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Monthly Archives: January 2012

(If possible play this song while watching the video – I originally uploaded it with the song attached, but was in copyright infringement)

Saturday morning was yet another unseasonably warm day here in Brooklyn. A complete opposite of last week. I woke early so that I had the chance to ride a few laps around Prospect Park before class.  Riding for me is always a way to zone out of the every day stressors in life, and to hone in on my desires and wants for the day, and my life.  Riding in Prospect Park can also be a bit of a dodge ball game –  depending on how many people are out at any given point during the day. Saturday morning as I looked at how each person walked, ran, or rode as if each had a string connected to them and what would that weave of crossings make.  I thought about all the crossings we make in life.  How is it that some stay with us close, and others float by and others we never cross with?  I think it would make an interesting art project, the tangled fabric of our lives…

It was ironic, that my piece was woven just as my thoughts were earlier in the day. I had not anticipated that I would have such extreme floats across on my weft as I did, but they were beautiful and now tell a full story.

From far away, you can almost see my hopeful hexagon. I like how it came out as if it’s raining. If I get the chance to do this again I think I might have some better idea on how to make it work, for sure it will be another unique piece.

Each of the above pieces represents about fifteen hours labor of love. The actions taken to get to this final stage were at times tedious, most of the time fun, but every step I took gave me a greater appreciation for every garment I own.

Thanks so much Cynthia at Weaving Hand for proving the space and Rachel Miller for her unwavering patience and guidance through this beautiful process!


When I moved to Greenpoint, Brooklyn in 1999, it was pretty much the last place the city would plow- particularly Franklin Street, just one block from the river.  Those of us, the recent immigrants from Poland and the Dominican Republic, and I would make our way to the grocery store and the G-train (in the hopes it was running) in the snow storm.  The snow would be half melted before the city would come and plow for us, by that time, the snow was transformed into brown slush and would then be pushed  re-covering the cars and make a new mountain at the cross walk we had to re-navigate.

But yesterday, my first snowfall in Lefferts Garden, I felt like I had finally arrived.  I woke at 4 am to the sound of snow plows cleaning up the pithy snow storm mother nature gave us. What!!!??? On my day off I have to awake at 4 am!!?- and yet, What?! I live somewhere the city cares to plow? I think the later is the more interesting question. The ironies of living farther out in Brooklyn than I ever could have imagined, yet on a busy street. I did fall asleep again, and woke later to photograph, and instragram this:

Yup, the view out of my window, Brooklyn, New York.  How did I get so lucky?

There was no biking to weaving class today, so I pulled on my new boots and applied lots of layers of big clothes and I headed out on foot for Weaving Hand.

On the way I pondered snowflakes.  Hexagons of nature…the above picture I found years ago on Wikipedia.

I stopped and looked at the snowflakes. I thought it ironic and beautiful that the hexagon pattern from the sidewalk peeked out from below the piles of snow; millions of tiny, individual and unique snowflakes in the shape of hexagons- that covered the sidewalk at the north end of Prospect Park, as I was on my way to uncover my ‘Hopeful Hexagon’ from last week.

Needless to say, I was a little late to class, everyone already enjoying tea and hardboiled eggs made by Cynthia.

It seemed everyone knew what to do, except me.  I started simply by taking off my yellow tape binding and immediately started to look like an indigenous indigo dyer with blue fingertips and filty nails.  I have to admit the process of unwrapping was a little anti-climatic.  My ties were not that strong and a lot of dye wiggled its way underneath.  I had to let this go, and, honestly is it so bad to have a bunch of died yarn in indigo?  Absolutely not.

Mia was sans vintage glasses this week, but equally funky and such a fun element to our class.  Here she is after her tape has come off and is about to start setting up the loom.

Mia clearly knew what she was doing and set up this beautiful warp.  I can’t wait to see what she weaves with next week.

I, on the other hand, started with this lump of yarns…in search of my hopeful hexagon that I tried so hard to bind off last week.

Rachel was there for me.  I’m so thankful for the small class where I’ve had a lot of individual attention to make sense of all of this.

I was after a few tries able to make sense of this.  The talk in the room was that this part in the process isn’t fun for anyone.  Even Susan talked about how she keeps thinking of ways to present this work to her grandson as a fun and exciting way to help Grandma.

I had not such a fun time with this warping the loom business.  MANY times I threaded and re-threaded to make sure it was all straight, and did not have such focus that I had last week.  It was truly a mind-warping experience.  Bad weaving joke, I know.

Five hours later I had this; I have warped a loom!  Above you can see my hopeful hexagon, or not really.  In a way it is a bit the negative of the sidewalk I saw on my way to class, I am looking for one specific hexagon to come out of the dark indigo instead of the many that were present in the white of the snow. Regardless it is in its own way very beautiful, unique, and not like any of the other Ikat dyes in the world.  My own snowflake.  Next week all of this labor will start to take shape into a woven article.

