Sunday, January 27, 2008

January Weaving

For January being a month when some of the guilds I belong to take a break, it was sure busy guild-wise! Above is a picture of the corner of the Skagit Valley Weavers Guild booth. It looks pretty busy in the picture but didn't look too bad in person. We didn't really sell much of anything but had weaving and spinning demos going the whole weekend. We had a lot of interested people stop by and say hi. Almost all of our brochures and business cards were gone by the end of the weekend. Vivian and I had fun chatting with other vendors and spending our "profits" on new treasures. One thing I was able to do was to get the name and e-mail addresses for two local fiber animal sellers. They are small producers compared to several others in the area. I realize I need to get information on the larger producers and sellers in the area as well but it is a start. I am going to create a list on the blog with the info for folks to find.
The day after the Quilting and Textile show finished I hosted the Skagit Valley spinners at my house. A bit of a crunch doing the weekend and getting ready for the spinning group but we did it. My husband took pictures with his camera as I was busy having fun. If any turned out I will post a few in the next blog post. We studied a technique of making rolags from drum-carded batts. More on that later. I will get the list of local fiber suppliers started and will be posting more soon. Stay warm, and weave! -Renee

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Skagit Valley Weavers Guild Fieldtrip

The weather in January is often very unpredictable in this area. The Skagit Valley Weavers Guild meets in the evening, making a bad weather situation even worse. The guild takes a break in January and plans a field trip during daytime hours instead. In past years the field trip has consisted of a studio tour of various guild member's weaving studios. It is a good chance for fellow members to see different looms and how they work. Since the looms are often too large to cart around, we go to the looms.
This year was a bit different. We are very fortunate to have Anita Luvera Mayer living in our area and such a large part of our guild history. We had the delightful privilege of visiting her studio as a guild.
For those of you who do not know of Anita, she is a teacher, tour leader, weaver, writer, and fiber artist who lives in the Pacific Northwest. She has written a few books and has contributed articles to Handwoven Magazine. In addition, she teaches all over the country at schools and retreats such as John C. Campbell Folk School, and Madrona Fiber Arts. There are at least two universities who have her garments as part of their permanent textile collections.
I could go on and on listing her many contributions to the weaving world. Just putting her name in the Google search engine turns up several pages on her alone!
Anita's studio is on the complete upper level of her home. She has a room for weaving and creating her wonderful wearable art pieces, a room for dyeing, and a large office to manage her business affairs. After greeting us all we settled into the main part of her studio and she showed us her latest pieces.
Anita is a charismatic speaker and wonderful story teller, and her work reflects that. She knows how to touch on subjects that concern women in our society with grace and dignity. I know that I am not alone in my enjoyment of her many programs and workshops that I have had the pleasure of attending over the years. The studio tour was a real treat. After a bit of time exploring the rich gathering of art, artifacts, and fiber arts, a large group of us adjourned for lunch at a local restaurant.
Before I post this entry, I would like to leave with the following thoughts: Although I am a lady of middle age, I am on the young end of the age spectrum of the women who attend the weaving guilds. One of the wonderful side benefits to belonging to weaving guilds is the association I have been able to have with women who are ten, twenty, thirty, and even more, years older than I am. They have all been my mentors in so many ways. We just don't have very many opportunities in our society to socialize, learn, and work with many people of different ages. I feel very fortunate to have stumbled across this society of weavers!
Well, off to weave, and if you ever have a chance to take a class or hear a program by Anita Luvera Mayer, I would highly recommend it! -Renee

Local Textile Fair

For those of you who are in the Skagit Valley area, Skagit Valley Gardens is having a Quilting/Textile Fair this weekend from 10-4. The Skagit Valley Weavers guild will be having a booth there. If you get a chance, stop by and say hi. I will be in the booth on both days. This is the first time the guild has done this so I cannot tell you what to expect. I will have a little report next week. Happy weaving! -Renee

