Friday, December 16, 2011

The Best Made Plans....

It's been a while since I've had anything to say...we had a family wedding, and a houseful for a while. Everything was sort of on the back burner except getting "things" done for the wedding. Like any "good" or crazy crafter, I decided I HAD to have a shawl, as did my daughter. So off we go, my weaving friends, Dorothy,Vicki & I, planning, warping, weaving to produce my special piece. Yes, I was quite proud of the way the colors shimmered in the light, the blues, the blacks, in the crackle structure, it could have been a little more dynamic, but still quite fine. As I began winding the warp for her shawl, my daughter truly made my day. She decided her sister's wedding shawl of beaded silk/tencel huck lace would be the perfect "something borrowed".

I am most excited...only one to do and it's done.

Fast forward to the wedding day, shawls are perfectly pressed and ready to go. Please note in our picture as we leave the church, THE SHAWLS. Amazing how good they look in his hand; the perfect way to create heirlooms, don't use them.

My daughter did receive this exquisite handwoven runner designed using a "name draft" based on both hers and her new husband's names. It is so beautiful and so humbling.
Dorothy's name-draft Runner:

The wedding, honeymoon, and moving day are over...I AM BACK...just in time for our Christmas hiatus. The guild was most active during my absence. In November, the quilters had a remarkable session, learning how to stack and whack, changing that 9 patch into the most unique of designs with the simplest of techniques. The weavers' program was Twills, Twills, and more Twills with Vicki Tardy. Knitters have two groups enthusiastically knittin' and purlin' all things cozy. The Spinners have that mystery fiber they're trying to spin and use. And the beaders continue to create those magnificent wall hangings and jewelry.

As we enter this time of holiday celebrations, whatever is your persuasion, may you and yours be in good health, have a passion that gives you joy and love and be loved by the ones who matter.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Falling Leaves, Squirrels, and Quilting

The quilters gathered at Mary's home amid the falling leaves and autumn color. That touch of crisp air and crunch of leaves underfoot remind us that winter's a'coming. Looking around, you see squirrels scurrying around to gather and store away goods for winter. Quilter prepare for winter just like the squirrels. We get revved up, plan, stock up and store fabrics (like we REALLY need to add to our stashes), all for that snowy day with no where to go. Like squirrels, fall stimulate our survival instincts, we must have quilting.

Everyone seemed to have a plan, a project in progress, an idea to keep the winter winds at bay. Linda was seeking input on her design using stripes. Marilyn shared her scrap quilt made for an elder relative in a nursing facility; Gretchen was hand stippling her heart wallhanging. Her pattern is two blocks for one cut, a heart appliqued block and the background from the heart cutout became the second block. Lucy, Pam and Anna were doing needle turn appliqueing, and Terry was handpiecing blocks. Molly was doing what quilters know best...ripping out.

Nancy sent the blocks seen here. She asked which block should we use for our program next month. Everyone loved the patterns and would love a demonstration. We are SOOOO looking forward to our hands-on program, based on the scrap quilt block she sent last month. She will be sending out an equipment list.

Ahhhh, with a little warm cider and incredible treats, it was a most productive morning. Squirrels store nuts, quilters store fabric.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Weaving in Scotland, from Mid-Lothian to the Highlands

The Natural Flower of Scotland: The Thistle

The Weavers meet last Tuesday with the traditional good friends, good food and a really great travelogue across Scotland. In her slideshow, Jeanne shared her trip beginning with her arrival in Glasgow, and onto Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen, the Highlands and the Orkney.

Edinburgh Castle

Weaving once defined many parts of Scotland because of the availability of the raw goods, flax for linen and a workforce trained in the craft. For many years, it was a major force in the economy. Other countries began producing textiles cheaper and the end product was of a lesser quality. However, in our price driven world, the jobs of handweavers were expendable. By the late 1980's, many of the mills had closed, and individual handweavers could not make a living wage. The Black Watch at Edinburgh Castle are seen here wearing kilts woven in their Tartan pattern.

Jeanne visited with a weaver, toured weaving centers, castles, cairns, and museums, and had a grand time overall. Her slide show captured the beauty of Scotland and she had her own version of show and tell of Scottish goods, postcards, books, wonderful textiles, jute bags, too many items to describe.

