Sunday, November 4, 2018

Getting Back into the Habit of Blogging

I was just in a conversation with friends, mourning the demise of the blogging community which was so vibrant and active in the late nineties and early two thousands. Hypocritically, of course, as I do not update my own blog. Whilst I do love looking at all the pretty photos on Instagram, I miss the discussions and mini essays that were the glory of the fiber blogging world. I miss seeing the in-depth exploration of a topic or a technique, and also just the better insight into what was going on in my friends' studios.
So. It has been a busy year. Today I am going to discuss my biggest accomplishment.
I finished the cotton cloth, and made a shirt from it:

I learned many things on this project. Biggest of all is the importance of planning rather than estimating. I estimated that I had enough yarn to finish my shirt warp in the pattern I began, however I ran out of the white cotton halfway through. I had a little bit left to spin up and I did that, but I still had over two yards of warp left to weave and no weft to weave it with. In order to finish I started using whatever cotton sliver I had to hand to spin up, and ended up making several different patterns as I finished the warp, green and brown stripes, tan stripes, brown stripes. I ended up with enough cloth to make the shirt but not enough to be able to make it according to my initial plan.

I chose, after much coaching and encouragement from weaving friends, to look on this as serendipity and embrace the different patterns to put them together into one shirt.

This was my first time making a garment. I sat on the cloth, paralyzed by indecision and intimidated by the process of dealing with sizing up the pattern. I needed to add several inches to the width of the garment. Luckilly I had a friend staying with me while he taught locally and he walked me through the process and helped me make a muslin to check the fit of the adjusted pattern piece. Once that was done I spent the better part of a day laying out the pattern pieces on the cloth and trying to decide what the most attractive arrangement of the various cloth patterns would be. In the end I am very pleased and I feel that the shirt is better for having the mix of patterns than for being all in tattersall like I had initially planned. My mistake turned into serendipity.

Sewing the shirt together went quickly and I, as you can tell, and super pleased with the result. It had been my goal since I was eight or nine to make a shirt from scratch--all the way from spinning the yarn through weaving through sewing it. It was a lot of work, all together I spent more than 150 hours on it, but it was completely worth it and I am already planning a series of handspun, handwoven shirts and other garments to make.

The biggest thing about this shirt is that it would not have been made without the encouragement, the cheerleading, the teaching, the hand holding, the explanations, the suggestions and the consolation of my friends in the fiber community. In the end, not only do I have a garment that I love to wear because of my own accomplishment, it also feels like I am wrapping myself in the whole group of friends and teachers that have been so instrumental in my fiber journey.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Slogging Along

I began the year with a new project; to spin, weave, and sew a shirt from cotton to wear at Convergence 2018. Ambitious, but achievable, this is going to push me out of comfort zones, and allow me to finally accomplish a lifelong dream of making a shirt from scratch.
I am spinning Sally Fox's naturally colored cotton in green and brown and white. I purchased a pound of each from her years ago before I realized quite how much a lb of cotton will spin up.
As you can see, gorgeous colors of cotton and they will end up woven into a Tattersall plaid of  narrow lines of brown and green on white. I am excited for this. I have the pattern (my friend Sara recommended it).
 It is so much fun to spin and dream and think of the fabric I will be making and the next one and the next one. This fun, however, does not stick around and now I am at the point where the spinning is a slog. I still have about 2500 yards left to spin (of two ply) to reach the 8000 yards estimate I will need. The problem is, I am tired of spinning cotton and I am tired of spinning for this project. I know I will LOVE making and wearing a garment from scratch. I know the weaving will be fun because I always love seeing cloth build up on the loom. I know I am improving my cotton spinning, and spinning in general, because of the the time I am putting into this. All of those things are wonderful, but in the end, it has become work, a chore, a slog, to get through the spinning.

I think this is a good thing, however. Sometimes working through a project is not always fun, but putting in the time and the effort and pushing through when it gets difficult is what makes a project valuable. It will take me at least 100 hours to spin and ply the yarn for this shirt, and that surprised me. Even though, intellectually, I knew that it takes a great deal of time to make a garment I was surprised by what it FEELS like to put in that time. It makes me think of our ancestors who, until that last three centuries or so, would have had to make everything from cloth that was handspun. What a tremendous amount of time and effort went into every scrap of cloth and no wonder it was valuable, stored and displayed as wealth, carefully mended and patched and cut down and refitted and recycled and used until literally it fell apart or rotted. It is a valuable reminder to me, in this world of disposable fashion and cheap clothing, to step back and remind myself that while there may not be as many hours of work in a garment, there is still the work of people who are most likely being exploited, the resources that went into processing the fiber and dyeing it and transporting around the world the various parts that make up a garment. Textiles are so easy to take for granted, but the slog reminds me that they take work and resources.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Year end, year beginning.

It was an eventful 2017 and so far an eventful 2018. 
After my fall natural dyeing blitz I wove a scarf which as become my favorite piece of clothing 

I knit Mitts, of handspun naturally dyed wool, but need to knit more as these were both given away.

Had a fantastic trip to Germany where I got to see my great Aunt who taught me to knit socks.

And ended the year with a Flax spinning marathon (I love spinning flax!) 

2018 is not off to the GREATEST start as I wanted to weave with my linen singles, but did not size them enough.
Ending with a sad instance of Scissors on warp.

 I will try to rescue this warp, but in the meantime have been enjoying Luxury, spinning Abstract Fiber Yak/Silk in Alfalfa and another green on my matchless.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


I spin for team Spin Off this year and totalled 3660 yards by spinzilla calculations!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Color from nature!

This summer and fall I have been exploring natural dyes (as opposed to 'real dyes' as a dear friend calls commercial dyes) and i have been having the time of my life! All sort  of yarn and wool dyed with walnuts, natural indigo powder, japanese indigo from my garden, lichen, goldenrod, and buckthorn. I am so excited to use all of this and my first priority is spinning up some of the fleece for Spinzilla.
Indigo powder and lichen :

Local dyes from my garden and surroundings:

Friday, July 28, 2017

Thursday, January 19, 2017

New year

I keeping meaning to blog more often.
I was determined to get the Jacob twill off the loom in 2016 and I succeeded with one day to spare. This weekend I finished the fabric in the washing machine, and now I mean to make it into a Hapi or Hanten. My studio is chilly in the winter and it would be the perfect garment to keep me warm without overheating. The first photo is prefinishing and the second is post finishing. I love this fabric!

I am spinning up some more wool this month to get a warp on the loom. I dyed half of a batch of Corrie x something with greener shades in greens and blues, and left the rest grey. I aim to make a nice comfortable wrap or if I have enough, a pullover hoodie type thing. For February I have plans for spinning cotton and flax. I have declared it the month of cellulose fibers. If anyone wants to join me, I love hearing what you are doing!