Monday, June 29, 2009

Looking Forward...

Today, with some sadness, we closed the doors on The Studio Gallery, but it was also a day for expectation and looking forward to new opportunities. The eleven artists in the gallery are all continuing with their artwork, exhibiting, and their artwork continues to be available in area shops and galleries, including Artistree in Land O' Lakes, WI.

To help friends and customers keep in touch, we started a blog this evening and will continue to post news of our work and events. The blog URL is

Last day, in front is Debra Ketchum Jircik; back row L to R, Carol Miller, Toni Bergeon, and Wendy Powalisz. I was behind the camera, capturing the moment for posterity.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Artists Interactive Demo Day

Today, in connection with Artists Interactive, members of The Studio Gallery were again giving demonstrations of their various arts in Boulder Junction, WI. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day, with a nice breeze which helped us stay comfortable, and sitting in the shade in Wendy's tent was a definite plus.

Today was Watercolors with Jane O'Brien of Eagle River, WI,...

Fabric Landscapes with Toni Bergeon, of Minocqua, WI,...

and I was demonstrating making socks on a 1908 Gearhart Sock Machine (I'm behind the camera).

Wendy Powalisz (Watercolors), Toni Burgeon (Fabric Landscapes, Kathleen Kimball (Collage), and I (Sock Machine) will be there again tomorrow. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Artistree Gallery is Open

Congratulations to the participating artists in Artistree, a cooperative gallery in Land O'Lakes, WI. The gallery has been open for one week, and has had many visitors who comment on the wonderful space and the high quality of the art. Arts in the gallery include watercolor & oil paintings, fiber arts (weaving, handspun yarns, felted hats, needlefelting, handcrafted socks, wool applique, and rug hooking), jewelry, pottery, collage, photography, quilting, and wood furniture.

Considering that the decision to start this gallery was made in early May 2009 and opened on June 15, this has been amazing. Special thanks to Wendy Polalisz, Shirley Battin, Amy Higgason, Karen Lenhart, and Sandy Hall for their hard work in making this a reality, and thanks to the 19 participating artists! Also, thanks to Kathy Schuh, owner of Forget-Me-Knot Floral, for making this space available to us.

This wire rack from a Pier 1 store is a wonderful way to display business cards. On the side counter there is space for artists brochures and arts promotional information. Also on hand is a book with a page on each artist for anyone interested in knowing more about individual artists.

I had a very pleasant four hours today at Artistree, enjoyed conversations with a number of browsers and customers, and am looking forward to another satisfying cooperative gallery experience.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

That In-Between Stage

It's been a busy couple days here, between family and work, yet everything is in that in-between stage where you're busy working and yet nothing seems to be finished.

Strips of sheet in a nice soft sage green, previously cut, are being sewn, cream with hunter green ticking stripes, solid hunter green, and a nice milk chocolate brown coming up next. Solids of teal, cream, and cranberry will be next. These are all for my first foray into rag rug weaving. Dozens and dozens more sheets are waiting to be prepped. So far I've been using a rotary cutter, but have an electric cutter on loan to me by rag rug weaver Joe (RUGSBYJOE) that I need to try out.

I've been cranking socks, with more to come yet today. These are berry, green, and jade, nice bright cheerful colors. I'll be making a pair of these for myself! More toes are waiting to be closed, two pairs of socks were washed and hung to dry, others were "steamed" to finish them, and all still need to be tagged.

The last towel from the natural/unbleached warp was steamed and pressed, hung to dry and will be machine hemmed when I'm done here.

The push is really on now, both galleries needing weaving and socks, and with several deadlines coming up fast, I need to keep producing. I'll spare you the photo of cones of 10/2 and 20/2 cotton waiting to be made into warps. Three looms are waiting to be warped, not counting one upstairs and an upright (floor) frame loom, for tapestry, downstairs.

I'm thinking a few short rewards will be in order, sitting on the neighbor's pier with my feet in the lake would be one, IF there is enough of a breeze to keep the mosquitos off. He has a log anchored a short way from the pier that turtles like to sun themselves on.

