Local Cloth Blog
We had a lovely visit together earlier today and a guest, Ellen Knoefel from Weaverville, told us about Project Linus and a little of its history. We thank her for joining us!
Originally, Project Linus was founded in 1985 to provide a pediatric hospital with security blankets for their young cancer patients. Nearly 8 million blankets have been donated since then!
Project Linus of Western North Carolina is our local branch (12 counties currently participate) and it has its own history. Project Linus WNC has provided 80,000 blankets made by 500 volunteer blanket makers. You can find the recipient organizations that hand out the blankets under history.
There are multiple drop off areas for volunteers to bring their blankets for donation (in the Asheville area there are two, one in Weaverville and one at Joann's).
There is an extensive process that the volunteers carry out monthly in a work-together setting to process the blankets which includes labeling them and packaging in plastic bags. The label that cites Project Linus contains a poem and also the maker's name!
Volunteers make blankets that are:
And they can be:
Once made, they are dropped off at specific collection locations which other volunteers collect from weekly. Finally, they are delivered to the organization that have "ordered/requested" them to be given to the children.
The biggest requests are for medium (40" X 50" and up) and large (50" X 60" and up) sizes and fleece ones (single layer) are very popular.
Project Linus is an amazing organization that has grown out of need of the children for comfort and from the willingness and enjoyment volunteers receive for their participation.
localclothinc posted and I re-posted on Instagram and Facebook! Are you on either? it is a great way to share with others some of your projects and to spread the word on the Local Cloth community.
Our Virtual Handwork Circle tomorrow will feature Ellen Knoefel at about 5 pm in the midst of our chatting and making get-together who will describe the Project Linus. Since we are all makers, this is one way that provides an outlet for our creative outlets and provides value to children.
Ellen Knoefel of Project Linus is going to share how 500+ blanket makers help children in need all over WNC. For more info check out their website: projectlinusofwnc.com and sign up for Friday’s circle at
Today we talked about using this blog as a means of collecting and seeing (at higher resolution than the Zoom meeting) some of the items we are working on or items that we are interested in. Just send them to me and I will include them; remember to describe them a bit for us.
Now all you have to do is sign up when you receive the Local Cloth Announcement for the Virtual Handwork Circle (or go to https://localcloth.org/Workshops). You will automatically get the Zoom meeting link just before the Zoom meetup. However, if you forget or change your mind, just email me. If you don’t know my email address, contact me via https://www.susetteshiver.com/. Members can invite one guest. For non-members, we ask $5.00 in this time of ‘how are we going to pay the rent?’.
I as a matter of habit (collector of stuff) write down little tidbits that come up in our far-ranging conversations so that I can remember! Good habit/bad habit. Lots of pieces of paper sitting about. Sometimes I even write a page in a notebook if I can find it. Well, some fabric dyers get a variety of tannins at https://maiwa.com/ in Canada. Joyce Tromba was mentioned as one. I wish I could remember the person who actually brought it up! I hadn’t heard about this site! We continue to support Earth Guild in Asheville which still has order-on-line service for the basics. https://www.earthguild.com/
Most of us were knitting, but Susan was pulling out locks from fluff (gosh, I wish I could remember whether that was sheep wool and what kind). She was describing how every few weeks her now deceased, massively long-haired, furry, angora bunny needed to be not matt up. A very productive bunny!
Denise experienced her first Zoom meeting and Leigh was joining us from Florida where she got stuck during the pandemic when she was meant to be moving to Asheville from Illinois. Katya, Judi and I have been the “regulars”.
We talked about gardening and where to get plants. Apparently, there is an hour plus wait at Painter’s Greenhouse in Old Fort to be able to get in and grab plants. We talked about iron dyeing and iron acetate + heat. We talked about many things, but we ended up mentioning Ted Talks. Susan had not heard about them. I found the Ted Talk given by Margaret Wertheim on mathematics and crocheting a 3D reef and we watched part of it leaving everyone with a cliffhanger! The crocheted reef shapes model “hyperbolic geometries” in 3D . Here is the link:
https://www.ted.com/talks/margaret_wertheim_the_beautiful_math_of_coral?referrer=playlist-talks_for_the_fiber_arts_lover#t-349361 Margaret Wertheim She is a very interesting person, science writer and artist https://www.margaretwertheim.com/about.
