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…

Posted by: bschutzgruber | April 18, 2021

Fiber Folktales -The Three Aunts

This month’s post weaves together my two great artistic loves: fiber and stories

When I studied comparative folklore in college and grad school I was drawn to the old stories from all parts of the world that featured spinning, weaving and stitch work as tests of worthiness and as ways to outwit adversaries. I began collecting these stories and they have been the foundation for my storytelling programs over the past 35 years as a professional storyteller.

The Aarne-Thompson-Uther (ATU) classification system of indices classify, organize and analyze folklore narratives. Included are the Motif-Index and Tale Type Index which catalogues some 2,500 basic plots from which European and Near Eastern storytellers have built their tales. During the pandemic I worked on a retelling of ATU 501 Magical Helpers – The Three Spinners. It’s a story about a girl who must complete three tasks and receives help from thee very unusual women.

I chose the Norwegian version, The Three Aunts, as my starting point and had wonderful discussions with an international and varied group of flax spinners, linen weavers, and bespoke tailors as I worked the story.

For your enjoyment I present The Three Aunts.
(If you don’t see the YouTube video – click on the story title.)

Posted by: bschutzgruber | March 28, 2021

Zoom Workshop Postscript

Taking a workshop via Zoom [see New Ways of Learning – Zoom] had some perks: easy access to my stash and not having to drive to a venue in a snow storm. Another benefit was not having to wait until I got back home to continue playing with techniques covered in the workshop. After the color blending workshop I decided to use the 6 cones of blue rug yarn I’ve had for a years to develop a color progression.

To make bundles I can use for small tapestry weaving I un-plied each yarn and then retwisted/plied sets of 3 strands each. This took 3 full days to make bundles that are only 10yds long.

To move along a bit faster I divided each of the cones into 9 balls – which involved lots of calculations & weighing each ball as I wound off from the cone.

I combined 3 full strands of yarn to make bundles of thicker weft yarn.

With a new seine twine warp on the loom my plan was to use the thicker weft combinations to weave a color progression weft faced rug (the warp is completely hidden by the weft) but the combined rug yarns did not pack down enough to cover the warp so I’ll need to do some samples before I move forward with this project.

Not wanting to waste the warp that was on the loom I went back to my stash. I pulled out a bag of dyed Blue Faced Leicester roving and decided to use that as the weft.

I liked the texture that was created and used about 1 pound/450 grams to weave 75″/1.9 meters x 13.5″/34cm

I was curious to see how this would felt down. I rolled for several hours then put it into my washing machine with hot water and heavy agitation and finally into the dryer on hot. The final result still has the texture I liked and is now 63″/1.6meters x 12″/30.5 cm. I’m leaning toward making a carpet bag out of the yardage.

The month of March is one of transition and change when it comes to the weather
and it certainly was that for my weaving projects too!

Posted by: bschutzgruber | February 23, 2021

New Ways of Learning – Zoom

New ways of learning continue….
with two opportunities to participate in NOT in-person workshops.

Taking workshops via Zoom

Michigan League of Handweavers decided to hold a virtual conference for 2021 via Zoom with lectures, seminars, workshops and exhibits scheduled January through August.

Having attended the in-person conference several times over the years I was curious to see how instructors would adapt their workshops for NOT in-person sessions. I signed up for a 1/2 day seminar Silk Scarf Collage with Mary Sue Fenner (Wisconsin) known for mixing fabrics to make colorful creative wearables and a 3 1/2 day workshop Exercises in Color Blending and Texture with Jan Friedman (Iowa) known for her unique color blended tapestries, fiber collages, and scarves.

Silk Scarf Collage (2 hours)
Use your beautiful hand-crafted silk scraps and yardage to make a fun and creative silk scarf.

First hour:
Mary Sue explained her process, which types of silk work well (and which ones don’t!), showed examples of scarves, and demonstrated pinning and sewing techniques.

Second hour:
We went to work laying out our designs, pinning, and began sewing. As the seminar came to an end I had one side of my scarf stitched and was ready to continue working on my own with the other side.

Having the seminar scheduled for the morning was great as that gave me the afternoon to complete my scarf.  Because I was focused on the construction techniques I did not spend a lot of time thinking about over all design elements. I started second guessing my color combinations when I looked at the scarf laid flat and breathed a huge sigh of relief when I saw how it looks when worn!


