A place to come to see what's new at Heritage Spinning & Weaving – Lake Orion, MI

Our blog is “in labor,” it will soon incorporate all the info currently on our website and ultimately be a one-stop shop for Heritage on the web.  It should pop out fully developed in 3 to 4 weeks. Over that time, if you visit here, you will see a work in process — and maybe a few “labor pains.” This is a very cool thing. I’m excited by the potential. By the end of the change, you should be able to register for classes via the website! We will let you know via email when the site is fully operational. Thanks to Mary Rios of www.rocketgirlsites.com for lending a hand with the change. I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Jamisen Sivak for the last several years of minding our website, including a big revision two years ago.

During this time of transition, we will keep you abreast of shop events and changes via newsletter.

For your calendar:

11th Anniversary Sale: November 18 from 6 to 10 pm; Saturday, November 19 from 10 to 4; and Sunday, November 20 from Noon to 4. Best prices are on Sunday. Click here to see a shop flier.

Sunday, December 4 from 12 to 4: Stop in and visit our “Heritage Holiday Bazaar.” Some of our favorite artists will be here demonstrating and selling their wares, including:

  • Deb Harowitz with her fused glass buttons (bring your garments needing buttons to match them or place a special order)
  • Jack Querio with his sexy shawl pins (you have to feel them to understand the “sexy” part) and other wood products
  • Sandy Rippatoe with her hennaed items and she will also create a small work of art with henna on your foot, hand or … for a modest fee
  • Mary Rios with woven items and handmade soaps
  • Jacque Hodges with her handmade knitting and tote bags
  • Clara Pinkham with her handwoven scarves

12/29 Chemo Cap Work Bee. Bring your caps to work on for a day of fun and giving. We will have patterns on-hand and even have two classes to help you design your very own cap. The Knit Michigan Chemo Cap Design Contest is in full swing — you could win any of several great prizes! You don’t have to be a creative genius or math whiz to make your own pattern. We will have knitting and crochet cap design classes led by Monica. The cost for the day is just $10 and we do ask that you to register in advance. Lunch on your own. 100% of the registration fee will be donated to Knit Michigan.

Mark your calendar for our Annual New Year’s Day Party. Make the shop your home away from home for the day. I will make soup and bread and you are welcome to bring something to share if you like (but absolutely no obligation!). Bring your knitting, crocheting, warped rigid heddle or other handwork and escape the football games! If you’d like to weave on one of the project on the multi-shafted looms, you will be able to do that, too (small fee for materials), but help is free on NYD.

Inspired by Vintage Towels

Our spring-time vintage towel class has turned into an ongoing Weaving Study Group. The first project was to create something based on one of the vintage towels in my collection. None are exact reproductions — the new towels each show the personality of its weaver. Here are the towels, with the vintage version on the left and the new on the right:

Deb chose a towel with a very pretty trim. A little overshot, a little plain weave. The towel itself is woven in a lace pattern. Like huck toweling, but with only one float. More research is needed to nail this one down. She used a 20/2 warp and 8/2 weft. The towel is fairly hefty. I wouldn't mind it in a bigger size as a bath towel. ((A towel tidbit: the loopy towels we use now weren't introduced until the mid 1800's. Then and now they are called Turkish towels.))

The towel Jeri selected is made from linen and was probably purchased from a bolt of toweling fabric. You can still find toweling by the yard in some fabric shops. Jeri's towel is woven using a combination of 10/2 and 20/2 mercerized cotton.

The towel Joy selected was woven with a monk's belt accent. When she analyzed the accent, she quickly noticed that the original had a mistake. Needless to say, Joy fixed the problem on her towels. They are woven with 20/2 cotton.

The original towel in this set was handwoven at Berea College. Berea College is unique: students pay no tuition, but they must work 10 hours per week at service jobs, including weaving. Students come primarily from southern Appalachia. The Berea towel has a bit of miniature overshot as trim. Sybil swapped the warp and weft colors and used 2/2 twill as her trim.

