Posted by: bschutzgruber | May 31, 2022

Show & Tell…Tell & Shows

May has been a busy month filled with Show & Tell adventures!

The Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild exhibit “The Many Faces of Fiber Art” runs from May 3-June 29, 2022 in the gallery space at Silver Maples Senior Living, Chelsea Michigan. The exhibit includes work from 17 guild members representing a wide range of techniques: weaving, surface design, tapestry, paper making, marbling, rug hooking, 3D sculptural, stitch work and embroidery. I have 3 pieces in the show – Hiking the Coastal Path, Meander, and Surround Sound Vest.

When the speaker scheduled for the May 7th meeting of the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild had to cancel I offered to present the PowerPoint portion of ‘Tales from the Weaving Room’.

It was a pleasure to share a timeline and brief history of textile technology spanning 50,000 years, and stories whose imagery is rooted in the making of cord and cloth with modern ‘fiber folk’ because we are part of a long history as we stand on the shoulders of those who went before us. We are the stuff of stories when we spin ‘straw into gold‘ (flax into linen) and carry ‘magic wands‘ (spindles and knitting needles).

The full 2 hour presentation of ‘Tales from the Weaving Room’ was on May 12th for Elderwise Learning in Ann Arbor. After 2 years on Zoom they have started meeting once again in person with limited class sizes. Starting with the PowerPoint and moving on to the hands-on portion, everyone tried spinning wool using a drop spindle….

and a chance to try weaving on different types of looms.

The final event this month was the artist reception for the Michigan League of Handweavers 2022 Biennial Fiber Exhibit at the LowellArts Gallery, Lowell Michigan on May 26th. I had 2 pieces accepted into the show Secret Forest and Fire on the Horizon. Here are just a few of the amazing entries.

For more pictures and the list of award winners go to MLH’s FaceBook page.

Posted by: bschutzgruber | April 23, 2022

Diving Deeper than Demos

Demos provide a taste
but sometimes it’s nice to have a meal!

I love demonstrating the fiber arts. (see Doin’ Demos April 2015). It’s a wonderful way to give people a quick taste of the different processes that have been used for tens of thousands of years to create cloth and share the wonderful myths and folktales told as a way to pass time while working before the days of radio or podcasts. Where demos are short and sweet, a workshop gives time to delve into more detail. This year I’ve been asked to present 2 workshops.

The first workshop will be in May for Elderwise Learning, a nonprofit, independent, lifelong learning organization dedicated to offering continuing education to learners of all ages, in Ann Arbor Michigan. This will be a combination of lecture, demonstration and hands-on experience.

Ever wonder HOW Rumpelstiltskin spun straw into gold? WHAT exactly is the spindle in Sleeping Beauty? WHY did those Three Aunts have unusually large feet, arms, and teeth? CAN you really poison someone through clothing like in the Greek myths? WHERE did these ideas come from?

The answers to these questions and more will be revealed as we take a look at the textile images and metaphors that make up the fabric of folktales and myths from around the world. Over the centuries these stories were shaped by and told to women who were primary makers of cloth. For 50,000 years the skill, tools and often magical looking processes needed to make cloth have been part of women’s lives and have been reflected in the stories they told each other as they worked throughout the year to clothe their families and communities.

Through lecture, demonstration and the opportunity to try your hand at spinning, weaving, and dyeing together we will examine the skill, time and even strength necessary to create cloth.

The second will be a completely hands-on experience in conjunction with the November 2022 Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild exhibit in the lobby of the Village Theater at Cherry Hill in Canton Michigan.

Felt is a non-woven material and one of the oldest methods of making fabric dating back to the Neolithic period. Nomadic peoples around the world use it to make shelters, rugs, clothing, hats, footwear, even saddles and armor. Contemporary feltmakers have expanded on this ancient method to create lightweight fabrics, vessels, sculptural works of art and wall hangings.

Using colorful wool fibers, compression, moist heat and agitation, you will create a miniature work of art to take home. No experience necessary. Bring a picture for inspiration and an old towel to the workshop.

Let the adventure begin!

