Boy, it has been a week! And it’s only Thursday! This week has brought lots of firsts! And like most new things, they are exciting and terrifying all at the same time!

I was asked to be a vendor in a new store opening up in Detroit and the owners asked me to provide them with a line sheet. Now, in true entrepreneurial fashion, I said, “Of course I can provide you with a line sheet!” And I promptly opened up Google to find out what the hell was a line sheet!

I knew it was a tool used in wholesale, but had no clue beyond that! So guess what? I now have a line sheet!! Thankfully, I had been paving the way for this to happen prior to this week. Ultimately, I just had to sort out the format. I was ready with most of the information already! This was the first big mile marker of the week.

Next, I have been talking about creating pillows for awhile now and this week, I got the first samples! With any new product, there are usually lots of decisions to make and hiccups to work around. But, I’m very happy with the road we’re on and it’s going to be a mighty fine place to start!

I’ll have an official release for the pillows and other upcoming homegoods soon! But for now, I simply wanted to share the good news that more cool woven stuff is coming!! Whew!!

Stretching yourself in so many directions at once is thrilling! But a very strong part of me wants to just sit down and thread some yarns through the loom to balance it all out! Throw in more known elements to counteract the many unknowns, if you will.

It’s so exciting to grow the business! But, I’ve always been the girl who’d rather stroll down the hill versus ride my bike at top speed with my hair on fire. So balance is the key. Along with the support of great friends and family. Oh – and lots of faith!!

What big milestones are you working on this week?

Navigating the weaving obstacle course 

I am starting a new project – yay! Yesterday, I jotted down my pattern, pulled out the yarn, measured everything at the warping board, and sleyed the reed. And just when I was feeling really good about myself, I realized I forgot to measure an entire repeat of the pattern (since 9 goes into 36 4 times – not 3)! 

This got me thinking about all the variables and ways a weaving project can go awry. Right off the bat you are working with a loom and all its moving parts. You truly need to be part mechanic to keep up! I have had multiple bits fall apart, fall off, bend, break, fray, and who knows what else! I currently am holding together part of the loom with a twist tie! (You know – the little guys used to keep your bread closed? So far, its working! Keep your fingers crossed for me, would ya?) 

Thankfully, parts of the loom tend to wreak havoc in stages, not all at once! I’m fortunate to have been able to simply repair or easily replace parts thus far. No serious surgery has been necessary. I’ve been lucky!

As a weaver, you not only have to navigate all the moving parts of the equipment, but also the many stages of a project! I feel pretty confident that in my 11 years of weaving, I’ve hit all of the major mistakes & lots of minor ones! Forgetting to mark the cross on the warping board so I have no clue what order my 200+ threads are supposed to be in. Not having enough heddles in the loom when you have already laid in nearly all the yarns. Making a threading error an inch off center in the project. Ah, the list goes on and on! 

But I feel like this obstacle course every weaver runs through with each project makes us a very patient & persistent lot! Some might say crazy… and that might not be wrong, either! There is certainly a reason not everyone weaves. But to those who do, I wish you all the best jumping, swinging and dodging your way through your next project! 

What is your best story about a project gone wrong? 

This is the moment I realized I was missing something – like 9″ of yarn supposed to fill in the right side of the reed!

The birth of an idea…

This past week, I’ve been tackling a lovely, colorful custom project using a client’s deceased husband’s neckties! I’m transforming them into fabric that we will then cut into handbags the family can enjoy. I love these types of projects! It is such an honor to be trusted with such personal items – remembrances of someone long gone.

So, while I was working away, my mind took a little trip down memory lane to the very first time I did anything with neckties, or any recycled material for that matter. And here’s my quaint little story!

Once upon a time (I don’t know the year, but I’m sure it was longer ago that I think since time gets away from me so quickly!), I was in a group called the Creativity Continuum. This was a set of ladies who all met once a month at the TLD Design Center in Westmont, IL with the purpose of supporting and stretching ourselves as artists. We did all sorts of fun, crazy activities meant to make you think, challenge you to be brave, and mostly trigger the need to keep creating!

Well, each year, we would put on a small exhibit to show what we have been working on and for a couple of years, we decided to give the exhibit a theme. One of those years, we settled on the theme of “A Woman’s Wardrobe”. Now, there were no other restrictions beyond the theme. You could take that as literally or philosophically as you wanted to. So that very broad topic, combined with the fact that each of us worked in different mediums and possessed very different strengths, always guaranteed a wildly diverse and fascinating collection!

While I was mulling over the theme, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to do a play on stereotypical gender roles. Now, keep in mind that this was LONG before it was commonplace to discuss gender identities at the kitchen table. I was aiming for something much more simplistic than that. So, I settled on the fact that I wanted to create an item that was very feminine, woven with very masculine materials. And when it all came together, I had a pencil skirt constructed using hand-woven fabric made of men’s neckties!

The end result was clunky and stiff and you couldn’t really walk in it (never mind that I couldn’t fit into it now by a long shot even if I wanted to!). But, I remember marveling at how unique the fabric was! Blending all those patterns and colors together gave it a completely different look from anything I could achieve using traditional yarns! And it wasn’t until a few years after that that I connected the dots and started using recycled materials to make fabric for handbags. But, it is so wonderful to look back through my history to ponder the seemingly random, wonderful starting point for an idea I really love!

So, here’s to pencil skirts, the Creativity Continuum, and the family members who gave me their neckties knowing I was going to chop them up into who knows what! Thank you!!!  necktie-pencil-skirtimg_1715

The birth of a project 

Here are the steps I go through to set up the loom before each event!

These were the winning colors!
Measured the yarns on the warping board.
The lovely warp – ready to go!
Sleyed the reed!
Threaded the heddles.
Tied the yarns on to the back of the loom. 
Started winding the yarns through the loom. 
Tied the yarns to the back.
Put a few spacers in place (toilet paper) and it’s ready to go!!! 

It's a democracy… mostly

Before each art fair, I have certain rituals I go through – check the money, charge the credit card reader, pack water/snacks, and last but not least, set up the demonstration loom. A few years back, I thought, “Why not let the FB fans choose the colors of my project?” Since then, each Tuesday before a show, I post yarn combinations and let people vote! It’s always entertaining to see the results! Typically, the crowd leans towards brighter colors, purple nearly ALWAYS wins, and my sweet friends Lisa & Pam cancel each other out. 

My rule of thumb is to propose 2 options that I like, so it doesn’t matter which one wins. Seems very logical, doesn’t it? Well, last week was the first time I seriously considered throwing the vote! Blue was the common color between the pair of fiber foursomes. (See the choices below.) Yet, one was distinctly spring-ier colors and the other one screamed fall! Warm, dark, earthy – all my favorites! And I’m counting on the crowd to be in the mood for sweater weather and vote the same direction I’m leaning! 

As the votes begin trickling in, nearly all of them are for spring (you should know that when I say, “nearly all”,  that’s about 5…) For the first time ever, I start strategizing how I can sway the vote! Not very diplomatic of me, I know! But, I talked myself off the ledge and decided to wait. Sure enough, by the end of the day, the crowd had planted themselves firmly in the fall camp (and by “crowd”, I mean 8…). Whew! Big sigh of relief. And after all the drama, a beautiful piece of fabric was born! (Not that I couldn’t have woven something cool with the other colors! I just wasn’t feeling it… we’ll call it an artist’s prerogative…) 

Which brings me to this week! Of which I have NO idea… better think of something soon…