Friday, April 4, 2014

On how knitting makes the world smaller

Gary and I were at a bar on a small island, very far away, about a week ago. It was open mic night, and the talent was varied and amazing. Gary struck up a conversation with our table mates, and somehow worked it in that I am a knitter.

"Susan - we have a knitter!", said Suki.

Susan immediately came to welcome me and struck up a conversation about knitting. I told her that I have loads of experience helping knitters, as I used to own a yarn shop. I enjoyed ten years of picking up dropped stitches, deciphering patterns, and mostly giving encouragement, and boosting confidence.

Before long Susan had invited me to come back in a year, stay with her and knit with her island knitting group. I am charmed and thrilled. I also found out that she had taken a class with Sarah Peasley, who happens to be a very good friend.  So - small world. Small, friendly world if you are lucky enough to be a knitter!

I have experienced the power of knitting as an ice breaker before. It happens often in groups that expect you to be a knitter, such as the major knitting conferences, or at retreats. But occasionally I get to meet another knitter under other circumstances - and every time, gain an instant bond. 

Here is a picture of tapestry #3 in progress. Only about 3 inches more to go. Though I started this over two months ago, it seems to have the feel of the ocean, and maybe the beach.  I didn't plan it that way.

Sunday I am teaching a double heddle for the rigid heddle loom class. There are a couple of open spots, but you need to have a remeasured warp ready to go. Call 517-203-4467 for more information.

Friday, February 21, 2014

2014 MLH Summer Workshops

You are invited to participate in the Michigan League of Handweavers’ three day workshops taking place from August 8-10 at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.   For many of us it will be a hard choice to pick only one of our eight gifted instructors.

Dawn Edwards is back to teach Explorations in Nuno-Felt and Eco-Printing.  All skill levels will experience the magic of felting silk and wool into a lightweight scarf which will be enhanced by eco printing.

In Wynne Mattila’s class, Finnish Runner/Cotton Rug Technique, students will take home a table runner which they designed and wove in the Finnish rag rug style using cotton fabric strips as weft.  Students must be able to warp a loom and read a draft.

Connie Lippert will teach Wedge Weave Fundamentals.  In contrast to most weaves, which are woven on a plane horizontal to the loom, wedge weave is woven on the diagonal. This results in a weft-faced product with many distinctive characteristics and exciting design potential.  Student Level: Intermediate.

Inge Dam’s class, Tablet Woven Side Borders, will teach students to weave tablet borders simultaneously with loom weaving, adding  a unique art edge to your work.  Students must know Plain Weave.

Jenny Schu will share in her class, 3 Day Beaded Leaves and Variations,  her stunning technique for the basic beaded leaf component and variations that you will use in the design of your jewelry or embellishment in your fiber work.  All skill levels welcome.

Holly Brackmann comes to us with Dyeing without a Dyepot: Disperse Dyes
Students will learn to use copy machine transfers, yarn transfers, rubbings, monoprinting, Thermofax screen printing, painting, stamping, foiling, stitching, resist and collage techniques to produce endless design possibilities on a variety of fabrics.
No dye experience required.

Nancy McRay will teach us Foundations of Tapestry   Learn to weave an art tapestry with discontinuous weft yarns that make a designed image on plain weave fabric.  Please bring a tapestry loom with adjustable tension and a shedding device.  Beginners are welcome.

Rosalie Neilson’s class, It’s in the Warp: Color & design in Rep Learn how blocks of Rep threaded on four or eight shafts, can be combined to expand the design possibilities of warp-faced Rep weave.

MLH presents to you, a talented group of instructors who are eager to show you ways to broaden your knowledge in extra ordinary ways.

For more information and to sign up visit

Monday, February 17, 2014

Interlochen Summer Adult arts programs

Yes - I am on the schedule with two classes - dyeing your own yarn, and Beginning Rigid Heddle Weaving. I love being in the Traverse City area, and I love planning and teaching classes. I am pretty happy about Summer at the moment. 

I enjoyed my part in helping plan these classes with my friend Leslie Donaldson - the fiber arts programs are just some of the wonderful art classes being offered for adults on the Interlochen campus this Summer. The best part is - this is not all. We have some other plans forming right now!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

I agree with Anne Lamott and Woody Alan about this one thing: the importance of showing up. Once the decision has been made to put all your eggs into the creative basket - be it painting, writing, weaving, or whatever, all the trolls and devils come to the surface. 

