Monday, April 6, 2015

From There to Here

It's been a wonderful start to 2015. While I miss the energy and the people of Asheville's River Arts District, I love being in my home studio every day and seeing the mountains come to life this Spring.  

I have had a busy start to the new year business-wise.  My work is being shown on several online shops as well as brick and mortars in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama.  In addition, I am pleased to have launched Sutherland Seasonals. Each quarter I will be shipping out a linen towel designed to reflect the season to each subscriber.  Subscribers may be annual or quarterly. The Spring towel shipped mid-March and I am happy to have received lovely kudos from many subscribers. If you want more information please go to my website ( and click on Seasonals.  

While I am working on my commissions and wholesale orders, I also am taking time for learning.  I have always been interested in embroidery, so have begun to take classes from Linda at The Williamsburg School of Needlework.  My end goal is to learn whitework, but in so doing, must learn many steps along the way.  This is purely for my own joy and use and will only be incorporated in my weaving work in a minor way.  

My sweet niece, Katie, has been helping me with my website and expanding my online and storefront presence with wonderful results.  I could not have made this shift from retail to wholesale without her.  I am so proud of her and of all she is accomplishing. Although I will not be present when she runs in the upcoming Boston Marathon, I will definitely be cheering her on from my loom bench. 


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Warp Rep Reverie
Karen Donde is a fine weaver and teacher whom many of you have met through the pages of handwoven, through Weaving Today, and some of you through her most recent web seminar on weaving design. One good teacher appreciates another, so who better to tell you about Rosalie Neilson's lessons for rep weaving? ––Anita 

My first adventure in weaving warp rep is currently in a pile on the laundry room floor awaiting yet another toss into the washer and dryer. The three throw rugs I wove for my kitchen early in my weaving career were designed using colors from the commercial pile rug I had purchased from Ikea for under the kitchen table.

I no longer have the pile rug, but the warp rep rugs are going strong. The colors have faded a bit, and two of them have small holes from a former family dog with lightning-fast jaws, but otherwise the rugs look good and function fine. Durability (dog teeth aside) is only one reason to love the warp-faced (or warp-dominant) rep structure in which alternating thick and thin wefts create colorful block patterns and weft-wise ridges.

 Warp Rep on the Loom
 One of Rosalie's warp rep projects on the loom
As much as I enjoy weaving block patterns, I haven’t woven many warp rep projects since those rugs. I’ve done several mug rugs and samples for use with an Intro to Warp Rep class I teach where I focus on a design technique I figured out while weaving the rugs. But nothing has been wider than five inches on the loom.

Thirty-three minutes into watching Rosalie Neilson's new video Weaving Rep, I remembered why. I had threaded the rugs’ four-blocks-on-four-shafts pattern the traditional way, with each block using two adjacent shafts: Blocks A and C on shafts 1 and 2 (C flips which of the two shafts carries the pattern color) and Blocks B and D on shafts 3 and 4.

Because warp rep is generally warp faced, the sett is very dense, up to double the balanced tabby sett. I remember trying to depress a treadle and getting no shed. . . and I mean none. I had to press the treadle several times and then clear each shed with a long weaving sword. Thankfully, it only took a few picks to weave an inch, and I was enamored with the patterns I could create or I never would have finished.

Rosalie has been weaving warp rep for more than 35 years (her numbers), and I wish I had taken her workshop or seen this video before I started that project. The first suggestion she made for dealing with the density/shed challenge was to thread the alternating ends of each block as far from each other as possible. That is, thread Block A on shafts 1 and 3, and Block B on shafts 2 and 4, etc. If you have eight shafts, thread A on 1 & 5, B on 2 & 6, C on 3 & 7, D on 4 & 8. Give the warp ends some room to move.

Rosalie at the Loom 
Rosalie at the loom 
Another suggestion, a skeleton tie-up intended to maximize treadling options, also helps open stubborn sheds. Lifting the first shaft of each pair with one treadle followed by the second shaft of each pair with another helps pry the warp ends apart. Even so, I felt a bit better about my own struggles as I watched Rosalie’s sticky shed when she started to weave. However, her experience prevailed, and she calmly pulled the beater forward to strum the warp ends behind the reed with the back of her hand, clearing the shed.

To be honest about the video, Rosalie had me at "Hello." The gorgeous warp rep examples hanging over a spool rack beside her were mesmerizing. Then she started peeling them off the rack one by one, illustrating the design possibilities and demonstrating the depth of her knowledge about the technique. I couldn’t look away.

She goes on to demonstrate how to design and draft the many treadling options possible with warp rep, winding the end-on-end warp by holding the pattern and background yarns together, beaming the dense warp evenly, threading and sleying the alternating colors correctly, her lashing technique for tying onto the front apron rod, how she handles rep’s weaving challenges and even lessons in replacing a knotted warp end and hemming. It is a very thorough explanation of warp rep, but also includes many tips Rosalie has learned during her career that would be helpful for any kind of weaving.

Suddenly, those little bite marks in my kitchen rugs are starting to bother me. It might be time for some new ones. All I need is a little design and color inspiration.

Speaking of design inspiration, I’d like to invite you to participate in an upcoming web seminar I am teaching for Weaving Today. While it’s a follow up to one I presented earlier this month, you don't need to have taken the first seminar to take the second. I'll be presenting about how weavers can take their design process to the next level and how to turn inspiration into a finished project. It's called Spice Up Your Weaving II: Design Theory and Inspiration, and weavers of all levels are welcome to join the fun! It will air live on Jan. 28, 1 p.m. EST, although you can choose to watch it live or download the recorded version to watch later. Hope you can join me!


Monday, January 13, 2014

More Learning Opportunities at Sutherland

I posted recently about an online "webinar" I am giving for Interweave/Weaving Today this coming Thursday at 1pm Eastern. The subject is Spice Up Your Weaving: A Guide to Weaving Design. You may still sign up for that workshop at the Weaving Today site, but since I posted, Interweave has asked me to do a follow up webinar on Jan. 28, called Spice Up Your Weaving 2: Design Theory & Inspiration. The second goes more deeply into design development, while the first is more focused on the technical decision making. I hope you'll attend both--or download the recorded version for viewing later.

