got thanks?

I do!!!
As my most favorite holiday approaches, I have much to be thankful for...

After what has seemed like a very long struggle, painted hills is finally finished, mounted, & submitted for ATA's new juried small format Connections exhibit!
I think this tapestry really represents what the entire year has been about for me (which is about how long is has taken to complete). Although it isn't visually apparent just looking at it, both this little tapestry & my life this year have been filled with beginnings & endings, false starts, sorrow & joy, rethinking how to do things that have been automatic, & explorations. Life changed after Roux died, bringing Roger & Moka into our lives. I have come to an understanding about my parents' health issues & their emotions as people, not parents. I've formed wonderful new friendships & strengthened others that were evolving. I've journeyed to beautiful places. I am having new experiences. I will write more about these last few events near the year's end (my other favorite holiday), the time when I really love to reflect on what has passed & what is to come.

I am always filled with thankfulness when I think of Dennis & our home. I will never forget that he became such an important part of my life just as the knot in the end of my rope was about to slip through my hands. Because of Dennis, my world changed into something I never thought possible before, & that is still happening.

I now have much hope that I can feel proud to be American again, something I haven't been able to feel for the last 8 years. It is good to know we now have someone who isn't asleep at the wheel to guide us into the future. Obama has a huge, tangled mess awaiting him, but I have the distinct feeling he is chomping at the bit to get started untangling things. I know things are a bit grim now, but I see a shining future awaiting us.

Got turkey?


blue river retreat fall 2008

Did you blink? If you did, you missed it, the not so subtle transition from summer to fall. It happens like that here in the desert, a place of extremes which can evoke both fascination & frustration. Over the weekend, during a time period of about 48 hours, we went from temps of high 90s & low 70s to temps of low 60s to low 40s, so quickly as the weather is wont to do this time of year that I always wonder how our reptiles don’t get caught with their pants down & freeze, so to speak. We’ve now tempered a bit to our more normal fall weather of low 80s & low 50s, & lizards have come out of hiding, skittering about at midday much to Roger’s & Mo’s delight.

Signs of seasonal changes can seem imperceptible here in the desert for those who are accustomed to more flashy fanfare, but they do exist, & their subtleties are what I find so beautiful… the sun rising lazily over the Catalina Mountains; our pomegranate tree's branches bowed under the weight of its dusky red fruits; turpentine bushes turning their brassy gold blooms into buff colored fluffs of seed; the sudden proliferation of coyote scat looking ever so much like thick piles of raspberry jam studded with seeds, the coloration resulting from gorging on the abundant bounty of luscious, ripe, wine red prickly pear fruits; those same fruits laying scattered about half eaten & oozing red juice & shiny black seeds, a testament of nightly feasting by the desert's denizens; the sky putting on intense blue coloration so brilliantly bottomless it doesn’t seem it can possibly be real; the rarefied atmosphere bringing into sharp focus the craggy features of the mountains encircling the Tucson basin.

Luckily, I had a little prep time for this weather change a couple weekends ago when I joined DY Begay, her friend Peggy, & Janie Hoffman at Janie’s home in the Blue River Wilderness for a little retreat. Just a couple days, enough for us 3 desert dwellers to get a bit of a respite from the heat that was still plaguing us then. We hiked on Escudilla Mountain through groves of aspens, their golden autumn leaves shimmering in the breeze, & enjoyed an al fresco lunch of crackers, cheese, & apples on an open hillside with spectacular views of sky, evergreens, aspens, & golden grasses encircling us. Peggy, DY, & I spent time in Janie’s magical garden, collecting dyeplant blooms & veggies before the first frost claimed them, enjoying the lush greenness of the plants, the beautiful blooms, & the industrious insects. DY, Janie, & I also got in a little loom time in Janie’s studio. DY was working on the first weaving in her new Parfleche series, using a cleverly procured “For Sale” sign frame as a portable loom, Janie was beginning the second to last tapestry of her Sky Island collage tapestry, & I continued work on my painted hills. And, of course, our visit was also spiced throughout with wonderful shared meals, good wine, lively conversation, & much laughter. We’re already planning another retreat in May next year… want to join us?

