Archive for the ‘Process & Progress’ Category

Shifting Tiles

Previously, on this blog, the La Sierra Yarn Mural was under construction. It was installed on April 1 at the La Sierra Community Center, 5215 La Sierra Ave, Riverside CA.

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It will be on display until May 18.

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On Tuesday, the 2nd of April I realized that my next deadlines until May and July (more about those later). Then I realized that it was a good time to do the reorganization I’ve been needing to do in My daughter’s old bedroom and my two studio rooms. We have three 80″ Billy bookcases filled with her books in there. I have gotten tired of having all of my books and magazines on shelves above the windows in my studio; and lately I’ve been wanting to get all  that material down where I can reach it from standing on the floor. I’ve also been wanting to start getting all of my magazines digitally, and to stop collecting all of that paper. But that may be a topic for another day.

A few months ago I ordered 5 archival, acid free boxes for Samantha’s books. So, last week I began boxing up the books. Of course, if I was going to store 5 boxes of books in the backyard shed, I needed to rearrange a few things out there to make room. Which I did, and managed to get the 5 boxes up into the loft in the shed.

At the same time, YBLA has had a slight storage crisis. Since Yarnbombing 18th became Yarnbombing Los Angeles, we have been meeting, working, and storing all our stuff in Arzu’s 18th Street studio. Arzu moved on from YBLA in January, she needed her studio space back,  and we needed to get the stuff moved. Through the course of events, this week became our deadline for moving all the stuff and finding new places to stash it. Carol took a bunch of the stuff to her grad-student studio, and I promised to take the plastic bins of extra granny squares. We went to haul stuff on Saturday, and it turns out there were 10 bins of grannies, and two more boxes of knitted pieces.

My house is like one of those little plastic puzzles we used to have as children, the ones with the little square tiles inside a frame, with one missing. The challenge was to shift the tiles right, left, up, and down into the one empty space until you got them in the right order and a picture was formed. If I was going to fit 12 more bins of  YBLA stuff into the frame, then I had to get Sammy’s books out of the “guest room.” I had my two card tables in Studio B (my son’s old room) where I had parked a bunch of books, magazines, stuff until I could move it. I have gotten most of my books and magazines into the guest room. Five boxes held 1 1/2 of the bookcases worth of books. I ordered more, and am waiting for them.

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I moved all of my bags of yarn to the shelves above the windows where to books used to be, so that only soft, lightweight stuff is up there. I folded up my card tables, and put up one of my folding work tables in their place, on the risers so that it can be work space. I was able to put all of my collection of trash art supplies under that table, finally clearing out the middle of the floor of Studio B. My photographic area is now accessible again.

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MoveDonationsBUT, none of this got me the space to store the YBLA bins. While I was organizing my personal stash of trash, I broke down all the empty boxes I wanted to keep. I keep and reuse boxes – you’re not surprised, right? This gave me the idea of breaking down all the empty boxes in the shed.

This gave me the space to shift YBLA’s leftover yarn that was in the closet in Studio B.

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So, off to Santa Monica I went to get the bins of grannies.

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And viola!

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Of course, I haven’t shown the current condition of the guest room. A few things from Studio B are currently in there (The 6′ store mannikin and the photographic lights, and – oh yeah – two big bins of thrift store sweaters), and the kids are coming home this weekend. But, its only Tuesday. . .

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Into Spring

I’ve already discussed what an unreliable blogger I am, right? so,’nough said?

here is how my Fun a Day project turned out. I ended up with 27 flowers. It was actually, really lots of fun. It did jump-start my creative work for the new year.

My Fun a Day flowers.

My Fun a Day flowers.

The other benefits were the connections: I met some wonderful new people, and reconnected with some old friends.

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The opening was over two nights, February 28 & March 1.

My next fun project was a car cozy for my minivan. This was for the Santa Clarita Art Slam on the evening of March 6th.

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The next two projects to come up, and what I’m currently involved in, are public art projects with yarn. David Orozco, of Yarnbombing Los Angeles, and I created a large yarn mural for Riverside Art Make.

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The project kicked off on March 8th with a community workshop at Raincross Yarn in Riverside. The assembled group began dismantling thrift store sweaters while Ana drew a cartoon of the hills above the La Sierra neighborhood. At the second workshop on March 16, we assembled the background of the landscape.