We are also thrilled to announce that we have booked Daryl Lancaster for another round of her Wearable Extravaganza workshop, May 12-18, 2014. For this workshop we stow the looms, set up tables and proceed to fit patterns and sew our little hearts out. If you're new to the workshop, you'll make Daryl's signature jacket, learning all about fitting and finishing details along the way. If you've been there before, you are free to bring whatever sewing challenges you're facing.

Last time, we had some students who brought several patterns and spent the week making and fitting muslins. Others brought handwoven garments that never quite fit right, and Daryl helped restyle and refit them. Another brought the unfinished projects from previous Daryl workshops and got them done! Whether you are working with handwoven fabric, some other special fabric, or any fabric and just need some one-on-one help with fitting, this is a great opportunity.

You may choose either the five-day or seven-day option, depending on your needs and schedule. If you only need a few days and have heard the lecture before, we may be able squeeze you in for just the weekend if space permits. Call us to find out.

Cost is $450 for the five-day workshop or $630 for the seven-day, plus a $35 supply fee that includes a wonderful handout. We'll need a deposit of  $225 by April 1 to reserve your space. There's a 10 person maximum and seven-person minimum to run the workshop, so don't delay. Email us for more details and we'll send you the workshop flyer. Or just call us to sign up now if you're ready.

And if you would like to spend a week focusing on some new weaving techniques, Karen is teaching a six-day intensive, April 7-12, 2014, that combines her More Twills & a Taste of Overshot workshop with the Handwoven Lace workshop back-to-back. Sign up for both, or if there's space available, you may take either three-day workshop at that time. Cost is $430 for the week, or $215 for either workshop alone, plus a materials fee based on usage.

Hope to see you at Sutherland soon!

Karen and Barb

Monday, January 6, 2014

An Interweave Webinar From Karen Donde

Looking for inspiration and help with planning and design for your weaving in 2014. Here's a chance to experience Karen's Spice Up Your Recipe Weaving workshop in an online Webinar from Interweave. Check it out. Hope you'll be there on the 16th, but you may also order the recorded version to watch and listen at your leisure.

Karen's Spice Up Your Weaving Webinar

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Patterning, Portability, and Intrique

The Ultimate in Portability for Pattern Weavers
 John Mullarkey turning his tablets
  John carefully turning his weaving tablets.
Every fall, a former guild mate who had been absent for months used to return to our meetings and delight everyone with dozens of bands she had woven during her summer living on a sailboat on a northern lake. She would apologize that this was all she had been able to weave because card weaving was the only thing she could manage on the boat.
The bands were beautiful and magical and sold like hotcakes at the annual guild sale. Having never really understood card weaving, I couldn’t imagine how what looked to me like square playing cards with holes in each corner could produce such intricately patterned bands. The idea of weaving on a sailboat all summer was appealing, although in my dreams the floor loom and my bench fit perfectly and somehow stayed in one place and perfectly horizontal as we rocked gently in the calm water. Obviously I haven’t had much experience sailing either.

Wherever I vacation next, John Mullarkey might just have convinced me to pack a set of weaving cards, also called tablets, some yarn, a DVD player and probably an inkle loom. His video workshop, Tablet Weaving Made Easy, was surprisingly enlightening, even for this committed floor loom weaver.

John's band, on the loom 
One of John's bands, on loom. 
I used to have weaving cards, and still might, if I didn’t throw them away in a rare fit of studio cleaning. They probably came in a box of other weaving tools or yarn I bought from another weaver. The only time I ever used them was as supplementary warp holders with S hooks and weights hanging from the holes. (I can see John cringing.) I had watched people card weave, but couldn’t imagine how simply turning these cards forward and backward would create woven patterns. Didn’t the warp get all twisted and tangled?

Then I saw John card weaving on an inkle loom in the first scene. Aha! Already I felt more comfortable. I know how to weave striped bands and pick-up patterns on an inkle loom. However, where I would normally attach heddles, John had inserted a stack of cards with four warp ends threaded through each one. You could even card weave on a floor loom, if you wanted, he said.

As I watched John’s demonstration of warping and weaving with cards, it hit me. Card weaving is a little like loom-controlled complex patterning for inkle bands. I equated it to adding shafts to an inkle or floor loom or rigid heddles to a rigid heddle loom. As my weaving philosophy has long been, “The more shafts, the better,” this gave me a new appreciation for card or tablet weaving, especially when he showed tablets with six and eight holes per card.

But I was getting ahead of myself. First I had to learn how to deal with four holes in both pattern drafting and warping, the difference between cards threaded in the S direction vs. the Z direcrtion, and how to keep everything lined up and turning back and forth without the twisted mess I had envisioned. John clearly and carefully led the way one step at a time.

My favorite part was when he demonstrated checking the warp for errors. Of course he had intentionally made all possible errors when the video camera paused for him to finish warping. He showed how to find and fix them all without rethreading the whole loom. I would definitely mark that chapter for review before I start weaving.

The weaving process was a lot like inkle weaving, except with more sheds. Instead of raising the unheddled ends above and below the heddled ones as you would with an inkle loom, he simply turned the deck of cards according to the draft. Then he showed how to freestyle patterns by changing the number of revolutions forward and backward, by moving threaded cards into new positions in the deck or by changing the home position of the letters that mark each hole. He wove a tube, wove a two-layer band, wove in a slit for a buttonhole. He even wove a simple striped inkle band in the center with unwoven warps above and below.

And these, he pointed out, were only some of the many variations possible for a threaded-in pattern, which is the subject of this video. Threaded-in patterns, he explained, are those where the pattern is achieved only by the way the cards are threaded. All cards are turned together, either forward or backward.

Another class of patterns can be designed and woven that result from altering the turning sequence for particular cards according to a mapping diagram. Ooooo. I’m intrigued.

That's the way to do it, John. Always leave them wanting more…or another workshop video.