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.


road trip to taos

Dennis & I ended August & celebrated his 51st birthday with a road trip to Taos. We haven't been on a trip like this in over 4 years... when our dog Bear died in 2004, we had just bought our New Mexico mountain property near Cloudcroft & started taking camping trips there with our other dog Roux until she died at the beginning of this year. Now, our "new" dogs, Roger & Moka, are young, healthy, & perfectly able to stand the trauma of being left with the pet sitter for a few days, so we packed up, hopped into Dennis' Corvette, & jetted up to Taos. I couldn't believe we were actually going some place together where I could sleep in a regular bed, have a shower every day & not have to cook a single meal!

The Mabel Dodge Luhan House was a fabulous place to stay, & served the best breakfasts I can remember ever eating during a vacation. It's quirky, it's beautiful, it's historic, it's got character... & it's a little bit shabby here & there, kind of like an old fashioned grandmother's house. Thinking about the interesting conversations that must have taken place between Mabel & some of the house's renowned guests-- Ansel Adams, D. H. Lawrence, Mary Austin, Willa Cather, & Georgia O'Keeffe --had me daydreaming about what some of the old giant cottonwood trees around the house must have heard & seen. Still an artist's retreat, there are no televisions, no phones, & no obnoxious people talking on their cell phones. If you want a generic, sterile, homogenized place to stay, this may not be the place for you. We LOVED it!

We spent our time in & around the Taos area... driving through the beautiful high desert country visiting many different places:

The Tierra Wools weaving cooperative is in the tiny community of Los Ojos on the other side of the Tusas Mountains. The rugs, wools, & looms were a feast for a weaver's eyes & soul. Dennis was in heaven driving his Vette the way it was meant to be driven on the twisting roads... he said he knew he reached optimum speeds when he saw me grabbing the door handle. I think not being able to see the speedometer from where I was sitting was a good thing.

The Earthship Headquarters-- getting to see the inside of a "model Earthship" & watching a sugar coated video about how "easy & fun" it is to build one yourself by just collecting old cans, bottles, & tires. Interesting, but the video forgot to mention that swinging a sledgehammer to pack those tires full of dirt might just kill you if you're over 45, not to mention the effort it would take to hand plaster the entire structure. Oh, yes, & we were able to experience firsthand just how hungry mosquitoes in isolated areas can get if water is left standing in unused tires when we went outside. Still, we were very intrigued by the structure & it was great to be able to experience the interior of one & see the wild & strange looking community of Earthships scattered around the area.

Seeing the views from the Rio Grande River Gorge Bridge, or at least Dennis did. I was so struck by panic & fear when I caught a glimpse of the abyss through the open railing when we were partly across the bridge that I almost crushed Dennis' hand, broke out into a jello-legged, hyperventilating, stomach churning sweat, & couldn't look. When cars drove past the bridge trembled, & I grabbed the rail, knowing I'd never be able to walk back to the car. Luckily, some other tourists came right up next to me & started talking about a group photo... in dire fear that they would ask me to take the photo (Dennis had left me clinging to the rail to go across to take pictures of the other side), which meant I would have to let go of the rail & LOOK, I was able to pry my hand loose to run over & latch on to Dennis, who kindly took me back to the car.

We drove through the tiny Arroyo Seco community & up the switchbacking curves into Taos Ski Valley on Taos Mountain, then back down for lunch in Arroyo Seco. We spent only a little time looking around Taos since most everything there is more or less "tourist trap" type merchandise, with the exception of Weaving Southwest where I bought some nice chunks of natural indigo for dyeing & La Lana Wools where I bought walnuts for dyeing & some beautiful roving for my friend Stacey who is learning to spin. There was a very disappointing "Art Fair" in the park on the weekend, but in walking to it from Mabel's House we discovered the old tiny Taos cemetery where we were able to see graves & read headstones of Kit Carson, some of his cavalry buddies, & Mabel herself. In the evenings we enjoyed delicious meals, good microbrew beer, & smoky mescal at Eske's Brew Pub & the Adobe Bar, accompanied by the vibes of good local musicians.

