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  • 01 Nov 2020 10:34 AM | Susette Shiver (Administrator)

    BOO!  Yesterday was Halloween.  Scariness from afar for most of us.  My grandaughter was Baby Yoda (The Mandalorian, Disney +, really fun to watch!!) and my grandson was a TIGER!!  

    Some of our group have never heard of Don Knotts in Andy of Mayberry (they missed the re-runs too).  The link is to a wonderful picture of Don Knotts (on the left) and Andy Griffith (on the right).  What a physical comedian he was on that show.  I am ready for some covid-winter-Andy-of-Mayberry binge watching!

    Speaking of comedy, we are all scrunching up our faces in an effort to see the detail on the small ornament that Katya has made, yes, a red bird!  This while we hold on to our stitching or knitting so as not to lose our places.  It requires facial contortions don't you think?

    Right along with that discussion came the great advice to use woven cotton tape to stabilize the side and neck seams of a top that I knit from bamboo ribbon yarn.  This is part of the show and tell and brag aspect of our v-circle. I hold it up to the screen and everyone oohs and ahhs; we validate each other, it is a support-entertainment-technical tips-grow your art group.  Paula not only gave me the yarn, but also has given me valuable tips during the making of the piece.  Thanks Paula!!  It hangs beautifully, but is prone to great stretching as Paula warned me.  Still, I haven't yet tucked the ends in or sewn in the tape, but no rush.  Add to the giant pile of stuff to finish. 

    Kathleen, who owns a shop in the Woolworth Walk Art Gallery in Asheville, mentioned that the gallery had re-opened in June.  Sales are picking up with the modest return of tourists.  The space has two floors and lots of open air for masked-ones to feel safe going in.  For shops such as Kathleen's that do well, there is a constant dash to keep it stocked.  There is also the terror of shoplifting which is increasing. The young women that run it probably have to spend most time at the checkout area and can't guard everything.  How terrible is it to hand make items, try to sell at a competitive price, and have people stuffing them in their pockets.  Sigh, the increasing cost of doing business. 

    Kathleen spent the hour sewing buttons on her handmade, multi-fabric hats (caps?) and in a more recent session, hand sewing tiny bears, and sewing eyes on owls.  You can check out her webpage.



    • "Shout" color catchers are great for limiting color bleeding.  Specifically, when washing quilts in a tub in cold water, add color catchers to prevent color bleeding especially those reds.  
    • Years ago I knew about wool felted balls in the context of children's toys.  Many folks use them in the dryer to fluff clothes as they are drying!  I also found out how to make them (it was a mystery to me before then).  The process involves 100% wool that felts (not superwash wool or wool containing other synthetic fibers), needle felting tools, stockings (so that the ball retains its integrity in the wash), and of course the dryer.  You can put the method together with these clues.

    Here is a question that we asked and never really answered:  Are Welsh quilting patterns in any way like or related to Amish quilt patterns?  Might immigration and mixing of Welsh folks with Amish folks be involved?  

    I use the app Paper to draw cartoons and preview new lettering that I design, and other visual ideas for surface design on textiles.  I was originally inspired by the digital art of David Hockney (who used a program called Brushes).  Check out his digital art and revel in the colors!!!

    Who knows where pinking shears can be taken to be sharpened?  This is a jagged problem.  

    ATTENTION: Fiber Feel Day is Nov 7, 2020, outdoors at the Farmer's Market.  Meet the fiber farmers (sheep and more), their products, yarn, and more.  Wear your mask and distance!  

    These fiber produces and spinners have drawn me in via virtual classes and previous in-person classes from Local Cloth. I want to learn to spin.

    Spinning Yarn

    The decision is made after trying to avoid going off on another tangent (or is it just learning a new tool to incorporate into my fiber art?) I will learn to spin the wool: I know how to dye it already, know how to knit it, know how to felt it, fun fun fun til hubby took her spinning wheel away........La la la.  I love my husband, we are moving stuff out of the room I use as a studio to a former bedroom-now-exercise room, leaving me more space to expand.  


    The v-circle folks love gardening.  Knit knit, sew sew, organize roving organize roving, sew dolls sew dolls, make bears make bears, AND discuss the flowers we love in gardens:  columbine, lupine, nasturtiums, peonies and the places we can now buy them (covid times) Reams Creak, BB Barnes, Sandy Mush Herb Nursery, but the Herb Festival was cancelled.  Boo hoo.


    Shows we like to watch:  Poldark, Dr. Pol a veterinary show of which there are many, Downtown Abbey---oh my the fiber art there!! Fabric + beads = divine.  How to bead while you knit?  Two methods at least, involving fishing line;  "beading methods knitting fishing line" is a good search phrase to pull up many videos and products. Beading for jewelry, beading for knitting, beading on fiber cords you can make using Kumihini tools.  Kumihini is a Japanese cord making technique that I will give a try soon.

    I save old guitar strings every time my husband changes the strings.  They are beautiful I think, some wound some not, strings with that interesting circle end that catches the string as you tighten the nut, pulling the string taut.  I would like to bead them and make jewelry, necklaces.  I would like to use them in crochet jewelry projects.  Bits of these projects catch my eye on my dresser top, in my studio, saying "finish me would ya?".

