Thursday, February 9, 2017

"Hands On" Weaving at the Nevada Museum of Art

For several years, the Reno Fiber Guild has been bringing the art and craft of handweaving to public locations and letting everyone get first hand knowledge about how cloth is created.  In January, we were invited to participate with the Nevada Museum of Art at their second Saturday "Hands On"  event. 

There was lots of preparation involved to get enough of our cardboard loom kits made because the museum draws far greater crowds to this event than the guild is accustomed to handling.  Luckily, the museum was a great partner and helped us with many details including help making and assembling several hundred loom kits.

The morning of the event found us bundled against the freezing Reno temperatures.  We headed up to the third floor of the museum with warped looms, kumihimo stands, display pieces and boxes of cardboard looms.  Everyone pitched in and our display and loom set ups came together in an hour, at which time we started receiving our first eager visitors.

Throughout the day, kids of all ages worked their way around the weaving stations. Many started at the cardboard loom table with our able volunteers helping them to get their yarn over and under the warp threads.  After that experience, the next choice was a warped loom.  Each loom had its own mentor to show the public about shuttles, treadles, weaving patterns and much more. 

A real attraction was the Kumihimo braiding station. Who knew you could use a little foam disc to make colorful and elegant braided cords? 

We have had plenty of heartwarming stories to share since our day at the museum.  We were exhausted after our six hour adventure, but satisfied that everyone had enjoyed themselves and also learned something they didn't know about weaving.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Remembering our friend and mentor, Hazel Ryland

"I can't do math, but I am gorgeous!" - Hazel Ryland
Aug. 20, 1925 ~ Nov. 28, 2016
 Reno Fiber Guild's dear friend and long time member, Hazel Ryland, passed away in November.  She was a mentor and teacher to many present and past members of the guild and will be missed by all that knew and loved her.  You can read Hazel's obituary here.

Hazel was born in England and entered the military while still a teenager during WWII.  An article  about her military service appeared in the Nevada Appeal newspaper, Jan. 2016 . In 2014,  she was the proud  participant in an Honor Flight to Washington DC.

As I gathered stories about Hazel for this post, I talked with Gayle V. who had been a good friends with her for many years. Gayle remembers that Hazel would reveal some of her past, but not everything all at once, leaving you wondering "what happened next".  Photos of  Hazel revealed that she was a strikingly  beautiful woman in her youth and the quote under her picture above, is  very typical of Hazel's wry sense of humor.  In another anecdote, Hazel said she was asked if it was difficult to learn to drive on the right side of the road when she came to America.  Hazel's answer was no, it wasn't difficult.  Later, to friends she admitted she hadn't learned to drive until she came to America!  When you read the article  below, you may appreciate this addition to the story.   Hazel was crewing on the Duke of Malborough's yacht with her husband and when winding warps, found that she could make a cross using the sailing masts.

In 2013, Hazel was an honored weaving mentor at the CNCH conference at Squaw Creek.   What follows is the article that appeared about Hazel in the registration booklet and was written by her dear friend Jennifer de Jung.

Hazel Ryland was born in Biggenhill, Kent, England where she grew up with her parents and older brother. Claiming an unremarkable childhood the life that followed was anything but! Lying about her age, she entered the British Army in 1942. She was assigned to the Royal Heavy Artillery and stationed in London and South Hampton. Hers was a mixed battery of men and women. As a spotter, she learned the silhouettes of American, British, and German planes. Reassigned, she used a “predictor” in a pit located nearby the 3.6” guns to guide the gunners’ aim. One of the highlights of the war years was dancing to the Glen Miller Band.

She was given a loom by her father when she was 11 years old. After leaving the service in 1946, she, her father, and brother taught themselves to weave. She still has that little four-shaft table loom (converted to a floor loom by her father) on which they learned. She crewed racing sloops for three years, a remarkable accomplishment for a woman at the time. She married and she and her husband lived for a time on a “very old” pilot cutter. In 1959 she came to the US via Cuba on a 12 passenger merchant ship. Her first job was in a textile mill where she tied on new warps. No wonder that she can tie a weaver’s knot in her sleep. She then went to work at the Allied Arts Guild for Custom Handweavers in Menlo Park where she was mentored by Nancy Felsovany whose photo still graces Hazel’s home.

Prior to coming to Lake Tahoe in 1966, she trained as a Cordon Bleu chef and put those skills to work in the Bay Area and Carson City. In 1970, Hazel began to teach weaving classes. She has woven almost everything from pillow cases to coverlets and tapestry to rugs. For the past several years, her companion Mick at her side, she has focused on pile carpets woven on a beloved Fireside Loom using handspun and hand dyed warp, weft, and pile yarns. She can now do a Giordes knot in her sleep.