Karen Donde

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Classroom is Open!

Well, actually it never closed, but I am pleased to announce that I have finally graduated from the Haywood Community College Professional Crafts-Fiber Program!karen diploma

What that means, and no one is happier about this than Barb, is I will be much more available to work at Sutherland, and I am eager to welcome new and returning students back to the classroom. So I have been thinking about how to structure classroom time while maintaining flexibility for those who must schedule weaving classes around a job or other commitments or those coming from some distance to take a class. At the same time, I’m trying to carve out a little weekend time for myself, now that my weekdays are not dedicated to attending school.

Here is the plan, beginning in June 2013.

Open Classroom Saturdays

Most Saturdays of every month, except those where I am otherwise committed or the studio is busy, will be Open Classroom days from 10 am-4 pm. On these days, students may schedule Just Weave, Weaving I; or any of the Next Step classes in four- or six-hour sessions.

Next Step classes include “Weave a Twill Gamp, More Twills & A Taste of Overshot, Handwoven Lace, Color and Weave (a color a weave gamp below ) 026and Spice Up Your Recipe Weaving: A New Weaver’s Guide to Design & Project Planning.”

Students may begin a class at any time as long as a loom is available. They will continue the class on consecutive Open Classroom days, sharing the classroom and instructor time with others who may be at different stages in the same class or in a different class.

Advance registration and a 50% deposit are required to reserve an Open Classroom loom. Two make-up classes will be allowed, but if a student needs to miss more than two sessions, I simply ask that he or she leave the loom empty during the absence.

Fees will be the same as posted in the Class Listing: $95 for Just Weave; $310 for the 32-hour Weaving I class; or $215 for the 18-hour Next Step classes, plus yarn fees. If Saturdays just don’t work for you, call and we’ll work something out.

For the next few months, Open Classroom Saturdays will include June 1, 15 and 29; and July 13 and 20.

Weekend Workshops

To better accommodate those who travel here to take a class,  or who would prefer a more concentrated focus on a subject, I will schedule a two- or three-day workshop on Friday- Saturday or Friday-Sunday every other month. The subject may be any of the classes currentlywarp rep sampler on the Class Listing or new ones I develop. First up will be Introduction to Designing & Weaving Warp Rep, July 26-27.

For some workshops, including this one, students may be asked to bring a pre-warped loom, or they may reserve an available classroom loom one day in advance. A small fee will be charged for loom rental for workshops.

Participation will be limited, based on space required for a particular workshop, and a minimum number of participants will be needed for the workshop to run.

Two-day workshops will be $180 per person and three-day workshops will be $215 per person, plus yarn fees if applicable.

Private Instruction

I will also offer private lessons or custom classes on Tuesday-Friday at $30/hour, based on loom and time availability.

Guest Instructors

Sutherland will continue to present workshops by guest instructors. In fact, we’ve had a few seats open up in Daryl Lancaster’s Wearable Extravaganza five or seven-day workshop June 3-7(or 9). But contact us quickly if you are interested.

We’ve also just booked Kathie Roig, who will teach her popular Warp Painting class on August 23-25 and Connie Lippert teaching Wedge Weave Fundamentals Nov. 2-3. You’ll hear more details about these soon.

A new Sutherland Handweaving Studio Calendar of Classes & Events also should be ready for you to access soon. I’ll post a link when we’re done testing.

For those who haven’t been to the studio in a while, remember that we have moved. We are now at 372 Depot St. Unit 20, a sister studio with Desert Moon Designs Studios & Gallery, just a few doors down. I hope to see you here soon.

Your proud Haywood grad,


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Weaving on a Deadline

Weaving on a Deadline
Who among us hasn't woven on a deadline, be it a textile exhibit, guild sale, magazine submission (of course, I encourage these commitments), or an upcoming birthday or holiday gifting opportunity? Karen Donde has been weaving on deadlines for several years now, as a student in a professional crafts program, and today she shares some excellent lessons she's learned. ––Anita

I dropped off exhibit pieces for the Haywood Community College Professional Crafts graduate show today. Haywood has a cooperative relationship with the Southern Highland Craft Guild, which includes an annual exhibit of work by students graduating in fiber, jewelry/metals, wood and clay at the Folk Art Center, just north of Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Center is headquarters for the SHCG, a juried regional craft guild founded in 1930.

Haywood Professional Crafts students have been working on these exhibit pieces since before our final semester began last January, and some were thinking about them long before that. So why is it we were working right up to the deadline into the wee hours of the morning to get everything finished by the jury yesterday morning?

Part of the reason can probably be attributed to the old adage, “If it weren’t for the last minute…” Well, you know the rest. However, I’ve been thinking about why I was up past midnight two nights this weekend sewing my final pieces, and I think there are lessons to be learned for anyone who is weaving pieces for an exhibition or another major deadline.

Lesson 1: Choose familiar materials. This is probably not the best time to experiment with yarns you’ve never used before, especially if you plan to dye them. Even a project you’ve woven successfully several times can go awry if the yarn is more stretchy, twisty, tangle-prone, or slippery than you are used to. Handwoven’s Master Yarn Chart can be a great resource, and a sample is always a good idea. (However, even if a fairly open sett finishes beautifully for a 12” sample, it can get ugly if the beat is too light to sustain consistently for 72 inches or the weft is slipping around on the selvedges as the cloth goes around the breast beam. Deciding to re-sley and weave another shawl at the eleventh hour throws a real hitch into the finishing schedule.)

 The loom sleyed
 Karen’s exhibit yardage after threading
2,352 warp ends from two warp beams.
A road trip to buy 400 more heddles
slowed the process.
Lesson 2: Resist the urge to attempt something too far beyond your current skill set. They call it a learning curve for a reason. As those of us who drive curvy mountain roads every day know, sometimes you have to slow down and be prepared for unexpected detours. For example, expanding a tied weave/double back-beam technique to weave 44"-wide yardage instead of a shawl or scarf is really something you should try when there is no pending deadline. Otherwise you might find yourself driving to the nearest weaving tool supplier or paying overnight shipping to get another 400 heddles.