The original towel in this pair dates to 1920 and came from Berlin. It was unused and the cotton is as fresh and pretty as the day it was woven. It was woven on a loom with many more shafts than a typical handweaver has access to, so I reinterpretted it as an 8 shaft pattern. The towel is woven using 10/2 cotton.

If you live locally and are interested in joining our study group, please let me know. Our current topic is overshot and we meet again in March.

Sometimes I wonder

Arnhild's original belt

I have spent a fair amount of time in the last 6 months trying to understand card weaving (aka tablet weaving). This took a while. Several years ago I followed the directions for a card woven band written for Weavezine by Pam Howard. But, I followed the pattern. I didn’t get the underlying principles (not her fault, that was totally mine). Since then, I’ve read multiple books and articles on the topic, seen Sara Lamb make a continuous warp not once but twice, got a third quick overview of creating a continuous warp from Bethany (daughter to Holly, http://www.hjsstudio.com) and woven quite a few warps. I don’t know what it was that *finally* made it click so I no longer had to follow  a pattern, but I finally “got” it. Actually reminded me of learning to tat.  When I finally got it, I wondered how something so simple could take so long to  get into my head! I should say that I usually learn to teach, so I set a high standard for myself. I not only need to be able to DO it. I also need to be able to put it into WORDS and be able to teach someone.Arnhild (www.arnhild.com), found I was interested in this weaving technique when I was teaching at her retreat last February. We met up again at Midwest Fiber and Folk and she brought the waist band from her Norwegian dance garb to show me. She said a friend wove it on a standard floor loom using the card weaving technique. It is beautiful. Woven with fingering weight yarn, it is about 7” wide and if you didn’t know better, you’d swear it was knit.

Well, this piece inspired me. We had a class running (Fiber Explorers) at the shop and when our assignment was to create something fiber-y using the words/concepts “ethnic” and “miniature,” Arnhild’s belt popped into my mind. Miniature to me meant I should weave with sewing thread. When I reverse engineered the belt, I had part of my head stuck in the weaving world and the rest of it firmly planted in the knitting world. In knitting, a “V” indicates one stitch. In card weaving, it represents two cards. Ooops. My teeny tiny sample ((Photo coming as soon as I find the ribbon)) was created using only half the number of cards I should have had and they were all threaded in the same direction. Since the cards are moved in a continuous rotation, I created a very pretty ribbon that curled like a barber pole. Of course, since the weaving on the loom is always under tension, this problem didn’t manifest itself until I took my sample off the loom. If I’d been thinking as I wove, I’d have noticed that the pattern I was getting wasn’t what I expected. Sometimes the mind’s eye tricks us!Detangled threads.

The part inside the box is the corrected pattern.

Once off the loom, it became obvious that the rest of the warp was junk, so I tossed it and stewed a while. Several months, actually. I finally went back to the drawing board a couple weeks ago, purchased the colors of cotton thread (Gutterman quilting instead of generic cotton/poly), gathered up enough weights (nuts, as in nuts and bolts) so each group of 4 threads could
swing independently to allow built up twist to dissipate. I made my own cards from a set of new playing cards – smaller and seemingly easier to work with at this gauge. Perhaps I should have used an OLD deck of cards to remove some of the slippery-ness. At any rate, based on the portion of the band that I intended to weave, I threaded 42 cards. With the cards threaded, the weights could be added, which I did. And then I proceeded to spend at least three hours untangling the mess. In an attempt to create order from chaos, I created three cascading levels of thread groups so each level only had 1/3 of the groups. It was still a mess. Then I decided that a separator was needed so I got a piece of foam insulating board, drilled a bunch of holes in it and threaded each group of four threads through one hole and attached my weight. Voila! It worked. So I wove a couple inches and realized that what I was getting didn’t look exactly like what I was aiming for. Close, but no cigar (whereever did that phrase come from???). Even with my glasses on, I couldn’t discern exactly where things were “off.” Enter the iPhone. I took a picture of the ribbon and blew it up. Ha! That worked and I found that one card was turned 180 degrees and one had been miss-threaded. I made the corrections and was off and weaving.

