Welcome to our second installment of Your Work, Our Yarns! A few weeks back a young woman named Heather came into the shop looking for some yarns for her mother-in-law, Sandy. Specifically, she needed the same yarns that Sandy had picked up a few weeks prior, to complete a project. Heather did not know the names of the yarns, so she decided to show me an image she had, on her phone, of Sandy’s work. I took her phone in my hand and adjusted my glasses and… “WOW! This is beautiful!”, slipped out of my mouth. On the screen was a gorgeous circular weaving… like something I had never seen before! I said to Heather, “This is a perfect example of why I am so curious of where our yarns go after they leave our shop! I would never have expected this!”.

Immediately, I thought Sandy’s work would be great for Your Work, Our Yarns… so, Heather put us in touch with each other. As it turned out (and I could already tell this from the photo), not all the yarns used were ours. In fact, only about 20% or less of each piece was made up of our yarns. So, I decided that maybe this wouldn’t be the best fit for the blog.

Then, a few days ago, Sandy followed up with an email about how she came to visit our shop in the first place (story below)…. and I decided to take another look at her website… and WOW! There they were, over 20 incredible circular weavings! I was sold. What an honor to have our yarns included in such unique and beautiful artwork. So, here it is… the second installment of Your Work, Our Yarns: Circular Weavings by Sandy Bot-Miller. Enjoy! And make sure to read to the end to see Sandy’s great review of our Churro yarns and our shop.

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Sandy Bot-Miller, Artist and Poet 

My weavings most often reflect abstract or abstract expressionistic attempts at capturing the energy from specific geographical landscapes, while others are semi-realistic narratives that arise from my inner landscapes.  I love weaving within the shape of a circle, as I resonate with Rainer Maria Rilke’s statement, “There is nothing so wise as a circle,” and feel very connected to several ancient spiritual traditions when weaving in the round.  I use a three inch metal tapestry needle and now a beautiful six inch wood tapestry needle purchased from Weaving Southwest (!) to weave within a circular gold metal frame.  My weavings usually utilize an enormous variety of wool, wool blends, cotton, silk and linen fibers.

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How I came to get Weaving Southwest Yarns
I visited Weaving Southwest in June of 2013 while traveling from Minnesota to Taos to celebrate my son and daughter-in-law’s wedding.  While the rest of my family were enjoying ice cream cones next door one warm afternoon, I spent about two hours drooling over the gorgeous array of hand-dyed color-tone variations gracing the shop’s walls. I entered the shop determined to “just look,” because I have such a large stash of yarn back home. I succeeded, but was not able to let go of thinking about several of the subtle earth-toned skeins.  Three days after the wedding we were in Albuquerque and about to head back to Minnesota with no plan of returning to Taos, as it would have been out of our way.  My obsession fantasizing about the beauty of the yarn won over, however, and thus we made our way back to Weaving Southwest just before closing time, and I returned to Minnesota with a lovely new wooden tapestry needle and six beautiful skeins of yarn.  I was thrilled to incorporate these wool fibers into new two weavings I created over the summer months.  I must add that after returning home, I still regretted not buying one more particular skein and was brave enough to ask my new daughter-in-law to visit Weaving Southwest the next time she visited her parents in Taos.  She did, and although this particular yarn was no longer available, I received a surprise gift in the mail–three new skeins of colors she thought I would enjoy working with—what a delightful daughter-in-law!

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4005_Bot-Miller_Taking_A_Peace_of_New_Mexico_Home

Taking a Peace of New Mexico Home with Me by Sandy Bot-Mller, Weaving 27” in diameter

TECHNIQUES: Tapestry weaving, a predominantly plain weave with dovetailing and interlocking.

YARNS: Large variety of yarns used including Weaving Southwest’s Medium-Weight Chrurro in Copper, Red Mesa, and Berries.

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4006_Bot-Miller_New_Mexico_Inspired_Weaving_

New Mexico Inspired Weaving by Sandy Bot-Miller, Circular Weaving 27” in diameter

TECHNIQUES: Tapestry weaving using predominantly plain weave with dovetailing and interlocking.

YARNS: Large variety of yarns used including Weaving Southwest’s Medium-Weight Chrurro in Red Mesa, Copper, Berries, Palimino and Sand, as well as Worsted Singles Peach and Lady Maderly by Lana Wools.

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Sandy’s Review of Weaving Southwest and Our Rio Grand Yarns

I love, love, love weaving with Weaving Southwest’s Rio-Grande’s hand-dyed medium Chrurro yarns. The subtle shifts in value within each color are a weaver’s delight. Consistently spun, the softness and yet strength of these fibers have won me over.

