Developing a New Model for Teaching Fiber Arts

Duluth folk schoolThis past winter, I was immersed in my fiber arts teaching schedule, with needle felting classes on Saturdays, Painting with Wool felting classes on Sundays, two-day weaving intensives, and many Fridays travel teaching to folk schools for felting and punch needle rug hooking. That, of course, has come to a halt due to COVID-19, and I am looking towards new and creative ways to encourage your creativity and learning while sharing my passion for fiber arts. Perhaps this is a good time to also reconsider the model of having students or instructors run here and there to attend or teach. Maybe learning within the comfort of our own homes is actually a better model to explore.

I miss my students, and I am eager to reconnect with you all! As I brainstorm ways of moving forward, I am interested in hearing from you about what learning methods and offerings would be of most interest to you. Lately, I’ve been transforming many of my needle felting classes into kits with video tutorials, which you can finish at your own pace. But I am looking to expand the offerings, including live stream options.

Please take a moment to share your thoughts as a student below, to help me understand what would interest you. Thank you, and I hope we can connect soon for unlocking creative potential!

Online Learning Interest
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Studio Tour: Step Inside My Yurt

As a creative person, do you ever struggle to create that “room of your own” for your work? Find yourself having to pick up mid-progress because someone needs the dining room table or have to safeguard your materials from curious pets? All these and the fact that tapestry looms are large and heavy had me searching for a studio space solution in 2007. The looms were too heavy for the loft in our house (it began sagging, yikes!), the projects too delicate to be near our squirrel-happy dogs, and the space required too large to fit anywhere else in our home. Make an addition? Build a separate building? The choices were becoming dauntingly expensive, until we settled on installing a yurt next to our home.

Now, 13 years later, the yurt is still my treasured tapestry studio space. This morning, I filmed a tour for you, so you can step inside and look around. Join me!

Airy, open, and integrated with nature, the yurt makes a wonderful sacred space for making art. The hydronic in-floor heat means I waste no floor space (or the mess!) for a wood stove, and we had electricity installed for extra light and heat when needed. Pacific Yurts makes many sizes (mine is a 16-food diameter) and a great variety of add-on features, and the work is high quality and has lasted well even in our harsh northern climate. It doesn’t stay warm enough when it’s 35-below and windy, but when it’s that cold I’m by the wood stove in the house! I am careful not to bring food or beverage other than water inside, as the last thing I’d want to find in my studio is a bear! Never hurts to be cautious.

Thank you for joining me in my studio.

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Tapestry Progress: Zen Cranes

Weaving, for me, is a practice. There is a zen state in my studio yurt–a peaceful sacredness that has a different resonance from our home of at Farmstead Creamery. In the yurt, there is quiet stillness, the sounds of the wind and the birds, and the gentle rustle and thump of the weaving process itself. I wanted to share some of that experience with you, as if you could sit with me in the studio.

Tapestry Weaving Demonstration

The weaver in quarantine looks unchanged–the work carries on, one thread at a time.  The world turns, spring haltingly moves her way forward, and the process continues.  The artist who has created her sacred studio space at home can carry on the journey unabated.  I feel for my grad school friends who had to pack up their NY studios and cart what they could back to their apartments for the duration–yikes!  Be safe my friends out there.  I am fortunate that, like cottage industries dating back to the dawn of weaving, my tools of the trade are close at home and close at hand.

Finally, “Zen Cranes”  is growing to enough height that I can see how my interpretation of the photo by Kathy Bishop is working out.  Stepping back, hints of the depth and movement of the water, shadows, and reeds are appearing.

tapestry detail

While it still seems like the tapestry has a loooooong way to go, much of the time-consuming decision making about color, texture, interpretation, and visual phrasing is set in motion.  And the higher up I weave on the piece, the fewer reeds there are (sigh of relief), so speed will come exponentially with height.  I am certainly looking forward to the part where I can work in the crane feathers!  Not yet, not yet, but it’s coming.

full tapestry progress

My encouragement to you is that you use this time at home to be creative, whether or not you have a full studio available.  Claim even a corner, a chair, a table, the garage, whatever it takes.  Be expressive, immersive, lose yourself in the work.  The process is healing and grounding and a critical part of being human.  Stay safe and healthy my friends, and carry on!