Lesson 3: Plan to make the project twice. This was advice our instructor, Amy Putansu, gave us on the first day of class this semester. It seemed a little excessive at the time, but it proved an invaluable exercise. Working out the details and challenges on a practice piece using materials as close as possible to your finished cloth makes production of the exhibit work less stressful on the maker and the materials, especially if it is handwoven fabric.

Bubble Skirt 
What Karen learned making the
first Bubble Skirt made the final
one easier and more successful.
This goes beyond the typical garment “muslin.” The difference between how a garment will fit or perform in muslin vs. handwoven cloth can be dramatic. It’s something you don’t want to learn two weeks before the deadline. I am SO glad I heeded this advice. Of the four handwoven pieces in my exhibit entry, only one was show-ready on the first try.

Lesson 4: CLEAR YOUR CALENDAR for the last 30 days before the exhibit pieces are due. This is hard and I admit to being the worst offender. Despite the most carefully mapped route and your best efforts, you will encounter delays and roadblocks. You catch the flu. A snowstorm cancels school and knocks out power for three days. Your iron dies or the sewing machine goes on the fritz. Your significant other invites family to stay over in your guest room/weaving studio for the weekend. Life keeps reminding you that plans are only that: plans.

If you have made big, unbreakable commitments during the weeks before your deadline, thinking your project will surely be finished by then, you are playing with fire. No matter how valuable the opportunity, how enticing the invitation, or how guilt-ridden we feel, we (I) have to learn to say no.

One final word of caution here: beware the extended deadline! Chances are good you will have already booked that extra weekend you are given at the last minute. So don’t count on it, and if it happens, pretend it didn’t. 

And if you need some resources to help you along, make sure to check out the great deals at the Interweave Spring Clearance Sale on weaving books, video workshops, and issues ofHandwoven

Now, where did I put that new Call for Entries?
Karen Donde

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sutherland Study Group Invitation & News

Hello Sutherland friends,

Happy 2013. We have three exciting announcements to share with you as the new year gets started.

First, the third year of our Sutherland Weaver’s Study Group begins this Sunday, Jan. 13, at 2 pm at Sutherland Handweaving Studio. With the start of a new study subject, this is the perfect time to join. We will be reviewing our projects from the 2012 block design study with projects we wove from our shared profile draft. Then we will be kicking off our 2013 study of color in weaving with a video by Laura Bryant. We will be using Color-Aid papers to assist in our study and will have some sets available at the meeting. Each month, one member does a presentation related to the study subject, and we will be deciding what form those presentations will take on Sunday. We also leave time each meeting for show and tell, or show and ask, which is always inspiring and often just as educational as our study presentation. Please think about joining us this year. We have members with all ranges of experience who work on all styles and sizes of looms. Dues are $15 per year.

Second, Sutherland will be moving to a new location Feb. 1. We have enjoyed our time at the Cotton Mill, but now are taking the opportunity to move to a new studio in the River Arts District. We will be at 372 Depot Street, Unit 20, under the building banner of Desert Moon Designs, a gallery a few doors down. Not only will we have a big, glass storefront and more visitor traffic walking by, we also will be air conditioned! We are excited about the opportunities this presents for more comfortable classes, events AND STUDY GROUP MEETINGS in the summertime. There is parking on the street outside the building or in a new free, lighted parking lot across the street. For those who are familiar with Magnetic Field Theater, we are in that building. We’re planning an open house to celebrate, but may wait until spring, when the weather gets nice.

Third, speaking of classes, we are pleased that Daryl Lancaster has agreed to return June 3-9, 2013, to teach her Wearable Extravaganza, sewing with handwoven or other special fabrics workshop. For those who have never taken Daryl’s jacket class, that is the focus of this workshop. For those who have made the jacket, you may bring any pattern or patterns you like and get the benefit of Daryl’s help with design, fitting and couture finishing techniques. This year, you’ll be able to choose from the standard five-day workshop (Mon-Fri), or an expanded seven-day workshop (Mon-Sun). The two extra days are optional, but well worth the investment in terms of finishing up your projects. We’re still working out all the details given our new location, which will be…did I already mention this…air conditioned. But if you’re interested, let us know and we’ll put you at the top of our contact list when registration opens.

Just to be clear, our Study Group meeting this Sunday will be at our Cotton Mill studio. Starting in February, we’ll be in the new location.

We’re looking forward to a creative, successful year in 2013. We thank you for supporting us and hope to see you in the studio soon.

Karen and Barb

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Weaving Today
The Thrills and Agony of Collaboration
I do little dyeing, printing, or surface design and have never knitted. Spinning doesn’t speak to me, and I only crochet when I chain a long warp. I have always sewn, but now only when I have to finish a piece for sale or a special event. What I do is design woven textiles, weave, and teach others to do the same.

 Susan Stowell fits Karen in the muslin for the Roman’s Holiday suit. Photo by Bob Morris.
 Susan Stowell fits Karen in the
muslin for the Roman’s Holiday suit.
Photo by Bob Morris.
So when the opportunity came this year to participate in a juried fashion show emphasizing local resources and collaboration with other textile artists, I jumped at the chance to work with someone who could turn my handwoven cloth into a runway-worthy look. Project Handmade 2012 debuted last night in the modern, sophisticated atrium lobby of the Asheville Art Museum. It was a rousing success, but more on that later.

Early in this process, I was introduced to Susan Stowell, an Asheville couture seamstress and fashion designer. We met in May to look at my Alpaca and Friends yardage, which would soon be on its way to exhibit at Convergence 2012. Because the yardage incorporated custom-spun alpaca from a local farm, it was a perfect fit for this show, except that it waseighteen inches wide and four yards long.

We discussed options and decided to think on it a while. I was unsure about Susan’s initial suggestions, but liked her style and reputation for custom fitting. She was wondering how she was possibly going to match the distinct woven pattern, given the limited fabric dimensions. I, frankly, was a bit relieved the yardage would spend the summer in Long Beach, California, before Susan would take her shears to it. It is one thing to work up the courage to cut your own woven cloth, but to hand it over to someone who doesn’t weave and primarily works with commercial fabric is a serious gut-check.

