Monday, November 28, 2011

Interview With Suzi

Hello Fiber Friends!
I hope you’re enjoying your holiday season.  This installment of the “infrequent fiber blog” is a treat – an in-depth interview with our fearless SEFAA president, Suzi Gough.  The super-organized, always-calm Suzi consented to answer some probing questions about her life and work.  I think you will enjoy this peek into the world of a very talented fiber artist …
                                                     Photo of Suzi weaving in Vermont by Alison Pyott
Your name:  Suzi Gough
The General area of GA/Atlanta you live/work in:  Cochran, south of Macon and pretty much in the center of the State.
What type of fiber work do you do and how long have you been doing it?  I’ve been weaving a little over 20 years.
Do you have a general style?  No, I keep getting interested in different techniques and have yet to settle into a specialty or style.
Do you have a most favorite fiber activity?  Definitely weaving.
  Weaving from 2005 by Suzi
A really fun, enjoyable project you have worked on is … the dishtowels I’m weaving now because the warp is colorful and it’s plain weave in 8/2 cotton so it’s weaving up quickly.
A really challenging project you have worked on is…I have a big, unusual loom used to weave Harris Tweed in the Outer Hebrides in Scotland.  It’s wide and takes long (100 yd) warps, so getting the warp yarn on the loom has been challenging.  Also, it’s been a challenge to get the loom itself adjusted and working smoothly. 
Who is your audience?  I don’t generally sell my work, so I guess it’s mainly me.
Tell us about your fiber stash:  Two 8’ high x 4’ wide bookcases filled with yarn plus some more stashed around the room in various places.  Also, one fleece and lots of spinning fiber filling a couple of kitchen cabinets.
Do you collect anything besides fiber/fabric/yarn?  Huntley Palmer biscuit (cookie) tins.
Do you listen to music when you work/create?  What kind?  I don’t listen if I’m trying to think/design, but I’ll listen when I weave or am repairing/finishing up some fabric.  I listen to classical music or old country music.
What is your favorite time of day (or night) to work?  Any time!
Do you have a favorite accomplishment involving fiber?  I had a silk dress make it into the Convergence 2010 fashion show and having it look great on stage was pretty special.
 Suzi ‘s dress, photo by Drew Stauss of Departure Studio
What fiber artists inspire you?  My grandmother whose fabrics woven in the late 50’s still look fantastic today.  She had a great sense of color. 
Do you have favorite shops or suppliers?  Favorite websites?  Favorite tips to share?  I have enough yarn to last a lifetime, so I don’t really shop much anymore unless I’m at Stitches South or Convergence where the vendor’s halls are too good to pass up.  I usually bring a list of what I want/need to a conference and then walk through the vendor’s hall once without buying anything to scope out who has what I’m looking for and at what price.  It’s easier to avoid being overwhelmed or going hog wild that way.
If you couldn’t touch fiber, what kind of artwork would you do?  That’s a tough one.  I can’t draw or paint.  Does gardening count?
Where do you see your work heading?  Are there any new areas of fiber you want to learn or pursue?  Mostly I’d like to spend more time weaving and to be more productive.  I’ve always said that eventually I’d like to sell enough to support my yarn habit, but I still haven’t gotten to that point.  I’d also like to have a 32- or 40-shaft computer-controlled loom some day.
What advice do you have for aspiring fiber artists?  Make time to pursue your interests, find others who have similar interests for support, inspiration, and encouragement and don’t listen when someone tells you “you can’t…”
What does SEFAA mean to you?  It’s important to me to see the fiber arts community interacting and working together and that’s what SEFAA is all about.  I probably won’t come up with an innovative weaving approach or technique and I don’t want to teach, so being involved with SEFAA is my way of giving back and supporting the fiber arts.  SEFAA has been a lot of work, but it’s been enjoyable and it’s really rewarding to see it growing up so nicely!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fiber For All

Hello Fiber Friends.

Last week I met the future of fiber art.  It was a subtle moment, but full of meaning.  There were 16 earnest young artists from the age of almost-six to thirteen.  The “Kids’ Art Camp” of the Senoia, Georgia Cultural Arts Committee took place in the red barn behind The Veranda, a local Bed and Breakfast.  The gracious owner of the inn, a former elementary school teacher, gave us the run of the barn.  We had an air conditioner and four fans and could barely breathe from the heat and humidity.

Day one was photography, day two was painting, day three was my day, and of course it was fiber.  Having taught fiber activities the two previous years that included scrap appliqué on felt and more appliqué on pillows, I felt it was time to step out into new territory.  I didn’t want to hear those horrible little words, “Didn’t we do this last year?”