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Adapting Creatively

Sudden onset lifestyle change:  Social distancing, lockdowns, self-quarantining, sheltering in place.  These have all been added to our vocabulary in a matter of a couple of weeks, and we’re all feeling the pinch.  While I work from home (our family farm, my studio, and our farm store and gallery), so being at home is no stranger to me, but still I’ve had to adapt as a creative person, especially as a teacher.  Every weekend and several Fridays were booked with needle felting classes, rosters filled with eager students, and the COVID-19 appeared on center stage.  I have beloved grandparents in their late 80’s and early 90’s, so I’m all on board with the new regimen to help front door signkeep people safe and slow the spread so the medical industry can keep up with their patient load.  We’re a medical family, so I’m not complaining in the least.  We all have to do our part to help everyone make it through this pandemic as best as possible.

But that doesn’t mean that the show is cancelled.  Creativity has a way of breaking through even the toughest moments in human history, and this should be no exception.  Instead of being defeated, we must adapt.  That is how species, and psyches, survive.  I choose to be a creative survivor, so here are some of the techniques I’m employing at this time.  Feel free to use them in your own practice:

 

Hygge During Self-Quarantine

Change is hard. And to help protect the elderly and immunocompromised members of our community, we’ve had to change and adapt fast. The need for social distancing means that we need to be at home, away from our usual social haunts or work environment. We’re being barraged by horrible news from all over the world, and this only adds to the stress. Can we still find our hygge (hoo-ga) amidst all this turmoil?

As a former homeschooler who has my own business right here on our farm, being at home all the time feels exceptionally normal. So, here are a few tips I can offer for making your “sheltering in place” experience more comforting, creative, and social (even at a distance). Take whichever pieces feel right to you and try them out this week.

Take a Walk

No ear buds, no phone calls. Just you, the dog, and the Northwoods. Listen to the sounds of the woods awaking in the warming days—birds singing, squirrels scurrying, deer munching. Breathe deeply and pay attention to the sensations in your feet as you walk. Mother Nature is going about her seasonal shift, uninhibited by the current social mess. Repeat this practice daily or as much as possible.

Make Fika a Daily Practice

Pick either late morning or early afternoon, whichever works best for you, for a hot cup of tea or coffee (this has been found to help fight COVID-19), a tasty snack like a homemade muffin, and time to check in with loved ones. Really give this hour your whole, un-scattered attention. Call your folks, Skype the grandkids, text a friend, whatever means feels right to you. Handwrite a letter even! Share stories and feelings with those sharing your home as you sit together for this moment of connection. Emotional isolation kills, so while we must be physically apart, we can still let each other know that we care.

making kits

Get Creative

If you’ve always wanted to learn to (fill in this space), well, now’s the time to do it! There really are no excuses left when you’re stuck at home with all those materials you bought but never took out of the case/closet/bin/box/shelf. Head on over to YouTube University, find someone who’s offering classes in your area online, dust off the books you bought, or find a friend who can video chat your way through getting started. I’ve had to cancel my needle felting classes, and instead made kits to send to all my students, complete with a link to video tutorials, so it feels like sitting in on a class. Give me a holler if you want some of these sent your way to get you started.

Dust It Off and Finish Itunicorn journal

Ok, you know what it is—the quilt, the chair, the album, the novel, the painting…that project you started but then got distracted and never got around to picking it up again. I’m as guilty as anyone else for having unfinished projects around. I tried counting them one day, but when I got to 30, I just stopped; it was too daunting. This week, I took a bite out of the pile and turned several “painting with wool” needle felted pieces into beautiful sketchbook covers. I felt so accomplished! It’s infectious, in a good way. Start finishing things and then post about them on social media. Recruit your friends to finish their projects. We’ll all have home and studio makeovers by the time this is over and feel great!