In addition to offering quality yarns, my time spent mulling over color choices was a very meditative experience.  The atmosphere in the shop is very hospitable and while help was given when I wanted it, I was allowed and even encouraged to walk outside with yarn to see them in outdoor as well as indoor light, so I could best make my color choices.

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Make sure to check out the rest of Sandy’s weavings and other artwork at:

www.sandybotmiller.com!

We hope you enjoyed this post!
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We would love to hear from you! What do you think of Sandy’s work? Have you used your Rio Grande Medium Weight Churro before and have a review you would like to share? What’s on your loom? Leave a message in the comment section to let us know what you think!

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Interweave in Mauve, 45” x 60”, woven by Rachel Brown in 1989. This tapestry is part of Rachel’s Interweave Series, including the hand-spun, natural tapestries, Interweave Black and Interweave White. It is also the inspiration for our class, Interweave, A Study in Angles.

24 interweave in mauve(1)

Interweave in Mauve, Original Tapestry by Rachel Brown, hand-dyed yarn,
45″ x 60″, 1989

PS Does this tapestry inspire you? Remind you of anything? Have you seen this piece in person? We would love to hear from you! Leave a message in the comment section to let us know what you think!

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I wasn’t sure I was going to write this post, mostly because I was not able to take photos at the exhibit at the Denver Art Museum. Then I thought to myself, “I would be so disappointed if I had not heard about this exhibit. And even if you (this would be you) can’t visit it, at least I can point you in the direction of some wonderfully inspirational books, containing great images of collections of historical weavings!” I decided to call up the Denver Art Museum… and they sent me some great photos! So, here goes:

After days on the road in New England, visiting family and a couple mills, we hopped on an early flight back to the Southwest. Weeks before, we had planned to land in Denver, so we could go visit SPUN: Adventures in Textiles at the Denver Art Museum and then head south to Salida, CO for the Salida Fiber Festival… a wonderful end to a wonderful vacation. However, we did not plan for how exhausted we would be.

After weighing our options, we decided to just run into the museum real quick to see the exhibit Red, White & Bold: Masterworks of Navajo Design, 1840-1870. After all, it seemed like a once in a lifetime opportunity, to see all of these amazing Navajo textiles, in person, displayed in one place! I was so glad we decided to stop….

The first thing I came across was the Institute For Figuring’s Crochet Coral Reef project! I had seen this on TED Talk a few years back and have had it in my head ever since.

The Institute For Figuring's Crochet Coral Reef project

The Institute For Figuring’s Crochet Coral Reef Project

Then we headed on over to Red, White & Bold…

The sign outside the entrance to Red, White & Bold.

The sign outside the entrance to Red, White & Bold.

Now, it may have partially been the exhaustion or just the overwhelming beauty of the display, but as I walked through those doors tears welled up in my eyes… I was in awe. There was weaving, after weaving, after weaving of the most beautiful Navajo textiles I had ever seen… the kinds we only get to see in books. It was incredible! The Denver Art Museum (DAM) was kind enough to share the following photos with us. Though the photos are beautiful, seeing these pieces in person felt monumental.

Red, White and Bold: Masterworks of Navajo Design, 1840–1870. Courtesy Denver Art Museum.

Red, White and Bold: Masterworks of Navajo Design, 1840–1870. Courtesy Denver Art Museum.

Red, White and Bold: Masterworks of Navajo Design, 1840–1870. Courtesy Denver Art Museum.

Red, White and Bold: Masterworks of Navajo Design, 1840–1870. Courtesy Denver Art Museum.

After absorbing the beauty of the display, we headed on into several other sections of SPUN. As it turns out, Nick Cave (another artist I have admired for years!) had an exhibit there too!

The sign outside Nick Cave: Sojourn

The sign outside Nick Cave: Sojourn

Every exhibit we saw was amazing! DAM included photos of a few of the other exhibits to share with you. You can click on the image to be taken to the article written about the exhibit.

Cover Story. Courtesy Denver Art Museum.

Cover Story. Courtesy Denver Art Museum.

Pattern Play: The Contemporary Designs of Jacqueline Groag. PCourtesy Denver Art Museum.

Pattern Play: The Contemporary Designs of Jacqueline Groag. Courtesy Denver Art Museum.

Crocheted garden created by the Ladies Fancywork Society. Courtesy Denver Art Museum.

Crocheted garden created by the Ladies Fancywork Society. Courtesy Denver Art Museum.

