February 2010

I spent a wonderful 40 minutes on SKYPE last night talking to Kathie Roig, a talented fiber and weaving artist who will be conducting a workshop for my guild on Painted Warps.  I can’t wait to meet her in person because she sounds like a truly lovely person.  We discussed the 2 1/2 day workshop and the materials needed for designing and painting warps both on the loom and off the loom.  Kathie is asking all participants to bring a photo or postcard of something that will inspire them regarding color and pattern.  She believes this will initiate creative thinking when paint meets fiber.

Yesterday, my husband took a photograph of something in our yard and the color and shape spoke to me.

Being a little color-challenged, I never would have considered combining orange and turquoise with hints of violet and cream.  But nature has a way of putting perfect, but unpredictable, colors and shapes in the landscape.

I don’t know if this will be the final inspiration I bring to the workshop.  We don’t gather as a group until April and I’m sure more eye candy awaits as Spring approaches. But I’m very confident I will come with many potential ideas.

Every Tuesday since the beginning of January, my youngest son participates in a ski club for homeschoolers. Boston Mills, a local ski resort, is located in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, a gem of beauty in Northeast Ohio.  While he tears up the ski hills, I am left to bide my time in some meaningful way for several hours. Fortunately, I found the Peninsula library, a quiet little facility with friendly librarians and a stunning view of the woods and river out the back of a comfortable reading room.

In this meeting room, I am surrounded by books which chronicle the village’s history and a display of how an outstanding exterior mural was designed and built in the 1960s.  Artist Honore Guilbeau Cooke designed a slightly abstract mural about transportation into the Cuyahoga Valley wrapped around the Ohio and Erie Canal, Cuyahoga River, B&O Railroad, and major roads in and out of the national park.

Peninsula was a center for boat building and stone quarries back in the day.  Today it has retained its historic integrity with many original buildings from the 1800s. I enjoy browsing in the new bookstore, art galleries and shops on Tuesdays but I look forward to warmer days when my family and I will pass through Peninsula riding our bikes on the Towpath bike trail.

For Christmas, I received a subscription to the Swedish Magazine, Vav Magasinet.  I had heard so many wonderful things about this beautiful publication.  Yesterday the second issue came in the mail.

Of course I get the English language edition which they started publishing about four years ago. Because Vav is European, it has a very different feel to it from an editorial standpoint.  It’s friendly and informative with a slightly formal but respectful approach.  They truly honor their national artists and there is great attention to detail.  One of the articles from this issue caught my eye.

It features information and drafts on some beautiful overshot as well as doublecloth pieces with hand embroidery added.  Vav features up to 13 different weaving projects.  This year will explore the theme of textiles and ecology, a surprisingly diverse study of fibers, chemicals, agriculture, and eco-practices such as making quality clothing that wears longer reducing the need to buy more.

It’s always a special day when Vav arrives.  I spend many happy hours pouring through this extraordinary quarterly.

The Olympics are in full swing and so is my fiber spinning project.  After much thought, I decided to spin a mildly bulky singles yarn to use in a knitting to felting  project.  Slippers come to mind.

In an earlier post, I showed the fiber off the drumcarder.  That fiber is coming together as a nicely colored yarn and looks particularly nice in motion on my Louet S-10 DT.

One of the features I like most about my Louet spinning wheel is the large bobbin capacity.  These bobbins hold so much yarn that you rarely have to change them out. 

Before I drumcarded the fiber, I tried spinning the roving straight after dyeing it.  The bobbin on the left shows how defined the colors are, however, the roving was so matted from the dye, it was difficult to draft and strained my wrists.  Drumcarding opened up the fibers for easier drafting, while blending the colors into an attractive mix.  I have much more fiber to spin, but a nightly turn at the wheel should complete the project by the time of the Olympics closing ceremony.

The value of Valentine’s Day has varied for me over the years.  In my elementary school years, my teachers would have the class decorate shoeboxes with red, pink and white hearts; then cut a slot in the top so all of us could excitedly give small valentines to our fellow classmates.  The teenage years held unfulfilled longings for a valentine of flesh and blood.  Newlywed years were exactly what you expect.

When the children arrived, my husband and I just hoped for a good night’s sleep after days filled with play, diapers, high chairs, and nightly bath routines.

Now the kids are adults or “almost” adults and Valentine’s Day is a hoped for respite to gaze at one another 25 plus years later and proclaim “it is good.”  A special dinner, a bottle of wine, and good conversation while the other “adults at home” watch the Olympics in another room pre-occupied with their own romantic thoughts.  Valentine’s Day is special again, complete with flowers, cards, and dessert.  Viva la Valentines!

The predominant color in Northeast Ohio these days is white.  The snow has been flying at a furious pace, although not nearly as wickedly as the eastern seaboard.  But nonetheless, if my car isn’t covered in snow, it’s covered in the white of road salt. 

