Friday, November 28, 2014

Happy Weaver Workshop coming in February!

From Debbie Scott, GBFG workshop chairperson:

The Happy Weaver Workshop – Taught by Terry Martin

Get ready to enjoy your loom.  This workshop is for you if you are a new weaver, it will help you develop good habits from the beginning.  This workshop also is for you if you put the loom aside and keep planning to get back to it but just can’t seem to make yourself.  We will be weaving a project but the focus will be to have a well-prepared loom and to cultivate the ergonomics of weaving.  This results in few broken threads and fewer frustrations.  Plan to get organized, learn good habits, refresh your skills, enhance your understanding of the process from the beginning to the finished project and be a Happy Weaver. 

DATE:  February 27 and February 28, 2015
LOCATION:  St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Hoover, Alabama. The downstairs room located underneath the sanctuary. 
TIME:  8:30 a.m. with your loom.  Please arrive by 8:30 a.m.


Guild members will be offered first choice to sign-up for the workshop,  non-guild members will be put on a waiting list and notified if there are openings.  


Participants will need to have a 4 or 8 harness table loom or portable floor loom in good working order. 

Registration to Debbie Scott (GBFG workshop chairperson):

REGISTRATION COST: $125.00 for 2 days NON-REFUNDABLE. Make checks to the Greater Birmingham Fiber Guild. MAIL TO: GBFG, P.O. Box 660723, Birmingham, AL  35266-0723

You may also give your check to Debbie Scott no later than JANUARY 27, 2015. 

Guild will be providing lunch both days.   

MATERIALS FEE: Yet to be determined.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Spinning and weaving with UAB engineering students

A few months ago Dr. Uday Vaidya found this blog and contacted a couple of the guild officers, looking for spinners and weavers to help with his materials engineering program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Materials engineers develop materials for industrial and military purposes, among other things, such as Kevlar for soldiers' helmets, biodegradable tractor parts (so future tractors won't sit rusting when abandoned in unused fields), and storm shelters that can be retrofitted into an existing closet space in your home.

These days, natural materials are almost as popular with materials engineers as they are with handspinners, and woven fabric is an essential construction component in materials engineering labs. Dr. Uday came up with the idea that his students would benefit from knowing how yarn and cloth are made. So, yesterday, Karen Ford, Jennifer Justiss, Mary Kaiser, Deb Kattus, Jennifer Lacky, and I (Mary Spanos) taught 100 engineering students to make a spindle and spin yarn.

Jennifer Justiss teaching students to spin (photo by Karen Ford)

This took place in two sections of a class for students who transferred into the UAB program. There were students from many engineering sub-fields: materials, mechanical, electrical, bio-medical, and computer.

Mary Kaiser shows students how to spin (photo by Mary Spanos).
They were smart people so they caught on quickly. After they assembled their high whorl, toy-wheel spindles and learned to spin some of the soy fiber that Dr. Vaidya is currently working with in the materials lab, they spent time talking with Terry Martin about how the yarn they were spinning could be turned into cloth.

Terry Martin at her Baby Wolf loom. It isn't visible in the picture, but Terry was weaving a complicated bound-weave structure (photo by Mary Spanos).

It was quite an unusual demonstration experience. Combining one of the oldest technologies, spinning yarn, with one of the newest, materials engineering. Hopefully, there will be many more opportunities for us to be involved with this interesting group.

 Dominique Everett, a phD student in the materials enginering program, was one of several people who helped us with the classes. In the bag in front of him are the 50 high-whorl spindles that the students made, going into storage for the next time.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Survival Weaving

Mollie and Frank Cohee attended their first guild meeting a couple of weeks ago and now Mollie is a guild member! They also belong to the Central AL Mutual Interest Group, whose January program is "Survival Weaving." If you are interested, here is more information from Frank:

The Central AL Mutual Interest Group (CAMIG) usually meets the first Tuesday of every month. No meeting in December 2014. Our next meeting will be on Tuesday, January 6, 2015 from 6:00 to 7:30 PM. We usually meet at Rocky Heights Print & Binding. In January, our topic is "Survival Weaving." If anyone wants more information as to what we are about, they can look us up on or look at our forum at You will see me as Frank Cohee (in real life), as RLP (author of Real Life Prepper), intelarms (as a NRA firearms instructor) and as BeFreeAL (the coordinator of CAMIG). Please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Great program and lots of information from Pat Donald

This past Saturday, Pat Donald's program on Dimity weaving was fascinating. If you missed it, here are some of the things that Pat discussed.