    And this brought us around to our musical adventures, now and in the past (Martha and her band in high school, Kathleen and her friend singing Elton John songs and the like).  We are all friends, friends that have never met in person.  But wait, Kathleen and I had been, pre-covid, in the same swimming exercise class at the Asheville YMCA with Dee for quite some time. I haven't been since Feb 2020.  We didn't change in the same corners of the locker room ever (or I am sure we would have spoken), and we look very different wet in a bathing suit with bad hair rather than dressed, hair combed, visible only from the shoulders up on a Zoom call!

    See you virtually soon!


  • 08 Oct 2020 5:59 PM | Susette Shiver (Administrator)

    EEK! Tomorrow is Friday again, and I am just now thinking to write about the previous two handwork sessions!  I am going to write this blog in pieces since it covers several weeks worth.  The first piece is to show you the progress of Katya's doll.  She was kind enough to send me photos which are much better than the screenshots using a phone.  

    Let me introduce you to Hope.

    Katya added detail to the base of Hope's stand using buttons she made during a button workshop at Local Cloth this past year.  Adding flowers, she created added decorative detail that reflects the colors of Hope's beautiful and magical clothing.  


    We look forward to seeing the final piece!


    September 25, 2020 V-Handwork Circle

    It is just too tempting to sit and knit and listen to John Lawton stories on Audible rather than use my brain to write blogs or design a new t-shirt silkscreen. That is the excuse tendered this time for falling behind on my blog making.

    Did I mention that Tiger Tail wire, typically used for jewelry making, is also excellent for hat brims?  It is wire encased by nylon.  And although it cannot be tied into a knot (must use crimp bead), it can easily be used to thread beads, sans needle.  I have a big floppy hat for the sun that has wire that can't be bent, and therefore I can't wear it inside a car or leaning back on a tall backed beach chair.  But I do have a much better hat with bendable wire in the brim so it is easily reshaped for style or convenience.  Note the style (mine, below).  


    And, remember back to an earlier blog, Katya's doll hat made for her grandchild where the brim benefited from some shaping.

    During our V-session, we discussed sales[wo]manship.  Kathleen knows (by personal experience??!!) that certain people can sell anything to anybody. Susette knows that certain people have trouble selling things.  But, all makers of art and craft need or want to sell their wares I think, to enable the buying of more materials or maybe living expenses, and to support their sense of self worth and value.

    But if you don't want to sell your artwork, you can always give it away, either to friends or to charitable causes. Friends of artists might prefer to be gifted your artwork anyway feeling that friends shouldn't charge friends.  The horrible alternative of why your friends don't buy your work might be that although they lavish praise on your work, they would never want it in their own homes (I prefer to think your style might not fit their home style) or they think it stinks but are too polite to say so preferring instead to give positive, encouraging feedback. 

    As we age, we have filled up our houses with stuff, and now is the time to get rid of stuff, but we feel guilty filling up the landfill with items that are tiredly limping into the next century. Or, each item is still precious, and holds a dear memory of the giver. Daughters are the receptacles for all those downsized home items from their childhood, willingly excited to be so, or feeling a dreaded and sinister requirement to be the one to go to Goodwill.  Or, back to the first theme, each item is not precious, just collected junk.  I might be revealing something about my dilemmas, mightn't I?  Let's not make it black or white.  Some stuff is good, some stuff is not.  (Check out George Carlin's rant on stuff if you dare and don't mind some rough language!)

    Judy has found multiple venues for her quilt art.  Through her quilt guild, Mountain Peace Makers in Burnsville, she participates in creating quilts for Veterans.  The guild raises money through raffles for quilt fabric, and the guild members construct patriotic quilts (i.e many in red, white, and blues).  Each quilt is given to a veteran in their surrounding area. The program is very successful; the waiting list still has not been fulfilled!  A priceless local thank you to aging veterans (WWII and Korea mostly); hand made quilts loved in the process of making and giving.

    The conversation, stitches, and thoughts flow on.

    Oh, and Ian Banks writes good Sci Fi I am told.  I will put him on the list to read!  


    October 2, 2020 V-Handwork Circle

    We had two new participants Martha from Weaverville and Machell (pronounced like Michelle) joining us from Hickory.  Machell has experience of industrial weavers, design teams, tabletop looms, and hand spinning.

    Anne, also a new attendee (from Weaverville) began our discussion of tie recycling or upcycling as she was deconstructing silk ties.  Leading Beth to describe her thrill of hand spinning novelty yarn including using Sari silk strips as warp on her rigid heddle loom.  In case you are wondering what a rigid heddle loom is, I present to you a screen shot from a Google Search.

    Dolls:  There are many doll makers in the Asheville area including several from our group all making a variety of doll types.  Kathleen is a member of the Skyland Doll Group, this might be the correct link as it is centered in Western North Carolina, Land O' Sky Doll Club.  The project she mentioned was sewing dolls that represent characters in story books.  Which led someone else to inquire whether anyone knows someone that can make repairs to antique dolls??? No one did, and if you are reading this and do know someone, comment please and tell us!

    And how did we get onto the topic of the olden days (the "olden days") in Kenilworth? Kenilworth is an Asheville neighborhood with historic Kenilworth Inn and the Kenilworth lake, between Biltmore and downtown.  Our handwork circle, it appears, has deep memories of the Kenilworth of years ago as several grew up there.