I need a color fix .  The best place to get it for me is through color studies in weaving.  Even though I am not playing with color on my loom right now, plenty of others are.  I’ve always been particularly impressed with the multi-shaft weaving work of Beryl Moody.  I discovered her work on Flickr and found out she owns Banner Mountain Textiles in California.  Her blog is filled with beautiful, complicated colorwork  weavestructures.

She’s got an amazing project on her loom right now that shouts with color.

5-thread satin blocks

Beryl’s work gives me plenty of inspiration to plan and execute a wonderful weaving project with lots of color.  A beautiful colorwork on the loom adds a ray of sunshine to an otherwise white winter month.

I’m on the mailing list for John Carroll University’s speaker series for the Institute for Catholic Studies.  I was instantly charmed by the postcard I received a month ago featuring Brother Guy Consolmagno’s picture and the title of his upcoming talk on “Adventures of a Vatican Astronomer.”  Really?  I didn’t know the Vatican had an observatory.  This sounded like fun.  So I gathered my family last Thursday and traveled to the college to hear a fascinating presentation of  faith and science and why that combination is the most natural thing in the world.

Brother Guy

Consolmagno is an American Jesuit who works as a  planetary scientist and research astronomer at the Vatican Observatory outside of Rome.  He specializes in meteorites and asteroids and other small bodies in the solar system.

The most impressive part of his talk was how much sense it makes to embrace science and religion; that they can co-exist as part of the truth of the universe.  He feels religion needs science to keep it away from superstition and keep it close to reality, to protect it from creationism, which at the end of the day is a kind of paganism.   “I don’t need science to prove my religion, but I need religion to believe in science,” he said.   He believes in an ordered universe which is proof to him it was made with God’s hand.

Brother Guy has a number of books including his most recent, “The Heavens Proclaim: Astronomy and the Vatican.” I think I’ll give it a read.

What is stecca you ask?  In this case it’s the Italian word for stick and Jim Lahey, author of “My Bread” is referring to  bread sticks or baguettes.  My husband has been on another one of his creative bread making adventures.  Look at the yummy results.

One recipe of dough made these four baguettes.  Two have large grape tomatoes cut in half and the other two have pitted kalamata olives; all pressed into the dough before baking.  The results were delicious.

Additionally, he’s been making our weekly pizza doughs which are a far cry from the store bought dough at my local grocery.

We tried a celeriac or celery root pizza coupled with onion and grated nutmeg. Crispy crust and a soft, creamy topping.  Very unusual and tasty.

Grating nutmeg over the pizza

Other pizzas include olive and red sauce.  You can see why I cherish Friday (pizza) nights!

Green Olive

The Winter Olympics are just nine days away!  I love the Olympics and watch everyday with my family, but I can’t simply sit there for hours in front of the t.v.  So I like to plan a fiber project to keep my hands busy.  Sometimes it’s knitting, sometimes lace tatting.  This year I’ll be spinning. 


This week, I’ve been preparing some roving that I handpainted a couple of summers ago, getting it ready to spin on my wheel the moment the Olympics begin.  I’ve been working at the drumcarder to blend what I call “impressionist” colors and open up the fibers to make it easier to draft. The colors were inspired by many of my favorite impressionist paintings at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

It’s interesting to see how the roving looks before it enters the carder and how the teeth spread it out and blend the colors.  I have a Louet Jr. drumcarder which is narrower than full sized carders, but it’s amazing how much I can load onto it.

               Look at the size of these batts!  They’re huge and fluffy.  I only carded the roving once because I don’t want the colors to blend into oblivion.

I have about 10 of these batts and it will take a good bit of time to spin; I’m not a very fast spinner but I should be able to but a dent in this stash of fiber by the time the Olympics end.

Now I just have to figure out what I’m going to do with the finished yarn.

It’s been extremely cold here in Northeast Ohio for the past week or so.  But the sun was out on Saturday and my family and I decided to spend the day in Coventry, a funky neighborhood in Cleveland Hts.  Coventry has a Bohemian flair that was home to a hippie culture in the 1960s.  Today it mixes ethnic eateries with unique shops.

My main destination was Mac’s Back’s, an independent bookstore with an amazing owner and a wide array of book titles. 


I immediately asked if she had any weaving titles.  Most stores have plenty of knitting and quilting books, handweaving….not so much.  But she disappeared down the basement and recovered a 1956 book called a “Manual of Swedish Handweaving.”  I was properly impressed and purchased it.  We spent an hour going through the titles.  My boys ended up with some great reading.  We bagged our treasures and moved onto a fabulous retro toy store that sent my husband and I down memory lane. 

Big Fun is a unique toy store.

John Lennon glasses

 Silly Putty, gyroscopes, Mallo Bars, wooden snakes, Curious George, slinkys, you name it.  Big Fun is just what it says.  We laughed a lot.

Passport to Peru was one of the last stores we visited.  It was particularly interesting for me as a weaver and knitter.  Many handmade items from South America including a fleece lined, hand knitted jacket/sweater for my one son for $45.  Honestly, you couldn’t make it for that price.  We purchased a hat for my other son.  Wonderful craftsmanship.


A good lunch was had by all at the Mongolian Grill. A very satisfying day!