Posted by: bschutzgruber | March 22, 2022

Felt Flowers That Bloom In The Spring

Winter – Fool’s Spring – Second Winter – Spring of Deception – Third Winter

Mud Season Actual Spring

In Michigan the months of February and March are a roller coaster when it comes to weather as Winter grudgingly gives way to Spring in 7 stages filled with snow, rain, ice, back to snow, more rain, another ice storm… until finally the green buds of snowdrops made their appearance signaling Spring just might actually arrive!

The February workshop “A Posy of Felted Flowers” with Patricia M Greaves for the OnLine Guild of the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers was just the ticket to withstand the rollercoaster of weather outside my window as I learned new felting techniques to create a bouquet of flowers.

“In this workshop we will explore a variety of ways of making flowers through hand felting – mainly traditional wet felt making, but needle felting can be used for further embellishment when the pieces are dry. We will be exploring ‘real’ flowers and their structure and colours, with the aim of producing a naturalistic or ‘fantastic’ bunch of flowers by the end of the workshop.” –PMGreaves

The workshop was done completely via written instructions and photos. Patricia’s explanations were clear, her photos provided detailed images for reference and I was pleased with my first attempt.

For my next pass I wanted to try getting the stems thinner which I succeed in doing but these were too flimsy to support their blossoms. With stems being too thick, then too thin, hopefully my next ones will be ‘just right’!

The blossoms were also a combination of success and needs some more work. My pansy/morning glory blossom came out pretty good but my daffodil and rose bud not so much. There wasn’t much I could do change the rose bud but if I added a brown center to my daffodil it becomes a Brown-eyed Susan.

With the snowdrops beginning to peak through the melting snow I was inspired to give them a try.

My final flower was an experiment felting wool fibers around florist wire to give thin stems the strength to support the blossom yet still allow the stem to be felted to the blossom, AND to make a double blossom. This one was very successful!!

Now it was time to think about how display my fanciful flowers
as I await the arrival of Actual Spring!

Posted by: bschutzgruber | February 26, 2022

The Thrill of Twills – part 2

Having finished my first gamp (see January’s blog The Thrill of Twills) I now had 4 weeks to weave 4 more – each using a different tie-up. A ‘tie-up’ is how the treadles are attached to the shafts.

By changing which shafts are attached to any given treadle (outlined in red) new patterns can be woven even though the yarn threading (yellow highlight) and the sequence for pressing down the treadles (blue highlight) stays the same.

Sample A
Sample B

Seeing each new pattern emerge as I continued weaving my 5 gamps using different tie-ups was magical.

Both sides of the fabric look the same with some of the tie-ups.

But others have an obvious difference – especially if light and dark yarns were used.

Seeing and feeling the woven cloth is very different from looking at the patterns with the computer program.

Our group met one more time via Zoom at the end of February to share our gamp photos. It was inspiring to see the creativity and variety. All in all I have 320 samples to choose from for future projects and plan to weave several more gamps using the 10 other threadings we were given but I did not use this time.
PLUS if I use different yarns…..the combinations are endless!!!

Thank you Michigan League of Handweavers
and Martha Town for this workshop.
I am Thrilled with Twills!!!

Posted by: bschutzgruber | January 28, 2022

The Thrill of Twills

Since Covid-19 continues to be the ‘gift that keeps on giving’ the Michigan League of Handweavers is offering another set of virtual talks and workshops. I signed up for the workshop Exploring Twills with Martha Town. For those who are not weavers, twill is a simple weave whose distinguishing characteristic is a diagonal line.

“Understanding Twill Weave structure is basic to understanding many other weave structures, making this workshop useful for beginning and advanced weavers on 4 or 8 Shaft Looms. Weavers will work at their own loom to weave several twill samplers called ‘gamps’. These gamps will show how threadings and treadlings interact to create many twill structures and how the tie up changes the structures. During the sessions, you will get to see how the weaving design software, Fiberworks PCW, is used, so you will get a tutorial of sorts that may help you decide if it is something you want to purchase.”

I’ve used twill threadings from pattern books but don’t have an understanding as to how they are created. The workshop involved meeting once a week via Zoom for 3 weeks in January. After each presentation we had a week to complete a given assignment and the month of February to weave 3-4 different gamps. I am not a fast weaver plus I’ve never used weaving design software so this format was very appealing. Not having to drive to a location in Michigan’s winter weather and having folks in the workshop from other states and even countries (one of our members is joining us from Singapore) are added bonuses!