After wracking my brain for a week or so, I hit upon a brilliant plan: weaving!  Now you need to know that I am NOT a weaver.  I took a few courses from museums and craft teachers in the late 60s (when I was a baby), but they didn’t stick.  I was allergic to raw wool, the natural dyes faded, and it was waaay to slow for me.  That was before I discovered Procion dyes and quilting.  So I was not coming from a place of strength.  But it was getting close to class time and I couldn’t think of anything else.

I turned to my stash of recycled cardboard. Then I began to search the basement for boxes to cut up.  After snipping about a million evenly spaced notches at the top and bottom of each piece, we had looms. 

Discount-store yarn provided the warp and I pulled out the few pieces of solid-color commercial fabric I had acquired over the years. (I am a hand-dyed or printed person.)  Half-inch strips ripped from every hunk of fabric would provide the weft, and they were taped to the end of popsicle sticks as shuttles.  I decided to embrace the wabi-sabi of knots connecting all those strips of fabric.

The kids and I discussed the warp and the weft and woven versus knitted fabric.  After a little training, the volunteers helped to warp the looms. The children learned to rip fabric with abandon and weave with their makeshift shuttles. 

Now here’s where the moment comes in…. I realized that after an hour and a half, all 16 kids were sitting still and weaving.  No one was bolting for the door or gazing at the ceiling, no one whined that they were bored, and all the questions were technical ones about their work.  We actually had to make them stop to go to lunch.

Maybe they liked the destructive quality of fabric ripping; maybe they liked the symmetry of the weave, but their complete focus on fiber was undeniable.  Sixteen little lights of the future will probably never look at a piece of woven cloth in the same way again.  I don’t know what you would call that, but I call it a small miracle …. and the future of Fiber Art.

Claudia Wood

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Yes, Fiber's HOT, HOT, HOT!

Hello Fiber Friends.

After a long, flowery Spring in Georgia this year, the temperature has warmed to nearly boiling.  But one of the hottest things around here and in the wider world is FIBER!  Who would have thought it?

A few examples from the recent past and present:

In April, CBS Sunday Morning did a whole segment on royal embroideries at the court of Henry VIII.  LOTS of people watch CBS Sunday Morning.  The burning question was: Did Henry himself pick up needle and thread and actually stitch?  The Royal School of Needlework is still investigating ...

The April 2011 issue of  Marie Claire magazine, listed Magda Sayeg, the originator of yarn bombing, as the “girl crush” in their Bulletin section (page 122).  No small feat to be noticed by this trendy magazine!  (There’s the yarn bombing in Atlanta, too.)

And then there was the Royal Wedding, with an estimated 23 million viewers in the U.S.  What’s the fiber connection?  The Royal School of Needlework was responsible for making the Carrickmacross lace used in Kate Middleton’s wedding gown.  And this was publicized!  Perhaps not every person heard about the lace, but many people did.  And many out of 23 million (plus all those around the world) is a LOT of people.

In October 2011, Penguin Books, a huge mainstream publisher, will publish reprints of three classic books (The Secret Garden, Emma and The Black Stallion) with covers that are photos of imaginative embroideries designed to represent each book.  The fiber artist is Jillian Tamaki, and her creations can be seen on her blog.  The name carried by these special editions is “Penguin Threads”!  How many young readers will see these?

At this very moment in Zebulon, GA, the amazing fiber art of our own member Denny Webster is at home on the walls of A Novel Experience, a wonderful indie bookstore on the main street of town.  Her series of art quilts, “The Ladies,” is a group of women depicted as they “rethink” their lives.  It is well worth the drive to Zebulon. The images, both funny and serious, will stay with you; great storytelling in fiber.  More details on the website of A Novel Experience.

So hold your heads high, fiber people!  Not only is SEFAA finding a wonderful new home in Atlanta, but the world is taking notice of fiber art.


Friday, May 13, 2011


Camille and her sister, Chloe, at STITCHES
Enjoy this guest post from Camille Butera, possibly the youngest STITCHES participant!
Stitches South was loads of fun! I enjoyed going to the Market and seeing all the different shops. One really neat shop sold jewelry made out of metal knitting needles. Another store sold a knitting card game! There also were some interesting knitting bags there. I got to see loads of nice yarns and fibers as well. One highlight was trying out a spinning wheel for the first time! There were a lot of different types but I only tried one.

On Saturday I went to “Spinning for Knitting” which was taught by Merike Saarniit; I learned how to ply on a drop spindle there and got to try out lots of different fibers. Plying was very cool to do as I had never done it before (two yarns wrapped around each other). I also got to learn a new type of spindle spinning there. The class had so many different fibers, and I especially loved how soft the angora fiber was; it basically just slid between my fingers! There were lots of other awesome colors and fibers which resulted in a very crazy yarn when plied. I had a great time at Stitches and can't wait to go next year!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fab Fiber Fun

Hello Fiber Friends!