Exercises in Color Blending and Texture (seven 2hr sessions over 3 1/2 days)

This workshop will concentrate on teaching you how to weave slow color gradations using color groupings.

I put a 2 1/2 yard warp on the floor loom – 12/6 seine twine, 10″ wide and 6 epi. We each received a fabulous package of color progression yarns, contrast yarns and silk fabric strips.

I had to get creative for viewing the demonstrations due to Jan’s camera placement but hey…. it worked!!

Friday evening session – Jan talk about what we would be doing, showed some samples of her work and demonstrated some basic tapestry weaving techniques. We had time at the end to begin playing with our yarns.

Saturday and Sunday were split into morning and afternoon blocks of 2 hours each. One of best parts of in-person workshops is being able to see what others are doing. In this case, we sent photos of our work to the moderator who shared her screen for the slide show.

Jan’s use of the the silk fabric strips to add texture and dimension is fascinating. I have a variety of ribbons in my stash and had a good time experimenting with them. 

At the end of Sunday I had completed Sample #1

ColorBlend Sample #1
(9.25″ x 20″)

Monday-Thursday were spent working on our own.
I wove 2 more samples playing with ribbons, accent contrast yarns, and working with the red and purple in combination.

ColorBlend Samples #2 and #3
(9.25″ x 7.5″ each)

We met again on Friday for a slide show of the work everyone had done and Jan talked about how she finished her work for hanging.

It was certainly was different taking these 2 workshops virtually!

It was nice having my entire stash at my fingertips rather than try to guess in advance what I might want to use.
It was very nice not to be driving to a venue during a snow storm!

Styles of presentation that work well in-person do not always work well virtually.
Tech Moderators are the BEST!

I will always prefer in-person workshops but I’m glad I gave these workshops a try.
Thanks to Zoom – I have new ideas for future projects.

Posted by: bschutzgruber | January 27, 2021

New Year – New Ways of Learning

I am a workshop junkie!
2020 was tough because all in-person workshops were cancelled due to the pandemic but 2021 is bringing new learning experiences!

Taking a Class Online

Rebecca Mezoff has developed and produced a series of online tapestry classes. I took an in-person workshop with her several years ago through the Michigan League of Handweavers summer workshops. Her clear instructions/encouraging teaching style worked well with my learning style. I’ve watched several excerpts of her online classes that she has posted on her blog. Her camera work is some of the best I’ve seen and her instructions are clear and easy to follow. In her blog and newsletter she mentioned an interesting technique – fringeless tapestry using a warping technique that produces selvedges on all four sides!

“This online class teaches you how to warp a loom so that when you are finished weaving, there is no fringe and no hem. This warping method is often called four selvedge warping. Taught by master tapestry artist, Sarah C. Swett, it is a unique opportunity to learn how to warp and weave tapestry in this fun way while getting all of Sarah’s inside weaving tips. You’ll see Rebecca in this course also asking questions, giving her two cents about tapestry weaving, and generally keeping the camera rolling.”

I decided to gift myself this course for Christmas! 

One of first things in the materials list is that the loom has to have tensioning ability. The small looms I have all have fixed sides.

This means I get to make a new toy!!!!  Plans are included for making a tabletop pipe loom out of galvanized, copper or PVC pipe. I decided to make mine from 1/2″ copper pipe (for about $20) that can be taken apart for storage. I cut 2 different lengths for the side pipes so I can have a shorter or taller loom depending on my project. This was the same principle as my large pipe loom but much easier to make!

I also needed to sort through the seine twine I have in my stash to figure out what sizes I have. The numbers from one company to another are not always the same!! I compared thicknesses and picked open the plies to count the ends.

I watched the entire course from beginning to end so I would better understand what I needed to do. Sarah does a great job explaining what she is doing and Rebecca explains the technology, how the platform works, and offers plenty of troubleshooting help. Now I was ready to actually work through the warping steps using 12/6 seine twine set at 8epi. It took me 2 days and then I was ready to start weaving!


My first fringeless sample is not fancy as I was focused on the warping process. I’m pleased with my overall result – especially the top and bottom selvedges.

For my second try I used 20/6 seine twine for the warp set at 12 epi and played with a more varied color palette of finer wool. This was much harder to weave and the top selvedge is rather rough!

This was a fun course and I will definitely keep playing with it! 

Next up:  2 workshops via Zoom! 

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