Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A Wealth of Fiber Art

I don't know about you, but I am always taken by surprise when an art exhibit turns out to be fiber-based. Right now, though, we have three current or upcoming fiber art exhibits in the Upper Valley (that I know of).

AVA Gallery in Lebanon, NH, has five artists on display right now, three of whom are fiber or closely related. You enter to Jeanne Heifetz's Geometry of Hope, which is not fiber but is sewn. Fine glass rods are whipstitched with wire to metal mesh in geometric patterns. Slow Literature: The Narrative Tapestries of Sarah Swett includes many large hand-woven tapestries, some showing images and some containing text. My favorite was an image, an old-fashioned rotary phone in the foreground, its receiver in the background being used by a figure holding a pencil. Subtle colors and fine weaving work. Dianne Shullenberger's Outside Influences is a collection of fiber collages of insects, birds, plants, landscapes, and my favorite: slices of petrified wood she has extended out on all sides with fiber collage, continuing their colors and patterns perfectly. Also on the main floor is collage and sculpture artist Amy Morel. Upstairs in the library are many playful drawings by John Joline, displayed in memorium. I just learned the main-floor exhibit's last day is this Friday, so if you want to see this don't wait!

Coming up on Oct 24 there is an all-day event in Sharon, VT, the Seven Stars Arts Festival at the Vermont Independent School of the Arts. To be honest I am not positive this has fiber art in it, but Pippa Drew is exhibiting in the multi-artist show and one of her several media is textile surface design (various resist techniques), so I am hoping. There is music, calligraphy, tai chi, and yoga all day, but the exhibit reception is 4-6pm.

Finally, on November 6 at the Main Street Museum in White River Junction, VT, there is the opening reception to an embroidery exhibit called Queering the Lines, by Rebecca Levi. I will definitely be at this!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Not dead yet...

... just hibernating. With no scheduled end date. Jenn and I both want to see UVFC continue, but we never meant for it to be a two-woman show for so long - so if you like the idea of a community fibercraft blog, we'd love your help making it happen and have a whole post about possible participation. The two of us will be back eventually, though, in any case.

Meanwhile, I've added to the blackwork map. I designed an era-appropriate alphabet and stitched a title, compass rose, and attribution. My personal craft blog has details about the design process and inspiration, if you're curious. You can get the finished alphabet pattern and word layouts in my Google Drive to add to your own medieval-style stitching. Here's mine:

Now I think I'd like to take a walk...

Friday, December 19, 2014

Finished and revised blackwork map

Remember the Upper Valley in blackwork pattern from the end of May? I finally finished my stitching of it! With that experience, I revised the pattern - error fixes, tweaking the town boundaries so they don't require long long stitches, and making how the fillings meet the outlines more consistent (with the goal of avoiding stitches that are so close together they blend into one).

Here's the pattern in Google Drive: Upper Valley Blackwork Map, revised.

I've posted progress pictures on my personal craft blog, which you can find under the tag "blackwork map."

Friday, December 12, 2014

What do you get for the crafter who has everything?

So you have a crafter on your giving list whose craft space is filled to bursting, but for whom you really want to get a craft-related gift. I have some ideas for you.

1. Gift Certificates

Gift cards to the area craft and fabric stores are a no-brainer. Nearly every store, large or small, has them. If your giftee has a digital die-cutting or embroidery machine, you can also get gift cards to the (online) sources for new patterns. That way, they can not only choose the designs, but most likely get them via download, saving space and often money.

Personal gift certificates might be even more welcome, though. What about offering to take their sewing machine in for a tune-up, have their scissors professionally sharpened, or sharpen all their pencils? There's also the gift of time, such as via babysitting. I've made some gift certificates for you, for all these things and in the generic so you can fill in your own. They're available in my Google Drive, 5.5"x8.5" so you can fit two to a sheet of paper.

2. Carefully Chosen Books

Books are a little dangerous; I think we all have books on our shelves that looked pretty and appealing but from which we have made nothing. However, well-chosen books have usefulness disproportionate to the space they take up. I would only advocate technique books - project books are just too personal. Vintage books, ones you have to do a little research about and track down, are perhaps even better.

