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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Wow! It has been a while since I've posted here! Sorry for the long hiatus! I've had a busy Summer. Lot's of weaving and spinning, a couple booths at Fiber Fairs and many other projects. The tapestry project is moving along a bit. I've got some nice skeins of yarn spun. My Father, bless his heart, finally came in and scrubbed down the tapestry loom so it looks lovely. He also spent much time cleaning the rust off the reed with naval jelly and a toothbrush so it looks like new! I'm washing the canvas that was around the beams and then we're ready to warp! In the meantime, I have been weaving on my smaller tapestry loom. I'm trying some different techniques on a "sampler" that is turning out to be a nice little wall hanging. Here is a picture of that tapestry taken shortly after I started weaving. It's an abstract Mother and Child and the cartoon leaves lots of room for me to improvise while weaving.

I've also been doing lots of other weaving this Summer. The contract with Custom Woven Interiors keeps me busy. I've also converted the back beam to a sectional beam and have had some interesting times figuring out how to wind the warp on evenly. I have two other 8 harness looms warped with scarf and shawl projects and am trying to spend a little time with them. This weekend is the 2006 Art Meander and so I've been getting my studio/gallery ready for the crowds of people to come through (hope springs eternal). I'm also teaching a couple beginning knitting classes in the evenings. All told, I don't have much time to sit still. Guess I'd better get back to work!

Monday, June 26, 2006


It's been a while since my last post! I have been so busy weaving and trying to keep up with the rest of my life, that I haven't had much computer time. I haven't made much progress on the tapestry project. I'm trying to spin a bit every day, but not always getting there. Here's a picture of the plied Jacobs Sheep yarn. I'm winding it off of the bobbin onto a niddy noddy to make it into a skein. Then I will wash it in warm water with some Kookaburra Woolwash. That sets the twist and will help mothproof it a bit (I hope). After the skein is dry, I wind it into a ball and it's ready to use. I've started another skein of a very dark brown solid Jacobs wool at home, and I still need to finish up the white mohair at the store. I also have been going through my other fiber and have lots of wonderful colors and blends to spin up. I'll have to warp the loom pretty soon!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Don't quit your day job!

I haven't posted lately, as I am very busy trying to get ahead on the weaving I do for Kelly Marshall of Custom Woven Interiors. Here's a picture of the current runner that is on my 10 harness countermarch production loom.

I have gotten the tapestry loom moved into the store, and it's settled into a nice location that sort of divides the room into yarn store and weaving studio. I've taken the old warp off and removed the reed (which is very rusty - I may have to replace it?) but I haven't made time to wash it up yet. I did pick up a bottle of Murphy's Oil Soap, which works well on finished wood. Right now though, I have a deadline with Kelly, so back to the rep weave runners!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I have the loom!

OH MY! All of a sudden, everything came together on Saturday evening! My Dad and I borrowed a pickup and drove the 66 miles round trip to Tokheim's, loaded the loom in the back and had it in the store by 9 PM. Here's a picture of the loom in the back of the pickup in front of the barn where it's been stored for the last few years. The second picture is what I could see of the loom through the back window of the pickup on the way home. Yes it was tied down, and yes I spent a good part of the trip watching it to make sure that it didn't blow away. It's fairly heavy, but still only took two people to get it out of the truck and into my store. Once inside though, we had to find room for it! It's looking pretty good lined up next to my big countermarch production loom. Now I need to give it a thorough cleaning and take off the old warp. I did pick up some Murphy's Oil Soap which is great for washing finished wood, but have been busy finishing up some other projects. Soon!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Today I'm finally back into my store/studio for the rest of the Summer. I'm not planning any more outside booth activities until the North Country Fiber Fair in September. I had a good week in Montevideo and saw lots of kids. In between the class sessions I sat and worked on the spinning wheel and talked to anyone who poked their heads in, so I actually got some spinning done. I'm ready to ply the black & white Jacobs sheep yarn - 2 bobbins pretty full. I'm also pretty close to being done with the white Mohair yarn. Hmmm - maybe I'll ply a little of the Jacobs with the Mohair to get a third color/texture.

I was thinking about trying to get the loom over here this weekend, but need to find an open bed pickup to carry it home. I think we'll leave it in the barn for a couple more weeks, and use the time to get some more spinning done and to make space in my studio.

A little side note - I was leafing through the newest Handwoven Magazine (May/June 2006) when the shipment arrived at Briar Rose Fibers, and saw an article about Jonelle Raffino of South West Trading Company. They sell the soy silk and ingeo (corn) fiber and yarn that I will be using in the project. Her picture is with the article and I was very pleased to see that she is wearing a scarf I wove for her with one of her experimental yarn blends of milk, silk, cashmere and bamboo. The fiber is a lovely white, but not very strong so I doubled it in the warp and weft and used a spot bronson pattern to give it some texture. I love her fibers and her company! You can link to their web site at . I also have several of their yarns for sale in the store, and can easily special order any of the yarns and colors listed at their site!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I just got back from the first day of spinning demonstrations in Montevideo. It's always fun for me and the kids, and I even got some spinning done between classes. On the way back to Canby, I stopped at Tokheim stoneware and got my first look at Lucy's tapestry loom. (Here's a picture of Lucy and the loom in the back of the barn.) Given that it's been in storage in a barn for the last several years, it looks like it's in pretty good condition. It still has a warp on it, and even a bit of weaving. The reed is rusty and would need a major cleaning or replacement, but other than that, all the parts are there! We're going to try to bring it home without taking it apart to prevent frustration and lost bolts, so will have to borrow an open bed pickup. Maybe this weekend? We'll see!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Check In!