 

Read Aloud

This was always my favorite part of homeschooling, and we still continue this tradition (though at a less intensive rate) today. Usually, Mom is the reader, with her soothing voice, while everyone else works quietly on projects about the living room (hey, this brings several of these hygge elements together!). Choose an old favorite or try something new—a novel, a mystery, a history, a socially engaged book, whatever you’d like to read together. You can even take turns reading chapters. It’s a great way to slow down the pace and break away from the boob tube and the smart phone addictions.

Journal

Offloading your feelings onto the page is a time-honored way to make it through tough times. Draw, doodle, rant, cry, wonder. The page can take it all without complaint. This may be especially helpful if you are having to shelter in place alone. Tape in photos or notes from loved ones, dream about summertime, reminisce. Emotions are complicated, and often those first couple of pages are only scraping the surface. Keep writing through the resistance to get to the stickier stuff below. When you shed light on what scares you, often the monsters don’t look as big and fearsome as they did in the dark. Do the internal work necessary to come out of this in a stronger, more authentic place.

Choose Kindness

We’re all in a tough spot with the COVID-19 situation. This can make us feel edgy and unforgiving, but that only causes more pain. Instead, each day, choose kindness, whether it’s when you are interacting with others (at a safe distance), online, or on the phone. Choose kindness with your pets, your family, your neighbors. Be patient, anticipate need, show support. While at first it may feel like you don’t have the energy for it, kindness gently feeds your soul, helping you to cope with depth you didn’t know you had. Trust the process and choose kindness.

Wishing you all health and safety through these trying times. May we all cultivate our own version of hygge in place. The world outside is still beautiful—the birds will return, the days lengthen, the buds pop. Keep your spirits up, tend to your vital heart, and wash your hands. Know that we at North Star Homestead Farms are doing our part, leading through example as we adapt while continuing to serve. See you down on the farm sometime.

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Immersion in Fiber: Punch Needle Rug Hooking Classes Launched

owl punch needleI’m all about preparations. Not only is a well-prepared endeavor likely to be more successful but also less stressful! It means more availability to be fully in the moment during the adventure, knowing that you’re ready.

This commitment to preparedness meant that the stash of supplies for my “Punch Needle Rug Hooking: Birds of the Northwoods” class at North House Folk School in Grand Marais, MN started accruing two weeks in advance. Class was going to be a long ways from home, so no running back for upholstery thread or other supplies. By the time we were ready to depart, the Prius was completely stuffed with all the accoutrements of a well-designed class.

But even though this small town tucked up along Minnesota’s north shore is far from pretty much everywhere, its folk school has become a pilgrimage site for fiber arts makers. This year marked the 10th anniversary of Fiber Week—an immersive experience with a wide variety of classes running throughout campus, along with lectures, showings, demoNorth House campusnstrations, and community events. This was my first experience of Fiber Week, and I was ready to commune with sheep and wool lovers of all types.

So often, our lives can be fraught with distractions. Just as we settle into an experience, the phone rings, bleeps, or pings, and we’re carried off in another direction and lose our focus. The beautiful part of coming to a retreat (especially when it means traveling away from the usual routines of home) is that you can purposefully shed those distractions to focus solely on something of interest to you.

That was precisely the experience I was looking forward to enjoying during the long weekend, as well as purposefully nurturing for my students in my punch needle rug hooking class. The two-day intensive had been two years in the making, and now it was finally happening. My own class, with my own classroom, here at the folk school—surrounded by yarn and art and fiber lovers. Talk about hygge (hoo-ga)!

prepared classroom

As I settled into campus, I was especially interested to learn the stories of the different individuals attending—their backgrounds and inspiration. Some had small flocks of fiber animals at home, while others lived in cities but loved fiber culture. I think reputation got around that I was the farm girl on campus—85 sheep being a bit larger than a backyard project.