We made a journey down to Santa Fe to have lunch with Kathy Perkins & Bengt Erickson, & to visit the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum where a fabulous exhibit of both her & Ansel Adam's works were on display. Dennis said I had found my "mecca", but he was just as absorbed as I in the pleasure of viewing these two artists' works. It was quite an experience to look at O'Keeffe's paintings in person & up close, so close in fact that I was thrilled to be able to discern her brush strokes & notice that she had used different techniques for the effects she created in each work.

Finally, the time came when we had to leave the wonderful Taos climate to journey back home to the desert heat. It has still been breaking 100 here, but I feel & see that fall is on its way. Mornings have been cooler & the light is changing. No longer thin, searing, & white-hot, morning & afternoon light now have a rarefied, golden quality... evidence of the change in the Earth's tilt as it makes its way to the end of another year's journey around the sun.

Below is a slide show of images for you to enjoy of our journey to one of the most beautiful places in the west... to see photo captions, just left click with your mouse on the photo.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.


dog days of summer

We are in the midst of the dog days here. It is miserable to go outside. Roger & Mo have totally adapted to studio life & know how to handle it.

The temps I see posted for most of the rest of the country on the national weather reports fill me with a great deal of envy. Although our humidity has been dropping this week, making the heat a tiny bit more bearable, 105 is HOT, dry or not!

But, I am grateful we have had substantial rains this
monsoon season. The desert is very green right now, with many "volunteers" such as this Devil's Claw sprouting up seemingly from nowhere. If you look into the photo's background, you can see the green "claws" which are actually the plant's seed pods still in their sticky green skins, reminding me of a warped okra. When the pods dry, the skins split & the interior structure curls outward into two curled prongs. The Tohono O'odham use the claw to weave black designs into their exquisite baskets.

I have been organizing my files in the studio & cleaning up, not much weaving taking place. Now that everything is in order, I have started working again on painted hills; I will post photos when I've got more to show! I had started it around the time I went to Alpine for the tapestry retreat, & took it with me to Tselani, but I didn't get much accomplished on it either of those two trips. I am feeling like I will be digging into it seriously now & I hope to be able to submit it for ATA's newest small format exhibit.

In between organizing tasks, I completed my ATA volunteer duty editing the next Tapestry Topics newsletter for the online issue excerpts. One of the perks of doing that is getting to see the newsletter content before it goes to print. Since I just skim it for the excerpts, I get a good taste of the theme. By the time the actual newsletter comes in the mail enough time has passed so that I enjoy reading it thoroughly. This issue is fabulous, the theme of small format tapestries received wonderfully written submissions from many tapestry artists. I am very excited to have three articles that I wrote included in this issue.

I delivered sensia to Tohono Chul at the beginning of the week for the "Please Touch, Again" exhibit which opened today. I am honored to have it represent the exhibit (along with another artist's work) on the exhibit's promo postcard. The artists' reception will be in October & I am looking forward to it because by then the weather should be much more bearable.

I've decided to submit most of my previously completed tapestries for a couple of upcoming local exhibits, Arizona Designer Craftsmen's Craftsmanship: 2nd Annual ADC Juried Exhibition, held at Arizona State University in Tempe, & Mesa Contemporary Arts Center's 30th Annual Contemporary Crafts, in Mesa. Both cities are large suburbs of Phoenix... I can't wait to see if they will be accepted as I am not sure that they have had much tapestry represented in those venues. I feel the need to start spreading my wings locally & get my work into more locations than just Tohono Chul.

Next week, Dennis & I are taking a road trip to Taos for a few days! An escape from the heat! We will have fun exploring around Taos, driving out into the beautiful high desert country, & experiencing some of Taos' eclectic night life & tasty cuisine. We also will go into Santa Fe one of the days we are there to do some sightseeing (I am ecstatic about visiting the Georgia O'Keeffe museum) & to have lunch with tapestry artists Kathy Perkins & Bengt Erikson. Dennis is worried that I will turn the whole trip into a "fiber head" extravaganza. I tried to reassure him, but then I remembered that New Mexico has a fabulous publication, New Mexico Fiber Arts Trails, which is free & maps out rural fiber arts destinations all over the state. I now have a copy of it in my possession... after all, many of those places are right on the way & it would be a shame not to stop, wouldn't it?


tres tejaderas: retreat in tselani

In the beginning of July, just a few days after Dennis & I returned from our NM camping trip, I had the incredible pleasure of spending several days with DY Begay & Janie Hoffman at DY's hogan & studio on the Navajo reservation in Tselani. Located about 30 miles SW of Chinle as the raven flies, Tselani is quite a bit further by road... as DY said in one of her emails to Janie & I, "Bring plenty of wine! The nearest store is 96 miles away!"

