Wednesday, December 31, 2014

PFAG Expresses Appreciation for Michaela McIntosh

Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild 
Ten Years & Growing!

This year, with very little to-do, Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild, reached its 10th anniversary. At our year-end holiday pot-luck, we gathered at Michaela's house and celebrated that birthday -- and to her surprise, we also took a bit of time to express our appreciation to Michaela -- for her efforts to found the Guild and for the way she has supported and served the organization and nurtured all of us for these ten years.
Happy 10th Anniversary to Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild. And Thank You, Michaela!
There was a group of people who were instrumental in the founding and the establishment of the Guild, but they did not start to organize or meet together before Michaela moved to town, and all of them have now moved away or moved on.  Michaela has been "the one" from the beginning with the vision and the unflagging faith in us.

Many know her well, for for those who don't yet, Michaela had a full accomplished life before she ever moved to Charleston. Her former husband was a doctor, so there were the medical school years and the residency years. She raised 3 children. She taught school. She had long been a knitter. She became interested in weaving and joined Weaving Guilds wherever she lived, significantly in Oregon. She took workshops from weaving experts and attended conferences and became a very accomplished, adventurous weaver – always eager to try new projects that would help her learn more, and better understand the finer nuances, whether in regards to pattern, texture, color play, or fiber.

She told me once that she was quite happy in Oregon, but after September 11, 2001, she asked herself what she was doing on the West Coast when all of her children were East – and she moved to Charleston.
Michaela at her loom in her upstairs room in Charleston. The license plates above the window are from Oregon and North Carolina.
Finding no fiber guild here, she joined and actively participated in the Western North Carolina Fibers/Handweavers Guild. She tapped resources available through the national Handweavers Guild of America to connect with South Carolina weavers – but they were mostly in the Upstate or Midlands. She was left to her own to find fellow fiber-philes close to home.

Fortunately, Michaela started working as the demonstration weaver at Middleton Plantation and this put her in an ideal position to meet others interested in the  "old-timey" fiber arts and crafts. As Michaela came into contact with people who either knew how to weave (or spin, dye, knit, quilt, etc. etc.) or wanted to -- her interest in their projects often led them to be interested in her fondest dream - a local fiber guild. Eventually a group of started meeting and took the first steps to organizing Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild.

Michaela at the dye-pot at Middleton Plantation's Sheep and Wool Festival 2009 or 2010.
At Middleton, Michaela dressed in costume and warped and worked a loom with historical faithfulness to the 16th century. She helped the plantation host sheep festivals, sheep to shawl demonstration days, and natural dye-pot demonstrations. She was able to experiment with growing indigo and other dye producing plants and dying wool spun from sheep raised at Middleton Plantation. Her skills grew, as did her sphere of contacts and influence. And the visibility of the fledgling guild grew as well.

Ultimately the founding group filed Articles of Incorporation with the South Carolina Secretary of State's office in March of 2004.

Most of us can relate a story about how Michaela invited us to a meeting, or welcomed us, or taught a workshop or a class, or helped us warp a loom until we could do it ourselves, or loaned us some equipment (like a loom) until we could afford to buy our own, or otherwise encouraged us in some important way.
Beth Parrott is our active member who has been in the Guild the longest. She got to know Michaela through a West Ashley knitting group and was one of the early Guild members – since 2004 or 2005, she thinks. Beth remembers a trip with Michaela to the Asheville area to attend a meeting of the Western NC Guild.

When asked  how she has experienced and remembers Michaela’s role in founding our Guild and nurturing it through the years, Beth mentioned a long list of Michaela’s efforts and contributions:
  • She held the group together by serving as President multiple times
  • Always made sure there was an interesting program
  • Recruited members, and encouraged sharing knowledge and skills
  • Taught weaving, and housed looms at her house so they would be available for teaching
  • Continued to attend distant workshops, conference,s and events and brought back information/ideas to share with us
  • As HGA representative for SC, she connects weavers and fiber artists statewide with national resources available including learning opportunities, scholarships, the Certificate of Excellence process, and all important – connecting isolated fiber people with like-minded people close-by.
  • And she continues to hold out a vision of our Guild with a physical home.
Many people say they want to spend their time in a way that "makes a difference." Members of Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild know Michaela has done this for us. Ten years. . . You would think she would be tired of us. . . . but when we thought about where to gather for our year-end holiday pot-luck, she didn't hesitate to invite us to her house. . . so she must not be completely exhausted with us yet.

