July 2010

One of the wonderful results of my pursuit of weaving the past few years has been a renewed interest in sewing for myself.  When my children were young, the only sewing time I could muster was the occasional curtain or pillow…squares and rectangles.

But when I discovered I could weave fabric yardage my past world of sewing clothes returned.  Part of the frustration of sewing today is that most fabric stores only sell “craft” material.  You must go to the bigger cities of New York, Chicago, and Washington D.C. to find anything approaching a serious fabric store for garment construction.

That’s why I was so delighted to find Marcy Tilton’s website.  She not only sells the terrific patterns she designs for Vogue, but she also searches out the finest fabrics that she makes available for sale. Recently I purchased some stretch woven and double knit fabrics to make into pants.  In addition, I bought two of her fine dvds which feature details related to garment construction in Paris and creative ways to design your own t-shirts.

I have found that the content of her dvds is just like having a workshop at home at a time when it’s convenient for me. I am very excited to put some of her techniques into practice and get my sewing machine going again for my garment needs.

I’d like to announce a new venture I am launching today called Craft a Guild.  This name respresents both a website and an e-book that I have put together to serve the fiber guild community.

Many of us belong to a guild and invest our time and energy into serving it while also enjoying the learning and fellowship that it represents.  Craft a Guild was written to help people have healthy vibrant guilds in their fiber-focused areas.

If you’re a knitter, sewer, weaver, spinner, dyer, felter, lace maker, or beader this site is for you. You’ll find information about starting a guild, finding a guild that meets your interests, or advancing the mission of your existing guild.

On the site, I am offering the book for sale plus the chance to subscribe to a monthly newsletter.  If you subscribe, you’ll get a copy of my 12 Tips for Effective Craft Workshops.

Here’s a look at the front page.

I hope you’ll take the time to visit Craft a Guild and see what you think.  Feel free to leave comments and suggestions.

I will still maintain Between the Threads.  This will always be the place where I can talk about my personal fiber pursuits!

I usually have a small (okay maybe large) list of fiber goals each season.  It’s often wishful thinking.  But occasionally I actually make some respectable progress.

This year I really wanted to find an easy way to make socks.  I love hand knitted socks; it’s luxurious to put your feet into something thick and warm when the weather gets cold.  So I searched out some potential books and settled on Cat Bordhi’s Personal Footprints for Insouciant Sock Knitters.

Cat’s the sock guru and her toe up, personalized method really worked for me.  And when I would get stuck on a particular aspect of her method, I found she had video support segments on YouTube.  What a brilliant idea.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the car this summer traveling with my family and I always take my knitting along.  My socks are almost done.

In the picture you can see the cardboard cutout of my foot with markings on it.  This is part of Cat’s wonderful personalized method.  You may have also noticed that I knit with double pointed needles.  In an age when everyone is fascinated with the circular needle method of knitting, I find that I still knit better with dpn’s.  Strange but true.

I have enough yarn for two more pairs of these socks. I’ll have to plan some more knitting road trips!

One of my travel goals every year is to ride a new bike trail with my family.  Because of the popularity of bike trails, particularly the rail-trail variety, I’ve been able to accomplish that goal for all of the last 10 years.

Over the weekend, yet another new trail was added to my family’s list.  About a two hour drive from Cleveland is the Allegheny River Trail, a wonderful former railroad line turned into a meandering bike trail along the Allegheny River.  Flat and paved, it was perfect.

Even though there are lots of trees, the trail was fairly exposed to the sun during a significant part of the afternoon ride.  But while it was a hot ride that July afternoon, the cool view of the river was inviting.

The history of the region is interesting. It was the site of an oil boom in Western Pennsylvania during the 1800s.  John Wilkes Booth was an early but ultimately unsuccessful investor.  But others made a fortune.  You can see some old oil wells on parts of the trail, some abandoned for over 100 years.

One of the nice features of the trail is the Belmar Bridge which spans the river and provides a nice surface to walk or ride.

Finding interesting trails to ride is one of the happiest parts of my summers.  And a trail with a story is a real bonus.

My sister has a house on Lake Blue Ridge in Georgia where the family gathered late last month for a week of vacation.  It’s a very long drive down there from Northern Ohio, but I managed to do some sock knitting along the way.  I also brought some of my fiber projects for show and tell, but otherwise we all concentrated on the beauty surrounding us.

Lake Blue Ridge is one of many bodies of water created decades ago by the Tennessee Valley Authority.  It’s a lovely location with beautiful homes dotting the lakeside. Thanks to a very protective population, most of the development is controlled and much of the land surrounding it is federal forest.

At night the the top deck of the dock is a great place to stargaze thanks largely to the fact that there is no light pollution. 

It’s always hard to come back to concrete suburbia after a nice week away in the mountains.  Our family looks forward to returning soon to the warm waters and mountain vistas of Lake Blue Ridge.

I don’t know about you, but sleying a reed while it’s on my loom is rough on my arms and back.  Believe me, as a short person I’m used to adapting to my height challenges.  But I was never really able to get comfortable with it, until I took a workshop (Kathie’s…again) in which I was introduced to reed holders.

It’s changed my life, I kid you not.  Apparently it’s a Swedish warping method that’s been used for decades; maybe longer. You set your reed in the holders at a table of your choice and sit in a comfortable position.  Your warp lays on the table with lease sticks in the cross and you can sley the reed at your leisure.

After I finished using it at the workshop, I quickly ordered a set made by Glimakra and sold by Vavstuga Weaving School.

The string in the middle was another way to keep the threads in order.  With two threads per dent, I just put the first thread under the string and the second on top.  When I brought the reed back to the loom to thread the heddles, it helped prevent the threads from twisting in the warp.

One of things I love about weaving is the discovery of so many techniques to make your life easier and your weaving more efficient.  I’m hooked on using reed holders to make my loom dressing a much more pleasant experience.