Why does this matter? 

It isn't any good anyway. 

You are just making more stuff that nobody will care about. 

The only way past these monsters is to show up anyway. Show up and do the work. Try not too judge it too harshly.  

This has become my process and my practice since selling Woven Art  - my yarn shop. I work hard to set aside judgement, and just show up in my studio every day. And it is working. I am working. Often I do not know what or why. I believe part of my growth as an artist will be to become more at ease with this uncertainty. 

I take refuge in teaching. It is pleasurable, and a measurable achievement to share knowledge. It also requires that I study - to deepen my own knowledge of the field. Another pleasure. 

Pictured here is the second tapestry in my series. I did not know when I began it exactly what it would turn out to look like. I find myself surprised every day. When you look at this, understand that it is woven from the bottom to the top.  Warm tones turned to dark, with a glaring contrast - the final strip of blue really took me by surprise. 

Now I get to start another one next week. No idea what it will be - but I will show up to make it all the same.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tiny Toes

I have been knitting baby socks since last Wednesday, when my grand daughter Teagan decided to come into the world. Her toes are just too precious. I must cover them in cuteness. The yarn is a left over ball of Zauberball Crazy, from my stash. There is quite a bit left - so I am just going to knit  unmatching socks until the yarn is gone. The pattern is called Baby Socks, by Bianca Boonstra, available as a free download on Ravelry. They are fast and fun, and with the crazy yarn, all a little bit different. 

Tapestry progress:

The second in my stream-of-consciousness series is centimeters from being complete. The time frame for this one began around Thanksgiving, which I celebrated on an organic farm in Tucson with my daughter, husband and friends. It was woven through the increasingly cold and snowy winter, the Christmas ice storm, and subsequent power outage. It marked the unexpected passing of my brother-in-law, and will be completed shortly after the recent arrival of our newest family member.  I can see the influence of my life and experiences reflected in the progress of this piece.  I think I should rotate it to the right 90 degrees for hanging. Tilt your head to the left to see what I mean.

I am beginning to think about the next one. Planning ahead is not allowed in this process, but I have been dying brighter colors for the handspun weft. Can't wait to see what happens in my next tapestry.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Teaching Schedule update

I have some busy months ahead. I have updated my teaching schedule - so if you are interested, you can find out more by clicking on that tab, above.
In addition to a full schedule of classes at Woven Art, I am very pleased to be teaching Foundations of Tapestry this Summer at the MLH conference in Holland Michigan, August 8-10. I don't have all the details on that yet - so stay tuned!

I am very excited about new fiber art opportunities springing up at Interlochen College of Creative Arts this Summer. You will find a whole host of wonderful classes for adults at Everything from Mountain Dulcimer to Drawing to Encaustic painting to, ahem, dyeing and weaving. And knitting! There is even a fiber arts package that includes:

Dye your own yarn - Nancy McRay - June 29
 in this class we will dye yarn using several different methods. If you buy the whole package you can, if you choose, use your very own hand dyed yarn for the weaving class, or the knitting class.

Jewelry Beading - Jenny Schu- June 30
 in this class you will make a peyote stitch bracelet

Beginning Weaving on a Rigid Heddle Loom - Nancy McRay - July 1
  learn how to set up and weave on this very simple, but potent loom

Beginning Knitting - Sarah Peasley - July 2
 learn all the techniques to get you going.

Lots of you have garden plans to cheer you through the long months of Winter. I am warmed by the thought of all the classes I get to teach, and all the fun places my fiber art takes me.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Polar Vortex

The Polar Vortex is no match for Lucy the wonder dog. She is here to save you from the bitter cold, entertain you and play fetch with you until your arms fall off. When I am not playing with (as in taking things out of her mouth) my Lucia, I am trying to figure out how to work this:
Introducing the newest loom to my studio - the Little Weaver from AVL.  She is adorable! 16 harnesses and 15 inch weaving width. I have her all threaded up in a 16 shaft point twill. We are still working on computer and software incompatibility.  I am hopeful I will have that resolved by the end of this week.

When I am not playing with those two I am working on a collapse weave scarf on my Jane table loom from Louet.  I must finish this by tomorrow, as I will be allowing a student to borrow this loom for class. Yes - weaving class starts tomorrow - I have 7 weavers. So great!