The band on the loom, with a penny for perspective. My first attempt, I replicated the side of the band, this time I chose the center section. I thought 42 separate cards was enough for this experiment!

Now I just need a few hours to finish weaving it off, but I will likely have to attach extensions to the weights to allow the entire warp to be
woven. Or, perhaps I will stop with two bookmarks and call it “good enough.”  Next project: weave suspenders that say :1901 Experimental Ford for my dad. He built one last year and runs it in parades. One final comment: the loom that you see in these photos is the result of a napkin discussion my dad and I had at Easter. He made me 8 of them: enough to have a class with. Don’t worry, students will not start with type of band – NO nuts for you!


I made a list of resources to share that has guided my card/tablet weaving voyage, but it was a a page long. Instead, I’ll refer you to a site that is an on-line collection that accompishes the same thing, but more! There’s a little gem in the list that is a pattern generator, so you can design bands yourself: http://www.weavershand.com/twbiblio.html

My Passion

I have worked with fiber as long as I can remember. Remember sewing cards? I loved them – kept me quiet for hours. Potholder looms were pretty cool, too. Still are actually. Clara (who works in the shop on Fridays) made the potholder below recently on her Harrisville Potholder Loom – who says they are just for kids? When we moved to town the fall of 2nd grade, I made a new friend, Hilda. She was retired and lived in a teeny tiny house on very tiny pension. Hilda supplemented her income by doing embroidery and crochet, mostly for baby things. I spent hours at her house learning both crochet and embroidery. She was the first one that introduced me to the concept that you should “slow down to go faster.” Actually, when I tried to thread a yard of embroidery floss in my needle so I didn’t have to replentish so often, she tutted, cut the thread in half and explained that the turtle won the race. Hilda also taught me that it was as important to the integrity of the product that the back be as tidy as the front.

Clara’s potholder

Of course, my mom has knit almost every day since she was a teen, so I knew about knitting. But it was slow. Crochet went fast and embroidery was pretty! We grew up with a sewing machine in the living room. Sewing was no different to us than cooking. It was what we did. By the time Home Ec came along in high school, I was amazed to learn that everybody didn’t sew and cook like the Sheridan kids. Mom’s sewing machine is still in the same place and rarely does a day go by that she isn’t on it. To add to the fiber exposure that I took for granted, another neighbor, Thelma, had her very own room for spinning. It was a whitewashed room in the corner of their barn/garage and it had big windows so it was light an airy and, well, mesmerizing when the wheel was going.

So, you see, I was primed at a very early age for appreciating fibers and handwork of all kinds. I collected my first vintage piece of fabric when I was in 7th grade and have been gathering them ever since. Now when I look at the pillow I bought from a neighbors estate sale, I know it is blockprinted handspun and handwoven cotton and probably made in Persia (now Iran). Then, it was just exotic. It still lives in my fiber room.

My collecting vintage and antique textiles has been a great learning experience and I know I have only just begun to scratch the surface in this learning process. My most favorite things to collect are old everyday textiles that are handwoven or simply unique. Towels, table linens, coverlets, and doilies crocheted, knit and woven. They are such an inspiration. A recent piece that I acquired is a filet crochet image of the Statue of Liberty and it says “Liberty for All.” My mom remembers it being displayed on their coffee table when she was young. It was likely worked by “Anna in Detroit,” a family relative. It is this piece that has made me want to learn more. I found the original magazine from 1919 that featuring Mary Card’s Statue of Liberty. Unfortunately, readers had to send 10 cents in to get the pattern, which I have yet to locate. So, the quest continues. I think it would be cool to have all three pieces together in one place. Another family textile is pictured at the beginning of this post, also worked by Anna. It is a lace-edged linen pillowcase worked in an extremely fine gauge.