Martha’s lectures and handouts were excellent and I now have a much better understanding of how to create a twill threading. Technology and I do not usually get along very well but using Fiberworks to create my starting gamp was fun. Being able to move things around, have a sense as to what the visual pattern might be BEFORE starting a project, plus getting a heddle count for each shaft is wonderful!

I made a serious mistake while winding out and grouping the warp threads by NOT paying attention to ergonomics. This caused me to totally mess up my neck muscles. I then painfully strained my shoulder girdle muscles as I threaded 8 very different sequences. All of this caused me to loose several days of weaving time while my body recovered. Lesson learned = PROPER POSTURE IS IMPORTANT!

For those of us who tie the warp to the apron rod Martha suggested we try lashing on because with a gamp there is no need for the extra warp to twist into fringe. I gave this a try. I’ll have to do this several more times before I can do it as quickly as tying on but it eliminates wasting several inches of warp.

All our gamps are to have a section that’s a basic twill to make sure our tension is good and our weaving is balanced.

As I wove through my gamp sequence I found myself stopping to just gaze at the patterns as they slowly appeared!

One gamp down….. 2-3 more to go!

Posted by: bschutzgruber | December 31, 2021

Another Year Says ‘Good Bye’

2021 began with everything happening on-line…weaving courses, virtual exhibits, Zoom presentations and performances. Thanks to the scientists who brought the Covid -19 Vaccines out of the lab and to the doctors, nurses and volunteers who brought the vaccines into the arm, by late summer came the return of ‘in-person’ activities with exhibits, workshops, courses and performances. All were enjoyed with renewed appreciation!

Here’s a look a back….

May 2022 be filled
with inspiration & creativity!

Posted by: bschutzgruber | December 2, 2021

Getting That Perfect Fit

“You have to understand your body and tailor clothes to your needs;
it’s all about the fit.”

                                                    –Carmen Dell’Orefice

Finding clothes that fit can be a real challenge! That’s one of the reasons I learned to sew and have spent my entire adult life making alterations to many of the clothes I buy. My formal education for garment making was a basic how to read and sew a garment from a pattern unit in my high school home economics class so over the years it’s been a LONG road of trial and error experiences as I tried to figure out what I needed to do to get clothes to fit whether off the rack or sewing a commercial pattern. Over the years I’ve been able to get dresses and tops to fit better but pants have been a challenge!

When I joined the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild I met members who had degrees in fashion design and worked as tailors or in theater with costume construction. What a treasure trove of knowledge and experience! One such member was Michelle Moenssen Cherry. Michelle apprenticed with European-trained tailors and has been a custom dressmaker and tailor for over 30 years running several businesses in the greater Detroit area and Ann Arbor. I took 2 classes from Michelle in 2011 – one to create a sloper dress (a generic pattern based on your measurements) and one for pants. We took detailed body measurements and had discussions of what changes needed to be done to adapt patterns for specific bodies. I had so many ‘Oh… that’s why….’ moments! This new understanding has helped me when buying pants off the rack but I have been hesitant to take on adapting a pattern to sew a pair.

In 2018, Michelle moved to New York City to take the position of Head Tailor and Director of Custom Clothing at Martin Greenfield Clothiers, where fitting and measuring famous actors and politicians was a normal, everyday part of her job. She has now relocated to back to Michigan and when AAFG brought her in to give her ‘Perfect Pant’ workshop this fall I signed up immediately! 

There were 8 of us in the workshop meeting on 2 consecutive Saturdays. We were all vaccinated and had plenty of space to work with windows open for great air circulation for Covid precautions.


Day 1
We used Vogue pattern 7881 as our base


and with variety of body types and issues there was a wide range of techniques discussed.

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We got our measurements taken as Michelle met with each of us to walk us initial changes each would need to make to our patterns and we cut out our test muslin to sew together over the intervening week.

Day 2
With our test muslin pants made Michelle fitted each of us and helped us make further changes to our pattern and demonstrated sewing a fly zipper.


With the workshop completed I bought dark brown denim fabric to make a ‘real’ pair of pants and practiced a few times sewing a fly zipper before I moved on to making my pants.


