Monday, March 30, 2009

stolen ~

Stolen Embroidery
from the Maiwa Store on Saturday March 14th.

KMVS Wallhanging 48" x 60"
A large hand-embroidered wallhanging with dense stitches done in the Jat style was stolen from the Maiwa Store on March 14th. This is a magnificent piece from the Maiwa collection. Textile enthusiasts are alerted to be suspicious of anyone offering this piece for sale as it is stolen.
Maiwa is asking for the help of the public and is offering a reward for information leading to the recovery of this textile. If anyone sees an embroidery like the one pictured or has any information that could lead to the recovery of this item please contact us at 1-604-669-3939.

This piece is valued at $3500.00.

See our website for more information on the KMVS cooperative and its embroiderers.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

solmate ~

VV Alert! (Value Village for the un-hip) Just bought a pair of brand new Solmate Socks (yes, of course the tags were still on ~ I could NEVER buy a pair of someone's discarded stinky socks.).

Price you ask? $2.99 instead of regular retail of $20! They sell these socks at the local Food Co-op, and they are made from recycled cotton. Their website says ~

"Also, from the very start, our cotton socks have always been knit using recycled cotton yarns. These yarns are recovered from the production of other cotton products (mainly t-shirts), and re-blended with other fibers and spun into yarns for Solmate Socks."

Solmate Socks also has a fundraising program for 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organizations. Gosh, it makes so much more sense to sell cool socks than wrapping paper, cookies, or candy. Can't you just picture it? A non-profit childcare center selling kids and infant socks as annual fundraiser ~ what a perfect fit!

Clipped from their website: "This picture was taken in Benin, Africa in April 2007. A church in South Strafford (where Solmate Socks is headquartered) spent a year raising money through sales of Solmate Socks, in order to fund the building of a cistern in this village."

Friday, March 20, 2009

the fest ~

The pest...Marcel. This was taken yesterday as he intruded on my spinning. I've been home a lot lately and he's come to realize that he must stick to me like GLUE ~ not Elmer's but the "Super" kind. He won't leave me alone to do important fiber things.

This is what I was trying to finish up before he barged in. This is bobbin #1 ~ a conglomerate of fiber remnants and event door prize winnings. Bobbin #2 is finished and I am currently plying them. I plan on cabling the yarn, so the next step after making it a two-ply is to spin it again creating some "wicked twist" as Judith MacKenzie McCuin called it. By spinning it again in the same direction, more twist is built up so that the cabling doesn't create limp and lifeless yarn. You need that "wicked twist" to be able to take the two-play yarn and ply it again ~ back the other direction. The end product will be a four-strand cabled yarn.

This photo is just to show off the Lois Meyer painting I bought at an estate sale yesterday.

Lois was a local painter ~ can you guess the time period? The colors just kill me ~ these are "MY" kind of colors! The "estate" belonged to a neighbor of mine growing up ~ I lived just up the street. He was a former senator who travelled quite a bit. I was always impressed that he and his wife remained in a middle-class neighborhood filled with young families when they could have "moved up" as the senator's career advanced.

Underneath the painting is a Polish tapestry I also bought ~ it too is from the 1970s. I haven't done any research on it yet, but it was bought in NYC a long time ago.

Speaking of tapestry! I took a journey across the border this afternoon to FibresWest (originally called FibreFest) in Abbotsford, BC, Canada. I've gone to this event for the last five or so years and enjoy the chance to see and buy a few things.

Today I planned my trip so that I could enjoy the mid-day lecture presented by tapestry artist Ruth Jones ( I've visited her website a few different times and was very interested in seeing and hearing her speak.

A pretty good size crowd ventured over to the lecture area, and I saw that there were a number of young women from Capilano University in Vancouver. Capilano is one of the few schools around here that has any sort of textile program (

Cleverly, Ruth began her program with a joke. I kind of had a few Brady Bunch flashbacks ~ remember when Peter became the "comedian". Although, starting off with a joke also struck me as a nice ice breaker that leveled the playing field for the lecture.

