Goodness.  I’m embarrassed that it’s been so long since I visited with you. The holidays, work, and a variety of factors kept me away from Between the Threads for over a month.  But I’m back with some nice projects to show for it.

During October, I spent some time at the loom weaving up 5 yards of material from Harrisville Shetland Wool cones.  It was a very nice twill structure and I used some handspun for a contrast.

Then I decided to full the fabric as I prepared to make a coat.  I threw it into the washer on hot, just for a few minutes. And then…. uh, I got distracted by my daughter who “needed to talk.”  Let’s just say that when I ran frantically to the washing machine to pull the fabric, it was felted beyond belief.  It was toast!  The part with the purple handspun was thick enough to use for a horse blanket.  Weave structure- gone! The magenta part at the top of the picture brightened considerably, but shrunk significantly so that a coat was out of the question.

Time to make lemonade:)  I needed a new purpose.  The purple accent fabric was cut off, doubled over, and now makes a nice surface for pressing on my ironing board. Then I went to a workshop one night at my local, independent fabric shop.  It was all about working with wool.  I raised my hand.  “Anyone have any suggestions for a this?”  I told my story and got ideas for a vest.

I’m not a big vest person.  They tend to look boxy on my short body.  But with little else to use it for, I got a nice pattern from Kwik Sew and set about making a vest.

The first order of business was making something flattering out of a thick wool felt.  It was all about reducing bulk.  I spent hours carefully fitting the pattern with added darts in the front and back and using ideas from Sandra Betzina on working with boiled wool.  In this picture, you can see one of the back pieces.  I used a diamond shaped dart to create shape, but instead of cinching the fabric together like a traditional dart, I cut out all the fabric.

I did this because Sandra says it takes out all the bulk.  It worked beautifully when I pressed the edges together and zig-zagged the seam after backing it with fusible interfacing.

You can’t even see the seam on the right side of the vest.  The thread is buried in the felt.  It was a cool trick.

Well, I eventually finished the vest before the holidays by putting a nice lining in it.

And I wore it for Christmas, adding earrings and a pin my husband gave me that morning which he had picked out specifically for the vest.

Tim Gunn always says, “Make it work.”  I think, this time, I did.

Juggling each part of my life is a skill I’m learning quite well.  Fitting fiber into the daily circus is yet another challenge; but I would say it’s a necessary one. It provides me with satisfaction–making something beautiful hopefully, and it gives a focus beyond meals, children, and my day job.  Sometimes, the little projects keep things on an even keel.

I finished this little project last weekend.  It sat waiting for months and after my friend Annie got me back on track, I was able to finish it.

I’ve had a bag full of fiber in my closet for the longest time.  I finally grabbed three hanks and spun them individually before plying.  It was a combination of mohair, wool, and suri alpaca.  I thought I wanted to make socks, but the fabric was too dense.  Maybe a hat, but I’ll have to see.

I did manage to warp my loom a couple of weeks ago when I had two solid days to devote to it.  This week, I’ve carved out time to weave.  The fabric on the bottom is hand-spun as weft, the top half is the same yarn as the warp, creating more of a textural pattern.  I hope to use this fabric for a coat.

Finally, I am busy planning another weaving project.  One of my guilds is studying krokbragd.  So I’m trying to figure out the yarns for the project.  I often use my “Yarn Store in a Box” from Halcyon Yarns for planning because there are so many sample cards to work with.

So I may not be able to juggle like a circus clown, but I can juggle projects and other responsibilities like a pro– most of the time.  Until I drop the ball.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I am fascinated by sacred geometry in nature.  In general, it is the thought that God designed nature in such a way that it follows geometric/mathematical principles.  My garden is a great source of inspiration on this level.  And there is no better example than the incredible sunflowers in bloom.

Can you see the amazing spirals in the middle of the flowers?  They are perfectly formed!  And the center blooms from outside to inside the circle as the bees plant themselves for a drunken feast.

As a weaver, I know many principles of sacred geometry and the fibonacci series are used in designing textiles and wall pieces.  Jennifer Moore is a good example of someone interested in the color, texture and form of nature. 

I just know that I’ve been much more observant of nature’s design since I’ve started weaving and my garden provides much inspiration.

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.