Thanks, Jeanne

Friday, October 7, 2011

Yes, Virginia, We Do Have Potters at the Craft Guild

My apologies to the Potters who aren't frequently included in this blog. I am not a potter, but I am a voyageur. I watch from afar, in awe of how they take a glob of "mud", "clay", or other gooey product and turn it into a bowl, a vase, a dish. In fact, almost any shape or purpose of vessels has been seen cooling after a night or so in the kiln. If you're a potter checking out this blog, the group has some really cool programs and folks skilled in the craft. All are geared toward both the novice and expert. If clay is your interest, contact give Charles or Craig a call.

The Finnish Tradition of Poppana Weaving

The weavers gathered for their monthly meeting to share their joy of weaving, meet and greet the new weavers and plan instructional workshops by known artists, similar to the one held last month on Tablet Weaving.

The meeting was followed by Show and Tell and a very informative program by Nancy Granner on “Weaving with Poppana, a Finnish Tradition.”

Poppana Weaving sounds like an older gentleman who likes to weave...not true. Poppana is 3/8” bias cut cotton fabric strips woven on a warp of 8/2 cotton in plain weave or simple twills. The bias fabric finishes with a soft fuzzy surface much like cotton chenille and is more flexible than pieces woven with straight cut fabric strips. There were many examples of this technique in rugs, towels, pillows.

As always, watching Show and Tell can be both humbling and inspiring. David, a weaver of just a year brought in his first silk scarf. It humbles me in that I don't do silk (too expensive for me to mess up) and it was remarkable. Another piece shared was this exquisite blue/silver piece that confirms Steve is no longer a novice weaver and it inspires me because we began this journey at the same time.

It doesn't really matter whether you're motivated to learn Poppana, to try silk and to weave intricate patterns/structures, what matters is to simply enjoy the art, the craft, the feel of fiber. Happy Weaving

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Idle Wheel...Motivating a Spinner.

Please note...this is not just any spinning wheel, nor just any fleece...they are mine, and they are idle. Why, I ask myself...hmmm. Self had lots of answers, I think excuses seem more appropriate...but it looks like the upcoming year for the spinners just might encourage me out of my doldrums.

Wendy sent me this message...WAKE UP LADY_START SPINNING...

No, not really, but she did send the following:

On last Tuesday, we had our first spinners' meeting of the year, and remember we meet on the 3rd Tuesday at 7:30 PM at the Guild House. We decided to do a mohair challenge, interested people got a bag of very dirty mohair from Mary. Our challenge is to do something with it by May. If you weren’t at the meeting and are interested, Mary would happy to give you as much of the mohair as you want. If you have other mohair at home you could also use that.

Upcoming Programs:
October –evaluate guild spinning equipment: keep, dispose, replace

November –wheel ratios –How to determine what ratios your wheel has and then spin the same wool using different ratios to better understand what they do

January –introduction to color blending at the wheel(based on class taken at Midwest)

February –slow cooker dyeing (with possible guest appearance by Dwight Tardy)

March -combing

April – mystery sheep breed (Mary doesn’t remember the name but
expects to have a fleece from a Dutch breed by then)

May – results of the mohair challenge

I hope to see you all in October!

Looks like this will be a challenging and exciting year for spinning.

Note to self: NO more excuses.

Small Pieces Become Great Quilts

Last meeting, Marilyn taught us what to do with all those little pieces. This is the stuff that ends up all over the floor or ruining your vacuum, the stuff I have been known to throw away. Amazingly, stitching together either small pieces or strips and re-cutting them into specific shapes produces incredible quilt patterns. Another method was to stitch together your pieces, add a common color to merge those scraps/shapes into a block. You may then treat the quilt using a block design without all those "Oh, My, and other less printable exclamations" Y-seams.

Marilyn walked us through the process and Nancy provided us with several examples of finished quilts or wall hangings. She sent a copy of the book "Scrap Patchwork and Quilting" in which she has the directions for the fabulous quilt you see folded behind Marilyn. Fascinating process, you get to quilt without adding to that horrendous stash that seems to have a life of its own AND you get to use up all that "mess" you have after cutting every quilt. For the last several years I have been saving all that "stuff/mess" for Marilyn...I don't know, Marilyn might have created a monster and maybe its no more "stuff" for her. ;-)

Remember, Nancy is going to have a hands-on workshop using these techniques November for us. Happy Quilting.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

John Mularky Tablet Weaving Workshop

Well, looks what happens when I leave town. A dozen or so weavers got together for a workshop provided by John Mularky on Tablet Weaving. Tablet Weaving (often called card weaving in the United States) is a weaving technique where tablets or cards are used to create the shed through which the weft is passed. The technique is limited to narrow work such as belts, straps, or garment trim.