All of these pieces got me thinking, if they were made then, there’s no reason they can’t be made now. So, I’m working on translating some of the textiles into patterns that can be woven, knit or crocheted in today’s yarns. Some pieces will be reproductions, others inspired by the original in modern colors or in an entirely different form altogether. The first pattern that will be available is a scarf based on grandma’s pillowcase. If all goes well, you should be able to knit it by the end of the year. This project will probably last for the rest of my life, but I know it will be rewarding in many ways.

I’d love to see some of your collected or family pieces. Show and tell is always fun. A few months ago, Clara brought in a bin of textiles that she inherited from her aunt. We found some lovely, fun pieces when we looked through it, including an absolutely stunning needle-point picture. Looking through the box was so fascinating. A real poupourri of goodies. We found handwoven and embroidered towels, table linens, aprons (they were fun!), slip/nightie, crocheted doilies, woven cocktail napkins. She allowed me to choose a few pieces for my collection. One of the things that is fun about a looking at these textiles is not just admiring them, but also
putting a story to them. The older pieces scream for a story, even a made-up one. Sometimes just holding them gives me shivers. They make me feel a very real connection to the past. As the textile collection grows, so does our collection of vintage and antique patterns and books that support them. We are in the process of cataloging these book and patterns and they are available by appointment for you to see.

TNNA 2009 Gets Started


It has begun. The summer TNNA tradeshow opens tomorrow. This show is the largest US event for buying yarn, needlepoint supplies and related “stuff.” For the first time, I’ve taken products developed at Heritage to the show. We’ve got a booth and are selling our Knitting Boot Camp curriculum, My Little Knitting Book, and more than 30 different patterns to other yarn shops. It is very, very exciting!

This is a shot of an informal picnic (celebratory luncheon?) after we got the booth set up. That’s Jae on the left, she’s helping me wo-man the booth, me, and Jae’s roomie Amy Polcyn, a Michigan knitwear designer. In fact, the skirt Michelle knit that was shown in a recent HSW newsletter was one of Amy’s designs published in Creative Knitting. Small world.

The show opens tomorrow. A crew from the store will be here to scout the floor and ferret out all the good things I need to check out and consider ordering for fall delivery. I’d never ever be able to “do” the whole floor without help. It is HUGE.

So, the adventure begins. Will keep you posted!

Roving dyed in the Trout colorway turns into gorgeous yarn when spun. This is just part of what will be woven into two shawls.

Roving dyed in the Trout colorway turns into gorgeous yarn when spun. This is just part of what will be woven into two shawls.

This is the fifth year for Heritage spinners to spin yarn that is then woven into a two shawls. One becomes the grand prize in our fall Fiber Art Show that is a fundraiser for U-M Comprehensive Cancer center (we’ve donated over $5000 so far) and the second this year will be auctioned at Knit Michigan in February.

This time around the roving was dyed by Christel, who was back for a visit.

Okay, well, this photo was taken of Christel about five years ago . . . but I like it. This was taken the day we were rearranging the back room - those shelves shes resting on are long gone!

Okay, well, this photo was taken of Christel about five years ago . . . but I like it. This was taken the day we were rearranging the back room - those shelves she's resting on are long gone!

Then the roving it was spun by two groups of spinners – one in Michigan and the other in California. Sybil is good friends with Linda who has a group called the East Bay Knitters in Dublin. They were kind enough to spin nearly as much as the Michigan group did. In all, three pounds of SuperWash Merino were spun so that when plyed they’d be sport weight. Everyone spun up singles, and then to even out the differences in spinners and roving color, we had a ply day on Sunday and matched up bobbins. Most of the singles are now plyed, with the balance to be spun up this weekend at Girls’ Night and Spinning Group.

Linda - leader of the California spinners

Linda - leader of the California spinners

The plying Michigan ladies. From left: Suzanne, Ann, Debbie, Pat and Sybil.

Once all the plying is done, the yarn will be forwarded to Mary for weaving.

Thanks to all for participating. It really is fun to watch this group effort come to life!

