Join is this Thursday December 20th for our holiday potluck. Gathering begins at Elfrieda’s house at 11:00 am. Call her for directions and updates.
Bring something tasty!!
Join is this Thursday December 20th for our holiday potluck. Gathering begins at Elfrieda’s house at 11:00 am. Call her for directions and updates.
Bring something tasty!!
For the Praxis Fiber Workshop Open House in early June of 2015, Darcy and I went together. The youth and enthusiasm of their artistic souls is revitalizing an area once abandoned and mourned as dead. We shared the mature feeling that it is always better to explore new vistas and questionable neighborhoods with a buddy. It turned out that the only thing we had to fear were the road craters that created challenging conditions between here and there. We parked on the street with no troubles.
There was a little fanfare. A few bright balloons marked the location, and live music spilled out the front door. We walked past people scattered on the sidewalk and the front stoop carefully unwrapping indigo tie dye t-shirts. Just inside the front window, a man played guitar on the left side of the stage while a woman played a 4-harness jack loom to the right.
The entry quickly opened into a comfortable gallery space with a TAA show presenting a wide range of fiber talents. I made sure to absorb and enjoy the offerings of so talented a group, but people I recognized kept assuring me that I really had to go out back. I was determined to explore in a leisurely and logical fashion, but I promised them that I would get there.
I passed through the door into the middle space. To the left was a shiny spacious dye zone with everything one could covet in equipment. A crowd gathered in an orderly fashion to wait or work on their own free artisan t-shirt created from their own creative hands.
The dye demo of tie-dye indigo produced crowd fulls of the same color shirts; all unique and individual in their design.
Not being much of a t-shirt person, my gaze was drawn right and captured by a very large room filled with mostly large looms. Countermarches formerly used at CIA line up like an army waiting to ride into the next wave of discovery.
A small zone of jack looms is tucked in toward the back. There are large empty rooms on the far side suitable and available for private studio rental.
The emptiness and openness quickly became foreign and uncomfortable, so I moved back to the main area and rejoiced in the joy of seeing so many looms in one place without being at my own home.
I passed equipment storage and a cozy library nook before heading out back as suggested. They had opened the overhead door into the back lot to allow easy access to the large felted creation growing over a large blue tarp spread out over the ground. It was pure art in both its form and function.
The process started with a table piled high with many colors of wool roving. Some attempt had been made to separate and sort the colors, but the choices were numerous enough to force some overlap in the piles.
A bright blue caught my eye. I pulled off a healthy hand full from the sliver and started to stretch and thin it. When I was satisfied with its diaphanous nature, I slipped off my shoes, choose a spot and placed my bit of blue. I added a squirt of soap and started to introduce the sudsy fibers into the work with my bare feet. Many others were dancing over the wet and wooly bits to coerce it all into one cohesive cloth. I was happy to add my bit of color to their opening endeavor. I left with a smile and exceptionally clean toes.
Classes are available to satisfy all the stages of a fiber-focused education. Those big open rooms are available for private rental, as is the dye zone. The staff is young, enthusiastic, and obviously competent. They are friendly, warm, welcoming, and well trained.
We will arrange a tour for our group, but it is located close by and worth a visit anytime. With the range of classes they are offering, you might not want to wait. Check out their website here.
Picture an event more reminiscent of a hobbit than a Hemingway; not containing enough adrenaline or alcohol to inspire a memory of Pamplona or allow use of the word stampede. Three hundred dry merino sheep move through the streets of Queenstown, New Zealand, in a quick but relatively orderly procession. Fifty rams mixed in keeps just that hint of danger. Barriers line the route to keep the chances of any bloody fool sustaining bodily injuries to a minimum, but I would think the chances of slipping while trying to cross the street right after it’s over are about 50/50. In the long-gone old days, this would just be called taking the sheep to market. In today’s world, where people have no clue where wool comes from; it’s a world news event called The Running of the Wools.
Founder Steve Hollander started this event to help people remember and celebrate the things that built Queenstown. He assures me that the first time was a great success and the sheep will run again next year. This soon-to-be annual procession is part of the Hilux NZ Rural Games, which takes place in early February over the Waitangi Day holiday weekend. A quick check of their website shows the other events planned to give the visitor many things to see once the sheep have gotten to where they’re going. Serious competitions listed with the word speed in front of them included coal shoveling, sheep shearing, hand milking (cows), tree climbing, tree chopping, fencing (building), and gold panning. Events judged by distance include the traditional Highland heavies-the caber toss, stone, sheaf toss and farmer’s walk as well as the lighter cherry pit spit and gumboot throw. Slower precision events include the egg toss and, of course, there are sheep dogs herding lots of sheep.
I know it’s a long long way to go for a field trip, but if next February gets to be as cold as it was here this February, witnessing the Running of the Wools might be just enough excuse to visit somewhere where it’s naturally Summer during that time of the year. It looks like Queenstown is a pretty place, and they have lots and lots of beautiful soft merino. I wonder how much one can cram into a carry-on?
The request came in through the website; a commission was being offered. A weaver was needed to make an inkle belt. Few of us must weave for money, and an inkle would never create enough income for the idea to entice most of our members. Eyes quickly glazed and looked away at the mere thought.
