Posted by: bschutzgruber | May 16, 2023

What Chicken Little Saw

“The sky is falling! The sky is falling!
I must tell the King!”

My latest felt piece What Chicken Little Saw will be part of the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild exhibit this June at the Village Theater Gallery in Canton Michigan.

What Chicken Little Saw [felted wool with silk fiber embellishment – 24inch / 62cm diameter]

Chicken Little, a.k.a. Henny Penny, is an ancient story with many versions found throughout Europe, Africa as well as Aesop’s Fables and the Jataka Tales of the Buddha in India. It is an ATU 20C Animals Flee in Fear of the End of the World cumulative cautionary tale teaching the lesson of what can happen when jumping to conclusions before all the facts are known, leading to paranoia and mass hysteria. The final consequences range from mere embarrassment all the way to death.

It is true that I rarely know what my end result will be and I certainly never know what the title of a piece will be until it’s finished. As I worked on the piece, adding layer after layer, thoughts of UFOs/UAPs and space junk reentering the atmosphere kept coming to mind along with Chicken Little’s words ‘The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”

Perhaps this IS what Chicken Little saw…..

Posted by: bschutzgruber | March 26, 2023

Cell Weaves with Martha Town

After taking the Michigan League of Handweavers online workshop Twill Weaves with Martha Town last winter [see 2022 Jan & Feb blog The Thrill of Twills & The Thrill of Twills part 2] I was excited to see that MLH was offering another online workshop with Martha.

Cell Weaves on 8 Shafts.
A simple repeat threading on paired shafts creates 4 ‘cells’ which can be woven
as Lace, Deflected Double Weave, Monk’s Belt, Overshot, and Honeycomb!
Weave a unique sampler that includes all these structures,
play with bold color and weave effects, and gain confidence in fabric design.
This on-loom workshop requires
an 8 shaft table or floor loom, and an adventuresome spirit.
Threading guidelines will be provided; you apply the cell sizes and colors!
Work (play!) at your own loom, and also learn from other class member’s results!

The format was the same as last year – the workshop would last 5 weeks with us all working at our own pace at home with an evening Zoom session once a week. We were sent instructions for picking our yarns for a 5 yard warp in 3 sections: one color, 2 colors/light-dark, and 3 colors/light-medium-dark. Martha also created 4 different theadings for us to choose from.

She encouraged us to compare a color photo with a black/white photo to have a more accurate idea as to the relative value (lightness or darkness) of each color chosen as the value difference will enhance the structure. With 15 in the class it was very interesting to see all the different color combinations and gave me lots of ideas for future projects using colors I would not normally be drawn to.

To be honest, never having worked with cell/block threadings, I was feeling way over my head after the first zoom lecture because as a self-taught weaver I do not have a working knowledge of the vocabulary. Luckily Martha had excellent definitions, explanations and slides which helped me grow more confident each week:

Lace – plain weave with adjacent warp & weft floats
Deflected Double Weave – a two layered fabric in plain weave alternated with either warp or weft floats
Monk’s Belt and Overshot – supplementary weft pattern using single or combined blocks on plain weave base fabric
Honeycomb – plain weave isolated in individual or combined cells, with heavier outline weft woven selvedge to selvedge.

I liked the textures created in the Lace and Deflected Double Weave.

The geometric shapes in Monk’s Belt and Overshot creates a very different look and feel to the fabric.

Honeycomb was the most playful and dramatic! For each treadling sequence I used different thick outlining yarns including loosely spun silk fibers, ribbon, wool roving, and 6 very thin yarns grouped together and I varied the size of the cells. I’m not sure how I will use Honeycomb fabric in future projects but I really want to play with this some more!

This workshop offered challenging and inspiring moments
and has sparked my imagination for future projects.

Posted by: bschutzgruber | February 28, 2023

Never A Dull Moment

February may be the shortest month
but a lot can happen.

On Sunday February 12th, Ann Arbor District Library sponsored the Ann Arbor Fiber Arts Expo. This all day event was filled with 10 different ‘make & take’ sessions, talks by Yarnitecture: A Knitter’s Guild to Spinning author Jillian Moreno and Crochet Magical Creatures author Drew Hill, 18 vendors selling fiber items and tools plus the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild display showcasing the wide range of techniques that involve using fiber.