The Wild, Wooly West

The Conference of Northern Californian Handweavers (CNCH) was held last weekend and I was honored to be a teacher there. Their conference is held every year, with this being the retreat year (no vendors). It was in Sonoma – the heart of wine country. My class was called Spinning for Weaving: An Introduction to the Rigid Heddle Loom. Since all participants were weaving on their own looms, we were able to maintain a more laid-back pace and really enjoyed the time. Picture above from L to R: Becky, Connie, Joan, Debbie (my Michigan helper!), Edie, Sandra, Kay.

Following the conference, we headed for the coast. At her invitation, we stopped by Sandra’s studio. Sandra is a retired PR executive who has taken up painting in a big way. She has set a goal of learning to spin and weave to work these arts into a multi-media piece she has in mind. Sandra’s studio snuggles up to a small creek in the shade of three “sister” redwoods. Check out her artwork at www.croneclown.com.

I’ve always wanted to drive down Highway 1 – the Pacific Coast Highway, so we did. My brother informed me that it is one of the most dangerous stretches of road in America. It was not as white-knuckle driving as the road west from Jerome, AZ, tho! We had to stop and get our feet wet in the ocean. It was brisk, brisk, brisk. The wind made it hard to walk and talk and turned the sand into a sand blasting machine. Pretty, tho:

The next day we visited Dharma Trading and found out why it has been a favorite for textile folks for 40 years. So much great stuff for dyeing! After lunch at a delightful Caribbean/Californian fusion restaurant, we headed for

Stephanie welcomes us to the farm

Stephanie welcomes us to the farm

gold country to visit Stephanie Gaustaad and Alden Amos and the birthplace of my custom spinning wheel. It was a great visit. We drank tea, scoured their incredible library, watched Linda Ligon’s interview of Alden from YouTube, went to a great used book store, hit a thrift shop and panned for gold at the river. Fun stuff. Here are some photos from that stop.


Stephanie shows us how to pan for gold (no, we didnt find any!)
Stephanie shows us how to pan for gold (no, we didn’t find any!)
I just loved the canopy of this tree.

I just loved the canopy of this tree.

The views from the river were captivating.

The views from the river were captivating.

We drove back from Jackson through lots and lots of farm country. Think cows, windmills (old- and new-fashioned), strawberries (yum), and lots and lots of grapes.
As we drove around northern California, it was fun to drive past the vineyards of Korbel, Clois du Bois and many others that we recognized from the grocery store shelves back home.
As we drove around northern California, it was fun to drive past the vineyards of Korbel, Clois du Bois and many others that we recognized from the grocery store shelves back home.
We ended up in the suburbs and spent yesterday visiting a vendor and a future vendor. Our first stop was at Maia’s home and dye studio. She does only natural dyeing and does it beautifully. Her company’s name is Tactile Fiber Arts and as soon as I get back, I’ll be placing an order for her natural-dyed sock yarns and roving. She has a wonderful sense of color and is a delightful young lady. I should mention that this visit was coordinated through a friend of a friend. One of our spinners, Sybil, is good friends with Linda. We’ve heard Sybil talk about Linda for years and now we got to meet her. That was a treat in itself!
Maia with adopted Boston Terrier and her current selection of natural dyed yarn and roving.
Maia with adopted Boston Terrier and her current selection of natural dyed yarn and roving.
Linda also met up with us at our next stop: Lacis – the lace museum and store. Lacis is known for their hard to find textile tools and books. They had both old and new things available for purchase and it was good to see the books in a leisurely atmosphere (rather than hurriedly at a trade show).
Street view of Lacis in Berkley.
Street view of Lacis in Berkley.
The fiber folks by Ayala Talpai were on display at Lacis. They captured my imagination (tho they are not very lacy!)
The fiber folks by Ayala Talpai were on display at Lacis. They captured my imagination (tho they are not very lacy!). We have several of her books available in our shop.
Today we are off to the tapestry studio of Jean Pierre Larochette and Yael Lurie – who taught in the room adjacent to me at CNCH. Their work is
exquisite! Hopefully, I’ll be able to post photos at a later date.

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