Category Archives: Weaving

Craft in America: The “Threads” Epsiode

Watch Threads Episode Preview on PBS. See more from Craft in America.

Friday night I had the chance to catch the latest episode of Craft in America on PBS and was very excited to see the episode was entitled “Threads.”

For those of you not familiar with Craft in America, this has been on for a few seasons now and showcases different artists, their influences, what drew them to their medium, and so on. It is a very interesting show!

The “Threads” episode highlighted four different artists and focused on weaving and storytelling through quilts. The four artists all come from different backgrounds and points of inspiration in their lives. Each artist uses their life experiences and view of the world to create amazing fiber art. The work highlighted in this episode was just amazing!

I especially enjoyed leaning about the works of Terese Agnew and Consuelo Jimenez Underwood. Among many different inspirations, Terese has a special focus on the outdoors, which I of course just loved and Consuelo used a variety of different media, such wire, in her work, which I love to do as well!

I hope you consider checking out the episode as well as the series. It is a great offering on PBS and you will certainly not be disappointed!

My Ultimate Fiber Christmas List

It is the time of year when everyone makes their lists. So, here is my ultimate fiber Christmas list.

pocket spinning wheelWhile at the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival this year, I saw the original Pocket Wheel. This wheel has a great feel and spins like a dream. This is on the top of my ultimate fiber list!

To go with the pocket wheel, I’ll need to get some fiber. That  means getting fiber from Laurie’s Lambs! Additionally, Susan’s Fiber Shop and The Woolery have great fiber options.

To go with my new wheel and fiber, I of course need to add a new spindle to the list. This is easy. I have always wanted a Moosie spindle from Journey Wheel. These amazing spindles are made from Moose antler sheds. While we are talking about spindles, Golding spindles are always just beautiful and spin like a dream! I have always wanted the Golding Spindle“Midnight Sky” spindle.” Team Golding is incredibly talented and should be seriously considered when looking for that special spindle.

At the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this year, I treated myself to a mini glass crochet hook from Michael and Shelia Ernst . Well, on my ultimate fiber Christmas list, I want the full one! They are just gorgeous. The Turquesa model, please. Also while at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this past May, I won a Weavette in an auction. These are incredibly tough to find. I would love to get a few more in different sizes.

Fiber arts and books always go hand-in-hand. That means, I have lots of books on my list! First and foremost, Creative Crochet Lace: A Freeform Look at Classic Crochet by Myra Wood is at the top! Myra is a wonderfully talented artist and an even better friend.

During the past year, I have been fascinated by hyperbolic crochet. That  means I have to add Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes to my list. If you have seen hyperbolic crochet, I highly recommend you check it out!

Along with crochet and spinning, I also love to felt and enjoy reading the history of fiber arts. That means I have to add Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times, The Art of Felt: Inspirational Designs, Textures, and Surfaces and In Sheep’s Clothing: A Handspinner’s Guide to Wool to my list.

Last, but  certainly not least, I have to add a felting machine. I currently do needle felting, but would love to try it on a machine. Janome makes some great machines, but I hear the Singer felting machine is just as good and less expensive. I also saw a mini felting machine somewhere once; that would be perfect!

So there you have it. My ultimate fiber Christmas list. What’s yours?

2011 Fiber Arts Calendars

As the year begins to progress and the calendar turns thin, it is time to get another calendar. When you are looking for your 2011 calendar, why not look for a fiber arts calendar that will not only keep you up to date, but provide inspiration as well?

One of my favorites is the Crochet: 2011 Day-to-Day Calendar. This calendar provides a unique pattern on every day’s page! At the end of each year I always go through all  the pages again and save my favorite patterns!

A new line of calendars is now available from a great fiber arts publisher, Interweave. They are offering a total of nine different calendars that cover everything from knitting, weaving, spinning, crochet, quilting and more.  Each provides wonderful inspiration. The Quilting Arts 2011 Wall Calendar features the winners of the 10th annual contest theme, “Flavor of the Month.” As someone who can just about sew on a button, the projects are simply amazing and inspirational!

I hope you take a few extra minutes when finding your 2011 calendar and look for something truly unique!

Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool 2010

This past weekend was the 2010 Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY . I look forward to this event year and, as usual, it didn’t disappoint!

High Point, NJ
High Point, NJ on the way to Jill Deal in Milford, PA

I took the bus from Jill Deal Yarn, just like every year. Now you may remember I took a bus trip from another yarn store earlier this year to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival . Well, they could definitely take a page from Jill’s playbook. As usual, the trip was flawless! We left from her shop promptly at 8:00 a.m. in Milford, PA for the roughly 90 minute trip to Rhinebeck, NY. I sat next to a lovely woman on the bus and we chatted all the way up. This was her first trip to the Festival, so I was happy to fill her in on all the fibery goodness she would experience!