I wasn't able to find much in the way of vintage craft book reviews; you may have to look for books about particular crafts. Diane of Craftypod has a bunch of posts about vintage craft books should you want to page through (she's also great for reviews of modern craft books: thorough and interested in techniques over projects).

My own shelf has a few books I could recommend, vintage and not.
  • For crochet: America's Crochet Book by Gertrude Taylor (1972). This is a no-nonsense guide to teaching yourself crochet and using it, including adapting patterns for various garments both for fit and to change the materials. In fact you could probably take what's in the book and design your own crochet clothing. She also surveys several particular crochet techniques (hairpin lace, afghan crochet, motifs in the round). She does recommend a small hook and crochet thread to start, which is just the opposite from me - I start people with acrylic or wool worsted weight yarn and a hook at least size I (5.5mm), moving them up even to a Q (16mm) if they are tensing up or making their stitches too tight - but otherwise I can get behind all of her advice.
  • For felting (wet, needle, and nuno): The Complete Photo Guide to Felting by Ruth Lane (2012). Some projects, but all given in adaptable ways, and a lot of technique instruction. I've only scratched the surface of this book because I'm a beginner to felting, but I anticipate using it a lot.
  • For sewing: The Complete Book of Sewing: Dressmaking and Sewing for the Home Made Easy by Constance Talbot (my edition: 1943). This gives so many options for every piece of a garment: necklines and collars, sleeves, fasteners, trim, pockets; it covers darts, gathers, hems, bindings, basting; there are chapters on a variety of categories of clothing and even tips on refashioning and mending. This was my primary refashioning and mending reference for some time.
  • And for the cosplayer in your life I have to recommend The Costume Technician's Handbook by Rosemary Ingham and Liz Covey (most recent edition 2003), for its chapters on hair and hats, dyeing and painting, accessories, and a short course in pattern drafting. We used this as a textbook in my college Intro to Costuming class, and I would never remove it from my collection.

3. Visibility Aids

Visibility is a key component for crafting. These items, again, must be chosen carefully, but they could broaden the circumstances under which your crafter can craft, or decrease the labor of it. I see two kinds of visibility aids.

The first is a lighting upgrade. If your crafter needs a color-true light, OttLite is the primary brand. If not, an LED gooseneck lamp (desk or floor as appropriate to the crafting location) would be a more energy-efficient choice. For sewing in particular, I learned this year about a Sewing Machine LED Lighting Kit, which has some assembly required but results in a lot more light on the needle area of the sewing machine. If sewing puts your crafter's back to all the room lights, this might be just the ticket.

The second visibility aid is something to provide magnification. For lapwork, you can get a chest-standing ("around the neck") magnifying glass. That same site also shows magnifying goggles and magnifiers that clip onto glasses. The latter would be good for me - there's a woman formerly in the Upper Valley who makes lace with human hair, and she told me she uses the strongest available nonprescription reading glasses atop her 20/20 vision, but when I tried (without my regular glasses), I felt like my eyes were crossing. Magnifying goggles can also be found with LEDs mounted around their perimeter. Fine embroidery would become much easier, I'm sure.

4. Other?

What have I left off that's good for a crafter who doesn't want to stuff their craft space with more materials?

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Green Mountain Fiber Festival

We're a week out from the fiber festival put on by White River Yarns so I thought I'd give a little preview.

The Green Mountain Fiber Festival is being held for the sixth year running, on November 15 and 16 in the Wilder Center in Wilder, VT; it's 9-5 Saturday and 9-3 Sunday. Admission is free and there will be vendors of all things knitting and spinning, with raffles as well as sales. In addition there are classes all day both days. To sign up for a class contact Karen at White River Yarns - hopefully any you want still have spots left!

You can read full course descriptions online, but here are the times, cost, materials list, and class size limit for each. I'd double-check the times for spinning if those courses interest you.