A year ago, during my teacher orientation at Pratt I met Rachel Miller in the basement of Engineering. As we learned to navigate Pratt’s system for uploading class assignments and grades, we connected right away in our desire for sustainability in our own lives, and in how to educate others on the subject.  While I was hired to teach Foundation 3D (ways of seeing is a good way to describe it), Rachel was there to teach sustainability practices in the Fashion Department. We both only taught one day a week at Pratt at that time, but lucky for us, it was the same day, and over the semester formed a friendship that comes from these type of meetings, and stayed in touch via Facebook, where we quickly realized we had many friends in common.

Last week, she posted about an Indigo Dyeing and Ikat Weaving class she was teaching at Weaving Hand.  I didn’t think there was a class to be offered that sounded more up my alley than that! The techniques taught in this class are a perfect topic for this blog and I’ll be sharing the progress over the next three weeks as I weave by hand for the first time, stretchy pot-holders not included, also for the first time dying with Indigo. I’ve noticed, if one goes into classes like these with no expectations (as expectations are resentments waiting to happen) it’s amazing how much you can actually learn.  In one class I’ve already found much more than I could have ever imagined.  I always tried to bring more to the class than just the curriculum when teaching at Pratt (my best teacher’s always did), and so I, as a student tried to as well, which in many cases means, just sitting back, observing, listening, doing.

“Lend me your eyes I can change what you see

But your soul you must keep, totally free”

-Mumford & Sons, Awake my Soul

Dying is a little bit like baking, and Rachel took us through the below process.  Above is the Indigo we used. While Wikipedia states that India is the oldest supplier of Indigo in yesterday’s class we discussed this briefly. I can not say from any point of authority, as this is not my area of expertise, but it seems that indigo was found indigenous in North America too.  Cultures from Asia, Africa and the Americas came to dye indigo more or less all in the same way on their own.  I found this great video on how the indigo plant is transformed into dye traditionally in Africa.

This is what happened to the Indigo when placed in water.  It was a bit alive, similar to Kombucha.

After is was fully dissolved in the cup, it was added to the larger mixture.

We could start to see the color transforming right away, when the stick was in the water it was green, and within a few seconds out of the water, oxidation took place and was already turning blue.

The blue fabric in the photo above is an example of an Ikat fabric, likely from Indonesia.  And Rachel showed us how to count off how many yarns per inch we were to make our fabric.

Then we warped, essentially we organized our thread for the next step.

We tied off each inch of yarn as we went along to help keep it all straight and organized.

Then we had to get the yarn off the warping board, and it was done with these sticks, again to keep it straight and organized.  At this point we started to wonder how people have done this for so long.  This process is amazingly laborious.  I think once one has the full understanding of it; it could become meditative.  Of course there were a lot less distractions back when this technique started, why not spend weeks making fabric for your dress?  I think it’s important to learn about these ancient techniques, and the amount of work that goes in to what we have consumed; ancient or modern.  Today we don’t have time for techniques such as this – or so we say – and then I see studies of how much time teenagers spend in front of TV and on social media, and I have to ask myself, if we are to parish will aliens come down and look at our civilization will they think of us as advanced or not?  I digress…

We taped the yarns down to the table in preparation to make the resist.

Rachel showed us how to attach the Ikat tape to the yarn to make our designs. The tape covering the yarns are intended to resist the dye.

This is what I’m calling my Hopeful Hexagon.  I’ve no idea really how it will turn out- we will know better next week.

As we got in to the groove of wrapping our yarns we started to share and laugh. We were a small group of women who may have never crossed paths, except we all decided on one of the coldest mornings 2012 has offered thus far that we might enjoying hanging out in the basement of what used to be a pre-school and started to learn an ancient technique of weaving and dying.  So we did what women do when women come together like this, drink tea, eat cake, and talk about the opposite sex.  If we’d been kitting this would also be known as Stitch and Bitch, but really we were not bitching.  All of us seemed realitivaly happy with our situations in life, not to bitter, and Susan, the elder of us shared how she met her husband in a personal ad- nineteen years ago, a.k.a. from a magazine, in physical paper.  Since she’s retired now and seems to have traveled the world in search of every remote dying and weaving technique she had much to share, and she was great to listen to.

Then there was Mia, who is a harpist who wears black cat-eye vintage rhinestones glasses and lives in Greenpoint. She shared, that she has played with her fair share of musicians, and most have been a bunch of guys sharing way too much information on their thoughts of women. And went on to educate all of us what a Tramp Stamp is. Now, I thought I knew, but clearly there is more than one definition, and it seems to be growing.  She educated us that it’s also there for target practice. I’d not heard of this, so of course, I have to look it up, and there it is, #7. Well my Tebow ears!  Tebow was also mentioned in passing conversation, and I didn’t know who he was either, but I let that go, for the moment. [incase anyone cares, I have one tattoo.  It is not a tramp stamp, and I think it’s as old as most hipsters out there today decorating themselves.  For sure it is older than their ability to have comprehend what one was when I got mine.]

Before drowning the yarns in indigo, we had to fully saturate them in water.

While in the bath of indigo, the yarn is green, and when it hits the air the oxidizing process turns the yarn what we have come to all indigo blue.  A little easier to see here.

The yarn changed in front of our eyes from green to Indigo.

Here our yarns hang to dry for the week.  Next Saturday we will start threading them on a loom, I will update on Sunday.

Weaving Hand is a beautiful studio filled with many fun things too look at…I highly recommend it for anyone curious about weaving or fibers or textiles.

After class I headed to my friend’s couch and gained further knowledge of who Tebow is and Mr. Brady too, and watched the game.  Couldn’t have been a more perfect day.  And I even got around the whole way on my bike!

The Joys of Books

The is putting a smile on my face this evening, I hope your’s too.

If that doesn’t, this sure will, I’ve seen this at least five times, and love knowing we are going to see more of this talent showing up soon.

never a dull moment on the nyc subway

Here is a great little piece of how one man’s iPhone changed one song-writers life in a big way by the examiner.

via hypenotice

via moken Gallery

via Live in Full Color

Drawing some ties…

The best thing I saw today was a glass jar.  Living in New York we see all sorts of things, homeless relieving themselves on the sidewalk, men dressed all in white handing out $100 bills, messengers on bikes sweeping through lanes of traffic high on pot, etc, etc.   Today while getting a hot soup, I saw a man hand a glass jar over to the counter person at Bread and Butter.  Such a simple and easy thing to do!  He is saving hundreds of unnecessary styrofoam bowls from the land fill, and maybe form being made. I noticed he did not take plastic utensils, or a bag. Great inspiration for the first day back at work in the new year.  I’ve put a link at the beginning of the post in the hopes you are inspired to purchase for your entire office.

Welcome 2012! Let’s start on a clean slate, shall we?

After reading a could of Top Ten Lists for 2011 I’ve been inspired to expand my original thought for this post to ten images that capture my thoughts as year 2011 drew to a close.  For the path few months I have been reading for a second time The Ice Palace That Melted Away, but Bill Stumpf.  Why does it take me months to read 166 pages?  Well, because each chapter is a meditation on civilization.  The first edition written in 1998, and updated in 2000, before his death, Mr. Stumpf did not live to see what a harbinger he really was.  The subtitle of the book, How Good Design Enhances Our Lives, is exactly correct as in each chapter he explains little section of our lives, often overlooked, or taken for granted which could stand for some improvement, or in come cases, a step backward.  As I have spoken about this book to many friends, I say that each chapter is a guide, A Path to Civility. As I have looked back on human civilization in the form of books, newspaper articles, personal observations, and visits to museums I can only note that I am not 100% sure that we, as humans have ever been perfectly civilized, but then again, we are human, so we are not supposed to do anything perfectly.  We are, though, supposed to learn from others mistakes.  But that has not been happening.  These times, the things I see, the things I read have been disturbing beyond belief, and is why I have stopped writing so much here.

Below I will attempt to share thoughts I have gathered in 2011 of my experiences- far too great for one blog post, considering that I was homeless in the beginning of 2011, living in a sublet in Bed-Stuy, then moved to a friends pad for five weeks before I found an apartment affordable, and who would accept me on my good credit alone.  On March 7, 2011, one week after moving into my new apartment, I started my dream job.  My new home and new job have provided me the stability I need in these times.  One major life aspect is still missing, and great energies will be put towards this in this coming year.

Below are my thoughts on…

…paths to civility.  There is nothing more beautiful and classic than the white t-shirt.  A symbol of American quality (I beg for days when these are again made in the U.S.)  We have lost our connection with how things are made- this is the greatest downfall of our time.

…giving.  For those who have paved the way for future generations, what do I have that I can give to others, and to our global community?

…home.  My new home is still not completely settled, and I’m in need of full shelving and a comfy place to sit and devour books.  I long for less time connected to the internet and more time connected to tactile items.

…motivation.  Museum shows can change your life, and perspective.  My goals for 2012 are to be motivated to get to them before they close.  McQueen’s show at the Met would have been at the very top of my list, if I had made a more conventional list.

…boundaries. The only way out is through. No.  A way out is through.  Away from limitations.

…urgency.  Sometimes, the shortest way from point A to point B is on a bike.

…sharing.  When will we have shared so much on social media websites that we have nothing left to share?

…making.  I think there was no other designer who was as connected to her work than Eva Zeisel.

…death, on those who passed in 2011 and the dreams they inspired…


many images Via jjjjound  convoy ffffound