I'm not even sure how to begin describing our time together there; it was so wonderful, words do not even seem adequate, but I'll try...

The hogan & studio are located on DY's family lands; she grew up here with her many brothers & sisters, surrounded by other family members; many still live there or nearby. She climbed, ran, played, hauled water, learned about plants & their uses, & memorized a landscape punctuated by junipers, buttes, & mesas. Even though DY didn't tell Janie & I this in so many words, it's readily apparent that she comes back here to ground herself, to decompress from city life, to allow her creative energies to thrive unhindered.

Mornings were for hiking, following DY up canyons, clambering over sandstone & shale, inhaling juniper scented air, drinking in the vistas. She told us about many land features, plants, old home sites, & little bits of what life was like growing up & living there, even of meeting her first English speaking person. We collected quite a few dye plants on our hikes-- sage, chamiso, cota, mistletoe, juniper berries --& collected pocketfuls of colorful pebbles. Tselani means "many rocks" in Navajo & it is easy to see why it is called so. The heavily eroded sandstone cliffs are banded & striated in every color one could imagine & some you'd never think of. Colored boulders encrusted with rainbow colored lichen are strewn about the canyons like a giant's bag of marbles. DY & I traded Navajo & Spanish words for the plants & objects we encountered, leading Janie to christen us the "Tres Tejaderas", the three weavers.

Afternoons we lunched, napped, & retreated to the studio to weave, listen to music, & talk. The studio's rectangular windows were carefully placed low & on the horizontal so DY has spectacular views of the landscape & horizon while she is seated at her loom weaving. We examined & talked about what we each had on our looms, admiring each piece & making observations, & discussed our future weaving plans.

Evenings we enjoyed an ice cold beer or chilled glass of wine on the hogan's broad deck, soaking in the ever-changing view of the mesas on the horizon. We took turns as cook each night & enjoyed scrumptious meals of lasagne, chicken chef salad , & chile verde pork posole.

How exquisite this experience was... all three of us share a passion for weaving, natural dyeing, & the natural environment which made it very easy to spend time together & strengthen our friendships. Our visit felt timeless, yet the hours seemed to fly by.

"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born." Anaïs Nin

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.


a touchable tapestry


smooth, silken, soft

rough, ribbed, ridged

thick, thin, thirled

desert life fragments

human made trinkets

tangible & visible feast


a NM trip & new tapestry

At the end of June & through July's beginning we took our first trip of the year to our New Mexico mountain property. It was also the first time Roger & Moka have gone there, & for Roger, probably the first time he's ever been on a trip at all. Moka's foster owners, Lisa & Kurt, had taken her on a brief camping trip just before we adopted her. So, this was more of a "shake down cruise" than the laid back relaxation we had enjoyed when we took Roux in previous years. After all, she was, as Dennis put it "an old lady" & knew how to behave; in sharp contrast, Roger & Moka are two rowdy teenagers & needed constant supervision! Their senses were in high gear, seeing, smelling, & hearing all things new & wonderful. They did pretty good overall, although they became quite vocal over turkeys that passed through our clearing on a couple of days & very agitated with a bold vole that kept dashing through the middle of camp & seemed to know just how far Roger & Moka could stretch their ropes. They were tired & quiet at night, very ready to come into the camper & settle into their beds. The biggest issue we discovered turned out to be Roger's inability to cope with riding in the vehicle in a calm manner, so this is something we'll have to work on so we can better maintain our sanity when we travel with them the next time!

I did do a bit of gathering on this trip, collecting more stinging nettle-- the last I collected was in late summer on a previous trip; early summer is supposed to give slightly different colors, so we will see. I also collected elderberry leaves & branches to bring as a gift for DY when I made a trip to her hogan in Tselani with Janie Hoffman--- that trip will be the subject of the next post!