Sheep at Rhinebeck, NY
One of the great sheep hanging out.

The morning wasn’t very busy with plenty of walking room and very pleasant festival-goers. Of course, I had to pick up a few items. I picked up the Denise Interchangeable Crochet Hooks  which I purchased from Susan’s Fiber Shop. Susan always has the absolute best stuff! She is very knowledgeable and is always happy to provide information and answer questions. I also picked up a Turkish spindle from Bonnie McMillen, made by her husband Neal. Finally, I found an unexpected treasure. A beautiful hand-woven scarf made with recycled sari silk at Fessler Spinning and Weaving. They also had some very yummy yarn at their booth that I plan on ordering.

An overhead shot of one of the vendor barns.
An overhead shot of one of the vendor barns.

I had the opportunity to meet John McCoy and his wife who manufacture Pocket Wheels by Jon . Let me tell you, this is an awesome wheel! This may very well be on my “wish list” in the future.

I had plenty of fun, including my usual lunch of stuffed cabbage and perogies and topping it off with a late afternoon pumpkin spice coffee. Of course I had to go see all the great sheep on display. Although I was sad I missed Laurie, mommy to Laurie’s Lambs in Chesterfield, New Jersey. I came to find out, she was in a different barn that I thought was just for judging.

I did notice people carrying fewer bags than in the past. I am guessing this is due to the unstable economy and high level of unemployment. I asked a few vendors about their sales and while some were optimistic and said they “did well,” others told me they sold very few “big ticket” items (such as carders and spinning wheels) and more items like knitting needles and books. Even I found myself taking a few business cards of vendors I would like to order from in the future, working to stay on a budget.

Spindles at Rhinebeck, NY
Spindles, spindles and more spindles!

My only “suggestion” to the event planners is this – I wish they would consider not allowing strollers. I know they billed this as a “family-friendly event,” but the strollers often make navigating the show very tough as the number of attendees increases during the day. Many of these booths are very tight. More than once I saw a mother and father with a stroller go into a booth and that was it. No one else could get in and look until they were fished, often leaving without making a purchase. I wonder if this also contributed to low sales. I also saw lots of double-strollers, making it even more difficult to get around. I hope they would consider at least eliminating the double strollers.

Ultimately, it was time to head home. Everyone made it back to the bus on time and off we went. Everyone chatted about their purchases of the day and eventually everyone settled in and either worked on a project or napped…or a little bit of both!

By the end of the day I was tired, but inspired. I realized how much I miss finding time to spin. I am hoping it has inspired me to work to find, at least a little time, to get some spinning in.

A Touch of Peru in Denville, NJ

Today I joined friends for some late lunch shopping at the Sidewalk Sale in Denville, NJ. One of the shops I always wanted to check out is Bridges Peru , a great little shop with authentic South American items. So, I took a few minutes to check it out. All I can say is WOW!

It is safe to say I could get into some serious trouble in that store. In addition to items such as Yerba Mate, unique and beautiful jewelry and beaded bags, they have baby alpaca yarn, alpaca gloves and hats and beautiful hand-made tapestries! The work is absolutely wonderful and incredibly detailed. The variety of offerings are Bridges Peru is just wonderful! It truly is a great source of cultural education and fiber art inspiration.

I, of course, had to pick up some black alpaca yarn and definitely plan to go back and get a pair of fingerless glove/mitten combos and some Yerba Mate. If you are in the area, I highly suggest you check it out – you will not be disappointed!

Noreen Crone-Findlay: The Woven Bag

Fiber Artist Noreen Crone-Findlay’s latest book, The Woven Bag: 30+ Projects from Small Looms (Writers Digest Guides) has officially been released! Noreen was gracious enough to talk about the her latest endeavor  and explain her thoughts behind this great project!

ALVB: How did you get the idea for this book?
NCF: I have been in love with small looms for decades!  I have been designing for small looms and self publishing my designs on     my website www.crone-findlay.com for many years.

I love weaving bags, and about 10 years ago, I self published a book of designs for bags woven on the potholder loom. It was very popular and I then began designing more and more bags, thinking that I would self publish more books of bag designs.

But, when I approached my publisher, Krause Books/F&W Media, a few years ago, they were receptive to this book. And, so it began.

ALVB: When did you start working on it?
NCF: It takes several years to go from initial concept to the final, finished book being in the hands of the readers. Many people have to work very hard.

I have to create all the designs, do the drawings and illustrations, write the patterns, weave the bags (sometimes over and over, as I refine the design), and then send off everything to my editor.