Sunday I'll be working at the new Artistree gallery, in Land O'Lakes, WI, and will have socks with me needing toes closed. It never ends! Don'tcha just LOVE it!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Gaining Time by Setting Limits

I enjoy weaving lists such as WeaveTech, ScanWeave, and Rugtalk, learning from what is shared, occasionally contributing on-list and off, and reading what various weavers are working on. A couple years ago, while on more lists, I became more and more aware that while I was reading about everyone elses weaving I was getting very little of my own done. This had to stop!

Now, my computer time is limited to a couple weaving friends, four or five lists that are most important to me, a few blogs I enjoy looking in on, and writing this blog, which is wonderful motivation for me. Since my blog is about my fiber-related activities, if I don't do, I have little to post about.

Now that I have these self-imposed limits on my on-line time, I've been able to accomplish far more weaving and sock-cranking than before. I'm finally reaching the stage in my life where I am able to start pursuing my personal dreams, priorities, and goals, and make daily progress towards them them. Family is still a priority, but time-wise, the balance is tipping.

Two years ago, I could only dream of participating in another cooperative gallery, of being on the art tour, and doing a couple art/craft shows. Once I set limits on my time on-line, I have been able to turn those dreams and others into reality, and there are more to come.

So where am I now? Trying to keep up! I have a calendar I need to check daily to see if it's a day I can work at home, a gallery work day, or something going on with family. I make more and longer Task Lists to keep me track, and plot out my work to meet dates on the calendar. As for those self-imposed limits, some days I am more successful than others, but happily, that balance is tipping, too.

The warp is lashed on, waiting for rag shuttles to be filled,...

there are many, many more sheets waiting to be cut and sewn,...

and many, many more pairs of socks need to be made.

And tonight, as every night, the Whippoorwill is singing away just outside my studio as he goes on his nightly rounds.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Lessons Learned, Decisions Made

Yesterday afternoon I finished making a new warp for my countermarche loom, made of 8/4 cotton rug warp, nine colors in a repeating pattern across the width of the warp, 29" wide.

I have two warping boards, one made by my husband 27 years ago when I purchased my first loom, and one I bought used from another weaver because it was wider and a longer warp could be made on it. I also have a warping mill, also bought used.

My first mistake was making this warp on a warping board instead of on a warping mill. When I make a warp I try not pull on the threads, they slide through my hands and onto the pegs, with only the drag as it comes off the spool and through two "eyelets" on the warp/cone holder. I make my warps in two halves because of the center cords coming down from the upper jacks on my Glimakra countermarche looms. Twice I've made warps in quarters when I thought there were going to be too many threads for the warp or mill.

I noticed about 2/3 of the way through the first half of the warp that a peg was pulling in a bit. After looking at all the pegs where were a couple others doing the same thing. Oh No! The pegs on this particular warping board were very loose from the beginning. To help them fit tighter, I put pieces of string across the holes before inserting the pegs, suggested by a weaving friend who thought this would help. On a warp this wide and long it didn't matter. Pegs were moving in and I knew this was a disaster before the first half of the warp left the board. The length and width of the warp magnified the problem.

I knew if I switched to the warping mill, the second half would be better, but choke ties would never be in the same places on both halves. I feel having choke ties in the same place on each half of the warp makes it much easier for the person holding the warp halves.

After removing the first half of the warp, I worked on tightening up the pegs again, then continued on and made the second half of the warp, with the same thing happening again. Truly a disaster! I have made warps on a warping board for over 25 years and never had a warp like this one. This was the second time I'd used this warping board, and it was the last.

I brought the warp down to the loom, placed the lease sticks in, slipped the wood rod into the loops, and sections into the raddle, and with my kids help (Noah inserting warp sticks, Sarah turning the ratchet) I stood about 15' or more back from the loom and compensated as best I could for the sagging sections of the warp.