On a walk down our road with Dennis & the dogs, I was surprised to look down & see a spiral shape amongst the rocks... I found a cephalopod fossil! What a special find, I did a small sketch of it with my watercolor pencils & crayons, inspired by Tommye Scanlin's ferns. I think I would love to design a tapestry based on my sketch! I also did a sketch of a vervain bloom, New Mexico's state flower, & one day worked just a little on my painted hills tapestry, unweaving some of what I had woven previously because the colors weren't working, & began to replace those areas with yarns that I just dyed this past spring which worked much better.

Before leaving on our trip, I had started working on a mixed media tapestry, entitled "sensia", for submission to the exhibit, “Please Touch, Again”, the third in a series of award-winning, hands-on exhibits at Tohono Chul Park. The series is intended to give everyone a unique opportunity to experience art using multiple senses, reaching out to people in the community who have vision loss. Once we returned from NM, I was able to finish the weaving & submit it. It is constructed of linen warp, wool, linen, & sea silk weft with mixed objects woven in. Some found & picked up here on our desert property & during walks with Roger & Moka & others from my stash of "art stuff"-- seed pods, cholla & saguaro skeleton fragments, a snake backbone, desert luffas, wood & glass beads. I also used a few different weaving techniques with the wool & linen weft in areas to add texture-- soumak & a looped weft Coptic technique. Now I need to finish the hems... I have been considering several different methods & will choose one this week to complete it.


a retreat, a studio gathering, an exhibit, & getting my head on straight

It has been a long time since I last posted, but life has been overflowing the rim...

Back in the beginning of May, I & several of the women who were students in the beginning tapestry class I taught in Bisbee early this year, Darquise, Shirley, & Lynn, made plans to go to Janie Hoffman's Blue River Retreat for a tapestry retreat. We were there for 3 days and it was a wonderful & relaxed experience for everyone. Morning walks in the woods & birdwatching for those who wanted to go, gathering informally by mid-morning to weave the rest of the day with breaks for lunch. I didn't actually do a whole lot of weaving because I don't focus well in a group, but I helped them when they had questions or needed to learn a technique that hadn't been covered in the workshop. Janie also gave assistance at times which I appreciated since I think learning from more than one teacher can be so enriching & she was also one of my first teachers. On some days we invaded Janie's studio, exploring her space & admiring her work. This was the first time any of them had visited an actual tapestry artist's studio & it was a great experience for them to see some of Janie's finished tapestries, her work in progress, her cartoons & watercolors, her yarns, & her library. Some of these encounters led to in depth discussions about many things related to tapestry, inspiring for everyone! In the evenings, Janie & Don invited us into their home to gather at their dinner table to share our communally prepared meals. I was absolutely astonished by how well they were all weaving; their tapestries in progress were the first they had attempted since taking my workshop! We all decided it was an experience worth repeating next year, so when the time comes around I will post an announcement on my blog for anyone who might care to join us! I had so many wonderful photos, I created a slide show so I could include more--

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

After returning from the retreat, I hosted an informal studio gathering in my studio for friends & fellow weavers... unfortunately, I was so excited when everyone started arriving & had such a great time, I forgot to take pictures! Thank you to everyone who came, you all brought great energy into my space.

A week later was the artists' reception for Artful Insects & Inspired Arachnids at Tohono Chul Park's museum. My tapestry, pinacate shuffle, was included in the exhibit, but the highlight for me was seeing the drawing, Butterfly Magic, done by my husband, Dennis, his first exhibit. He was so low key about it all, I took it upon myself to secretly invite his father & "step-mom", so it was a very big surprise for Dennis when they appeared. And, luckily, they persuaded him to allow them to take a photo of him with his work, because he had forbidden me to do so!

