Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Dear Alice,
April has been flying by. The weather has changed so quickly to gorgeous, every type of spring flower comes up one day and blooms the next, and there are just a lot of different things going on. First there was the Jason Collingwood
workshop scheduled for the first weekend. The next week was election inspector training, then an informational meeting on the next phase of Jackson Road,

Spinners' Flock (Amy Singer and Jillian Moreno were there!),

and of course—tax time. Last week was filled with meetings every evening. The Fiberarts guild Spring Fashion show/luncheon/sale was Saturday, and the jacket that Rebecca & I worked on together was on the runway. Sadly, the photo I quickly snapped came out awfully blurry, though Karen did a lovely job of modeling the jacket.

And today I went to the last of the Waterman Alumnae luncheons for the 2007-08 season; today's speaker was Tom Gjelten, correspondent for NPR, and author of a new book on Cuba, due out in September.

I have finished sock #1 of the R S Fair Isle socks. Sock #2 only lacks the foot and toe, something that could be done during a flight to Texas later this week. I put a heart on the sole of #1 and am wondering if only one heart makes sense. I don't know if I should put one on the sole of sock #2 yet or not....

I had a ball of yarn for each sock, and that little bit next to the sock is all I had left from ball number one. Let's hope I get through sock #2!

Siftings? Let's just say that there have been many, many ingredients being funneled and sifted through my experience this month with more yet to come!

Let's talk soon,

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Spring Has Sprung

...and now you know why I have been so quiet. It has been a very busy week, and when I can, I spend my time outside making up for the winter that has passed quietly away.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Little Heathens

Dear Alice,
I finished reading Little Heathens, Hard times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression about a week ago, and Mildred Kalish's memories fit so closely with my own (having grown up on a dairy farm in the 50's) that I still carry its words with me every day. Mildred was of my parents' generation. I couldn't pass this book up; my dad on occasion would call my siblings and I and our many cousins 'little heathens'.

Little pieces of my childhood have fallen away over the years, and when another piece goes, there is a heaviness of heart. It was a week ago that the aunts' hay barn burned. I knew exactly which barn and where (as there were several on my grandfather's farm). My father followed in my grandfather's footsteps and became a dairy farmer, though at some point when I asked him, he said he wanted to build bridges. Interestingly, there were probably several generations of dairy farmers, since records show that my G-G-G-G-G-G-G-G-G-G grandfather sold butter to his next door neighbor, Thomas Jefferson.

That is me in the 'baby tender' while my mother and father did the milking by hand in 1950, probably outside, since it was clearly summer, and too stiflingly hot in the barn.

Mildred Kalish's memories brought back many memories for me. Life on the farm holds many lessons for life...skills that our suburban children never have the opportunity to learn in this very different world.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Weaver's Bag o' Tricks

Hi Alice!

It would have helped if I had actually gone back to your book. It was so long since I glued a dowel to the warp that I had forgotten how to do it, but thought I knew how to do it. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing....

So, sampling done, I decided that I really needed to glue the warp this time so as to not lose any more warp to experiments.

I accomplished this the other night (with a few ties and rubber bands) it dried overnight, and I was able to cut off the samples the next morning to wet finish, spin out and then mangle.

More fun things to look at, none of the critics totally agreeing, but at this point, I need to get weaving. So, the dowel with the glued warp is tied to the rod and I am ready to go back to the loom! No muss, no fuss!

Are you enjoying the April Showers? I saw Bloodroot yesterday!

Be well, Nancy

Monday, April 7, 2008

Day 3, Shaft Shifters

Hi again, Alice!

This was the final day of the Jason Collingwood 3-end Block Weaves Workshop. What a lot of information we all took in! Jason is a really organized teacher...I think some of us were on design-possibilities-overload. It was (every bit of it) inspiring, challenging, and made us think "what if...."

Since it was the last day, too, Jason demonstrated several ways of creating "weft protectors" with different knots. Now, if I were a sailor or a Scout I would have known most of them, but I am neither. Maybe I need a book of knots?

And...the last day was devoted to shifting shafts and the technique to do that. What a cool idea!

At lunchtime Jason showed us a power-point presentation of photos from his very ancient village, photos of his looms, and photos of his father, Peter, as well as the senior Collingwood's macro-gauze pieces.

This whole workshop has inspired me to actually try my hand at a decent-sized rug for the cottage, and ideally a nice runner for the hall at the bedrooms. For now, though, I need to get back to finishing my samples!

I hope you are enjoying the warmer temperatures. It has been wonderful to go without a heavy coat!

Hugs, Nancy

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Day 2, Dances with Looms

Hi Alice,
It has been a couple of days of direct tie-up, though Ellen and I knew we had extra treadles and extra hooks and could do a little faster footwork. ;)

Today was again another intense day, as always is the case with Jason Collingwood. What a lot of information he put before us...and some hours to catch up to what we hadn't tried yesterday, as well as trying out new things today! This afternoon we got to clasped wefts, a fun technique that is a great one to know for your weaving repertoire.

I have been working with red & green—colors that I want to see used at LA, so it is not really a Christmas weaving, it is cottage weaving.

And, do I look a little burned-out? Mary has asked me to help with all the things she does when putting on a workshop for the guild! It really is fun, and there is a lot to do! I think I needed some dark chocolate just then.

One more day...tomorrow we start "shifting shafts". And then we shall be on our own again to continue to experiment and keep trying new things. As you have said, weaving can keep you young!

I hope your spirits are up,

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Workshop, Day 1, Jason Collingwood

Hi Alice,
This was the first day of the Jason Collingwood 3-end Block Weave Workshop. Goodness the day went fast! It was wonderful to have a bit of a refresher (he taught the Plain Weave Rug workshop exactly a year ago for our guild, which I took) so many of the beginning techniques were the same, though he threw in the bits about tying the ends which are NOT in hedddles to one heddle or the other, and then the floating warp threads being tied to heddles as well.

There was a lot to take in, and great demonstrations, as well as each of us weaving our chosen colors.

We learned twining, both with linen and a two color decorative twined border, as well as the four strand sennit braid (hope I have that right! and just now I am too tired to go look it up!) A few photos of Day One for your pleasure.

Weaving in ends of the twining

Four strand square sennit