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.

The tapestry work of Barbara Heller

The tapestry work of Barbara Heller

Barbara’s work has long been some of my favorite work in tapestry. Take a look at some current and past work in the photos below and then check out her website linked at the end of the post. Her work often deals with issues of humanity’s relationship to the environment but her work is extensive and varied and well worth study.

While we were looking at the show, I asked Barbara some about her practice and if she had any advice for younger artists. She said that she had had a teacher early on who told her to weave every day. She replied that often she didn’t know what was next. She didn’t have an idea for a new piece yet, so she was waiting for that to happen. The teacher replied that it didn’t matter. She should weave every day. If she didn’t have a new idea, she should weave her sketches or anything else she could think of. Just weave.

As someone who often finds herself in that place of “I don’t have the next idea worked out,” I found this to be exceptional advice. I think that the practice brings you through the times where you don’t feel an idea bursting out. The weaving itself will result in new experiences and the next piece will come quicker this way.

Barbara took that advice. She weaves every day and her vast body of work is testament to that.

A textile trip to a beautiful city

A textile trip to a beautiful city

I had the good fortune to be able to go to the Textile Society of America conference last week in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. the theme of this conference was The Social Fabric: Deep Local to Pan Global.

What a beautiful city Vancouver is. I hadn’t been there before and I enjoyed everything from good food to public transportation to some amazing public parks and beaches.

I signed up for the conference because I felt a need to expand my awareness of the fiber world. The conference is largely academic, but I like that kind of thing. It gave me a chance to hear what people are researching in the world of fiber and to find some wonderful inspiration in papers, keynotes, exhibitions, and talking to other attendees.

Untangled

Untangled

It is ready!

My first book is out in the world. Untangled: A Crafty Sheep’s Guide to Tapestry Weaving has been several years in the making. The idea came from a student in a workshop I taught at the Michigan League of Handweavers Conference probably in 2015. Marge heard me describing yet another little trick I like to use when weaving tapestry and she said I should write a book about those tips. So I did.

Growing up on the edge of the Navajo Reservation

Growing up on the edge of the Navajo Reservation

In my last post I reviewed Spider Woman’s Children: Navajo Weavers Today, a new book by Lynda Teller Pete and Barbara Teller Ornelas. As part of that post I found myself writing what follows but then felt my own experience was out of place when discussing that beautiful publication. So what follows is some thoughts about my own relationship to Navajo weaving today. You can read the blog post about the book HERE.

I grew up in Gallup, NM. That town on I-40 is perched on the edge of the Navajo Indian Reservation just south of where Lynda and Barbara grew up. Slowly, I came to know a little about Navajo weaving. My parents took us to Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site whenever we had out-of-town guests they wanted to show around. Inevitably that was followed by a trip to Canyon de Chelly. I understood nothing of tribal/US politics as a child. Nor did I understand much about poverty or the roots of the struggles the Navajo people have experienced at the hands of the federal government.