Tablet-woven bands are commonly found in Iron age graves and are presumed to be standard trim for garments among various peoples, including the Vikings. Examples have also been found at Hochdorf, Germany, and Apremont, France that support its origins to at least the early Iron age.

Drafts used in this workshop for tablet weaving

A few examples from present day card weaving...

Looks like everyone had fun!

Talent on Display at Open House

During last week's open house, there were such incredible pieces on display. The first piece seen here is a beaded picture crafted by Margaret.

Aren't these towels...handwoven by Pat...priceless.

It seems all the groups had significant pieces, hand knitted, handspun, thrown pottery, quilting..each demonstrates the depth of talent members of the guild possess.

I must admit I usually come away in awe of those who speak through their art and who challenge us to expand our vision through example.

I often feel like the little piggies in this quilted wall hanging, dancing around, struggling to keep up and squealing all the way.

My thanks to Lucy for the photos, and to all of you who continue to challenge me to try something new.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Press Citizen Interviews the Craft Guild

(photo, Press Citizen, September 12, 2011)

The Press Citizen came to the Craft Guild of Iowa City's Annual Fall Open House to see what we have to offer. The reporter, Rob Daniel, interviewed several of the members, while the photographer took photos of member's plying their craft. And for some plying is exactly what Deb was doing, ply-split braiding, while Wendy was spinning some yarn. Members bring in their work, maybe it's a thrown vase or poured bowl, a sweater, a rug, towels, quilts, or wall hanging. The items are a reflection that what can be done is limitless. This is always such an exciting afternoon. We've all been involved with other things over the summer and this event serves as a catalyst to kick start our creative energies. The cookies and punch encourage just hanging out to share stories with each other, or with potential members who come to see our program and facility.

Just in case you missed it... a copy of the press citizen article can be viewed on the press citizen website, www:// or google craft guild of iowa city.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Quilting...and Deer?

Now what could this deer have to do with quilting. Every August the fawns borne in the spring come to my gardens to sample everything I have, to learn what's good, what they like and dislike and what will make them stronger and capable of making it through a hard winter's night. So it is with quilting. It's always more than just a quilt. Friends gather to share their morning, learn about something new, to sample just in case we learn to love it. To see new dimensions, to encourage the journey all while supporting each other's passions, and helping to carry the burdens of new frustrations--all are part and parcel of the quilt group. It's this fabric of our lives in many ways that makes it easier to get through a hard winter's night, and to embrace that new challenge.

So on that Thursday morning, The CGIC quilters brought their ideas, their projects and themselves for the fall meeting at Anna's. What do we do with all those little pieces, too small to make an entire quilt...some see them as scraps, throw aways, some see them as quilts. Marilyn Little and Nancy Granner will provide programs on how to use these pieces as fundamental frameworks for quilting. In September, Marilyn will begin with a demo program, followed a hands-on program by Nancy in November. Later in the spring, Vicki will guide us through weaving fabric quilts-interesting concept. A little down home cobbler and show and tell made for a great morning.

Like the deer, in the upcoming months, I will sample with abandon, not making assumptions; scraps aren't trash but small, albeit, very small quilt beginning. And the group will hold my hand when I groan...

Definitely a better plan than watching the deer eat anything remotely resembling plant-life.

Check out Pam's applique work.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Weaver's Potluck and the 5 "F's"

Nothing like a snazzy one liner to get your attention...Food, Friends, Fair entries, Fabulous Fiber show and tell, and Fun planning. Oh, I just love alliteration.

Seriously, the Weavers held their annual "Summer's over, let's get back to weaving" Potluck and judging from the number of folks who came, we're soooo ready. Ready for a new year, ready for what will be an exciting year filled with programs, workshops and other opportunities. We have two workshops in the planning. In late September, John Mullarkey will teach a 2-day “Tablet Weaving Workshop". The second is a TBD, perhaps with Ruby Leslie or Mary Sue Fenner. As to when-we're thinking spring, past the muck and mess of winter. I don't know though, I'll really miss not having to chip my car out of its ice casing to go home. Betty will investigate the options and get back to us. This year's programs run the gamut from Weaving in Scotland and in Norway to Warp Dying. We will again have some challenge event for our May meeting. Any ideas? And there's a plan afoot to hold mini-workshops like we did for the federation meetings last spring.