Speaking about her background, interests and weaving, Ruth was able to share a few gems of wisdom which define her process. She tries to express herself in as few colors as possible ~ using seven to 10 colors maximum. By limiting her palette she is able to focus on her technique of blending color by using specific weaving techniques. (For more information go
HERE to read about medieval tapestry techniques.)

The image above is a tapestry remnant that Ruth shared with the group. At about 350 years old, it is a remarkable example of a restrained use of color. The color is derived from natural dyes including lichen and weld.

Like many artists, commissions are important to keep busy and money flowing. Ruth shared her process of creating small tapestries as "sketches" to submit as samples when working toward gaining commission contracts. Like a maquette, her small scale tapestry shows the intentions of the final piece and allows her commissioner to approve of her design. The image above and below are two of Ruth's maquettes.

By presenting slides and sharing her actual pieces, Ruth gave the audience a wonderful opportunity to listen, learn, see and touch tapestries.

The three images above are all details of Epiphany & Co, 30" x 40", hand woven silk and wool tapestry, 2000.

Above is the The Golden Spruce, 43" x 84", hand woven silk and wool tapestry, 1999.

The final piece above will remain without a proper title ~ I can't seem to find it in my notes. Ruth did speak about the concept of milles-fleurs ~ translated as "thousand flowers"~ in medieval tapestry. Symbolic flowers often filled the background of these tapestries.

It was such a pleasure to have the opportunity to attend Ruth's lecture today. With any luck, I might be able to persuade her to present a similar program to the Whatcom Weavers Guild next year. When I asked her if it was possible, she seemed quite amenable to the idea.

She also shared with me that she had once shown a piece in a group exhibition at the Whatcom Museum of History and Art (my old workplace for some 11 plus years!). Sadly the touring exhibit she was a part of was in the early to mid-1980s prior to my tenure at the museum.

So there you go, and EXTREMELY long post due to not posting for a few days. I could go on and describe the fiber I purchase, but that's for another day.
In closing, here is another Ruth Jones tapestry that I saw in person today.

Monday, March 16, 2009

busy beads ~

Yesterday was bead day at Kathy's. She donated a bead event at her daughter's band fundraising auction. Twelve people registered to participate and enjoy a bead-u-ful day! (pretty stupid, huh?)

Every table was covered in beads: on strings, in cups, and later on the floor (sorry!). So many incredible colors it was hard not to go around and finger everything.

Glass, stone, semi-precious, metal ~ she had everything ready for us as soon as we arrived.

Not only is Kathy "Ferndale Fibers", but she was a college biology teacher before children and the full impact of fiber came into her life. And a somewhat secret fact.....Kathy was my college biology teacher! Unbelievable, I know. She was hardly five years older than me at the time.

With her education background, Kathy is great at teaching classes and giving lectures. She has a natural curiosity that allows her to investigate and then share all sorts of details about whatever she is involved in ~ including beading.

Just like any good teacher, our lesson was well planned. We were given a tool, bead, and technique orientation, and then she let us loose on the beads.

As usual, give me too many things to choose from and I simply just get confused. I loved ALL the different types of beads, but knew that my mood is more bright color oriented right now. I picked up many cups of warm toned natural beads but kept heading back to the bright colors.

Once our beads were selected, we each had a place at the table with a beading mat and supplies.

I went for the brightest colors in the room ~ yellow, orange/red with silver tones.

This little missy is almost done with her rich, earth toned string. I was busy stringing seed beads which took a very long time.

Kathy helped by finishing up our pieces when it came time to put on the crimp beads and clasps ~ here's my yellow and red!

Kathy also gave us a tour of her fiber mill. She has the biggest carding machine I have ever seen. She didn't run it at all yesterday, but when I've been out before I've seen it in action. It amazes me that it moves slowly. When looking at such a big piece of machinery, I had just assumed it was ripping and tearing at the fiber. But no, it moves nice and slow...