Beginning Spinning
Saturday 10 am-1 pm, Sunday 10 am-1 pm
Barbara Tonnissen and Gillian Fuqua, The Wool Shed, Worchester, VT
$40; bring your spinning wheel and roving to spin. Limited to 8.

Color in Spinning
Saturday 1-4 pm, Sunday 10 am-1 pm
Gillian Fuqua, The Wool Shed, Worchester, VT
$40; bring your spinning wheel, at least three bobbins, a lazy kate, and roving to spin. Limited to 8.

Spinning Beyond the Basics
Saturday 10 am-1 pm, Sunday 10 am-1 pm
Barbara Tonnissen, The Wool Shed, Worchester, VT
$40; bring your spinning wheel and roving to spin. Limited to 8.

Finishing Your Projects
Saturday 10 am to noon
Karen Caple, White River Yarns, White River Junction VT
$40; bring homework swatches, a blunt tip tapestry needle, and double pointed needles the same size as used for homework swatches. Swatches: three each of two types, all worked using light-colored smooth yarn that yields 4-5 stitches per inch. Type 1: Cast on 20 stitches, work in stockinette for 4", bind off leaving 18" tail attached. Type 2: Cast on 20 stitches, work in stockinette for 3", do not bind off - leave stitches on needle or stitch holder with 1 yd yarn attached. Limited to 10.

Saturday 11 am-2 pm
Deborah Hodges, Country Woolens, Lebanon NH
$45; bring a 6" square stockinette swatch in light-colored worsted weight, six yards of contrasting color worsted weight yarn, scissors and tapestry needles. Limited to 10.

Knitting Beyond the Basics
Saturday 1-4 pm
Karen Caple, White River Yarns, White River Junction VT
$40; bring light and dark worsted weight yarn, size 8 needles, darning needle, crochet hook size F or G, four 6" square swatches in stockinette. Limited to 10.

Join-As-You Go Knitting
Saturday 10-11:30 am and 3-4:30 pm
Christiane Burkhard, Lismi Knits, Mansfield Center CT
$35; bring a few balls of worsted weight yarn (at least 6g per ball), a set of double pointed needles and a circular needle in your usual size for worsted weight, and a set of double pointed needles one size smaller than the others. Limited to 12.

What Yarn Should I Choose?
Sunday 11 am-12:30 pm
Christiane Burkhard, Lismi Knits, Mansfield Center CT
$30; bring yarn from your stash that you want to use, but can't figure out for what.

Solving Knitting Problems
Sunday 11 am-2 pm
Karen Caple, White River Yarns, White River Junction VT
$45; bring dark and light worsted weight yarn, darning needle, crochet hook, four 6" square swatches in stockinette, and any knitting that has problems you can't diagnose. Limited to 10.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

So much to do this weekend!

American Craft Week starts tomorrow, and Vermont is a big participant. From the Vermont Crafts Council open studio directory for Windsor and Orange counties, I found silk painting in Hartland and studios that include fiber crafts in Woodstock and Randolph. That's separate from the Vermont North By Hand open studio tour, which includes three weavers and a coatmaker.

On top of that, Vermont Sheep and Wool is this weekend at the Tunbridge fairgrounds. There will be demonstrations and classes about all things wool-related, from raising wool-bearing animals to shearing to spinning to knitting, weaving, and felting.

There don't seem to be any Craft Week events in the eastern half of the Upper Valley, but the next League of New Hampshire Craftsmen exhibit in Hanover includes art embroidery.

Friday, September 12, 2014

What's the Difference Between Mending and Alterations?

The simplest way to express the difference between mending and alterations is this: if you mend something you're returning it to the way it once was. If you're making an alteration then you're changing it in some way but you still have the basic garment. (If you want to turn it into something completely different that's called refashioning.)

So if your favorite jeans have a tear in the knee you can...

Learn how to fix the tear in my Basic Mending class at the Sew-op on September 27th from 10-12. Or...

Learn how to alter the jeans into cut-offs in Rebecca's Alterations class at the Sew-op on September 29th from 5:30-7:30.

Hope to see you there!