Category Archives: Books

Disaster! Kind of

No, not a world, or even national disaster

Progress after the disaster. Find the broken warp.

This is my personal weaving disaster. I sat on my loom bench yesterday, only to discover a broken warp, and upon further examination, I discovered several frayed ones. Since I was really not willing to lose all the work on this piece, I slept on it before making a decision about what to do. I decided to weave to the farthest point in the weaving, hand beating rather than using the loom beater, then to advance the warp way past the problem and start the weaving again. Maybe I’ll end up with a triptych. Or not. An experiment of sorts.

Warp advanced past the problem

Listening and weaving

In this picture, you can see that the first section has been completed, and the warp advanced. Another piece has begun with waste yarn. Next step, some knots, a few shots of warp, some soumak, and the weaving begins. On the cartoon below, you can see where first section ends.

Stopped the first piece at the red arrow

While all of this weaving is going on, I am listening to Burying the Honeysuckle Girls. While listening, I am reminded of a book I read years ago called One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd, a period piece.

Many details have flown from my memory, but someone came up with a plan to give 1000 white women to the Indians to appease them and perhaps stop the many battles. But where to get the women? From the insane asylums, of course.

This was during a period of history when the men (husbands or fathers or brothers) could commit women family members to an institution when those women did things that didn’t suit the men. Like not marry someone, or do something embarrassing, or … whatever.

The women were chosen for this project, and because of how women were committed, some were not actually insane. And the tale goes on from there telling the story of one particular woman, through her journals. Those journals are so realistic that I had to remind myself that they are fiction.

Back to the Honeysuckle Girls

This story switches back and forth from present day and the thirties. The setting for the thirties is in a rural area of the mountains in Alabama, where men would still commit their women when they displeased them. The present day setting is in Birmingham, Alabama, where the main character is trying to save herself by finding what happened to her ancestors. At first I wasn’t sure the girls were going to hold my attention, but as it progressed, it does.

Read any good books lately?

Weaving and not much else



The latest project is now halfway complete on piece one. Since that’s pretty much all I have been doing, there’s really nothing to write about, unless you count the itty bitty bluebonnet plant I discovered while weeding. A couple of years ago, I threw out some wildflower seed balls that the boys and I made. Nothing happened the first year. Nothing happened the second year. But this year there is a bluebonnet plant, a lonely solitary plant. Making seed balls info can be found here and here.

Besides listening to books, the idiosyncrasies in the color of the hand-dyed yarn keeps my attention while weaving.  I noticed yesterday how different the colors looked between the singles and the plied yarns. These photos don’t really show the differences as distinct as they really are, but here they are anyway. The plied yarns are very tightly twisted and have a great sheen to them, so the differences might be because of light reflection, but I think it’s based on how they take up the color. Even if you cant tell from the yarns hanging out before being needle woven in, you can see in the woven portion that there are varying shades.

Singles vs plied

Singles vs plied

Singles vs plied

Singles vs plied

About the book—I am listening to I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes. At first I thought this book is not going to do. It’s slow to really get started, but as I listened, the action got faster and faster, and I wove faster and faster. Funny how that works. It’s a spy thriller, and it’s very long. The audio is divided into three parts. Most of the books I listen to are divided into two parts.

What I’m listening to

By the way, I’m trying very hard to update the blog at least once per week, most likely on Wednesdays. That doesn’t mean I won’t have a brainstorm or just be brimming with all kinds of weaverly or personal stuff on other days. Some days/weeks there’s lots to say, but when I am at the loom all day for days, well, there’s only so much to say about that.


Well, look what came in the mail


Sarah Swett’s book is handsewn

Sarah Swett has written and produced this small book about weaving a bag on a box. You can buy it here. I love her drawings and you can see more of them on her blog, A Field Guide to Needlework. Clever name, right? I’ve actually tried weaving on a box before, not very successfully, but after reading this small book, I’m thinking maybe another try is in order. It seems there are remedies for the problems I had with this type of weaving.

Inside the envelope Was a postcard with a picture of the very first weaving I saw of Sarah’s. I remember being astounded at the range of color she achieved with natural dyes, the detail, vitality, and energy in the piece. I still think that.

Energetic postcard

Energetic postcard

In my effort to become more observant, I have been taking a lot of pictures. I’ve driven by this sculpture a million times and decided to take a picture this time. I especially wanted to get at least part of the pink window with the red sculpture, which is in front of the studio of Rebecca Low, the sculptor.


