Hello Fiber Friends! I trust everyone has had a great month! I know most are wishing for
Spring but I have found this winter an inspiration for woolly things! And
frankly I never look forward to hot weather!
I wanted to share with
you my new rocking chair....new to me that is! For those of you that spin it's
instantly recognizable! What clever human constructed this chair? It's from the
area....or so the dealer said! As I sit in my chair and spin or knit I think of
those before us who did our craft because they had to for their family to be
warm. We have a multitude of reasons for doing what we do but need is probably
not top on the list! My Mother never understood why I did this when I could go
to the store and buy it already done!! Partly for me it's the process, but also
it's the connection to women of the past and the creative outlet. I think about
the woman who usedthis
wheel and the person who, rather than throw it on the fire, repurposed it into
a rocking chair! How different our lives and times are!
And speaking of creative process...I am looking forward to our
program this month on the dirty little secrets of pattern designing........not
Mary's title but how I see it! It's a mystery to me, and I can't wait to have
it unlocked.....also about submitting for publication! I am completely in awe
of this kind of talent...and it abounds in our Guild!!
I look forward to seeing you all at
March Meeting- Publishing for Fiber Artists
Saturday, March 8th,10:00 am
St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church
2061 Patton Chapel Rd
Birmingham, AL (205) 822-4480
Mary Spanos, former technical editor for Spin-Off magazine, knitwear designer, and publisher at Big Canoe Press (http://www.bigcanoepress.com/),
will be leading a program on publishing knitting patterns online and
submitting proposals to magazines and yarn companies. She will give a
quick overview of how to prepare your own pattern, including some
options for making charts, so knitters can upload patterns to sites like
This program is not only for knitters, but any fiber artist interested
in publishing, and for any fiber artist who wants to understand how
patterns are selected and edited in the books and magazines we read.
Mary Kaiser and Janice Weinstein will contribute their experiences with
working with knitting magazines and yarn companies.
Thanks, Mary Kaiser
Note new time and location!When
you arrive at the church, park and then look for an awning at the front
left of the church. Enter through the door under the awning
Why We Make Things and Why It Matters
Book Review by Mary Kaiser
another snow day, and the gift of time waits like an unopened Christmas
present—and what will I do with it? Load a new lace pattern into my
i-pad, of course, find another circular needle in size 3, and spend the
morning in my pajamas working through the intricacies of yarnovers and
directional decreases. Outside my window, as snowflakes melt into
raindrops, bare branches twinkle in the sun. I hold up my new rows of
lace to the light, and the wool yarn plied with silk sparkles.
Why is this fiber craft so dear to me? Why do I shop for a new skein of
yarn instead of a new pair of shoes or a jar of Dr. P.’s miracle
wrinkle cream? Why search Ravelry for another shawl pattern when I have
a deep dresser drawer full of scarves, shawls, wraps and cowls?
Intrigued by a book title that offered to answer my question, I opened Why We Make Things and Why It Matters by Peter Korn. A
furniture maker and founder of the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship
in Maine, Korn, like many passionate craftspeople, was educated for a
more cerebral line of work, but fell in love with wood when he was in
his early twenties. In the mid-seventies, after college, a
self-described hippie, Korn moved to Nantucket and took the first job he
was offered, as a carpenter on a building site. Once he fell in love
with his life’s material, wood, and began to develop his skills, he
became fascinated with furniture making, and, much to the dismay of his
parents, abandoned the white-collar life for a career making things with
But Korn’s background as a child of an attorney and a lawyer remained an
important influence. He is a philosophical, thinking person who works
with his hands, and so this unique book came about, as he explores the
nature of craft, the reasons why people in the digital age still love to
work with their hands, and considers the future of making, as he refers
to what used to be called “craft.”
Korn discovered that meticulously designing and crafting pieces of
beautiful furniture for elite buyers was such a slow process that he
could never really make a living at it, and over the decades moved into
teaching and administration in craft schools in order to support himself
and his family. But to this day, he continues to work in the studio
crafting furniture by hand, burnishing and sanding and carving mortises,
keeping in touch with his passion.