This has been a crazy week - my daughter is finishing up first grade and so we're busy with school functions and field trips. I've been weaving and spinning and (no I don't drink!) even a little knitting, along with the usual store duties. Last night we got home and checked the mail and found the check from SMAHC waiting for us! Today I'll get it into the bank and contact Lucy about picking up the loom. Next week I'll be driving back and forth between Canby and Montevideo to demonstrate spinning in this log cabin at Heritage Days in the Pioneer Village. Lucy's studio is on the way, so I'll try to stop by there and see what we need to do to move the loom to Canby. Looking at the calander, I don't think we'll attempt the actual move until sometime around Memorial Day weekend. Once I see the loom, I'll have a better idea of how much space I'll need to make for it in the store. In the meantime, I can't quit my "day job" and so will get back to work!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Getting the story out

Today I spent most of the morning putting my store back together from the show at Lake Elmo. We managed to get a booth space inside a building instead of sitting out under a picnic shelter all weekend. And a good thing, too! It rained for a good part of the time we were there. I had a fun couple of days, talked to a lot of people and even got a good bit of spinning done (often doing both simultaneously, which impressed some of the more casual observers "look - she's talking and spinning at the same time"). We got back late Sunday night and unpacked this morning.

This afternoon I had an interview with Cindy from the Marshall Independent to talk about this project and how it got started. We will probably see a story soon! I hoping people will start checking out this blog and come to the store to see how the weaving is progressing. Once I get the loom in. I haven't gotten the check from SMAHC yet. In the meantime, I must continue with my other weaving projects. Oh yes, and don't forget the gardening!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Yesterday I spent some time on line surfing for satellite images and found several. I'm planning on using these images as a beginning design point for my tapestry series. Some of them are truly spectacular and others are really old. Once I find an interesting image, I am taking a photo of the computer screen and then running the image through Paint Shop Pro 6 to resize and crop. Then I print out a copy to use for reference and proportions (if needed - I set up a grid system on the page and then transfer the image to a full size paper) and sketch from there. Some of the colors are pretty neat too, but I'm not planning on trying to make an exact replica of the photo. This is a image of Canby taken around 2003, and will be neat to reference for size and placement of the town amoung the fields. At this point the image has already gone through three filters and is fairly grainy, but for my purposes it will do nicely. It will be processed again as I sketch and transfer it to the full size cartoon, and once again in the actual weaving process. The yarns, colors and weaving textures used will all serve to transform it to what I hope will be a very interesting piece of visual art!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Back to the trenches!

It's Monday morning and I'm looking at the piles of boxes and bags of yarn and books and paper and equipment that always results from doing a booth at a show. We moved stuff over to Marshall on Friday evening and set up Saturday morning. There were lots of fun vendors there and a nice room. The customers stayed away in droves. Too bad. We got everything back home Sunday evening, unloaded the car and went home to bed.

Still no sign of a check from SMAHC - they have 30 days to send it out. I'll be spending this week spinning and planning the weavings and getting ready for the show this next weekend at Lake Elmo. The Shepherd's Harvest Wool Festival will be a lot more down my alley as far as products so I expect to do well, and they have a proven attendance record. I will also get a chance to talk to the local wool mills and maybe pick up a couple fleeces to have cleaned and carded for spinning. I'll get back to work now!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Just a quick note! I haven't done much with the project - we had our store "social" last night (every Thursday evening we get together and share our projects and knit (or weave or spin) and talk. I got lots of good encouragement from the group about this project and this blog! Thanks, ladies! Today I'm getting ready to put up a booth at a scrapbooking getaway weekend in Marshall. I've also had a dentist's appointment this morning and quite a few customers in the store, so am feeling a little pressed for time again! I'll be out of town for the weekend, but back to blogging on Monday!

Thursday, May 04, 2006


Last night I drove the 40 miles to Milan to meet with the "2006 Arts Meander" people. We discussed our upcoming campaign, picked up signs and proofed the brochure. The Arts Meander is a studio tour of over 40 Southwest Minnesota artist's studios and takes place September 29, 30 and October 1. This is only 1 month before my scheduled project end date, so by then I should have at least 1 and probably more completed tapestries in the studio as well as work in progress on the loom. We have two artists showing in Canby this year, and it will be my second year on the tour, so I'm hoping that we will get more people coming down our way. For more Meander information, go to .