Now for the best part: what participants at the Virtual Handwork Circle have been working on:
By: Lynne Noble
This shawl is made of mitered squares from yarn spun on Iona.
The yellow shawl is made from yarn I dyed with saffron brought back from Morocco.
This needlepoint design will be a pocket and, I’m working on my button making skills. Looking forward to seeing ya’ll next Friday!”
Judi Jetson and her year-long shawl project that she picked up and finished!!!
“The knitting I'm doing during the meetings is pretty shapeless and doesn't lend itself to photographing, but here are a couple of pictures of the quilt blocks I'm also making.
These blocks are based on Paula Nadelstern's principles of cutting out bits of different patterned fabrics to create new patterns in a quilt block. Each of these 12" blocks has 60 pieces from at least six different fabrics in them. With the stay at home situation I decided to dig through my fabric stash, so these are all fabrics I already had. Some of them I've had for a very long time and it feels good to put them to use!”
Meet April Artist-of-the-Month: Sandy Hartmannsgruber
Sandy loves fiber arts: to weave, knit, spin and play with natural dyes. Her thirst for a fiber community is being quenched by Local Cloth. She studied German and Art at Earlham College, later getting her master's degree in teaching at Bank Street College of Education in New York City. She spent a year in the Andes of Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, learning with artisan families. Sandy moved to Asheville in 2018, after visiting her Grandma here for 24 years. Currently, Sandy has a rug on the loom, a shawl in progress, and two sweaters from the early 2000s waiting to be finished. Sandy is currently serving on the Local Cloth Board of Directors as Treasurer.
Our Interview with Sandy:
How did you connect with Local Cloth?
I heard about the Asheville Refinery building during a class at Penland School of Craft. Jessica Green showed me a photo of the bird mural and I thought "I want to go there!" So, before I had even moved to Asheville, I visited and wandered into the Local Cloth studio and got hooked; I became a member that evening. I didn't know whether I'd be able to take or teach any classes, but it felt right so I listened to my gut.
It's been incredibly nourishing to be part of the Local Cloth community, meet folks with similar passions, and experience being an active member of a fiber-focused non-profit. Thanks to Judi Jetson, who called because I checked off the "I'd like to volunteer" box on my membership application, we ended up starting a knitting group in the fall of 2018. The group made items for Helpmate, a local shelter for survivors of intimate-partner violence. Since then, it's been fun selling at winter Local Cloth maker markets, and now I've landed on the board; my first! And we are always looking for more folks to get involved -- you all have so many skills!
Where is your studio located? And how did you come to be in this location?
I live in the East End neighborhood of Asheville NC. I moved here the summer of 2018 for two reasons: my grandmother is here, and my life had the flexibility for a big move.
My studio is in the dining room of the duplex apartment I share with a housemate and two cats. I also keep boxes of wool and fleece upstairs in my bedroom. It's a constant Tetrus game of fitting my craft supplies in small rooms, with enough space left to fold out my loom for weaving, or have dinner, or play a string game with my kitten. I consider myself a collector; of yarn and fiber, of drawing and office supplies, of projects I plan to finish one day. When I travel, I always bring knitting and journal-writing materials with me, and somehow manage to acquire more along the way. When I returned from a 3-month Ecuador stay in 2018, I brought home with me a small bag of pottery shards and obsidian from the slopes of a volcano. I treasure broken bits special only to me. Thus, my home is a place filled with color and random artifacts. Despite constantly being on the lookout for how to clear space and winnow down my belongings, I like it that way!
Tell me about a project you are currently making.
My llama project has been limping along for the past three years. It's a labor of love and exchange. I love the folks I'm spinning and eventually weaving for, and in exchange for the shawl and blanket I will make with the fleece from their llamas, they traded me a sweet 26-inch Schacht 8-harness floor loom. The llamas they owned in Bloomington Indiana have gorgeous silver, dark brown, fawn, and reddish roving that I have been spinning into two-ply weft thread. Soon, I will weave the shawl using white wool and alpaca for the warp, and mix these with the hand-spun llama yarn in the weft in a twill pattern. I daydream about finding willing spinners to help me process the rest of the fleece into yarn -- are you out there? Would you like to help, in exchange for a meal or friendship, or something as of yet undetermined?
How long have you been working in this medium?