Thank You Michaela!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Putting 2014 to Bed

Just a few notes to close out 2014.
Right after Thanksgiving, our traveling buddy, Linda L. sent us greetings from New York City. She's heading to Portugal next and plans to be back with us in February.
It was a great year for us. Thanks to our officers, Nancy Warren, Peggy Pye, Barbara Vanselow, Kayleigh Osborne and Sandy Hutchinson. Nancy, Barbara, and Kayleigh will all be stepping down after serving in their roles for two years.

The incoming board elected at our holiday pot-luck in December is: Beth Parrott as President, Peggy Pye as 1st Vice President (Peggy takes care of publicity for us). Ashley Shifano will be 2nd Vice President - primarily responsible for programs, but everyone will help on this one. Maria Luisa Castillo de Gulick steps up as Secretary and Sandy will continue as Treasurer.

Before Christmas, Barbara Vanselow and Judy Warren delivered fleece blankets to Charleston Area Senior Center and Carolina Youth Development's Charleston Emergency Shelter.

As always, our holiday pot-luck was a lot of fun this year. Just a few pictures for you to enjoy. Thanks to all who took pictures!
Fun times. More to come in 2015!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Stash Busting Is Not For Sissies

While traveling this summer, member Michaela McIntosh enjoyed reading an article on stash busting written primarily for quilters in a small newspaper she picked up in New England.  Michaela has adapted that article for us here, expanding the audience to weavers, knitters, beaders, and all kindred spirits.

Do you ever look at your stash and feel like it's closing in on you? Do you get the urge to run out to Lowe's or the Container Store and get a whole lot more plastic containers? Do you find yourself mentally having a conversation with your husband as to why he doesn't need to put the car in garage or worry that he will discover you have used the bottom half of the freezer (hidden beneath the 1/2 side of beef he insisted would save you money), to store your qivuit? (editor's note:  qivuit definition: the wool of the undercoat of the musk ox).  

Maybe your stash is mostly made up of UFO's (unfinished objects). Here are some suggestions to help you the next time you are in a fiber, fabric or bead shop and temptation rears it's head. 
Shop your own stash first.  Go through it and re-organize it, re-familiarize yourself with what you have. Divide it into thirds. Newest and Favorites is one third, some You Like But Are Not Sure What You Want To Do With It is another third, and the Why Did I Ever Buy That?! is the last third. We'll talk more about that third in a minute.

Go through your books and magazines. Donate or give away to a newbie any that you have used and know you won't use again, better yet, donate to a library.

Equipment, notions  and UFO's go in another pile. What do you actually use? If you are like most of us, well meaning folks often give you the contents of their mother's (grandmother's, aunt's, friend's, friend of a friend's. . .) sewing or knitting basket, because they don't sew or knit.  If it's old, soiled, or faded -- toss it.  If it's dried up, won't open, is only a thimbleful left -- toss it!   If it's usable but you don't need/want it put it in the Guild yard sale or teach a young person with it.  

Get your guild to have a special Show & Tell/program of UFO"s (they usually have stories that go with them). Why has a particular UFO become a UFO? Analyze what you need to finish it. If you just plain don't like it, you have choices: take it apart and use the fiber, fabric, beads, yarn, or threads for something else, finish it anyway and give it away, or if you are just completely over it -- toss it! Do not give UFOs to Goodwill -- they will just throw them away.

Getting back to the last third -- remember. . . the Why Did I Ever Buy That?! pile
Fabric and yarn that is something you know isn't right for you can be made into simple items for raffles or giveaways.  For example nursing homes and hospitals need wheel chair bags that patients can keep their personal items in and then take home.  Protective services in most states need lap quilts for adults and children who are in need of something soft, cuddly and that can help them feel cared for.

Reward yourself for finishing a UFO.  Alternate those projects with new ones.  When your stash is down to the first third, then you can go shopping.  Have fun!

Great ideas! Thanks Michaela

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Warm blankets for Young and Old

Our October meeting, coming on the heels of the Lowcountry Fiber Fair the week before, was jammed packed.  Jan Heister, curator of the remarkable textile collection at the Charleston Museum spoke to us about opportunities we might further explore at the museum AND we made fleece lap robes to donate to seniors at Charleston Area Senior Citizens and fleece blankets for young people at Carolina Youth Development's Charleston Emergency Shelter.

Jan Heister, Curator of Textiles, Charleston Museum
Members get busy on fleece lap robes and blankets at the October meeting of the Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild.

Barbara ties off short fringe for a lap robe that will not catch in the spokes of a wheelchair.

Peggy found this wonderful piece of fleece for a boy's blanket.
Directions for a No-Sew Fleece Blanket with a Braided Edge

This will be a two-layer blanket (extra soft and warm) so you might want to use a solid color for one side and a contrasting print for the other. You'll also need scissors or a rotary cutter and a cutting mat.