The night before my class featured the annual “Show and Share,” where anyone could bring a recent project or two. We laid them all out on long tables, then went around the big circle for introductions and brief descriptions of the work(s) we’d brought. There was embroidery and weaving, stitching and dying, spinning and felting, knitting and knotwork, printmaking and collage, and more. Together, these works created a textured rainbow of love, time, attention, tradition, and innovation. Every story had an element of what the maker was exploring, learning, or expressing.owl student piece

I’d brought a few of my finished punch needle tapestries to share. Since I was the new instructor on campus, and this was their first Amy Oxford style punch needle rug hooking class, this was a great opportunity to show the ability of the medium to represent naturalistic forms, shading, and depth. I wanted to showcase that punch needle rug hooking could be far more than “coloring” with yarn—it was a process that could bring an image to life.

Because fiber arts often have a repetitive element to them (which is also what makes them so relaxing once you master the technique), working on our pieces together in the class offered stretches of time to discuss and explore these subtler aspects—bringing conceptuals from fine arts training (perspective, dimensionality, color theory) into a field often classified as “craft.” Sadly, craft often gets misconstrued in current Western culture, so let me untangle that yarn for a moment.

Every artist knows she must work on her craft—honing, learning, building new skills. Craft is the doing of the process. It’s technique. Craft is the building blocks of the projects. Even designers need to have a knowledge of craft in their field, so they don’t imagine something that simply cannot be made manifest through the desired medium. Folk schools are all about nurturing the culture of craft. Craft is essential—if we don’t keep it alive, no one will know how to make these unique objects anymore!hummer student piece

But here is the point, craft is not specific to a medium. Painters have to work on their craft. Actors have to work on their craft. Fiber artists too. The thing—a painting, a play, a textile—comes out of the process but is not itself a craft. Obviously, this word has been badly abused! Artistic expression can burgeon forth no matter what the medium, and I wanted to offer that option to my students. Yes, they could color in the lines if that was their happy place, but if they wanted to learn how to add depth, life, and a sense of movement to their piece, I was all over facilitating that learning moment.

And that facilitated learning is coming right here to Farmstead Creamery Feb 28-29! I’m repeating the punch needle rug hooking immersion class on our farm, and there are a few spots left. Please call for last-minute registration inquiries. 715-462-3453.  I’m already preparing for the exciting two-day adventure, unleashing creative expression through fiber arts immersion. And if, like me, you also love birds, it’s a perfect combination. This week, find your inspiration and empower yourself to immerse in it fully—whatever the medium. I’m sure that a glowing sense of hygge will follow.

owl in progress

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Making Miniature Dogs in Wool

scottieDogs have played a special role in our family, from early memories with Grandma and Grandpa’s Golden named Honey, to the misadventures of the Black Lab Meg to our sweet little Bichon Sophie, and hard-working farm dogs Lena and Finlee.  We’ve had furry family members in all shapes, colors, and sizes.

But it wasn’t until this last holiday, when good friends in Colorado asked for a likeness of their Great Pyrenees Maggie, that I began the adventure of needle felting miniature likenesses of these furry friends in earnest.  I had no idea that one or two would blossom into such enthusiasm!  We all love our dogs!  I even made likenesses of beloved dogs that had passed as Christmas presents for family members, which brought smiles and tears at the same time.

In this post, I want to celebrate some of the fun, sweet, and wonderful dogs I’ve been asked to needle felt.  Some of the dogs got to meet their miniature likenesses, while others have passed on and the creation serves as a precious keepsake.  Some even include real fur from the dog.  Enjoy the pics!

