I Love my Job

 
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I have been walking around town today, rantomscooting Mark calls it. I went out to Breakfast at Grammas in Mansfield, I went to the Co-op, walked back over the footbridge. Whenever I saw someone I knew I shared my great pleasure in just having completed these dresses.
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They are part of a set of five dresses and two dashikis that I made for Echo Uganda. I love these dresses. I was surprised how the fabric blends with the grasses. The badminton batik on the little girls dresses is a crazy big pattern. Not something we tend to wear in the US. And look how fantastic it looks on these 2T and 4T dresses.

It is a great priveldge to be able to make my living with my hands and my mind. Continue reading

Juki Runs Free

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I live with Juki. She is my mechanized horse, my old dog. Days spent with her make for many a story. Like any loyal pal, her understanding of me is deep. And I try to return the trust that she places in me.

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I was going through an old photo album and found these pictures of Juki and me on the day we closed the Store on Church Street.

I thought I would share some of the feelings of that day with you.

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Its been four years since we closed the storefront. Juki and I still work together. Still making a connection over work and creativity. Good friends, Juki and I.

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US Moves Closer to a Sane Hemp Agriculture Policy

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January 31, 2013  Washington, DC – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following statement today regarding industrialized hemp and its impact on Kentucky:

“After long discussions with Senator Rand Paul and Commissioner James Comer on the economic benefits of industrialized hemp, I am convinced that allowing its production will be a positive development for Kentucky’s farm families and economy. Commissioner Comer has assured me that his office is committed to pursuing industrialized hemp production in a way that does not compromise Kentucky law enforcement’s marijuana eradication efforts or in any way promote illegal drug use. The utilization of hemp to produce everything from clothing to paper is real and if there is a capacity to center a new domestic industry in Kentucky that will create jobs in these difficult economic times that sounds like a good thing to me.”

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Alex White Plume of Standing Silent Nation

What a surprise! It has been a long battle to return the cultivation of Hemp to it’s former legal status in the US. Categorized as a narcotic in an apparent effort to promote Dupont (invention of Nylon 1935), this grass is still banned for agricultural use. Many hope to change this.

If you ever have the chance, watch Standing Silent Nation (http://www.standingsilentnation.com/) . The movie documents the efforts of the Soverign Nation of the Ogala Sioux to cultivate hemp.

Clothworks uses hemp as it’s primary fabric. The hemp is grown in either China or Eastern Europe (eg. Romania). We buy it un-dyed by the bolt in different weights and weaves. It has long been our goal to buy hemp grown in the US, perhaps even Connecticut. As Alex White Plume so aptly says:

We will survive.
We have always survived.
We’re Lakota.
We will survive this as well.

–Alex White Plume

Tri Gram Work Merges Cultures

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In the Stillness of Snow

Ba Qua Trigram

Ba Qua Trigram

Using a wok cover, a steel washer and the reverse applique techniques of the Panamanian people I am making two banners that will be used to represent the martial arts steps in Ba gua. One is white with black., the other black with white.

Panamania Mola of a Tapir

Panamania Mola of a Tapir

Here is a thumbnail view of my process. First, I drew the image out on the reverse with wax crayon and chalk.Then I made a variation on a bound button hole by backing the shapes one by one with a sqare of fabric and stitching around the drawn lines. I carefully cut out the inside of the stitched shaped and clipped to my corners. I turned the backing square it to the reverse and pressed it flat. Then finally, I place a piece of the opposite color fabric behind the bound hole and stitched around.

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Step one: Draw the shapes on the back with chalk

Mirror images can trip you up so the old adage: Measure Twice, Cut Once Look at some of these pictures and see if you can figure out how you would make such a wall hanging for your home or work.

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Don’t get Confused! This is the front before turning the bound openings.

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The white one still needs the yin-yan shape

Black Yin yang white yin yang

 

 

 

Thanks Greg! An Updated Website

I run a pretty small business. I try to keep it small enough for me to manage alone. And yet I welcome help from others with open arms.

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Tim Pfeiffer’s Open Arms

Greg Svetz (svetz.net) is one of those silent others that contribute to the business from time to time. This month he offered his keen eye and computer expertise to update my website. What a gift that was!

Community is Intertwined

Greg Svetz: photo

Greg was able to rebuild the site with cleaner lines He maintained my Clothworks “look” and made me feel proud of the site. Check out his website to see some of his photographs.

Thanks Greg!

And thanks to Mr, Pfeiffer of Virginia for the great painting of the Open Arms tree.

 

 

2 π R = C!

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A Wide Sixty Inches of History

Never let it be said that math won’t come in handy through out your life. 2πR=C.

2 x π (3.14) x Radius = Circumference.

Hone it down a little and you get

πD=C

π x Diameter (radius twice) = Circumference. In other words a rug 60″ wide has a circumference of 188″. Or as I learned this month, the circumference of one man’s jacket!