Reading this book is very useful if you’re inclined to meditate about
questions like the place of craft in contemporary society, or the
differences between craft and fine art. Korn argues that craft is the
art of making things that people can use, and he believes that thinking
about use places beneficial constraints on a maker’s creative energy.
Knitting a shawl that sits just right on the shoulders engages us in a
three-way struggle among the material—“the material of the world does
not bend easily,” he writes—the skills of the knitter, and the needs of
the wearer. So a craft can be judged on two levels, aesthetic and
practical—is this shawl pretty, and can I wear it? The apex of a craft
is a product in which form and function meld—a garment that’s beautiful
because it fits so well, because it looks just right on a body.
So, why do we do this when we can find tables and chairs, sweaters and
socks at the nearest mall? Peter Korn has some interesting responses.
First, he says, making things encourages independence. Instead of
passively selecting from the goods on the market, when we set out to
make something we think for ourselves, which is “the wellspring of a
good life,” he writes.
Making things allows us to make a statement and express our own
aesthetic, to put our own stamp on things we use, and that’s extremely
satisfying. Taking the time to develop skills in a craft represents a
commitment and usually introduces us to a whole community of makers,
like our own Fiber Guild, which has surrounded many of us for decades,
helping us to develop our own skills while we watch in admiration as
fellow Guild members become experts at our craft.
Practicing any craft is a meditative process, because we are forced to
slow down and take stitch after stitch, or move the shuttle back and
forth across the weft, or twist the spindle thousands of times. We are
compelled to live in the moment, to watch and adjust and be aware of
subtle differences, to go back to the dye pot or the spinning wheel
again and again to get it just right. It takes patience, and calls upon
our ability to recover from setbacks and take on the beginner’s mind
over and over again.
But most of all, a love of craft always goes back to the sensory
pleasure of the materials themselves. No matter how badly I mess up my
lace pattern, my sheer love of handling yarn will keep me at the
needles, pulling out the stitches and picking them up and starting
again, but always in the joy of holding a strand of yarn in my fingers
and watching what it can do, holding my knitting up to the window to see
how the light strikes it.
Interesting Fiber Items to Read and Check Out...
From Clare Matthews....
This Is How I Go When I Go Like This
by Linda Collier This is a small book that I can only describe as
“delightful” and has little essays that we as fiber artists can all
relate to. At under $5 its well worth buying and reading. It will make
From Amazon -"This
collection of Linda Collier Ligon's essays in Handwoven magazine traces
the ups and downs, joys and trials, and people and events of the
weaving world over the last 25 years. In these essays textiles are the
window to the world, and questions such as What does it mean to have a
loom-shaped life? What's warp, what's weft? and What are the
interlacements? are explored with precise, probing insight that is
always engaging. Whether urging readers to act, describing her battles
with a fine linen yarn, or recounting her computer's spell-check
replacements for weaving terms, these essays from the founder of
Interweave Press will enchant, amuse, and delight."
websites that have a math program to help you design pleasing strips or
blocks of colour. Once you understand how to play with the program (ie
read the instructions) there are endless possibilities
You select colours and numbers of rows of each color and it generates a
pattern of stripes. Don't like the first suggestion, refresh the page
and you get another. Designed for knitting, but works for weaving or
any design project really.
This one explores the Fibonacci sequence http://www.e-weaving.com/Fibonacci.htmlPut
a number in the white box above the grid and it will arrange the grid
proportionally to please the eye using Fibonacci sequence…that thing
about fir cones and the arrangement of its prongs.
DUES ARE DUE - FINAL NOTICE!!!
MARCH and time for payment of your GBFG dues! Membership dues are $25
per year and need to be paid by THE END OF THIS MONTH!! Dues are used
for our meeting supplies, rental costs for our meeting space,
supplementing workshop fees when possible for Guild members, and for
administrative expenses. They may be paid to Nancy Lavender at March's
meeting or mailed to: GBFG, P.O. Box 660723, Birmingham, AL 35266-0723.