Weaving has been part of my life since 2002, when I first stepped into the 4th floor studio at Earlham College and fell head over heels in love. My teacher and friend Nancy Taylor nourished and expanded my textile-affinity over the next 4 years, helping me to secure a Watson Fellowship based on ancient and modern Andean textiles for the year after graduation. I lived and worked with families in Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. This year of learning and the relationships I formed accompany me to this day. Thanks to the internet, I continue to be in contact with beloved artisan friends in South America.
In 2004, I had the great honor of a 5-week apprenticeship with weaver, knitter, dyer, spinner extraordinaire Susanne Grosjean in Maine. I had no interest in natural dyes or spinning... She quickly changed that, saying "All of my apprentices learn to spin," and involving me in her madder dye process so I had no choice but to get absolutely obsessed with both. That summer I spun enough on Susanne's drop-spindle to knit my first sweater, which I was working on when Martha Stewart dropped by our craft booth at a fair near Bar Harbor! A year later, Susanne sold me my spinning wheel, a Louet I still treasure.
Who are some of the people who mentored/taught you along the way?
There are so many women who have taught and mentored me along the way!! I've mentioned Nancy Taylor, my professor at Earlham, and Susanne Grosjean, weaver in Hogbay Maine. My host mother in Quito Ecuador, Susana Velasco, inspires me with her multiple talents: sculptural tapestries, shoes and boots, embroidery; to name a few. My hosts in Peru, Ruperta and Silvano Huatta Yucra taught me their knitting patterns (Silvano) and helped me weave on a stake loom the Taquile way (Ruperta).
I'm eternally grateful to my family and friends, who ooh and ahh appreciatively when I show them a finished project, and often support me by buying a piece when I get my act together to post it for sale.
What inspires you in your work?
When I look around at my collection of wool, I choose colors that match a certain mood, or a texture that would make a great cowl, or yarn I want to use up, and then I come up with a project to use them. Looking through pattern books helps me imagine the possibilities. Then I usually make up my own pattern because I'd rather be flexible enough to make a "mistake" into a design feature rather than locked into a set of instructions. The desire for cozy and warm really inspires my work. Natural colors from indigo, madder, goldenrod, and cochineal inspire me: I want to spread these colors through the world because they bring me such joy. I love simplicity: knits, purls, and plain-weave. I love keeping my hands busy.
Artists who inspire me today include Anni Albers, Ruth Asawa, Katharine Cobey, Adrienne Sloane, Gunta Stolzl, and Rowland Rickett
I saw an image circulated on Facebook recently. It showed a receipt being printed from a credit card machine. It said something to the effect of…”Transaction Denied. You have enough yarn.” Almost fell off my chair laughing.
Looking around my cluttered studio at the boxes from Jaggerspun and Webs I recently unpacked, I realize I have broken my New Year’s resolution to weave throughout 2018 only using the yarn I already have. But things happen. Exhibitions come up. A collaborator for one exhibit says, “Let’s do a coat, in teal!” Sure, I exclaim!
Now, a gorgeous winter coat is going to require wool or alpaca, neither of which I keep in great supply, especially not in teal. (The fact that I am weaving the wool yardage now, in the dog days of August is a story for another blog post.) So despite how true the credit card warning above is, I ordered more yarn.
However, I have resolved (re-resolved?) that the other three entries in this exhibit will be woven from yarn in my stash: cottons, Tencel, bamboo, silk, and the usual cast of characters. But first I have to figure out how much I will need of each and how much I have on hand, just in case I need a little more or a slightly different size or color.
So for this blog, I thought I’d offer a short tutorial on figuring out whether you have enough yarn on a given cone (or skein) to complete a project.
How Much Yarn Do I Need for Warp?
Step 1: Figure how long each warp end needs to be by adding together the desired finished length of each piece on the warp, fringe or hem allowances for each piece, take-up and shrinkage (about 20% is average), and loom waste based on your loom and warping techniques. Divide by 36 to convert inches to yards.
Step 2: Figure how many warp ends you will need by adding together desired finished width, an allowance for draw-in (which you will work to minimize) and shrinkage (say 10%). Multiply the resulting width at the reed by the sett (ends per inch) you will use based on yarn size and structure. Add floating selvages to this total if needed.
Step 3: Find total yardage needed for warp by multiplying total warp ends by total length of each warp end.
Step 4: If using multiple yarns or colors in warp, repeat step 3 for the number of warp ends for each yarn.
See example below:
How Much Yarn Do I Need for Weft?