During all of this, I was steeling myself for a visit to where my parents are living... they both have been having major health issues the last 8 months or so. I had recently seen my mother at the beginning of this year when she came to visit one of her sisters who lives nearby, but I hadn't seen my father, who is the most ill, for a little over a year. I wasn't sure how he would look, and let's just say my nursing experience was making me think the worst. As fate would have it, our hot water heater sprung a leak just prior to my visit... I had been storing practically the whole mother lode of our family's photos in the same space for my parents when they were traveling in an RV after my father's retirement, so I had to go through ALL of them to make sure none had gotten wet. Luckily, none were damaged, but I went down a very, very long walk on memory lane. Some of the photos were so old of my parents when they were children, & then there were all of those of myself & my 5 siblings as we each were born & grew up. I laughed, I cried, I felt so very nostalgic. Now they are all stored in a plastic bin instead of cardboard boxes! When I called my mother to tell her what had happened it proved to be good timing since my father, who is quite depressed over his condition, had been asking about specific photos he wanted to see again. So, I selected a few albums to send & used my scanner to scan in, blow up, & print a few photos from those albums. The box arrived in the middle of my visit there & one evening I persuaded my parents to look through one especially old album. It generated many good memories for them, & I heard many stories, some I'd heard before, & others new & surprising. It was, for the most part, a good visit. My father's condition is not ideal, but he did not look as bad as I had imagined. I cooked dinner for them most nights I was there, pulled weeds in the garden for them, did a temporary fix on a leaky AC pipe & got them to call for repair; we had a serious discussion about considering assisted living & I am going to research it for them. Although I am still worried about them, I feel a weight has been lifted because I have a more accurate image of how they are living & how they look.

My mother, 1st on left, the captain of her high school cheerleading squad.

My father playing his bass in a high school jazz band (I have this very same bass displayed in a prominent place in our house).

The only weaving I have done since the tapestry retreat was to weave an alpaca lap blanket for my father (I was there during Father's Day). In amongst all of the above, I was working on my volunteer job editing the ATA's Tapestry Topics newsletter for the online digest, putting together the final Desert Tapestry Weavers newsletter, & writing several articles for the next ATA newsletter. With all of that, along with the worry about my parents, I had no desire to weave or be creative... I was experiencing a complete creative block-- mentally, physically, & spiritually.

Now, I feel the block starting to crumble... Dennis & I are planning our first trip to our mountain property this year next week. We'll spend close to a week there; it will be the first trip for Roger & Moka. I am bringing my Mirrix with the painted hills study in progress that I had started during the tapestry retreat, also my watercolor pencils, crayons, & paper. Our camping is primitive, but I make sure to bring good food, and we both love spending our days outside in the mountain air & out of the desert heat. I always feel renewed after a trip there, so I am looking forward to bringing that feeling home to the studio.

In sorting through all of those old photos, I came across one of a place we used to live on a river in rural New York from the time I was about 8 until I was 12. It was a tiny old cottage perched on a steep river bank; my parents moved our trailer home next to it & built a connecting hallway into the cottage. It was the only place we lived where I had my own room, & my room was in the cottage. A bed of lily of the valley bloomed outside my window in summers & I could smell it all night. The old German couple who sold it to us had planted many interesting plants on the property & there was a patio landing over the river where we went fishing. A study room surrounded in plate glass windows overlooked the river & the cow pasture on the other side. If the river froze solidly enough in winter, we could skate on it. I always loved that place & cried when my parents decided to sell it after my father rejoined the military. In finding this photo that I had not seen before, I realized it embodied the essence of how I felt about the cottage. It was where I learned to love nature, to see it, to smell it, to listen to it, to taste it, to experience it. I now have a copy of that old photo, enlarged & hanging on my board next to my desk so I can see it every day.


dye run - spring 2008

After preparing & organizing all last week -- choosing & weighing dyestuffs from the 33 I have on hand, most that I gathered myself, weighing & labeling the skeins, readying all of my dye worksheets & sample cards --I was finally able to start the dye run last Thursday! This was the largest since the one I did in spring of '06 & it was fun, but after 4 days I am happy it is finished. I decided to give Burnham's tapestry weight wool a try this time & also changed from using natural white to bleached white. I also always overdye grey skeins along with the white, they are so wonderful to use for shading & blending.

In the middle of the dyeing, I received good news... John Jenkins the wood artisan who creates fabulous tapestry forks (along with other beautifully crafted wood items) now has a website...

Magpie Woodworks, LLC

Everyone who sees my tapestry forks wants to know where they can get them, just as I was struck with fork lust the first time I saw one, so here it is.