Maggie

Maggie dog   mini maggie

Fred

beagle  little beagle

Max

aussie  mini aussie

Remington

two dogs   remington

Simba

Simba  little simba

Bernie

labradoodle mini labradoodle

Buddy

collie  buddy

Lemmy

corgi  wool corgi

Junior

junior  wool junior

Family dogs:  in remembrance of Sophie, Bo, and Lazy

dog trio

Maggie came back full circle for a larger, more realistic pet portrait that is the size of a puppy!  This includes real fur brushed from the dog.

holding maggie

If you’re interested in having a miniature made of your favorite dog(s), please check out the new page I created to help answer your questions about how the process works, pricing, etc.  I’d love to see pics of your beloved pet as the creative adventure continues.  Woof, woof!

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Hands to Help our Wild Friends

2 nestsRESOURCES near the bottom of this post!

Winter can force us to face the suffering that surrounds us.  The cold bites our faces, our dogs hop on three or two legs, aging loved ones struggle and pass on.  We can swing through spring and summer infused with a sense of bliss, but winter holds a pitiless side that reminds us of our own mortality and pain that all living beings endure.

The reality of this situation can crush us or fuel our resolve to be a force of goodness amidst the suffering.  While I’ve certainly been a member of both camps, my practice is to choose the latter and be an agent of inspiration, empowerment, and renewal.  Writing these weekly articles is part of that practice. This week, I added a new initiative to my list, which I want to share with you.

Half a world away in Australia, fires rage, destroying habitat and a conservative estimate of one billion animals.  My heart cried for the suffering.  Fire is the LAST thing I would ever want to experience on our farm.  The suffering of the animals (both wild and domestic) that appeared in social media broke my heart because they do not have the same options to flee as people do, and often they are too scared to make the best choices and therefore perish or suffer unspeakable fear and pain.

Of course, I can’t simply abandon the 1500 or so animals in my own care here on the farm to run off to Australia.  I’m not a firefighter.  What could I do?  Then I received a message from Emily Moe (my millinery instructor from 2018 at the folk school in Grand Marais), urging me to join American Rescue Crafters, which is a national group that works directly with wildlife rehabilitators to support them with sewn, knitted, and crocheted items that facilitate healing and a sense of safety for injured and ill animals of all kinds—from bat wraps to wallaby pouches to nests.

5 nestsOf course, the big push was to make and send items to Australia.  Each week they posted a needs chart, with items marked in red having the greatest need, yellow moderate need, green less need, etc.  Nests were marked red, so I clicked through the files database of approved patterns and printed my own copy to get started.  Nests—how perfect for me as a crochet artist.  I love birds, and in Australia it’s summertime, where many birds will have lost their homes in the fires.

But just as I finished my first set of nests, the social media group was scrambling in the wake of so many donations from over 50K members.  “Please stop sending items to Australia, we are flooded!” came the urgent plea.  They needed time to organize and distribute, and they did not want donations to go to waste.  “Please contact your local centers to see if there is need for items you have made,” was another suggestion from the harried coordinators.

Of course, I thought, how classic that an international crisis would rally the efforts of so many, but the close-to-home caregivers who don’t make the headlines are left struggling.  This was a moment of “think global, act local.”  A global need brought a workable solution to my attention, but now it was time to turn that attention to the region where I live.  Wildlife suffers in Wisconsin’s Northwoods as well.  Now, where to turn?

I reached out to naturalist Emily Stone from the Cable Natural History Museum.  Immediately, she pointed me to the Northwoods Wildlife Center in Minoqua, Wisconsin and the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota in Roseville.  I picked up the phone and started calling, explaining this project, what I was making, and the suggestion to reach out to local center to see if they would have need for these items.  Both were quite interested in the nests.  Not that they need them immediately because we’re in wintertime, but certainly they would be helpful by spring.

“That would be perfect for our songbird nursery,” the receptionist at the Minnesota Center agreed.  “We’d take 30 to start with, and if those work out great and we need more, we’ll be in touch for a second batch.”

stacked nestsSo now I have a goal:  60 nests by spring.  And I also have a place to send them:  two locations which could have been easily overlooked for receiving these donations.  As a fiber artist, it feels good to use these handcraft skills to make something that gives back to the community.  And as a bird lover, it seems especially apt.  I treasure the songbirds of the Northwoods, and I yearn to ease suffering when I can.

