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…

Posted by: bschutzgruber | September 3, 2021

AGWSD Summer School 2021: The Covid Edition (part 1)

I’ve been attending the biennial summer school organized by Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers in the UK since 1999. This inspiring week of study follows a long tradition with courses running from Monday morning until Saturday morning. Ancillary activities include a Silent Auction, Raffle, the Trade Fair (Friday/Saturday), Fashion Show, Evening Lectures, the Tutors’ Exhibition, a Graduate Exhibition and the Certificate of Achievement Exhibition. The week includes local visit options on the Wednesday (free) afternoon, and concludes with the celebratory Gala Dinner. Over the years I’ve had amazing experiences meeting fiber artists from the UK, Europe and beyond, learning from individuals who are at the top of their art form, seen growth in my knowledge and skill within the vast and diverse field of ‘Fiber Arts’, and have been able to work with natural materials that are not always easily available here in the USA.

The 2021 AGWSD Summer School was set to run Sunday 15th – Sunday 22nd August 2021 at Writtle University College, Chelmsford, Essex with 15 courses being offered and the caveat that because the Covid-19 pandemic is not as yet over, the College was not able to confirm as yet whether there will be any restrictions.

Holding my breath and crossing my fingers that the upcoming availability of Covid vaccines would make August travel possible, I submitted my application for the January course allocation and got my first choice – Ply-Split Braiding using 3 ply Twisted Cords with Julie Hedges. [“Ply-split braiding is an ancient art that is practiced for making elaborate camel girths and other animal regalia of hand-spun goat hair, wool or sometimes cotton in northwestern India using a technique where one twisted cord passes through another twisted cord or cords, splitting the plies of the latter cords.“] The only thing I had ever done that is at all similar was years ago when I taught sailing and we needed to splice lines/ropes for specific use. This would be a new fiber technique for me!

I continued holding my breath through Spring as I got the Covid-19 vaccine and Summer with the rise of the Delta variant in the UK and continued travel restrictions/quarantine. On August 2nd restrictions and quarantine were lifted for fully vaccinated US travelers with negative Covid-19 tests prior to leaving and again 2 days after arriving. WHEW!!! I was going to make it to Summer School!! Multiple Covid tests, 2 days straight wearing N95 masks in airports, planes and trains, flight delays due to weather, plus my luggage taking a side trip to Atlanta, GA – the trip from Michigan to England was a LONG adventure but at last I arrived.

Writtle University College is an agricultural and horticultural college with lovely grounds. After 17 months of not meeting in person for events it was nice to gather in person and see old friends. We all wore masks when moving through the hallways indoors and for the larger group gathering.

Sunday evening we met briefly in our classrooms. Each class was allowed to decide if masks needed to worn in the individual classrooms. Our classroom had large windows, was well ventilated, and with only 11 in class we were spread out nicely so we decided masks would not be have to be worn in our classroom.

Our instructor, Julie Hedges, had a wonderful array of examples of what can be created using ply split braiding and gave some background as to the traditional uses with patterns and techniques being passed down orally. It was not until the late 1970’s-early 1980’s that a written vocabulary has been created. We would begin working Monday morning!

To be continued….

Posted by: bschutzgruber | June 28, 2021

The Things We Do For Love

I love to weave
but I don’t necessarily love all the steps involved.

Some steps, like winding out the warp, bring me to ‘my happy place’. When I say this, some weavers look at me in shock and disbelief because for them winding out the warp is a dreaded and tedious chore. If they could avoid it, they would, but they love to weave so they soldier on through this part of the process. I, on the other hand, find the rhythm and repetitive gross motor movement soothing. I reach across the warping board, swaying back and forth as I wrap the yarn around the pegs again and again.  If the warp does not have a lot of color/yarn changes the process becomes a meditative physical mantra.


Others parts, like designing the warp, are a slow and deliberate process for me that often causes much wailing and gnashing of teeth. This is where being slightly OCD and having stubborn streak at times comes in handy! Figuring out the color sequence, how many ends per inch and do I have enough of any given color is where I have to buckle down and just do the work.

The National Storytelling Network will hold an online auction July 21-25, 2021 and I offered to donate a woven shawl. For my warp stripe sequence, I started by counting the ends in the stripes used in a tartan fabric I have and then did a test winding to see how the colors I wanted use would play out together.



Using an Excel spreadsheet I laid out the sequence for the full width and began working out the individual ends for each stripe and how many yards of yarn for each color. I shifted the width of some of the stripes to match numbers in the Fibonacci sequence and added ends to make a point where I would be changing the direction of the 2/2 twill threading. I counted and recounted multiple times slogging my way though this part of the process.


At last I was ready to leave the drudge work behind, go to my happy place and begin winding the 607 ends of 10/2 cotton yarn! Things were going swimmingly as I shifted between colors, keeping count each inch as I followed my chart. When I took the warp off the board and hung it by the lease sticks check it over I realized there was an ‘Uh-oh…oops!’ in it. Something was amiss – my stripe colors did not match up! MULTIPLE hours were spent counting out the pattern to see what I missed and then adding 13 ends.  AARRGGGHHH!!!!!!


FINALLY the warp was ready to go on the loom and I could begin weaving!


After a MUCH longer time than usual
I am happy to say that ‘Elements of the Earth’ cotton shawl completed
and will be up for auction in July.
Ah yes, the things we do for love!






Posted by: bschutzgruber | May 30, 2021

When First You Don’t Succeed…

[If viewing in an email – click on the title to see the final slideshow]

March 2020 brought a cancellation of all in-person exhibits due to Covid-19. Many of the venues shifted to virtual exhibits which was a marvelous way to see art work from all over the world that I would never have had the opportunity to see in person even before the pandemic. As wonderful as that has been, I’ve really missed being able to see fiber creations in person. There’s just something about actually seeing the textures in a piece – in person – that has always brought the art to life for me.

Summer 2021 has brought the reopening of in-person exhibits! WOO-HOO!!!!

In July the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild will once again have an exhibit of members work at The Village Theater at Cherry Hill in Canton, MI so I pulled out the pieces created in 2020 but did not have the chance to be shown in-person – Hiking the Coastal Path [February 2020 blog] and Fire on the Horizon [November 2020 blog].

For a long time, another piece of felt has been tugging at the back of my mind. Several years ago I had played with felting some two-tone roving just to see what it might do. The result was a solid piece of felt (26″ x 16″) with interesting ridges. It has been sitting in the “Don’t-know-what-to-do-with-this” pile ever since. Every now and then I pull it out but it always ended up back in the pile. With 2 weeks until the AAFG jury session for The Village Theater I decided to see what I might do with it.

First attempt
Wet felt a marsh scene with fireflies (wool) and will-o-the-wisp swamp gas (silk fibers). The new yellow and green wool was able to grip in but the silk was not and the over image was not coming together at all…YIKES!

I turned it 180° and it had a bit more potential as an image of waterfalls.

Luckily I could peel off the now prefelted blue silk and printed out a photo to do a rough sketch of the concept.

Second attempt
The challenge now was how to add the the waterfall details. I learned in the abstract landscape class [January 2020 blog] about beginning with what’s furthest away and ending with the foreground but I was now doing the opposite and I do not have the skills to pull that off!

Third time’s the charm!
By slowly needle felting in details I created Secret Forest (25.5″ x 15.5″).

Taking photos of Secret Forest the sun came through the window onto the piece.
WOW!!! Now I want to figure out how to create this same effect when felting!!!
On to the next adventure…

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