Trim selvages and cut your two pieces of fleece fabric 30" X 36". Layer one on top of the other with the right sides out.

Draw a line 1 1/2" in on all sides. Cut out the 1 1/2" square from all four corners. then using the lines on the mat, make 1" wide cuts along all four sides up to the  1 1/2" line. Then fold each strip in half and make another small slit through both layers in the middle. 

Starting along a long side in the middle of the blanket, take a top layer strip and pull up the bottom strip through the hole in the middle of the top strip. Pull to the left (for right handed people it is easier to work from right to left). Then pull up the next top strip strip though that strip, then the bottom strip alternating all the way around. 

Before you know it, you'll be all the way arourn your blanket and be left with the last fringe that you've pulled through the fringe before it. Here you'll need to cut the fringe in half, through the slit, so you've to two skinny fringes. Use them to tie a knot around the first fringe. Make sure to make at least a double knot. . . triple if the fringe is long enough. That will be the only knot on your entire blanket.

Here's a You Tube tutorial that shows you how to do the directions above. Have Fun!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

2nd Annual Lowcountry Fiber Fair Photo Album

 The Colleton County Museum and Farmer's Market once again held the Lowcountry Fiber Fair on Oct. 11 -- and Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild members turned out to participate as workshop leaders, demonstrators, vendors, and fiber art fans. What a great event bringing together the farmers who raise fiber animals, fiber artists, and fiber art fans -- and right in our backyard in Walterboro!  Here are photos from a good day.

Marie and Anita holding down the Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild table. Samples of members' work was on display and they were able to distribute information about the Guild to anyone who was interested. These events are great for meeting more people who love to do fiber arts.
You've heard of "Dyed in the Wool"?
Beautiful knitted and woven shawls
Lots of PFAG workshop teachers
Two novices learn the basics of Bobbin Lace making from Barbara Vanselow.
Kayleigh and Kelly taught needle felting.
Ron chats with visitors who are interested in weaving.
Maria Luisa demonstrates weaving on a triangle loom.
Emily demonstrates rug hooking.
This Festival vendor (not a member of PFAG) was demonstrating the use of this antique sock loom. It was used to make wool socks for soldiers in WWI. Many soldiers died as a result of trench foot (can you imagine the misery?) so fresh socks were in high demand.
This little sheep was right at home at the Lowcountry Fiber Fair.

The folks at Colleton Museum and Farmers Market did a great job growing this fiber fair after their first run last year. Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild looks forward to continuing to partner with them to build the momentum for a great fiber fair close to home.

Many thanks to all who came out to the event -- and BIG thanks to Corinne Appleton for coordinating PFAG's participation this year.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Watch for the next "Pop-Up" Art Show. They're Fun!

On Oct. 8, our own Nancy Warren participated in a small "Pop-Up" art show sponsored by Passport 72 -- an emerging organization dedicated to generating financial and support resources for local charities. One of their ways of generating funds and support is to organize local artists for these quick shows -- a cut of proceeds goes to help charities identified by Passport 72, tickets sales go to the expenses for the show -- and local artists get great exposure in a very comfortable and intimate setting. Great for everyone!

This show was upstairs at Southend Brewery & Smokehouse downtown on East Bay Street -- The ticket was $5 and could be exchanged for an appetizer or a drink. Eight artists participated -- several painters, one who constructed pieces from found objects , one who made marbled paper -- and Nancy, who had a group of lovely deconstructed screen prints.
Nancy Warren, President Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild, 2013 - 2015
It was also fun to run into abstract painter Karole Turner Campbell who is friends with Arianne King Comer (batik dyer)and Cookie Washington (quilter, doll maker, curator) -- two extraordinary fiber artists close to Palmetto Fiber Arts Guild.
Check out this link to see profiles of all eight artists who were in the Oct. 8 show. And watch for more Pop-Up shows from Gallery 72.  This is a new model of raising funds and helping artists gain recognition and sales!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What Fiber Arts Did You Meet at Speed Dating?

Weaving, Rug Hooking, Dyeing, Lace Making, Origami, Tunisian Crochet. . . They were all there at our meeting in August. It was great to see everyone after our summer hiatus and we were delighted to see brand new members and many visitors!
Ron K. and Nancy W. introduce Anita S. to a small table loom.