    Naturally, the discussion on Kenilworth led seamlessly into birthing stories of lambs, via Sebette the sheep farmer in Leicester, and then onto Ravelry where one can obtain a pattern informing how to knit a binding that is later used to steek a sweater. Steek, frighteningly, means to cut - with scissors, ouch - the front of a sweater that was knit in-the-round, converting it from a pullover to a front zippered sweater.

    Next, the group advised and participated in deal making over a 100 yard roll of fabric (weighs a ton, I exaggerate) and the logistics of divvying it up into 20 yard pieces.  Interestingly, Kathleen still has her equipment including an industrial type fabric cutter.  The gals got it done somehow.  I am hoping to snag a piece myself! 

    Machell is a wiz with a Cricket Joy machine which cuts via computerized direction 4-6" wide substrates.  We clamored for a virtual tour of her studio work place.  Her husband works for, or used to work for Restoration Hardware and so she has lots of expertise to fall back on for her projects.  I realize now that we need to quiz her for more details!  Another argument for virtual tour!!

    Oriole Mills apparently is closed indefinitely, but Echoview Fiber Mill still is engaged in fiber processing and has a wonderful catalog of all things fiber, yarn, knitting, and tools.  Support your local NC businesses!! 

    Judi Jetson runs a spinning study group the 4rth Monday of every month down at the Local Cloth Studio on Coxe Ave Asheville.  They are undertaking a broad study of local fibers and modes of spinning for each fiber.  There is also an on-line option to attend!  Goody.  

    FYI, Valdez Weavers are weavers for residential fabrics, in Valdez, NC.  

    That's all my little brain can handle this morning, next blog will be almost caught up (in time), our 10/16/2020 session!  

  • 19 Sep 2020 10:18 AM | Susette Shiver (Administrator)

    I've been a bit underwhelmed the last few weeks for obvious (the covid coaster) and other personal challenges, but I can always count on our V-circle buddies to cheer me up with new projects and ideas and those ever-valuable tips on where to...  how to... why to....  The V-circle activity also allows me the opportunity to drop stitches, knit inches beyond where I should have bound off for the neck and so-on: just a commentary on how distracted I become by the great conversation!

    Another valuable sewing resource from Kathleen our professional sewist, go-to, V-circler:, Sewing Studio Fabric Superstore with stores in Florida.

    Look at what Judy is working on. It is a break from a more complicated knitting project, one that goes faster and has bright colors. 


    K nitting isn't just knitting.  Knitting has many subtle nuances of pleasure: texture, lanolin sometimes, wooly smell, color joy for the eyes, special wooden knitting needles, big needles (easy to see, goes fast), small needles (nice fabric, knitting in the round but makes the right hand sore sometimes) needles in the round, circular needles.  Oh, and then the pleasure when the garment fits, or the afghan fits into the decor on the sofa or bed like a glove.  Your eyes flit from one color to another piece with similar color bits, to the pieces hung on the wall, and back to your new piece in your lap. You know just where you want it to be.  Or, lo!  Without realizing it, a new sweater also goes with another dress and that skirt, and what about those pants too? 

    Knitting is knitting and crocheting is crocheting, and the fashionistas better get it straight!!! Case in point: New York Times article today, "Breezy, Colorful Pieces to Make Summer Feel Longer", link here. Note the beautiful sweater at #5.  Only it is not a crocheted piece, it is one knitted on very large needles with very bulky sized yarn, wish I could command $395 per sweater!  All the 10 pieces shown are fun to look at,  Ah, to be young, energetic, all over social media, designing sweaters with your uncertain revenue ahead of you (half full, me). 

    Sorry about the blurry iPhone shot of the screen with so-so internet, but Paula has finished a project started long ago by her mother.  Her mother's tiny 1" squares were the start of this finished quilt. 

    Katya is changing up projects, alternating between knitting a sweater, finishing quilting a project of individually designed squares (see previous blogs for pictures of her quilt pieces), and working on a new doll.  Some weeks back we saw the basic body constructed, then the hands. This past Friday, we saw the finished hands, feet, and a stunning face!!!  Katya promised to send good pictures since I was lazy with the camera and knitted instead during the handwork circle (!!).

    Here is a picture of a hat Katya is working on, but it escaped my memory as to whether this is for a doll for a grandchild.  It looks too big to be for her smaller art doll. 

    I recently over-dyed some wool that was knitted double stranded (orange and cream colored strands).  That was after I frogged a sweater I had already knitted (ha ha rip-it, rip-it).

    I had even made a button for this sweater.

    This sweater is no more (not practical to wear since the sleeves were stylishly way too wide.  Now it looks like this partway into my over-dyeing experiment:

    So for over-dyeing, I knitted all the yarn up loosely in a seed stitch on large needles, still double stranded.  Then one skein I left as a loose skein with ties to hold it together as per the traditional method.  Then I dyed them using Aztec gold, a Jacquard acid dye in a large rice cooker. The difference in dyeing the multiple seed stitch pieces and the single skein became apparent after knitting in stockinette using smaller needles.

    You can see that I started with one skein (the loose tied one), then switched to one of the pre-knitted pieces (about mid way up the image). 

     I had placed them in the steamer all together with dye liquid mostly covering them, but without intermittent stirring because I was afraid to felt the yarn.  So, the skein might have settled to the bottom and taken up the dye first and longest, or, the knitted seed stitch might have acted as a mild resist to the dye. I will find out in future by dyeing one skein at a time, using equal volumes and the same volume of dye stock. 