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Our last workshop was March 23 at Riverside Art Museum, where we added orange trees and other details to the mural.

 

RAM_3-24_WKSHPThe mural is scheduled to be installed on March 31.

 

 

On March 22, Yarnbombing Los Angeles launched our latest project at Manhattan Beach Creative Art Center. We will be doing a yarnbombing of many trees around the center along with a community tapestry and an exhibition of other yarn artworks in the gallery.

Our next two community workshops will be April 26, and May 3, both at 1-4 pm. We will also be working on the yarnbombing and the tapestry at our regular stitching sessions on the 3rd Saturday of the month at the Craft and Folk Art Museum.

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Helen and Tiffany working on the community tapestry.

Helen and Tiffany working on the community tapestry.

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A community tapestry woven into a beach volleyball net.

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Charlotte, Jane and Judy working on tree wrappers for the yarnbombing.

 

Romans & Grannies & Dogs – Oh My!

Whoa, it’s been almost two months since I checked in here. From where I left off last time:

I got the 45″ wide warp for the window shade fabric on the loom – not without some glitches (of which I’m just going to stop reporting all the details; since I’m afraid I’m beginning to sound incompetent). I wove a  62″ sample and cut it off the loom to show the clients. Why 62,” you might ask? Why not weave a 12″ sample and not risk wasting that much of my materials? 62″ is long enough to be a shade if it wants to be, and it gives the clients a fuller picture of what the fabric will look like. It can be difficult for non-weavers & non-fiber-people to visualize something that doesn’t exist. I threaded the loom with a 3 yard leader warp. My warp is 8 yards, of which there will be very little waste at the back end. The project requires about 4 yards, finished, for the two 42″ wide shades. If I don’t use the first 62″ sample, I’ll still have plenty of warp; and the finished fabric should have plenty of extra for wiggle room. 

first sample

Anyway, the clients put the sample up in their living room and they love it. Now all I need to do is to dye another two pounds of the cotton flake weft yarn, and 2000 more yards of fabric strips.

Oh, and weave the remaining 6+ yards of 45″ wide fabric, then tie on the 36″ wide warp and weave 16 yards of fabric.

Piece of cake.

At the same time, I have been participating in Yarn Bombing Los Angeles’ Grannies Squared project to cover the Craft and Folk Art Museum with granny squares.

Definitely check it out on YBLA’s Facebook page.

At some point a couple of months ago, I was at one of the Stitch & Bitch session at the museum. Someone mentioned that they were looking for some kind of crochet-related pin to give to their 100 Club, the people who had crocheted 100 or more squares. The solution was obvious to me instantly, and the wire grannies were born. They only needed 50 of them.

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Wire grannies for the 100 Club.

I have made pins, necklaces, and I’m in the process of making earrings for the CAFAM gift shop.  My wire granny jewelry will be there late next week, along with other granny square themed merchandise, in time for the opening on Saturday, May 25th, at 7 pm. YBLA will be having a Photo Op across the street in the park at 5 pm. I will be there with the wire grannies for the 100+ granny contributors. 

AND. . . somewhere in between my last post and this one, I did something really stupid. I must have had a stroke or other mental defect, because we got a

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stinky dog.

I’ve got to go crochet wire granny squares. Hopefully I’ll see you on Wilshire Boulevard, next Saturday.

More of Everything

I guess I never really did a project where I wove this much fabric, and I know I never did a project where I dyed this much of anything.

Let me run down the whole project for you. Here is my original crude sketch of the windows.

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The window shades are for a bank of windows and doors that run from the living room into the dining room. There are two windows 42″ wide, one large window 92″ wide, and a set of patio doors 32″ wide each. These are the measurements to the outside of the mouldings, the desired finished width of the roman shades.

I decided to weave the fabric in two different widths, 45″ and 36″. I know that will give me fabric that finishes 42″ and 32″ wide. img013

My original calculations for warp length told me I wanted the 45″ warp to be 4.5 yards and the 32″ fabric to be 13 yards. I don’t know if anyone can interpret my notes there, but I neglected to add loom waste. This was only the first of the many ways I underestimated what I would need for this project.

