Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Quick Look Back at 2009

It is already 2010 and we are about to fling ourselves pell mell at all the things before us. Before the opportunity is completely gone, I'd like to quickly summarize the fiber guild's 2009 year. It was a good one and deserves a nod before we move along.

Wendy Ross came to us in January for a jaw dropping program on her experience doing the Certificate of Excellence in Weaving through the Handweaver's Guild of America -- the national association of which our guild is an affiliate. Those of us who weave, went home promising to challenge ourselves a bit more -- even in small ways -- rather than to continue to do what we've always done.

In February, Catherine Lamkin and Cookie Washington took our breathe away again telling us about and showing their "story quilts." These two artists learned to sew at their mothers' knees, and now translate the events of their lives into beautifully, creatively embellished and crafted pictures that you can also wrap yourself up in. When we met them, their work had recently been featured in Charleston Magazine, Cookie had just delivered a quilt to a show in Washington in conjuction with the Presidential inauguration, and they were leaving our meeting to attend the opening of Mermaids and Merwomen in Black Folklore that they were curating together at the Avery Research Institute downtown. In the picture to the left, Catherine is holding her entry in the show -- a quilt depicting the Gullah  legend of Sukey and the Mermaid. She had quite literally just made the last stitches in it before she stood up to speak to us. Amazing, inspiring women!

In March, Vera Hannaford spoke with us about how internet resources and tools, and particularly social networking, has transformed her experience as a "cronic crocheter." Vera's Crafty Blog started as a means to document her projects, and after a while, people she didn't even know were logging on to see what she was doing, what thread she had discovered and what patterns were catching her eye. Vera told us about a whole world of sites for people who love yarn and all it will do. Ravelry has been big for several years, now a similar site for weavers called Weavolution is just getting off the ground.

In March, Denise Spanos did a well received Open Studio with felted postcards for the North Charleston Cultural Arts Center. Heather Howell came in April and told us her fascinating story of living and working with indigenous weavers in a remote area of Costa Rica. At the left you can see a sample of the Barucan tribe's weaving. Heather's expertise in dying natural fiber opened the door for her to spend several months living and working among these traditional spinners and backstrap loom weavers. Also in April,  some of us helped out at Middleton Plantation's Sheep and Wool Show.

In May, our program was an introduction to the idea of weaving with materials taken right from our own yards and gardens. We were also introduced, through Carl and Linnie Trettin, to the Maseru Tapestry Cooperative in Lesotho South Africa and their need for support. Our Guild quickly mobilized and successfully raised over $800 to finance a weaving class for new weavers to increase the capacity of this tiny cooperative. We continue to have a connection with this group through the Trettins. As you can see to the right, their tapestries are just wonderful, but produced in what we would consider quite spartan and humble surroundings.

In June, Beth Parrott conducted a workshop on knitting socks and the Guild's program was a Super Show and Tell. Fun! Arianne King-Comer came to us in July and shared her journey from housewife to professional batik artist and expert on indigo. She is another treasure working here in the Charleston area.

In September, we brought in dried materials from our gardens and tried our hand at weaving with such plant material as day lily foliage, honeysuckle, and iris leaves. (See the sample on the loom to the right.) In October we were introduced to a Japanese paper spinning process and in November, Kelly Fort got us experimenting with hand felting to embellish jackets, sweaters, bags and to make 3 dimensional objects.

We ended the year with a holiday brunch at Lynn Holland's home and enjoyed a gift exchange where gifts were either handmade or selected with an awareness of what an avid fiber artist would like. Below you see how pleased Del is with her grapevine wreathe embellished with a felted poinsettia, inspired by our November program on felting and made by Liz Hoos. It was a grand year, lots of fun and very inspiring and good reason to look forward to 2010.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Holiday Brunch -- Saturday Dec. 19

Piedmont Fiber Arts Guild Holiday Brunch
Saturday, December 19  11:30 - 2:00
Lynn Holland's house 

Bring a brunch-type dish to share and -- if you'd like to participate in a "Dirty Santa" type of gift exchange -- bring a wrapped, fiber-related gift.  Spectators are welcome, but it's a lot of fun to jump into the fray!.

Our meetings are always so packed-full and busy, we rarely get the time to visit and get to know each other better. This is our opportunity to do that.