And you can too, if this story makes you feel motivated to join the rescue crafters movement.  Below are inks to the pattern for the nests, contact info for the rehabilitation centers, notes on best yarn choices, and ways to connect with the rescue crafters network.  You can make nests too!  Or, if you don’t have time but have a yarn stash you would like to donate towards making nests, that’s a great way to engage too.

Pattern Crocheted Nests (my rewrite)

Notes on fibers and using this pattern:  While many fibers can be used, acrylics are appreciated because these nests will be machine washed again and again.  Work two fibers together for a stiff product.  Injured baby animals do not care what color their new home is.  Avoid using fuzzy fibers as the fuzz can be pulled out and eaten by the baby bird or animal!  The pattern itself is really quite simple–a disc for the base, then straight sides that are folded over.  If you can single crochet and learn to make a “magic circle,” you’ve got this.  The sizing chart (how wide by how big) in the pattern is most helpful.  I made each of the even-numbered sizes, which stack together tightly, which is great for shipping.

Size H 8 crochet hook

This pattern is worked as a spiral.  A stitch market is helpful for knowing where each round ends/starts.

SC=single crochet
ST=stitch
SLST=slip stitch
BLO=back loop only

Circular Base (make as wide as necessary for the size nest you want to create.  This is written out for the largest nest, but you can stop at any round and jump to making the sides)

Working two yarns together, make a Magic Circle

Round 1:  work 6 SC into Magic Circle, pull tight.

Round 2:  work 2 SC into each ST of last round (12 SCs)

Round 3:  *SC in next ST, work 2 SCs into next ST, SC in next ST; repeat from * 6 times around (18 SCs).

Round 4: SC in next ST, *work 2 SCs into next ST, SC in next 2 STs; repeat from * 5 times, ending with a more SC (24 SCs).

Round 5:  *SC in next 3 STs, work 2 SCs in next ST; repeat from * 6 times (30 SCs).

Round 6:  SC next 2 STs, *work 2 SCs into next ST, SC in next 4 STs; repeat from * 5 times, ending with 2 more SCs (36 STs).

Round 7:  *SC next 5 STs, work 2 SCs into next ST; repeat from * 6 times (42 SCs).

Round 8: SC next 3 STs, *work 2 SCs into next ST, SC next 6 STs; repeat from * 5 times, ending with 3 more SCs (48 SCs).

Round 9:  *SC next 7 STs, work 2 SCs into next ST; repeat from * 6 times (54 SCs).

Round 10: SC next 4 STs, *work 2 SCs into next ST, SC next 8 STs; repeat from * 5 times, ending with 4 more SCs (60 SCs).

Round 11:  *SC next 9 STs, work 2 SCs into next ST; repeat from * 6 times (66 SCs).

Round 12:  SC next 5 STs, *work 2 SCs into next ST, SC next 10 STs; repeat from *around 5 times, ending with 5 more SCs (72 SCs).

 

Creating the Sides (these will feel long, but remember that they are folded over in half towards the outside to create stronger sides)

Transition Round: working BLO (this round only), SC in each ST around—this will help draw the sides up.

Continuous Round:  SC in each ST around to desired height.

 

Sizing Chart: (in inches)

Base Round #             Diameter of Base       Height of Sides (unfolded)

3                                  1.75                             1.25

4                                  2.25                             3

5                                  2.75                             3.25

6                                  3.5                               3.5

7                                  4                                  3.75

8                                  4.25                             4.25

9                                  5.25                             4.5

10                                5.75                             5

11                                6.5                               5.25

12                                7                                  5.75

Finishing

SLST around the top of the sides, bind off.  Bury tails.  Fold down sides to create your nest!

Learn more about American Rescue Crafters and their full database of approved patterns, including crochet, knit, loom knitting, and sewn patterns for a wide variety of animals in need.