The library had been given a 45″ wide – 8 shaft – low castle Schacht floor loom which they wanted to have in the vendors hall for demonstration and attendees could try their hand at weaving. The loom had been stored in a warehouse and I was asked to help get the it warped and to demonstrate weaving for the day.

It was a busy day with an excellent turn out from the community! AAFG guild member Sue McDowell worked the guild table while I demonstrated weaving and invited attendees – adults and kids – to give weaving a try.

The library staff were thrilled and hope to make AAFAX an annual event.


AAFG’s February Fiber Spa was the perfect place to talk members who are quilters and embroiderers about a vintage tunic I’d been given.

I have no idea as to its origin but the stitch work is quite amazing. The fabric is shredding and worn in some places, but other sections are still solid.

The tunic sewn together in sections so the best option is to take it apart and use the parts that are still good for a future project.


Michigan League of Handweavers is offering an online workshop this winter taught by Martha Town studying Cell Weaves:
A simple repeat threading on paired shafts creates ‘cells’
which can be woven as Lace, Deflected Double Weave,
Honeycomb, and Monks Belt.

I enjoyed Martha’s workshop studying on Twill Weaves last winter and I have minimal experience using block theadings so I am giving this workshop a try. To be honest, I was feeling way over my head after the first zoom lecture because being a self-taught weaver I do not have a working knowledge of the vocabulary. Luckily Martha had excellent slides which helped me as I began our first exercise weaving 2 lace weave gamps. I love the texture that is created and am excited to see what happens after they’re washed.

It was here at the end of February that the Ground Hog’s prediction that winter is far from over can true! Just as I was signing on for the second zoom lecture our power went out due to the freezing rain that had been building up all day on the trees – including a tree section coming to rest on the power lines down the street.

With massive power outages throughout the area we knew it could be days before the heat and lights were back. Using our electric car for a power source we were able to alternate running the furnace and refrigerator and with LED lights and a gas stove making dinner in the evening was not that different than when we have power. BUT…the rest of the house was on candle power!

Bundled up I continued weaving during the day as my loom is next to windows but at night I had to be more creative tying a battery OttLite to my floor light.

Over the next days without power I continued working on the next assignment – Deflected Double Weave. This was a challenge and SLOW weaving on some of the sections but I made it. The next gamp weaving Monks Belt was much easier by comparison. These all have great texture too and I am excited to see what happens after washing.

Thanks to the Detroit Edison line crews and the ‘tree guys’ who worked nonstop
our power was restored in 3 Days.

I’m ready for March to be a bit less exciting!

Posted by: bschutzgruber | January 28, 2023

A Day at the Spa

2020 and 2021 were tough years because Covid 19 brought an end to in-person gatherings. This was especially true for those of us who love the fiber arts. Yes, we made due with presentations and workshops online with Zoom but for those of us who are tactile, there’s nothing like seeing something up close and being able to touch it. 2022 has been a year of slowly coming back to meeting in person but still not gathering as often as as we did BC (Before Covid).

To kick off 2023 the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild has begun a series of ‘Fiber Spa’ days to help members reconnect with each other and especially with the new members who joined over the past 3 years.

Fiber Spa is a monthly time and space to nurture our love for the Fiber Arts amidst our crazy lives.
We at the Fiberarts Guild miss all of you – we miss the contact with friends, sharing about our work, exchanging ideas, and generally talking about art – so we decided to create studio time where all are invited to participate. While the monthly Fiberarts meetings are full of information, Fiber Spa will offer the opportunity to really get to know each other.
We will have some demonstrations
(always good to get the artistic juices flowing),
access to the guild library and we will have lots of time for work.
Bring your work (whatever you want to work on), your lunch and beverage.
Remember, it is a “Spa”, a place to enjoy yourself, so you are free to come when you can and leave when you must.

Our first gathering was January 7th. We had a good turn out and enjoyed reconnecting with old friends, meeting new ones, talking about our works and fiber art and getting advice from others as to how to problem solve when something isn’t working just right. Long time member and current president Anne Flora gave a demonstration on felted flowers and members were able to create their own flower pins to take home.

The original plan was to hold Spa days on the first Saturdays in January, February and March but we had such a great time we added the third Saturday in January and February to the schedule.