She  has to work on editing all the text, creating the plan of the book, establishing where sidebars, etc. go, and a million other details. Then, when all my deadlines are met, and the book has moved along, the photographer, editor and I , spend several VERY intense days together, photographing all the ‘how to’s’ for the book. The editor then works with the book designer, and establish what look will suit the bags best of all. And, the marketing department is meeting with them, too…. The editor and book designer work with the photographers and graphic designer to get illustrations translated, and to do the photo shoot for the ‘beauty shots’ for the book. It goes on and on… there are sooooooooooo many stages that the book goes through before it gets to the printer…. it takes time!

ALVB: Are there projects that a beginner weaver can do?
NCF: Oh, absolutely! I wanted to create a book that would be full of projects that would be inviting to people who have never woven before, all the way to more advanced techniques.  It was important to me that there be lots of great tutorials in the book, so that it would be inspiring and useful and be the source of a great deal of pleasure for weavers of all levels!

ALVB: If someone has never tried weaving before, what advice do you have for them?
NCF: Buy this book! You’ll be inspired to try all kinds of fun new techniques, and be guided step by step through all manner of weaving pleasures!

ALVB: Do you have a favorite project in the book?
NCF: Oh, my….. that’s a really hard question.   Hmmmmm…. nope…. I can’t pick one over the others…. they are all in there for a reason.

ALVB: If someone can only purchase one type of loom, what would you suggest?
NCF: Look at the projects in the book, and see which loom your favorites are woven on. The projects that sing to you the most will lead you to your first loom.  The looms are so reasonably priced that you will be able to buy more than one.  You can do soooooooo much with small looms! Just because the looms are small does NOT mean that your projects will have to be. The bags are created in modules on the small looms (with virtually NO loom waste! Yay!) and then are assembled.  Small looms also are wonderfully portable, so you can weave ‘on the go’- which is wonderful. I weave in restaurants, in the car, in airports, wherever, whenever!
Small loom weaving is pure delight!

ALVB: Anything else you would like to add?
NCF: One is that it’s really important to me to have a very strong ‘eco’ component to the book, so having projects that are all about upcycling, was essential to me.

Also, the bags can be made on more than just one kind of loom- there is a lot of ‘inter-changeability’ in the book, so I didn’t want to give people the impression that a specific bag can only be made on a certain loom. The Woven Bag is all about creativity, and delight!

Rain and Cold at Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool

There is one word that stirs the hearts of fiber fanatics…Rhinebck.

This past weekend was the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival held each year at Dutchess County Fair Grounds in Rhinebeck. For for the past several years, the weather has been just wonderful. Well, this year we paid for it with cold and rain on Sunday. I bundled up however and set out from my house at 6:30 a.m. to get the bus at Jill Deal Yarns in Milford, PA to the festival.

The first thing I noticed as soon as I stepped off the  bus was the lack of crows of years past. It seems the threat of poor weather kept many of the crows away. While I was happy for the elbow room, I did feel bad for the vendors who travel such great distances to get to the festival. I also heard there were a few vendors who didn’t go to the festival at all over concerns of the weather. While speaking with some of the vendors, they said they had a “good” or “solid” weekend, but certainly not what it was in year’s past. Hopefully next year’s weather will be better.

Nevertheless, I had a great time! I picked up some wonderful yarns for a planned project, some lovely crochet hooks and of course some great snacks! I stopped by the Ravelry get together for a quick hello and zipped back and forth from barn to barn to see all the wonderful animals! I also spoke with a representative from a new yarn company St. Denis. The amount of inspiration you can find at this festival is truly never ending!

It is also always great to see my wonderful fiber friends. I was able to sit and visit with author and internet radio show host Mary Beth Temple as well as others. To me, one of the best parts of these festivals to see my fiber friends that I don’t get to see as often as I would like!

One thing I noticed (and wasn’t too please about), was the large amount of strollers. There seemed to be a lot more than last year. In a way it was a good thing it wasn’t as crowded as usual because it would’ve been impossible to maneuver around them.

Overall, I had a great time and am sorry it is over already! One of these years I will make it a full weekend trip. But I wait in anticipation of all its fibery goodness until next year.

Interweave Hurt Book Sale Now Online

Interweave began the hurt book and overstock sale today at http://www.hurtbooksale.com.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the hurt book sale, this is a great opportunity to pick up craft books on a first-come basis while supplies last. Topics include quilting, beading, jewelry making, knitting, crocheting, felting, spinning, weaving, needlework, sewing and mixed-media.

Hurt books are still in good condition but imperfect in quality and have minor dings such as a scratch on the cover or a bent page. New this year to the sale will be a search engine for sorting books by title or subject and a pull-down tab for sorting by lowest price items and the newest releases.

I highly recommend you check it out!