Saturday, November 6, 2010

Charleston -- Arts and Crafts Shows Galore

You may have noticed, but the skinny column to the right is a wealth of information and pictures. There's a great little section that changes regularly called "What's Coming Up." Along with meetings and guild events, we've tried to use that area to announce exhibits and shows our members are participating in. Here are a few pictures from a couple I've been able to attend recently.

The Hands & Heart Project was sponsored by the Charleston Area Senior Center downtown and featured work by local female artists who are over age 50. Arianne King Comer participated with a wonderful variety of her work. Wraps, scarves, ties, lampshades, and painting (you know she's painting on silk, right?) were just some her offerings.

Arianne is a batik and indigo artist with many accolades to her name. She also teaches -- often giving young people who struggle to express themselves a new, unexpected way of doing just that.

 This painting by Arianne was part of the South Carolina Palmetto Hands Fine Crafts Exhibition juried show at this year's North Charleston Arts Festival and was one of 14 pieces selected to be part of the state's Traveling Exhibits Program this year.

For our program at our Nov. 20 Guild meeting, Arianne will speak to us about "The Gift of Our Creativity." What a good topic at the very beginning of the holiday season. This Thanksgiving, we will be thankful for our ability to be creative and to enjoy the creativity of others.

The second show I attended was the famous Holiday Craft Show at the home of Anita Sloane on James Island. Anita's house is located on a beautiful setting on the Clark Sound. For this show, all of her furniture is relegated to the upstairs to make way for crafters' displays throughout the downstairs and spilling out onto the sunporch.

 The always effervescent Anita, has her holly on as she rings up my purchases. I bought a lovely 10-inch dried flower wreath, a sea-shell wreath, and two bundles of lavender. I later came back with more -- some Christmas ornaments and a loaf of pumpkin bread! 

This show is huge -- close to 30 crafters participated -- there was jewelry, pottery, stuffed toys, Charleston-themed crafts, painted trays, plus lots of Christmas items. And this year, there was even food! Anita's daughter-in-law was the cook -- I asked which one she was and Anita told me "She's the cute one."

You can tell I'm a fiber-girl, because with everything at this show, Anita's knitting was my favorite thing -- she had hats and scarves using lots of beautiful and fun novelty yarns that made you want to touch -- and she also had a lot of shrugs and wraps that I especially liked.

There's one more day on this show. You can go tomorrow, Sunday the 7th from 1:00 - 5:00 PM. It got me in the spirit -- and believe me, I'm usually resistant until Thanksgiving is over and the leftovers are gone.

There will be tons of craft shows and art exhibits coming up in the next few weeks. If you are participating in one, or know of one you think our members would find particularly interesting, let me know and I'll put it in our list of "What's Coming Up."

Friday, October 15, 2010

The 1st Annual Fall Fiber Workshop -- A Big Success

Everyone agreed this should become a yearly event, so I'm now referring to last Saturday's workshop as "The 1st Annual. . ."
Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild member Jessica Jones built her own loom. For the frame, she used wood from a discarded cedar chest. The 10-dent reed was painstakingly constructed using bamboo strips.The string heddles color-code each harness (brilliant idea!) and there's even a built in warping board on the side.

It was a pretty fall day. Our meeting room was comfortable. We had more food than we could possibly eat. We had said we hoped for 30 people. We ended up with 31 and one couldn't come (hmmm, how's that for "The Power of Goal Setting". . .)

Because of wide-spread publicity, we now have seven new guild members -- all interested in some or all of the fiber arts we featured -- knitting, weaving, spinning, wool rug making, and felting.

Beryl Tippin was our instructor for the day and she was awesome!. She spent the morning doing just we'd asked, covering the basics of raw fiber -- the different fiber animals, unique qualities of the fleece of different animals and of different breeds of sheep, the best parts of a fleece to use for spinning, and how to evaluate raw fleece we might consider buying. Certainly anyone who attended this morning session can now attend Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair in Asheville later in the month and shop for raw fiber and fleece with more confidence. 

We were amazed when Beryl took a piece of raw fleece --  rolled it between her fingers, sniffed it, held it to her ear while she pulled until the fiber snapped--and announced that about nine months before shearing, this sheep had run a fever and not eaten for several days. That brief illness and time "off her feed" left lingering evidence in the shorn wool.

However, those of us with teenage boys were not all that surprised to learn that it's pretty easy to take a whiff and know when  fleece is from a ram rather than a ewe. There's no mistaking the scent of that testosterone!

Would it surprise you to know that there was a lot of knitting going on while we listened to all this good information?

Here is Beryl's "Sample Board" with over 100 four-inch-squares knitted from a variety of fiber sources --  each one labeled. There's all the sheep breeds plus other fiber animals including alpaca, llama, rabbits, goats, a very soft cat named "Jezebel", several dog breeds, and a rough, scratchy swatch made from horse hair.

Our afternoon was spent needle-felting. This gave everyone a chance to get our hands on fiber and play with color and design.
This was lots of fun!
Most of us weren't sure what we would come up with when we started, but eventually, designs and concepts came together -- some concrete and some more abstract. Lynn struck a nice balance with her bird on a colorful background.

This time we did needle felting, but wet felting is another technique. Here is a "wool painting" Beryl did with that process,. Embellishments added with needle felting also add a third dimension to the piece.
On the sides you can see some of Beryl's knitted toys peeking out. Since she retired, she says she is enjoying knitting for the special young ones in her life. And of course, along with "people" dolls, she has knitted a whole menagerie of farm animals, bugs, snails, vegetables, and flowers.

This workshop showed us what a well-rounded fiber arts guild we really are. Our own members shared their special skills throughout the day and together, we are accomplished in a wide range of fiber arts including weaving, knitting, spinning, felting, plus wool rug making!
Dale Fort is going way beyond braided wool rugs with the standing wool rug technique he was introduced to over the summer at a Maine workshop. He admits he's figuring it out as he goes, but this rug is growing quite handsome. He cuts wool in 3/4/" strips, stacks several strips on top of each other, then starts at one end and rolls tightly, stopping occasionally to stitch the layers together using strong thread and a curved needle. You can see Dale has a good sense of design as his combination of wool discs vary in size, color, and texture. I can't wait to see how this piece evolves!

There was a 4-harness floor loom set up on the screened-in porch, but inside, Cindy also saw a lot of interest in her more portable, easier to warp, rigid heddle loom. When she wasn't fielding questions about the loom, she was demonstrating spinning with a drop spindle -- and there was also a lot of interest in her I-Pad!
Aurora Jones is getting quite good at spinning with the drop spindle.

Beth Parrott is our go-to member for all things knitted -- but her special love and her widest renown is for  knitted socks and sock patterns. She has co-authored two books that would be great Christmas gifts for any knitter you know.  The socks above are samples knitted for the photographs in Beth's books

The Little Box of Socks is literally a box which contains 20 individual cards each with instructions for a sock pattern. You can carry only the card you're working on and leave the rest in the box!. Each instruction card is on a heavy, glossy, card stock, and opens like a greeting card. The instructions are great and so is the photography.
Sock Club: Join the Knitting Adventure is Beth's newest book. It is a paperback and includes 23 sock patterns contributed by sock clubs. These patterns are not widely available outside of clubs so this is a good book to give someone who may already have a book with sock patterns. There is also interesting information about each sock club featured.

Other talents we saw from our members on Saturday included beautiful felted birds made by DeDee Regan and Kelly Fort showed all comers how to operate her spinning wheel. Most people who attended the workshop found others doing fiber arts they were familiar with and also met people doing things new. This variety of interest and skill is one of our guild's strengths. 

Finally, we raffled off two nice items . A knitted, child's hat with a cute felted flower and a year's subscription to any of the Interweave Press publications. We raised $45 that will be sent to the weaving coop in Lesotho that we enjoy an ongoing relationship with.
It was our first attempt at a day-long workshop. We didn't know how it would be received or if it would be a valuable experience for enough people to ever try again. I think we surprised ourselves with our success in terms of attendance and participation. The organization and cost was manageable for our group, and we learned some things that will help next time we plan something similar. So, we should all be thinking of what we'd like to do NEXT!

Friday, September 10, 2010

What We Did Over Our Summer Vacation

Summer doesn't mean three months of vacation for many of us anymore but it is still a time when our routine changes a bit. We might travel more or, since we live in a place that is a popular vacation destination for everyone else, we might just have more company. New experiences and new influences tend to feed our creative souls. Here are summer fiber highlights from a few of us:

Kelly and Dale Fort planned their summer vacation around their shared interest in fiber arts. In June, they traveled to New England where they attended weekend classes at the Pleasant Mountain Fiber Workshop in Maine. 

Kelly got to practice several new spinning and drafting techniques in a "Beyond the Basics" spinning class. 

This medallion is the beginning of Dale's project in a class he took on Standing Wool Rugs. This technique is from the early 1800s and is done by manipulating wool strips in various ways to make a super-plush rug. Dale will be at our October workshop with samples of this and other wool rug techniques he has explored.

Garnette had the very satisfying experience of beginning and completing a project over the summer. She not only crocheted this cheerful, contemporary baby blanket as a gift for an expecting co-worker, the design is hers as well. Admirably, it is finished before the baby arrives.

Cindy Cooksey's job as a scientist with NOAA had her on a ship monitoring the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico for much of the summer. But during her time at home, she continued to enjoy her rigid-heddle loom. Combining new and old technologies, she made this case for her I-Pad using sock yarn for warp and weft. The lighter edge at the top of the case is a homespun yarn Cindy made earlier with her drop spindle.

The back of the I-Pad's case has different colors in the weft. In this picture, the I-Pad itself is tucked inside, out of sight. Cindy made her case fit snug and she lined it with a synthetic microfiber that cleverly cleans the screen as the I-Pad is taken in and out.

As the summer came to a close, Michaela was happy to go to her mailbox and find two copies of Peggy Osterkamp' s new book Weaving for Beginners  finally hot-off-the-press. One copy is for her to place in our Guild Lending Library, but the other one is Peggy's gift to Michaela with a handwritten thank you note penned onto the title page. Every author needs trusted SMEs (Subject-Matter-Experts) who will read early drafts and gently suggest edits and this is how Michaela contributed to Peggy's latest book. Michaela is mentioned in the book's Acknowledgments along with Madelyn Van der Hoogt and a host of other nationally known weaving teachers and authors.

 I came into my own summer highlight when I came into a huge stash of yarn that once belonged to a  special weaver friend from years ago in North Carolina. Mrs. Ashby, the wife of a much-loved college professor, was the first weaver I knew who was an artist, as opposed to someone who wove useful things. By coincidence, in that way that makes you wonder if anything is just a coincidence, I have gotten to know the Ashby's daughter here in Charleston. She doesn't weave or knit and has had her mother's yarn packed away for years. She offered it all to me and the day I picked it up, I became a wealthy woman. Cones and skeins of beautiful wools, textured cottons, silks, jute. . .  It has taken quite a bit of reorganization and culling of my own stash, but I have found a home in my loom room for nearly all of it. The picture above is tag ends of multicolored mohairs.

We know of other summer highlights but don't have the photos -- While in New Jersey, Lynn Holland bought some lovely wool/tencel for a scarf -- maybe two. Jessica Jones finished knitting a sweater with yarn she bought at The Village Knittery in Summerville after the owner, Emily Spearman, spoke to us at our meeting in April. And Amy Buckley came upon a wonderful yarn shop when she was in Nova Scotia. Of course this is where she bought her best souvenirs from that trip!

Summer was good, but fall is now upon us. Today, I put my check in the mail for our Fiber Workshop on October 9. Why don't you do the same thing, so we can look forward to what is sure to be this season's fiber related highlight for all of us!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fall Fiber Workshop -- Oct. 9

For all those interested in spinning, weaving, knitting, felting, and more!

Fall Fiber Arts Workshop
9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
James Island County Park

Beryl Tippen, former New England Shepherdess, frequent judge at sheep shows, coordinator of countless sheep-to-shawl events, currently living in Calabash, NC and teaching knitting in the Myrtle Beach area, will lead sessions on:

Breeds of Sheep for Spinning/Knitting
Preparing and Working with Raw Fiber
Painting with Wool (a needle felting technique)

Give yourself a day to nurture your creative spirit with fellow fiberart-lovers in a beautiful, Lowcounty setting.
There will be demonstrations of weaving on rigid heddle and floor looms, rug braiding, spinning with wheels or with drop spindles, and more.

PFAG Members: $20     Non-Members: $35
Fee includes materials, gate entrance and lunch

Print out, complete and mail to register by Oct. 1

Monday, July 5, 2010

June, July, and August

 "If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to serve as a horrible warning."

It is hard to be an effective blogger when you are such a crummy photographer! Not only can I not take very artful, or even technically good, pictures, but all too often, I don't take any at all! Such was the case at our June meeting which should have been a treasure trove of wonderful shots of a larger than usual group of us trying our hands at spinning with drop spindles.

Jessica Jones had everything we needed to get started. For those of us who didn't have one already, she helped us fashion a simple drop spindle, gave us a bit of information and demonstrated over and over again – and then we were off. Some already knew how and had the hang of it, some picked it up quickly, some of us, (ahem) floundered, and took heart from everyone who promised it would happen for us, too.

Long after we had left and my camera was far away from anyone who could have provided a pretty sample of what it was supposed to look like, I spread my lumpy results on a towel and took this picture. A little embarrassing, but maybe later I can post another picture that shows progress.

Thank you Jessica for such a fun program, thanks to all who brought spindles, fleece, and roving to share, and thanks to Amy for opening the conference room at the Charleston Water System Department for us to meet. It was a great room. Wish you weren't planning to retire this fall!

Coming up July 17

Anne Ball has invited us back to her house for an afternoon of beading. This was a fun afternoon when we did it in February – this time Anne says she'll teach us something new, or we can each look through her books and pick out something we'd like to make. She'll have seed beads, thread, and needles on hand. If you have a beading mat, (or a small tray you can line with a piece of felt or 1/2 inch foam) bring it along.

Like many groups, we are relaxing a bit during the summer, but this is our regular guild meeting time --  the 3rd Saturday of the month from 2:00 - 4:00 PM. I will send Anne's West Ashley address to members in a separate e-mail, but if you would like to visit with us on the 17th, leave a comment here or contact Sandy at or at 843-766-0752 and I'll help you out with directions.

August and Beyond

We will be taking a break in August but we'll still be in touch. The board is busy planning a one-day fall retreat that will focus on preparing and working with raw fiber. Details to come, but for now, please plan on joining us on Saturday October 9 from 9:00 - 3:30 at James Island County Park.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Coming Up in June. Drop Spindle Spinning

So far this year, we've explored beading, bookmaking, visited the Avery Center to see their exhibit on Sweetgrass baskets (so far everything starts with a 'B'!) and learned a bit about watercolor quilting. In June, we will continue our experiential romp through the fiber arts with a program on Drop Spindle Spinning. This is your chance to learn the secrets of turning a fat wad of fluff into, miraculously -- a thread!

Please plan to join us Saturday, June 19 from 2:00 - 4:00 PM in the conference room at the Charleston Water Systems Department on St. Philips St. in downtown Charleston (more about this location at the end).

At the North Charleston Farmers Market in April, visitors were amazed to see the spinning process. Here, Genivieve Jones uses a drop spindle .

Jessica Jones will show us how it's done and we'll get to see some fleece Jessica has recently bought-- literally right off the sheep from a farmer in Beaufort County who recently sheared his flock.

For this program we need you to RSVP so Jessica will have enough supplies on hand for us. For those who don't have their own drop spindle, Jessica will bring materials for us to fashion one that will have us spinning thread before the afternoon is over.  Just leave a comment here or send a quick "Yes, I'm coming, No, I don't have a spindle." message to:

Like Goldilocks, we continue to move around to find ideal, available meeting space. Amy Buckley has invited us to try out the conference room where she works -- the Charleston Water Systems Department. It is a good size room, it's centrally located downtown, and has free parking. Thank you Amy! The building is located at 103 St. Philip St.on the corner of St. Philip and Vanderhorst (click here for map). Enter the parking lot from Vanderhorst. The entrance is to the left of the drive-in window.

See you there!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Watercolor Quilting

The May 15 Guild meeting will be interesting and fun for anyone who enjoys "playing" with color.

Lynn Holland will share 'Watercolor Quilting" with us. This is essentially painting with fabric (that's with fabric, not on fabric) to achieve a quilt that makes you think of an impressionistic painting.

Watercolor quilt projects are often sold as kits – and often done as wallhangings – but Lynn will show us how to go about designing our own projects and she will bring her "masterpiece" for us to see – a full-size bed quilt – it is just amazingly beautiful!

We'll hear all about the best kinds of fabric to use, design strategies, cutting options, and general sewing instruction for assembling the final product. And yes, Lynn will bring fabric squares so we can try our hand at laying out our own design.

All of this will take place on Saturday, May 15, from 2:00 - 4:00 PM at the downtown library at 68 Calhoun Street, upstairs in Meeting Room B. The first hour of parking in the deck under the library is free – and additional time is $1.00 per hour.

As always we look forward to seeing you all, and visitors are encouraged and welcome!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ideas for PFAG Meeting Space?

At my church they talk about the "spiritual discipline" of hospitality -- that gift of making the people around you feel comfortable and welcome. The Unity Church in Charleston has certainly been gracious in their hospitality to us and we have appreciated them allowing us to meet at the church and also to crash their gates a couple of times when we were unexpectedly locked out of The Meeting Place space in North Charleston. 

The Meeting Place forgot we were coming once to often and we finally terminated our agreement with them to use The Meeting Place regularly. In the beginning, it seemed like a good plan, but the reality was that it was hard for them to be sure someone opened and closed the space for us on a weekend -- and when they didn't, we were left on the sidewalk scrambling to devise a Plan B before our group dispersed disappointed in our inability to be organized.

So, we are without a regular place to meet and will be bouncing around like Goldilocks trying different options until we find something that feels "just right." We appreciate members who have invited us into their homes this year -- and this month, we'll try out the centrally located downtown library.

If anyone knows of possible meeting places we might try, we'd love to hear about them. We come from many different directions, so if not centrally located, then at least easy access to major roads is good. Space for at least 20 to spread projects out on tabletops is ideal. And of course, parking is important. Thanks for any ideas as we search for a new home. In the meantime, we'll enjoy the opportunity to ramble around town a bit.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"Women's Meeting"

 Women's Meeting
A Gift to the Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild from the Maseru Tapestries Cooperative in Lesotho

At the end of March, Guild member Linnie Trettin received this message from her husband Carl, who was working in Africa.
I went to the Maseru Weavers today, and they did have a "gift" for the Charleston Fiber Arts Guild. I'm sure the Guild will appreciate the recognition. It's entitled "Women's Meeting." One of the trainees did the piece, which I thought was quite an accomplishment.

Our Fiber Guild met Carl and Linnie when they came to a meeting last May and shared the story of the Maseru Weaving Cooperative and showed us samples of  tapestries made by a small group of women in the African country of Lesotho. Carl's work with the Department of Labor takes him to the area with some regularity. He had become a fan of the fine weavings produced by this small cooperative -- and he had become aware of the barriers they faced to increase their capacity to be able to operate on a more sustainable business model.

By American standards, a relatively small amount of money was needed to train additional weavers so the cooperative could fill more orders and serve more customers. Our Guild decided to help out.
 A member of the Maseru Tapestries Cooperative at work

When the women in Lesotho learned financial assistance was on the way, they immediately made arrangements for an instructor and began to recruit students. Women began to jockey for a place in the class as soon as they heard it would be offered. One woman was so eager to learn a skill through which she could earn an income that she came to the coop daily before the class ever started, and began to learn by watching the other members at their looms. Her initiative earned her a spot in the weaving class that started at the end of July.

Within six weeks, our Guild raised over $800 and contributed another $500 from our treasury -- a tiny bit more than was requested.

 First you make your plan, then you warp. . .

Our contributions helped this young woman take a 3-month tapestry weaving class to become a part of the Maseru Weaving Cooperative. The simple loom propped against the wall has the warp strung over nails at the top and bottom of a wooden face. The "cartoon" taped behind the warp gives the weaver her  pattern to follow.

 Here is her completed tapestry. 

New Weavers -- New Coop Members

These are the students who completed the training class and joined the Maseru Tapestries Cooperative. It is hard to believe these tapestries were made by "beginners."

As Carl's message to Linnie indicated, the students have made and sent us the beautiful hanging seen at the beginning of the post as a thank you gift. It has arrived and we cannot wait to show it off to you personally. You will be amazed at the fine work and the vibrant colors.

Since we do not have a permanent "home" where we can hang our tapestry, we will investigate the possibilities of a small scale "traveling exhibit" to various galley and display spaces in the Charleston area. Our connection with weavers across the world is a good story to share with the larger community.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Resources for Spinners

Several members responded when we asked about favorite resources for spinners. The websites they told us about not only offer all you could ever need for spinning but many of them are beautiful to look at as well.

Paradise Fibers -- Here they sell everything for spinners, knitters and weavers AND they donate 2% of their annual profits to preserve fiberarts traditions. Check them out.

Crown Mountain Farms -- Another very nice site catering to spinners and knitters. Their BFL is said to be just incredible.

If you want pre-dyed wool dyed by real people there are lots of choices available on Etsy -- plus you gotta love that you're supporting small business owners. Just search for "Fleece" under "Supplies."  One Etsy business that was specifically mentioned is Fiber Fancy. Our member said they have amazing hand-dyed Punta and Falkland.

International Fleece -- this company  "imports unique, beautiful fibers from around the globe to provide new, exciting opportunities for fiber artists." The PFAG spinner who recommended this site says she hasn't bought from them yet -- but she's heard good things about them and she's impressed with their selection.

Of course the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair (SAFF) held each fall in Asheville was mentioned. This year the dates are Oct. 22 - 24.

To shop local, go to Local Harvest.  You can shop for spinning fiber and specify a geographical range to support those who raise and care for animals close to you.

Kristin Nicholas lives on a sheep farm in western Massachusetts and designs, and knits, and paints and teaches and does a million creative things. Her blog is always fun to look at and right now, they have new lambs on the farm. Worth bookmarking for a regular look-see.

That's our list for now. If you know of additional resources we could share with Lowcountry spinners, we'd love to hear them.

Monday, April 5, 2010

What Is Involved in Owning a Craft Business?

Have you ever dreamed of having your own craft business? Wouldn't it be awesome to spend your days surrounded by your chosen crafting materials and tools, and meeting people who share your passion? What if encouraging creativity in others was your "day job?"

Added bonus: You might actually have a chance to finish some of the many projects you've started and time to start more of those projects that you never seem to be able to move past the idea stage.

At our Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild meeting on April 17, our guest is living this very dream. Emily Spearman opened Summerville's The Village Knittery (pictured above) in 2008 and has created a thriving business which has also become a community center and classroom for the area's knitters and crocheters. Her website tells us:

"The Village Knittery is more than a yarn shop. It's a place to relax, to share and to celebrate the joys of creating. We cherish the history of knitting, while embracing the future of the fiber arts."

Now, doesn't this sound like someone you'd like to know? We're delighted to have Emily join us on the 17th to share her experience in becoming the proprietress of one of Charleston's favorite LYSs (local yarn shops). I'm sure she'll find us to be a group of like-minded souls and we'll be inspired to hear how she transformed her dream into her job.

In our on-going effort to build our own crafting community, our meeting on April 17 will be a pot-luck brunch at the home of Lynn Holland in Summerville. Bring a dish to share and we'll start at 11:30. We'll let Emily talk to us early so she can get on back to her shop -- Saturdays are busy days there. Afterwards there will be time to enjoy each others' company and we'll share what we've been making lately. (So bring your latest project along.) Several members have been to the John C. Campbell Folk School recently so we look forward to hearing about their experiences there.

As always, all are welcome. If you've never been to one of our meetings, this would be a great one to begin to get to know us. We are a friendly, sometimes noisy group, diverse in our range of interests and skills. We enjoy a wide range of fiber arts. In getting together regularly, we each sometimes find ourselves teaching others and sometimes learning something brand new.

And one more important note: If your life is crazy busy and you can find time to make it to the meeting, but you can't manage bringing a dish -- please come anyway and let us feed and nurture you just a little bit. Based on prior experiences with this group, there will be no shortage of food. We'd rather have you join us than anything and no one will be checking that you bring a plate as you come through the door!

We won't publish Lynn's address here, but if you'd like to join us and need directions, contact Sandy Hutchinson at or 843-766-0752.

Thanks to Lynn for having us again. We enjoyed a similar meeting at her house in December and decided it was worth repeating!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sweetgrass at the Avery Center

For our Guild meeting on Saturday, March 20, we'll meet at the Avery Research Center for African-American History and Culture for a special tour of their current exhibit entitled Sweetgrass: A Living Legacy of Families and Communities .  The focus of the exhibit is the baskets themselves and the intergenerational relationships between basket makers whose art connects them to past generations back to Africa. Click here to see a recent article in the Post & Courier about the exhibit and local basket makers.

The Avery Center is located at 125 Bull Street in downtown Charleston. Free parking is available behind the Center. There is no charge to enter the Center or see the exhibits. As an added bonus, at this time the Center  also has an exhibit on local painter, Jonathan Green whose work will be familiar to almost everyone.

Thanks go to Garnette Tuten for making the contact at the Avery Center. She and Kelly Fort will meet our group at the entrance to the Center between 1:45 - 2:00 PM. Let's use our e-mail lists to coordinate carpools to avoid taking so many cars into downtown.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Artists' Books

The Guild will meet on February 20 at our regular meeting place -- The Meeting Place at 1077 E. Montague Ave. in the historic business district of North Charleston.
Our own member, Linnie Trettin, will present our program on a fiber art that holds endless possibilities for beginners and the experienced -- artists' books. Since most of us are unfamiliar with book arts, this will be a wonderful introduction -- an overview of techniques, formats and structures used in producing artists' books along with materials used and opportunities to learn more
A search in Google Images resulted in a fascinating variety of examples -- just a few are here to intrigue you. Linnie tells me artists' books may  include traditionally bound books, pop ups, and accordion structures. Some are computer generated and others are completely hand-crafted with stitching, beading, metal and woodwork, and fiber arts. Some artists alter existing books in interesting ways and some create one-of-a-kind objects. Linnie warns that we might even come to surprising conclusions about what constitutes a "book."
Linnie is our "inside" member who connected us to the Masaru Tapestries Cooperative in Lesotho, South Africa. She will take a few minutes and give us an update on the progress the Coop has made to increase their production capacity by training new weavers. We might want to think about how we, as a Guild, can continue to build our relationship with this group. Even though they are far away, our shared knowledge of fiber arts is a common thread that connects us to them.

Saturday the 20th, from 2:00 - 4:00 PM will be an interesting and fun. Hope to see you there!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Study Group for Weavers Forming

Fiber Guild meetings cover a wide range of fiber arts as evidenced by our last two meetings -- in November we did some needle felting and in January we had a wonderful winter afternoon around Anne Ball's dining room table exploring bead weaving. We have a contingent of new and experienced handweavers in the guild and since looms are not always very portable it is sometimes difficult for a two hour program to address this group's desires to build their skills beyond an introductory session.

To solve this problem, Michaela, certainly one of the more prolific weavers among us, will convene a study group for weavers to meet at her house, the 1st Wednesday of the month from 7:00 - 9:00 PM beginning next week, February 3. The group will meet regularly and the sessions will be progressive, so it is a wonderful opportunity to gain a better grasp of weaving basics, explore weaving techniques in depth, and develop more confidence in our abilities to tackle a variety of projects.

If you are interested, contact Sandy at or contact Michaela directly. Participants should commit to regular attendance, and be willing to complete homework assignments between group sessions. A $10 materials fee will collected at the first session.

In the first session, Michaela will share her ideas for the group and the group will make some choices about topics to include in later sessions. The evening will focus on Warps and Setts.

Thanks to Michaela for offering this group to encourage local weavers to develop more weaving skills and to get to know each other better by meeting together regularly.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Best Sources of Yarn for Weavers

A new weaver recently asked where to buy yarn. She had been in a local knit shop and wondered if that was her best source. To quote Michaela,"It's possible to use knitting yarns as weft, but even that isn't recommended.  They are fine for an accent yarn, but usually are too stretchy for warp and are really expensive to buy from shops."

In fact, most of us are buying yarn on-line but it is understandable that someone new to this wants a place where they can see and touch. We recommend starting slowly. A quick poll of the weavers in our guild resulted in this list of favorite sources for yarn. 


(Downtown Asheville, NC)

The member who recommended this company has not yet bought anything from them, but she likes what she sees on their website.

(Murphy, NC -- close to John C. Campbell Folk School)

  always worth checking

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Today is Distaff Day -- Let 2010 Begin!

A "tweet" by Weavolution caught my eye today. It tells me that in European cultural traditions, today; January 7 - the first day after the feast of Epiphany, is Roc Day, or Distaff Day. It is the day weavers and spinners return to their looms and their wheels after the holidays. The distaff or rock, used in spinning, was the medieval symbol of women's work. Today, some modern-day crafters' groups have incorporated Distaff Day into their New Year's celebrations. It is a good day for us to begin our 2010 year.

Please plan to join us Saturday, January 16, from 2 - 4 PM for our first Guild meeting of the year. Our own Anne Ball will present our program on Peyote Stitch -- a form of bead weaving. We will meet at Anne's house and work around her dining room table. As with other popular hands-on Guild programs, Anne will show us samples of her work to give us an idea of what is possible, then give us some basic instructions -- and then let us try our hand at bead weaving in this style.

If you would like to attend as a guest, please know you are welcome. Contact Sandy at for additional information. If you are a member and know someone who would enjoy this program, please do bring them or encourage them to come.

The business portion of our meeting will be brief to allow as much time as possible to learn Peyote Stitch. It is, however, time for most of us to renew our annual membership in the Guild. Please bring $25 or a check made out to PFAG to take care of dues for the 2010 year. Garnette will ask you to complete a quick form to update your contact info at that time. 

Announcement #1 The PO Box for the Guild has been relocated to a more convenient location for the current officers. The new mailing address is  P O Box 31341, Charleston, SC 29417. If you ever need it, you can find it in the footer of this blog page. 

Announcement #2 Anne needs to know how many people to expect for her bead weaving program on Jan. 16, so please respond to the e-mails that go out before Wednesday, January 13 -- or leave a comment at the end of this message.  

We look forward to seeing as many of you on the 16th as possible. Until then, stay warm!