Sunday, May 26, 2013

Warping Fast and Weaving Smart - A Student's Perspective

Getting set up

Hello SEFAA!

I am a recent graduate of the M.Ed. in art education program at Delta State University, and I felt very fortunate to be awarded a scholarship to attend "Warping Fast, Weaving Smart" with Laura Fry at SEFAA in January (when I was still a student). I just began weaving at DSU in fall 2011, so I hope to be weaving for many years to come. When I signed up for the workshop, I wanted to learn a few tips from Laura to help me develop good habits and healthy body movements right from the start of my weaving journey. The workshop far exceeded my expectations!

Spreading the warp with just 6 picks!
Winding onto the back beam
My finished fabric from the workshop!

Laura packed an unbelievable amount of information into just two days. She covered body positioning and loom ergonomics and shared great strategies for efficient warping and weaving. Laura's demonstrations and innovative time-saving techniques have changed the way I warp. I was exclusively a front-to-back warper before, but Laura’s variation on the back-to-front method is so easy and quick that I’ve used it on nearly every project I’ve woven since the workshop. I’ve incorporated her way of lashing onto the front apron rod rather than tying on directly and her revolutionary method for spreading out the warp threads into everything I’ve done, too.

In addition to the excellent technical information presented in the workshop, I liked Laura’s uniquely supportive teaching philosophy. She knows that different methods work for different personalities, different studio setups, and different bodies, and she encourages each weaver to do what works for him or her. I found this to be nurturing, reassuring, and empowering!

“Warping Fast, Weaving Smart” was my first ever weaving workshop, and it was a wonderful experience. SEFAA’s workshop space is sunny and roomy, and I enjoyed meeting Suzi and the other participants. I was delighted to run into a few of my new SEFAA weaving friends a few months later at SFFA’s conference at Arrowmont -- it was great to see some familiar faces there! I highly recommend both participating in SEFAA’s events and taking a class with Laura Fry. This workshop was definitely worth the trek from Mississippi. Thanks so much again to Laura and to SEFAA for the opportunity to attend!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Have you ever wanted to make your own hat?

Wow!  Seven days of millinery are coming to the SEFAA Center in April!  That's hats, hats, and more hats in all sizes, shapes, and colors - plain, fancy, and over-the-top.  Join Kay Durden from Kay's Art of Millinery for all seven days or for any combination of the following:

Monday, April 15th - Redesign and Embellish Your Hat:  Change a hat you own from drab to fabulous!  Bring one or two hats, either new and unblocked or previously blocked felt, straw, or covered with all embellishments and glue removed.  Redesign your hat and embellish it with items you bring along such as fabric, jewelry, pendants, etc.  Other embellishments will be  available to purchase.  4 -hr workshop $75

Tuesday, April 16th - Trim and Embellishment Workshop:  Learn techniques for creating various sample embellishments.  Use horsehair, buckram, leaves, millinery wire, yardage goods, and other materials furnished by the instructor. 8-hr workshop $150

Wednesday, April 17th - Creative Covering Workshop:   Learn techniques for using lace, feathers, flowers and other materials you provide. Optionally, cover frames with fabric using one or more techniques of draping, stripping, puffing or layering.  You'll create a custom hat using your supplies and/or one buckram frame of your choice with lining and grosgrain which are included in the workshop cost.  8-hr workshop. $150
Thursday, April 18th - Hat Blocking Workshop:  Hand-block, wire, and embellish felt and straw hat bodies and sinamay that you bring to the workshop.  A combination of 50 traditional and fascinator hat blocks will be available for your use.  8-hr workshop. $125
Friday - Sunday, April 19-21 - 3-Day Covering and Frame-Making Workshop:  $400

  • Day 1 - Frame-making:  Learn to hand-block, wire, and complete as many buckram hat shapes as time permits, using wooden hat blocks and other materials provided. 
  • Day 2 - Covering:  Learn techniques for covering a round crown pillbox and brim of your choice, then cover as many frames as time permits or start the embellishment and lining process. 
  •  Day 3 - Embellishment:  Add embellishments, line, and complete all buckram frames
For more information and to register, please contact Kay at

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Fibers and Travel - A Welcome to Linda Cortright

Mmmmmmm, fibers.  The very name evokes a big basket full of rich softness that just begs you to plunge your hands in and mmmmm feel it's lovely softness.  Eyes closed, mind you!  And fibers come from more than just sheep: they come from alpaca, angora, and cashmere and even silkworms.  Of course, there's also quivet, and New Zealand possum, and dozens of other, local, animal fibers that have been with us for centuries.  Some domesticated, some wild, but all natural. 