And more good news, Jan Austin has joined the world of tapestry weaver blogs! Bravo, Jan, I think you'll be a natural. As far as I'm concerned, the more tapestry blogs, the better. It is so wonderful & inspiring to see an artist's work from planning stages to cutting off, so much more enlightening than looking at a photos of a finished piece in a book! Visit Jan's blog-- http://austintapestry.blogspot.com/

Every dye run has its surprises & this one was no exception...

The cutch given to me by Kathy Perkins produced a beautiful coppery brown & smelled of slightly burned cooked carmel. After dyeing my skeins I even threw a white washable linen skirt in that I love the feel of but don't wear much because of the color in the cooling dyebath to soak overnight. The "cutch skirt" has come out a beautiful light coppery brown.

However, the lichens were a complete failure, producing absolutely no color in the dyebath after simmering for an hour & no color on the one skein I threw in the dyepot! I had good directions to follow from a source that reported using New Mexico lichens. Hmmm. Well, that skein was rinsed & joined the skirt to soak overnight in the cooling cutch exhaust. Don't think I'll be one of the lichen dye junkies as I now have no desire to harvest any more, even though what I collected was from deadfall on our NM mountain property. Too many other plants out there are easier to harvest, more predictable in the colors that they produce, & less precious.

As far as the avocado, the results were a little disappointing. Even at 200% wog, the colors were very subtle, barely beige from the peels & a light apricot from the pits. I did an ammonia assist with one pit skein with no change. I did follow the instructions very carefully, including heating them once during their soak time to prevent mold growth. My feeling is that I did not let them soak long enough, just 7 days. The author of the recipe goes on at length about the longer they are soaked the deeper the colors, but she is quite vague on just how long is long enough! If I were to attempt it again, I think I would just collect the pits since they seem the most promising. You would have to be quite attentive & diligent about heating the soaking dyebath every few days to keep mold from growing, so I'm not sure how happy I'd be having to do that for a long period of time!

The eucalyptus did not give me the hoped for oranges, but instead a green tinged gold. No matter, it smelled quite heavenly. I was quite happy with all of the other dyestuffs I used as well those I've already mentioned... mountain mahogany roots, elderberry leaves, nettle, & brasil wood.

Now I am looking forward to a Bisbee trip with Dennis to celebrate our 15th, then soon after that a trip up to Janie Hoffman's place on the Blue River for a tapestry retreat with several other weavers!

Live to dye another day; respect our Earth; live, love, weave!


livin' la vida moka

Life has been taking the fast track lately & I feel like I've been holding onto the ragged edge by my fingertips! But, it has all been good, if a bit hectic...

Spring seems to have come & gone, since we've had temps in the mid-90s already! Fold up that fuzzy sweater & pop on that bikini, would ya? The change in season has brought a quick succession of flowers bursting forth as is wont in the desert-- the heady perfume of the waxy blooms of citrus trees; the dark, rich scent of jasmine; the bright scattered spots of color from desert marigolds, mallows, & lupines; and now the cactus & palo verdes are starting to join the floral chorus as mesquites & acacias don their millions of tiny green leaves. Dennis barely had time to get outside to attend to his "yard chores" before the high temps hit! We are hoping this is not the harbinger of a very dry & hot summer.

Spring also brought us... Moka! She is our newest dog, another rescue, born on & rescued from the reservation, adopted as a puppy & then returned to the rescue organization by her first owners. She is about a year old & was very shy & skittish when we first got her, owing to whatever kind of treatment her first owners did or didn't give her. She lived with foster owners Lisa & Kurt for three weeks before we got her & they did wonders to help her become adoptable. The name came with her, although it was originally "Moca" (which I didn't like because it is way too close to a Spanish word for a bodily fluid I am not fond of), then became "Mocha", which I decided to change to "Moka" because she is way too hip for such a common name & she isn't brown! Good thing dogs can't spell. She has now been with us for just over two weeks & has completely made herself at home. She still has some skittishness at times, but she is quickly learning she can trust us & she absolutely loves Roger, who is a bit of a stick in the mud about playing, but who allows her to steal the cushiest bed & fling toys around & on him without much grumbling. All of the old stuffed animal toys have all had very precise sqeakectomies performed on them, Moka is quite the little surgeon. Both dogs love the daily 3 mile walks, are getting in good shape, & have learned to drink from the water bottle when we are walking. Bunnies went out of fashion after Easter, now their latest obsessions are ground squirrel holes & lizards. Needless to say, one must have a tight hold on the leashes or find oneself going for an unplanned flight into the cactus!