The more I unchained, the worse the problem was, we continued beaming warp until I could stand it no longer, "someone give me a big scissors!" I cut the remainder of the warp off and it is still in the bin, out of my sight.

Hours making a warp, hours threading a warp, and the entire thing may still be trashed. I was not a happy camper, but lessons were learned and decisions made. The warping board will be trashed, I would never sell a board like this to another weaver to have to deal with this. Short warps will be made on my old warping board, made by my husband, the one where the pegs are screwed into the frame. Anything longer than four yards or so will be made on a warping mill. Warps for rugs will be sectionally made/beamed. I do have sectional rakes, purchased used, for my 48" Glimakra CM, but had been reluctant to drill holes in the warp beam. No more! Those holes will be made and the rakes can be added or removed as desired.

Now, to finish threading this warp and see if the beaming was good enough to diminish the tension problems I am expecting. I'm still hoping I can weave a few things from this warp. If not, it will be removed from the loom and I'll start over. I'll let you know!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Treasures Re-discovered

It has been a long time since I'd done any spinning, as I've been kept busy with weaving, cranking socks, and family matters. With Open Studio/Demo day coming up on Sunday, my spinning wheel was in need of attention. I bought it approximately 25 years ago from Michael Wilson, after reading a review of it in an issue of Shuttle, Spindle & Dyepot, and I wanted it in good working order for demonstrating spinning. I took it all apart, oiled the cherry wood, oiled the working parts, and re-assembled it.

Then I sat down and started spinning some Coopworth roving I'd purchased a couple years ago at the WI Sheep & Wool Festival. The Coopworth roving is lovely, and spins up very nicely. I want so badly to take the wheel out onto the lakeside porch and spin, but right now other priorities must come first. A treasure re-discovered that evening.

On June 1st I had a phone call from a weaving friend Joe, aka RUGSBYJOE, who asked if I was at my computer, and if I wasn't, to go to it right away, as he had seen a Boyce Weavers Knotter for sale. We had both seen Ken Colwell use one at The Looms, long ago, tieing new warp to old on a drawloom. So I flew down the stairs, read the post, and immediately wrote to the seller that I was interested. She wrote back it was mine and it arrived not long after. It's sitting on a shelf now in my studio, waiting for me to have an evening when I can sit down and try to figure out how it works as no directions came with it (seller had bought it used). If I can't figure it out, I'll ask WeaveTech members if anyone has printed directions or could explain it to me. I expect to put it to good use in the future. A new treasure in the studio.

Time to go check on the strings recital practice, then back to making my new warp for the countermarche loom. This one is 8/4 rug warp, stripes, approximately 14 yards, for rugs and bags.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Weavolution is Here!

Thanks to Claudia, Tien, and Allison, weavers now have their own social networking site at, which went on-line yesterday. I took a brief look, late in the day, and this afternoon posted my introduction. Then, as if I didn't have enough to do, I just went on-line and started a new group there for Double Harness Weaving. A pastor once said to me, if you need something done, ask a busy person. (He was asking me do something.) Well, I think I've about reached my limit, but after all, this new group is weaving related!

I am just starting my journey into double harness weaving (drawloom), and learning as I go, from books, back issues of VAV, Becky Ashenden's DVD "Dressing Your Swedish Drawloom," and especially from other drawloom weavers in the Complex Weavers Double Harness Study Group. Some of the best learning will come when setup is done and I am sitting at my single unit drawloom, weaving.

This new group on Weavolution is not meant to replace the CW study group. Just the opposite. I'm hoping this new group might interest weavers who have not had any exposure to this area of weaving, and perhaps a few might decide to delve into drawloom weaving.