And fiber enthusiasts enjoy them immensely.  Sometimes our enthusiasm encourages us to go a bit above and beyond on our budgets when we purchase them, and sometimes our love and enjoyment of fibers takes us to places we never thought we'd be.  One woman, Linda Cortright, found herself doing just that:  publishing Wild Fibers Magazine and dedicating her life to "honoring the heart of natural fibers; the animals and people, who typically lead very simple lives so millions may enjoy the fruits of their labor."  

In a year-end email to her Wild Fibers subscribers, Linda eloquently wrote how her life has changed since she began this journey:   

I have spent the past few weeks agonizing over two very different but nonetheless challenging dilemmas. What should I say in my year-end letter to all of you?  Followed by, should I really spend $65 on an electric chicken water heater?

You know, ten years ago I didn't have either of these problems. I had no magazine and I had no chickens. And then somehow life got complicated while I wasn't paying attention, and I think now is as good a time as any to look back and see just how much has changed.

Linda is principal photographer and writer for Wild Fibers.  Their “About Us” page describes them as "The National Geographic of Fibers" and I am hard-pressed to find a better description.  Really.  Their photographs of a local spinner using a drop spindle under a tree in a desert, or a large yak lying at ease on a mountain range DO grab the mind and the imagination, and make one wonder about the culture and the life of these herders, spinners, and their animals.  Linda herself owns a small herd of cashmere goats, she travels the world learning about natural fibers, the peoples who tend their flocks of fleecy animals and their communities, and then she travels some more to give lectures about what she's learned. 

So guess what?!  She's coming to Atlanta to talk to our city of fiber enthusiasts thanks to a "wild" question by Suzi Gough, President of Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance (SEFAA)!  Suzi thought that anyone who does so much traveling must come through ATL on a regular basis, since, after all, we have the busiest airport in the world, right?  Well, turns out Linda has only come through Atlanta once or twice on her travels, and she decided that adding Atlanta as a destination in and of itself was a worthy journey.  And we couldn't agree more! 

With the help of the Peachtree Handspinner's Guild (PHG), Linda is coming to Atlanta on Saturday, March 23rd to share her wisdom and travels and worldviews on fiber and the people who tend these animals, as well as her wicked sense of humor.  The talk will be held at the PHG meeting space: North Decatur Presbyterian Church, and PHG members will help with setup and refreshments and additional promotion.  They are also planning an open house beforehand in conjunction with their monthly meeting, in an effort to introduce folks to spinning and to their Guild.

Please plan to come and attend the lecture.  Even if you don't spin yourself, you certainly have  enthusiasm and appreciation for the fiber arts, and what better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than learning about cultures and animals and fibers from around the world??  After all, our lives are "held together by one very long, long thread."

The fine print:

            Date:  Saturday, March 23rd

            Time:  4-6 pm.  Come early (anytime between 1 and 4 pm) and enjoy spinning and visiting with members of the Peachtree Handspinners Guild.  Stay after the presentation and enjoy light refreshments.  

            Location:  North Decatur Presbyterian Church, 611 Medlock Road, Decatur, GA 30033

            Cost:  $12 for SEFAA and PHG members; $14.50 for non-members

            Registration/Payment:  Please visit

PS  If you'd like to bring a munchie to share for the informal reception after Linda's talk, it will be appreciated by all!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Lunchtime Fiber - a View from Within

by Susan Nease

For much of this year I have been on a job hunt.  And really, more than that:  a career change.  After selling my retail shop and going on-line, the question has been “what now?  What direction does my life take after going from the day-to-day running a business to something in the working world?”  When I started my shop, “Google” was not yet a verb.  Think about that.  How much technology has changed the way we work and interact.  So rather than take courses about how Excel or Word or Outlook is supposed to work, I jumped right back into working as a temp.  Not always the most glamorous of job titles, but I learned how companies use Excel and Word and Outlook in ways that suit their goals and structure.  And copy machines also scan and fax.  And you can e-mail directly from a document you create.  And . . . you get the picture.

