Monday, December 27, 2010

Peace on Earth, Good Will to All

Christmas cup of cocoa

What an amazing holiday season!  On the first day of Hanukkah we had a torrential rain storm that ended shortly before sundown with a double rainbow.  A new meaning for Festival of Light!

On the winter solstice we were treated to a full moon with a total eclipse, and in my little part of the world the skies were clear for viewing it!

Christmas arrived quietly but deluged us with snow the next morning.  It’s a winter wonderland!

I wish you warmth and safety, and a hot cup of cocoa! This particular cup of cocoa was captured by my son, who made it, photographed it, then drank it…on Christmas morning.

May the year ahead be rich with blessings….

Monday, December 20, 2010

Crazy for Monk’s Belt

Rob and Lauren placemats

Remember these?  They came off the loom in September, and I gave them to my older son and his wife for their 2nd anniversary, which is cotton.


The pattern for this Monk’s Belt project came from the Spring 2004 issue of Jean Scorgie’s “Weaver’s Craft.”  She used soft blue/greens to make a small purse for the project, and I saw them as place mats at a friend’s house.  I did mine with a cotton warp and tabby weft and tow linen in the beachy blues from my kids’ dining room. 

Monk's Belt 003 I guess I wasn’t quite done playing with this fun version of Monk’s Belt.  I set up my Baby Wolf with the same pattern for a demonstration recently.  I used 8/2 unmercerized cotton for the warp and the same single tow linen as the place mats, only in different colors, for the weft. I used reds and purples to coordinate with the cranberry Christmas decorations in the show house where I demonstrated. I have quite a collection of linens since I’m completely smitten it! I made three kitchen towels, treadling the traditional little flower motif at each end of the towels, then went back to the treadling from “Weaver’s Craft” for the last bit of warp, which is the cloth on the left, above.  A good friend suggested making the little scrap into a small shoulder bag, like the purse in the original magazine project!  I plan to do it.  I just need to find an interesting lining fabric first!

And still I am not done playing with this pattern!Monk's Belt 005

These are on the Toika now.  The warp is 16/2 linen with tow linen for the pattern weft.  They are for my younger son, and I hope the colors will go well in his apartment. 

I admit that the weaving has gotten a little boring, but I do love the outcome so I’m sticking with it!  I’ve listened to some wonderful books while weaving these projects…

…starting with Figures in Silk this summer, then parts of The Girl Who… books when I was home in between sailing (you know, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire,  The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest). Then came the Tracy Chevalier story, Remarkable Creatures.  Now I’m listening to Cutting for Stone which is so engrossing and beautifully written (and read) that I hardly know I’m weaving! 

At least two of these placemats must be cut off, washed, hemmed and wrapped so that they can be under the tree on Christmas Eve!  I’d better get cracking!

Lastly a couple of shots of Monk’s Belt projects from the past that always come out around this time of year.

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My kitchen window valances that always get hung for the winter…




and …


a table runner




I guess I do have a big soft spot for Monk’s Belt…

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Weaving and Spinning at Skylands Manor

skylands manor 1 My local weaving guild, the Palisades Guild of Spinners and Weavers, will be setting up a weaving/spinning/dye-ing studio at the New Jersey State Botanical Gardens that has a Tudor Revival Mansion on the property called Skylands Manor.  This opulent building was built in the 1920s out of stone that was quarried right on the property.  It is completely out of character with the image of a weaver’s studio, but that’s what we are going to create!

skylands manor 3

Here is the room that will become a fiber studio!  Like no studio any of us will ever see in real life!In any event, I will enjoy sitting in the room to weave all day on Thursday!  The open house will take place from Thursday, December 2, through Sunday, December 5, from 10am until 4pm each day.  Then there will be evening wine and cheese events as well.   Someone will be weaving at my loom each day, and others from my guild will be spinning, knitting and doing some bobbin lace! So if you are anywhere nearby, drop by!

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And here is the entrance to our studio.  I’ll have the loom set up at the window near the fireplace to take advantage of natural light during the day. We are setting up tomorrow!





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This is what I’ll be weaving: kitchen towels in Monk’s Belt, which I hope to use as presents later in the month!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

New Projects

Don’t most of us return from summer travels full of ideas for new projects?  It’s hard to implement all the new ideas that crop up from even the shortest weekend away from home.  There is something about a change of scenery that always makes me start brewing up ideas for what to do when I return.

On top of spinning, weaving, and knitting projects that I’ve dreamed up, I am also currently taking two new classes.  Once a week I take a bobbin lace class from a group of women who are expert lacers.  I’m so lucky to live in an area with an active guild of lace makers.  They are a gold mine of experience and help.  I’m on my third lace exercise now, and terribly smitten by the process.