The regional centers I’ll be sending nests to are:

Northwoods Wildlife Center
8683 S. Blumenstein Road
Minoque, WI 54548
715-356-7400

Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota
2530 Dale Street
Roseville, MN, 55113
651-486-9453

If you wish to make donations of yarn or nests you’ve made for me to take to these centers, please bring them by:

Farmstead Creamery & Cafe
11077N Fullington Road
Hayward, WI 54843
715-462-3453

Or you can also see me at our first and third Thursday farmer market at NorthLakes Community Clinic.  This is the medical clinic by the Hayward Hospital on HWY 77 (come in hospital entrance but take an immediate right).  I am there on those Thursdays from 10 am to 2 pm.  Thank you!

Our hands can be agents of suffering or agents of healing.  These hands are ready to help our wild friends.  This week, think about what your hands can do to inspire, empower, and renew the pieces of this earth that you touch?  See you down on the farm (or in the studio!) sometime.

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Loose Threads Scarf: New Year’s Project with Pattern

loose threads scarves

A new year is upon us, and with it so many expectations. It can be both exciting and daunting, especially if we’ve set ourselves some lofty goals for the year. Those New Year’s Resolutions, have they worked well for you in the past? If this tradition has proved a struggle, here’s a way to rethink the meaning of resolution, and how to infuse some hygge (hoo-ga) into your New Year initiatives.

So often we think of a resolution as something that requires us to be resolute, like a soldier. Dutifully, we do what we said we were going to and not what we said we were going to give up. But dutiful willfulness often peters out after a while to old habits and internal resistance. What if, instead, we thought about the other root of the word resolution: resolve. By this, I mean how we might use the word for conflict resolution or when a piece of music resolves at its end to the root note for a sense of completeness.

With this idea of resolution, we are seeking to bring back into alignment, to find peace, to mend, to make whole. One of my fiber arts students shared that her mantra for the year was “Finish what you started,” which is a beautiful way to think of bringing resolutions to the new year. Tie up loose ends. Pick up the unfinished bits and find a way forward.

One way to bring resolution into you New Year is to transform scraps. Bits and pieces collect over time. If you’re like me, you’ve saved every little bit of yarn leftover from previous projects. They linger in a basket or tote until they simply overflow their vessel or turn into one enormous snarl. Our emotional life does the same thing if not well tended. Take out those scraps, give them some detangling love, and turn them into something fun and colorful. Lately, I’ve been turning my tidbits stash into cozy scarves. Here’s my pattern, so you can make them too!

Loose Threads Zig-Zag Scarf Crochet Pattern

Hook size H (but larger ones up through K work well too)

I like using a “carrier” textured yarn, laying in the bits of yarn from the stash to use them up and create a variegated affect. I’m working 2 strands at once. If your stash yarns are bulky, just use one at a time, joining them together when you run out to change colors.

This pattern is worked across the width in an M shape. Catching only the back loops of the stitches creates the ribbed affect. You can make it as long as you like or join the ends together to create a cowl. The CH 1 at the end of the rows does NOT count as a stitch.

Stitch Guide:
CH = chain
SC = single crochet
BLO = back loop only
SK = skip
ST = stitch
SC2TOG = single crochet 2 stitches together

CH 22

Row 1: SK 1st CH, SC in each of next 4 CHs, work 3 SC in the next CH, SC in each of next 4 CHs, SK next 2 CHs, SC in each of next 4 CHs, work 3 SC into next CH, SC in each of next 3 CHs, SC2TOG. CH 1, turn.

Row 2: SK SC2TOG. Working BLO for the whole row, SC in next 4 STs, work 3 SC in next ST, SC in next 4 STs, SK next 2 STs, SC in next 4 STs, work 3 SC in next ST, SC in next 3 STs, SC2TOG. CH 1, turn.

Repeat Row 2 to desired length, following the stacking M shape. Enjoy!

Like this pattern?  You can find more for both crochet and knit via my Ravelry Store.