So how’s your February going? The lovely spring weather, even if it’s just an interlude, makes me ready to spread out some dyed and painted fabric on my front lawn (it makes the neighbors curious) and maybe do a little discharging out on the front porch. I bought some new, “non-toxic” discharge paste to use on natural fibers. It’s called “deColourant” ( and it even has a version that will take out the old dye color and put a new one in its place. Pretty fancy fiber footwork!

So where did I get this cool stuff? At a local fiber show, the Georgia Quilt Show (SEFAA had a booth) held at the Gwinnett Center last fall. Another such opportunity for cool fiber purchases of all kinds is coming up at the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo at the Gwinnett Center on March 10th, 11th, and 12th, so go to to find out more. They have loads of fabric, tools, funky fibers, patterns, and thread, plus lots more I can’t even remember. I always find it worth the trip, and I live waaay south of ATL.

And while you’re at it, have another great fiber fix that weekend and see fabulous fine crafts at the American Craft Council show at the Cobb Galleria Centre March 10th  – 13th  ( This is always an incredibly inspiring show.

I usually take a tiny notebook and make notes of popular colors, techniques, etc., to jumpstart my own designs. I would never copy someone else’s work, but seeing what amazing things other people do with their crafts gets the mental juices flowing and I’m thinking up new ideas as I walk around. If you notice that I’m talking to myself, too, please ignore it. Isn’t that a sign of creativity? (I hope!)

Tonight is the SEFAA annual meeting, which is important business, and next Friday, Feb. 25th is the SEFAA party at Callanwolde, which is important fun.  This is the first big party I’ve attended for our organization, and I know it’s going to be fabulous!

Come on out to support SEFAA, meet new fiber friends, and bring along some of your ideas for the blog.  See you there!


Friday, January 21, 2011

Your Fiber Eyes

So it’s mid-January – a fresh start, a blank slate, and here I was with an unfortunately blank list of blog topics.  In perusing the news feed on our SEFAA website (Thanks, Suzi!), I noticed an article about fiber artist Anna Von Mertens winning a $50,000 prize from “United States Artists.”  Naturally, I went to look at her work, and I was surprised.  I was also moved to state my opinion.

Anna bases her work on her imagined “reading” of the auras of other people’s biographical paintings (Gilbert Stuart’s George Washington, etc.)  Now, there is no plagiarism going on here – her small hand dyed and quilted creations bear absolutely no resemblance to the originals, as far as I can see.  They are pretty much simple, amorphous blobs of color on cotton, hand quilted in a rectangular frame. 

The work is interesting, but, in my own opinion, is definitely in the “eye of the beholder” category.  There are so many outstanding quilt and other fiber artists whom I admire tremendously.  Some are members of SEFAA.  However – and this is a big however – I am always delighted when any fiber artist gets recognition on a grand scale.  Even though I would have nominated someone else for this honor, I didn’t.  When one fiber artist wins, we all win - because it’s fiber and it’s actually being taken seriously as ART!  Hooray for that, and hooray for Anna.

You can go to the website for United States Artists at  to see the names of the 52 artists honored for 2010.  I actually googled all of them to look at their work, and some of it is really impressive.  Anna won in the “Visual Arts” category, rather than in the “Crafts and Traditional Arts.”  U.S.A. as an organization is a big hitter with huge funding.  Maybe we need to ask them for a grant for SEFAA.


The first big storm of 2011 is snowy history now.  I didn’t get a chance to do any snow dyeing (Did you?), but we kept our power on, thank goodness, and I did get to look at some cool websites.  Here are a few you might like:

The Textile and Fiber Art List has been mentioned on our website before, but it bears repeating.  Huge guide to lots of fabulous artists/craftsmen and their websites.
Find it at  The currently featured art is outstanding crochet by Nothing But String.

Terry Grant is a quilt artist who lives in Portland, Oregon.  Her work is gorgeous and her blog delightful.  You can find her at

Sue Benner is another fabulous quilt artist.  Eye candy at

For a fun Georgia perspective, visit Deb Lacativa of Gwinnett County, who dyes fabric and makes art quilts with attitude at

Down in South Georgia, Vicki at is a fun blogger to visit with and be inspired by.

And, of course, I can’t resist something that combines the words “subversive” and “stitch” in the same title.  Susan Lenz has a wonderful buffet of fiber information and connections at  Read down toward the bottom of her blog for some great advice about pricing your work.

So many wonderful fiber connections are out there among fiber artists/craftsmen – enlightening and, as our website says, intertwining us all. 

Please send me your ideas for this blog.  A guest blog would be welcome, too.  And I’d love to show photos of your fiber work. 

Happy 2011,