Above is a image of the "loading end" ~ this is where she places the fiber to start the carding process.

Kathy does the whole thing when it comes to wool. She washes, dyes and cards it. Below is her dye shelf.

Her "biggest" seller these days is Potluck Roving. She reprocesses wool top into roving. She takes already processed wool, dyes it in her special colorways and then cards/blends it on her carder. She puts up the roving in 8 oz balls that she sells wholesale.

She also does a limited amount of fiber processing, but only to her existing customer list I hear. She's been in such demand for processing that she isn't able to take on any new customers.

Above are the rollers that direct the carded wool into the size she uses for her roving.

Here's a closer look at the carding cloth. It is amazing when you think that the carding cloth is really the most expensive part of hand cards ~ this is some valuable cloth!

After seeing the "industrial" end ~ we got to visit with some wool on the hoof. This is Buddy ~ Kathy's bottle fed friend.

And again, the finished product. Now I have to go get out my beads and twittle around. It is really nice to get together with people for a craft day ~ inspiring to say the least!
== == == == == == == == == == == == == ==
Potluck Roving: Below are some links to sites that sell Kathy's Potluck Roving ~ it is lovely stuff!
Northwest Handspun Yarns in Bellingham, WA
Paradise Fibers in Spokane, WA

Sunday, March 15, 2009

literature ~

It all goes back to grandma Mabel. Little did I know until this week, that she influenced my love of Siamese cats.
On Friday I stopped by may folks' house and one of the thing mom wanted me to pick up was a book she found when dad brought a box down from the attic. (All my life, their attic has also been known as a black hole. Whatever goes there is rarely seen again ~ in this case, surely it has been close to 40 years.)
The Cat Book was the surprise she had for me. Published in 1964, The Cat Book is a frolicking romp through the gleeful life of a cat.

Dear grandma and grandpa gave me this book filled with cats for Christmas when I was just 7 months old. Not only beginning my love of felines, but educating me on cat culture and cat skills: yawning, stretching, claw sharpening, playing, purring...

The book also shared a glimpse into my future with Marcel and cat teeth...

Oh yes, and the beauty of the Siamese, much more lovely than butterflies...

And cats and yarn...

And cat boxing ~ a hair-raising sport to say the least. Cats look on with concern...

Oh thank you dear grandma and grandpa ~ Marcel thanks you too.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


...this is Bette from Palm Springs." It just cracks me up! My mother-in-law called and left a message which began like that. I think after nearly 10 years, she hasn't once figured out that we would recognize her voice. It was especially humorous today since she added "from Palm Springs." We wouldn't want to confuse her with all the other Bette's we know who we talk with once a week on a regular schedule.

How many married women in the room wouldn't recognize their mother-in-laws voice on the phone? Raise your hand.....I doubt if there would be too many hands showing.....

On another note, tomorrow I get to participate in a jewelry making session at Ferndale Fibers. I was one of the bidders on this workshop at the high school band auction I mentioned in a previous post. I've been looking forward to this and also have desperately been trying to keep it in the forefront of my mind since I'm forgetting all sorts of things with my "unemployed" status ~ not having a routine is great but confusing. I never know what day it is anymore.

So far there hasn't been any "fiber" activity today, but I am headed off to the spinning wheel right now.

Here's a little vignette from my room. The framed needle felted piece is by Ms. L.S. which I purchased at the guild sale. The giraffe and little terra cotta painting (yes, it is on clay) is from the heyday of the Whatcom Museum of History and Art's gift shop. Back then, Leslie, Jane and Sue were the volunteer buyers ~ incredible ladies with incredible taste. I have so many wonderful things I bought in the gift shop...working at the Museum of so many years didn't hurt either!

Friday, March 13, 2009

thank you, linda sue & toby ~

Ms. Linda Sue is providing the entertainment this evening ~ in the form of all the following photos of my head. Thank you so much for sending them to me and for taking them in the first place!