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Rose Window Hat: A Fiber Artist’s Giving Tuesday Initiative

Notre Dame burnedIn April, I like so many watched in horror as Notre Dame burned.  I wanted to do something to help, even though I lived half a world away.  A medievalist who admires stained glass (including the irreplaceable beauty of the cathedral’s famous rose windows), I designed this hat as a tribute.   Made from our farm’s hand-dyed sheep’s wool to celebrate the window as an art-inspires-art piece, this hat also gives to the efforts of rebuilding after the fire.

$10 from the sale of each Rose Window Hat will be donated to French Historical Society’s Notre Dame Fire Restoration Fund.  You can learn more here.

Feel good about your purchase:  supporting both a contemporary fiber artist and the preservation of a medieval masterpiece.  View my full Etsy listing for the Rose Window Hat here.

Three ways to wear the hat!

Slouch

slouch hat

Beanie (fold up brim)

beanie hat

Beret/Tam

beret hat

Use the pictures included as inspiration for shaping and wearing your Rose Window Hat in whatever style fits you best.  The ribbed brim is naturally stretchy, and the hat fits most adult/teen sizes.  Hand crocheted using an adaptation of tapestry crochet technique.

Care instructions:  hand wash with mild soap (like Ivory).  Lay flat to dry, do not wring.  Wool from our farm’s flock of happy sheep is warm and cozy, and the hat should last for many years of enjoyment.

If you or someone you love has a heart for the rose windows of Notre Dame, please feel free to share this post with them (or send them a hat!).  I’ve set aside enough yarn to make 80 of them, and I hope they all find wonderful homes.  I’m grateful that the windows were saved from the terrifying fire, and I have hope that they shall be able to last for many generations to come.

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Warping a New Tapestry

Erindale Tapestry Studio, partnering with Kathy Bishop Photography, will be hosting a joint art showing title “A Thread Runs Through It” at the Duluth Folk School in early 2021.  The capstone piece is a collaboration where I am interpreting a beautiful photograph by Kathy Bishop of three Sandhill cranes wading in the water as a 40-inch-wide handwoven tapestry.  Actual molted Sandhill crane feathers gathered on our farm will also be interwoven in the work, bringing texture and life to the zen-like birds.

3 cranes photo

“Three Friends” by Kathy Bishop

But before any weaving can begin, the meticulous and detailed process of warping must come first.  This project being my maiden voyage on the restored Varpapuu loom from Christine, many fresh process considerations were needed.  With an upright structure and two massive beams like my Leclerc Gobelin tapestry loom, the main difference is the foot-actuated heddles.  The heddles will speed up the weaving process (compared with using hand leashes), but it was one more step to make sure was flawless in the warping process.

First, I measured out the warp at 10 warp ends per inch, giving myself plenty of extra vertical room as I become familiar with the necessary loom waste for working with the Varpapuu.  The warp is then transferred from the warping board onto the loom, a process better shared as a photo essay:

the cross

Creating “the cross,” a most essential part of warping.

 

cross on sticks

The cross has now been transferred to long dowels, ready to spread out.

 

warp over raddle

With the ends of the warp attached to the warp beam, they are spread out using a raddle.

 

warp strands

Each bundle of warp is drawn evenly towards the floor and weighted with large washers.

 

threading

Once the bulk of the warp is wound on the warp beam, each strand is threaded through a heddle leash and the reed.

 

cloth beam

I double check for threading errors, then bring up the apron of the cloth beam for securing warp ends.

 

attaching warp ends

The secret to happy tapestry weaving is EVEN tension! This process takes time.

 

spacing warp

Now the warp must be spaced from its clusters into the accurate spacing of the reed, which takes layers of increasingly finer fill.

 

selvedge

After the fill (white and cream) comes the selvedge (blue), which will hold the warp ends in place in the finishing process. The very first rows of the tapestry are at the top.

 

ready to weave

Finally! After days of work, the loom is set for weaving the tapestry.

 

tapestry yarn

The tapestry yarns all staged and ready for weaving.

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