To protect Lynn's privacy just a little bit, we aren't posting her address and directions to her house here -- please refer to your Guild roster and Mapquest -- or get in touch with Sandy Hutchinson she'll help you out with directions.
Even if you haven't made one meeting all year, please join us for this. Can't wait to see you all on Saturday.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Closing Out Our Year with a Felting Workshop

Kelly Fort has been dabbling in felting for over a year now and shared some of what she has learned with the rest of us at our Guild meeting on Nov. 21. Here is the jacket Kelly embellished that got everyone interested in learning what we could do with a plain wool jacket from the bargain basement and time to get creative.

Our instructions were to bring a jacket, cardigan or bag we wanted to embellish -- or to wash old wool items in very hot water and a little soap to make them mat to felt. We could then cut the felt to make items pretty in themselves, or to use as a background to experiment with needle-felting techniques. Here is everyone diving in:

Here, Del tries her hand at needle-felting a design onto a felted background. The barbed needle(on the end of the pink pen in her hand) causes the roving to intertwine with the wool fibers in the background.

And here, DeDee shapes the red-colored roving and needle-felts it into a three-dimensional flower. She experimented with working over a foam background and over a brush.

Everyone went home with lots of ideas of ways felting might become part of their own repertoire -- but for the day's efforts, Kelly's jacket still stole the show!

A bit of significant business at this meeting was the election of next year's Board -- Sandy Hutchinson will serve as President with Lynn Holland as Vice President, Kelly Fort as Secretary, and Garnette Tuten as Treasurer.

After a busy year of superb programs and activities, Michaela McIntosh steps away from a Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild board position for the first time in a very long time. Deep appreciation was expressed to her for her vision, leadership and dedication to bringing together people who share interest in handweaving and fiber arts. Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild will continue to rely on Michaela's knowledge and willingness to teach and mentor.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

PFAG Announcements

Saturday, September 26, 10 AM - 1 PM, Beth Parrott will be doing a workshop on Fixing Knitting Mistakes at Knit in downtown Charleston.

Do you subscribe to any of the Interweave Press publications? If so, bring a check to our next meeting on Oct. 17, and complete an order form for the magazines you want at the meeting. When we send the order in as a guild, you will save $5 per subscription.

Judy Warren sends us heads up on the upcoming observance for the UN's "International Day of Felt" coming up Oct. 3. Felters around the world, working with reds, oranges and yellows are planning one-day park displays, hangings/drapings from fences, trees, etc. They are primarily fun, easy displays, just meant to raise awareness.

That segues nicely to our felting program coming up in November. The date is Nov. 21. Our program in Oct. will be new and different for almost all of us -- a Japanese paper spinning technique called Shi-fu. Should be fun.

We have heard from the Masaru Tapestries Cooperative and the weaving class we raised money for is in progress. A new Peace Corps worker is our contact now and she is just getting her bearings. She sent the picture above of one of the students at work. Carl Tretton, who brought the project to our awareness initially, is planning to go back to Lesotho in the near future and is planning to check in with the Co-op.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Our September Guild Meeting

Saturday's meeting was a lot of fun -- In the local spirit of the United Nation's declaration of this as the year of natural fibres we got to experiment with weaving with the most natural of fibres -- plant materials right out of our yards.

Michaela and others came through the door with what seemed to be truckloads of dried bundles of plant materials in a range of browns, yellows, golds, and greens. In this picture you see just part of what was available for us to experiment with on a table loom that was already warped up for us. The things we agreed we were quite successful with included day lilies, iris foliage, and sweet grass. We were less successful with coreopsis and honeysuckle, but both might have had more potential with a different warp

Take a look at the picture in the right column of a mug mat still on the loom, that was done in just a matter of minutes by several weavers trying their hand with different plant materials. There is lots of potential here -- and we're not even talking about basketry, yet -- though Garnette came in with enough grapevine that we could have done a whole program on that.

For Show & Tell, Kelly showed us a plain zippered jacket with a hood that she bought for a song and added her own colorful felted trim. The webmaster's camera batteries died so there is no picture at this time, but trust me, it was beautiful.

Michaela sent in this picture of a shawl she was commissioned to do -- the weave structure is a variation of Ms & Os. Michaela says the weft floats are too long for practical use, but isn't it pretty? In the close-up lower picture, you can see why she calls it a "Stained Glass" shawl.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

September Meeting

Back in May, Michaela shared with us a recent article in Handwoven about weaving with garden plant materials. Our assignment was to spend the summer gathering appropriate plants from our gardens and even from the roadways. The foliage of iris, cattails, marsh grass, -- anything long-ish and pliable. Those things were to be brought indoors, wrapped in newspaper and left to dry.