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A Krokbragd Study Group

I am participating in a Krokbragd study group with some of the members of the Skagit Valley Weavers Guild. What in the heck is Krokbragd? It is a Norwegian weave that is essentially a 3 shaft Twill. For those of you who may not be weavers yet, your blue jeans are woven in a twill weave structure. Take a close look with a magnifying glass and you will see a very characteristic twill weave. Krokbragd uses three shafts of the loom. We met at Jeanine's house as she is the weaver who is conducting the study group and weaves incredibly beautiful Krokbragd rugs. Here is a sample:
She has a nice large weaving studio in her house and we were able to crowd our looms in to weave.
We first met around the table to discuss the weave structure, what it is and how to weave it. All of us arrived as pre-arranged with our looms warped up. If you look closely at the picture on the left, my loom is the wee little loom between the two back looms on the table.
Krokbragd's most striking feature is the color patterns that you get with this weave. If you love color it is a lot of fun to weave. Here is Anna in action:
My little loom is a Dick Blick Artcraft loom. They don't make them anymore. The loom is so tiny, it really isn't good for a whole lot but perfect for trying ideas and new weaves out. Here is what was on my loom at this point:
I happened to find four skeins of wool rya rug yarn in my stash which was fortunate because I was so distracted by the holidays I forgot to make sure I had weft yarn for the workshop! Considering that my stash is down to the bare minimum, I was lucky indeed.
We had a wonderful time. It had snowed that morning but the roads were passable. We spent a wonderful day warm and snug while weaving and chatting. For a weaver who usually weaves in solitude, it doesn't get much better than that. The final picture is another rug that Jeanine has woven. It is a bit more complex that what we were doing and the skill and beauty of the rug is really breathtaking. The picture can never do it justice.
Thanks to Jeanine, Anna, Marie, Gloria, Sue, Elinor and Carin our Krokbragd study group is off to a good start! More information on Krokbragd can be found in The Techniques of Rug Weaving by Peter Collingwood, and Handwoven magazine. Stay tuned for more weaving adventures. -Renee

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A Call for Local Fibers part 2

This is about as local as one can get. The fiber for this hand spun yarn was provided by my dog Twill (Lab mix and double coated as the breed tends to be) and the alpaca of a friend. I featured this yarn earlier this year, er... that is last year in my "Hair of the Dog" post. I am posting my call for local fibers again because I happened to pick up the current copy of Spin-Off magazine. For those of you who are not familiar with this wonderful publication, it is a magazine dedicated to spinning yarn. Knitters would find a lot to like about the magazine as well as many of the projects featuring hand spun yarn are knitted.
What is so special about this issue? There is an article entitled "Spinning Locally: Finding Local Sources for Sustainably produced Fiber." It can be found on page 80 of the Winter 2007 issue. The article is understandably general but states the point I would like to make nicely.
So, again, if you have a source for fiber in the Western Washington State area north of Seattle, please let me know. A post in the comment area would be most appreciated.
The link for Spin-Off magazine will be posted in my Fiber Links section. Spring is on the way and with it comes shearing season and fiber festivals so stay tuned! -Renee

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Weaving New Years Resolutions

Happy New Year! My husband and I spent the holidays visiting my family in Honolulu, Hawaii. This is a picture of the beach on the Wai'anae coast of Oahu. If one never leaves Honolulu one would never know that Oahu does have beaches that can be empty of people. We were the only people on the beach, with the exception of the life guard, for about an hour on this day. The skies were cloudy and gray but it was balmy and the water was warm.
I have been thinking about the direction of my blog. I originally started it as a way for my fellow guild members to keep track of my progress on a guild grant. The grant work is finishing up and I have decided to continue the blog because I have been enjoying it so much. The focus this summer was pretty much on dyeing. I want the blog to have a bit more of a balance of weaving, spinning and other fiber arts. I would also like it to reflect my passion about women's causes and the environment in the context of the fiber arts.
My New Years Resolution? To become a better weaving blogger. I know this will take time and commitment at a time of tremendous change in my personal life and I am willing to commit to that. So, to the wonderful people who have read and followed along and even posted a comment or two, thank you. I hope you will continue to return! To those who are new to my blog, welcome. I hope you have a chance to look at the archives and my grant project.
One of my interests is eating organically grown foods. Not only for my and my family's health but for the environment too. I have been reading a couple of fun and interesting books on eating locally and, while I haven't gone to the extremes of the authors of these books, I have made a conscious effort to purchase more locally grown foods.
In addition to food, I have been thinking about locally and organically grown sources of fiber. I know we have a lot of alpaca farms around and one of my fellow guild members is a llama farmer. I am determined to look into this and will be posting my finds and resources. To add a bit of synchronicity to the mix, I recently got an e-mail from a fellow fiber artist in my area asking the same question!
So, the question I would like to put out there to readers in the Western Washington area: Do you have a local source for wool of any breed or animal? I would love to hear from you and will post the resources with full credit unless requested otherwise. In the meantime, I will do my own research. Here is to a new year and all the changes it will bring! -Renee