It was at this point I was reminded of a line spoken by Michael Douglas in The American President. He was talking about democracy, but I think it works here: “Collaboration is hard, folks. It’s advanced communications, and you’ve got to want it.”

Karen and Susan’s handwoven suit, modeled by Bearta Graff on the Project Handmade 2012 runway. Photo by Jeff Bullock. 
Karen and Susan’s handwoven suit,
modeled by Bearta Graff on the
Project Handmade 2012 runway.
Photo by Jeff Bullock.
But, oh, when it works! In the end we agreed on a Chanel-inspired suit. The exhibit yardage would go into a jacket, and I was to weave coordinating yardage for the skirt. Looking around for appropriate yarn, I spied the soft golden-hued 30/2 muga silk I purchased in the Vendor Hall at Convergence. The color was perfect with the white cotton and Tencel warp I still had on the loom from a school project, and if I mixed in occasional stripes of a thicker tussah silk I had on hand, there would be enough of the expensive muga. Plus, the twill block threading could be treadled to create a small, subtle pattern to work with the bolder jacket pattern.

After wet-finishing three yards of 36-inch wide cloth, it looked and felt wonderful and coordinated perfectly with the other yardage. Off to Susan’s I went and proudly draped both fabrics across her cutting table. First words out of her mouth: “Horizontal stripes . . . for a skirt. Hmmm.”

To be fair, she agreed it was beautiful and that the two fabrics worked great together. “How about railroading it?” I suggested, a little apologetically. She said maybe and then told me not to worry. She was up for the challenge. Was she ever!

Our suit, named Roman’s Holiday after the local alpaca that gave his fleece for the yarn, was the first look down the runway at Project Handmade last night. Susan had volunteered to be a dresser, so was in the model changing room and didn’t see it walk. I was standing at the end of the runway in the packed museum atrium and was beaming.

 Karen’s collaborator Susan Stowell relaxing with Bearta after the show, giving fashion show guests an up-close look. Photo by Karen Donde.
Karen’s collaborator Susan Stowell
relaxing with Bearta after the show.
Photo by Karen Donde.
Thirty-six other looks followed, all with fabric created through weaving, felting, dyeing, printing, knitting, rubber/acrylic sculpture, or repurposing by artists working within a 100-mile radius of Asheville, which is what the sponsoring organization, Local Cloth, Inc., considers its fibershed. Other collaborations teamed more weavers, shibori dyers, and surface designers with fashion designers and sewers, using some fibers that were raised within our fibershed, processed and spun by a local yarn mill, or custom woven by a small local jacquard and dobby textile mill.

As impressive as was the collaboration required to create the looks, the collaboration required by the planning committee and other partners and volunteers to pull this off was even more so. As anyone who has ever organized a fashion show knows, the details are almost overwhelming: stage building, lighting, sound systems, music, photography, videography, models, hair and make-up, choreography, rehearsals, publicity, programs, ticket sales, refreshments, sponsor recruitment, grant applications, website, jurying, and meeting after meeting after meeting. How proud I am to have worked with five of the most creative, dedicated, energetic, “get-it-done” women I have ever met to make Project Handmade 2012 happen.

Certainly such collaboration is nothing new among weavers and other fiber artists who volunteer to produce fashion shows, international and regional conferences, exhibits, guild sales, or workshops in many parts of the world. Even collaborations that bring different textile design and production skills together to create a finished product for a show or for sale aren’t new, though they might be a bit rarer, given fiber artists’ tendency toward working alone.

I am reminded of the Convergence Designers’ Fashion Challenges of recent years, and of two stories I happened across in the September/October 1997 and November/December 1997 issues of Handwoven that featured collaboration between dressmaker Helen Saunders and weaver Yvonne Stahl to produce garments embellished with bindings, piping, cord, and tubes.

I’ll have to show those to Susan for our next collaboration.

–– Karen

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Tapestry Workshop Signup Deadline

Time is running short and seats are filling for the Tommye Scanlin/Pat Williams Advanced Tapestry Weaving workshop at Sutherland Oct. 27-29. Tommye and Pat have been working on the program for the workshop and it sounds like it will be a very productive and inspiring three days.

Because they want you to get the most out of the workshop, they need to have a final count by Oct. 12. So that is the signup deadline. We have a 10 participant limit for this workshop, so if you’ve been thinking about this one, let us know right away if you’ll be joining us.

Call or email for more details.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Scanlin/Williams Return for Advanced Tapestry Weaving Class

Popular tapestry weavers and teachers Tommye Scanlin & Pat Williams return to Sutherland Handweaving Studio this fall for more tapestry weaving instruction.

This time bring at least three designs, or photos, or something torn from a magazine--representations of what you would like to weave into a tapestry. In other words, at least three ideas that would get you started on developing a cartoon suited to tapestry structure. Based on the cartoon, you will be guided in choosing an appropriate warp sett and a suitable color scheme, and encouraged to try new techniques that might be used for this particular design. Then you will start weaving with either a sampler for your next tapestry or possibly the tapestry itself! bad seed-Scanlin

Tommye Scanlin. “Kudzu: Bad Seed,” 24" x 24"(c) 2010 



Pre-requisites: You must be able to warp a loom and have taken a beginners' tapestry workshop in your lifetime. What to Bring: Bring your own loom and warp it in the workshop according to your design. A variety of warp and weft yarns will be provided.

