Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Loom Envy

Loom Envy (PixUp), originally uploaded by ambrosianbeads.

The other day, I was at a meeting at a weaver's house, and she gave me a tour of her loom collection. I first spotted a Macomber Ad-a-Harness loom which is the same as mine. Then she took me downstairs to the loom room which had, I believe, a small Schact loom and then showed me the colossus pictured here, an AVL compu-dobby loom. I wanted to see it in action, and she showed me how she calls up the current pick (row) on the computer and sets it in motion. She uses a type of "flying shuttle" which she is holding in her hand. She justs "flings" it from one side to the other and it sends the shuttle across with little effort. The mechanism raises the right shaft and there are no treadles. There is still alot I have to learn about weaving and all its terminology. Once I get my loom in working order, and get some practice, I'll be able to speak with more confidence about weaving. For now, I'll just ooh and ahh over the fabulous handwovens at our gallery.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Tatting: Rings and Chains

Tatting: Rings and Chains, originally uploaded by ambrosianbeads.

For decades, I've wanted to learn to tat. No-one in the family did it, and I tried to teach myself using a tatting shuttle. I didn't even know about needle tatting. I was clueless about the shuttle and gave up after trying a couple times. A few years ago, I learned there was another method, but never ran across a class that I could take.

On Sunday morning, I was reading the local section of the paper, and saw that there was a class taking place as part of the Victorian Day activities at the Ben Lomond Historic Site in Manassas, VA. I called about the time, and headed over there a couple hours later, throwing all my previously laid plans out the window.

In a matter of minutes, the teacher had me making rings and chains and I was amazed at how easy it was ! I finished my first ornament in under three hours, but the next one I hope to finish in under an hour. Actually, I don't plan to make coasters, doilies and ornaments at all. I've got some plans brewing for using other yarns, adding beads, doing freeform with other techniques, who knows ?

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Crafty Bastards Craft Show

Yes, that's the name of the show, and it is a very cool show. The name comes from the back page of the Washington City Paper where "crafty bastards" can advertise their wares. Several years ago, the paper started a craft show where the advertisers could sell their stuff to the public. I first became interested when I read about a crafter who made dolls out of tampons. I thought, "what kind of a craft show is this ?" and knew I had to check it out. There are alot of Etsy sellers there and everything (I mean Everything...except for the doggie product vendor's handmade). I bought some herbal soaps from .

One of the big reasons I love to go is that they always have the "B-Boy Battle" (breakdancing competition) going on at the same time. The crowd is huge, the competition fierce but friendly and the "dancing" is mesmerizing !

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fiesta DC 2009

Fiesta DC 2009 (PixUp), originally uploaded by ambrosianbeads.

This is the third year I've been a part of this festival in NW Washington, DC. My Brazilian band, Batala, performed in the parade and the best part is seeing all the brilliant costumes from Central and South America, and the Carribean. I think it's my favorite festival of the whole year here in DC. I ordered some authentic Mexican tacos from a food vendor and found out that it's from a restaurant just down the street from my house. It was delicious, so now I'm definitely going to check it out.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Trip to Brazil by way of NYC

I just got back from a three day weekend in New York to participate in the "Lavagem do rua 46" which is a ritual based on the "Lavagem do Bonfim" which takes place every year in Salvador, Bahia in Brazil. The parade traveled down 46th Street which is known as Little Brazil. I played in my Brazilian percussion band, Batala, and for this parade, we had our largest contingent ever, 47 players, all women !

Here is a video of the headline performer Carlinhos Brown. I didn't know much about him before, but now I see why he is so famous, he's a great entertainer. Here is a parade video. We are the loud "wall" of drum sound and you can see us at the 35 sec. mark.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Young Crochet Talent

I teach violin, and occasionally, a student shows up with some craft. Of course, I would rather talk about their crafting than finish the lesson ! Sometimes, I will ask a student if he or she knows how to knit or crochet. If they want to learn, sometimes after the lesson is over, I'll bring out some yarn and needles and have a mini lesson. I have taught at a summer camp and really enjoyed it. I wish there was money to be made teaching crafts !

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Scrumble a Day the title of the blog by Prudence Mapstone, the queen of freeform. I first encountered her techniques in my monthly knitting study group. A fellow knitter brought a book showing the bullion technique and I became "hooked" on those for awhile, but sadly, put it away with all the other "UFO's" (unfinished objects). I also tried some freeform knitting and again, it ended up in the UFO pile. If you want to see what scrumble she has going each week, check out her blog.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Weaving Hope

In the town of Occoquan, Virginia where I was a member of a co-op gallery for several years, there is a little weaving shop that has been offering hope to mentally challenged adults for almost 30 years. The shop is called Spinaweb and was started by a caring weaver named Erna Gilker. In the early 80s, she offered classes to residents of an intellectually disabled adult activity center and they responded with excitement. The shop employs a small staff who warp the looms and do the weaving. The program is supported by ARC (Association for Retarded Citizens of Prince William County, VA). Through the years, visitors from around the globe have brought handwoven gifts to their home countries, and orders have risen. In addition to handwoven shawls, ponchos, scarves, purses, tea cozies and other gifts, they also offer a selection of weaving and knitting yarns for sale. Spinaweb is nestled in the lovely historic community of Occoquan, on the banks of the Occoquan River. Shop hours are 9 to 4 Monday through Saturdays. For more info, call 703-491-7422 or visit Spinaweb .