Dimity, a weave effect  that is used in counterpanes, has been documented as long ago as 1560. Traditionally, counterpanes were all white and coverlets were not.

Broken Dimity (photo by Pat Donald)

Counterpanes weren't just produced in the South and they weren't only woven. Pat's extensive research has included counterpanes from many places beyond the southern states and examples of knitted and crocheted versions.

Three-shaft looms were often used to create dimity woven cloth (three shafts are the minimum needed to create dimity). According to Pat, U.S. weavers adopted the Oriental weaving system, which was based on an even number of shafts, so three and six shaft looms eventually fell out of favor.

Pat recommended several resources that may help you find more information on dimity and counterpanes: the Early American Books and Manuscripts study group of HGA's Complex Weavers group (you'll need to be a member of HGA to participate); Brown's Book of Weaving Drafts by Miller and Schillo (Pat warned that while this may present an accurate record of how dimity was woven, modern counterpane weavers will find it different from what they are accustomed to); and, Pat recommended two magazines which have published articles on counterpanes in the past, Prairie Wool Companion and Handwoven.

Pat Donald is from Opelika and traveled over to Birmingham for this program, for which we are very grateful. Back home in Opelika, they are working to create a weaver's group and Pat sent the following information:

Individuals interested in weaving and promotion of weaving in the Opelika, AL area had a meeting Oct 22 at Yarnhouse Studio and decided to have another meeting with the emphasis on show and tell. The date for the next meeting will be Feb 7, 2015 (1 pm) at Pat Donald's in Opelika. Address when we are closer to this date.  

One of the goals is to keep a calendar of upcoming events and workshops of interest to weavers. Below is a list.

Upcoming Workshops:

Jan 10-11, 2015 Woven tapestry and the language of color, Jennifer Sargent, Memphis

Jan 17-19, 2015 Jason Collingwood, Atlanta

April 17 & 18, 2015 Alabama Fiber Festival, Montgomery

April 23-26, 2015 Stitches, Nashville

April 25-26, 2015 Kente cloth weaving, Linda Weghorst, Memphis

June 2015 SEFFA Exhibit Atlanta area GEHC

Sept 12-14, 2015 Madelyn van der Hoogt, Atlanta

At this point notices are going out through Yarnhouse Studio to make sure we contact all interested weavers.  As people respond, their email address is being added to my list of weavers in this area. Expect that some information will be sent to the weaver’s list and not necessarily via Yarnhouse Studio.

If you are interested in joining the Opelika group or attending their upcoming meeting, you can contact Pat at

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Alabama Designer/Craftsmen Fine Craft Show this weekend

The Alabama Designer/Craftsmen Fine Craft Show 2014 is this Saturday and Sunday at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Find details here.

Several guild members will be in the show: Barbara Mitchell, Laura Stacy, Susie Strauss, and Janice Weinstein.

Stop by to see the beautiful things they will have for sale. Bring the things you buy to the next guild meeting for Show and Tell, so everyone who can't make it to the show will get to see a little of what they missed.

Show and Tell

There are several great things about guild meetings.

The programs are great. I'm really looking forward to Pat Donald's weaving program this Saturday.

Seeing and visiting with friends who are interested in textiles, just like me, is both inspiring and comforting.

Show and Tell is one of my favorite parts of every meeting. Please remember to bring your latest (or favorite, or best, or worst) project to share. Guild meetings are a happy incentive to get things finished. It is great to get to show your work to a room full of people who will understand and appreciate it.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Guild Newsletter, November 2014

President’s Column                           

Hello Fiber Friends!

I was really sad to miss the meeting last month and  Laura's presentation on Batik. I have been a fan of Laura's for many years and have several of her bags! Las Vegas is ok for a one time trip but not some place I'd like to go back! Gambling is not my thing! Well, if I'd won maybe it would have been! We did enjoy the show The Jersey Boys that we went to see. Our friend's son's wedding was gorgeous and Lisa and I did have a good time! It's always great to be with friends and this family was our carpool for fourteen years!

I'm just coming off a 3 day Milanese Bobbin Lace Workshop with Louise Colghan. It was fun and our projects were will take me a while but I will finish it! Mine will grow up to be a teapot.

Lots of activity within the Guild this month. I am looking forward to Pepper Place on November First, UAB on the seventh and of course the meeting on the eighth...that doesn't even count knitting and spinning groups that meet! 

See you all at the meeting!   

