Monday, June 19, 2017

June Meeting Review

Our meeting on Saturday was filled with sharing of our various Charity focused activities. They included Rip 'N Roll of Bandages, Knitted Knockers, Locks of Love, Homeless Veterans (this was a real eye opener).

Updates on each of the Study groups were given. We made note of the times and places. July and August meeting times for Second Saturday Spinners will be announced on the Facebook page.

July meeting will be at Fabulon on Wappoo Road. Dawn Hortman Shaw will give a demo on Primitive Rug Hooking. This is also called Proddy Hooking.
And here are some of our show and share items. 

Hope to see you all at one of the study group meetings and then at the July meeting.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

October Workshop with Martina Celerin update

Things are moving along quickly. And as anticipated the registrations are coming in. This is a reminder to all our fiber friends, don't delay. Send your initial deposit, payable to Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild, and contact info to Luann Fischer, 1004 Coldstream Court, Summerville, SC 29483. 

Feel free to contact Luann with any questions you may have, or to get your name on the 'list' while you're getting your funds together. We'd hate for you to forget and miss this opportunity. I have a brochure waiting to be sent to you, I just need your address. 

And a few fiber eye candy photos:

Please feel 'invited' to visit our meeting in June and introduce yourself. We would certainly enjoy having you with us. 

Submitted by Luann Fischer 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

October Workshop Planned

Dimensional Weaving and Embellishing

A Martina Celerin Workshop

October 20 - 22 at Fabulon Gallery in Charleston, SC's West Ashley

10am - 4 pm each day

Using simple nail looms, participants at this workshop will first create a solid woven foundation using soumak weave techniques. Then the fun begins as we embellish that foundation using conventional and some very unexpected materials. Using shuttles and pick-up sticks we'll add wet-felted balls and noodles, embroidery, beading, and dimensional crochet. Needle felting directly onto the woven base adds even more possibilities.

by Martina Celerin
Does it sound like fun? Register now so save your place. Registration will be kept at a low number to enhance the teacher-student experience.

Cost is $300 ($325 for nonmembers). Please send $200 as an initial deposit along with your contact information to:
Luann Fischer
1004 Coldstream Court
Summerville,SC 29483

You will receive an email confirming your registration within two weeks. The additional $100 ($125 for nonmembers) is due August 1.

Friday, December 2, 2016

2016 Year-End Holiday Party

Hooked Rug by Emily Kimzey
It's that time again -- and we're going to have a party. Let me just say right off the bat, that this is about the only thing we do all year that is open only to members -- but hey, we'd love to have YOU as a member.

On our regular meeting day in December we'll have a holiday party and pot luck* meal -- December 17 from 11:30 - 2:00 at the home of Kathy Brower. Bring a luncheon dish to share. Wear loose fitting clothes.

And here's the other fun thing we do -- it's a gift exchange. You don't have to participate if you don't want to, but if you do -- bring a wrapped, fiber-related gift ($15 - $20 range). We pile them in the middle of the room and all who want to participate will draw numbers. Number 1 chooses a gift and unwraps it. Everyone oohs and ahhs. Number 2 can now either choose a gift from the pile OR take Number 1's gift (You know you would like to have what #1 chose, or you can gamble on the unknown). It goes around with a few rules about how many times a gift can be "stolen" and it's all in fun. We've never had anyone go home mad. And one more thing -- you really don't have to participate in this if you don't want to -- it's as fun to watch as it is to play. Your choice.

This is a relaxing, fun time we give ourselves each year to just socialize and enjoy each other. Hope you can make it!
And many thanks to Kathy for inviting us to her house!

*For anyone who may not be native to the South and for whom "pot luck" is not self explanatory, you just bring a dish to share - 6 or 8 servings and you've done your part. It's lunch, so anything that you might ever eat for lunch can be on the menu. Hot dishes, something from the deli, traditional holiday dishes, sweets,--  bring it on! Plates, eating utensils, serving spoons, and beverages are provided. It's a pot luck because you just never know what you're going to get -- maybe 15 different pasta salads. Maybe 12 different desserts. (is that so bad?) Somehow though, it usually works out to be quite a variety, and more than enough, and you get to have as many servings as you want. It's a great way to have plenty of food for a large number of people without anyone having to do all the cooking.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Living to Dye -- Part 2 The Wonders of Cochineal

In June, Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild continued our exploration of natural dye possibilities when Michaela McIntosh shared the history and properties of cochineal -- which typically produces a range of vibrant red - rusty orange/reds- brownish reds.

