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!!!

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

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