art, art retreats, bloggy stuff, fiber art, Rebel stitching, Slow cloth, Upcycling, weaving

Latest news from moi

Suddenly I feel like Miss Piggy today. Couldn’t tell you why.

A lot of things have happened since I last posted. I stopped paying to have my blog ad-free and the ads are pretty disgusting, so I may break down and upgrade to a paid account. I hate to do it, because between that and paying for my photos to be hosted on Flickr, that adds up to over $100 per year. I can’t really let the Flickr account go because I have linked most of my photos to that account. That would be an enormous amount of work to correct that. Plus, I really am attached to my domain name. I’ve had it since 2005. The thought of letting it go has become more intolerable to me.

I am going to convert this over to more of an artist website, and my postings to Facebook and Instagram should appear on the sidebar. But that will take a while. Maybe over the winter break. I’ll have made a decision about whether the cost is worth it by October.

^^^Pablocito, studio assistant, and the reason why there is aluminum foil everywhere. (He doesn’t like it.)

I took a week’s vacation at home in late July because it was slow at work and I have a lot of vacation time built up. It was marvelous. Really, I almost preferred it to traveling.

The first thing on my agenda was to warp up this “new” Beka rigid heddle loom for a sakiori workshop later that week. It was not anywhere near as simple as I thought it would be, and by the time I rewarped it and got the tension right, it took three days and some help from a friend! However, now I know some things I should and shouldn’t do with this type of loom. For one thing, I doubt that I will put three yards of warp on it again.

This patchwork from Jude Hill’s online class (see below) really scratches an itch for me. I love that it is portable. The only problem is my hands can’t take as much hand sewing as I would like to do. My sewing machines (plural) are a constant pain in my ass to keep running and maintained, but I did abuse them pretty badly when I was doing the denim and t-shirt quilt projects. It still amazes me that you can buy a new cheap machine for as much as it is to repair one.

Anyway, bitching aside, I LOVE making these little “puzzle pieces” and putting them together in different ways. It reminds me of my favorite toy growing up, which I think was sold by Tupperware. It was like Legos, but with tiny little pegged pieces in different shapes that could be pushed into a plastic grid. I constantly played with it sitting on the den floor, and I still have a box with the pieces somewhere. It drove my father nuts because he was always stepping on them.

Later that week when I felt like dealing with warping a loom again I caught up on the Rebecca Mezoff/Sarah Swett “Fringeless” online class that I began LAST SUMMER, and by the end of the week, I had this Mirrix loom warped and ready to go. The warping method produces a four selvedge tapestry that is ready when it comes off the loom, no sewing in ends or hemming edges required. To be honest, it was pretty easy once I got the hang of it.

Then on Saturday, I went to the sakiori class that was taught by Dawn Hummer of Saori Song Weaving in Chapel Hill, and sponsored by the Triangle Weavers Guild in a great space that they rent on an ongoing basis in an old school near Durham. I didn’t really learn that much, and I don’t need any encouragement to cut loose and play, but it is always good to hear how and why other artists do what they do. I got to see Saori looms and how they work, and that was really cool. It was fun and that was the whole point. I decided to make some pieces to use as book covers. Here is the first one. There is room on the warp for many more.

In other news, I’ve had to learn how to live without air conditioning for a few days. I hope it won’t be much longer. It is good for me to be reminded not to take this for granted. Work is revving back up with the fall semester classes beginning in only two weeks. The Tapestry Weavers South retreat is in nearby Elkin, NC on Labor Day weekend, so I have that to look forward to. After that, I doubt I will be able to afford any other art retreats or workshops because I am going to have to dip into my savings to pay for the Ireland trip before January, and to be responsible I will pay my savings back. It will be totally worth it to go back to Ireland, where I belong.

critters, weaving

Two additions to the family and two additions to the studio

Meet Bernie and Liz.

Bernie is a scrappy little thing and he bit the shit out of Sandy twice when he moved them from their very small cage to the new one we bought for them on Saturday. He hung on like a snapping turtle too. Maybe we should have named him Snapper.