As always, the food was great and of course, non-fattening. The fair entries were beyond description, so many beautiful pieces, from a white handwoven christening gown, to shawls, rugs, baby blankets. Show and tell continued to prove many of you didn't stop weaving this summer, such colors, fibers, textures...a wonderful job. Why do we weave?...This is why...the five F's, Fabulous Fiber, Fair, Food, Friends, and Fun.

The Iowa State Fair 2011

Every year around October, yes, I said October, one of our members begins her campaign to get all of us motivated, involved and even excited about entering our creations to the next summer's state fair. I'm sure this year, she feels vindicated...

Eight individuals, Lucy Hansen, Linda Berquist, Betty Huttner, Betty Shreeves, Mary Boulet, Vicki Tardy, and Deb Zeitler, submitted entries and each won ribbons. They entered 33 items out of the total 48 submitted in Weaving. This alone was a record for the guild. There were 10 entries in 5 other areas, basketry, crochet, knitting, dolls and toys,quilting, and fine arts. 26 ribbons out of 34 total awarded plus the Best of Show, and Sweepstakes awards. 9 of 10 blue ribbons were earned by 5 CGIC winners, a real team effort. Although Deb was a little concerned, there were no entries in the Handspun Household article category again this year. And there were only 9 fiber entries in the fine arts category, and only 3 were chosen. This is a much lower acceptance rate than usual.

GREAT JOB folks!

p.s. Deb's already on her state fair roll reminding us that we only have 9 months until the submission deadline and if we are interested in adding another category, the deadline is December to submit it with your rationale to the fair chairperson.

p.s.s. THANKS, DEB and thanks to those who transported and picked up our entries.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Iowa City Book Festival

Nothing stops weavers from sharing their craft, not even 100 degrees on a summer day. Betty warped small looms as a learning opportunity during the Book Festival at the Iowa City Public Library.

Weavers use almost any fiber in their craft, note the flower stalks.

Stephanie from the ICPL staff and Grace assisted these future young weavers with their projects. Amazing what you can do with a few pipe cleaners, grass, and string.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Children's Day at The Art's Festival

As fiber artists, we realize that to many, weaving and spinning is what OLD people did, in the OLDEN times. Of course, we are neither old, nor is this the old days; and yet it excites children and individuals across the age continuum. Each year, several of us take our looms a d spinning wheels to public fairs and festivals, school classrooms, libraries, and museums, just to share our art. Children always respond with excitement and curiosity. Few have seen actual cloth or yarn being produced and are delighted as the patterns appear on the loom or this flimsy fluffy stuff turns into tough yarn on the wheel. I personally drive 1000 miles each fall, just to hear that "whoa, look at that", "how'd ya do that?" "you mean I can do it myself", "For Real", "hey, cool". Teachers love these programs because it's art, it's creativity, it's math, it's social studies, and it's science, all rolled into one activity. To's just fun and worth every mile.

This picture is was taken one such event. It's at the Iowa City Public Library's Children's Fun Day at the Arts Festival. The fun is apparent. The library told Cathy that it was such a hit, we need to do it again next year....YES, I think we have future weavers .

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Northern Wefts

Mid-West Weavers and Spinners held their biannual conference at Finlandia University in Hancock, Michigan. Twelve or more weavers/spinners from our guild attended the conference, learned from the experts in the workshops, and shared their joy of playing with fiber.

Hancock is a small peninsula town built into the side of a mountain with its sister city, Houghton across the canal. Needless to say, we got a fair amount of exercise, running up and down those "hills". Some of us were housed on Michigan Tech's campus in Houghton. It was fun just to watch the lift-bridge between Hancock put on its daily show as we navigated to campus each day. I was amazed at the number of spouses and families who tagged along to enjoy the beautiful, albeit, cold, wet and foggy Keweenaw peninsula. They took tours to nearby towns, visited mines, art galleries and breweries, went hiking and enjoyed the area. And the Sun did finally come out.

