Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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.


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.


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.


February Wanderings

February was a lovely month here in Southern California. I made a couple of trips that took me from   Escondido to San Francisco to Big Sur and home again (though not all in the same trip).


Somewhere along the Central California Coast.

I gave a presentation and half day workshop for the Palomar Handweavers Guild in Escondido. The subject was working with reused materials, so I took a whole load of junk and we all had some fun in the afternoon.

Mimi making a basket from plastic bag yarn (Plarn) and cardboard packing material.

Mimi making a basket from plastic bag yarn (Plarn) and cardboard packing material.

Last weekend I went to the Stitches conference in Santa Clara, CA. Over the last few months, my daughter,Samantha, and I had been discussing me making a visit to the Bay Area to see an exhibition of the Terracotta Warriors at  The Asian Art Museum. It opened during the weekend of Stitches, which I have been wanting to check out. Sam wanted to go with me to the Friday evening fashion show, so my Bay Area trip came together.IMG_1716


Since I’ve been home, I have picked up the window shade project. Just before the Stitches trip, I created a color pallete for C & A.

The new color pallete and a dyed skein of fabric strips on top of the original white woven sample.

The new color pallete and a dyed skein of fabric strips on top of the original white woven sample.

I now need to dye all of the white yarn and fabric strips to prepare them for weaving.  One of the first things I’ll need to do is to wind skeins for dying. The next parts of the process are to scour and soda soak the skeins of yarn and fabric strips.

Skeins of white fabric strips.

Skeins of white fabric strips.

Last Post of 2012

Wrapping up 2012. It was a good year. I had my work in some wonderful exhibitions; I was invited to apply to California Fibers, and joined that group; I curated an exhibition at Los Angeles International Airport; and I was selected to produce a coiled piece for the Wells Fargo Green Team Trophy.

Since my last blog post, I finished the second token for the Green Team Trophy. It will be going to the Los Angeles Virtual Team.













I have woven some samples for the window shade fabric. I will soon be meeting with C & A to look at them.














Just yesterday I shared a triangle loom weaving adventure with some friends from my local guild, the Southern  California Handweavers Guild. A little group of weavers came together at Michelle Gannes’ house to learn how to weave on triangle looms. I had been curious about triangle weaving, so I borrowed a loom and joined in. I came home with my triangle about half woven and finished it in the evening. And the result was, well . . .

triangle 2. . . slightly appalling.

I figure I’ll probably add some embellishment to cover that mess in the center, then crochet an edge which will help compensate for the failure at the bottom point. As I’m thinking about it, If I use a nice bright complimentary color for the edging, it will pull attention away from the technical difficulties. Then I’ll wear it in my studio when I need a little something to keep my shoulders warm, and never take it out of the house. It will be fine.

Looking forward to 2013: along with the window shade fabric, and never weaving on a triangle loom ever again, I’ll be doing at least two more tokens for the Green Team Trophy. I’m going to attend Stitches West in February in Santa Clara, CA.  I’ll need to step up work on my Designing Weavers annual project in order to get it done by March, April, or May. I also have workshops and classes scheduled on my teaching roster thru May.  Then there is the SDA conference in San Antonio in June.

What else? I’m sure I’ll find some other things to get into – I’ll let you know.

Art and Fashion

This past week I attended two fun, but very different, arts events . Wednesday was Drink & Draw, a networking social gathering organized by 11:11 A Creative Collective, the same group who has brought us the Canoga Park Artwalk the last two summers.

11:11 ACC Drink & Draw

11:11 ACC Drink & Draw

The Maui Sugar Mill Saloon is an old-time, low-key, neighborhood watering hole with Fat Tire on tap, a decent juke box, and a low enough noise level that a group of artists can sit in a corner with a drink and talk while drawing (or whatever). I met some Valley artists I’ve never met before, and caught up with others I haven’t seen in a while.

All artists in the San Fernando Valley should drop by so we can all meet each other and build our community connections. Follow the 11:11 ACC links to sign up for their email announcements.