    From this experience I did learn that using this giant rice cooker, the liquid boils if on the "cook" setting, but stays at 190 oF on the "warm" setting. The latter setting is perfect for acid dyeing.  I wonder about using the steamer for indigo?  Would that be too hot?  Can anybody tell me?

    This past week we talked about indigo and shared past workshop experiences (years ago in the case of Kathleen, last year or so for me).  Local Cloth has an Indigo interest group that meets regularly (at least pre-covid).  I attended when Eileen Hallman led a group.  She had gotten hold of a ??? 100 gallons container filled with old indigo.  While we were there, she/we scrapped out the indigo that remained stuck to the bottom and sides of the container in order to recycle it.  Eileen used part of it to create a new, much smaller indigo vat for us to experiment with.  This involved lowering the pH (I use soda ash, but I believe she was using lye) and adding reducing agent (Thiox I believe).  We did some shibori/tie dyeing experimentation on cotton.  Lots to learn. Using those notes and the notes posted on Dharma and Earth Guild websites  has informed all of my subsequent indigo work.  There are two basic flavors of indigo to start dyeing with: pre-reduced indigo or naturally reduced (fermented) indigo.

    By the way, Joyce Tromba will be leading a natural dyeing, virtual class soon for Local Cloth.  Check out the Workshops page.

    Other noteworthy points of discussion and interest:

    • Sassy Jacks Stitchery, N. Main and Fl. in Weaverville for fabric and other items. During covid, they will bring your pre-ordered items to your car out front.
    • Helen Gibson has taught woodcarving of figures at John C. Campbell, a course that Judy has taken.  She showed us some of her figures and I am sorry I didn't get a screen shot of them!  Judy has gone on to carve wooden masks starting with wood she collects and splits.
    • An unfortunate women had a major anxiety attack in Walmarts after three separate people came us to her and abused her about wearing a mask.  Judy was there and spoke to her and helped her calm down, whereas everyone else steered clear.  Judy advised the women (and us all) to maintain direct eye contact, with an upright and confident posture when nasty people come at you to bully. Give the bully pause by using a confident stance.

    See you next Friday!! Send me picture of your work in progress or finished to include.  We all love pictures. Me especially.  

  • 31 Aug 2020 10:19 AM | Susette Shiver (Administrator)

    I've much to tell you!!  We love it when new folks attend. We learn so much.  First, meeting new fiber artists opens doors.  And as we say, it is all about sharing (not to say showing off!). That's what we love, to see new pieces and discuss how they are made, why they are made, their meaning, stuff like that.  Second, new comers as well as regulars have so many questions and so during each get-together we share knowledge  Together, we represent quite a breadth of fiber knowledge and experience upon which to draw. And then there is the relaxing idle chat.  Good thing, else I would drop more stitches. After all, we are working on projects all along, hint hint, the handwork circle.  

    August 21

    Dolls today!  Both Katya and and Peggy make dolls and Katya is wrapping arms.  You can see the arms have a long way to go, and you get a peek here of my highly sophisticated recording device (a picture of a computer screen, hence the so-so quality of the image.  However, I hope you get a sense of our group this way).  

    The legs look more finished.

    Turns out, we have multiple gnome makers in our group in addition to doll makers.  

    Peggy is currently on a gnome making streak, and years ago I make some under the influence of patterns of toys provided by our local Waldorf preschool (not to mention the chicks, cats, faceless dolls).  In discussing dolls, we all did agree that we prefer them to have faces, however simple in design.

    Fun fact: Katya and Peggy both have experience of Petaluma CA.  So many interweaving stories (get it? Fiber? ha ha!).

    Judy showed us her newly completed Tam (from Mary Rowe "Knit Tams" book, also many patterns on Ravelry).  And, she told us a trick to prevent a ''jog" in the pattern while knitting multicolor items in the round.  Knit one stitch from the previous row and then knit that and the stitch from the current row together.  Her tam came out beautifully, I am inspired.  And, it looks so very chic!!

    August 28

    I am taking a break, back soon with last Friday's blog!! .....

    It was a full and busy/ exciting session with new and old (strikeout "old", use "familiar" instead) faces.  

    Michael and Sarah Forehand joined us for the first time.  They have lived in the area for years in various places in and around Leicester. They are devoted to each other: witness the fact that he hand made a loom for her so she could begin to weave again!

    Michael showed us the piece that is mounted on the wall behind them. It is the first fiber piece he made; it is composed completely from yarn and glue.  Very hard to see on the photo of the screen sharing!  Instead, check them out on his new website (not .com). 

    I did make some screen shots of his other creative endeavors. The owl piece as well as his other works were recently shown during the Leicester Art Tour, but the owl is special to him and wasn't for sale although many tried to buy it! 

    The next piece is hard to see on my reproduction but is a wool version of a bonsai tree.

    Stephanie has some serious felting going on with her commissioned felted unicorn.  Stephanie now is a serious needle as well as wet felter; she recently treated herself to an electric roller device that takes on the mechanical felting for you and spares your arms from feeling like logs afterwards.  

    Beth is also felting in preparation for the Christmas seasons,. Her specialties include small felted Santa's and such that can perch or be hung.  Since she produces wool batts and is a dyer of wool, she has total control of the raw ingredients including the timely production of more greens and reds.  Wish I took a picture of her red and green batts, but check out CurlyFurr on Etsy!!

