Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Weaving: Bust your Stash with Louise French

Louise French's Finished scarves with warp sample
We all have the basket or closet of leftover yarns from other projects, too pretty to toss, not enough yardage to complete an item. What can you do?  Lou French conducted a hands-on workshop doing just that. Our instructions: choose a colorway and bring any type, size, or texture fiber (8 feet or longer) that work together and bring others you'd like to share. Most variegated yarns work wonders allowing a pop of unexpected color as you weave.  And now what? 
Using these yarns
Her novel approach uses table side warping pegs, grab a fistful of fibers (5 at a time) and start to wind your warp, after a few wraps, drops one and tie on a replacement yarn, and continue to wind your warp. You continue this process until you reach the number of warp threads desired for your width and dent requirements.  You select a weft, also from your stash and preferable not variagated and begin weaving. Varigation in the weft often makes for cloudy or dull sections in the scarf.

The resulting warp using the above yarns

The final product

Nita's scarf
And So it began. The first scarf completed is wool
and silk, used various grists (5-2 to 10-2) and textures.
This scarf definitely shouts FALL and does so exquisitely.
Nita's scarf upclose

Terry's scarf
Terry's scarf upclose

Using a similar colorway and finer yarns, Terry used silks, linens and blends. The light reflection off the linen lighten the colors, and you can see in the fringe, those pops of color.  The linen makes the scarf feel a little coarse, but as with  most linens, wet finishing may soften it up, and help with its drapabiltiy. What an fascinating learning experience. These are just two of the 22 people who attended this workshop. I am sure we have many more Stash Breaking Scarves to show in the future. I keep thinking...I can use my stash and make some yardage, I could use my cotton stash and make incredible towels/ awaits and all those end pieces of projects will finally leave my cupboards. I'd call that a win-win.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Judith McKenzie: "Spinning Fiber for Consistency" wows Spinners.

Judith McKenzie: Perfecting worsted and woolen spun yarn
Note Size progression and 45 degree ply
Last weekend, Judith McKenzie presented a workshop on "Spinning for Consistency".  This was such an incredible opportunity to improve on the basics and learn how to increase consistency.  As weavers, we recognize that sampling is the ugly reality of quality woven products, knitters knit a swatch for gauge, and the same is true for spinning. When spinning most yarns, we strive toward consistency in girth and strength and the only way that is possible is practice, practice, practice. Both the spinner and a new fleece have idiosyncrasies that simply are distinctly their own and are not really changeable. 

However, YOUR wheel is adjustable is two ways, the brake tension and the size of the pulley (whorl). Begin with the middle pulley and brake finger tight.  Judith suggests first, tweaking the brake tension a "frog's hair" to loosen or tighten as you spin to get your desired size of yarn. If that doesn't work, move up or down your whorl. Spin for your fibers preparation, ie, top, rolag, roving, lock, combed or carded. For thicker yarn increase your brake tension and/or increase your whorl size. For thinner yarn, decrease brake tension and use the smaller whorl. Practice with each new fleece until you have a series of ~8 samplings to adapt your wheel to your spinning style and your fiber prep. The sample should exhibit a 45 degree ply.
Judith spining boucle, spinning the base and fuzzies all at once.  
Spinning using a carder to hold the fiber
Practtice makes perfect or at least consistency. As we practiced and practiced with all sorts of fiber, from camel hair and silk, BFL (blue-faced Leicester), cashmere,and buffalo using either woolen or worsted spinning technique.

"If you need a little refresher, worsted spinning means that you're using combed longwool top and that you're spinning with a short forward draw with no twist in the drafting zone. Woolen means you're using a carded preparation (fibers going in all directions) and you're spinning with a long backward draw with twist in the drafting zone. Woolen spinning is usually done with shorter wool" (Greg Cotton)

If you're having trouble with your 'deathgrip' on the unspun fibers, try using a carder as shown. It will allow you to control the spin without the finger stress. Such tidbits were shared throughout the two day workshop.

Plying with a little help from her friends. 

Judith also shared some natural dying techniques, such as Lichen. This Lichen grows wild around the base of trees and usually appears chartuese/greenish in color and produces green when used with hot water over a 24 hour incubation period.

Note in this picture, this sample dyed shades of yellow and gold. Interesting note to self: Using the water from one city versus another changed the color produced while using the exact same method.

As we practiced, Judith continued to share her vast knowledge of the history of fiber from its ancestral roots in the stone ages to day. What a wealth of knowledge in one lady.