The number of weaving students and friends she has influenced is great and in recognition of that, she has been granted lifetime membership to the Reno Fiber Guild. Hazel will always be known for her insistence that we “Sawmple” and many students have been endeared by her oft stated, “I’m lousy at math, but I’m gorgeous!”

This photo is of Hazel receiving the mentor award at CNCH 2013 from her good friend, Jen.

To end this remembrance of our dear friend, here are a couple of personal memories about Hazel by Reno Guild members.

When I met her, Hazel was the youngest 90 year old you are ever likely to meet. She had the wisdom of freedom of her years and experience. She did not hesitate to speak her mind or share her opinion. And had the delight in life that she shared generously. She noticed the details and she helped you see that the world was a brighter place than you thought it was.

I met her a few weeks after she had hip surgery. She would be so frustrated that steps were still difficult or painful, then 3 minutes later delighted that her flowers were blooming and she could walk out with her "stick" to enjoy them. When I came for visits, I was just as likely to find her sitting in the spring sunshine as reading in her easy chair with her cat supervising. And I'll never forget her grin when she drove me around the short block in front of her home for the fist time - knowing that she had taken a little more of her independence back.

I miss her.
Melissa G.

I met Hazel at a meeting of the Carson City Weaving Guild here in the 1970's. I had woven on a cardboard inkle loom making belts, sashes and tapes. I wanted a loom and needed instruction on that scary piece of equipment. I signed up for a beginning weaving class with Hazel. We met at her home and enjoyed the outside patio area for our first steps on this adventure. When Hazel got to the drafting I was totally lost .... tears were in my eyes as I tried so hard to understand ... Hazel patiently went over it and over it until I felt a glimmer of hope and enough confidence to stay with the program. She gave me several mini catch-ups during those first years. She will always be loved and missed.

Nisha K.


Saturday, December 17, 2016

A Visit with Jochen Ditterich at Sage Weavers


 Sage Weavers was a week later than usual this month so that we could spend  time with Jochen Ditterich who was in town visiting his son.  Jochen has been teaching weaving for many years and was recognized this year by Handwoven as one of their two handweaving teachers of the year.

 Jochen showed us a rug he wove for his son when he received his PhD.  The technique he used is called shaft switching and it allowed him to get the involved pictorial image of his son bicycling.  Unfortunately, the dog made his mark on the rug - but otherwise it has stood the test of time well.

Jochen tells us he has many hundreds of pounds of wool in his studio and from the video show we watched, he wasn't exaggerating.  In order to weave the basketweave rug shown above, he combined several ends of slightly different colored yarn.  This gives the rug a much more interesting color effect than using just one color.

Here is an airy scarf woven in silk using bead leno as the weaving technique.  Note the nice little picot edging along the scarf.

Another sumptuous piece - this time a shawl woven in cashmere.

And, then on to Jochen's standby scarves - rayon chenille warp and weft.  No two are the same and there are usually many different warp colors in each scarf

A friend made this jacket using 8 of Jochen's chenille scarves.  A real luxury piece.

We enjoyed the afternoon talking and sharing with Jochen and hope that he will let us know when he is in Reno again so that we can get together again.  We had hoped he would be moving to Reno, but he tells us not now.  He has too many looms and too much yarn to move.   I guess most of us can identify with his dilemma.
Read more about Jochen here at his website and take a look at this video made by a friend of him in his home studio in Grand Rapids, MI.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

God Jul - a Scandinavian Holiday party.

Reno Fiber Guild had its annual Holiday Party this past Saturday.  The tradition is for members to bring a themed gift for the big basket (Scandinavia this year), sell raffle tickets for the basket and then the winner takes all.  This year's basket was overflowing and it looks like we may need to expand into two next year.

 We also have a pot luck (this year a Smörgåsbord). These photos were taken early on before most of the dishes had arrived.  It was really a "Groaning Board" with such a wide variety of foods that you could hardly try everything because there was so much. Included were some traditional Scandinavian foods like "Swedish Crescents" and a pickled herring appetizer, but it had been decided earlier that people could just bring their favorite dish to share without worrying about it being Scandinavian.

Beryl won the raffle for this year's basket and the bounty of gifts were passed around for everyone to inspect and appreciate.  The wonderful thing about having a theme for the basket each year is seeing how people interpret that theme.  Some gifts are handmade like the pillow, tote bag and scarf.  Some are there to inspire a new project (Swedish linen yarns).  There was a bookmark woven with a Swedish 4 shaft technique, Christmas ornaments knitted with traditional Scandinavian patterns, a woven wheat heart!  And then, there were the funny little trolls, Christmas ornaments of Scandinavian skiers, and lots of good things to eat.

 A couple of recipes were shared with the gifts - so they are being passed on as our special gift to you, our readers,  in this season of giving and sharing.  God Jul!