Michaela M. shows a new weaver how to get started.
There was lots of interest in how Mary B.'s inkle loom is warped.
Emily K. introduced us to Rug Hooking
Here is one of Emily's many beautiful creations. Love the swirly sky! Don't get her started on "hooker jokes"!
Here's how Fiber Arts Speed Dating works. One of us, who knows a particular fiber art technique, introduces you. We stay long enough to get the conversation started, then we we step away and give you time to get to know each other.
Barbara V. introduces a group to bobbin lace making.
Sandy H.shows how to fold an origami Star Box

Judy W. knows some great silk dyeing techniques.

And pretty soon she has everybody doing it.
Tunisian Crochet --the introduction is made by Corinne A.
Charlotte S. has a chance to (figuratively) take Tunisian Crochet for a spin around the dance floor. She's a little bit crochet and a little knitty.
This was Linda's last meeting with us before she travels to exotic locals for several months. Her sole goal was to learn Tunisian Crochet before she left and she was able to achieve her goal! Bon Voyage, Linda! Remember, you have promised to send us postcards!

A few outtakes from a fun day! (Thanks for Maria Luisa for all the great photos!)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Goddess Women Cloth

What a fascinating program we had in June! Mary B. Kelly, artist, professor of art, and author, who now makes her home at Hilton Head SC, shared with us her study of textiles across time and geographic boundaries with a special focus on pattern and design found in various folk cultures' ceremonial cloth.

It was stunning to hear her deep expertise and see her examples of decorative patterns repeating almost exactly in different parts of the world and reoccurring from the earliest time documented to current days.

Ms. Kelly showed us samples of textiles made and used in Russia, Scandinavia, Asia, Europe, and North America that illustrated common folk culture belief systems in protective goddesses who shield women and their children in life and in death.
Mary Kelly
The first two symbols Ms. Kelly introduced us to were: "The Tree of Life" and "Horns". The tree of life image takes many forms -- sometimes it appears with sacred birds. Horns, representing fertility, also are represented in many different ways. Sometimes there are deer with antlers. Sometimes headdresses have horns or spikes at the top.

Trees take many forms but are found in textile designs of folk cultures from Russia, Scandinavia, through Asia, Europe and North America.
Another variation of The Tree of Life
Here there is a central Goddess figure with a horned headdress. Beside and above her are sacred birds with trees coming from their heads and tails. Smaller birds represent children resulting from the good fortune of fertility. Red is a protective color for the user of the cloth -- and the zig-zag design is also a protective feature.
These kinds of designs are found in cloth and clothing that accompany ritual and ceremony marking significant times throughout the lifespan -- births, coming of age, marriage, death. Sometimes a part of a bride's wedding garb becomes a swaddling cloth for her babies and sometimes that same cloth is used to dress her corpse so her ancestors will quickly recognize and welcome her in the after-life.

In some cultures, girls are initiated into womanhood in ceremonies that include robing, or "wounding". In other cultures, girls of a certain age receive and are allowed to wear flounced skirts, believed to make them strong and brave.

Weddings are perhaps where the symbolism of cloth expressing hopes and dreams for the future are most evident to us. Tall headdresses traditionally worn by many goddess deities have been adapted for the familiar bridal veil. In some cultures, including ours, the lifting of the veil is a very dramatic moment in the wedding ceremony. The Zuni (or Hopi indians of America's southwestern deserts) tradition is for the groom to make a wedding cloth for his bride. In the Ukraine, ritual cloth is used to bind the bride and groom's hands together during the wedding ceremony.
This beaded cap is typical of wedding garb in many folk traditions. It has a "horn", protective red is the dominant color, and zig-zag patterns occur in multiple variations. Surely the coins represent wishes for prosperity for the new couple.
Kayleigh could not resist.
This is a 20th century embroidered huipil (blouse) from Mexico. The diamond design at the top is a fertility message and the elongated design at the bottom represents the wearer's ancestors -- so the desire for safety for future generations and past generations is contained in one lovely garment. 

In some folk cultures, even for every-day clothing, red lines and zig-zag patterns are stitched or beaded around every opening of a garment -- around the sleeve cuffs, the neck, the hem. This is to protect the wearer from evil that might enter through these portals.

Red borders and zig-zag variations
Mary Kelly has traveled the world exploring textile traditions and folk lore. In the academic and artistic world, she is recognized for her authority on the goddess motif in textiles and all the rituals associated with it.

Mary Kelly's books include: Goddess Women Cloth A Worldwide Tradition of Making and Using Ritual Textiles, Goddess Embroideries of Eastern Europe, Goddess Embroideries of the Northland, and Embroidering the Goddesses of Old Norway.

Many thanks go to one of our newest members, Andrea Cochran-Pastel for sharing her notes and photos with me (Sandy) as I prepared this post. Andrea is an accomplished photographer and artist, including creative use of fiber. See more her work at .)