Well, it’s time to bring these dried materials with you to the Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild meeting on Saturday, Sept. 19, from 2 – 4 PM. We’ll experiment with weaving with these truly natural fibers. Michaela will lead our session based on the work of Connecticut master weaver, Rita Buchanan.

Come even if you haven’t been hunting and gathering all summer. It will be one of those meetings where you’ll get all kinds of new ideas about weaving materials.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Successful Fundraiser! No Meeting in August.

Thanks to Arianne King Comer for a wonderful program at our July meeting. Fiber Guild enthusiasts really turned out for the opportunity to hear Arianne share her deep experise in dying -- specifically indigo -- and the art of batik.

It is the height of summer and Palmetto Fiber Arts guild members are traveling and otherwise enjoying family, friends and our beautiful coastal lowcountry. We'll take a break from our regular meeting in August, but plan to join us in September on Saturday, the 19th.

We should all be proud that in a very short period of time, we exceeded our fundraising goal of $1100.00 for the Maseru Tapestries Cooperative in Lesotho South Africa.

To the left you can see a member of the Coop standing in front of and holding samples of Coop members' work. Notice the wall behind, completely filled with soda cans. Is this for decoration? insulation? in lieu of Sheetrock and painted walls? We'll have to ask about this .

Along with our common interest in spinning and weaving, one of the appeals of this project was the huge difference a relatively small sum of money, by our standards, could make in the survival of entire families.

The Board voted to contribute $500 from the Guild's treasury and Beth Parrot got things rolling with a challenge to raise or contribute $50 each. Members and friends responded generously, including a gift of $200 from the Community and Global Mission Group at Circular Congregational Church. The 3-month weaving class for at least five new weavers is underway now. Thank you to all who participated. We'll continue to post pictures as we get them.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Guild Meeting July 18 -- Arianne King Comer

You'll want to be sure to make the July guild meeting to meet one of our newest members, Arianne King Comer, who will be presenting our program. Arianne is a multi-talented artist specializing in batik using the traditional indigo dye process to create batik paintings, wearable art, and decorative items. The picture is a detail from Arianne's depiction of a Gullah rendition of one of the Psalms that hangs across the back wall of the sanctuary of Charleston's Unity Church on Leed's Avenue.

A graduate of Howard University, Arianne has also studied textiles at the graduate level at Detroit Center of Creative Studies and Cranbrook Art Academy. She worked as a certified art teacher in Michigan before pursuing art full time and studying the indigo dye process on a United Nations grant in Oshogbo, Nigeria in 1992. She was the director of the Ibile Indigo House at Penn Center until 2004 and she relocated to Charleston in 2006.

Clearly Arianne is not only a gifted artist, but an experienced teacher as well. We understand she plans to let us try our hand at a dying process.

In August, we'll take a summer break and not meet formally. Alternative ideas under discussion are to either gather in someone's home at our regular meeting time on Saturday, Aug. 15, or to organize a field trip to visit the woolen mill in Jamestown. Let us know what you'd like to do.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Social Networking Site for Weavers and Spinners

Ravelry became such a popular networking site for knitters and crocheters that weavers and spinners sort of horned in and created groups that addressed their own interests. Now there's a new site built along the same vein as Ravelry, but specifically for handweavers -- it's Weavolution and it's brand new.

Weavolution was created by three experienced weavers, -- Tien Chiu in San Francisco, Claudia Segal who lives outside of DC and Allison Giachetti in Colorado. They dreamed of an online community of weavers from everywhere and one-stop-shopping to access all the weaving/spinning resources that are spread out all over the Internet. The site has been in development for well over a year and just launched on June 9.

Because it is so new, it is not quite as intimidating as Ravelry to jump into (there is no wait for your membership to be approved). To get started, just set up your profile (easy), post some pictures of things you've made (optional), join the Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild group that has already been established -- and look around to see what else is interesting to you.

You can find people who are using the same loom you are, or you can see what other people have made with your favorite yarn or your favorite pattern. Enter anything you'd like to know or see more about into the search field and you'll find tons of information. I found 7 - 8 weavers from South Carolina, looked at Peg from SC's blog, and saw that no one has posted any projects using one of my favorite yarns, a white nubby cotton called Queen Anne's lace.