Swedish Crescents
1 cup salted butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2/3 cup ground blanched almonds
1 2/3 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Oven 325°  Use mixer on med. to cream butter, sugar and extract for 1 minute.  On low, add ground almonds, flour and cardamom until soft and dough forms.  Roll dough into 1" balls & shape into crescents.  Place 1" apart on baking sheet.  Bake 14 to 16 min. or until set and lightly browned.  Let cool and sift powdered sugar over the cookies.

Swedish Pancakes
4 eggs
2 cups milk
1 cup flour
2 TBS sugar
1 dash salt
4 TBS butter

Place all ingredients except butter in blender.  Blend until combined, but don't over mix.  Let rest for 10 minutes.  Melt some butter in large skillet.  Pour 1/4 cup batter and cook.  Flip pancake when edges look like golden lace.  Cook a little longer until golden.  Top with jam or your favorite topping.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

November Meeting - Making Christmas Hearts

Because last year's Japanese textile studies were so interesting, this year the guild decided to try another area in the world known for their fine weaving and textile techniques.  Scandinavia and all it has to offer is our theme for this year. 

To kick things off, one of our members suggested weaving paper Christmas hearts which are found in all the Scandinavian countries at this time of year.  To prepare for the class, we bought the book by Susan Foulkes called Christmas Hearts.  The instructors, Gloria and Beryl tried their hand at the beginners projects and found that they were a bit tricky to get the construction paper to slip through all the contortions needed.  Gloria had a brilliant idea about making a lightweight pattern heart so that people could learn the technique before they made one with the stiffer paper and that seemed to be just what was needed to get everyone started.

Soon members were ready to get on with the more complicated two color hearts, including a six year old who seemed to be enjoying the process immensely.

These fun hearts are used in all kinds of decorating in Scandinavia and are often hung on the Christmas tree, filled with candy or other goodies.  Check out this collection in Pinterest for more designs and tutorials. 
One thing always leads to another and Karen found a link to making Scandinavian Christmas Stars out of quilting fabrics.  Something else to try this
holiday season.  
 God Jul from all of us at the Reno Fiber Guild.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Sashiko Workshop

The guild finished up their year long study of Japanese Textiles with a meeting workshop on Sashiko embroidery.The quilt shown above was made by Karen S.  The two purses were made by Mary N. 

Nisha K. shared this lovely placemat she made several years ago using the Sashiko stitching embellishment.

There was a good turn out of interested members.  Karen showed a couple of videos and shared some tips about the right and wrong ways to turn corners, etc. in Sashiko Stitching.  Everyone was given some practice cloth and thread to get started.

Kits had been purchased for participants with traditional Japanese designs, the correct embroidery thread and  Sashiko style needles.  Once people felt comfortable with the technique, they started in earnest on their kit fabric.

As you can see from this photo, everyone is totally engrossed in their stitching.  Plus, we will have many more hours of fun completing our projects.  Everyone is invited to come to the November meeting a bit early, to share their progress.

Thank you Karen and Mary for this introduction to Sashiko. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Hands On Weaving at the South Valleys Library

Members of the Reno Fiber Guild have caught the "weaving bug" and everyone seemed to get a big kick out of sharing it with the public at the South Valleys Library. In the photo below, Eva shows the young weaver the next treadle to push for her weaving pattern.
 This year we added Kumihimo Braiding to our "hands on" activities.  The public was introduced to this wonderful technique through both foam discs and also the traditional Japanese braiding stand called a Marudai.  Along with the actual experience of making braids, there were many examples of completed jewelry pieces and braids to examine. Karen watches closely to help smooth the path for this budding braider.

 We want very much for everyone to have a chance to make something wonderful.  Here Pati gives a very little student a helping hand.

Shelley watches as a new weaver checks out the Mountain Loom and learns how to operate the levers to change sheds.
The rigid heddle loom is an inexpensive place for many people to start a weaving journey.  Kathy is helping this woman experience the joy of weaving on one of these versatile gadgets.
Franco is new to the Reno area, but not new to weaving.  He likes to show people how they can weave without having to buy expensive equipment.  This loom is one he fashioned himself from dowels. The design is a work in progress, so stay tuned for more innovations. (photo by Franco)
Rachel is another weaver who uses simple tools to weave cloth.  She brought her backstrap loom on which she weaves cloth for clothing.    Although the loom is simple in design, it takes time and practice to learn backstrap weaving and Rachel learned her skills from indigenous teachers in Guatemala and Mexico. (photo by Franco)
Sarah brought her 8-shaft table loom to this year's event.  She is weaving a complex design with two colors of yarn in both warp and weft as Rachel and Anni admire the pattern.
Hands On events are a lot of fun - both for the public and for the guild members who volunteer their time, looms and materials. This post doesn't come close to showing all the people who made this day a success.  A big thank you to everyone who participated.  Also please visit Franco Rios' blog for additional photos