    Beth has partnered with Michael during our session to have him assemble the instructions for her kits using her own written descriptions and photos. She will be relieved to have more dyeing time and less computer time.  Stephanie also is contemplating using her professional work experience with Work Element Sheets to support her fiber art.  She is considering how to make best use of them to create instruction work flows for felting kits.  This work element approach uses a structured form to indicate work flow and materials, as I understand it, so one can guess its utility for instruction manuals for individual projects.

    Again dolls were amongst us!  Katya is continuing with hers, specifically the very fine work of creating expressive hands.

    Both Katya and Stephanie mentioned the influence of Sarafina.  They have enjoyed Sarafina's Fiber Fairy Friday events (doesn't that sound fun and interesting?). Serafina's website Sarafina Fiber Art, Inc has a whole range of teaching, supplies, and original art.  In addition to her current project, Stephanie has previously made some wonderful dolls that she showed us.

    Well, I am tuckered out now and ready to stand up and go start a new project!!  Have a lovely week and see ya'll next week.  Do join us if you get the notion!  Sign up on Local Cloth Workshops list for the V-Handwork Circle.  

    And, please volunteer your time to conduct a virtual studio tour so we can see your stuff and works in more detail!


  • 15 Aug 2020 2:14 PM | Susette Shiver (Administrator)

    Of snakes, riding mowers, cats, dogs, compound fractures, sheep, coyotes, lambs, tales and truisms, and of course fiber arts.

    I am sorry I missed a week, was feeling poorly last week and left the group on their own so I can't say who in all turned up. 

    Yesterday we had a goodly sized group.  Beth rejoined us at last after unexcused absences (haha )!  I am afraid she was thinking of other things when I told everyone to smile for the camera.  


    Kathleen Lewis joined us for the first time.  We were interested to learn of her shop at the Woolworth Walk downtown.  She's been doing it for about 17 years now. Having professionally started a business centering on sewing, and subsequently working with interior designers, Kathleen has lots of fabulous left over cuttings of all kinds of cloth (sewing, upholstering).  It is her goal to use up all these wonderful tidbits in projects such as hats, hip purses, pillows.  Check out her website for a better idea of her accomplishments!  No pics of her in progress needle felting because it was a leg and very small!

    Stacey turned up again after missing a few sessions. She showed us her neat quilt that she is finishing.  It involves special seams and cutting down the middle to create a decorative fraying. I am afraid that that doesn't show up well, but you can see the theme quite well.

    Judy is nearly finished her pieced, self designed jacket!  The pictures I took on the screen don't do adequate justice to the real thing of course. This time I have the option of using images that Judy had sent me, so you wont' have to see the phone shots of the Zoom screen with all its crazy interference lines. 

    from Judy: "The bargello jacket I am working on, pattern by Figure Flattering Designs. The denim coat I designed is from old blue jeans and men's ties." 

    Judy and I tired to think about how to do a virtual studio tour with only still pictures of some of her other projects.  It doesn't really work since we would want to hear her talk us through them and show us where she works.  Since she lives a distance away and it is Covid-time, instead I plan to highlight from time to time the breadth of the projects using the pictures she has provided.

    Whoever shows ups, we chat about many things and if not already friends, we are becoming friends, sometimes never having met in person.  Some discussion are rather personal to our group and perhaps better stay amongst ourselves!.  Sometimes we get onto topics far afield of fiber art.  One example is Judy's experience on a riding mower encountering a copperhead.  I will try to repeat it in a bit.  I call her one of our wild women, having moved to the NC mountains in her retirement, a wild mountain woman! 

    Katya is our other wild women. Both Judy and Katya appear at first very demure as they sit and work on projects during our sessions.  Katya is a bit more reticent, but has allowed that she has had a free style youthful period sailing across oceans in a small vessel.  Judy is not so reticent.  Interesting how wild women can be either introverts or extraverts!  You wonder how I define wild women.  Well, not very explicitly to be sure.  At first it was that both Judy and Katya both rode motorcycles in their youth. As I sit here and think about it, we are all more wild in our youth.  However, I only rode a motorcycle once around a pond when a friend let me try.  Mostly, I remember my mother telling me about a friend's son who was in a motorcycle accident, didn't die, but...  That has always made me hesitant.  Wild is relative.

    Now for a Judy story having to do with postmen, shovels, snakes and riding mowers.  I think she was responding to our conversation on postmen.  I was telling the tale of what a rural postman encounters during his deliveries.  Rex is Sebette's, Beth's, and my regular postman in Leicester.  Matt, my stepson, is now the part time postman for our route!  He and his family recently moved to NC to become our neighbor.  Rural postmen end up in all sorts of situations involving dogs, things in mail boxes such as bees, black widow spiders, bird's nests, and so on.  

    Judy was mowing her yard on a riding mower when she encountered a copperhead snake with its head up and ready to strike.  Totally terrifying.  Her first response was to run over the back end of it and escape to some distance.  Just at this moment, her postman was delivering.  Still in an adrenaline state, Judy told the postman about the snake, running over its back end, and the fact that the snake's head was still up and potentially dangerous.  The very nice, manly man postman rose up gallantly returning quickly to his truck to get a shovel, from whence he returned to bash the snake on its head.  As Judy's adrenaline subsided and her brain began to function again, she remembered all of her shovels close at hand, just there, in the barn.  No matter!  The postman felt he saved the day, and thereafter, liked to joke about shovels with her.