She brought along a mixed-up dye pot and we got to see the results of dipping different fibers in cochineal. While indigo comes from a plant that can be, and is, grown locally, cochineal comes from the dried bodies of insects (ee-ewe) native to South America. Today, Peru is the main source.

Here is how the dye is sold -- you can order it from Amazon!
A mesh bag of these pellets of the dried insect bodies are placed in hot water to make the dye bath.
There is a "recipe" for the amount of dye in an amount of water, and it was found that adding lime peel helped the dye take-up into the fiber. 
The story of cochineal's history is a page-turner that is hard to put down. It involves conquistadors,  money, power, subterfuge, international espionage, brutal murder, piracy, and controversy among the food safety people. Read on for the quick version:

Far back into history, Europe had access to a red fabric dye. But when Cortes invaded Mexico in the early 1500s his army found red fabric and paints far more vibrant and vivid than any they had seen before. They also discovered the source of that color -- the dried bodies of the cochineal -- an insect that lived on and was harvested from the pads of prickly pear cactus. Cortes took this wondrous stuff back to Spain and by 1600, cochineal was the country's 2nd most valuable import from Mexico. Only silver was more valuable.

Following the laws of scarcity, fabric dyed using cochineal was expensive; affordable only to the elite. Hence, red garments  - or even garments trimmed in red, were a sign of wealth and status. Think robes of Cardinals in the Catholic church, think flags, think garments for Kings and Queens. . .

Most Europeans thought the red dye came from a plant and because it was so valuable, Spain made sure the true source of the red dye was kept a secret -- to the point that many Mexicans who worked in the cochineal fields and knew how to produce the dye were murdered to prevent the secret from getting around. Other countries either had to buy cochineal from Spain, or steal it (this is where the pirates come in). Cochineal was a very profitable for Spain.

For years, other countries invested great effort to find out how to get their own cochineal, but these efforts were thwarted because they thought they were looking for a plant. After 300 year, in the early 1800s, French and Dutch adventurers figured things out and were successful in smuggling live cactus pads covered with insects out of Mexico.

So then cochineal production went international with cochineal ranches being established in North Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Caribbean. Conditions proved to be ideal in the Canary Islands and in 1868, the Canaries exported 6 million pounds of cochineal.

In the late 1800s, just as things were booming, synthetic dyes became available and as a result, world-wide cochineal production plummeted. This created a major finalcial crisis in Spain as a huge, 250 year-old industry faded to almost nil within the span of a couple of decades.

Today, cochineal is produced primarily in Peru (where the Mexicans got it to begin with) and is used in medical tracers, artists' paints and microscopy stains. It is the only natural red food coloring approved by the FDA. Indeed, as food producers continue to switch back to natural colorings, more and more of what we eat and drink will probably be dyed with dead bugs. There are some people who are squeamish about that.

Fun Fact for travelers:  Cochineal can be found in side canyons of the Colorado River, appearing on prickly pear cactus heads inside match head size white fuzzballs. If you see this, mash one of those fuzzballs between your fingers -- a bright red ooze? Yep, that's cochineal.

If this quick romp through history has piqued your interest, find more at these two websites that elaborate on the details on the story:  The Bug That Changed History and Putting the Red in Redcoats

Back to current times and PFAG's experience with cochineal. Here is some 100% silk dyed with cochineal at Michaela's right after she brought this topic to our June meeting.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Living to Dye -- Part 1, Enough Pie, the Mobile Vat Shack, and Community Dye Days

In May and June, Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild meetings focused on natural dyeing.

First, Cathryn Davis Zommer from Enough Pie shared their big project -- the mobile indigo vat shack and Community Dye Days. Then Michaela McIntosh had us dyeing fabric and yarn with another natural dye -- cochineal.

Enough Pie is interesting in and of itself. It is a non-profit organization located in Charleston's Upper Peninsula area that is doing all kinds of interesting things to engage the neighborhood and create a stronger sense of community. Arts are one of their main vehicles to this end.