January 21st Fiber Spa – I volunteered to bring a variety of looms for people to try.

Have an opportunity to try your hand at weaving on the types of looms that have been used over the centuries from the Paleolithic Era to the 21st Century: backstrap, warp weighted, floor, belt, inkle, tapestry, and Brinkley.

Many of the members who were there are not weavers, and even for some who are, this was their first chance to play on a wide variety the looms and ask all kinds of questions for the entire period of Fiber Spa. One member was so excited that she promptly ordered a backstrap loom when she got home.

Our next Fiber Spa will be February 4th and member Jan Frank will demo how to use embroidery to enhance the design, color, and texture of fiber.

2023 has gotten off to a great start.
What could be better than working on a project

while deepening ties with old friends and making new ones!

Posted by: bschutzgruber | December 30, 2022

Time flies when you’re having fun!

Another year has come and gone filled with new adventures
Learning new things in person and online

Finishing projects and organizing the yarn stash
Participating in exhibits, exchanges and auctions
Sharing my love of stories, the fiber arts and its rich history

May Your Days be Merry & Bright
in 2023!

Posted by: bschutzgruber | December 1, 2022

Sharing the Art of Making Art

Once again the Village Theater Gallery at Cherry Hill (Canton, MI) invited the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild to create a members exhibit. “Exploration in Fiber” ran the month of November. It was a great show filled with a wide range of the fiber arts.

I had 3 felt pieces in the exhibit:
Follow the Yellow Brick Road, Fire & Flood Summer 2022 and my Back-to-Back Jacket.

Besides a monthly exhibit the Village Theater Gallery also offers evening sessions presented by different artists so people in the community can try their hand at different ways of creating art.

When the guild exhibited last summer one of our members gave an introduction to weaving class and for this exhibit I offered to give a 2 1/2 hour introduction to wet felting class.

It took quite a bit of planning to organize materials for 17 participants. The trickiest thing was figuring out how to have easy access to water in a carpeted room with no sink or facet. The solution – use 1 liter bottles with sprinkler screw tops already filled with soapy water as well as few small Halloween Trick or Treat buckets (reduced to 20¢ each now that it’s November). I like to bring a broad color palette of wool fiber to work from plus a variety of felt items as examples to show the diversity of felt – from light weight flowing garments to thick rugs. Getting everything in my Yaris is a 3D game of Tetris!

Each participant was asked to bring a picture for inspiration. After an explanation of the how and why wool felts they were off!

I was very impressed with the wide range of images created – some were VERY abstract and others more detailed.

With 1 hour left – we moved onto wetting down the fibers and rolling…..rolling….rolling…rolling…rolling…rolling…rolling…

This is where the real work of felting (agitation) and patience come into play because nothing seems to be happening for the longest time, then suddenly it’s felted and is 30-40% smaller than it was at the start! As our time together was winding down I had everyone rinse their pieces and then ironed them. Everyone was amazed at how their pieces had changed from the dry layout start to the now felted end result and even again after ironing.

What a great evening of sharing the art of making art!

Posted by: bschutzgruber | November 1, 2022

Autumn and Falling Leaves

September was filled with preparations for events
that would keep October VERY busy!

The Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild was back in the lobby of the Power Center for the Performing Arts September 14-October 23. Hanging the exhibit is always an adventure with curved concrete walls and fixed hanging peg locations set every 24″.

I had 3 pieces accepted – Fire on the Horizon, Meander, and Hiking the Coastal Path.


Next came presenting another program for Elderwise of Ann Arbor in mid October. When Beaver Was King is an eclectic mix of factual information and stories, plus the process of how beaver tall hats were made.


It was a pleasure to share the virtual stage telling stories for adults from the dark and gruesome side of the Brothers Grimm presented by Stories with Spirit. I’ve added new story to my repertoire The Castle of Murder found in the first edition of the Brothers Grimm.


I answered the call for volunteers to help with the hands-on activities ‘Crafternoons’ offered in conjunction with the exhibit Heroes & Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume at The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI. Once a month during the exhibit visitors have the opportunity to explore a different type of fiber art – embroidery, weaving, design, sewing and knitting, – watch demonstrations and meet artists. The focus for the October session was sewing, both by hand sewing on buttons with plastic mesh and tapestry needles, and using a machine to make a crazy quilt. It was fun afternoon and the exhibit is fabulous!