    Here is an illustration.  It looked better in my head so I didn't bother with the other two panels showing the subsequent action.

    And what do you know? We later were treated to another Judy story, and I am sorry, but I don't remember the context!  It was about her biker/ nurse experience at a KOA biker meeting when a drunken/ drugged up biker did something stupid and broke his tibia and fibia in a compound fracture. Do you know the kind?  You often see it:  bone sticking through the skin?  Judy is a nurse.  She did a rough bandage, and the ambulance came and took him away, and she never found out what became of him.  The End.  But, there was a lot of good detail and comment that I wasn't able to include.  I really must get her to record these stories for an oral book!  Her telling is better; her words, tone, and timing make her a natural story teller.  

  • 02 Aug 2020 3:51 PM | Anonymous

    We had one of those super fun, relaxing zoom times.  Once you become habituated to Zoom, it becomes less distracting to the conversation.  Quilting, knitting, old timey medicinal remedies were on our minds, if not before, then after our handwork circle!

    We first discussed quilting a bit, since I am in the middle of making a full size quilt for my granddaughter.  I want to show you some one of the beautiful squares (if I say so myself) that I made by hand dyeing using shibori and ice dyeing together.  "I was gonna" photograph them individually before sewing together, but forgot.  This photo was made when they were stacked up and so some of the leaf pattern from the square underneath shows through to the top.  

    I had many questions for the group about quilt-as-you-go since I can't face putting the whole quilt top, batting, and reverse pieces together before quilting. Although that might do for winter time, in summer it is way too hot to have all of that cloth on your lap! Although there are lots of versions of quilt-as-you-go on the internet, Judi mentioned that Georgia Bonesteel is credited with inventing it publishing an early book with details, "Lap Quilting" in 1987. 

    Looking her up on the internet, I discovered that she moved to Flat Rock in Henderson County in 1972 (according to Wikipedia).  She has been a president of the International Quilt Association and was the first president of the Western North Carolina Quilters Guild. She has extensive quilting credentials and much teaching experience including a regular quilting show on PBS.  She even continues to write an up-to-date blog at age 84.  I plan to watch some of her videos on her website and learn more about her fame for lap quilting.

    I also received more helpful info on preferred spray basting products for quilting (504 Spray Baste, but I think is officially 505 Adhesive Spray from Odif).  We discussed quilting using smaller frames, as in quilting a large piece while sitting on your sofa.  In addition to embroidery circles, you can make or buy more sturdy frames made from PVC piping--Q snap quilting frames.  These can be floor standing or of various sizes for the lap quilting.  Paula demonstrated one for us live! 

    Paula is working on an entry for a quilting competition and gave us a confidential peak of her partially finished piece.  Very beautiful.  Katya is also quilting and we had a peak of her first few pieces some weeks ago.  She is up to 8 completed now including these three squares.

    Katya is going wild with the square arrangements within each square panel!

    Speaking of wild, Katya and Judy (with a y not i) were both motorcycle riders in their day! Never pigeonhole quilters, knitters, and sewists as dull!

    Several of us were knitting.  Judy showed us her completed Scandanavian pattern swan knit hat in blue and white, complete with tassel. Amazing! She has moved on to working on a Tam with a lovely intricate pattern.  The secret in making a Tam that won't slide around or be lose fitting is to use needles several sizes smaller than those for the body of the hat so that the ribbing and brim are tight enough. By the way, Judy mentioned that is a great place to get reasonably priced yarn on-line.  Paula brought up entrelac as being great for making hats.  Entrelac looks woven even though it is knitted.  I had trouble visualizing that, so in case you do too, a google search for entrelac knitting brings up many examples. It is fascinating to look at because your first reaction is that it looks woven and how the heck is that done?  Of course done in many colors, the changes have to be numerous and time consuming.  Judi mentioned that Noro yarn has long color changes and that gives the illusion of many color changes in entrelac knitting.  Cool!

    Some old timey medicine from Judy (an RN) and Sebette (trained in wilderness first aid).  

    *If you are bitten by a spider such as a brown recluse with venom, then you will want cotton balls and turpentine to draw out the venom.  Judy has had personal experience.  No ice, let the welt swell up so that the spot where the bite occurs is obvious.  Brown recluse bites (they live in wood piles) in about 24 hours get a central necrotic spot (dead skin) in the middle of the welt.  Apply turpentine on cotton balls.  

    Turpentine is derived from black pitch (pine pitch) and is a distillate with the same powers to draw out venom as the old time remedy of pine pitch.  

    *If you are bitten by a hornet/wasp and begin to show symptoms such as itchy rash, swelling, and difficulty breathing, break open two capsules of Benadryl and apply under the tongue for quick absorption into the blood (Judy, RN).  Another approach is to cut the top off of a gel cap and apply the liquid Benedryl to the hornet/wasp bite. Of course if you already have an EpiPen, then use that!

    Fun fact: "too poor to have a pot to piss in" derives from the indigo industry which uses ammonia as a mordent for dyeing, and tanneries that used it for tanning hides.  At the time when ammonia wasn't available commercially, it was available in human urine.  The poor would collect their urine in pots to sell to indigo dyers.  The extremely poor couldn't afford a pot to piss in.  Or, one could say they were "piss poor".