I took my DW “opposites” piece to work on. Here is another peek at it. I’m not ready to reveal it by a long way. I was thinking of calling it Attraction. But then Jan Lamb, a Valley Artist I was talking to, said something that made me think of Fire and Water as a title.

Designing Weavers 2013 Annual Project

Designing Weavers 2013 Annual Project

I caught up with Preston Craig, who I met about seven years ago on the Valley Artist Studio Tour. Preston told me about a crowd funding project he started through Go Fund Me to raise money for some new computer equipment. I got his email about it the next day and I made a donation. And that’s what networking is all about.

Thursday night was the fashion show at Studio Channel Islands Art Center. I entered my plastic bag dress that I made for  the Mannequin Collective in Santa Monica two years ago. The funny thing about this dress is: although I have shown it several times in exhibitions, no one had ever worn it as a dress until last Thursday night.


I’m happy to say the dress was a hit. The audience, many of whom are friends of mine, let out a collective whoop when the model came out. I have to say it was a happy moment.


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,

Stash of Trash

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?

Been a While

It has really been a while since I’ve been in here. And of course WordPress has rearranged everything. 

I decided to update my (3) readers at a moment when I’m finishing up projects and starting new ones. It’s that transition period known as CLEANING THE STUDIO. I haven’t cleaned in a very long time, I’ve been going from one project to another since January, when I finished The Fifth Element for exhibition at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio in Manhatten.


 Then I barely cleaned before starting my Designing Weavers piece, Pacific Rim. (Due March 25th).



I hadn’t even gotten Pacific Rim finished when I needed to get started on the Wells Fargo Green Team trophy, entitled Stash of Trash.


And now it is to the point where I simply can’t function in there.

You all know it, you’ve all been there. 

 ImageThis time isn’t as bad as it has been sometimes. But still, I always find myself standing among the mess, thinking, “where do I start?” The answer is always this:

Image One thing. Just find one thing to and find a place for it. And that always leads to the next thing I can put away, and then I get on a roll. I build momentum, and the process just flows. However, I didn’t get started until after 4:00 today, having conducted very effective avoidance techniques most of the day. So I didn’t get very far. Tomorrow I really won’t be able to avoid it any longer, really.

What’s on the agenda next for me and my studio:

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

A new workshop, Exploring Twills

Designing Weavers 2013 annual project on the theme of Opposites. 

Big Day

The day my son, Michael, goes to college has arrived. He spent the day packing. His sister came home from school for the weekend so we could celebrate her birthday, which is Monday – she’s turning 21.

We went out for dinner with My father in law and his girlfriend, my sister-in-law and her boyfriend, and Sammy’s best friend. Michael has just finished packing his car, and has gone to bed. He’s leaving early for the 80 mile drive out to Riverside. His assigned time to check in to his dorm is 8:00 am, and he wants to get there as early as possible so he can get the bottom bunk.

Irv and I are driving out separately and a little later. Sammy has an 11:20 flight back to Oakland; her friend, Michelle, is taking her to the airport. We’ll be returning home to an empty nest tomorrow afternoon. Then we’re taking off on vacation later in the week.

People have been asking me all summer what I feel about having an empty nest. I keep saying I can’t wait. I have Michael’s permission to get the extra twin bed out of his room so I can set up a photography area there. I’ve been waiting for this day for a year. Michael only needed four classes last year, so he came home at 1:00 every day. I kept saying, “I’ve got to work,” and we went out to lunch a lot, and we watched a lot of tv.

We’ve been making jokes about it all summer: I’ll have to start using the step stool in the kitchen again because he won’t be here to reach things for me; and I may never watch tv during the day again because he’s the one who always turned it on. Earlier this week he asked me, “Now, do you remember how to turn on the PS3, how to get into Netflix?” I told him yes, but I’m not sure I do.

Thursday evening one of the other artists at the Sustainable Works fundraiser told me she has some neighbors who are also at this stage, and she asked them what it’s like; and they said it’s grrrreeeaaat. We’re not helicopter parents. Michael drove himself out to Riverside for his orientation – he left two hours after I got home from my Albuquerque road trip. He’s allowed to take his car, they have plenty of parking at UCR, and the parking permit is inexpensive enough. I want him to have his car so he can go out and do things on weekends.

