to make prairie points with one strips & how to make continuous bias binding. Anyone interested in a handout on either technique contact Anna Next meeting May 27th.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Terry Jones explains Long Draw Spinning

Terry Jones presented a program on Long Draw Spinning. Long Draw Spinning is done similarly to standard spinning with the exception of the length of the draw. She demonstrated this process, and provided an excellent handout.

She explained the important of CLEAN fleece, how to do a thorough job and demonstrating carding of the locks.

If you weren't able to attend and want to learn more about this process, I'm sure Terry would be happy to provide you the handout.

Spinners' Meeting

There were more than 20 spinners at last nights' meeting. I enjoy just watching this group. Whenever the spinners gather you hear the chatter, the laughter and the whorl of the wheels. You see industry in a rejuvenated art, the mentoring of a novice, and friendships...all in the mist of the amazing and mesmerizing action of the spinning wheel. It's almost hypnotic.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Weavers Meeting

Show and Tell...such creativity and talent; and it seems everyone had a grand time

March Weavers Meeting ...Krokbrdg

On March 23, Betty Huttner presented a program about Krokbrdg, a traditional Norwegian Rug Technique. This is an amazing process using three interlocking colors that encourages designing on the loom.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spinner's meeting-How to maintain your wheel

Last night, 20 spinners came together to spin, share ideas, and network. Betty Shreeves presented a fascinating program on maintaining wheels. Since there are many different types and vintage of spinning wheels, Betty gave an overview and others shared their experience with their particular wheel. Lubricate, oil, and repair...but to the VERY novice spinner that I am, it was very enlightening. Forgot my camera.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pattern Workshop

The weavers had a 10 day workshop using 26 different patterns and colors which he members had the opportunity to weave. It varied from supplementary warps, doubleweave, twill in fibers such as tencel, linen, merino, silk and cottin.

Weaving, Spinning and Dyeing in Burkina Faso and Ghana

The Weaving and Spinning groups combined their February meetings into one. This combined meeting was on February 23, 2010 at the Iowa City Public Library. This was an exceptional program presented on spinning, weaving and dyeing in Burkina Faso and Ghana by Chris Roy. Chris is professor of African art history at the University of Iowa.

Rug woven by member Pat Boutelle

This rug was part of the display at MidWestOne Art Gallery last June.


The weavers produce many items, from these magnets designed for Mid West Weavers Conference this summer, to rugs, scarves, towels, etc. They meet monthly on the fourth Tuesday at 7:30p at the guild house.

Open House

Each fall, the Craft Guild of Iowa City has an open house for anyone interested. Amazing the talent, time and creativity that can be seen. This fall's open house is scheduled for September 12, 2010 from 1-5pm at 815 Oakland Avenue, Iowa City

The quilters meet monthly to share their work such as this, develop new ideas and work on projects for charity, their families, or just because.