Step 1: Figure how many inches of weft will be needed to weave 1” of cloth by multiplying width at the reed by desired picks per inch (same as epi if balanced weave).
Step 2: Figure how many inches of weft will be needed by multiplying result of step 1 by total woven inches in warp, which will be the finished length of all pieces, plus hems, plus take-up and shrinkage. (No weft will be needed for fringe.)
Step 3: Divide what is usually a really big number by 36 to convert to yards.
Step 4: If using multiple wefts, figure this for each yarn according to number of woven inches for each.
Shortcut: You will usually need a little less yarn for weft than warp. So if you allow the same amount needed for warp for weft, you’ll have enough, with a little left over.
Note that you may need to adjust your take-up and shrinkage percentages for different fibers, i.e.: up for wool or down for linen or silk. You can obtain more accurate estimates for yards needed by weaving samples in your chosen yarn, structure and parameters. Keeping careful records of measurements on-loom and after wet finishing for each project will prove valuable if you want to repeat it, or even weave something similar in that same yarn.
How Much Yarn Do I Have?
Step 1: Determine the yards per pound for your yarn(s). Find this info in descriptions from your yarn supplier, reference books, or Handwoven Magazine’s Master Yarn Chart, a free download from weavingtoday.com. If you can’t find it there or don’t know exactly what the yarn is, look for something close in the Master Yarn Chart OR use a McMorran Yarn Balance*.
Step 2: Divide yards per pound by 16 to find out yards per ounce.
Step 3: Weigh your cone(s) or skein(s) of yarn, deducting the weight of the cone. (1 or 2 ounces depending on type and size of cone. I keep some empties of various kinds on hand to zero out the scale before weighing.)
Step 4: Multiply total ounces (or pounds) by yards per ounce (or yards per pound) to determine total estimated yards for each yarn.
It is always a good idea to err on the side of having a little more yarn than you need. The alternative is maddening if you run out of either warp or weft yarn close to the finish line. Ask me how I know.
What To Do If You Do Not Have Enough?
Well, if you are committed to not ordering more yarn, you have to get creative. That will be the subject of my next blog post.
Want to hear all that again, in slow motion? Purchase a few hours (or package) of Shaft-Loom Weaving on my Resident Artist page and schedule some one-on-one time with me in the Local Cloth studio.
*McMorran Yarn Balance (right) has become a little hard to find, but is a great addition to any weaver’s toolbox. Instructions are included in package or easy to find online.
For the last four years, I have participated in the Asheville Community Theater's fund raising fashion show. Categories are chosen every year and your garment must be made in the media/theme. The category that I chose and was accepted into this year was HARDWARE. (yes you can laugh now). I entered with my husband Keith to help with the metal fabrication and components.
Other year's projects/themes included: nature - yards and yards of ecoprinted materials when I had never ecoprinted before, artist inspired - Monet - skirt out of yards and yards of of fishing line crocheted with colored beads to give the impression of color, and paper - taking patterned tissue pattern, cutting it up and then weaving the design into yardage.
There are many similarities within this odd group of projects:
1. I always hit a horrid snag in execution of each of these designs, something I was sure would work but doesn't.
2. I loose my vision and how to make it work within the category (I am often too narrow in thinking of my options).
3. I panic in trying to figure out the path forward - a little crying and stepping back to take time to explore options.
4. And finally it comes to me and it works out. I look at magazines, the internet, image galleries until something just sparks.
Despite all of the angst involved with this - I love this show. I am so interested in how other designers see the category. Personally it causes me to think in very different ways and pushes me to be both creative in the interpretation of the topic and to deliver solutions for working with materials I have never worked with before. The technical challenges in working with materials that I have never used are often built from what I do know and adapt to these unusual starting materials. It is amazing how much it has opened my mind to alternative solutions with uncommon tools, equipment and techniques.
This year's project was to be made from items to be purchased in a hardware store. It starts like any other project - surveying the store to see what is available. You begin to think what pattern will I use, how will the materials be fastened together, will it be too thick, too heavy, how will I "sew" them together. We used duct tape , rivets, eyelets, wire jump rings, wire, sheet metal and washers and parts from strainers.
Photo by Grace Puffer, Model Sarah Johns
Sarah really sold the garment on the runway and did a terrific job. It won first place in the category and is hanging in the Bellagio Every Day window in downtown Asheville until the 21st.
I am lucky enough to teach what I love. Recently though I have been on a kick to take classes myself and I have learned a number of things.