For anyone unfamiliar, check out Tommye’s work at  and Pat’s at 

TO REGISTER: A deposit of $110 payable to Sutherland will be required to hold your place. Send to Sutherland Handweaving Studio, 122 Riverside Drive, Suite C, Asheville, NC 28801. Do not delay! These workshops fill quickly! The usual cancellation policies apply: If you must cancel more than 30 days prior to start of the workshop, you’ll get your deposit back, less a service charge. If you must cancel within 30 days before the workshop, the deposit will only be refundable if we can fill your place with another student. October 27-29, 2012; 9 am to 4 pm; Class Fee: $220; Supplies Fee: $10 Williams-1006 cropped

Pat Williams. “Red Winged Black Birds: Memorial to Their Falling From the Sky,” 59” h x 21 w (c) 2011

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What the Teacher Learned at Convergence
I have attended three Convergences: 2006, 2010, and last month’s 2012 Convergence in Long Beach, CA. Each time I returned home inspired, energized and excited to start a new project based on what I had learned. In previous years, my learning has come as a workshop/seminar student. This year I was honored to be selected as a workshop and seminar leader, and I think I learned even more.

 Karen's yarn stash from Convergence 2012
 Karen's stash of yarns from Convergence
 Karen's stack of Handwovens
 Karen's stack of Handwoven's
Number 1: When the mentor for your HGA Certificate of Excellence in Handweaving is a student in your workshop, and you venture into her area of weaving expertise, be prepared to concede she’s probably right and make a note to follow up with her after the conference. There is more for me to learn on this subject, and I’ll be in touch soon, Lillian.

Number 2: Bring a 3-prong extension cord. Enough said.

Number 3: Listening to me talk is not the only reason participants came to my classes. They also wanted to get to know and learn from each other. I should allow more time in the program for these interactions to happen. Participants will be more at ease and engaged, encouraging discussions that may inspire a new direction for my own research and experimentation. In addition, students are eager to share exciting finds from vendor hall with the whole class––a win-win for students, instructor, and vendor. Thanks to my roommate and fellow instructor Suzanne Halvorson for this tip.

Number 4: Whether teaching a multi-day workshop or hour-and-a-half seminar, instructors can only expect students to absorb so much of what they are saying and/or demonstrating. Student experience levels account for some of this. Blank faces usually indicate I’ve just uttered a term or phrase my audience members haven’t learned yet, or that I was so excited to share this bit of knowledge it came out of my mouth wrong.

However, some of the absorption limits result from the sheer volume of stimuli and information offered by a major conference like Convergence. Exhibits, tours, the fashion show, and aforementioned vendor hall all compete for attention. In addition, participants wanting to maximize their learning time register for classes on a variety of subjects. It’s difficult to focus completely on weaving the last few samples of one workshop when thinking about re-warping the loom that evening for another workshop tomorrow.

Workshop or seminar leaders shouldn’t take that personally. However, they can help participants get the most from the subject material by providing informative handouts with resources students can find and study later. I personally save all the handouts and samples from every workshop I’ve attended in notebooks on the top shelf of my weaving library. Invariably, I will be planning a new project or class and remember hearing something related to the subject from a previous instructor. Being able to review the instructor’s notes, and, even better, look up the resources they provided is a great research shortcut.

What I learned from my own handouts was how many resources came from previousHandwovens. In fact, the stack of magazines I included is still on the floor beside my desk waiting to be re-filed. However, because many of my Convergence students were either new or returning weavers—which delighted me—they probably don’t have easy access to as many Handwoven back issues as I do, which might make checking my resources harder. Fortunately Handwoven has compiled digital versions of back issues intocollections available on CD or for download.

Atop another nearby stack of actual Handwovens waiting to be put away, the January/February 2006 cover promised projects for teaching and learning. With that subject on my mind, I flipped through and discovered it should have been on the resource list for my warp rep design seminar. Tom Knisely and Holly Brackmann both authored stories about rep. Most of what Tom wrote I was fortunate to learn directly from him at a Mid-Atlantic Fiber Association conference several years ago, and I’ve referred to those notes several times.

Holly’s article, “Zigzagging with Warp Rep,” takes the technique in a completely different direction, no pun intended. I’ve marked it to read later, after I sift through the various other piles of inspiration I brought home from Convergence. I just spied the muga silk I bought from Treenway in a bag with my extra handouts, and my new Habu and Just Our Yarn treasures are still in a bag on the other side of my desk. Wonder if I have anything that would work for warp rep in there?

Karen Donde

Thursday, July 12, 2012

From Little Inkle Looms, Passementerie Grows

 Anne shows you how to insert lovely
fringe into your inkle weaving. 
Sewing has always been part of my life. I learned from my mom, bought a Singer sewing machine with my first income tax refund, and sewed my way through college formals, office wear, maternity clothes, and holiday dresses. When we bought a house that needed draperies and curtains, my sewing skills grew to include handling very long lengths of drapery fabric and details like sack linings, triple pleats, and lacing up a roman shade.

We moved numerous times as my husband’s career took us on a tour of the eastern United States. With every move came another new house and more windows to dress. I used to say the reason my house always had one undressed window was as soon as I put up the last set of curtains and had the tie-backs just right, the phone rang and my husband asked, "How’d you like to live in (fill in the blank)?"

Along the way I spent a lot, and I mean a LOT, of money on what drapery designers call passementerie: trimmings, braid, tassels, and fancy fringes that add a little touch of “jewelry” to the best-dressed windows. Imagine my surprise several years ago when I found a class about weaving your own passementerie on the schedule for a regional conference. The instructor illustrated several fancy trims on a tiny 2-shaft Structo loom. I don’t think I made fringe for my next set of drapes, but I COULD have.

A few years later, in another conference seminar, Robyn Spady showed examples of passementerie woven on an inkle loom. Well, that made even more sense, and I already had an inkle loom. However, the next time I warped the inkle loom for a guild demo, I wove shoelaces, which are fast to warp because they’re so narrow. However, it takes forever to weave two long enough for one pair of sneakers. They were cute, but the economies of scale didn’t make sense.

I haven’t made curtains or drapes for a while. In my latest home in North Carolina, I ordered pleated shades for every window and had them installed before we moved in. Windows . . . dressed. I had every intention of at least making colorful valances and even bought some great fabric, but it’s still in the closet. Building a weaving business and going to school have been priorities.