I could have spent an entire day just touring around, but the sun was setting low in the west and we still had a several hour drive ahead of us. Leaving the museum, I stopped in the gift shop to see if they had any books on the Navajo textiles displayed. I may have missed them, but I didn’t see any on my way out the door (more on this below)…

We hopped in the car, drove on to Salida and got ourselves a cute (if cute means to you a clean and cozy 1950’s, biker-friendly motel with a hot tub in the parking lot, as it does us) little room at the Circle R Motel. We settled into our room with a pizza, some wine and our very sleepy little baby crashed out on one of the beds.

The next morning, we woke refreshed and excited to visit the second annual Salida Fiber Festival. We were not sure what to expect…

 

Joe and Elsi heading to the festival.

Joe and Elsi heading to the festival.

We got to the entrance.. and, WOW!, what a treat! It was packed! And we got to see some of our favorite vendors including Greenwood Fiberworks, The Natural Twist and Lisa Joyce Designs.

Elsi giving me a high-five-for-fiber at the entrance of the Salida Fiber Festival

Elsi giving me a High-Five-For-fFber at the entrance of the Salida Fiber Festival

The fiber-lovin' crowd at the Salida Fiber Festival

The fiber-lovin’ crowd at the Salida Fiber Festival

Lisa Joyce Designs booth full of beautiful handspun novelty yarns.

Lisa Joyce Designs booth full of beautiful handspun novelty yarns.

We walked around and visited with everyone for a few hours, while I decided on my purchase: A Rug Punch, a Rug Punching Hoop and a huge piece of fabric to use as the base of my rug from a local business called The Bee Skep. Yes, I am going to try Rug Punching with our Rug Yarn! (I will make sure to keep you updated on the progress.)

Well, as it turned out, our visit to Colorado turned out to be a wonderful way to end a wonderful vacation!

Just a few notes before I wrap this up:
1) The Salida Fiber Festival is fantastic! We highly recommend it! And Salida is just the sweetest little town…
2) SPUN is a must see! If you are within driving distance to Colorado, consider taking the trip. FYI: this show ends September 22, 2013.
3) If you can’t make it to Colorado, the following books would be a great addition to your fiber library:

  • Spanish Textile Tradition of Northern New Mexico and Colorado by Nora Fisher (This is the original – and harder to find – edition of Rio Grand Textiles, they are more or less one in the same… but I love them both!)
    These are just a few of my favorite books... They are a great foundation for a diverse fiber library.

These are just a few of my favorite books… They are a great foundation for a diverse fiber library.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this as mush as I did! And, as usual, I would love to here from you! Have you visited SPUN? If so, what did you think? Have you been to the Salida Fiber Fest? What is your favorite Fiber Festival out there (we hope to be attending a few in 2014!)? What are your favorite fiber books? Have you written a fiber book of your own you would like to share? If you feel like it, leave a comment in the section provided. Thank you!

Ciao,
Teresa Loveless and the Weaving Southwest Crew

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Last week, during our vacation to the East Coast, we were lucky enough to visit two great mills of the area. Harrisville Designs was our first stop…then we hopped in the truck and headed for Maine to see the Jagger Brothers Mill. (One of the things I love about New England is that you can drive through four different states within a few hours!)

Jagger_Picnic

Our view of Number One Pond

We pulled into Sanford, ME mid-afternoon and had a nice picnic next to Number One Pond. We called up Scott, our contact, to get directions. He pointed us in the right direction and said, “You cant miss it!”. Sure enough, coming through what seemed like a residential area, there it was… a huge four-story brick building, with a unassuming sign stating “Jagger Brother. Inc.” right above the loading dock.

Jagger_Building

The huge building containing the Jagger Brothers Mill

Jagge_Sign

The sign at the loading dock

We buzzed our way in and waited in the reception area for a few, while Scott made his way through the expansive building to greet us. Looking around, I fell in love with this print (below) on the wall. (What ever happened to those days?)

Jagger_Boston

The image hanging in the Waiting Room. The inscription read, “Engraving of Boston, May Sheep-Fair”, with the date 1935.

Scott met us shortly and escorted us through the entire mill. It was incredible! Each floor he took us to had another set of huge machines running side by side, with people tending to each one. Cone, upon cone, upon cone of beautiful yarns were being spun right before our very eyes! Scott had my full attention the entire time and Joe, with a rambunctious Elsada (our one year old daughter) to keep an eye on, tried to snap some quick photos as we moved from one machine to the next. The photos aren’t the best, but thanks to Joe, at least there are some! Enjoy!

Jagger_Machine1

One of the first machines we saw.

Jagger_Roving1

Roving being run onto one of the machines.

Jagger_Roving2

A closeup of one of the bins of roving.

Jagger_Machine2

Another huge machine used in the spinning process.

Jagger_Spools1

Bins full of spools of freshly spun yarn.

Jagger_Machine3

Scott showing me how one of the machines works.

Jagger_Machine4

One of my favorite shots! You can see how clean and beautiful this mill is. Beautiful, shiny wood floors and huge pieces of squeaky clean machinery.

Jagger_Roof

There had to be fiber somewhere! Joe took this great shot of the ceiling. At first glance, it looks like it is covered in insulation. Upon further inspection, you can see that the ceiling in covered in years (maybe months?) of wool fibers, released during the spinning process.

Jagger_Spools2

Another set of the many bins of cones of yarn.

Jagger_Machine5

One more of the huge spinning machines.

Jagger_Employee

I love this picture too. All the employees were so nice and seemed to love what they do. With all of them, this huge operation was able to run perfectly smoothly. Just amazing!

Ciao,
Teresa Loveless and The Weaving Southwest Crew

PS Do you use Jagger Spun Yarns? Have you visited this mill or one like it? We would love to hear from you! Please feel free to leave a comment in the section provided… Thank you!

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One of the things that amazes me, is the fact that most of the East Cost fiber mills are older than the state I live in! The woolen mill in Harrisville, NH has been around since 1794. The Colony family has created beautiful yarns here since the mid 1800’s (longer than New Mexico has been a state!).

John Colony, Elsada and I Touring Harrisville Designs

John Colony, Elsada and I Touring Harrisville Designs

In the early 1970’s, John J. Colony III started Harrisville Designs, keeping the textile tradition alive in this little New England town. John, not only has consistently spun beautiful yarns and manufactured wonderful looms, but has also continued to carry out the mission of creating jobs for the locals and maintaining spaces for lease, helping to sustain the economic vitality of Harrisvile. You can read more about the wonderful history of this mill here.

The Weaving Studio Building at Harrisville Designs

The Weaving Studio Building at Harrisville Designs

We were able to visit Harrisville Designs last week during our visit to New England. We stayed at the beautiful Harrisville Inn, where we were treated to salmon scramble, coffee, tea and orange juice for breakfast. Then we were off to The Weaving Studio, where we met John and his wonderful wife, Patricia. We took some time to browse through all of their gorgeous yarns and weaving products and peaked in on a class being taught in their expansive studio on the second floor.

Taking a Look at The New WATERshed Yarns in The Shop

Taking a Look at The New WATERshed Yarns in The Shop

The Classroom at Harrisville Designs

The Classroom at Harrisville Designs

John then drove us to the mill to see the spinning in action. What a treat! Almost all of the huge machines were running with one or two people tending each one. We ran into John’s son, Nick, who helps to run the mill. Nick has developed a beautiful new line of yarn, WATERshed, that is definitely worth taking a look at!

Bales of Pre-Dyed Fiber

Bales of Pre-Dyed Fiber

Fiber Storage Area, Pre-Dyed and Natural Fibers

Fiber Storage Area, Pre-Dyed and Natural Fibers

One of the First Machines in The Mill

One of the First Machines in The Mill

The Carder

The Carder

The Spinning Area

The Spinning Area

One Section of The Spinning Machine

One Section of The Spinning Machine

Clos- Up of The Bobbins Being Wound

Close-Up of The Bobbins Being Wound

A Bin Full of Empty Bobbins

A Bin Full of Empty Bobbins

Working Away with Bins of Freshly Spun Yarn

Working Away with Bins of Freshly Spun Yarn

Our next stop was the warehouse and woodworking shop. It was beautiful! (I will have a space like this some day!) We were also able to see them preparing some of their weaving kits. Walking away from here, my mind was filled with ideas and inspiration! John proceeded to tour us through the office to meet more of the wonderful staff and through one of the many spaces that are for lease in the beautiful restored mill buildings. One of the spaces there is leased by Walt Siegl, the creator of beautiful custom motorcycles!

One of the Beautiful Buildings

One of the Beautiful Buildings

Leaving the mill, I joked with John, “If I ever decide to move on from my current life, I would love to come work for you!”. It is an amazing operation they have going in Harrisville! If you ever get a chance, it is well worth the visit. And don’t forget to stop at the Harrisville General Store for an apple cider doughnut… delicious!

One of The Beautiful Views in Harrisville

One of The Beautiful Views in Harrisville

Ciao,
Teresa Loveless and The Weaving Southwest Crew

PS Have you ever visited a fiber mill? If so, where? Leave a comment telling us about your experience. We would love to hear about it!

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