Every year during Memorial Day weekend, Wooster, Ohio hosts the Great Lakes Fiber Show.  When I first started attending there were enough vendors to fill one building at the Wayne County Fairgrounds.  This year, they filled four buildings with vendors and open field with alpaca farmers and another building with workshops.  It’s grown into quite a show with something for every knitter, spinner and weaver.  There is equipment everywhere including carders, combs, spinning wheels and this year I saw many, many rigid heddle looms for sale.  Rigid heddle is a great entry way into weaving, but seems to be gaining popularity with even experienced weavers.

The vendor below sells buffalo fiber and it’s incredibly soft and warm.  Here she demonstrates to a patron how to drum card the fiber.

A big favorite at the festival is the appearance of all those adorable animals.

I managed to get through the festival with just one hank of fiber from Creatively Dyed Yarns and a circular knitting needle.  I was lucky I had an unusual amount of discipline.

I was enchanted while in church yesterday.  I would love to say it was the pastor’s sermon, but alas it was the hymn after his message.  I think the greatest theology can be found in old hymns. This is the second verse in the hymn “Let Streams of Living Justice.”  If you’re a fiber lover, you will be so pleased.

For healing of the nations,

for peace that will not end,

for love that makes us lovers,

God grant us grace to mend.  

Weave our varied gifts together;

knit our lives as they are spun;

on your loom of time enroll us

 till our thread of life is run.  

O great weaver of our fabric,

bind church and world in one;

dye our texture with your radiance,

light our colors with your sun.

Over the weekend, I attended a wonderful weaving workshop led by weaving artist Kathie Roig.  She presented Warp It, Paint It, Weave It, an exploration of painted warps both on and off the loom.

Kathie was a terrific teacher–well organized, very informative, and most importantly for me, she was a lovely person.  Our small group of nine loved her generous spirit.

The first day was a half day session where she got us immediately into on-the-loom painting.  We placed cardboard underneath the exposed warp, painted a design, dried it with a hair dryer and then proceeded to weave.  This was one of my first attempts.

I experimented throughout using different colors for the weft and the results were fairly dramatic.  The first little bit used black weft while the rest is orange.

Kathie did just enough demonstrating to give us the idea.  Here she demos using stencils.

The on loom painting continued through Friday morning.  That afternoon she showed us how to to set up off-the-loom warps.

This method really spread out the warp so you could paint your design.  A cartoon was underneath to serve as a guide.

By Saturday, many had woven both on and off loom samples.  I work slowly so my unfinished warp is on the right.

The pieces everyone wove were beautiful.  We talked about how we would apply this technique to various projects and what we would change or keep the same.  Kathie encouraged us every step of the way and made us realize how important it is to choose good quality leaders for workshop success. We all walked away quite satisfied.

Maybe it’s because I’m a weaver and my husband is a photographer.  But he notices things that point to my interest in how warp and weft interact.  I think fiber, but he sees it in nature.  One afternoon he came to me and pulled me out in the garden.  “Doesn’t that look like weaving?” he said.

It looked like a tangled mess.  The chives were emerging into Spring to rise out of the dead waste from Winter’s slumber.  But it occurred to me that it’s a lot like weaving projects.  What looks like a mess at the beginning can often morph into something beautiful.

Unlike weaving these chives will shed their weft and continue to grow their warp upward, but I’ll be searching for more examples of weaving in my garden from this point on.  Bird’s nests come to mind.

My husband found the most amazing color tool on the internet the other day.  It’s called a color palette generator .  Find the url address linked to a jpg file of a beautiful picture, copy it and place it in the proper box at the site.  For example, this is a picture I am using for inspiration for a painted warps workshop. 

When you plug in the url address, the picture comes up on the screen and the entire color palette appears on the right in two columns labeled dull and vibrant. 

This is a great tool for weavers who find a picture inspiring and want to use those colors on the loom; or a spinner who wants to blend colors for a unique palette.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.

I have a special place in my heart for church architecture. Everything has meaning–the stained glass windows, the iconography, the symbols on the altar, even the layout of the sanctuary.  It represents the divine and the incarnation and it’s a comfort to pause each week and consider the larger picture of eternity.

One particular sculpture in my husband’s church has delighted me over the years.  Probably because I’ve never seen the Virgin Mary depicted in such a way. 

Who knew that Mary was a spinner?  If you look closely, she is spinning fiber from a distaff on a spinning wheel while Jesus and Joseph work at their carpentry. I love the implication that she created yarn in the midst of being mother to the Messiah.

I can’t say that my spinning or weaving reaches heavenly heights, but it’s nice to think that fiber was part of the daily rhythm of the Holy Family.