Please make your check out to 'GBFG' or Greater Birmingham Fiber Guild,
We always encourage guests to attend our meetings but if you come more
than a few times in the year, we kindly ask that you join.
Remember that as a GBFG Member, you have access to our Yahoo Group in
which we discuss current fiber news and events, priority registration
and possible reduced fees for GBFG workshops, and equipment rental.
want to post links to pictures from guild events, so if you take photos
at meetings and upload them to a photo sharing site, please send the
blog person a link (the current blog support person is Mary Spanos, you
can reach her at email@example.com). You can see the photos from the
Christmas party now (scroll down to see that entry). Newsletters will
also be posted there, so if you think you've missed a newsletter check
out the blog!. Since the blog archives everything, you will even be able
to look back through old newsletters.
We want to support our members, professionals and enthusiastic amateurs,
and would love to show your work on the blog. If you have completed a
project that you are proud of, send Mary a photo and a description. You
can also provide a link to your web site, your Ravelry page, your own
blog, or any fiber-related site.
If you know of upcoming fiber-related activities or events, please send
that information to Mary (firstname.lastname@example.org) so we can share it with
You can even sign up to receive an email notification when the blog is
updated. And if you need to get in touch with anyone on the guild board,
links to their email addresses can be found by scrolling down and
looking for the list of officers on the right side of the page.
So, visit the new guild blog soon and send in your pictures and information!
Study Groups Meet Monthly
Spinning Study Group: 4th
Wednesday of the month from 10 a.m to 2 pm at St. Peter’s Church in
Hoover. Please check out the GBFG Blog for cancellations or schedule
Clemmons is interested in sharing her love of tatting with others by
teaching one or more in her home. Please contact her if you are
groups may meet in the future. Watch the newsletter for more
information and let a board member know if you are interested in a study
Photos taken at Kyiv (Kiev) Days
from Emily Levitan's visit to the Ukraine
Fiber Guild will be displaying items once again at the Homewood Library
during the month of October. Our theme this year is Natural Fibers. So
the handmade items can be knitted, crochetting, sewn, woven, quilted,
whatever AS LONG as they are made from Natural Fibers. Items will be
collected at the September meeting and returned at the November meeting.
Please have your items labeled with your name and fiber content.
Display labels will be prepared for each item.If you are interested in helping with the setting up and breaking down of the display, please speak with Deb Kattus.
month, I am planning to have items coming from YOU, our Guild members.
These will include short book reviews related to any fiber art; a tip
you have discovered and used that make your fiber art a little bit
easier to execute; any fiber related articles; and a fiber question you
would love answers or suggestions from other guild members. Please send
your ideas, suggestions, book recommendations, questions to me (Susie
Strauss) by the 20th of the month to go into the following month's
newsletter. Email me at email@example.com and put GBFG Newsletter in the subject line.
Greater Birmingham Fiber Guild
The Greater Birmingham Fiber Guild
is comprised of individuals dedicated to the dissemination and
preservation of fiber arts. Meetings are the second Saturday of the
month, 10:00-12:00 (no meeting in July and August). Visitors are
welcome. The Guild offers programs almost monthly, focused workshops
several times a year, and equipment rental (see below). Southern Strands, the Guild newsletter, is published monthly (no issue in August); deadline for submission of material is the 20th of each month). Send items to Susie Strauss at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2014 Officers and Board
Karen Ford – President
Mary Kaiser – Program
Debbie Scott – Workshops
Emily Levitan - Membership
Nancy Lavender – Treasurer
Janice Weinstein - Secretary
Mary Spanos – Website
Susie Strauss - Newsletter
Janelle Zorko Schultz - Past President
Rental of Guild Equipment & Materials
The Guild has available, for rental to members, the following:
of various types (floor, table, rigid heddle, tapestry), spinning
wheels, drum carder, and more. Rental fee is $10 dollars per month with a
deposit of $100 per item. Deposits will be returned when equipment is
returned in good condition.