For the next pair I want to add pockets and still need to tweak the pattern as the fit at the back of the leg is a bit baggie but all in all… this pair came out pretty darn good!!

Posted by: bschutzgruber | October 20, 2021

“It’s free….do you want it?” Part 3 -The Saga Concludes

Part 1- May 2020 blog “It’s free….do you want it?”
Part 2 – October 2020 blog “It’s free….do you want it?” The Saga Continues…

Chapter VI – Felt Yardage
Now that the Romney fleece was washed, picked, and carded the next step was “What to do with it?” Looking at the 3 bags I decided to make felt yardage to be sewn into a garment.

I knew my resulting felt could be uneven and have thin spots because I use wool roving now and it’s been ages since I worked with wool batts. I used cotton cheese cloth to give the felt fabric an added layer of structural support just in case.

Using half the wool I laid out starting dimensions of 60″x 60″ (1.5m x 1.5m)
My ending dimensions were 32″x 49″ (.8m x 1.2m)

I was pleased with the texture and color blending of the top surface wool and the cheese cloth underside was interesting. The felt is definitely heavier weight so looks like I’m going to make a winter jacket from the yardage.

Chapter VII – The Jacket
I found several patterns that might be possibilities and made muslin samples.

I decided to use Simplicity 8418 – a simple ‘varsity’ jacket with raglan sleeves. I laid out the pieces only to discover I did not have enough = ARGH!!!! It was now winter in Michigan. Felting in an unheated garage when it’s snowing outside is not my idea of fun so this project would have to wait until warmer weather.

Summer 2021
Using the rest of the wool I made another panel BUT this second piece of felt came out 1/4″ (.6 cm) thick. I now have one piece that is heavy coat weight and one that is rug weight!
Time to think….what if I use the thicker felt for the torso, the more flexible felt for the sleeves and a variation of a bound seam technique to sew the seams. This could work!!!

Chapter VIII – Bound Seams
I first learned of this tailoring technique back in 2008 when Daryl Lancaster presented a workshop on garment construction using handwoven fabric for the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild and it has become my ‘go-to’ seam binding when dealing with thick felt.

–Do NOT include seam allowance when cutting out the pattern pieces.
–Cut bias tape twice as wide as needed and fold in half.
–I use machine quilting thread to stitch the seams.
NOTE: Do NOT use hand quilting thread! It will gum up the sewing machine bobbin.

Stitch the folded bias tape to the right side of the fabric – lining up the cut edges.
Press the bias tape away from the felt fabric.

Place your pattern pieces right sides together and stitch the seam along the edge of the felt using a zipper foot.

Press the seam open.
On the right side of the felt fabric ‘stitch-in-the-ditch’ securing the bias tape to the wrong side of the felt.

Chapter IX – Assembling the Jacket
Using the bias tape as trim finishing for all the exposed edges I added patch pockets to the front and stitch everything together. I used a piece of the lightest weight felt for the collar.

I decided not to line the body of the jacket. The cheese cloth and bound seams gives a finished look to the inside.
I did line the collar to protect it from wear and used a natural horn/bone button for the closure.

It’s taken 4 years but my adventure that started in 2017
with the gift of a free Romney fleece fresh off a sheep’s back
has finally come to an end with that same wool now on my back!

Barb’s Back-To-Back Jacket

Posted by: bschutzgruber | September 7, 2021

AGWSD Summer School 2021: The Covid Edition (part 3)

Day 4 – Thursday

With fresh eyes I continued working on the new hexagon project. As was true earlier in the week, this was not smooth sailing and definitely gave my braincells a workout! I spent a LOT of time putting in rows… then taking them out as I could not yet get the sequence right. The hard part is keeping track of each of the 6 sides when adding a cord to each after a 4 row sequence. Even Julie struggled a bit trying to decipher where I would go wrong. After much muttering and gnashing of teeth, I decided to undo everything and go back to the starting row.

And yes…it was in the first set of rows I had reversed something = ARGH! The good news is at long last the sequence was making sense and now I could continue on with the pattern!

After taking a break for dinner and a walk through the Silent Auction, I headed back to the classroom to completed my 5″ diameter ‘sunflower’!

Day 5 – Friday

For the last full day of class I chose to learn how to make roses for a bracelet. Again…slow going throughout the morning but by lunch break I had finished a dozen roses!