Rebecca Low’s studio

Taken using the remote shutter

Taken using the remote shutter

While shopping in Target the other day, I picked up a Bluetooth Remote Shutter. All you have to do is put the battery in, turn it on and pair your phone with it, turn on the camera, and push a button. Voila! A picture is taken. There’s not one on the Target website, but the one I got is very similar to this one at Amazon, except no wrist strap. Lower price too.

Below you can see my project for,the week–putting the table loom together. I really wish the directions were better, or that there was at least a list of parts with pictures. This really will probably take the week. Why did I decide to do this?!!


Ashford table loom in pieces


If only… I would go to NYC

From Amazon

©Sherri Coffey-Journey

This was designed in the “Matisse way.” Everything was cut out of paper and arranged to make the design.







February is probably not the best time to travel to NYC, but I seriously considered a quick, two-day trip to see the exhibition Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs at MOMA.  Matisse has been a favorite artist of mine for a good long time. I have written, or at least mentioned him often. When I analyze the reason for this admiration, I think it boils down to color. He definitely has a way with color! So, since I am seriously considering a long trip to Peru in the fall, I passed up on going to New York, even though flights and rooms were reasonably priced. I just went to a film about the exhibition instead.

The film was held on one night only, in one local theater only, but it was well worth it to get out in the cold, blustery wind. At night, no less! The film includes additions that would not be available at the actual exhibition (maybe?), such as a segment of ballet, including how it was filmed, a segment on a chapel which Matisse designed, and film of how the exhibition groupings were decided by the curator. I have to admit that I never knew he designed a chapel, and it’s wonderful! Here is an image of my favorite of the many stained glass windows he designed.

One could say that I’ve been consumed by this exhibition. I admit it. I bought the exhibition catalog, but there is no way that it could compare to the film. The pictures on a page of a book in no way allow one to see the scope of the cut-outs. The cut-outs are huge, and are much more impressive when seen on a wall, in context with the rest of cut-outs. But in defense of the book, which I have not examined thoroughly, there is more detailed information about the materials Matisse used. Of course, in the film, there were actual clips of Matisse cutting, of his assistants placing the cut-outs on the wall, and rearranging them at the direction of Matisse.

I am inspired once again, eager to do some designing. I came home all revved up after the viewing. I know I am not alone in this. Other artists have commented to feeling the same. By the way, I have always heard that Matisse started making the cutouts because he couldn’t see well. That was debunked in the film.


Books, again



Books! I love books! This past week I have been glancing through and reading a couple of new books—to me, at least. Since I love all Peruvian textiles, when I read a book review in the current issue of Shuttle, Spindle and Dyepot, I had to have The Peruvian Four-Selvaged Cloth by Elena Phipps. Frankly, I was hoping to see some diagrams about how this cloth is made, but in glancing through the book, I did not see any. I have started reading it and am finding it very interesting, from the description of the weaving to the description of the dyeing. One of the things I found interesting is the use of looping within the weaving to produce texture in a piece. I had never heard of looping until I read Donna Kallner’s blog. She has classes, a book, and videos about this process. Maybe I’ll have to learn how in my spare time. Something else I like about this book is the section on modern weavers and their take on four-selvedge weaving. James Bassler and Sheila Hicks are two of the artists included in this section. If you do a search for Bassler, you’ll find many pages, but here’s a link to Craft in America page. The same could be said for Hicks, but here are a few sites: Pinterest, website, NY Times article. Disclaimer–I think the Pinterest site is a compilation from various pinners, but still interesting.



Now you might be wondering about the other picture on this page–More later…

The perils of warping

warping-finger I’m really not making a rude sign in this picture. In the middle of retying the linen warp for the next project, I noticed this big friction blister that had already had the skin rubbed off.  This warp had so many problems that I investigated ways to warp differently. Katie Reeder Meek’s book  Warping with a Trapeze and Dance With Your Loom came to mind first. Here’s a bit about her technique from a participant in one of her workshops. Purrington makes a trapeze that fits all looms. I also read some articles about a “warping valet, which is kind of the same principle as the trapeze. Warped for Good is a blog that has pictures and a video. She also has an Etsy shop.

Laura Fry has several posts on her blog about her “warping valet.”  I’m going to peruse all of those more closely if the new tie-on doesn’t solve my problems. So far the warp looks good, with no loose ends drooping down in slackness. It’s going to be a while before weaving starts because the next piece is going to be ikat, and that requires tying, dyeing, and untying. I’m looking forward to weaving it though.