Saturday, May 09, 2009

M'Bemba Bangoura, Bernard Woma with Ethos Percussion Group

I'm not sure the Coolidge Auditorium at the Library of Congress has ever been so lively. At least never during the many times I've been there for concerts. I've heard world famous string quartets, early music ensembles and other recitalists, but this concert definitely didn't fit the mold. The Ethos Percussion Group, a contemporary music ensemble joined forces with two renowned west African musicians from Ghana and the Republic of Guinea for an unforgettable concert. My poor cameraphone was only able to get these shots, but you can see the audience members grooving to the African beats on stage. We were all encouraged to get up and dance, as they say in Ghana, you should dance anyway even if you're not a good dancer because, "the ground won't complain" !

Monday, May 04, 2009

Gorgeous Fiber Jewelry

Just discovered this Russian fiber artist on Etsy whose work blew me away and I had to share. Her shop is TianaCHE and her name is Tiana Agapcheva. I just love what she does with knitting, crochet and beading. Enjoy !

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Upcoming Lace Day-April 25th

The Chesapeake Region Lace Guild is holding a Lace Day this Saturday in Fairfax, VA. I'm bummed because it's at the same time my students have their annual chamber music recital. Let me tell you, I would rather be having fun trying out lacemaking techniques than gritting my teeth behind a smile, praying that my students keep their ensembles together. The website lists a fall Lace Day, so I'm marking that in my calendar right now.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bobbin Lace Finds

Lately, the thought of learning bobbin lace techniques has been surfacing. Not sure I'll actually be able to follow through on those thoughts. They probably have occurred since I missed out on a bobbin lace workshop held in March that conflicted with a beadweaving class I was scheduled to give (secretly wishing that no students would sign up !). Anyway, here is a little treat for the eyes from a talented Etsian: Pure Harebell Bobbin Lace Necklace from FiredragonLace.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Roselette top

Roselette top, originally uploaded by ambrosianbeads.

I've been working hard on finishing this adorable top for my niece. I made another one for my 3 year old niece's birthday a few weeks ago and started one for the 2 year old last Monday. Unfortunately, the yarn was too thin and I looked like it would only fit a 6 month old. So I used some variegated wool I bought at a thrift store and it turned out only a little too big for her. You can see how the colorway changes more rapidly on the top part as the pattern requires turning rows. On the lower part, the pattern works in the round so the colors are more blended. There is a large section of yellow on the back, but oh, well, I didn't have much time to cut and restart the yarn at different color points.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Woven Delights From Blue Loom Designs

This is another post to showcase the creativity and talent of members of Potomac Craftsment Fiber Gallery.

Today, I would like to introduce Ruth Blau and Blue Loom Designs. I have known Ruth for the past five years since I joined the gallery, and have always found myself gravitating towards anything made by her when I gallery sit. As soon as I have finished all the details of opening the gallery on my day, I head towards the beautiful handwoven scarf display. Inevitably, the first scarf I reach for is one of Ruth's. Her sense of color in the handpainted warps and impeccable weaving skill is something I can only dream of being able to do. Then as I look around the gallery at the wearable pieces, jewelry and handbags, I continue to find more of Ruth's handiwork. Many days, I stand there astonished at the number of different techniques she does so well including kumihimo and inkle weaving. She often shares her knowledge and once gave a talk about fiber identification to our beginning weaving study group. I learned a great deal that day and appreciate her interest in educating us. I hope you will take a look at her website to see her beautiful creations and if you are ever in the Washington, DC area, will take the time to visit our gallery.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

A Lovely Mola from Costa Rica

My in-laws went on a trip to Costa Rica after Christmas and they brought back a traditional mola for me. My mother-in-law says this one was not made for the tourist trade, as it has more geometric elements than birds and flowers which are more typical of souvenirs. However, knowing that I'm a bird lover, she purchased one with two lovely swan-like or stork-like figures in the upper half. This scan does not show the full design which is symmetrical, I just couldn't get it all on the scanner. My husband received one appliqued to a t-shirt which features two large bird figures surrounded by small flowers.

The big story of their trip was the earthquake which hit the region they were visiting. My father-in-law, mother-in-law and her 92 year old father were sitting in a restaurant when it started shaking and cracking. Some tourists who were climbing along a ridge visiting the waterfall were tragically killed. The tourists staying at their lodge were all safe and but had to be helicoptered out of the area (still saying "thanks, God" about that !). I'm still waiting to see their photos and video.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Extreme Knitting

I'm sure many knitters here have seen this, but thought I'd share for those who haven't. If you think your knitting obsession is over the top, feel free to put yourself back in the "normal" category after you see this !

Friday, January 02, 2009

Quilting Talent

There are so many talented fiber artists in my gallery, Potomac Craftsmen Gallery that sometimes, I just have to crow about them here. I love working my gallery sitting day once a month because I get to feast my eyes on the beautiful quilt art of fellow member, Betty Ford. Each of her works is a small work of beauty, color, drama and texture. I would never be able to decide which of her pieces I like best. Please take time to enjoy browsing her online quilt gallery.