  • 27 Jul 2020 2:28 PM | Susette Shiver (Administrator)

    Lazy days.  Rain and thunder filled afternoons.  Last Friday was one of those days; it seems like everyday has that same weather pattern this summer. Lazy days applies to me.  Maybe it is a COVID slump. I just want to sit on the sofa, listen to mystery stories on Audible or the library, and knit/hand quilt/crochet on one of my three "upstairs on the sofa" projects.  I know, we should all get up and exercise from time to time because sitting all the time is not good, but how else can you knit?  Hmm... Knitting while walking could be dangerous, just like looking at your phone and walking.  Back to sitting.  

    Peggy Newell joined us Friday and I learned two new knitting terms during the groups discussions as a consequence as well as meeting another expert knitter. 

    One new term I learned is the Spit Splice.  Doesn't that sound gross?  Well, it accurately describes a method of splicing two ends of wool together so as to avoid a knot in the fiber.  It works especially well for wool, but not so well for cotton or silk since the tendency of wool to tangle and hold together is greater than cotton and silk.

    The Spit Splice is also known as the Felted Join (water not spit!). In the Spit Splice, described by one of us, one simply arranges the yarn with overlapping ends, spit and work between your hands or fingers by rolling.

    I found a very nice blog from 2015 that describes an alternative method for joining balls of yarn, the Felted Join. Slightly different, in this method you loop the ends over each other so that the ends are pointing away from the join.  Then, they are essentially wet felted together, agitating the wetted yarn by rolling between your palms vigorously enough to produce some heat.  The three requirements for felting are present: heat, moisture, agitation.

    At the microscopic scale, wool protein fibers have scales. Silk protein is the only protein fiber without scales. Man-made fibers have no scales.  This contributes to felting and the tendency of scaled fibers to self adhere.  Heating the fibers in the presence of a liquid begins to denature the fiber structure, a process whereby the 3 dimensional shape of the fibers begins to change and distort.  I could imagine the scales beginning to expand and stick out from the fiber encouraging felting together of the fibers as they encounter each other during agitation.

    The second knitting term that I learned during our session was "Life Lines".  We had been discussing brioche knitting as Leigh was trying to decide which of two projects to work on (more later).  I wish I had known about Life Lines when I attempted to learn brioche knitting.  I was so frustrated that after 5 inches I discovered a mistake about 2 inches back that I ripped the whole thing out and gave up.  Life Lines are a means of ripping out without losing track of your stitches.  To do this, one runs a waste yarn through all the stitches on the needle from time to time during knitting a project.  Helpfully, this piece of yarn should be an obviously different color to the one being used in the project. Doing this periodically as you knit serves as measured rows that you can confidently rip back to and then use the Life Line to reassemble the stitches back onto the needle.  If they are not used, they can be pulled out of the project later.  

    Leigh ultimately decided on knitting a moderne log cabin quilt pattern after being inspired by Modern Daily Knitting emails (formerly known as Mason-Dixon Knitting).  Check out their web site in the link above.  Lots of wonderful knitting information, project ideas, and patterns.

    Leigh and I might someday go back to brioche knitting, who knows?  Nancy Marchant is the expert in the field and her website is full of wonderful instruction and has a link to her Ravelry patterns.  I have also been inspired by Leslie Anne Robinson and her patterns on KnitGraffiti (and Instagram)


  • 22 Jul 2020 8:41 PM | Susette Shiver (Administrator)

    We did get together last Friday even though I am late in posting! 

    Bonnie Parker joined us for the first time.  She just moved in closer, to the center of Asheville to a smaller place and has a most efficient but small sewing space. Bonnie has been making cloth books, and she showed us one she was working on.

    We got into a discussion on ways of transferring images to cloth and of course there are many ways.  One Bonnie was pursuing was to use golden matt medium to cover and attach photos to cloth.  I mentioned photo transfer and a heat press I have.  I also suggested looking at Jane Dunnewold's book "Complex Cloth, A Comprehensive Guide to Surface Design" 1996 in which she has an extensive section on photocopy transfers. 


    As usual we had fun, Katya was playing hide-and-seek with her project.  But, I confess, we asked her to show us, and I made her show her face!

    Leigh, like Judi and Katya, likes to do largish, knitting projects and this is her current endeavor.  Sad, but not unexpected that the resolution suffers when a phone camera shot of a computer screen falls short.

    Beth was busy working on a new 9 oz batting and we got to see her carding machine (Beth is that right?). The first picture is of the drum spinning so it is blurry, and the second when it was the carding was finished. 

    I was knitting socks, Robin's Egg blue sock yarn by The Wooly Cabin (on Etsy).  I liked the color so much I bought enough for two pairs of socks or socks and matching wrist warmers.  What's the next project for all of us??

  • 13 Jul 2020 10:18 AM | Susette Shiver (Administrator)

    We had a big and happy turnout last Friday for our weekly V-get-together! 

    Weather-wise, it was exciting as we got to share when thunder and lightening and down pours shifted around regionally.  As a group we represented Weaverville, Asheville, Leicester, Sylva, and Hendersonville! When the storm arrived at one place, the sunny porch/room darkened and thunder could be heard. It was interesting, and something that Zoom participants could experience only on gallery mode!! 

    The sad news that SAFF was cancelled left us a bit depressed since all of us enjoy attending either as a vendor or as shopper.  Nobody wants to get covid-19 though.  I notice that the Big Crafty in Asheville, which was to occur last Saturday, took place as "stories" by individual vendors who had been selected to participate.  Links to their webpages and elsewhere helped us to sample their wares and see what is up around town.  The Southern Highland Craft Guild will also be on line in July.  A quick google search will key you all into the available information and checkout events on Facebook.  