I set up a demo table at the Summer Rec sign-up for the Canby Elementary School yesterday afternoon, and have lots of interest (two sessions full, and working on the third!) for the Intro to Fibers class I'm teaching this Summer. I'm also getting ready for my booth at the scrapbooking getaway weekend in Marshall and warping my Glimakra Countermarche loom with a set of runners and mats for Kelly Marshall. This is my weaving contract job, and helps keep the wheels greased when the yarn sales get slow around here. Each warp is about 70 feet long and takes about 50 hours of weaving time to complete. It's fairly labor intensive, and I try to only weave for an hour or two at a time to keep from ruining my back and arms. The tapestry weaving will be a nice change, or at least a different motion. Needless to say, I didn't do any spinning yesterday!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A little background

It occurs to me that I should include some background information on both myself and this project.

Personally, I was born and raised in Canby, MN. I graduated from SSU in Marshall, MN with a BA in FiberArts. I then moved to Colorado and went to work for a fast food restaurant to pay the bills while trying to weave on the side. Many years (and lots of experience) later I took a job as manager of the local yarn store, which was expanding rapidly. I moved back to Canby in 2000 and opened my own yarn store in my family home. We moved Briar Rose Fibers downtown 2 years later and are enjoying a storefront location next to PK Egans restaurant. Part of the space is set up as my weaving studio and the rest is yarn store. For more info go to my web site at .

Project: I have been working with the tapestry subject ideas for some time, but never got off the ground as the loom I have is small and a bit clumsy to weave on. Things started to come together when Lucy came into the store to check out what I was up to. As we talked about fibers and weaving, she mentioned that she had a very nice tapestry loom that she hasn't had time to use, and would sell to me. I then checked into the SMAHC grant, and of course the annual deadline was the next week. So I managed to put together a grant proposal, complete with .jpg images and 2 letters of recommendation and got it to SMAHC just on the deadline. They then had a review committee which I met with for 10 minutes (the allotted time) to talk about my work and answer any questions they had. All this caused no little bits of anxiety on my part (I wonder if I missed the deadline, I forgot to mention/talk about this at the interview) so when I got the letter of acceptance, it was quite a relief!

Current news: I spent some time at the store yesterday spinning Mohair from a lovely soft adult roving. I have both white and a medium natural gray and am planning on using them both separately and combined to create a nice range of neutral colors. Here is a picture my daughter took of me spinning on the Schacht wheel. I did mail in the original copy of the contract yesterday, so that should be taken care of. Now I just have to wait for the check! I have a busy May schedule in the store and will be out of town for the next two weekends hosting a booth at shows (again, see my web site "New Events" page for more details). Remember what I said about time management? Sometimes I find that the more I have to do, the more I get done. Let's hope it holds true!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

spinning away!

Last night I settled in at my wheel again. I'm spinning a Jacob's sheep roving I've been saving for "something special" and this is it! The spinning is going quickly and well. I'm using a modified long draw and relaxing into a fairly consistant diameter and twist. The finished yarn will still have quite a bit of texture and I love the color! This roving has a stong dark brown and bright white carded side by side and is showing a lot of spiral variation as I spin it. This will be subdued a bit when I ply the yarn with the other spool, and blend even more when woven. I also have a taupe and a dark brown from this fleece that are more solid colored and will provide a nice contrast.

I heard from Charles at SMAHC today. Yesterday I sent the contract in, and they already have it. Unfortunately, I sent them my copy and kept the signed copy here. We're going to trade and they should have the real thing tomorrow. I knew it was going to be the paperwork in this project that would trip me up, I just didn't think it would start happening so soon. Heavy sigh!

I've also contacted the loom owner and she's excited that her loom is going back into service! It's been in her garage now for a couple years, but is still warped and ready to go. I'll have to remove the old warp and put on a fresh warp for my project, but it's reassuring that all the pieces will be there and together!

Monday, May 01, 2006

So it begins...

Last Friday, April 28, I got the letter from SMAHC annoucing that I have been awarded an Artist's Development Grant for $1000.00. Today I need to send in the grant contract acceptance form and then I wait for a check. They send out 80% at startup and then 20% when they recieve my final report. My first reaction was "yippee", then I started to wonder what it was I told them I'd do in the application. On review, it seems that I'm buying a a used Gobelin tapestry loom and I am planning to weave at least one tapestry on it in the next 6 months. I think I mentioned using handspun yarns for this project. Then I am having it photographed and getting docmentation (postcards and CD's) to send to galleries and shows and to use in developing a portfolio. Spinning yarn and weaving tapestries both are very time comsuming, so I will be doing lots of time management planning these next few weeks! I have started spinning the yarns already, using both my Schacht wheel here at my store, and my Jensen double treadle wheel at home. I will make arrangements to pick up the loom after I get the check. One of the first challenges will be fitting into my studio space. It's got a 60" weaving width!

I have lots of general ideas of what the tapestry will look like, but will have to finalize a sketch and then make a full size drawing (cartoon) to weave from. My theme for this project is rural images, and the tapestry series will be based on aerial photographs of local farmlands. I find the geometry fascinating, with straight line county roads intersecting wriggling streambeds. I see the shapes of the fields and the contours of the land the tractors follow when plowing. The images lend themselves well to tapestry weaving, which is more pictorial than traditional weaving. I'm excited to actually get started and see my sketches come to life!