And by the end of the afternoon I was very glad that I have a small wrist as 3 dozen roses would complete the bracelet.

The Trade Fair doors opened late afternoon with fewer venders choosing to come than in the past due to Covid. Here I saw neat gadgets and found a small bead in the shape of sheep for the latch on my bracelet!

In the evening it was back to the classroom to twisted cords for Saturday morning and to bring home. One of them was quite interesting as the twist was not consistent due to uneven tension on the cord as I was plying! I made a sample card for the the yarns I used during the week to reference and bought a Kipu cord winder so I can continue experimenting with Ply Split Braiding at home.

Day 6 – Saturday

With our last 1/2 day of instruction I made some smaller roses, started a tubular rose, tried 4ply split darning.

The afternoon was the End of Summer School Walk-About to view the Tutor’s Exhibition, the Certificate of Achievement Exhibition, and see what the other 14 courses have been doing during the week.

The final event of summer school is the Gala Dinner featuring words from Jennie Parry (Association President) and Christina Chisholm (Summer School Convenor who lead a fabulous team working tirelessly to organize this year’s summer school during one of most challenging times ever), the awarding of the Certificates of Achievement, a good natured quiz to see how well we all read The Journal (the Association’s quarterly magazine), and I had the honor of closing the evening with one last set of stories on the eve of the full moon.

The 2021 AGWSD Summer School
was one of my most memorable fiber adventures!
After 17 months of only Zoom gatherings this was a much needed trip to refuel.
Here I feasted at the banquet table of creativity and learning
and I drank deeply from the well of camaraderie and friendship.

Posted by: bschutzgruber | September 4, 2021

AGWSD Summer School 2021: The Covid Edition (part 2)

Day 1 – Monday

Julie Hedges, our instructor, gave us a series of samples to work on. Working with a 3 ply cotton cord with 2 plies in one color and 1 ply in a contrasting color made it easier to become familiar with the tool, a gripfid, and the technique of Plain Oblique Twining (POT). One of interesting aspects is the front and back show different colors creating a double cloth. I did OK plugging along in the morning session with the first 3 samples. Learning how to read the patterns would take time but I was getting the hang of the concept.

After lunch we began working on 2 more samples to create POTholes (Ah yes… the humor found in ply split braiding!)

Again, I did OK with Sample #4 but Sample #5 was more complex using a darner to create hexagon openings. Wrapping my brain around this technique was NOT a smooth process! I put in rows…then took them out….did rows again….then took them out. By the end of the afternoon I at least was able to see when I had not done things correctly but I did not have solid understanding as to where I was going wrong. Time to take a break!

The evening program ‘From Spitalfields to East Anglia’ was a talk by Mary Schoeser, an Honoary Senior Reseach Fellow at the V&A Museum, studying 19th century Spitalfield’s silks.

Day 2 – Tuesday

With fresh eyes I took on the hexagon shapes and FINALLY got it!!

After lunch we moved on to working with wool to make a small 3″ base diameter mat. Working with the thicker wool was definitely different from working with the tighter twist cotton. We learned how to add cords which expand the overall size and shape and how to lock the edge so it will not unravel.

The evening talk was given by weaver Melanie Venes, who was teaching the Double Weave course. ‘Design Matters: from tea towels to chocolate teapots’ examined at the role of design, sampling and record keeping in the projects we do.

Day 3 – Wednesday

At the midweek point and a 1/2 day for instruction, we started winding our own cords for the next project – a larger circle using the hexagon pattern. I used rug weight wool for this next project.

The afternoon was a field-trip to relax the braincells and recharge. I took the pre-booked trip to the RHS Garden Hyde Hall, a fabulous botanical garden.

The evening program was the fashion show. It is always great to see what everyone has been working on, especially the ‘Covid Lockdown’ projects. I brought my “Two Sides to Every Story: A Functional Covid Art Mask” and my newly completed just-in-time-to-bring-with-me “Back-to-Back Jacket – 4 Years in the Making from a Romney Fleece”. (I’ll be writing about the making of the felt jacket in an upcoming blogpost once I have lining completed.)

And best of all… I gave a storytelling performance to a wonderfully LIVE audience after 17 months of only telling stories via Zoom!

To be continued…

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