Expect to encounter some technical glitches, lots of people way more experienced than you, lots of people with far more and far more sophisticated equipment than you have, but it is there for us to make of it what we want it to be. It can certainly be a vehicle for people who are looking to connect with handweavers in our area -- so for that reason alone, it is to our benefit to represent ourselves online as an active group interested in connecting with others -- because we are.

Have fun and let me know what you think of Weavolution.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Upcoming Guild Meeting -- June 20

Our program in June will be an afternoon of "Super Show & Tell". Bring your work -- what you're working now on or something you've recently completed. We'll take time to ooooh and ahhhh and hear some of the details about the materials you used and why, how you came up with your design, what you tried that you hadn't tried before and what you liked about it and what you didn't. It's always fun and inspiring to see the all different interests and talents that are within our group. We look forward to seeing you -- and to seeing your recent work and/or work in progress.

The word on the street is that Beth Parrot's Mini-sock Knitting Workshop on June 6 was a big success with six students, two of whom were brand new to sock knitting. Beth covered a lot of ground during the day, teaching two heels and explaining why she does a three-stitch garter band on either side of the heel. She also showed how to eliminate the hole at the gusset. Anyone know what "tinking" is? This group does -- and practiced doing it. If you know, send a comment and tell the rest of us!

Everyone was so busy knitting at the workshop, no one took any pictures. I hope someone will bring a mini-sock to Super Show & Tell, so we can get a snap and post it here.

The Guild is making good progress in our fundraising project for the Maseru Tapestries Cooperative in Lesotho, South Africa. They need $1,100 to train five new weavers who can help them double the capacity of the Cooperative. The Guild is contributing $500 from our treasury and as of this writing, has collected an additional $400 for the project. Our deadline is June 30, so if you haven't contributed yet, please bring a check to the meeting on June 20 or mail a check made out to the Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild, to P O Box 42119, Charleston, SC 29423.

A recent item in the paper indicated that Prince Harry of England is also concerned about improving the conditions in Lesotho. He and Lesotho's Prince Seeiso both lost their mothers when they were young and both of their mothers were involved in solving problems caused by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. So, in 2004, the two princes joined forces and founded Sentebale, (which means "Forget Me Not) an NGO for Lesotho's orphans and vulnerable children who are too often the forgotten victims of HIV/AIDS and poverty.

This 3 minute video shows Prince Harry and Prince Seeiso with children in Lesotho. It is worth watching to see a bit of the haunting beauty of the countryside and a great scene of Prince Seeiso dancing with a group of children. The women in the Masaru Tapestries Cooperative are raising children alone just like the ones you see here. Our contributions will give them a better chance to support their families in very difficult circumstances. Isn't it amazing how our common love of art and craft can knit and weave a safety net for another family in another place?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Fundraising for a Small, South African Weaving Cooperative

The Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild has agreed to contribute $500 toward the cost of training five women to weave for the Maseru Tapestries Cooperative in Lesotho, a small, landlocked country in South Africa, southeast of Johannesburg (Google maps). The area has a ready supply of wool and mohair, and weaving cooperatives are helping many women support their families in a region that, while politically stable, has lost nearly a third of its population to HIV/AIDS.

The Maseru Tapestries Cooperative currently has a steady, low-volume business providing for a few tourist craft outlets and handling periodic custom orders. Peace Corps volunteers have been working with the cooperative to help them improve their business practices and become more sustainable. One of their limiting factors is not enough trained weavers to produce the quantity of goods needed for long-term viability. Five additional weavers will double the capacity of the cooperative, allowing it to expand its business while providing livelihoods for families in need.

The cost of a 3-month training program for five women is $1, 100. The Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild will contribute $500 from the treasury of the Guild and will accept other donations through the end of June. Let's see how much of the needed $1,100 we can raise!

Beth Parrot has issued a challenge! She has pledged $50 to the project and she will raise it by our next meeting on June 20th by finding 4 others besides herself who will give $10 or, one other besides herself who will give $25 or, she will write a check for the entire $50 or, some other combination of her own money and finding others to contribute. She challenges each of us to do the same.

Checks should be made out to the Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild with Maseru Tapestries Cooperative indicated in the Memo line and mailed to: Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild, P O Box 42119 , Charleston, SC 29423 . Our Guild is not a tax exempt non-profit organization, so your contribution cannot be tax deductible, but we hope you will support this good cause anyway. We will let you know the results of the weaving training class and show you pictures of what the cooperative is able to do with more weavers.