All this being said, do you think I’ll get a little emotional tomorrow. Oh, yeah, count on it. Will having the house to myself be as great as I’ve been saying it will be, and will I ever watch tv again (and will Clancy make it until his box of dog biscuits runs out)?

I’ll have to let you know.


Me and my mannequin at Santa Monica Place


“Fall is in the air.” Well, not really. I don’t really know what that phrase means, not experiential anyway. I know what the concept of it means (you don’t need to comment and e’splain it to me). I grew up in Mesa, Arizona and I’ve lived in this State of Gold for 30 years, 22 of those have been in the San Fernando Valley. Yes, the mornings are cooler now, but we could still have a week or two with over 100 temps – like we did 21 years ago next week, the week we brought our baby girl home from the hospital.  

We have deciduous trees here, they are probably non-natives, and they will lose their leaves at some point. They just won’t do it within the next month. It can get hot again in the first two weeks of October, and the trees that do lose their leaves don’t do it until late November.  

But school does start today; and for the first time in 15 years, I am uninvolved. The High School started two weeks ago – earlier than the other schools for some reason- and I didn’t even know it. From now on, except for the extra traffic in the neighborhood twice a day, I am blissfully unaware of what’s going on in the schools. Ok, that’s not entirely true either. When I’m scanning headlines, the initials LAUSD (Los Angeles Unified School District) will still flag me down and get me to click on the link, read the article.  

Oh look, I gone and buried the lead. The real news is that a week from now both of my children will be away at school. This has been long anticipated. For the past several months, every time I’ve asked my son to empty the dishwasher, every time I’ve watched him take out the trash, I’ve been poignantly aware this passage was coming. The chores will be all mine to do once again – except for laundry. My dear husband washes and folds the laundry, I put the clothes away. So he’s worth the both of them put together, really.  

What ever will I do now that my children, my purpose for living, are all grown though not quite gone? Well, this week I’ll have some work on display at the Sustainable Works fundraiser at Writer’s Boot CampBergamot Station in Santa Monica. I’m doing something new for this event. Here it is in progress:  

Yes, these are hub caps with crochet plastic bags. As you can see, Clancy is still helping me with my work.

I’m Warped

Last week a friend of mine, Luisa Villani, described me as a master weaver on her blog, Sew Me a Poem, and I asked her to change it.

 I learned to weave in the Fiber Art program at Cal State University Northridge in 1996, the same semester I met Luisa, incidentally. Fourteen years is not that long in weaving terms. In my primary guild (Southern California Handweavers Guild), as I suspect in every guild, there are people who have been weaving as long as I’ve been alive. And there are many more who’ve been weaving 2 or 3 times as long as I have.

The only objective measure of weaving mastery that I know about is the HGA’s Certificate of Excellence. I glanced at the criteria for earning the COE one time, I don’t remember why. What I do remember is that it’s not something I want to take on anytime in the near future.

In light of this, I offer my latest project, The Eight Shaft Shadow Weave.

8 shaft shadow weave
Eight Shaft Shadow Weave

I still need to do my annual project for Designing Weavers. Earlier this year I dressed my loom with a leftover abandoned warp in Johann Speck’s Design,  an overshot pattern from the Davison book.  The warp was this dark grey rough scratchy wool blend on huge cones that used to be in Bee Colman’s office at CSUN. This warp was 15 yards long, tied and chained, ready for the loom, then forgotten in a locker in the fiber studio. Like a lot of abandoned warps from CSUN over the years, this one came home with me. I used the first 10 yards of it to make a piece for a show in 2008. I joined two five yard sections to make a large piece 36” high by 14’ wide. It’s hanging above the couch in my living room. The last five yards sat on the loom for a year until I re-threaded it in Johann Speck’s design. It was kind of experimental. I did several panels with different materials for the pattern and tabby weft. I was disappointed with it, but I still hope to salvage these panels and do something with them.

