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.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Flipping Through the Years

Long time no post. The following post I wrote for Weaving Today was published last Wednesday. It talks about a new Textile Study Group just getting started in Western North Carolina. Contact me if you’re curious about the group. In the meantime, hope you enjoy this lesson in “old-school” research.

PS: We had a great turnout, nearly 50 people…and they stayed awake! Even had some post-lecture discussion.

Flipping Through the Years

Research has changed since my first term paper. Type a subject into your favorite internet search engine. Hit the enter key and voila, hundreds, maybe thousands, of online references pop up. Some may be a little off target, others WAY off target and even those that seem on target may not be accurate. Still it’s almost always possible to find what you’re looking for pretty fast.

Sometimes, however, I like to go old school. At the suggestion of Catharine Ellis, of Woven Shibori fame, we’ve started a new Textile Study Group in Western North Carolina to investigate historic, cultural and technical aspects of textiles. Catharine was the presenter at our first meeting in January and told us about her tour of several textile art centers in India.

When the sign-up sheet was passed around last fall, somehow February seemed like a good month for me to present, as it was early in the Haywood Community College semester and after Convergence exhibit deadlines. I decided to talk about manufactured regenerated fibers, such as rayon, Tencel® and bamboo, how they’re made, how sustainable they really are and why many handweavers love them. My textbook for the Haywood weaving classes was a handy and thorough reference for the technical information. (Textiles, by Sara J. Kadolph, if anyone is curious.)

Then 50 people showed up for Catharine’s talk and, suffice it to say, she rocked. Deciding more in-depth research was required so I would not embarrass myself, I turned to my other go-to source: Handwoven’s subject indexes, easily accessible at My textbook is an excellent reference, but is focused on the textile industry. I knew I would find articles in back issues of Handwoven that discussed these fibers and yarns from the handweaver’s perspective, and recalled seeing a whole issue devoted to what were called “new” fibers at the time.

I’ve saved every issue of Handwoven since I began subscribing in 1999 and have been lucky to collect many more from the 80s and 90s, so I can usually pull almost any issue I need right from my own stash. I downloaded the 2005-2011 Handwoven Index to start my search for these not-quite-natural, but not-synthetic-either, fibers. I was pleased to see the editors have added a shortcut to the indexes near the top left corner of the Weaving today home page.

Now here’s what’s fun about these indexes. It is not possible, at least not yet, to search them like a computer database by keyword. The index is a pdf document that requires scrolling through an alphabetized list of subjects. Bamboo is right on the first page. I noted the articles of interest on a little yellow sticky note and scrolled to Fibers.

Before leaving the b’s, I spotted “Beiderwand,” the subject of my latest structure fascination and a workshop I teach. I probably had already pulled those references, but I noted them just in case. “Collapse Weaves,” my current project assignment at Haywood, came up shortly thereafter, so I started another sticky note. On the long path from F to Y, I spotted “Jurying Handwoven Textiles.” I’ve been invited to jury a local textile show, so better grab that one. Every so often, I come across a reference for a story I wrote. That’s always fun.

Oops, almost forgot about “Sea Cell,” “Sea Silk” and “Soy Silk,” but there they are in the s’. Finally I arrive at “Yarns” and quickly spot the issue I remembered: January/February 2005, page 26-29, “Fiber Forecast: A Guide to Using Yarns.” I head to my Handwoven shelves and pull all the issues I’ve noted. Flipping quickly through the one from 2005, I find lots of stories about the subject of my February talk and a handy chart on page 29. I even find a collapse-weave article on page 48.

Already I feel more confident about my study group talk. Hope we get another good turnout! Happy flipping.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Things in the New Year

So it's 2012 and I am all in for trying new things this year. I started off with a bang, using alpaca from a local purveyor, Jaggerspun, and a yak/bamboo blend for two scarves I wanted to weave for men.

If you don't know me well, you might think, so what? Well, because I don't really do this kind of yarn. I'm a silk, tencel, bamboo kind of weaver. And don't forget they are usually a minimum of 60/2.

And guess what, I love it.

Here's the thing:: I usually laugh at Karen when she has a project going and she says 'I don't think I will have enough of ____ yarn." She says this a fair amount. Fill in the blank with your favorite yarn, she has probably run out of it in the middle of a project. I have been humbled. I can now fill in that blank my own self with Yak/Bamboo I can no longer get. I fortunately eked out enough of the yak to weave the first scarf, albeit a tad shorter than I had wanted (praying for not too much shrinkage).

This is what I know. Somewhere in my library(aka stash) I had to have something I could use. I started looking and lo and behold I came across what I call my "do do " yarn. As in #2. I bought this bamboo yarn quite awhile ago and I have no idea what I was thinking when I bought it; henceforth the name::do do. It looks like that, the color I mean. And I didn't just buy one cone, but several.

And lucky for me the do do yarn works quite nicely, if not better than I could hope for. Seems it gives more depth to the second scarf, or so it seems to me. The photo on the left is the first scarf with the yak in both warp and weft. The one on the left has the yak in the warp and the bamboo (aka do do yarn) in the weft. Let me know what you think.

And in this new year, I hope to try even more things in the world of weaving. Next up:: doubleweave open book style. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year, New Study Group Subject

Happy New Year, Sutherland Handweaving Studio Friends!

Karen Donde and Barb Butler invite all weavers and weaver wanna be’s to join Sutherland’s Weavers’ Study Group as we start our second year. Our first meeting will be this Sunday, Jan. 8, from 2-4 pm, at our studio in the Cotton Mill Studios, 122 Riverside Drive, Asheville. We’re starting a brand new study subject, so this is an ideal time to join. We meet monthly on a Sunday afternoon, but which Sunday tends to fluctuate. We’ll try to work that out at the first meeting. So check out the details below and let us know if you’d like to join us. If you’re interested but can’t make it Sunday, we’ll put you on the contact list for next month. Don’t worry, we’ll catch you up.

Our study subject this year is block weaves. The group will choose one profile draft and everyone will weave a piece based on that profile, similar to Handwoven’s Weave-Along last year. Members will choose a month to show their sample and discuss how they interpreted the design. The process will work with any loom, from rigid heddle to multi-shaft.

KarenDonde_09_webAt the first meeting on Sunday, Karen will provide a little tutorial about block theory, how to develop a profile draft and how to translate it to various weaves. We’ll work together to design a two-block profile draft that will be our inspiration for the year. Then we’ll assign months for members to present. Here’s one of Karen’s latest block weave projects.

We will also collect our $15 annual dues for 2012. Show-and-tell is one of the best parts of our meeting, so please bring whatever you’ve been working on, thinking about working on or have questions about. We love sharing successes and ideas.

We decided at our last meeting to arrange a tour of the Oriole Mill in Hendersonville, followed by dinner at the pizza place in Hendersonville. Our dues from last year would be applied to the bill for last year’s study group members. Others are welcome to join us. We’ll just ask that you buy your own pizza. 

We had a lot of fun learning together last year and are excited about our study group’s second year. Hope you can join us!

Karen and Barb