Khotso, Pula, Nala! -- Peace, Rain, Prosperity!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Need a Loom?

If you are a member of the guild and are interested in any of the available looms listed here, use your membership roster and contact the person mentioned. If you are not a member of PFAG, leave a comment and we will put you in touch with the contact person.

Gert Sever wants to sell her 8 harness Baby Wolf. No high castle, no extras, just the loom. $900.00.

Michaela knows of a woman who is anxious to sell a 60" LeClerc jack loom -- 8 or 10 harnesses. It is worth at least $1500.00 but she will sell it for less.

A chance to own a piece of history! Middleton Plantation wants to sell a loom from their weaving shop that was built in the 1930s for the WPA (Works Progress Administration). It is a 4-harness counter balance, 45" floor loom made of fir with a sectional beam. The canvas on the front beam is in good condition. $300.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mini-Sock Class with Nationally Recognized Knitter, Beth Parrott

Mini-Sock Class with Beth Parrot
Saturday, June 6 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
The Meeting Place in North Charleston
$20 for PFAG Members
$30 for Nonmember
plus $7 materials fee.

Mark your calendars for Saturday June 6. The Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild will offer a day-long Mini-Sock Knitting Class by nationally recognized knitter Beth Parrot. Beth co-authored The Little Book of Socks with Charlene Schurch and will be teaching at John C. Campbell with Charlene in May. Beth lives in Charleston and is a member of Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild. We are pleased to make this affordable opportunity available to local knitters who have knitted socks already and to those who want to get in on the fun!

Participants should be able to cast on and knit. Yarn will be provided, but you should bring a set of 5 size 3 or 4 dp needles, (they often come in sets of 4, bring a spare so you will have 5 needles) a ruler, tape measure and/or a stitch gauge, small scissors, stitch markers and a tapestry needle.

The workshop will take place at The Meeting Place in North Charleston and the cost for the day will be $20 for Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild Members and $30 for non-members. Each person is also asked to pay a $7 materials fee (only $3 if you bring your own yard. Make it DK weight in a very light color or white

To register, print and mail the registration form before the May 29 deadline.

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Fiber Fact

As noted in the January 2009 issue of Martha Stewart Living, crocheters and knitters each made about 21 items in 2007, up from 17 in 2005. The favorite projects were scarves, afghans, and baby blankets. Source: The Craft Yarn Council of America.

Friday, March 27, 2009

One Weaver's Costa Rican Experience

Upcoming Guild Meeting -- April 18 -- 2:00 - 4:00 PM at The Meeting Place in N. Charleston.

At Colorado State University in the late 1990s, Heather Howell majored in Apparel & Merchandising with a concentration in natural fibers. As a senior, she designed an independent study project that took her to a remote Costa Rican village where, for four months, she lived with and learned from the ancient Borucan tribe known for their spun cotton and backstrap loom weavings. The tribe welcomed Heather's ability to coax more colors and more vibrant colors from native plants and indigenous materials and Heather grew in her atunement with the earth's natural processes and gifts. Today, Heather has three young children and a thriving home-based natural skin care business. It all started during that special time over 10 years ago in Costa Rica. At our meeting in April she will share her story of that time and show us examples of woven goods made in Costa Rica.

At our last two meetings, Vera Hannaford has been crocheting these afghan squares out of Kureyon Sock Yarn. She says the yarn sometimes behaves badly, but the beautiful colors make it worth the trouble. The next step in the process will be the addition of a bright blue border to tie it all together.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Upcoming Guild Meeting -- March 21

Our guest this month is Vera Hannaford, author of Vera's Crafty Blog - a local blog that details the on-going projects of one of Charleston's most prolific crochet-ers. If you knit or crochet, if you love yarns and patterns and finding new sources of both, you will find Vera to be a wealth of information and inspiration.

Vera combines her passion for a traditional craft many of us learned from our grandmothers with an up-to-the minute command of technology resources for crafters -- her internationally followed blog is just one case in point.

In January, our newsletter included a list of links and websites of interest to fiber crafters and artists. Vera will share how she uses these and other web tools -- and how the World Wide Web is making resources, tools and the people who inspire us easier to connect with all the time.

These felted baby booties were knitted with yarn spun from rabbit fur by Paula Ashworth.