Karen Ford


November Meeting
Weaving Dimity for Counterpanes - Pat Donald

Saturday, November 8th
10:00am - noon
  St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church
2061 Patton Chapel Rd
Birmingham, AL  (205) 822-4480


At the guild’s November meeting on Saturday, November 8, guild member and expert weaver Pat Donald will present a program on weaving dimity, which is an effect in weaving that came into use in the 1850’s, and can be found in traditional counterpanes.  Pat will introduce the principles of weaving dimity in 3- and 6-harness looms, and share pictures of counterpanes, drafts collected from published and unpublished manuscripts from a variety of weavers.  Pat will also have samples of dimity to display and discuss, and she will have copies of Chatahootchie Coverlets for sale for $5.  Please join us for this fascinating program.

Interesting Fiber Items to Read and Check Out...

       WARRENSBURG, Mo.  -  'A Missouri runner who knitted his way into the record books is preparing for the New York City Marathon. David Babcock secured the Guinness Word Record last year for knitting a scarf that measured just more than 12 feet long during the 5 hours and 48 minutes it took him to run the Kansas City Marathon. The University of Central Missouri associate professor of art and design will face an extra challenge Sunday during the New York race.
The university says that because of tight security in New York, Babcock can't use traditional knitting needles and will have to use a finger-knitting technique. He got a chance to practice the technique during a recent half marathon in Kansas City.'
Babcock uses his unusual skill to raise awareness about Alzheimer's disease.  To read more about how Babcock got started, check out this NY Times article -
From Susie - as I walked into the house where I was 'Halloween' sitting, I saw this incredible piece of art and wanted to share it with all of you. (Plus would love one for myself!) Last month, we had a story about a woman who knits with glass, now here is an artist who weaves with glass.
Laura Dura - Wool felted bags out of Navajo-Churro wool, Taos, NM.

Meet Maggie Joe (aka Magnolia), Susie Strauss's adopted Musk Ox living at the Musk Ox Farm in Palmer, AS -
The latest news about Maggie - 'on September 27th our fall-born calf, Magnolia, celebrated her first birthday. Maggie, as she is known at the farm, has really grown in to a sweet and docile animal. She never shed her baby qiviut until spring and Maggie’s fiber tested near the top of the list with a micron count of 13. Maggie has also captured the hearts of many of our donors and currently is the most adopted animal in the herd.'
For more information about the Musk Ox Farm or to adopt your own Musk Ox, go to

It's Fall and Time for Fall Art Shows and Classes
Mark Your Calendars

November 8-9th:  The 42nd ADC Fine Crafts Show and Sale. 10am - 5 pm both days at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Featuring our fellow Guild members:
  • Jenny Gorman - Booth 28 Main Room (weaving)
  • Barbara Mitchell - Booth 21 Main Room (quilting)
  • Susie Strauss - Booth 4 Hallway at entrance to Gerlach Room (weaving)
  • Janice Weinstein - Booth 32 Hodges Room (knitting)

John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC: Our Ruth Truett will be teaching 'Weaving in Shaker Tradition', November 16-22nd.
"The costume and household textiles of the Shakers were not so different from the general American population of the early 1900s. They were special because of the spiritual component of the life and works of the committed people who wove and used them. We will reproduce plain weave and twill samples for a variety of their household items, including chair seats and backs. Beginner and continuing weavers are welcome."

(send Susie announcements of upcoming shows with or without GBFG participants)

   Start thinking about the Guild's December Gift Exchange!

Our Holiday Lunch will be held at Mary Kaiser’s house on December 13th.  Our gift exchange this year is “gadgets.”  Wrap up your favorite little tools or fiber gadgets (limit is $15), and bring them to the party to exchange.

         Study Groups Meet Monthly

  • Spinning Study Group:  4th Wednesday of the month from 10 am to 2 pm at St. Peter’s Church in Hoover.  Please check out the GBFG Blog  for cancellations or schedule changes.
  • Nancy 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 interested.
  • More 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 group.

Newsletter News...
Each 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 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). Visitors are welcome.  The Guild offers programs almost monthly, focused workshops several times a year, and equipment rental (see below). 
 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:
There will be a $30 deposit per DVD (Lucy Neatby) and $100 deposit for the drum carder. Deposit for Laura Fry's materials still to be determined.
The rental fee for all items is $5 per month rented.
Equipment can only be checked out at Fiber Guild monthly meetings and a check-out list will be posted inside the door of the cabinet. Deposit checks will be held by Nancy Lavender, treasurer, until returned in original condition.
Copyright © 2014 Greater Birmingham Fiber Guild, All rights reserved.