After we changed from a white-on-white to a six color palette, I decided to do the next samples at the full width of the fabric. That prompted me to review my warp calculations, and upon reflection, I decided to add three extra yards to the length of both warps. The 45″ warp will be 8 yards and the 36″ warp will be 16 yards.

Back in October when I abandoned the multi-yarn warp, I decided to go with all 5/2 Perle Cotton, and quickly realized I didn’t have near enough. I bought two cones from Village Spinning and Weaving at Weff in November. Two weeks ago I ordered another cone. 

Now here’s where I have ??? dancing around my head. Whatever was I thinking?

It came time to start dying the white fabric strips, so I went to dig in the box where I remembered having all these rolls of selvedges cut from the ends of rolls of white cotton broadcloth. There were five. I hauled out my McMorran yarn balance: about 100 yards per roll. I went to my woven samples, did more calculations – total needed for both warps, 8 yards & 16 yards= 2500 yards of fabric strips. I checked my math a couple more times. I needed 20 more rolls of fabric strips. 

The company I had gotten the selvedges from is in Pennsylvania, and it took weeks before I remembered to call before 2:00 in the afternoon. Then, they didn’t have any more of the end cuts. But they had some partial rolls of cotton broadcloth, and they were willing to cut them into 1″ strips for me.

This lead me two days ago recheck my calculations for the other weft yarns. . . and WTF??

Going back to my woven samples, I found that my initial estimate of the number of picks per inch was way low. By this time I have dye-painted three skeins of yarn and five rolls of the fabric strips. This involves a process of winding the yarn off the cones into large 1 1/4 lb skeins, dye-painting it, cold batching for two days, letting it dry, then winding it back into balls. I had one of the skeins of 5/2 perle cotton get hopelessly tangled on the squirrel cage swift. After hours of working on it, I abandoned about 200 yards of warp yarn. 

I figured out that I needed another two pounds of this cotton flake I had bought back when the fabric was still going to be white; and that I can’t use any of the yarns I bought last summer at Convergence. In my white samples, I was doing my free form zig-zag non pattern using several yarns and shuttles at the same time. As the fabric has gotten more complex, I have decided to simplify the weaving. Everything is going to be space-dyed. Any zigzagging design will come from the serendipity in the way the colors land in the cloth.  I decided to combine the yarns to make them fatter, and only use two yarns for a total of three shuttles. 

But this now means that each yarn must cover half the picks for both warps. I have less than 1800 yards of each of the yarns I got last year at Convergence, and more of them is not available – that’s the reason I switched to Perle cotton for the warp. I no longer want to use a little of this and a little of that; I want to use the same yarns all the way through. My new math tells me that I need almost 5000 yards of each yarn. That meant I needed two additional pounds of the cotton flake, needed to skein, dye, then wind it back into balls. Plus I would need yarn to combine with the flake.IMG_1768

This was two days ago, as I said. This was after I struggled for hours with the tangled yarn. I dyed three large skeins of yarn today, I have one more in the garage that I have already soda-soaked. I’ll have to dye-paint two more pounds of cotton flake to plus 20 rolls of fabric strips. I couldn’t face any more dying. I ordered some 3/2 Perle cotton in beige, it matches the Chamois in my palette; and some carpet warp that matches the Terracotta.

A couple of weeks ago I ordered more urea. I got two pounds and as soon as it arrived I knew I needed to get another 5 lbs.

At the same time I started moving stuff out of Michael’s room so I can get all my stuff out of Samantha’s room, and turn that into a guest room in time Michael to use it when he comes home on Monday. 

And today I ran out of Terracotta dye. . .

Spring Forward

Spring is three days away. The smell of flowers blooming is in the air. We have already set the clocks ahead, and went around all last week feeling like we lost an hour somewhere. Today is St. Patrick’s Day, the LA Marathon was run this morning,  and it’s another one of those perfect days in LA. Of course, true to our wonderful weather: yesterday it was foggy in the Valley in the morning; then it was sunny and almost hot Downtown at noon, and by the time I left the Yarnbombing Granny Squares sewing party at the Craft and Folk Art Museum at 5, it was completely overcast and cool. As I wound my way up Laurel Canyon, over Mulholland, and dropped back down into the Valley, I drove into a hazy sunshine. The morning fog had never really lifted. I think it created an inversion layer, keeping it slightly hazy all day. As I headed west on the 101, I could see over the top of the hills, the heavy cloud cover sitting in the Basin.