Another thing that has kept me involved in the needle arts here in Atlanta has been this organization, SEFAA.  The part that I play with them is ongoing and helps keep the needlearts wide-reaching in the Southeast.  I had always seen my shop as being a center for outreach and many, many different forms of the needle arts, so joining SEFAA as a volunteer was a “natural fit.” 

And then came decision-time last spring.  I had sought part-time positions for about a year, thinking that a part-time posting would help me keep my on-line business plugging along, help me get my taxes done and in on time, and the like.  Which it did, and I found a great assignment, and plugged away at both.  My on-line site was suddenly growing and my position went to full-time, and I thought it was time to leave and seek another part-time position.

Except that the part-time positions I found were somehow just not right.  Some little thing would make me stop and re-evaluate the position and my goals, and after a while I began to re-evaluate myself, my goals, and my decisions.  And my days.  Loading products onto a website, even if it is mine, can be tedious.  It involves finding different ways to say “green.”  Or “this is a great birth sampler.”  Or “You'll like this product, I know you will.”  And sitting at home, day after day, when I'd been used to interacting with others was becoming more and more difficult. 
That was about the time when I made the connection between the work I was doing with SEFAA and my situation.  I was at home during the day, there was an ongoing period of time at the SEFAA center that involved bringing one's project(s), and just basically stitching.  In the middle of the day.  With others.  And there was this needlepoint project I had been working on that I really wanted to keep stitching, and why not explore the possibilities?  I do knitting projects during AKG meetings, so why not get a jump start on a project I had picked up and then put down earlier in the year?  Why not talk about where this project came from and what inspired me to pick it up again?

And suddenly I was hooked:  I came to my first Lunchtime Fiber, then another one, then I met one of my former retail customers working on her unfinished Hardanger piece, then I saw fiber artists painting on fabric, and quilts in the making, and all kinds of glorious things that I would not have seen otherwise.  And my spirits were lifted.  Yes, I was in the middle of re-evaluating my job and career decision and all of the accompanying mid-career stress and self-doubt, but now there were other adults in my life with whom I could talk and share, and even not discuss job hunting at all, but just good old needlework.

Did I mention my spirits lifted and my self-doubts began to minimize?  And that I took the time to decide that I was making a career choice and entering a new career, in part because I was thinking more clearly and interacting with other folks, with whom I felt a common bond?

Knitting in Public is a yearly event, and it is now common to see others knitting in coffee shops or bookstores.  Sometimes it's nice to knit, and sometimes it's nice to be in a little more private space, with incredible lighting (I seldom have to wear my reading glasses to see my needlepoint thanks to the huge windows at SEFAA), and gnosh on a lunch, and talk fiber arts.  Not just knitting, but tatting, and hardanger, and quilting.  And where a project originates (this particular needlepoint was one my mother had bought from my shop and never got around to starting).  And seeing the changes that have arrived at the SEFAA Center, something I have seen envisioned for many years:  bookcases, and a wealth of fiber art, and dedicated volunteers who contribute a Saturday or an afternoon or a Lunchtime to make sure other fiber artists have a space and the inspiration to continue their very own projects or create more.

So all that said . . . I have a few more visits to SEFAA in mind after the start of the new year since I'm working some Tuesdays and not others, and I hope you can make it by sometime.  Rumor has it that there will be a second daytime fiber-oriented get-together coming in 2013, but in the meantime there's the Tuesday Lunchtime Fiber from 10-2.  I know one of my resolutions in the new year will be to stop eating Christmas cookies (in part cuz I'll already have eaten them!), and instead grab a healthy salad type lunch from one of the nearby restaurants and join the talented stitchers and dedicated volunteers in the new year at Lunchtime Fiber.  I hope you can make it, too, and bring one of those pieces you've put down.  Now you'll have an excuse to pick it back up again and see it come to life, right before your eyes!