The 27th Annual Weaving History Conference sponsored by the Thousand Islands Arts Center in Clayton, NY was held virtually October 24-26. I presented Tales from the Weaving Room exploring the connection between the skill, tools and often magical looking processes developed to make cloth and how they are reflected in the stories women told each other as they worked throughout the year to clothe their families and communities.


With October winding down I finally caught up on some projects: making a tall broom after taking the hearth broom workshop at the Michigan Fiber Festival in August and making a dye bath using red onion skins I’d been saving since May.

Mordants can in many cases produce different colors and red onion skin can produce a green color. I used tin, iron and alum which produced a lovely range of browns but no green.


Halloween finishes the month with the annual gathering of some interesting characters at my house!

Posted by: bschutzgruber | September 1, 2022

Summer comes to an end….

August brought one last round of workshops for me at the Michigan Fiber Festival in Allegan, Michigan. I’m rather sporadic in my attendance [see blogs August 2016 City Mouse…Country Mouse pt2 and August 2018 Big Looms…Little Looms…and a bit of color] but each time I am able to be there it’s been fabulous and seeing once again the giant rooster at the county fairgrounds gate always makes me smile!

This year I signed up for Naalbinding Mittens with Heidi Bukoski, Felted Vessel: Sculpting with Nicole Gillies, and Appalachian Hearth Broom (Besom) Making with Robin Goatey. Two of the three workshops were in the open air pavilion which was nice as the weather was fabulous.


Wednesday – Naalbinding Mittens
Naalbinding/Nålebinding is the oldest form of looped garment construction. A Neolithic technique that predates knitting and crochet using short lengths of yarn and a single-eyed needle to loop and knot the yarn through previously created loops, gradually building up row upon row.

Several years ago I tried to learn naalbinding but had no success. Heidi’s explanation and handouts were wonderful and it all clicked….after several tries of course! I did not get a full mitten made but I did complete a very nice wrist warmer by the end of the day!


Thursday – Felted Vessel: Sculpting
Felt vessels are always a welcome surprise. Most people don’t realize that they are wool until they pick them up, feeling the almost weightlessness and beauty of these pieces of art.

I’ve been felting for at least 25 years but have not done much in the way of making larger vessels. The smaller vessels I’ve done were made using the Merino wool so the vessel is softer and not as stiff. In this workshop we used Finn wool which is a heavier fiber and makes a much firmer felt than the Merino wool which is excellent for larger vessels.


Friday afternoon – Appalachian Hearth Broom (Besom) Making
The original brooms were not flat nor made with wire but crafted with twine, a stick, Broom Corn & basket making reed.

This workshop was one of the most interesting I’ve ever taken! Robin Goatey is a woodcarver, woodturner, broom maker, coppersmith, folkways instructor and has taught at the John C Campbell Folk School. His depth, wealth and style of presenting the craft, history and lore of broom/besom (the Scottish word for broom) making is amazing.

Mine did now come out nearly as nice as his example but I purchased materials to take home to try my hand at making another.


Checking out some of the other classes during lunch break….

…the spindle spinning class certainly looked like it could be part of an Ann Arbor Sword Club display.

Chatting with vendors as they set up…

…and watching the livestock get glammed up for the judging over the weekend…

…rounded out my days at the fairgrounds.

In previous years I’ve camped at the fairground. This year I stayed just down the road in the town of Plainwell and had a chance to checkout some of the local eating establishments in town. Having just finished several summer presentations of my program ‘When Beaver Was King’ (about beavers and their impact on Michigan’s past and present), it was fitting I should partake in a Crazy Beaver Cream Ale with a meal at the Old Mill Brewpub & Grill (built in 1869, the four story building was once the largest buckwheat flour mill in the country and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places) and of course I HAD to stop at the Plainwell Ice Cream Company for something cold and delicious at the end each day!

All this added up to three great days at the Michigan Fiber Festival
and a wonderful way to finish out the summer!

Posted by: bschutzgruber | July 31, 2022

Ability Weavers – Lowell, MI

When the Michigan League of Handweavers 2022 Biennial Fiber Exhibit at the LowellArts Gallery [see May 2022 blog] came to an end I volunteered to help with the take down. Once we finished packing things up I wandered down the street and discovered a wonderful shop – Ability Weavers.