Then along comes Anne Dixon with a great new book about inkle weaving. My copy finally arrived this week. As I flipped through the hundreds of inkle patterns, from basic pick-up and lettering to monk’s belt, krokbragd, and shibori (yes, shibori!), I came to a chapter about weaving inkle bands with fringes on one or both sides. Aha! That would dress up those valances.

Technically, Anne explains, fringes can either be inserted or knotted into inkle bands as they are woven. However, for stability, an inserted fringe always must enter the shed, turn and exit in another shed so the cut ends are on the same side of the band. If you want inserted cut fringes on both sides of the band, you have to insert two separate sets of fringe into one shed extending out the opposite sides of the band and then turn each into another shed and send them out the way they came in. Anne explains it a lot better.

Fringe can be inserted singly, doubled, or in color rotations and, when worked on both edges, can make a pattern on the top of the band where the opposing fringes join. Anne offers another four pages with variations on knotting fringes to the inkle band on open or closed sheds.

My favorite idea is inserting uncut fringe lengths. Weave the long fringe yarns back and forth with the regular weft, leaving long loops on both sides, Anne says. Then pull the loops through so the fringes all emerge from one side and the loops that were on the other side secure them against the band. The looped fringe can then be cut if desired. That almost sounds cost effective, given what the fabric stores charge for passementerie.

I may never weave enough passementerie to trim those valances, if I ever get them sewn. But remember the yardage I showed last month that looked to me more like pillows than a jacket? I have enough left after cutting out the jacket to make a pillow or two. Wouldn’t handwoven inkle fringes look great around the edges?

Thanks, Anne. I love the book.

Karen Donde

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Here’s a Toast to Alternative Second Warp Beams
 Karen's Problem Warp
 Karen's supplementary warp and weights
Barbara Walker said it in a nutshell. “Since the pattern warp takes up differently from the ground warp, it must be tensioned separately. This is most easily done on a loom with two beams.”

This wasn’t exactly the answer I was looking for when I went searching for articles from myHandwoven library about turning drafts, although a loud “Amen” sprang quickly from my lips. Barbara wrote this in an article about name drafting for a turned overshot runner in the November/December 1999 issue. In fact, I have woven a fair number of turned supplementary weft projects (in which the pattern thread becomes supplementary warp) successfully without a second warp beam. The one currently on my 8-shaft Norwood loom, however, has some particular challenges.

I’ve probably said this before, but I love weaving blocks. I’m particularly fond of double two-tie structures, but not of the two-shuttle weaving they usually require. Turning the draft 90 degrees reconfigures the tie-up so the treadling becomes the threading and vice versa. So if the original draft is threaded with only one warp, I can now weave block patterns to my heart’s content with one shuttle. There is, however, that pesky issue of take-up, as Barbara said back in 1999. I have successfully weighted supplementary warps off the back beam, over and behind the ground warp, numerous times. I had a box of empty water and soda bottles with strings tied around their necks for that purpose in the closet. My husband sighed and gave me the familiar eye-roll when I insisted we move the box from New Jersey to Asheville a few years ago.

Last year, though, as I found myself putting on turned draft after turned draft, I ordered a second warp beam for my Baby Wolf. What a difference! Wind the ground warp on the main beam, wind the supplementary warp on the second beam, hang their crosses in separate lease sticks behind the shafts where you can see them and thread and sley accordingly. Tie everything onto the front apron rod, adjust the tension on both warps so they are even, load one shuttle with weft, and settle into a happy weaving rhythm.

My lovely cherry 48-inch Norwood, however, does not have a second warp beam, and retrofitting it would take more money, floor space, and technical expertise than I can currently commit. Okay, I told myself, this yardage will be a good opportunity to revisit the alternate second-warp-beam process prior to an upcoming workshop. For reasons I divulged in a post several months ago, the supplementary pattern warp for this project is still threaded through a reed instead of lease sticks. This proved no problem when threading the two warps back to front, and it wasn’t until after I finished that I asked myself, “Well, what am I going to do with the reed now?” The idea of combing the reed through six yards of mixed-fiber warp to take it off the other end was abandoned as folly. So I carefully pulled the reed back over the ground warp and back beam, smoothing tangles as I lowered the reed toward the floor, and laid it across the back of a warping board I had upended. I tensioned the pattern warp bundles as evenly as possible below the back beam and went to get my water-bottle weights.

Now, I’m not suggesting my husband has been surreptitiously recycling my weaving gadgets, but that box used to be full. Suffice it to say I could not find enough bottles that would hold just the right amount of water to get enough tension on the pattern warp across the 24-inch width. I emailed the neighborhood immediately looking for help, as it was trash night and any empty beverage bottles would be in the recycling truck by morning. No luck. I started hunting and finally rounded up one empty two-liter ginger ale bottle, one liquid iced tea jug (poured the remaining bit of tea in glass and returned it to the fridge), one big juice bottle (dumped the very unpopular juice down the drain), and one empty (and thankfully clean) beer growler. I was able to fill each with enough water to weigh 3½ pounds. I hung them from the four slipknots in the warp with S-hooks and started weaving. Pattern warps drooped throughout the shed.

I gave up and went to bed. About 3:30 a.m., when the dog barked at some animal passing through the yard outside, my brain decided it had slept enough and clicked on. I started thinking about that reed I’d left in the warp. Maybe it could be helpful after all. Thankfully, I fell back to sleep for a few hours, and this morning rearranged my substitute “second warp beam” using an adjustable table-loom stand I had stashed in the utility room. I pumped up my liquid weights to 4 pounds each and split the warp into six sections vs four. That required two more weights, and I found two 4-pounders in my husband’s dumbbell set.

The reed is now supported in the X-frame of the loom stand, keeping everything neat. Another bigger dumbbell and a pair of ankle weights are keeping the stand stable. As the deadline for this post is upon me, I haven’t tried weaving with the new set-up yet. I’m hopeful I’ll achieve relaxed one-shuttle weaving by nightfall.

In my search for that 1999 Handwoven last night, I found another excellent quote, this one in the September/October 20th anniversary issue. From Deborah Chandler: “When a piece has become such a terrible mess that it’s messing with your mind and heart, remember this: It’s only yarn. You can cut it off and throw it away.”