Now, back to the loom, I have a towel to finish, then remove the leftover (waste) warp, dust and vacuum the loom and floor, and tonight or tomorrow morning, make the next warp. For the moment, I have it narrowed down to seven northwoodsy colors (they are to me, anyway!). I want the warp on the loom tomorrow night so I can thread it Thursday. This will be for table runners and bags. Then re-warp for either rugs, or towels. These will be shorter warps than usual as I have a deadline coming up and the galleries want more weaving (and socks). Planning my work, and working my plan!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Drawloom Progress

The drawloom has been sitting here, temporarily abandoned while I have been working at weaving towels and cranking socks to sell, and today I couldn't stand it any longer. I had to have part of a day for my personal weaving interest of making progress on the drawloom.

I had previously sleyed the 440 cords (seine twine, two colors) through the reed shown suspended from the upper drawcord warp beam.

The center of the reed was marked with a red thread, also two inches on each side of the center. This space is left empty to allow the drawcords closest to the middle to pass by those center Texsolv cords as they are pulled. There are 220 cords on each side, groups of 8 cords, with an empty dent between each group.

This afternoon I pulled the long Texsolv cords, that go from the upper jacks and down through the shafts to the lamms, out of the shafts and wrapped them up around the top. Though I had previously read how to put a drawcord warp on, on p. 149 in "Damask and Opphamta," I went about this slightly differently.

With help from daughter Sarah and son Noah (so I could take photos), the reed (with lease sticks still in) were passed to the back of the loom, over and down behind the round steel beam.

Instead of sleying both reeds at the front of the loom, as described in the book, I sleyed the first reed at the front, then passed the reed to the back to sley the second reed. Here the first reed is suspended about five inches above the second reed, making it easy to sley the second reed. The pattern heddles are directly underneath the lower reed.

The second reed is now sleyed straight across, the 4" space in the middle of the reed is not needed on the second reed. I will leave the cords as is until the weaving warp is beamed.

At this point, the first reed was passed back to the front of the loom,...

and tied in place to the upper beam overhead.

The cords are ready to tie to the pattern heddles, after the weaving warp is beamed. Tonight, this is a beautiful sight! One step closer,...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A New Season Begins

Spring at The Studio Gallery in Boulder Junction, WI, just follow the stone path that leads to our gate and door.

Long ago, this little red building was a washhouse for railroad workers. Now it houses a small cooperative art gallery. There is no heat or insulation so we are open Memorial Day weekend through the first week or so of October.

Though we have a small fenced area, the deer have no problem jumping over it. Last year we replaced the live flowers, herbs and hanging baskets with large, painted wood flowers. Made by a few of our members, they were "planted" again this year. They are large, colorful, easily seen from the street, and three have center cutouts where visitors enjoy having their photos taken. Last year, quite a number of people asked what we would do with them when we close as they wanted to buy them! We expect there will be many requests again this summer.

This year we are open Wed. through Sat. each week, so with the members available to gallery-sit, each artist works about three days a month. This past Thursday was a workday for me at the gallery, a beautiful day, a fair number of browsers and buyers, lots of nice compliments on the work, and sales were great for this early in June.

This old bicycle caught my eye the other day with it's beautiful flowers in the baskets.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Artistree Gallery is Coming Soon

Early in May, a number of artisans involved in LOLA (Land O' Lakes Artisans) met and felt there was enough interest and commitment to open "Artistree Gallery" in Land O'Lakes. There will be watercolor, acrylic, and possibly oil paintings, jewelry, pottery, art quilts, weaving, and photography.

On Monday this week we had access, and the large room was cleaned and painted. Yesterday, available art works could begin to be delivered, and in the afternoon we met to discuss various business matters.

I believe the space is around 24' x 16', has five large windows that have been UV treated, two counter/cupboards, two additional tables were purchased, and a jewelry case has been made available. It's a beautiful space with two warm pine walls and ceiling, two white walls, track lighting and ceiling fan.

Opening day is June 15th, open seven days a week, and open year-around. Since we are a cooperative-style gallery, the artists will be taking turns working. Yesterday, we could sign up for days to work. At this point there are 12 or so artists who are definitely committed to this, and I believe we are hoping for at least 20. Exciting things are happening in the Northwoods of WI.