I finished pinacate shuffle just in time to get the loom warped up & a header woven for the Hernmarck method workshop I took during Arizona Federation of Weavers & Spinners Fibers Through Time 2008 convention. Here it is while in progress & the cropped shot I took of it for the Tohono Chul exhibit it was woven & accepted for--

Burnham's Two Grey Hills & Native Brown were perfect for the sand!

Dennis also had one of his works accepted into Artful Insects, it will be his first exhibit! He works in watercolor pencil and pen & ink. Here is his Butterfly Magic before framing.

The Fibers Through Time convention was 3 1/2 days of fiber, fiber, fiber & it was held here in Tucson. The first day was registration & tours; I took the AZ Historical Society & Arizona State Museum tours which were fabulous since we were allowed to go "behind the scenes" to see textiles that were not currently on display. At the Historical Society we saw many items of hand stitched clothing from the early 1900s worn by people who were living here then, & at ASM, known for its textile collection, we saw breathtaking pre-Columbian textiles undergoing restoration & exquisitely old Navajo weavings. That evening instead of going to the wine & cheese event I decided to go home, partly because I was very tired & partly because I have learned to trust my premonitions & instincts when they come on strongly... something in Dennis' voice when I called to see how the dogs had done after being left alone during the afternoon was not reassuring when he told me that someone (Moka!) had gotten into my yarns & he wasn't sure what color they were. I arrived home to find that Moka must have had quite the soccer match with not just any yarn, but the special yarn I had just bought & carefully packed for the workshop. I was winding what I could out of the mess for 2 1/2 hours just to get enough to use! It is somewhat humorous now, but wasn't at the time! While I was winding & thinking bad thoughts, Roger made sure he came into the studio & told me he had absolutely nothing to do with it, honest!

The workshop was taught by Diane Wolf, who has studied with Helena Hernmarck, worked as her assistant during convergence, & was encouraged by Hernmarck to teach the class. Here is our workshop space, a shot of my loom with my piece in progress (it's a silver U.S. Navy pitcher, the photo was taken by Diane), & a detail of the weaving. It is a very intriguing & time consuming method, requiring much consideration... I still have most of it left to weave!

I entered 3 of my works into the exhibit that coincided with the convention... I was quite honored to have recuerdos de georgia selected to receive the Juror's Recognition Award For Tapestry.

My friend Janie Hoffman taught the natural dyeing workshop during the convention & after the convention's end, she came to stay for a couple days before heading back to Alpine. We had a field trip day, driving up into the Santa Rita Mountains on a very narrow single lane dirt road that switchbacked up close to the peak of Mt. Hopkins before we reached the security gate for the Whipple Observatory at around 8000' elevation. It was a slow going, sweaty palm drive up with very steep drop offs, most with no guardrails, & spectacular views-- thank goodness the road was very well maintained! The reason for our trek was for Janie to get some photos of the Tumacacori Mountains across the basin from the Santa Ritas for her Sky Islands tapestry that she is working on. She got some great shots & so did I, along with having most of the day to enjoy each other's company, the mountains, & the desert.

Now I am in the midst of preparing for a dye run that is overdue... I also want to get the dyeing done before it gets any hotter! I will be dyeing with 8 dyestuffs, most which I have not tried before & most from my own collecting efforts. The most unusual of them all will be the avocado peels & pits-- these photos were taken immediately after I covered them with boiling water to begin a week long soaking process, wow!

I hope to be able to post the results of the dyeing session before Dennis & I take a mini-trip to spend a couple days in Bisbee to celebrate our 15th anniversary. It will be the first time Roger & Moka will be left with our trusted pet sitters, so we are hoping all goes well so that we will be able to enjoy future trips together occasionally in non-dog venues!