    You might notice that in the middle of the group picture panel, there was a temporary absentee.  Leigh was indeed with us!  She was working on ripping out the window seat cover that moved with them from Illinois (did I remember that correctly?) to Asheville, this in preparation for re-sizing for their new window seat.  She is holding up the seam ripper for all to see:

    Beth had just finished a new batting; they are usually 6-8 oz and so bigger than they seem when you just see one end (my opinion, don't take that for a group consensus!).  

    Judi has finished a sweater with an experience of "what a beautiful sweater" (we were also us admiring it) but a personal experience of "never again, too complicated, irritating to make".  The pattern involved dramatic arrays of dropped stitches. Assuming she doesn't get tangled up in a bush wearing it, she will enjoy it for years.  

    Lyn down in Sylva finished spinning some beautiful batting to create some beautiful, colorful yarn on a handsome spinning wheel.  We non-spinners vow to take it up soon. Those in the know asked how she would finish the yarn.  Would she leave it as single, or add other yarns to alter it's overall look?  We will ask for an update next week!

    Paula has finished her musically-intended wrist warmers.  She is of the old time music camp, literally, outside at night playing music with a group and suffering from chilly hands.  The perfect yarny-knitty solution.

    Finally, almost, Sebette and her cuddly soft gray-shaded batting flashed us her sweet smile and a cuddle.

    Why did she do that you might ask?  Well two reasons:  I was making everyone do an actual show and tell at the end of our session because as we are doing handwork most of the rest of the time, our heads are down and our projects are in our laps out of sight!.  

    The second reason I will illustrate in photos.  Those who didn't have pets, or didn't have lap pets had to make do.  Warning: the next photos have a high cuteness factor (including Judy, not a pet, but still cute)!!

    It was a good session.

    Susette (I was knitting)

  • 03 Jul 2020 11:56 AM | Anonymous

    Mary and Yoni hosted a studio tour for Local Cloth in June, showing us some of their creations and discussing their creative process. 

    Thank you, Mary and Yoni, for sharing yourselves and your art with us! 

    (Some of Mary's recent indigo rag rugs.)

    How did you get connected with Local Cloth/western NC?

    Yoni and I got connected to Local Cloth through our friend and fellow fiber-enthusiast Sandy, who lives in Asheville and volunteers with Local Cloth. We also have connections to Western North Carolina through having taken summer classes at Penland School of Craft in summer of 2018, which was a real turning point in both of our fiber journeys! 

    Where is your studio located?  How did you come to be in this location?

    Our studio is in our apartment in Northampton, MA. We live in an old mansion that has since been chopped up into several units. We live on the first floor in large, open rooms that flow into each other, as they were likely former parlors and sitting areas. We have repurposed one of these spacious rooms into our studio -- half for Yoni's sewing endeavors and half for Mary's weaving and knitting.

    Tell me about a project you are currently making.

    Mary: I have been really excited to combine my love of natural dye with weaving and tapestry techniques through an ongoing series of upcycled indigo rag rugs. It has been a joy to process discarded t-shirts, experiment with dyeing techniques and turn them into interesting home accessories. 

    Yoni: I am constructing quilted pillowcases for a friend using garments that belonged to her grandmother, which she will distribute among her close relatives. I am interested in how materials have a voice and special meaning within family circles, and how collaborative repurposing can give them life into the next generation.

    (A quilt Yoni made on the occasion of his brother's wedding.)

    How long have you been working in this medium? 

    Mary: I have been weaving for almost 10 years and knitting for seven. I got my start in fibers as Earlham College, a small Quaker liberal arts school in Richmond, Indiana. While pursuing my degree in environmental studies, I was able to take three weaving courses and I was hooked! After graduating, I worked as an environmental educator locally and bought one of the older looms in the Earlham studio at a bargain price from my instructor, Nancy Taylor. I owe it to Nancy for keeping me in the weaving trade as a young adult just getting her start in the world!

    Yoni: I started experimenting with paper and pressed flower collages when I was in school at Earlham College, then took my first fabric arts class during my final semester there. I've continued to learn and experiment with dying, piecing, and embroidery on my own for the past seven years, aided along the way with guidance from friends and short courses at the Hill Institute in Florence, MA and Penland School of Craft in Bakersfield, NC.

    Who are some of the people who mentored/taught you along the way?

    We have both been mentored by the incredible Nancy Taylor, who still leads the fibers program at Earlham College, as well as instructors that have taught at Penland School of Craft, including Tommye McClure Scanlin, Nick Deford, and Katherine Duguid. 

    What inspires you in your work?

    Mary: I am inspired by geometric designs from cultures around the world and magnifying techniques that are usually done on a much smaller scale. One of my favorite rugs in this indigo rag rug series was created by experimenting with hachure, a shading technique traditionally used in delicate tapestry weaving. I try and balance planned design with the unplanned surprises from the dye pot and love weaving with variegated colors.

    Yoni: I draw from my interests in Jewish history, botany, and found images to shape my pieces. I am often inspired to create things for friends and family based on their vocations or the pets in their lives. Fabric and thread are great mediums for considering disparate elements and tying together what is in my head.

    (A quilted collage Yoni is working on, for a friend who owns a fermentation business.)


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