Then our web mistress sent the message directly to me. It seemed this person was persistent in her quest and had asked please again. She was going to the Artic for three weeks in February and wanted an inkle belt to wear while there. In an effort to let her down gently, and maybe get a little bit of a story, I contacted her and asked her exactly what she wanted. She told me she had already bought a belt but was disappointed by it. She assumed I would find her odd when she explained that it would do, but it was the wrong red. It was not the red she wanted to see cutting through the great white Arctic expanses and would clash with the rest of her ensemble. She was working diligently to make her anorak (an eskimo windbreaker) and moose hide mittens; wisely leaving her necessary footwear to the professional mukluk makers. She still had more than a month to find a weaver to create her bright red belt of her dreams. She had to try.
I have many inkle looms. The world of weaving hardly gets simpler. I have many red yarns; only needing to make a choice in material, diameter and hue. She’s a neighbor, only living a mile from me. She seemed weird enough to be a weaver, so I felt compelled to help. I offered to set up the loom and show her how to weave it herself with a little coaching. She loved the idea, and we agreed to meet.
The next day I took a few books and one of my little inkles and went to see and show. The blue and white demo warp had been worked by many hands large and small over the years, but she still saw the beauty of the structure despite the obvious tension changes. She fingered the cloth and said she thought it was neat, but really wasn’t anything like the belt she bought. She brought out what she had, and she was right. I was showing her an inkle. She was holding a ceinture fléchée.
It wasn’t even a pretty ceinture fléchée; machine made from chunky poly yarns in uninspiring colors. It was a big thick French Canadian belt 6 feet long, 5 inches wide, and a structure so stiff you could beat back a bear with it. Trappers wore them wrapped twice around the waist. They could use them as utility belts and back braces when heavy loads required more lumbar support than usual. Cinched tightly enough, even I might be able to move a moose, but that particular belt was unattractive enough that I wouldn’t have wanted to wear it even in the Arctic. She brought out a book to show me her inspiration photo. The front cover showed a woman happily dragging a sled across the frozen tundra. A bright red belt circled her waist, and that photo was laid over a much closer view of the belt. It was a beautiful Pendleton red Metis ceinture fléchée, stunning enough to inspire, and worthy of wear anywhere. I completely understood and wanted to help, so we had to quickly move to a plan B.
It turns out that my personal textile collection contains two ceinture fléchées, one of which is a beautiful Pendleton red Metis. They both came through Bertie, so I have no real knowledge of their history or monetary value. None of that has ever mattered to me as I consider them all priceless and have no desire to sell off a single stitch. I was willing to rent the belt to her on the condition that she return it with the story when she came back and thawed out, but we both had concerns over its eventual condition after three weeks in the Arctic. When I found her one she could buy and keep forever, we settled into the perfect plan C. A Canadian company named Etchiboy has a website where you can pick from many beautiful ceinture fléchées. She ordered a stunning red and white belt for about the same price I would have charged her to rent mine. I get to keep my ceinture fléchées safe and warm, and she has her total, completely coordinated, eskimo suit; stylishly worn on her intrepid Arctic adventure to keep together forever. It turned out that what she thought she wanted wasn’t what she thought, but what she really wanted she eventually got.
We did decide to make up a few matching tassels to sew on her mukluks (the lady on the book had hers flying in the picture) to really complete the look. I made one extra tassel on a clip in sparkly blue and white. It did not match her colors, so the rest of her intrepid expedition will share it, with the hope of its eventual return it to me with pictures and the story of its Arctic travels.
This is where Marcia eludes, outruns, or is eaten by a polar bear… update to come when and if she returns…
Come say hello, or come help us say goodbye to Marcos Antonio Bautista Vasquez, a Zapotec master weaver from Oaxaca, Mexico. He has been a treasured guest of the Northeastern Ohio weaving guilds. It is time for us to return him.
Please join us Saturday, November 1st, at Church of the Savior, 2537 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights, OH. The community potluck begins at 5:00 pm. Marcos will give a presentation at 7:00 pm covering his culture, his weaving and dyeing, his designs and techniques, and the fair trade cooperative he belongs to that is made up of 20 weaving families in his village.
Bring family. Bring friends. Bring anyone you’d like, but remember to bring a dish to share.
Eastern Great Lakes Fiber Conference met in Chautauqua, New York, for the 2011 gathering. The weather was wonderful. Clear, bright, warm, and dry enough to demand you look up and recognize the glorious autumn in the trees. Just enough brisk at the edges of the day, comfortably toasty by afternoon to open all the windows and drink in the fresh air.
Walking down to lunch from the classrooms at the midday break, we did have the option of taking a longer, safer route that followed the road, but most of us were brave enough to chance the grassy hill that tucks just behind our destination. It’s a manageable risk that shortens the time to lunch. The first half of the journey comes to and through the tennis courts. The concrete path is clear, level, well maintained, and marked at the steps with a 3-inch band of warning paint. The slope is gentle: forward a few feet then down a few inches in easy progression.