Plain weave using only the ground warp is still an option.

Karen Donde

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Don’t Miss this Fashion Show Opportunity!

Call for Entries

Project Handmade Fashion Show to Feature Contemporary Designs by Local Makers

(May 23, 2012). Textile artists and fashion designers working within a 100-mile radius of Asheville, NC, are invited to submit entries for Project Handmade, a fashion show dedicated to showcasing contemporary garments made with traditional handcrafted detail using local materials. The goal is to inspire textile artists to engage resources available in the region and encourage innovation to showcase and distinguish the region’s creative fiber and textile art community. The fashion show will be fall 2012 at the Asheville Art Museum.

Entries are due July 15, 2012, and must include digital images of original garments or fashion accessories representative of the applicant’s work and an artist’s statement that explains the processes involved in sourcing, creating, manipulating or embellishing the work and/or the fiber, yarn, fabric or patterns used to craft it.

Participants selected for the juried show will be asked to create garments or fashion accessories following the theme: Earth Tone Palette. Finished work must be received by Oct. 15, 2012, and is subject to final approval by the fashion show committee after the actual work arrives.

Any hand-processed technique may be used to make the fashion show submissions: growing, spinning, weaving, knitting, felting, dyeing, printing, draping, stitching, tailoring, painting or molding. Locally produced and repurposed materials are encouraged, as well as collaborations. For example, a local fashion designer might obtain fabric from a local weaver using yarn processed locally from a local fiber producer.

The fashion show is a joint project of Local Cloth: Farm/Fiber/Fashion Network and the Asheville Art Museum. Local Cloth is a Western North Carolina-based organization that encourages and supports collaboration among textile artists, designers, fiber producers, suppliers and related small businesses. Its mission is to sustain and grow a thriving regional fiber and textile arts economy and bring locally grown and made textile products to consumers within and beyond the Blue Ridge. Both Project Handmade and Local Cloth: Farm/Fiber/Fashion Network operate in cooperation with Handmade in America.

More details and entry guidelines are available at


Saturday, April 7, 2012

More Tapestry Weaving at Sutherland!

We are happy to announce that Pat Williams will return to Sutherland June 15-17, 2012, to teach another tapestry workshop. This one will focus on beginners, because we’ve had a lot of interest in that. No experience, equipment or materials are necessary. The class will also be great for those who need a little refresher on the basics, as I seem to every time I start a new tapestry, and for those who’ve taken a class but would like a little more practice and guidance before moving on to a more advanced class we hope to offer next fall.

As usual, Pat provides all looms and supplies, but if you have  a tapestry loom, you may bring it. Cost for the workshop is $180 for three full days, plus a supply fee for handouts and use of Pat’s yarn.

Our tapestry workshop filled quickly this year, so don’t delay if you’re interested. A deposit of $100 will be required to hold your place. The usual cancellation policies apply: If you must cancel more than 30 days prior to start of the workshop, you’ll get your deposit back, less a service charge. If you must cancel within 30 days before the workshop, the deposit will only be refundable if we can fill your place with another student.

Here’s a picture of Pat taken during our tapestry workshop last November.


Let us hear from you soon  if you’re interested and thanks for spreading the word!


Monday, March 12, 2012


While Karen is away on Spring Break in the land of warmer weather (although the WNC mountains this winter have been very mild), I have decided I needed to let y'all in on a not very secret update.

Since Karen and I came together some 2.5 years ago here in Asheville, we have been telling each other we needed to submit for entry into The Southern Highland Craft Guild. Well, we finally bit the bullet and entered this past Fall.

The process is two fold. We each had to submit 5 photos of our work. This was all done individually, but we worked on it together. But this I mean, we went to the photographer together, etc. And let me tell you, shooting film of fiber is no easy feat. With the type of yarns we use (very fine) it was imperative the photos show the drape and sheen of our cloth. Lots of photos and re-dos later we each finally had said photos in hand. I am not talking CDs with the photos, I am talking the Guild requires the old school 5 x 7 type. Crazy, I know. We submitted, I believe, in October.

The week of Thanksgiving I am hosting a multitude of family (over 20) for multiple days. This whole submission thing is the least of my worries. (I'm not sure about Karen here, I can only speak for myself.) So, I am in downtown Asheville showing the favorite cousin around when I get a text from Karen: "have you checked your mail today?". Several hours later I arrive home to find indeed I had been accepted into the second phase of the jurying process, along with Karen. Yippee! We all had a reason to drink more champagne over the holiday--like we needed one. ha.

At this point I must add Karen has been juried many times in her weaving career. Me? Never. With a capital N. I believe this is where I began to feel a tad nervous; as in what-if-Karen-is-accepted-and-I-am-not kind of Nervous. With a capital again.

The second and final part of the process requires submission of five actual pieces to encompass the body of work we have been producing for the past 2 years. Ok, we had this part easily enough. But then we had five MORE photos to submit. I have to tell you this was torture. We did it and submitted in January.

Again, I am at work and Karen calls me and asks if I have checked the mail. Sigh. I call home, have my husband open the mail and yippee!! We were both quite excited to say the least.

Last week I found myself at the orientation for SHCG without Karen. Sort of sad since we had done it all together, but she had class. There were 18 acceptances this time (a large number so I am told) and there were 15 of us there. And I was Humbled. As in very very humbled. We each were to bring one example of our work to show and talk about to the other new members. The breadth of work was amazing. The artisanship was beyond words. The day will live in my memory as one of my most special moments.

For those who are not familiar with SCHG, here is a description:

The Southern Highland Craft Guild, chartered in 1930, is today one of the strongest craft organizations in the country. The Guild now represents close to 1000 craftspeople in 293 counties of 9 southeastern states. For over 80 years the Guild has been “bringing together the crafts and craftspeople of the Southern Highlands for the shared benefit of education, conservation and marketing”.

I love this area of the country, its people, and its heritage. I am awed to be a part of such a community and thankful I am a weaver.