As I walked in the door I was greeted by an array of colorful handwoven home decor items: towels, blankets, table runners, purses & totes as well as gorgeous rag rugs in wide range of sizes.

The shop is filled with the looms that are used to weave all the items right there in the store.

They also have the largest non-mechanized floor loom I’ve ever seen! The weaving width is 8 feet [2.4 meters] and requires 2 weavers working in tandem.

Owner Beryl Bartkus, the parent of a young woman with autism, explained that many of the employees have autism or other special needs. The purpose and philosophy for the store is to provide an integrated work setting in which those with and without disability work side by side.

“We believe that every individual is worthy of having meaningful employment. Weavers with and without disability are offered the same hourly wage, above minimum wage. Some weavers may create a large rug, or several towels during their work day. Other weavers may only make a few mug rugs.
We encourage everyone to do their very best and to work to their highest potential.
Everyone is equally important, equally appreciated and fairly paid.”

Besides home decor items they also offer ‘Weave Your Own’ classes (no experience necessary!) as well as weaving yarn & supplies, have added an online store and sponsor of the Lowell Weaving & Fiber Arts Fair.

Ability Weavers is well worth a visit – either in person or online!

Posted by: bschutzgruber | June 30, 2022

Kicking off Summer

June kicked off with a fabulous “Yeah! We are back in person!”
weekend of workshops from the Michigan League of Handweavers.

Because life is still slowly moving past the infamous Covid-19 hiatus, the course selection was smaller than in the past with 6 offerings.

Fabulous Felt Sampler Workshop – 3 Wet Felted 3-D Projects in 3-Days with Dawn Edwards
—Come and learn the basics of wet-felting, or expand your knowledge, in this fun-filled three- day workshop.

Contemporary Embroidery: From Surface Design to the Stitched Mark with Jennifer Gould
—This workshop will strive to have students look at stitching on fabric, not as decorative, but as an expression of themselves—pulling something new and different from inside onto the cloth.

Weaving in a Parallel Universe on 8 or more Shafts with Linda Hartshorn
—Parallel threadings are incredibly versatile and can be used to weave a variety of structures including echo weave twills and jin (polychrome turned taquete).

ONE WARP, FOUR FABRICS: Weaving with 60/2 Silk on 4 or 8 shafts with Denise Kovnat
—Take the fear out of weaving with fine silk, using plain weave and turned twill along with a variety of weft yarns to achieve surprisingly different results.

Project Colorway – for Weavers Who Would Rather Die than Dye with Ruby Leslie
—Learning how to blend color while working with already dyed yarn is a different beast than learning how to dye specific hues.

SPLIT-SHED WEAVING on 4 Shafts with Deborah Silver
—Weave curves and blend colors using continuous wefts on a 4-shaft loom with no special equipment.

I’ve taken several simple dyeing workshops to know that dyeing is not ‘my thing’ so I chose Project Colorway – For Weavers Who Would Rather Die Than Dye!
Ruby brought lots of samples for us to see and touch…

Several PowerPoint presentations to discuss color theory and blending…

We played with grouping colors into different combinations…

I had a lot of “Oh…. I get it now!!” moments.

On Saturday we all had a chance to see what the other workshops were doing.
As always…. my interest has been peaked for other workshops to take!

Some of the “Oh… that’s a good idea!” I gleaned over the weekend are:

Turning the warping board 90° (tall vs wide) is easier on one’s shoulder because your arm & shoulder move up and down instead of having to stay at the same level.
Use ponytail bands to mark the width of your warp
on the back beam
Use embroidery floss card to wind samples of the yarns in my stash makes it easier to play with design.

This last idea motivated me to take stock of my stash.
Time to start planning some projects!!!

Older Posts »



adventures in fiber

A Little Cloth

a little stitching, weaving, writing & hiking


Bringing the outside in

Fairy Tale Lobby

a dialogue for storytellers and story lovers


a self-taught artist discusses acrylic painting, photoshop and the creative process.

Mary Gwyn's Art

Artist, RN, Art Educator

Barb-e Designs

Follow me as I weave along the way