Johann Speck’s Panels


Then I decided to do the yardage for the Convergence Yardage Exhibition. (see: I Don’t Do Yardage) It turned out alright, especially since the fused plastic was a whole new process for me. it turned out alright, but not really good in my estimation. I had thought the yardage would be my DW annual project – that is, until we saw the first annual project presentations at the March Designing Weavers meeting. they were really, really good. I have to do better than my 2010 Yardage, and I’m running out of time.

Along the way, I asked myself, “How did I manage to get it right with my Plastic in the Trees piece?” then I remembered how many times and different ways I had done the blooming leaf pattern before I put the green warp on the loom. I had threaded a demonstration warp on a table loom in a beautiful blue pearl cotton that I had lots of, and didn’t seem to be using up very fast. I had thought I would sample different materials – cassette tape, video tape – to see how they worked in the pattern. I did the first pattern repeat in some greenish-gold shiny nylon yarn that had been surplus from a sweater designer in Venice, CA. My husband saw it and said it would make a nice table runner for Hanukah. I finished the whole warp with the yarn, and it does make a nice table runner. Around this time I was reading The Complete Book of Drafting for Handweavers by Madelyn van der Hoogt, and I converted blooming leaf to an eight shaft pattern, did an entire draw-down on an Excell spread sheet, threaded it on my eight-shaft table loom (what a pain!), and hated it. Then I did my ’07-’08 DW annual project – the circus piece – in blooming leaf on four shafts. So by the time I wove Plastic in the Trees I and II, I had done lots of ground work with that pattern. Those two pieces have been on exhibit almost constantly since I finished them. They get accepted to almost every juried show I enter them in, and #1 won first place in the 2-D category in a show.

So now, I have decided to do an eight shaft shadow weave pattern. I took a great shadow weave workshop with Jannie Taylor at the SCHG last month. Jannie is a wonderful instructor. She gave us a notebook of patterns, and I purchased her CD of patterns as well. My ultimate goal is to do  wall pieces using a single repeat of the pattern in really large gauge yarn sett at 4 or 2 EPI, possibly using fused plastic strips as one of the weft elements.

I got some huge wool yarn from Bill Kleese, out in Riverside. most of it will sett at 4 EPI. And there’s some really huge stuff that will be two ends per inch. I don’t love wool, but I haven’t been able to find really large cotton, so now I’m going to be dying wool (I cringe as I type this. I don’t love dying either. Hmm this could be a set-up for a weaving adventure.)I got some acid dyes. I ordered a reed with 2 dents per inch – I’m so excited, I’ve been wanting to do this for a few years. I’m going to need large eye heddles, and I’ll probably have to rethread the heddles when I get to the 2 EPI stuff.  

I decided to practice the pattern by doing a piece with regular yarn, sett at 6 EPI. And since I may be doing the same pattern on different warp yarns, I decided to make a “waste warp” to roll on the back beam so I can tie on new warps and re-slay a new reed for different setts. For my waste warp I decided to use none other than the last of the black, scratchy woo,l abandoned warp from CSUN. I have about 20 cones of yarn lined up on my table and have been combining them in different colorways. I had to combine three yarns to make it 6 EPI. One of the yarns I combined was a shiny, slinky, space dyed rayon I’ve had for about ten years. It was awful, it tangled, then tangled some more; and while I was trying to untangle it, it tangled some more.

I gave up and threw the yarn in the trash – oh yes I did – and substituted another yarn in the dark warp. I had two colorways of the same sh**. I thought the light would work better because the balls were better wound and in individual sandwich size ziplocks. Half way through the 80 end warp that took hours to wind, it tangled. I tried for a little while to untangle it, gave up, cut it off, and substituted a different yarn in the light warp also. Its laying in its baggy on my studio floor where I keep walking over it.

The good warp is now threaded through heddles and reed with the waste warp at the back, under it. its ready to tie onto the cloth beam. I’ll be going to Camarillo four days this week for installation of Fiber 2010 West. I’m doing new, fused plastic work for the Blue Planet submission, due April 24. The Valley Artist Studio Tour application is due April 23, Bloomindales Santa Monica is due May 1, and I have 7 1/2 weeks until I present my annual project at Designing Weavers on May 26.