This weekend, at the annual Lace Day (with classes!) I learned how to move my lace up in order to keep weaving beyond the length of the pricking card.  What you see in the photo is my re-attached weaving. Now I can continue down the length of the card to make the little lace edging longer. 

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bobbin lace 11.2010 004

Once a month I drive up into the hills of Putnam County to a basket maker’s house where we work on Nantucket Lightship baskets.  I’m making a medium size oval, and I’m quickly discovering how much more effort it takes to place the staves in an oval than in a circle!  I may never get the staves ready, so I truly may never weave this basket.  The camaraderie is wonderful so as long as they can put with my inexperience I will be going back!

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Nantucket basket Karyn

The top photo is my basket in progress.  I have more staves to shape, and you can see that the staves change shape as they get into the sharper curves of the ends of the oval.  The basket in the lower photo is what I’m striving to achieve and was made by one of the women in the group!

Beading and sewing are two other areas I’m dabbling in this fall.  These small projects are destined to be Christmas presents.  I haven’t focused on making the the majority of my presents in at least a decade.  Right now it feels good.  I might not be so chipper when the deadlines get closer! 

Russian netting pearls2 11.2010

bracelets 2 Nov. 2010

I pruned back my bay tree in order to bring it in the house since we have dismantled our greenhouse this year, in preparation for possibly selling our house.  I’ve saved all the cuttings and am drying small sprigs as well as individual leaves.  These will be gifts also, to all my cooking friends.  Look out, Martha!

The leaves are mostly down here, the clocks have turned back, we had a killing frost recently.  It’s time to cozy up in the nest and keep the fires burning, both in the furnace and in the creative process.  I’m ready…

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fall Brewing

It’s time for planting garlic, harvesting root vegetables, and brewing up the dyes from summer harvests.  I harvested my weld in June and again in July when we were home briefly, then left it to dry in Bob’s workshop.  This weekend I made the dye solution at a friend’s house.  She mixed up more colors of ProChem acid dyes than I could count!  Three of us had a great time painting skeins of handspun and commercial wool yarns and sock blanks! 

Between gathering in the herbs from the season and making dye, I feel a bit of bewitching power!  Look out!

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My skeins drying in the garden






dyeing sept 2010 The acid dyed skeins and one sock blank skeined double. Colors used in these skeins are “bright red,”  “cranberry,”      “maple sugar,”
“saffron,” “moss green.” These are unknown skeins from KnitPicks, possibly “Palette,” and a Knit Picks sock blank of superwash wool/nylon.

dyeing sept 2010 001

Both skeins dyed with weld, with one skein handpainted with “saffron” and “mustard.”  Sadly, you cannot see what a lovely pear green the weld made.  I love it! Both skeins are “Texas” by Henry’s Attic (50% wool, 50% mohair)

dyeing sept 2010 003

Last (and least in my mind), blues, violets and charcoal. This is another unknown Knit Picks skein with a lovely twist.  Merino? It’s fingering weight, about 400 yds per 100 grams.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I certainly didn't mean to take a two-month hiatus from blogging, but that's what happened.  My ancient desktop computer has given up its spirit, and I've been using a couple of hand-me-down laptops with software that was not compatible or conducive to posting here.  I've missed posting...

Work on the Archie Brennan Project has continued even though I have not been able to post updates over at that website either.  Things are going well, but I've had no way to share info!

It's glorious autumn here in NJ, and I've got a busy schedule of weaving.  It's been great to reconnect with my community of weaving friends after being away so long this summer… seeing the Wednesday Group again, seeing Susan and Archie's tremendous body of work on display at GAGA in Garnerville, starting a couple of new classes, and reconnecting with my weaving guild and knitting group!  I am taking a bobbin lace class each week, and once a month I travel up to Carmel to learn the techniques of making a Nantucket lightship basket.  All good!

Tapestry bobbins John Moss

These are tapestry bobbins I ordered from John Moss last June that were shipped to Archie and Susan in NY, so I couldn’t get them until returning from sailing!  Aren’t they beautiful? John does wonderful work.  The two outside bobbins are figured maple.  Can you see the iridescence in the grain?  The second on the left is Osage Orange and the third is Jatoba, also called Brazilian Cherry. It’s wonderful to use beautiful, well made tools!

Rob and Lauren placemats

Rob and Lauren’s placemats.  This is a monk’s belt design from Jean Scorgie’s magazine “Weaver’s Craft” which was a proejct for a small woven handbag.  I did these in 16/2 black cotton with wetspun 8/1 linen for the pattern weft.  The colors are all beachy blues and greens, and there are two of each colorway for a total of eight.  They celebrated their 2nd anniversary in August, which is the traditional ‘cotton’ anniversary.  The warp and tabby weft are cotton, but I couldn’t resist using the lustrous wetspun linen for the pattern!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Scrapbook of Maine

The weeks are passing, in some ways quickly, in others rather slowly, and I’ve now been on board our boat Pandora for a full month as of yesterday!  This is the longest I’ve ever been on a boat.  Here are some images from my month in Maine.