Now for the good news about this linen warp–I really like the heft it gives to the finished piece and the sheen and the smoothness (sometimes called slippery by me) of the yarn. Ends will be woven in today.

Artist statements

Heist While weaving and taking care of my floppy warp, I’ve been listening to The Heist by Daniel Silva.  There’s a lot of art in this book, kind of spy novel, art novel, heist novel. The main character is an art restorer of really old art, when he’s not a spy. Pretty interesting overall. After reading Silva’s bio, I realize that I’ve never read on of his books before, and I’m late to the game as far as the main character is concerned. He has been in Silva’s last nine books.

For the last couple of weeks I have been thinking about artist statements, you know, that gobbledygook group of words that seem to be a requirement for artists. How can one make those words more interesting? What can those words be that would engage someone in the art, not the words? Have you ever read an artist statement that really “spoke” to you? How did it speak to you? Got your attention?

Ice, work, ice, work, repeat as needed


That’s frost on the ice pack.

Yep, it’s been a fun week! Somehow I injured my knee and could hardly walk–seriously, not an exaggeration. So, after looking up whether to use ice or heat, I sat with an ice pack on my knee. After 30 minutes of that, I was able to work for a bit. Then it was back to the chair and the ice.

But, I still got some stuff done. Lots of dyeing, Yarns and the linen warp is on the back beam. Tomorrow I will start tying it on the old warp. This is the first time I’ve put on a long warp (18 yards) of linen. That’s a fiber that really has a mind of its own! I also discovered that my careful calculations were for naught. I thought a warp of this length would take more tubes of linen, but Linen only used about half of that. Back to the drawing board/spreadsheet.

I also got a surprise on my doorstep with a book delivery. This is the third book I’ve won in the last year. Weird. This is the latest by Taylor Stevens, called The Catch. I first read one of her books when I picked Book2 up The Informationist from the library. not really expecting much. Wow! I couldn’t put it down until I finished the book. Now, whether that’s a real testament to the book or the mood I was in… who knows?

One of the other Book books is The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. Now that one is a long one, but I enjoyed it and found it very interesting because of the subject matter.






Bellows camera

You’ve seen pictures made from a bellows camera, especially here in the US. They were used during the Civil War to record history and people. I’m currently listening to an audiobook in which one of the main characters is an artist photographer. She uses a bellows camera for her work, after buying it on a whim at an auction. She then had to learn how to use it, so studied with another photographer to master the camera. Her process with this camera involves coating a piece of glass with colloidal silver, taking the picture, leaving herself enough time to get to her darkroom before everything dries. Frankly, the story is not very good, but I will finish it because of the artist character and her way of looking at the world as an artist.

In doing a little research, a bellows camera can take other formats, but this artist uses glass with silver to produce her photographs. This is the same method that Ansel Adams and other well-known photographers used. The Amon Carter Museum of American Art has an extensive collection of photographs, including some by Adams. The museum has also produced a pamphlet about the different kinds of photograph-making over time. We live in an amazing world! From the museum’s website, you can search the digitized collection and find lots of information. I typed in the word silver, and got this list. I love Laura Gilpin‘s photographs, but didn’t realize that she, too, used gelatin silver for her pictures. Do a search for Gilpin and see what comes up.

Note on the photographs here: According to Library of Congress and Wikipedia, these photos are now in the public domain. If this information is incorrect, I hope someone will correct me. The Library of Congress also has a whole section called Civil War Glass Negatives and Related Prints. Like I said, an amazing time. I just heard recently that all homesteading records for each state are being digitized.




Another book-The Thread’s Course in Tapestry

Book-cover After all the talk several months ago in the tapestry group about The Thread’s Course in Tapestry by Mette Lise Rössing, I decided to order it.

I like the fact that it’s spiral bound, Book-inside always handy to keep the right page open. The book is in Danish and English, which takes a little getting used to, at least for me. The illustrations are all hand drawn and are very good.

Soumak Which brings me to this very fuzzy picture below. This soumak may be open, closed, or both–for some reason those terms are confusing to me. But this is what I started an ended the rug with. And have I tried a bunch of ways of doing this beginning and ending stuff. Right now, I like the way this looks. After it’s off the loom, I still do the weaving of warp ends, which leaves them pointing in the right direction for the needle-weaving part.

I like this book, although I haven’t tried very many of the techniques. Might be interesting to do a sampler, starting at the front and working my way to the end.