Game on.

Driving in the Rain

Last night Billy Crystal was on Jay Leno’s show. As he sat down, he commented about the rain, “It’s Biblical out there, Biblical!” Then he goes on to make an old, tired joke about how Californians don’t know how to drive in the rain. Really, we go five years without any rain to speak of, then we get a whole year’s worth in a week (it’s Biblical!). Exactly what kind of idiot would expect Californians to be well accustomed to driving in the rain?

I was on my way to UCLA on Wednesday for a doctor’s appointment. I got on the 101 Southbound at Valley Circle Blvd at around 1:30, and it was raining fairly hard. I merged over to the #2 lane and settled in. Traffic was light, I suspect people were putting off unnecessary trips and staying off the roads. We do that here. People stay home if it’s raining, wait it out. Why? Because we’re scared of water? No, because we can. Oh look, there’s the sun now.

I normally drive in the #1 lane, the fast lane, but I avoided it on Wednesday – because I know where I am. I know where I live, and I know what happens when it rains in Southern California. Traffic was moving along steadily at about 50-55 in the #2 lane, a little slower in the outer lanes, as it should. I had only gone about a mile when some car came up on my left in the #1 lane, going much faster than everyone else. He hit one of those puddles that tend to accumulate in the center of the freeways, and threw up a huge rooster tail of water all over my windshield, blinding me for a second. When my vision cleared, I saw him a little ahead of me, fishtailing all over his lane. He was fighting to regain control of his car, and as I passed him, he was headed toward the center divider. [point of information: there is no shoulder in the center of this freeway at this point. The concrete divider is just on the other side of the yellow line.]

I decided to move over to the #3 lane in case someone else going 65 hit a puddle and spun out. I didn’t want to get hit. Mostly I didn’t want to stand out in the rain exchanging information with some ass who doesn’t think he has to slow down.

As I went by the fishtailing car, I caught a glimpse of his license plate and it was not California. I couldn’t catch the state because the license plate holder covered the top and bottom of the plate, and well, I was watching the road. It was a plate with dark navy blue numbers and letters on a white background, separated by a little symbol. So if we look up current license plates, there’s Connecticut. It has blue numbers and letters with a dot in between; but it has a blue gradient and this one was all white. And the symbol in between the numbers and letters was irregular, like the shape of the state. New Jersey almost fits, but it has a yellowish background. It wasnt Nevada, Arizona or Utah, and it definitely was not New Mexico, or Texas. 

Hmm, this guy who obviously doesn’t know how to drive in the rain wasn’t from any of the Southwestern states, where it hardly ever rains. He wasn’t even from Oregon, Colorado or Washington – they have pictures of mountains and trees in the middle of their plates. So that leaves Minnesota, New York, and Pennsylvania fitting the description of the plate I saw. I’m pretty sure it was New York.

This Begs the question for my friends from the East, if slowing down and not speeding through standing puddles at 65 mph is not the right way to drive in the rain; what is? It leaves me to wonder what it must be like on the roads back there when it rains. Is it one big demolition derby?

It’s an issue of storm drains. Our drains are built to handle 10-12″ annual average rainfall. The thing is, we’ll go five years getting less than 10″, then we’ll get an inch of rain every hour for a week. And it gets crazy out there.

Then it goes away, the sun comes out, and we forget where our umbrellas are. Believe me, if the sun had been shining, I would have been in that #1 land, and not poking along at 65 mph, either. If Mr. New York had been in that lane on a clear day (330 of them per year), and he was going 65, he would have been cursed by the other drivers as they were forced to go around him on the right.

so, Mr. I-know-how-to-drive-in-the-rain-because-I’m-from-New-York, maybe you should learn to respect where you are. If none of the locals are doing 65 in the fast lane of a Southern California freeway, in the rain, maybe they know something you don’t.

%d bloggers like this: