Friday, October 18, 2013

The Walterboro Fiber Fair -- A Great Success

Dear Guild Members,

Thank you to all who supported our effort at the Walterboro Fiber Festival! That includes people who drove a good distance to drop in and check it out. It was a wonderful day. We made a great showing and got to know fiber folk from other areas.

The mission statement of our guild of educating the community to appreciate the fiber arts was very well carried out. In addition, it turned out to be a great way to celebrate Spinning and Weaving Week which fell Oct. 7 - 13 this year.

Our display table looked great and the demonstration areas were busy. We represented lace-making, felting, spindle and wheel spinning, table, rigid heddle, triangle, and floor weaving, needle work and loom knitting, dyeing, and tools (Dale's lovely wooden yarn bowls and spindles). WOW!

One visitor told me she had a "wonderful time, everyone was so warm and welcoming". She was speaking specifically about our Guild! Our diversity is part of our strength!

And indeed, the Walterboro Fiber Fair turned out to be a great event and a great match for all that our Guild is interested in and has to offer. Coordinated by the Colleton County Museum and Farmer's Market, the event combined the regular Saturday Farmer's Market with crafter's booths, fiber animal farmers, all manner of fiber arts demonstrations, fleece, roving, and lovely pieces made from handspun fibers.

Lovely hand spun yarns from a Colleton County farm.
Four or five local farms were represented where sheep, alpacas and/or rabbits are raised for their fiber. The bunnies were the only ones who got to attend this fair.
Mostly alpaca hand spun.
Hand knits from hand spun alpaca.
All the yummy fleece and yarn and handmade pieces co-mingled happily with local Colleton County Farmer's Market produce, which was equally beautiful.
Kelly & Dale Fort and Kayleigh Osborne keep pushing Pluff Mudd Fiber to the next level. Their product mix now includes, handspun art yarn, felted ornaments, knitted and woven goods, hand turned spindles and yarn bowls and hammered metal jewelry. Their tag line says it all "Tapped, Tatted, Twisted & Turned Art". Find them on Facebook.
As we moved into the demonstration shed to take some pictures, Sandy and Michaela were delighted to see Wendy Kohler, formerly very active with our Guild. We know Wendy to be a talented weaver and knitter. Here, she was trying out basketry. She promised to be back around to see us soon!

Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild members were out in force, demonstrating what we know how to do and giving others a chance to try new things. Cindy and Kathy were busy all day introducing visitors to their rigid heddle looms.
Ron Kimzey even wanted to take the rigid heddle for a test drive.
Here, Barbara shows a fiber fair visitor how bobbin lace is made.
Maria Luisa demonstrated a continuous strand technique on her triangle loom. She was putting the finishing touches on this shawl as the day came to an end.

Kayleigh taught a class on needle felting where participants made fall pumpkins!
This young man was interested in the spinning wheel so Peggy gave him a quick demo.
Kelly encourages a new spinner.
Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild members got to see demonstrations as well as give them. This woman's daughter was one of the sheep farmers participating. While her daughter showed and sold fleece and wool, she patiently spun most of the day.
And just one more picture from our good day at the Walterboro Fiber Fair -- Dale's lovely drop spindles, each signed, dated, numbered, and labeled as to the wood. And each comes with a starter bag of fleece!

Kudus to the folks in Waterboro who planned and coordinated this event (including Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild members, Susan and Ted Chewning). They said they were afraid they were in trouble when they realized some people thought a fiber fair was going to feature dietary supplements. (Yikes!)

The day was well attended and the mashup of a great location, fiber artists selling and demonstrating, farmer's market produce, local animal farmers, food vendors, and beautiful fall weather created a good vibe for everyone.

At the SC Artisan Center, just one building over from the Museum and Farmers Market, there was even more going on -- a juried art show and more featuring traditional fiber arts. This first time event has great potential for annual repeat performances and offers our Guild the opportunity to connect with the public and with fiber animal farmers. If they let us, we'll definitely be there next year!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Gullah Lady

Wow! September's program with The Gullah Lady was really something special.
Sharon Cooper Murray aka The Gullah Lady, meets Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild members as we arrive for our September meeting.
Here in the Lowcountry of the Palmetto state the intertwined histories of many different kinds of people overlap with geography and place in a truly unique way. Sharon Cooper Murray grew up in nearby Lake City. A chance visit to Wadmalaw Island resulted in her finding what felt like home to her in terms of the place, the people and all the intertwined histories.

She is a talented and natural storyteller. She told us wonderful stories that began with memories of   her own mother's quilting circle, and later stumbling upon a remarkably similar quilting group on Wadmalaw Island -- of learning from the ladies there an old practice that involved using a sharp bone or a nail to push strips of fabric through a burlap backing.

The traditional Gullah rag strip quilt utilized small bits of fabric too small for garments, towels, or pieced quilts.

As time went by and the number of ladies who made these strip quilts dwindled to -- none but her, Cooper Murray realized how important it was to preserve as much of the Gullah Geechee culture and practice as possible.

Sharon has become The Gullah Lady and her mission now is to preserve the disappearing folk practices she learned from elderly Gullah women on South Carolina's sea islands. Her vision is not only to preserve this tradition, but also to make it relevant to a contemporary audience. She has found one of the best vehicles for this is the "Community Rag Quilt Project".

Everywhere she goes now as she leads workshops about this vanishing culture she invites participants to add a few strips to the community quilt, linking the labor of their hands to each other and to the tradition. The colorful community quilt becomes fluffier and fluffier with each program she does. Of course, she didn't have to twist the arms of Fiber Arts Guild members to get us to do our bit!

Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild members add strips to The Gullah Lady's Community Quilt
Samples of more rag strip quilts.
 The remoteness of our sea islands helped to preserve a way of life that traced some of its characteristics back to the shores of Africa (Sharon told us Gullah may be a corruption of the word "Golla" referring perhaps to Angola.) The cultural nuances are complex and fascinating.

None of us came from that culture or tradition, but many of us could relate to remembrances of old ways of making things that aren't being done anymore -- of remembering the communities that formed around and sustained our grandmothers and great-grandmothers who often lived in some isolation and often poverty. Many of us have some fiber "treasure" that has been passed down to us - a quilt or coverlet -- and we know a story of who made it and how it was used.

Thank you to Sharon Cooper Murray for being with us and sharing your wonderful stories about this rich culture still alive right in our backyard. And thank you for letting us take part in this community quilt project and remembering it really is all about community!!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Sweet Scent of the End of Summer

A large group gathered for our Aug. 17 meeting after taking July off for summer vacation. Michaela did a great presentation about using readily available herbs, spices and dried plant material to make "sweet bags" to nestle in with stored woolens to discourage moths and other threatening insects.

Using a free form balance of lavender flowers, dried rosemary, mint, cloves, and sage, everyone make their own bag to take with them. Fun! And happy noses all around! (See more recipes at end of this post.)
 It should be noted that this method is effective to make your woolen clothing, accessories, or even your yarn stash, less attractive to troublesome insects, but it will not eradicate the critters once they have moved in on you.

The board has been active during the summer -- first steps have been taken to become an official non-profit organization and several board members have been exploring what our policies and practices should be about loaning out Guild equipment such as the looms we have and tools such as a drum carder.  Programs are lined up through the end of the year -- check the "What's Coming Up" box in the right column of this page.

Falling under the category of "Life's Just Not Fair", Barbara V. showed up at the meeting on crutches. We'll send healing thoughts -- and Barbara will do physical therapy. :-(

Handmade necklace

 It's always fun to get back together after our summer break and see what people have been up to. Kelly and Dale Fort spent a week at John C. Campbell Craft School in July. While Dale took more wood turning classes, Kelly took jewelry making. She found she liked pounding, scoring and welding metals and came home not only with new bracelets, earrings, and necklaces but also with her very own anvil.

Donna Hardy, who recently joined PFAG when she moved here from Georgia, is an avid dyer. She is growing indigo out on Johns Island this summer. Since indigo likes hot, humid conditions, her crop is doing really well -- over 10 feet tall, she says. In Handweavers Guild of America, Inc. Spring issue of Shuttle, Spindle and Dyepot, Donna reviewed a new book on natural plant dyes. (Michaela usually has spare copies of Shuttle, Spindle and Dyepot.) See Donna's review of The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes by Sasha Duerr on page 11.

Emily wore a  wonderful triangle shawl crocheted out of bundled cotton yarns in denim colors ranging from dark blue to white. Perfect for those times when it's not cold outside, but you get cold indoors because of over-active air conditioners!
Karen showed us a quilt that will be raffled at Downtown Crossing in Summerville in October to raise money for breast cancer prevention and research.

 As great as it was to see everyone, many of us found ourselves looking around the room and missing Jessica Jones. Sad for us, the Jones' have moved to Savannah. Good for them, though. They moved because Aron got a nice promotion.

Jess won our hearts by being willing to tackle anything -- hello. . . she build her own loom -- including the reed! She knits, she spins, she served on the board, she coordinated our bus trip to SAFF a couple of years ago -- AND she is Mom to Aurora and Genevieve whom we all loved getting to know -- and they both knit and spin and are willing to tackle anything. So. . . we're missing them all and wishing them the best as they settle into their new home. Lucky Savannah Guild. Please come back and visit us.

We miss you, Jessica!

There's lots coming up this Fall. Be sure to check all the pages of our blog -- there's a wonderful locally hand-made floor loom for sale on our Equipment for Sale page -- and a Knit and Crochet Show in Concord, NC (near Charlotte) in September for anyone who can't wait until SAFF in October. (see, Classes, Shows & Exhibits)
A world renown felter and teacher will be in Charleston in September and will offer a class of some kind if enough people are interested (contact Amy Buckley at )<!--[if gte mso 9]>
And watch your e-mail boxes for information about ways to participate in the Fiber Fair in Walterboro on October 12. There are opportunities to have very reasonably priced vendor tables, to do demonstrations, and to teach workshops -- like I said, watch your e-mail for more info on this fun day!

Sweet Bag Recipes

The one we used at the Aug. 17 meeting:
Spoon your preferred proportions into a small silk or muslin bag. Each bag should hold about two or three tablespoons.
Lavendar flowers
Rose Mary

A nice one to use for men's clothing:
2 oz. lemon verbena
1oz peppermint leaves
dried rind of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp of crushed (not powdered) cloves
1 Tbsp of orris root powder

Friday, June 14, 2013

May 18 -- Kristy Bishop

Kristy Bishop visited us to talk about dyeing and her experiences while acting as artist in residence.  She started out as a painter, but has transferred her love of color to the world of dyeing.

Kristy Bishop stands beside one
of her lovely pieces.  This piece
was a study in natural dyes.
During her residency, Kristy experimented with natural dyes, focusing on local plants.  While experimenting, she came up with the idea of creating recipe cards to track how she achieved various colors.  This sounds like a very good idea for those of us who tend to forget how we managed to make a beautiful color that we want more of!  Some of the plants that Kristy has used are sweet gum (a muddy green dye), tick seed (yellow), and various flowers- many of which were discarded from florist shops.

Throughout her residency, Kristy taught dyeing lessons to art classes at several schools.  Her main focus for these lessons was Shibori.  Apparently, while the students enjoyed the process and results, they did not appreciate the smell!

You can see the tables through
the fabric of this piece.
I wish I could have seen the
full installation!  
We were able to see some of Kristy's work from her latest show during the presentation.  One piece was a study in various natural dyes.  It was very interesting to see how many color variations she created and the finished product is beautiful.  This was accomplished by dyeing small pieces of fabric, then gathering it tightly and stitching it onto a canvas.  The other piece that we saw was part of a larger installation.  This stunning installation involved several different sized pieces of sheer fabric hung from embroidery hoops at different heights and depths within storage containers so that you can look through the various pieces to see the others behind them.   To dye the fabric, Kristy first folded it in various ways, then clamped rings such as mason jar lids to either side of the folded fabric, and finally dyed it with indigo.  This created a stunning pattern of  bright white within the dark and bright shades of blue.  The full installation must have been stunning!


Monday, May 20, 2013

The New Felting Group is Booming!

About a week ago, your primary blogger (Sandy) posted Marlene Gruetter's nice introduction. OK, confession time -- Marlene sent me every bit of that post months ago and I have been slow to actually turn it into a blog post. Well. . . Busted! 

 Apparently Marlene was in town, probably as I wrote, and she met with the new felting study group on Thursday, May 9. The day was inspiring -- members of the group sent me a write up on their day together AND sent pictures, so with no further delay, let me share what Guild members with a special interest in felting are up to. . .

Lead In: Judy Warren has recently convened a monthly felting group for people to get together and explore this versatile art process. The group usually meets on the 1st Thursday of the month from 10 am - 3 pm at the home/studio of Judy Warren. If you would like to attend, contact Judy at 

Here's the report I received this week:

The Felting Study Group met May 9 (Sandy interrupts one more time -- I think the study group generally meets on the 1st Thursday of the month, but probably changed up to accommodate Marlene's time in the area. Ok, I'll be quite, now) and started with a planning session regarding summer meetings, created a binder for future reference and, of course, enjoyed food together while we planned. (Garnette Tuten brought the most wonderful croissants from a French bakery on James Island for our "working lunch" as we did our planning.)

Then Marlene demonstrated the steps in making a small round felted vessel -- cutting the resist circle, laying fiber, decorating, turning it into felt, cutting an opening and finally, shaping. 
Fiber layout for a small round felted vessel
Happy felting lady
The vessel takes shape
Finished and Fenced
Froggy went a-felting!
 After lunch, Marlene helped each person create her own vessel. This was fun and a great learning experience. Those who were in attendance were: Garnette Tuten, Judy Warren, Marlene Gruetter, and Amy Buckley.

In previous sessions, we have made felt squares to discuss their quality and our techniques. We've also made geodes, beads, small coin purses, and flowers.  We plan to continue to advance by taking up nuno felting next.  As our experience and skills increase, we will do larger, more detailed, projects. 

(Sandy says thanks to the felting group for sharing such a good report -- looks like incredible fun!)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Hey Everyone, this is Marlene. . .

Marlene Gruetter is here to introduce herself to those of us who haven't met her yet. Though she lives in Ohio, she is back and forth to a second home in The Lowcountry, and as a "mad felter" has connected with our Guild and the new felting group. Welcome Marlene and thanks for letting us get you know you a bit more!

"As a new member, I would like to introduce myself to the guild.  My name is Marlene Gruetter and I currently reside on an 86 acre farm in Scottown, OH along with my husband Carl and a clan of dogs, cats, chickens, horses, pigs, goats and sheep.   Up until last year we raised and bred the Angora goats, Wensleydale sheep and llamas.  But due to health issues we downsized our herd and now only have a few of the “old guys and dolls” hanging out.  

Through the love of my fiber animals I was introduced to various fiber media, and when I was led into feltmaking, it became my obsession and primary media of choice.  A few years ago Carl built me a small studio next to our cabin. This increased “space” allowed me to experiment, develop and create complex projects which eventually led me to artistically develop a unique felting style which I call Shambolic™ Felt.  

This style involves the combination of wool/silk (nuno felting to those familiar to the term, but there are distinct differences between the classic nuno and Shambolic™ Felt.  My work includes ripped up recycled silk garments and the incorporation of all the elements which the garment offers (sequins, serger hem, labels, etc). My focus is primarily on wearables – full lengths coats, jackets, vests, dresses, scarves and handbags. 
In addition to creating felt, I enjoy teaching feltmaking (beginner to advanced) both locally and nationally, conducting presentations to fiber groups and writing articles for fiber magazines.  My website is and I hope you will visit the site to see some of my creations.

My connection with Charleston SC? -- A few years ago Carl and I visited the Charleston area as a quick first visit on the way home from a family visit in Florida and we fell in love with the area. When we returned home we talked occasionally of how Charleston would be a great place to retire.  So, this past year we trekked down (a few times) and with the assistance of a wonderful realtor we purchased a beautiful two bedroom condo at Pelican Pointe near Folly Beach in May 2012. 

And how I found the fiber guild? -- During one of our visits to the condo I forgot to bring wool with me.  I decided to search the internet for area stores which might carry merino roving.  As I was searching I ran across the guild and thought some guild member could help direct me to a retail store.  I contacted Lynn (Holland) and left a message asking about where to buy wool and she responded with some possible sources. Through our conversation she invited me to attend a future meeting.  I was thrilled and became a member immediately.  Currently, I can only visit “every now and then” but when the visits are in sync with guild meetings I definitely will be attending.  If there are ways which I can help with the guild from a distance, I am eager to do so. 

Please feel free to email me anytime.  My address is .

I do hope I get to meet everyone in the future and it is a pleasure to be part of this guild.
scarf and handbag