I have realized that learning something new is more daunting than I remember. I want more things written down because two months later when I get back to it I surely won't remember the fine details of my new craft. And I need pictures or videos of the details to help remember the new skills. These experiences are helping me with my classes and I will try to make improvements.
I have also learned how much fun it is to take something completely out of my element and see a project from a whole different perspective. I like being in a class instead of the solitude, with no feedback, from reading a book and trying to make it work. I like how a teacher can show me the slight turn of the hand to make a better stitch or knot that I never would have picked up from a book. I like seeing what others are doing and receive critique. And I like seeing how a class of students, that are all learning the same technique interpret it in such a different manner.
I have taken a felt bootmaking, a jewelry making, a doll making and the polymer clay class. While I doubt any will become a passion of mine I have learned I like my felting technique better, learned to use tools I have never used, learned more about color and design and learned the value and boost I get from completing something in a short period of time and being successful and done.
I hope you find something of interest to take this year with Local Cloth to boost your energy and creativity.
My stint as Local Cloth Resident Artist on Thursdays started with a wonderful weaving challenge. Judith Henry is an intermediate weaver, coming to weaving from an extensive knitting background. She wants to weave a tablecloth, but the width is not possible on her loom. She read about using double weave to weave a cloth twice as wide as her loom. The two layers are connected on only one selvage. The challenge, her research revealed, was how to deal with draw-in at the fold side which can make the fold very obvious when it is opened out.
She came to me for help finding the best solutions. I am not an expert in double-width weaving, so I researched recommendations from several sources and set up a sampling study for her to explore them.
Judith signed up for two six-hour packages of my Shaft-Loom Weaving On-going Classes and just completed her study. The results were very dramatic. In addition to overall suggestions for minimizing draw-in — leaving enough weft in the shed, advancing the warp every 1 to 1.5 inches and winding bobbins very tightly — I offered a series of experiments to test techniques specific to double-width.
The first was to position the fold on the weaver’s best selvage. Most weavers find one selvage always weaves more neatly than the other. For Judith, it was the right selvage, so she made sure to thread the warp stripes in her pattern so the fold would be on her right.
We tried an adjustment in sleying at the fold side, choosing a recommendation to sley the second grouping (of 4 ends) from that selvage at half density (2/dent). The final four ends on that side were sleyed at normal density(4/dent). Then she wove several different samples: one with a fishing line floating selvage at the fold; one with a fishing line floating selvage on both sides (All the fishing line is removed after weaving, so it doesn’t permanently close the “open” side.); and another with fishing line threaded through heddles with the last two ends of each layer, without floating selvages.
Judith also sampled each of these options with no density adjustment on the fold side. Yes, this meant cutting off and wet finishing samples as she wove, so she got lots of practice cutting off and lashing back on. Because we were in the Local Cloth studio, I could wash and press the samples while she was weaving, so we had immediate results to judge.
We removed the fishing line, and tried threading in smooth yarn with the last two ends on the fold instead, trying this with a couple of different density adjustments at the selvage, and two different sizes of mercerized cotton.
In the end, Judith achieved the best results (an invisible fold line) with her third sample which threaded the fishing line with the last four ends on the fold side. I’ve included some pictures of samples 1-3 hanging in the studio after wet finishing: one with no fishing line, second with fishing line floating selvage at fold, third with fishing line threaded into selvage ends.
Another double-weave tip: use a mirror to check for weaving errors on the bottom layer. That doubled weft in sample 3 turned out to be a twist in the 8/2 weft that got caught in the shed. We didn't see it until it was cut off the loom.
None of the samples using yarn instead of fishing line produced an invisible fold. We acknowledged this was a narrow sample with which she was taking great care at the selvages. On a wider piece when the shuttle is being thrown through the shed, this may work better.
She also liked the results using a fishing line floating selvage on the open side, and plans to use cotton-linen blend for her tablecloth vs. the 8/2 unmercerized cotton she used in her sampling. All of which will require…more sampling. So for the tablecloth, she will add another yard of warp, sample those variables, and cut them off and wash them before making her final decisions.
Oh, and we have one other recommendation for anyone who wants to conduct similar experiments: colored fishing line vs. clear is a lot easier to manage.
If you have a weaving challenge you would like to explore, or you have always wanted to give weaving a try, please get in touch. I’d love to help you.
Welcome to the new Local Cloth Blog.
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