The sociological term for what they are doing is "creative placemaking" and that means to leverage partners from public, private, non-profit, and community sectors to strategically shape the physical and social character of a place around arts and cultural activities. The place can be a neighborhood, a town, a city, or a region. Certainly we know "Charleston Proper" to be a place known for its thriving arts culture.
PFAG member Arianne King Comer is one of several local experts on indigo and dyeing recruited by Enough Pie to help members of the public learn about indigo's rich history, how it related to our "place" -- the Lowcountry -- and to experience the dye process at Community Dye Days at the mobile Vat Shack.
Enough Pie's idea is that the arts belong in every neighborhood and the arts should be accessible to every sociological strata. Their name means there is enough pie to go around for everyone. They endeavor to cut a larger slice (of the cultural arts pie) for residents, artists, creative entrepreneurs and diverse, local businesses.

Enough Pie looks for ways to "animate public and private spaces, rejuvenate structures and streetscapes, improve local business viability and public safety, and bring diverse people together to celebrate, inspire, and be inspired." (taken from Enough Pie's website, taken from an executive paper on Creative Placemaking)

Earlier in the year, Enough Pie sponsored a "Yarn Bomb" of a tower at their neighborhood's community center. This meant bringing knitters and want-to-be knitters together on Monday nights for weeks to knit the strips and patches for the "bomb". We all know what a great way to build community that is!

Their latest project is the mobile Vat Shack -- a specially designed mobile unit -- equipped with heating units and vats and sinks and racks for drying -- all to celebrate and share the history and process of something so indigenous to Charleston and the Lowcountry -- dyeing with indigo.

Inside the Vat Shack
 The Vat Shack will travel to schools and youth clubs and events. Affectionately named "Den Mamas" (like our own Arianne King Comer), who have knowledge of dyeing and of indigo, will be there to teach and guide, and give the children a hands-on experience with the process.

On the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month until early November, there will be Community Dye Days -- a chance for everyone to get involved. On these days the Vat Shack will be stationed at Joseph Floyd Manor Park at 2106 Mount Pleasant St., Charleston, SC  29403. A small, square piece of fabric will be provided to each person to dip in the dye bath at no charge. There is also an invitation to bring something you would like to dye -- it must be 100% natural fabric -- cotton, silk, linen -- (not wool). For each garment there is a $10 fee to replenish the indigo vats. So get your skeins of yarn ready!

Enough Pie is an organization we will want to watch and support!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Wedge Weave Workshop Scheduled for October

Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild is excited to be sponsoring a workshop on Wedge Weave on Oct. 14 and 15, 2016 with Connie Lippert. Connie lives in South Carolina's Upstate but she travels widely to teach and and exhibit. Wedge weave has been a primary focus for her for quite some time. In fact, she will be presenting a workshop at HGA's bi-annual Convergence conference this summer in Milwaukee that will be very similar to the one she will do for us this fall.
Wedge weave on the loom

 In contrast to most weaves which are woven in a plane horizontal to the loom, wedge weave is woven on the diagonal. This results in a weft-faced weaving with many distinctive characteristics and exciting design potential. The technique might be most familiar to us from certain Native American, specifically Navajo, weaving styles.
An example of Navajo wedge weave from the 1880s at a gallery in Scottsdale Arizona.
No one really knows how the Navajos happened onto the technique, which is also seen in Middle Eastern, Andean, and Scandinavian weavings, but they began using it extensively in the 1870s.

Fiber artists such as Connie Lippert have, of course, put their own spin on the technique, creating lovely designs and color plays.
Woven by Connie Lippert

Connie's workshop in Charleston will be a wonderful opportunity to learn and experiment with wedge weave in a very small setting with not only one of the modern weaving world's foremost authorities on the technique, but also one of the weaving world's foremost teachers of wedge weave.

The workshop will be begin Friday night, Oct. 14, and continue through the day on Saturday, Oct. 15. The registration fee for Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild members is $30. The fee for non-members will be $40. One scholarship is available for a PFAG member who would like to participate but finds the registration fee burdensome.

The workshop will be limited to 20 participants. Registrations must be in no later than July 16 and will be handled on a first come first serve basis. The location has yet to be finalized.

Participants should have warping and weaving knowledge. Some weft-faced weaving experience is helpful but not critical. Participants will need to provide their own pre-warped table, floor, or tapestry loom, and a supply of several colors of weft wool.

A list of needed supplied and specific warping directions will be sent to participants after registration.

If you would like to attend, please print and complete the registration form found here. Include payment (checks should be made out to Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild, or PFAG) and mail to: Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild, PO Box 31341, Charleston, SC 29417. Questions?, contact Luann Fischer at
Woven by Connie Lippert