Our guild was one of 14 guilds or study groups to provide an exhibit, ours was entitled Dancing Spirits. Although we didn't win a prize, we did receive a rather decent score, 27/30, from the judge, Anita Mayer. She made some very positive comments, but did note that our shabby guild sign distracted from our elegant display. She would just love our guild house...

More than 25 weavers from the Rug Interest Group met over lunch and shared many incredible rugs.

One of the highlights for me was a two-day workshop on dyeing warps. We each prepared warps of protein or cellulose fiber. After sampling the different colors, shades and fibers as part of the basic foundation for dyeing, we began dyeing warps. We painted designs, blended colors,and applied color theories.

Discharge dyeing over a completed handwoven table runner was one of the exciting challenges from this class

Other than always being a little wet and a lot shabby ourselves, it was so enlightening and laughed a lot. I must admit showing up at the fashion show with blue nails wasn't my idea of a fashion statement.

Craft Guild of Iowa City was well represented in the Individual Awards.

I think I speak for all of us, wonderful week in a wonderful place.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Spinners Scarf Challenge

Last fall, the spinners laid down the gauntlet: make a scarf from your own handspun yarn using either Falling Leaves or Morning Surf pattern. The challenge met...and displayed at the last Spinner's meeting. While each scarf was crafted from one of the two patterns, it is absolutely amazing the uniqueness of each scarf, based solely on the distinct properties of each spinners' handspun yarn. Well done!

This is the last spinner's meeting until Fall. As the summer rolls on, think about what you want to do or to learn about during the next spinners' year. See y'all at Mid-West Weavers Conference in Hancock, Michigan. Happy Spinning.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


It may not feel like summer today, but it looks like some of the weavers were thinking ROAD TRIP. Sara, Grace, Jill and Lucy hit the road to the Yarn Barn in Lawrence, Kansas...nothing like the smell of fiber to excite a weaver, not to mention a significant sale. And lo and behold, they ran into Mary...I guess brilliant minds just think alike. Having fun amist all that yarn....

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Iowa Federation of Handweavers and Spinners of Iowa

This Saturday almost 90 people attended the biannual gathering of the Iowa Federation of Handweavers and Spinners. It was a great day, a little dreary outside, but inside, the sun was shining and folks were having a grand time. Whether if was coffee and kolaches, spinning with friends, learning something new, or shopping the vendors, there was definitely something for everyone.

There were classes teaching spinning with beads, knitting with unspun fleece, blending fibers, knit one below, ply split braiding, weaving snowflakes and hearts, knotted table mats. It was standing room only for the class, "making use of specialty yarns" or what I like to call it "How to use your yarn stash". Guess what that says about the lot of us?

There were demonstrations of ply split braiding, of Navajo plying, ply on the fly and spinning tweed.

Of course, there were the vendors, not that any of us spend any money in fiber.

Popular Choice, the exhibit of our members work which allows the members to select a winner among the entries. Whether its homespun skeins, knitting with homespun, weaving with homespun, weaving with commercial fiber, Handfelted, the entries were sheer proof of the vast array of talent that pervades this group.

This is a group which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. One of our more experienced members, a mere spunky 94 years and a member for probably all of those 50 years, cut the cake and shared her wisdom.

And to top off the day, each participant took home one of these lovely bookmarks. Each woven by a member of the host guild, Craft Guild of Iowa City.

Makes ya just wanta weave/spin/knit something incredible.

Happy 50th Birthday... Federation of Handweavers and Spinners

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Gradations of Color

Color is always a challenge for quilters; finding just the right hue, in the exact value or saturation often makes us want to simply dye our own. With that in mind, a dozen or so quilters gathered at Nancy Granner's home for a lesson on dyeing fabrics. Nancy demonstrated the process of gradation dyeing,i.e, one hue produced in various values or intensities. Nancy mixed the dye and gradually diluted the mixture in six stages. As we sat and stirred the dyepots, it reminded me of Shakespeare's witches o'er their brew..., "Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn, and cauldron bubble". While we aren't exactly witches, we certainly did cackle as we saw the colors develop. It was amazing to see how some fabrics take up the dye differently. In the picture you can see how the white on white took less color than the simple cottons even though they were processed in the same batch, same pots over the same time. Top the morning off with incredible treats, individuals showing their works in progress, and the report that 150 quilts sewn by Pam's group of quilters were shipped to Japan. It doesn't get any better than this.