Friday, October 4, 2019

September Craft Guild Open House

80 years of Education, Service and Creativity 
What a wonderful day, the Craft Guild opened the guild house to some many interested folks. As always the members share what the guild is all about and display some of their creative works. Whether fiber, fabric, clay, metal, bead or glass...we have members who are or have been interested in these creative mediums for almost 80years.  We love to share our success and often bemoan our less than successful ventures. I must admit we do prefer sharing our successes. Check out these photos. There is still time to join the guild and remember we hold an open house every fall. And we always have cookies.

Handquilting & handwoven jacket
Weaving, spinning,  knitting,  & handwoven, hand spun Ruana

Embroidery, Knitting, Spinning

Pottery, redwork quilting, weaving, spinning

Quilting, handwoven Jacket

Handwoven blankets, towels, bag

I always marvel at how each individual crafts an item of such beauty and has fun at the same time. Come join the fun.
Handwoven Runner

Friday, August 30, 2019

Fabric and Threads Competition @ Iowa State Fair 2019

Iowa State Fair is one of the oldest and largest agricultural and industrial exposition in the country and the single largest event in the state. The Fair began over 160 years ago and attracts more than one million fair goers every year (Des Moines Register, 8/19/19).

Every year, the Craft Guild of Iowa City bans together to remind Iowa that weaving, knitting, spinning, and many other fiber crafts are still being practiced today by submitting our work to the Fabric and Threads Competition and the Fine Arts Competition.  We have our resident cheerleader, Deb, who encourages, cajoles, and downright nags to remind us we have a responsibility to share these crafts. This year, both experienced and novice weavers, spinners, knitters, ply-split braiders, and leather worker submitted their work.  And somewhere along the way, we all got excited and had fun. 
Grace demonstrating spinning/Ply-Split Braiding entries/
Handcrafted leather shoes
This small child and her family are intently watching Grace demonstrate spinning. She spent the day, spinning and answering questions. "How do you do that?" "Where did that fluffy stuff come from?"  "What do you do with that string?" Many a child (and adult) is amazed that sheep share their winter coat (fleece)after it is sheared with the spinner who prepares it for spinning, winds/spins it into yarn and knits or weaves something wonderful with it.  

Below are photos of the many items entered and the competition results. 

  • Linda Bergquist of Iowa City won Best of Show honors in the Handspun Yarn division 
  • Vicki Tardy won Best of show honors in the Weaving Division
  • Seb Zeitler won the Sweepstakes 
Woven Towels and Runner entries
 Weavers submitted entries including towels, fashioned garments, scarves, shawls, runners, napkins, afghans, or blanks. Spinners submitted entries based on weight, style, and use of the fiber. 

Woven Fashions, Scarves and Shawls

Runners,  Handspun and Woven Shawls or scarves
Best of Show Woven Jacket

Additional results from the Fair Office below:
1) Lois Lembke, Iowa City
2) Linda Bergquist, Iowa City
3) Terry Jones, Iowa City
4) Deborah Zeitler, Iowa City
1) Deborah Zeitler, Iowa City
2) Linda Bergquist, Iowa City
3) Vicki Tardy, Iowa City
4) Anna Alexander, Coralville
Honorable Mention) Terry Jones, Iowa City
Household Linens
1) Deborah Zeitler, Iowa City
2) Linda Bergquist, Iowa City
3) Vicki Tardy, Iowa City
4) Anna Alexander, Coralville
Honorable Mention) Elizabeth Huttner, Iowa City
Wall Hanging
1) Diane Hickman, West Des Moines
2) Deborah Zeitler, Iowa City
1) Vicki Tardy, Iowa City
2) Linda Bergquist, Iowa City
3) Deborah Zeitler, Iowa City
Shawl or Scarf
1) Vicki Tardy, Iowa City
2) Linda Bergquist, Iowa City
3) Pegi Bevins, Woodward
4) Anna Alexander, Coralville
Honorable Mention) Deborah Zeitler, Iowa City
1) Catherine Willoughby, Iowa City
2) Mary Boulet, Cedar Rapids
3) Shari Janssen, Woodward
4) Gloria Dovre, Williamsburg
Handspun Item
1) Deborah Zeitler, Iowa City
2) JoAnne Pruitt, Marion
3) Grace Tully, Iowa City
1) Deborah Zeitler, Iowa City
Best of Show
1) Vicki Tardy, Iowa City
Socks (multiple yarns/colors)
1) Dot Maudlin, Eddyville
2) Lisa Wilcox Case, Iowa City
3) Terry Jones, Iowa City
  • Cowl (yarn worsted weight or heavier)
  • 1) Joellen Bierschenk, Van Horne
  • 2) Mary Jo Rathe, Tripoli
  • 3) Jill Sanders, Des Moines
  • 4) Rachel Briley, Des Moines
  • Honorable Mention) Terry Jones, Iowa City