At Wednesday night's Whatcom Weaver Guild meeting, dear Toby Smith bestowed a wonderful gift upon me (literally).

The Partner Project Hat!

Toby and I teamed up in our guild's "Partner Project" last year. I was thrilled to get to work with Toby who is a wonderfully talented woman both artistically and intellectually. Toby is a retired professor from Western Washington University. She is hardly retired since she continues to investigate everything, studying fiber art traditions throughout the world and by volunteering with Maiwa.

When I say throughout the world, I really mean it. When Toby and I were slated to start the Partner Project, it was delayed due to her trip to India. She honored me upon her return with an inscribed "Gandhi pen":

Politics without Principles
Wealth without Work
Pleasure without Conscience
Knowledge without Character
Commerce without Morality
Science without Humanity
Worship without Sacrefice [sic]

"My life is my message
Truth is God
Self Rule = Rule Over Self
Satyagrah is Soul-Force"

So at the end of winter 2008, we had a chance to e-mail ideas back and forth. Oh yes, I forgot to mention that we had one other hurdle ~ she lives in Canada! She's probably less then 40 miles away from me, but people and places always seem farther away when there's a border crossing in the way.

After percolating thoughts, we developed an outline for the project:
  • The completed item should be at least 80% recycled.
  • We create/choose the form of the item. The item is started by ourselves (so we can choose the form the item takes, e.g. purse, vest, pillow cover) using something recycled/previously used.
  • The final project comes back to the person who started it.
  • The item must be small enough so it is portable so we can take it places to work on it (keeping in mind that you travel and we have other fiber meetings to attend where we can work on projects).
  • After the “form” is created and even some embellishing could be started, we trade pieces for the other to work on.
  • We give the other person some (not all) yarns and/or other materials to use.
  • We give the other person 3 words to somehow interpret into the project. An example would be “green, ripple, hand” – that would give some real opportunity to stretch creatively.

At one of the guild meetings we swapped stuff. I had woven a shawl on my triangle loom with some old musty smelling, secondhand yarn and then tossed it in a dye pot. Once it dried, I did some needle felting on it (the shawl will probably be revealed to you in a future post). The fiber used for the needle felting was carding waste from Kathy Green's Ferndale Fibers (a fabulous fiber processor less then three miles from my house). Toby was to embellish the shawl to her heart's content.

Toby took her thrums and wove colorful fabric as her project. She then provided me with all sorts of beads and buttons for inspiration (plus we could use items from our own stash) to decorate her fabric. After a few false starts, I needle felted designs between some basted stitches Toby had marked out as guides ~ she had planned to create a hat from the embellished pieces.

When it came time for us to swap projects again, Toby was off to visit a part of the world that was in sharp contrast to her earlier trip to India. Toby went to Telemark, Norway to study Vadmal ~ read more about her trip in the Whatcom Weavers Guild's Sept 2008 newsletter.

With summer break and vacations, we didn't see each other until fall. At a spectacular unveiling, not only did Toby show off the hat she created, but she was virtually finished with a fabulously designed coat she created from the wool fabric (Vadmal) she wove in Norway. God, if I only had photos to show you ~ here it is six months later and I still have the visual of that coat burned into my brain....gorgeous!

"How could I be so fortunate?" I keep asking myself. On Wednesday, Toby actually gave me the finished hat. I can't believe I get to be in possession of another Toby Smith creation!

Oh, thank you Toby!

As a bonus to you reader(s) [I shouldn't assume there's more than one!] ~ here's a lovely little piece of Toby's I bought at the last guild sale.

I'm accumulating a charished Toby collection ~ I even have a ruana she made a couple of years ago. Below are some photos of the ruanas she made for the 2008 guild sale. They all sold in a blink of an eye.

All of you should be so lucky to have one! Maybe she'll make more for the 2009 sale and you could actually buy one too! I highly advise it...

Toby's pieces are at right and center ~ the one left is by another guild artisan.