As I came out the door, I saw a younger couple playing tennis. I thought it a good day for that type of thing if that’s the type of thing you liked. I tried to keep my mind busy with the mysteries of bound weave, but she was playing so badly I couldn’t stop watching. She’d miss, then laugh, and he’d try to gently advise. She’d connect, and the ball would launch. I guessed them to be a new couple as he kept patient as she kept giggling. I thought back to my tennis days; too small for a one-handed hold, I missed almost everything presented and connected only by chance. I hated tennis. As another yellow missile cleared the fence, I heard myself mumble, “Even I could play better than that.”
At that moment the universe reminded me that my opinion is sometimes more fantasy than fact. My right foot came down too far over the well-marked edge. A quick teeter and drop, and the toe of my shoe wedged into the crack like a pole vault. I went up and over and came straight down like a timbered tree.
Luckily my stride is close enough that my left leg almost had enough time to get out there and stabilize the situation before my face hit the pavement. My poor knee took the hit, but I’m sure I got the best of possibilities. I kinda hope that lady saw it, maybe she was chasing a ball and was faced just enough in the right direction to have caught my fall out of the corner of her eye. She could have thought to herself, “Well, I can’t play tennis, but at least I can walk better than that.”
There were many hands to help me up, and the Chautauqua kitchen crew provided a gallon-sized zipper bag to fill with ice. I managed lunch and the afternoon class, but by dinner things started to purple and swell. I excused myself and went back to the room to rest. I had left everything that could distract me up in the class, so I sat. Before long, Sarah and Debbie came to check on their poor roomie, choosing to pass on the general gathering in the lounge in favor of keeping me company.
We were talking when a woman appeared in our doorway. She saw me, stopped, turned and said, “Are you all right?” Well, I generally am, but I don’t like to lie, so I said, “No, not currently.” She wailed, “What happened?” I answered with the truth. “I fell down and went boom.” I lifted the edge of my dress to reveal the thumb-sized scrape on my knee and the dime-sized one on the top of the other foot. “Oh,” she sighed. “Boom,” she agreed. She asked my diagnostic guess and chosen course of treatment and then told me I needed a compression sock to keep the swelling down on my ankle. Before I could even confess to not having one, she volunteered, “I have an extra.”
She disappeared and reappeared and put it in my hand. As she stepped back, she asked the obvious question, got the negative in reply, and proceeded to show me how and help me put on the sock. Once it was on and wrinkle free, she gathered up all our extra blankets and built a platform on which I could elevate my ankle for the duration. It throbbed, but I thanked her. She blew healing kisses, and she was gone. Maintaining such a position throughout the night provided for a light and fitful sleep. The bright side of that is that my roommates didn’t have another night of my snoring.
I woke up the next morning pain free. It was a miracle. I went to class, went to lunch, treadled more in the afternoon and took my turn on the runway at the fashion show after dinner. I met the woman who had saved my weekend and thanked her as best I could for her immeasurable assistance. I returned her sock, but I will get my own and keep it in a superstitious attempt to ward off future acts of uncoordination.
I left a little bit of myself at Chautauqua, added in to the local ecosystem. Not much really, just a few thin localized layers. It may leave a mark as well as a memory.
I love knitters. They are constructive and creative and all are armed with sharp sticks. Long ago it seems they claimed the acronym UFO as the shortened reference to unfinished object, and all seem to object to my use of the same acronyn in reference to my room full of cones of Unidentified Fiber Origin.
Almost all the fiber I have acquired has come second hand, and quite a bit of it is a complete mystery. What and where and how much have paled in comparison to pretty or shiny or soft in my purchasing decisions, and some skeins and cones I embrace with no questions asked. I have enough that it requires an easy reference.
In an effort not to rile the pointy stick people, I propose the following option: FU (pronounced foo) fiber. Fiber Unidentified. Burning may give a clue, but it’s always FU to you.
Details on the CWG field trip to Canton to view the kimono exhibit:
The tour is
We will meet at Village Square (Chagrin & 271) to carpool.
Park nearer to Brainard at the eastern end of the lot.
We will leave the Village Square parking lot at 10:00 am.
Our tour is scheduled to start at the Canton Museum at 11:00 am.
If you have a membership with CMA, you’ll get in for free.
If you don’t, it’s $10 for adults or $7 for seniors.
As a group, we’ll have to pay $20 for the guide, so bring a dollar or two for that.
Lunch after is a definite possibility (but heretofore unarranged)
This event does NOT replace the meeting and coverlet presentation on April 16th.
Set-up for the Beachwood Library show is Friday February 27th starting as soon as the doors open at 9:00 am. Drop-off time is 9:00 to 10:00 am. Make sure that your offerings are there even if you aren’t; and please don’t bring anything for which you haven’t told Darcy to make a label.
On February 19th, 2009 we will welcome Robin Hanson as our guest speaker. She is the Textile Conservator with the Cleveland Museum of Art. Ms. Hanson will give a presentation on how best to preserve the textiles we hold and cherish. She will demonstrate some of the professional techniques and materials used. Bring in your own treasures for individual evaluations and advice.
Lunch at 11:30 am, speaker at 12:30 pm.