  • Shawl/Wrap/Shrug (lace stitch, worsted or heavier)
  • 1) Laura Juliano, Urbandale
  • 2) Sherry Murtle, Des Moines
  • 3) Grace Tully, Iowa City
  • 4) Shauneen Linton, Des Moines

  • Handspun Garment / Fashion Accessory
  • 1) JoAnne Pruitt, Marion
  • 2) Vicki Tardy, Iowa City
  • 3) Christine Thomson, Cedar Rapids
  • 4) Mary Boulet, Cedar Rapids

  • HANDSPUN YARN  Wool, Lace Weight
  • 1) Katelyn Mathews, Marshalltown
  • 2) Rebecca Roush, Cedar Rapids
  • 3) Grace Tully, Iowa City
  • 4) Laura Juliano, Urbandale
  • Wool, Worsted Weight
  • 1) Elizabeth Bovenmyer, Ames
  • 2) Grace Tully, Iowa City
  • 3) Julie Minot, Madrid
  • 4) Vicki Tardy, Iowa City
  • Honorable Mention) Laura Juliano, Urbandale

  • HANDSPUN WOOL, Bulk Weight
  • 1) Linda Bergquist, Iowa City
  • 2) Laura Juliano, Urbandale
  • 3) Julie Minot, Madrid
  • Other Animal Fibers, Lace Weight
  • 1) Julie Minot, Madrid
  • Other Animal Fibers, Bulky Weight
  • 1) Julie Minot, Madrid
  • Two-ounce Skein - at least 60% wool or other animal fibers
  • 1) Linda Bergquist, Iowa City
  • 2) Vicki Tardy, Iowa City
  • 3) Rebecca Roush, Cedar Rapids
  • 4) Julie Minot, Madrid
  • Best of Show
  • 1) Linda Bergquist, Iowa City

Friday, August 16, 2019

Craft Guild Hosts Open House 9/8/19; 1-4 pm

Each year for approximately 80 years, the members of the Craft Guild of Iowa City open their doors to share what we do. We are weavers, spinners, knitters, leader, metalworker, or potters,  artisans of all kinds, who work with fiber, beads, metals, and clay.

Silver crafted tray from our 20th open house 

It is a supportive community which  provides educational programs, service to our region and a venue to share our creativity. We maybe first timers to those who have done this for many years. There are beginner classes in many of the arts, mentoring programs and continued education for whatever your skill levels. However, above all, we share a common comradery and support one another throughout the process.

Esther's Teapot

At our open house we display our work (examples shown here) and you can meet artists flexing their creative juices as they work on a recent project. You may look around, join the guild, pay your dues or simply have some punch and cookies.

Nancy's Quilt
The Rug Weaving Study Group

What a spinner does when you have
fleece and an imagination. 
Craig"s dish ready for firing in the potters' studio
Come enjoy the day, but DON"T FORGET TO STAY FOR THE COOKIES. See you there.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Time-Out Thursday@MWC Uncommon Threads

Registrations are in, We are getting our materials for whatever workshops or seminars we chose and now what. If you arrive either for a preconference or before the official beginning of the conference, think about Time Out Thursdays.  Several mini projects will be available as indicated on the flyer. Check at Registration for scheduling and availability. 

Friday, April 12, 2019

7 Days 'til Registration Closes-MWC 2019: Uncommon Threads

We are fast approaching the deadline for the incedible MWA conference 2019: Uncommon threads. If you have not registered you only have:  
7 days 'til Registration Closes

Register online at
Yesterday, guild members got together to pack up the kits for 'Time-out Thursday". Amidst the threads, fibers, the textures and colors was laughter, coffee and cake. We are getting excited to host the upcoming Midwest Weavers Conference 2019: Uncommon Threads on the magnificent Grinnell College campus. 
Before the opening session, come make Dorset buttons, popholders, Celtic Knot mat,  Kumihimo Braids, and more or just join us to spin, laugh and relax as we settle in for a fun conference.  Look for the signs for "Time-Out Thursday" near the Registration check-in. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Marilyn Moore Shares her Passion: Weaving Uncommon Threads