Maine 8.21.10 019 Day schooner that sails out of Camden





Maine 8.21.10 045 Along the Fox Island Thoroughfare, between North Haven and Vinalhaven.




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Herreschoff 12 1/2 (means the water line is 12.5 feet),  well known wooden gaff rigged sloop from the early 20th c. designed by Nathaniel Herreshoff, “the wizard of Bristol” (RI).

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Bass Island lighthouse, southern most tip of Mt. Desert Island.  This is the most photographed lighthouse in Maine!



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Our boat, Pandora, is in the center of this photo, taken from the lookout on the way up to Thuya Gardens in Northeast Harbor, on Mt. Desert Island.


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Thuya Gardens, designed by Charles K. Savage.




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Thuya Gardens




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The reflecting pond at Thuya Gardens





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Bee house at Thuya Gardens.  Bob took this photo for me so I could remind him to make one for our garden!



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The fog bank rolling into Southwest Harbor on Mt. Desert Island.




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The fog bank coming into the harbor and boats rapidly disappearing!




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The rapidly ebbing tide near Blue Hill.  This type of rushing tidal current is called a reversing waterfall.  This is supposedly the biggest reversing falls in Maine.


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Reversing falls near Blue Hill.





July BoothBay Maine 2010 059

Morning mist on our friend’s 100 yr. old lobster boat in Oven’s Mouth on the Sheepscot River.



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Osprey nest.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Maine Fiber Arts Studios Day 2

My second day of studio/farm visits was just as fun as the first!  Maine seems to be a great place for inspiration and creativity.  I’m so impressed with the places I’ve visited the past two years.  If I lived here I really enjoy having more exposure to these creative people!

Hope Spinnery:  How lucky for me to finally visit this mill that I’ve heard about for years!  It’s in a secluded spot just inland from Lincolnville, nestled in the woods with a rambling garden surrounding the mill.  The upper floor is a wonderful showroom, while the mill equipment is on the lower floor.  I did not get to meet Bill Huntington who runs the mill since he was off-site teaching a workshop. His mother was on hand to welcome visitors and answer questions.

hope spinnery bldg

In the showroom I enjoyed looking at the rovings and yarns, all colored with natural dyes.  Stunning! 


Weaving a Life: Susan Barrett Merrill  Another gem of a studio, hidden in a lovely secluded spot!  Susan is an artist worth knowing!  I must find a way to bring her to NY/NJ so others can experience her charisma and her artistic ideas about weaving and community!

She does amazing things will pulled warp tapestry, creating these marvelous masks.  Maine 8.7.10 011

Maine 8.7.10 013

Some of the masks have an entire community of figures surrounding the mask, and are fascinating creations in themselves!  Susan’s ideas and her active involvement in bringing weaving into everyone’s life and managing community weaving projects is very exciting!  She generously gave me a copy of her book, Zati: the Art of Weaving a Life, and I am so touched by it. 

Susan has accomplished quite a lot toward her goal of bringing weaving into communities through making Journey looms we’ve all seen in recent issues of weaving magazines as well as writing this book and making several DVDs.  Somehow she still finds time for doing her own weaving and creating these incredible masks.  Maine 8.7.10 021
Her method of weaving ancient pictographs or keyforms is the core to her philosophy about understanding our own journey and inter-connectedness.

I hope I can bring her to NJ to share her knowledge and creativity with weavers from my own community!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Maine Fiber Artists’ Open Studios

Well, it’s another beautiful summer in Maine, and I’m so lucky to visit other amazing fiber farmers and fiber artists’ studios!

This year’s plan was a bit more involved than previous years, and it was a fun adventure!  My husband wanted to attend a rendevous for the Seven Seas Cruising Association on Islesboro so we worked out a plan to take the ferry to Lincolnville on two of the weekend mornings.  The first morning we hitchhiked partway and got a cab partway to get back to our car in Rockland.  Then, at the end of the day, I left the car at the ferry terminal so it would be handy for our second day of sightseeing.

This is the eating area of the snack bar at the ferry terminal on Islesboro.  It’s about 7am, and the fog bank is rolling away to reveal the Camden Hills and the beautiful day ahead!Maine 8.7.10 002 It took two hours from the time the ferry left ‘til we had our car, although the ferry ride was only 20 minutes!  We also got picked up hitchhiking a lot faster than when we waited for the cab in downtown Camden!

Day one of fiber sightseeing included Eolian Farm where no one was home, too bad for me!

