The fun of chatting with Sarah Swett

The fun of chatting with Sarah Swett

Yesterday I hosted a webinar with Sarah Swett. This was the first time I’ve done such a thing. After a lot of work learning the new tech, I was ready for it. I knew where the share buttons were and how to turn on the recordings and how to answer questions and do a poll. I knew how to turn microphones and video on and off, how to send registration reminder emails and follow-up emails. I thought I had it nailed.

But I didn’t know what I didn’t know. And what I didn’t know was that the package I purchased through the webinar platform Zoom only included 100 participants. So immediately after starting the broadcast, 100 people were on and no more were allowed in. I realized this a few minutes into the broadcast thanks to someone mentioning it in the Q&A (which I totally knew how to use!), but there was nothing I could do about it once the webinar had started.

The webinar itself went really well. If you were one of the hundreds of people who registered but couldn’t get into the live event, please accept my sincere apologies.

Please do take the time to watch the video below.

For the love of yarn. Playing with Nightshades.

For the love of yarn. Playing with Nightshades.

I do love yarn. Funny how a material can shape an art practice so strongly. I can imagine someone else loving paint or graphite or stone or wood, but for me it is yarn.

I can scarcely resist a yarn shop even though most of them don’t have any weaving yarn (Shuttles in Boulder is a notable exception and maybe if you’re lucky your town happens to have a weaving shop also). I’ve written before about what makes a good tapestry yarn and my opinions about that haven’t changed. However, sometimes I see a yarn that I desperately want to work for tapestry weaving. And even though I know in my heart that it will not make a good tapestry yarn, my eternal optimism puts some in my shopping basket.

Such a yarn presented itself to me last May during a visit to Harrisville Designs in Harrisville, New Hampshire. I stopped to say hello to the people who make the tapestry yarn I use (Harrisville Koehler Singles) and to see the woodshop where my favorite loom in the world was made: the Harrisville Rug Loom.

Talking with Sarah: a live online event with Sarah Swett and Rebecca Mezoff

Talking with Sarah: a live online event with Sarah Swett and Rebecca Mezoff

Sarah Swett is the creator of delightful fiber worlds. If you’ve followed her blog, read her books, or taken any classes from her, you know she can make you laugh and inspire you to expand your creativity. Sarah is a tapestry artist with decades of experience. Her work is varied and it always expresses her wonder at the world around her. Her Rough Copy series for example contain a narrative taken from a novel she wrote. The sheer bloody clarity of her woven text is astounding in itself, but the form each of the panels takes enhances the story. She has worked with four selvedge tapestry weaving both in large format as in the Rough Copy pieces and in her wonderful tiny houses series this year. More recently, she has been experimenting with various materials for tapestry weaving.

We’re hosting a free (and very fun) webinar on Thursday, November 15th. If you can’t make it, the replay will go into the Fringeless online class so you can watch it or watch it again.

The tapestry work of Susan Martin Maffei and laughing with Archie Brennan

The tapestry work of Susan Martin Maffei and laughing with Archie Brennan

Last May I had the opportunity to visit Susan Martin Maffei and Archie Brennan in their studios in New York. It was one of those experiences that is hard to share partly because it can’t be translated well in words and partly because I treasure it so much in my heart that talking about it just doesn’t seem to bring the experience justice. But I’ll give it a go anyway.

Weaving the sky: a studio visit

Weaving the sky: a studio visit

I’ve been squeezing in more time for weaving this month. One thing I played with was a yarn from Mountain Meadow Wool, a small mill in Wyoming who uses domestic sheep and does their own dyeing. Gist Yarn & Fiber carries this yarn and I got a couple skeins to play with. I did not actually choose the colors, so when this purple-blue arrived, I was thrilled as it is in my favorite color family. The yarn is dyed unevenly on purpose. This is something I accomplish regularly in the dye studio accidentally, but somehow this yarn which is blotchy on purpose is full of charm.

I enjoyed this tiny four selvedge tapestry which wove up in a flash. The blue and brown is Mountain Meadow and the light blue “S” is two strands of Weaver’s Bazaar. I was playing with how skinny I could make the “S” by using the doubled warp of the four selvedge warping and it was quite effective for the verticals. I did not split the warps in the curves and I think next time I will try that also. The thin Weavers Bazaar 18/2 yarn used next to this worsted wool makes a nice contrast in texture and reflectance.

Here is a little video I made as I put in the last picks and took it off the loom. Welcome to my super messy studio!

Weaving the fall chamisa bloom

Weaving the fall chamisa bloom

I’ve been doing a little weaving. There are seasons where I don’t have enough time to play with yarn and the last few months have felt like that. So I spent four solid days last weekend weaving and I finished a piece. A fairly large piece actually. It is a wonderful thing to completely give yourself over to making something for several days in a row. I had enough of a plan to get me going and I had previously dyed the yarn. Sitting at the loom, despite the ache in my rear after the first day, was marvelous. I made some decisions and added some elements as I saw the thing unfold and in the end I was quite pleased with it. I can’t show it to you right now, but I’ll give you the details after I learn the fate of the show submission.

Weaving for days in a row reminded me of how brittle I start to feel when I don’t weave. My fiber crafting with knitting and spinning here and there helps, but there is no substitute for making art. So until the next large piece is started, more tapestry diary work it is.

Colors of fall: writing retreats and fall colors

Colors of fall: writing retreats and fall colors

I spent a week working in a friend’s timeshare last week (thank you Kristy!). I got a lot of writing done and I even participated in Spinzilla. I spent some time hiking including one trek into Rocky Mountain National Park. Here are a few of my explorations.

I wrote a lot on my next project. Having time away from the studio and all other distractions of daily life is a good way for me to get a lot done. I’m working at creating this in my own office, but I’m not quite there yet.

It turns out, spinning is a good way to jog your brain free when it feels a little blocked and I think a good companion to writing.