Crafted from Metal, embellished with beads and color

Iowa City and the Craft Guild are excited by a new resident, Marilyn Moore, a fiber artist who through color, fiber and form produces the most magnicient pieces, one of a kind jewelry, baskets, and vessels. She presented and trunk show at our guild meeting last month. And Marilyn will be conducting seminars at the Midwest Weavers Conference at Grinnell in June. What an opportunity to learn from the best. Just being around her dyanamic personality, makes you want to try something new.
          Register Now:  Registration Closing April 19, 2019

June 22, 2019. Explore, Experience, Create: Adventures in Wire Cloth. 
June 23, 2019. Catch of the Day, and Basket Beauties.
For more information:  https.// 

Marilyn's seminar will teach this technique

Marilyn shared that her work was more of a process, how she incorporates, shapes and color into something exquisite is always in flux.  She begins with a basis sketch, and almost as a living thing, the item dictates becomes,  which in turn, impacts what it is or does.  Sometimes, it's just the way the air moves around or within a piece that guides her.  Truly this is Uncommon Weaving
We were privy to such beeautiful things...bajello basket, jewelry, Sargasso, Opera bags from wire cloth, and there were bowls, baskets, some coiled fron sweet grass and embriodered with pine needles; or wire and wirecloth; or leather stitched in linen.  WOW 

Our mini-trunk show of baskets, vessels crafted from wire,
raffia, linen, accented with beads

Each vessels defined in the process
The center of a round tray 
Wow, is all I can say. Iowa City is now home to one very talented artist. Thank you. 

Monday, March 4, 2019

Quilters’ “Sew-in” and String Piecing

Within the blue sashing is a 6 inch 9-patch block.
After the polar vortex went through our area and shut down everything, we finally were able to meet. While it's still cold, still snowy, this is Iowa, so... our quilting group and several guests gathered to have a classic "sew-in" last week. Check out all the ways to use string (scrap strips) in new quilt designs. Nancy presented an incredible program explain how to use strips, what patterns work, and how to adapt patterns to string piecing. It was fascinating how small the scraps could be, and just how many patterns are derived out of necessity. Of course, that necessity in my house and many quilter's studios is TOO MUCH FABRIC. Yes, I said it. We all know it's true, but isn't there always just one more piece staring back, clamoring to come home with me. And I just "hafta".

Dodi Paulsen ( or Two Sisters at Squirrel Hollow) and many other quilt pattern designers have developed patterns that use strips. Just check out youu-tube. Dodi's string-me-along pattern uses a central focus fabric and adds whatever strips you chose to form a 7-1/4" block.  The layout determines the final look. A few other commercial patterns that I have used: Broken Glass by Edyta Sitar,; Dancing Stars by Cozy quilt designs,; The Magic Hour quilt by M'Liss Raw Hawley.

Nancy doesn't use commercial patterns, she just let her block guide the layout and design.  Sounds so easy. She does design a block the old-fashion way: paper, pencil and ruler. She already has her strips organized by color. Grab a bag of strips, her idea and off she goes.

 Piano Key border that frame these scrap string pieced blocks is the basic strip used within the blocks.
This quilt is basically strips laid into hexagons; you can use scrap strips or jellyrolls.  
Nancy brought sooo many different quilt examples which really drove home the point that we really can use our stash/scraps. Let's all see if we can produce just one quilt, runner, or anything using those strips. Thanks, Nancy! We had fiber, sewing, brownies/fudge with mushrooms..laughter ensued, yeah, you had to be there. We had fun. 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

June 20-22, 2019 MWA Conference 2019: UNCOMMON THREADS

Our guild is hosting the Midwest Weavers Conference 2019: UNCOMMON THREADS at Ginnell College. Amy Norris and John Mullarkey will be the keynote speakers. Two accomplisherd weavers, two different styles, but complementary personalities. Each loves the challenges of structure, and each is eager to try something new. Such an exciting duo to share their love and talent with us. 

Registration opens February 2, 2019. Registration Closes April19, 2019
Go to the conference website., click on conference, click on Dowload for the conference booklet containing everything you wanted to know to make your conference decisions.  

Here are some of the categories of the numerous 
 seminars offered over the three day conference. 

There will be preconference workshops (6/17-19), guild and members exhibits, a non-juried fashion show, vendors; there will be so many opportunities to learn new things, meet new friends and visit with other weavers, spinners and artists. There will also be a "Fiber Artists of Iowa" exhibit in the Faulconer Gallery at Grinnell College from June 14-July 20, 2019,  with its Opening Reception on June 20.

So much to see, so much to do, so many people to meet...Don't forget...Registration opens February 2, 2019. Go to the conference website., click on conference, click on Dowload for the conference booklet containing everything you wanted to know to make your conference decisions