These photos were taken outside Swans Island Blankets on Rte. 1, just outside of Lincolnville.  What a stunning 18th century farmhouse they use for their showroom! Maine 8.7.10 003We saw the looms as well as the dyeing room.

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Two Sons Alpaca Farm in Damariscotta was the farm highlight of the weekend for me!  Owner Ricki Waltz was very happy to talk about her animals to us, a fascinating blend of alpaca husbandry and tales of the various personalities in her herd.  The babies were adorable and had quite distinct personalities right from the start!

Timberdoodle 2 (alas! no website!) is a lovely studio overlooking the water near Cushing.  It’s a tiny, perfectly appointed showcase of Kathryn Woodstock-Lynn’s lace spinning and knitting!  Using traditional Shetland techniques, learned from such venerated knitters as Gladys Almedro, Sharon Miller and others, she knits lace shawls and wraps of her own design.  Her spinning is exquisite and so is her dyeing!  There were two large hatboxes of yarns for sale, each with enough to make either a shawl or a scarf.  One box held natural colored yarn, the other was full of her hand dyed creations.  She blends acid dyes into a stunning array of colors.  I dearly wanted a ‘red’ but did not have the pocketbook for it this summer.  I did buy a Shetland/Oxford mix dyed an indescribable mix of pink/lavender/tan ….just a small ball that will make a lovely scarf.

Katharine CobeyWhen I entered this studio I instinctively knew that I was in the presence of an artist, and that her studio was probably going to be the highlight of all our travels this summer!  Her studio and its setting along the water is as artistic as Katharine herself.  The wall of glass that faces the water must provide an ever changing inspiration to her spinning and knitting. When I entered Katharine was reclining in an overstuffed chair with ottoman, knitting away on a current project. Her large Rio Grande ‘sitting great wheel’ was nearby, and one of the first things she did was give me a demonstration on how it works!  I’ve always wondered how one could sit and spin at a great wheel, and after seeing Rachel Brown’s simple technique which Katherine does so well, I am awestruck by what a simple feat it is to change from spinning off the spindle to winding on without stopping the wheel.  Thank heaven for Rachel Brown! Katharine made it look utterly simple, but when she encouraged me to try it I quickly learned that I’d need several hours (or days!) to get the hang of it!Maine 8.7.10 033







Part of Katharine’s studio is a showcase for some of her work.  There was a display of knitted mantles arranged in a circle and exquisitely lighted called Ritual against Homelessness.  They were beautifully moving.  There was also a wire-knitted form on the wall that was wonderful. The form itself was interesting and was greatly enhanced by its shadow.  The combination of real form and shadow were terrific together.

On leaving, Katharine handed me one of her postcards which is when I realized I knew of her!  I had seen Boat with Four Figures at the Portland Museum a few years back, but didn’t realize she was the artist!  I’m thrilled to have met her!  

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Price of Eggs in China, aka Talking Pears

I did finally take an afternoon to weave while we were anchored in Hadley Harbor, on the Island of Naushon just across from Wood’s Hole.

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I’m working on a small tapestry that was an assignment from a workshop that Archie and Susan gave to the Wednesday Group several months ago. They called the workshop “Talking Pears.” For the workshop we were to bring two Bosc pears, our sketchbooks and pencils, and a variety of colored papers.

For the morning, we arranged and drew our two pears several times.  After our lunch break, we took the sketches we liked best and used them as ideas for making several paper collage designs.  The nature of the paper collage designs being so graphic led to other ideas.

pears cropped

At the end of class we lined up our paper collages and discussed shapes, arrangements, and color choices.

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This may be more than you want to know about the “price of eggs in China,” but I’m certain that Archie and Susan carefully chose this workshop as a clever way to make us start thinking in the language of tapestry rather than in the language of pure image.  Many of us are often intrigued by an image first and foremost, and we attempt to make a cartoon that will be weaverly.

Here, the relationship of our pears as two shapes coming together, along with the relationship of the surrounding area, and the colors we chose to use took precedence over the image itself.  The simple paper collages we made prevented us from creating shading and contours.

This simple exercise has allowed each of us to focus on how to create the shapes of the pears and the surrounding areas.  I’ve never paid so much attention to my curves and slopes!  I’m usually too busy also trying to create light and shadow.  I had a lot of fun choosing the colors for this little project, and with only six colors I really concentrated on the relationship between them.


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Here you can see the frame that Bob made for me to hold my copper pipe looms.  This frame allows me to adjust the loom up and down so I’ll always be weaving at a comfortable height.




One Wednesday Grouper has already woven eight small tapestries!  Several others have already woven two.  This is my first one, and I do hope to weave another.  I’m so slow that two will probably be my limit!