DTLA, Saturday afternoon

DTLA, Saturday afternoon

But that was yesterday. Today it’s windy, clear and warm. Our orange tree, which wasn’t blooming three days ago, is in full bloom today.

Since returning from Stitches, progress on the window shade fabric has been slow. I had one week where I had four medical appointments over at UCLA and in Santa Monica – this was all follow-up on my thyroid surgery three years ago; and all the tests came out fine. But each trip over there takes a huge chunk out of the day.

I lead a twill weaving workshop for my guild, Southern California Handweavers. it was a great group, and we all had a wonderful time.

Weavers from L to R: Melissa, Elbert, Pat, 7 Myrna.

Weavers from L to R: Melissa, Elbert, Pat, & Myrna.

Carolyn Sell weaving on Elbert's loom in the Twill workshop.

Carolyn Sell weaving on Elbert’s loom in the twill workshop.

During these past few weeks I have been beginning to dye the 5/2 Perle cotton for the warp of the window shades and some to the fabric strips for the weft.

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But now, I’ve got to start cranking on this project if I ever want to get it done in this lifetime. The picture shows a small portion of the yarn and fabric strips I’ll need to dye.

Coming up: I’m going to Vogue Knitting Live in Bellevue, Washington April 5-7. I’ll be in the Art Gallery portion of the Marketplace with my smaller coiled baskets and jewelry for sale.

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I’m working on a new group of jewelry designs involving wire granny squares.

grannies1 The time has come for me to take over Michael’s bedroom – all of it, not just the half that serves as my photography studio. It is also time to pack up Samantha’s things and turn her bedroom into a guest room – so Michael has some place to sleep when he comes home from school.

Stay tuned.

Dying Time Again

Since my last post, the window shade project has taken a turn. We went over to Candy & Adam’s house with the samples and had a long discussion of what they liked and didn’t. I came home with some notes and plans to refine the patterns and make some new samples. I had left some of the sample warp on the loom so I could do further samples.

I left the samples taped to the windows at the house. I told Candy & Adam that they needed see them in different lights, at different times of the day. I got a call a few days later: the white fabric didn’t work at night. It looked washed out and boring. In hindsight I realized, of course, there’s a reason no one puts white drapes on white walls. Door Sample

We discussed the color palette and I decided to dye the yarn and fabric strips I already have. This way I’ll be able to use the yarns I’ve already acquired for the project, and get the palette exactly as I want it. So I ordered some fiber reactive dyes from Dharma and now I’m in the process of doing color tests.

I have started with each color straight from the jar. I like the soda soak & cold batch method for dying. I’ll be painting the dye onto the yarn and fabric strips, so this method is appropriate. I prepared small samples of the yarns and fabric strips, and mixed all of the colors the same strength. I want to be very systematic about it, so I can recreate the results when I get the palette I like. I’ll need to dye a couple thousand yards of yarn and fabric strips.

The first group of samples came out very dark, too dark. Yesterday I mixed the dyes at half and quarter strength. Cold batch means that you leave the dyed material wet for 24 – 48 hours to set the dye. Since I left the first round of sample setting for 48 hours, I will leave all the second set for the same amount of time. I was tempted to take out the quarter strength samples after 24 hours because I’m trying to get some pale shades, but then decided against it in order to keep my tests consistent.  If you only change one variable with each test, then you know what caused the results. Tomorrow I’ll rinse out the samples, then wash and dry them. After that, I’ll move on to adjusting the colors.DyeTests

Of course, I have other projects going at the same time. I have an 8 harness point twill warp on my 24″ Dorothy table loom that I’m weaving off. The results will be additional samples to help inform my Exploring Twills workshop for the Southern California Handweavers Guild, coming up next month, March 9 & 10. I have decided to de-acquire my 24″ wide, 8 harness Dorothy table loom. As soon as I get this warp woven off , I will list it on Craig’s List or something.

Next Monday, February 11, I’m speaking at the Palomar Handweavers Guild and leading a half-day workshop on using recycled materials in fiber art.

TopDownTI’m about ready to finish a knitted t-shirt for myself.  This is a rather unusual occurrence. As much as I love to knit, I have made very few garments over the years, only three things for myself. This is a top-down t-shirt I started almost a year ago. It’s an original pattern developed by Suzanne at Unwind in Burbank. I bought the yarn and signed up for the class to learn the pattern during last year’s LA Yarn Crawl.

I pitched in a donation and made some granny squares for Yarnbombing Los Angeles’s latest project to cover the Craft and Folk Art Museum with crochet.

I haven’t touched my Designing Weavers annual project for a couple of months. The past few years it’s been a Springtime mystery whether I will or won’t get my project done by May. Stay tuned to see what happens with that.

Out in the Valley

A couple weeks ago I mentioned three things I had underway: my Designing Weavers piece addressing opposites, preparations for my Exploring Twills workshop, and the samples for the window shades.
November 17 & 18 was the twill workshop out in the Central Valley of California, and it was a great time. First, I had good weather for the drive out to Exeter, CA. Second, the Handweavers of the Valley are a lively and fun group of weavers.

I stayed with Judy Trimble at her beautiful home in Porterville. Her children are grown and she lives alone. Judy’s house has a room with two looms in it, just as every house should have, don’t you think?

There were 15 in the workshop, all at different levels of experience, and I had a great time spending two days with them.

I haven’t been able to work on the window shade samples. The week after the workshop was Thanksgiving week, which included Irv’s and my 25th wedding anniversary.

I have made a little progress on my DW piece, but not much.  The truth is I have more than three projects going at any one time. The Wells Fargo Green Team Trophy is an ongoing project that I needed to get a coiled piece completed for. This project came about during my long hiatus from blogging. Here is my Green Team Trophy,

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and here is the second token, which I’ll be shipping soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It seems there are always side projects. This is one of the eight harness twills from my workshop. It will be a scarf, and it will be a gift for our Chanukah party on December 8th. 

This loom is sitting on a folding table in my dining room, and there’s another one on the dining table. So I not only need to finish the scarf as a gift for the party, but I’ll also need to get the looms out of the dining room so people can sit down to eat. And there’s a Baby Wolf in the living room I’ll be wheeling into my daughter’s bedroom. One of these years I should just leave all of the looms out and have everyone take turns weaving on them during the party. Wouldn’t that be fun?

Without a Paddle

So, progress. I have gotten the warp for my window shade fabric samples on the loom, and have started weaving. The warp is made up of about 10 different white yarns in different combinations. The fabric will be white with accents of neutral tans, grey, and a touch of blue.

But before I got this far, I had an adventure winding the warp – well, not quite. I averted an adventure. I saw that I was headed down a dark and mysterious path, and I retreated to the safety of What-I’ve-Always-Done. Here’s what happened:

You see, years ago – many years ago I acquired a warping paddle. . .

There it is. it’s just lovely. I think it’s maple, it has a nice finish, beautifully beveled holes, it feels good in my hand. There is just one teeny, tiny thing wrong with this warping paddle.

I don’t know how to use it.

I thought I knew: put the different yarns through the holes, run the paddle back and forth around the pegs of the warping board, wind 12 ends at a time instead of one end at a time. Alrighty then. I wound small balls of my combined yarns. I found 12 different bowls, cans, and boxes for my different yarns (or multiple balls of the same yarn I was using more than once over the 12 end “repeat”). I stuck the 12 yarns through the 12 holes, I knotted them together, I looped them over the top peg.

Then I brought the 12 yarns, neatly separated in two rows of six, past the first peg of the cross – and I stopped. How to make the cross? How do I get the bottom yarns to go over the second cross peg, and the top ones to go under it, With only two hands?

I was using one hand to hold the knotted ends on the beginning peg, and the other one holding the paddle. The 12 yarns were hanging slackly, feeding from 12 boxes, bowls and cans on the floor at my feet. I seemed to be missing a hand I would need to also hold the yarns with the minimal tension needed to keep them from falling off of the warping board. And then where was I to put the paddle when I needed my hands to untangle the yarns when they tried to wrap around each other on the floor?