Like many of the things our parents, grandparents and great grandparents did as a matter of course in their daily lives -bread making, crop farming, live stock butchering – Rug Braiding is a lot of work. It requires strong hands and agile fingers. And time.

I started this rug just last month. Now I can look at the completed rug as I write. I can’t begin to tell you the pleasure I took in making this. Starting with my neighbor passing on her mother’s unfinished project I added many hours of contemplative cutting, braiding and joining.

Mrs. Bliss had left me with almost enough wool to complete the rug. I used her old skirts and pants all wool from a time now gone. I used some of my own wool scraps, pieces not large enough to make a garment from. And yesterday for the last ring around, I went to Salvation Army and bought a camel colored wool suit jacket.

You might be interested in knowing that from that man’s jacket I cut 360 inches of two inch wide strips. It took the entire jacket to make a braid that would encircle the rug.

She’s my Baby Now!

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My neighbor. Those are two words that go a long way. Whether in an apartment building or the house next door, a neighbor is an important person in one’s life cycle. There are rules of conduct we generally follow. We let each other mind their own “castle.” We respect privacy. We lend a hand when it looks like it might be helpful.

I’m thinking about the neighbors of my childhood. Mr Newsham, The Popes, The Campbells and Harts.  All by themselves these names bring rich memories. I played with their kids, babysat for them, my brothers delivered their papers and mowed their lawns.

And now that I am fully ensconced in my own adulthood, I have my own neighbors. In particular I am thinking of my next door neighbor and her elderly Dad.

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The unfinished rug.

A Braided Rug

My neighbor’s Mom sewed a lot. When she passed away, she had unfinished projects. My neighbor was thoughtful enough to get me in touch with her Dad, who was kind enough to pass along her fabric leftovers. And her projects.

I just inherited 4 or 5 boxes of wool and cotton. A woman I never met has left me bags of precut wool strips, the braiding tools I need: linen thread, a lacing needle, a clothes pin. With these at my side I embark on the project she left off. As I go round the circle, I think about her.

I hope such a thing will happen with all my projects and materials when I leave this earth. Pass it on. It’s the Neighborly thing to do.

Warmth for the New Year

The cold snap is no match for this sweater

What did you do for the holidays? I knit a new sweater.

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A Corriedale Sheep.

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Angora Goats -the source for soft Mohair fiber.

I work at Swift Waters Cooperative.  I’m a member there, so really I own the business. As an owner I get to see lots of neat handmade products. One of these is made by Brown Farm in Scotland, CT.  She makes a 3-ply yarn from 60% Corriedale and 40% Mohair.

I knit the sweater over two weeks. It was pleasant to  knit as the snow fell down outside.

Knitting affords a great opportunity to be still. I used the time  thinking about my mother, years gone as well as the year to come.

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Everyday Use

The sweater was knit from the neck down all on circular needles (size 7). I got the pattern from the owner of Brown Farm when she hosted a knit-in at Swift Waters. Write me if you want a copy of the pattern. This is a 40″ and it used 7 skeins (164 yard put up) of the three ply.

The sweater is super warm. I’ll wear it for many years to come. When I’ve passed away, I’ll leave it for a niece or nephew to wear during their life.

Life is a Circle

Happy New Year

I have been enjoying sewing lately. Now that the market is over I meet customers on my own turf, here at my studio.

I have been working on a dulcimer case, 2 shirts, some etsy sales, a wool coat (one for me and one for a customer), wool vests, a hand sewn quilt (Kaffe Fasset pattern)  and guess what…. reading and drawing!

After the market was done, we took a 4 day vacation in New Hampshire. I was spent and wanted to empty out. I took a needle and thread for a quilt I am making. It is called Rice Bowls. Here are some images of the quilt by other people who made the pattern.

Kaffe Fasset’s pattern: Rice Bowls

Rice Bowls again, different colors

So this was relaxing, but I also brought my sketch book and drew everything I saw. Drawing is a beautiful meditation. Much to my pleasure I have continued the practice post-vacation!

Relaxing

Summer Waning but Fingers Nimble

Since I wrote last I have been SEWING! Working on Hats, Vests and Murph’s. It’s been great fun. The Coventry Farmers Market just finished its penultima weekend. Soon we switch our attention to the makings of a fine holiday.

It was indeed a beautiful weekend in Connecticut and I loved seeing everyone out on this most sunny day.

The Market Wares

One more weekend and we are packing up the booth for another year.

For the last weekend my mission is to sew Murph’s. Some of you might know we named this shirt after our favorite WHUS former director: John Murphy.

Mark loves his Murph

John came into the store one day and asked us to reproduce a favorite shirt of his. It was a long sleeve Henley with a collar stand. Being me, I took it and ran with it.

The original had only one layer for the back yoke and the sleeves were finished with a placket but I didn’t care for the construction. I added a second back yoke facing, improved the sleeve plackets and generally made  it more sturdy. Like all Clothworks Menswear, I asked Mark to try it on.

Since then it has been a best seller. And Mark’s favorite shirt, which pleases me.