We love birds but we have never wanted pet birds. This spring and summer Sandy bought bird feeders and we have enjoyed watching them and learning to identify them from the front porch. To me, a bird in a cage is a tragedy. However, these birds needed rescuing from a sick relative who had them both crammed into a 13x13x10 inch cage and they had been neglected. We didn’t know about them until he called from the hospital to ask us to feed them. When Sandy went over there, he brought them home.

They are very stressed out and I was half convinced that they would die. Sandy was working a late shift late week and I have had a phobia of being attacked by birds since I was little, so I had a major panic attack before I settled into accepting it. Their cage was nasty and we don’t know a thing about caring for birds. But we are learning. Friends have been giving us advice on Facebook. I hope that we won’t need to take either of them to a vet for a while, because they understandably hate us.

Anyway, here is their new abode, on a sturdy shelf in Sandy’s man cave, where we can shut the door when we aren’t home to keep the cats away. The cats don’t seem interested at all, though. I hope that they become happy. We will try.

The week before, I snagged a Mirrix Little Sister loom at a local thrift/reuse store for only $8.00! It would have been a bargain at $80.00. It appears to have never been used. At the same time, I picked up an old Beka rigid heddle loom for $6.50. I’m looking forward to playing with these this summer.

On Saturday, Susanne and I will go to Focus on Book Arts in Forest Grove, Oregon for the fourth time! We love Forest Grove. I keep checking the real estate prices there, but compared to Greensboro, everywhere seems more expensive. We will spend a couple of days in Portland first. So there will be more travel and book art blogging in late June or July.

I am almost to the end of that long twill gamp that I will use for curtains. Then the plan was to tie the other half of the warp on and weave another set. Whew, that does not sound very appealing right now. I had planned for it to be double weave rugs, you see. Then when I started warping I realized that I had misjudged this warp. It stuck together in the reed so badly that I put half of it aside and switched gears completely. We need curtains. Of course, Diego and Pablocito will destroy them, but that’s life with cats.

art, cloth weaving, fiber art, New Mexico, tapestry, weaving

Saturday: Chimayo

On Saturday morning we headed back to Chimayo. I wanted to visit Centinela Traditional Arts, the home gallery and studio of the tapestry artists Lisa and Irvin Trujillo. I had seen Irvin’s work at the Denver Art Museum and while we were there, Lisa was weaving on a floor loom and her daughter spoke to a Road Scholars group about the history of tapestry and blanket weaving in the area. The heavenly scent of freshly washed and dyed wool wafted through the building. I miss that. I bought a couple of small purses.

We had lunch at Rancho de Chimayo again, mainly because Sandy had left his credit card there, but also because we really liked it the first time! Those sopaipillas with honey, mmmm.

Then we went to the famous Sanctuario de Chimayo down the road. This church is known for being built on ground that has healing powers. The chapel has a small pit that pilgrims take dirt from and rub it on their afflicted areas and pray. There is a room with a rack of crutches that people left behind just outside the room with the pit. I’m not a Christian, but I figured since I was there it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try. So I followed the lead of the person in front of me and rubbed the dirt on my hands, but I had to decide what to pray for. I decided that while I have several physical problems, if I could heal my depression, I could deal with the other stuff. So I asked the Holy Spirit to heal my spirit. So far it seems to have worked!

We stopped by Ortega’s Weaving shop on the way back to Truchas but it was nice but a bit too commercial for me. There were plenty of galleries open on the High Road on Saturday, so we headed back to Truchas.

fiber art, weaving

The Macomber twill gamp

The Macomber loom is up and weaving. The warp that I measured for it beginning 5-6 years ago was a nightmare, though. At that time I decided, as I do and often regret, that I would measure a warp as long as possible to avoid having to warp it again for a long time. I don’t know why I don’t learn from experience, but this was before the Shannock warping fiasco. I had begun the project just before we adopted Diego and Pablocito, and I began having neck and shoulder problems, so those two factors influenced me to put it away for a long time.

When I brought the warp bundles back out, they were insanely long and I had twice as many as I needed because apparently my plan had been to do doubleweave rugs. I dropped that plan and got out my pattern weaving books and threaded a twill gamp. (A gamp is a sampler of weaving patterns.) The bundles were tangled at the end and I ran out of warp sticks for the back beam, so I cut off about seven feet of warp. It is a good thing I didn’t go ahead with the double weave, because I made a few mistakes in threading the reed and the slots where I threaded two warps stuck badly. I went through three cycles of weaving, unweaving, untying, rethreading, and tying. My skills are rusty, but all in all I was very pleased in how it turned out. When I got frustrated, I walked away for a few days. I am not in a hurry.

As you might guess, I have a large amount of this cotton yarn that I bought as mill ends on large cones a long time ago. So it shows up a lot. I’d like to use it up. I am crocheting the warps that I cut off into dishcloths.

I am aiming for this fabric to become curtain panels, since we need curtains. The colors don’t match our sofa or wall color, but whatever. If I can’t bear to weave these for that long because of tension problems, they might become bath towels or kitchen towels. I plan to cut off each one as I finish it and re-tension and re-tie the warp, because I can see the problems on the back beam already.

Most of the time I am weaving standing up, and that’s a good thing since I generally sit all day.

So far my favorite patterns have emerged on the green stripe. I’m glad I chose a contrasting color for the weft.

fiber art, Quilting, Slow cloth, tapestry, Upcycling, weaving

Ta Da! T-Shirt Quilt

Pretty much done. If you look closely you can see that the first panel I quilted had more quilting, then the second one less as my tension problems mounted on my sewing machine, and then the third panel I gave up other than sewing around the edges. I figure as I feel like it I will hand sew a few stitches in there now and then to tack that side down.

Now I get to go back to weaving.

I was a terrible person yesterday and forgot to call my aunt and my brother. Oh well.

https://giphy.com/embed/XeVP080WGCwlW

“I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel”

Party last night was great – we meant to stop in for one drink and ended up spending three hours and I made a new friend. I was shocked when I walked in the room and my arch-nemesis was sitting at the table. One of only two people I know that I despise. (I am not counting politicians and right wing nutjobs.) I nearly turned around and left. This is the only professor I ever had who was downright verbally abusive to me. However, she has no memory of me and was on good behavior so it worked out. She left after an hour and I could relax and eat the goodies and then it was a real “small world” evening with connections between people popping up all over the place.

Today I am meeting with the girls for the first time in a very long time. I need to get together a portable project. Maybe I should continue the Lake Waccamaw theme and work on this one. Yes.

Back Forty, butterbeans, tapestry, Tapestry Diary 2018, weaving

Labor Day

You know, it’s ironic how many people have to work on Labor Day. My husband volunteered to work, like he often does on holidays. He likes the holiday pay and we rarely do anything special on holidays anyway. But I remember retail work, and I salute those of you in retail and restaurants and other service work who do not get a choice. I welcome the four day week after the stress of the beginning of the academic year, but it ain’t nothing like the stress of my old jobs.

Plenty of Roma and cherry tomatoes are ripening and I’ve been drying and cooking sauce every few days. There wasn’t any bicolor corn at the market this Saturday and I am rather spoiled for that, so I didn’t freeze any this weekend. I gave in and bought fresh shelled butterbeans (little green lima beans) for the first time maybe ever and was shocked at the price. It was fair, just as the price of shelled pecans is fair for the amount of work, but those are two food items I never had to buy before this year since either my mother or I grew them. I bought bell peppers and dried and froze them in strips. A friend is giving me his okra from his CSA bag, so I blanched and froze some and put the rest in my butterbeans. Half of the butterbeans were blanched and frozen and saved for Thanksgiving. I hope that I will have a second crop soon that is much better than the first crop was. The Sugar Baby watermelons are producing, but I am not impressed. So many seeds in such a small fruit. Also picked arugula that had been sheltered by the potato vines.


My big garden success was this tromboncino squash. It’s rare that I get more than a squash or two when I attempt to grow them because of squash borers and my laziness in combating them. This is the second one – the first was eaten by bugs. I picked it at exactly the right time. The rind is tender, the seeds undeveloped, and it is delicious. I sure hope I get some more. I sliced up the neck thinly and dehydrated the slices. Just tasted one and I was surprised at how tasty it is. The rest will be cooked in a casserole with vidalia onions and cheese and crackers today. There is a second vine growing along with this one that looks to be either the candy roaster squash or the cheese pumpkin that I expected. They are taking over the back yard!

We have a house sitter for our trip and I am so happy about that! Our neighbor does a great job in feeding and visiting the cats (he likes our front porch too) but we have a friend who is selling her house and needs a place to stay, so it is a mutually beneficial arrangement.


Here’s what I chose for the tapestry diary for the months of June and July, now that my weaving block is broken and my brain is back from circling the hole. I have to weave a little at a time and walk away but I am enjoying it. I got a massage yesterday and she was surprised that I didn’t hurt more than I did and recommended rest for the rest of the day yesterday. There’s a funny English word with two meanings: rest. Anyway, I have to get back to doing my stretching exercises regularly and when I get back from our big trip I’m going to start taking a yoga class again to keep me on track.

I bought CBD oil balm this week and have been using it on my elbow. So far, so good. As long as I don’t lift anything or hold a book or a Kindle for a long time in my left hand, my elbow is fine. After a few weeks of trying this I’ll report back.

We are still waiting to hear about our application to the city to install solar panels. Turns out that they either didn’t get my first fax or lost it and it didn’t get on the agenda for the historic district commission. The city planning office has been great to work with, however, and I was told that they may be able to approve it on their own based on other applications that have been approved. I’m excited about the prospect.

It’s possible that my next entry will be from Idaho, Wyoming, or after I get back from our next big adventure. I have a lot of house cleaning and prep work to do before then, and I am going to weave this afternoon.

art, art retreats, dyeing, fiber art, Georgia, Lake Waccamaw, National Parks and Monuments, tapestry, weaving

Tapestry Weavers South Retreat

I’m taking a personal day to recharge after a particularly sweet and inspiring art retreat weekend with members of Tapestry Weavers South at Epworth-by-the-Sea on St. Simons Island.

It is a lovely venue and the price was very reasonable for three nights and all meals. We were lucky that even though most of the Southeast US was getting pummeled by thunderstorms and flooding, we only had a few light showers and the temperature was perfect. On the last night we enjoyed the veranda next to the river and it was lovely – not muggy at all and I didn’t notice any bugs. The sunsets were nice too:

^^^Just outside my window

The greatest value of this retreat was the talent and encouragement of my fellow tapestry weavers. I’m not kidding – if you are a tapestry weaver in the southern U.S., I recommend that you join this group.

I left for the retreat with just a vague idea of what I might do, and a fairly neurotic state of mind about my weaving break. I was also worried about sitting for the long drive and the workshop in general, but I met April Price near Charlotte and she drove the rest of the way, so I was able to adjust a rolled-up towel under my legs, hips, and back frequently. That helped so much, and I am grateful for her willingness to drive! April organized the retreat and did a wonderful job.

I left the retreat with a warm feeling of making new friends, and the beginning of a small tapestry on the loom that I am excited about. Some of my artist crushes were there and we got to know each other. I was encouraged to continue my tapestry diary that I dropped at the end of March and was given a few suggestions on how I might proceed from here.

You are likely to see more from me on the subject of Tapestry Weavers South, because I suspect that I’m going to break my vow of getting involved in group leadership and help out with this one. Just in a minor role that I’m comfortable with, though.

Jennifer Sargent was our featured artist and she shared a slideshow of her work and critiqued the pieces that other weavers brought. She gave me very positive feedback on my own work.

We honored Tommye Scanlin with a lifetime membership and an emotional celebration on the last night. She was my first teacher that was an actual tapestry artist. We figured it out that was in 1991! She is loved by so many people.

I decided to work with the abstraction of a favorite photograph of rain on Lake Waccamaw, using my naturally dyed silk/cotton threads from India’s online class. It’s interesting that I return so often to this family place at Lake Waccamaw for art inspiration. Even the threads are wound on driftwood sticks that I picked up on this shore.

April was kind enough to go with me to Fort Frederica National Monument so that I could get a stamp for my National Park Passport book. The deerflies were pretty bad and we were short on time so we decided not to walk to the actual fort, but it was a lovely park. The 42d Regiment of Foot battled with Spanish forces there in 1742 so I was especially interested in visiting. That was our regiment when we were 18th century re-enactors. We drove around St. Simons Island, then we stopped in Savannah and ate Crabcakes Benedict at Bar-Food, which I highly recommend. Just as we were driving into Charlotte, the bottom fell out and I have rarely seen such a hard rain. I thought that I might have to spend the night at April’s house but we looked at the radar and I made a good decision to drive home. I wonder how many inches fell in that half-hour?

art, fiber art, tapestry, Tapestry Weavers South, weaving

Tapestry Weavers South: “A Strand, A Shape, A Story”

I broke all the rules and took photos at the closing reception of the Tapestry Weavers South exhibit, “A Strand, A Shape, A Story,” that ran in the upper gallery of the North Carolina Folk Art Center from January to April 2018.

Many of these tapestries have moved on to Yadkinville, where they will reappear in an exhibition at the Yadkin Arts Center in June.

You can see the rest of the photos in my Flickr album. (Update: Hopefully it will still be there.) Some photos were blurry or had reflections from glass, and they won’t be there. It is worth clicking through to see the album, because this is a very fine show and I finally stopped loading them on this page because it was so hard to pick.

Back Forty, dyeing, Rebel stitching, tapestry, Tapestry Diary 2018, Upcycling, weaving

Saturday morning WHEW thank God post

I’ve been living for the weekend lately.

Here’s my newest obsession – taking online instruction from India Flint. Her first foray into a structured online class just began this past week: The Alchemist’s Apron. (By the way, that price is in Australian dollars and the exchange rate for US dollars makes it much lower.) Stitching has saved my sanity lately – honestly my work should not be this stressful. It’s the best job I ever had but bad ju-ju from anxiety and frustration is contagious for me.

The weather has been pretty whack, just as it has been almost everywhere else in the US and Europe. It’s hard to know what to do with the temps going up and down the way they have. It snowed earlier this week and was predicted to snow again this weekend, but I think that the forecast has changed. We haven’t gotten enough sun to really warm up the soil and the greenhouse. I spent some time yesterday evening and this morning filling an egg carton and peat cups that I found in the back building with seed starting mix and water. They need to absorb a lot of water before I use them. My garden usually gets a late start compared to others in the area anyway. I started a few broccoli seeds and will figure out a place to begin tomatoes and peppers inside. There are few sunny spots in my house.

Some critter left a rather large dump in my raised bed, and I wonder if it was a raccoon. After shoveling it out I covered the bed in wire fencing. That will not make the husband happy. He does not like my gardening methods, but organic gardening can’t always be pretty, especially if you don’t have the room to sacrifice some of it to the critters. I’m just praying that the woodchuck will not come back this year.

I went to the Greensboro Permaculture Guild seed swap on Tuesday night but wasn’t feeling great and didn’t stay long. Great group of people, though, and someone brought some warm freshly baked bread that was so good I wanted to snatch it and run away and gobble it all down by myself. However I resisted that wild urge and helped myself to a variety of beans, including Jacob’s Cattle and cannellini beans. I shared some of my Whippoorwill and Dixie Lee field peas that I have saved over the years. The Whippoorwill field peas originally came from Monticello.

There I met a young man and his daughter who I am going to call later this weekend and arrange to hire him to help me prepare a couple of planting beds for the summer.

Deep Roots Market is having their Taste Fair this afternoon from 12-4 which is unfortunate timing since today is also the day for the March for Our Lives. Greensboro’s march and rally is from 2-6 p.m. I will show up for part of it but I need desperately need art time.

I have filled a pickle bucket with iron scraps and vinegar and water to make a mordant for natural dyeing the shirt I will transform into the apron for India’s class this week. It was supposed to be in a big glass jar but most of my rusty bits were too big for the jar. It’s been a long time since I’ve attempted any natural dyeing because of my upper body problems. The exciting thing that happened is that I finally found my stash of naturally dyed cloth in the bottom of a hamper this morning. Most of it is silk though, and will probably be saved for something else.

My mood has been as whack as the weather and my tapestry diary this past week shows it. I’m kind of bored with it and I wonder if I will have the willpower to push through that and finish it. Some stitching will make me much happier today.