It was ridunculous (a more extreme form of ridiculous). Clearly I am missing some crucial piece of information.

My sample warp is only 96 ends. I just ran it one end at a time, the old-fashioned way, and got it on the loom.

It has been a while since I’ve woven on my floor loom, and I felt I needed a warm up, so I started weaving with only the white yarns and fabric strips.

This piece is based on the window shade fabric I wove for mine and my hubby’s bedroom, but it is stiffer and tighter.

Our fabric has some fuzzy yarn with mohair, and some thick and lofty wools.

But Candy and Adam don’t want the same design as our window shades.

They don’t want the heavier wool yarns that zig-zag across my shades. Good thing, because I don’t have any more of those. The fuzzy mohair yarn doesn’t exist any more either – which is also alright because it’s not right for Candy & Adam’s living room.

I thought the sett at 8 EPI was too tight, so I resleyed it at 6 EPI. I want this fabric to be a little weft faced. I also decided I’ll just use one yarn in the warp. All the different yarns I used don’t show up. So the hassle of running a bunch of different yarns in the warp has no pay-off in the design. I have a lovely thin perle cotton that I got from Newton’s Yarn Country at Convergence this summer, and I’ll need more of it. Fortunately, Newton’s Yarn Country will be at WeFF on Sunday.

This, my weaving friends, is why we make samples.

beginnings for the first sample on the loom.

What’s Next?

Again, it’s been a while since my last post. I did clean my studio. It took much less time than I imagined it was going to. Then I launched right into my next set of projects; and those are:

Woven fabric for window shades – for cousins Candyce and Adam; 18 yards, two warps, two different widths.

A new workshopExploring Twills

Designing Weavers 2013 annual project on the theme of Opposites.

I will be leading the Exploring Twills workshop for the Handweavers of the Valley in Exeter, California on November 17 & 18; and for the Southern California Handweavers in (the San Fernando Valley) Los Angeles, on March 9 & 10, 2013. I have compiled a notebook of twill drafts that range from beginner/easy: 4H Straight Draw to intermediate/more complex: 8H Elaborate Twill.

I will be demonstrating one of the twill patterns at the SCHG Weaving and Fiber Festival (WeFF) at the Torrance Cultural Arts Center, 3350 Civic Center Drive, Torrance CA. The hours are 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. This is a fantastic Fiber-centered event. If you’ve been there, you know what I’m talking about. If you’ve never been, and you’re interested in anything that can be done with fiber, you need to check it out.

There will be a wonderful variety of demonstrations throughout the day. My demonstration times are 10-11 am; 12-1 pm; and 2-3 pm.

The window shade fabric is in the very beginning stages of design. The warp is going to be a variety of white yarns with white fabric strips, and white, tan, & light blue yarn in the weft. I’m going to make some samples first with some different treatments for the weft.

I have about 10 different white yarns. I’m currently working out the arrangement of yarns for the warp.

 

 

 

 

 

I also have a coiling project underway. This is the 2nd token to go with the Wells Fargo Green Team trophy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have a piece started for the Designing Weavers Annual Project. Here’s a sneak peek, but I’m not going to show too much of it.

Productive Avoidance

Ah, hello again so soon. I have managed over two days to not even enter my studio, much less get it cleaned. But I’ve still been productive, doing this:

This is my new website/blog for the show at LAX, and I built it in two days – on WordPress. I’ve had my ups and downs with WordPress over the last few years. Either I’ve improved my knowledge since a year ago when I declared it impossible, or they have improved their support and tutorials – or some combination of both.

I set up the website for Connecting Threads so people in the airport can look up information on the artists. The Home page has statements, bios, and website links on all of the artists in the show. The Blog/Virtual Opening page will have running posts. This is where I’ll post the pictures people send me from the Virtual Opening. What is the Virtual Opening? Follow the link and find out. You can sign on to follow  connectingthreadsatlax.com. 

If you’re going to be traveling through Terminal 1 from August 23 through February next year, please stop and look at the fiber art. And join the Virtual Opening, send me a picture, and I’ll post it.

What about cleaning the studio? Yeah, yeah, i’ll get to it. . .

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