Eleven

Eleven

The blog began eleven years ago, April 20, 2008.

I started it on Blogger before I had any thoughts of ever teaching tapestry much less making weaving my whole career.

I moved the blog to my website years later and though it could use a good going over with an eye to fixing links and making a better tagging system, it is one long glorious song about the joy of making things.

Occasionally someone will write me and say they sat down and read the whole thing from the beginning. I like to think maybe they had the flu and had inexplicably run out of unread books and Harry Potter movies. But maybe it is just the sign of someone who starts a project and decides to see it through to the end. That seems like a trait a tapestry weaver would have. Plus there is a lot of good stuff in there though it is mixed with a lot of goofiness.

Making choices

Making choices

Anyone else really bad at making decisions?

I’m the worst.

I suppose it depends on what I have to decide about, but sometimes I’m a twitching mess of indecision. This place is painful and I’ve worked hard to learn to settle into the reasons for the struggle and listen for the right answer. That is slightly easier to do when it comes to which pizza to order than when I’m trying to decide on a design for a huge tapestry. But let’s face it, even choosing clothes for a trip to see tapestries in France can seem pretty difficult some days. (It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, right? The weight of the world in a pair of shoes…)

These sorts of indecisive moments become a habit. At least they do for me. This is part of my personality and one that I wish was different some days. I want to be one of those people who just know the right answer and go with it quickly. But I’m not. Maybe you’re not either.

The simplest looms can make the most beautiful things

The simplest looms can make the most beautiful things

Last week I took a class with John Mullarkey at Interweave’s YarnFest. I’ve taught with John a few times at various conferences. In 2017 at Midwest Weaver’s Conference, his classroom was right next to mine. We were on the top floor of an old building in July in Indianapolis. The air conditioner could not keep up with how hot it was and so we had the classroom doors open. Every so often through the whole conference we’d hear uproarious laughter coming from John’s classroom. Ever since I’ve wanted to know why tablet weaving was so much fun.

Widening my fiber world

Widening my fiber world

Last week my #studiofriday was actually Wednesday and Thursday at Interweave’s YarnFest. Since I live just down the road and I’ve always wanted to take a class from these particular teachers, this was the year. I didn’t have the time to teach this year, but I made the time to take two classes.

Wednesday was Spinning Nordic Wools with Kate Larson. Kate is a spinner and shepherdess and the editor of Spin Off magazine. She is also a fantastic knitter, embroiderer, and I’d guess she has a few other talents up her sleeve as well. I have taught at the same conference as Kate a few times and always wished I was in her class. I was so glad I made the time to take this one and that there was one space left!

Spinning is magic to me. Before I learned to spin I just bought the yarn I had been taught to use. I still use that yarn for my largest tapestries, but spinning has led me into a love affair with yarn. When you start to understand how yarn is made and to gain the skills to make the yarn you want yourself, the world opens up. There is nothing more satisfying than taking a lovely stinky fleece through all the steps to make and dye the yarn and weave it into a tapestry. It is magic.

Making long-overdue color choices

Making long-overdue color choices

My studio Fridays this year have been devoted to getting the yarn and design ready for a new large tapestry. I don’t have a name for it yet, but the inspiration came from my artist residency at Petrified Forest National Park way back in 2016. That experience made me think a lot about time. Petrified Forest does have a lot of petrified wood—trees that grew when Arizona was near the equator and fell in some great event 220 million years ago. The park is also full of amazing landforms that are stratified. As you walk through the landscape you’re walking through landscapes formed during entirely different time periods. The only way I know to travel through time in a single day.

During my month at that park, I did a daily 2 x 2 inch weaving every evening about my experiences in the park that day. I spent much of my time hiking, sketching, and taking photos. In my little casita after the early winter darkness fell, I had many hours to do some weaving. On day three of the residency, I wove a piece about the layers I saw everywhere.

All the yarn-y joy... and getting just the right color

All the yarn-y joy... and getting just the right color

On my studio Fridays I have been working toward getting a big tapestry on the loom. Because dyeing takes so long, I’m still working on that part of the puzzle though my fingers are itching to be weaving. I am finding that having some space between the days I’m making color and dye decisions has been helpful. The yarn I pull out of the pot dripping wet and prop in the corner of the living room to dry* might not get assessed until the next Friday. Somehow that lets my brain relax around those decisions and I’ve found myself much more willing to accept what came out of the pot even if the small swatch I was dyeing from feels different in the larger amounts of yarn.** So colors that I didn’t like when I hung them the last Friday actually seem great by the next Friday. I suppose that could be mostly the realization that if I don’t go with those colors or keep fussing with the formulas, I may never actually start weaving… but we’ll go with the first idea that space allows acceptance.