The artists and artisans of the fiber world come to you in The Long Thread Podcast. Each episode features interviews with your favorite spinners, weavers, needleworkers, and fiber artists from across the globe. Get the inspiration, practical advice, and personal stories of experts as we follow the long thread.
As an author, color expert, and publisher, Keith Recker's path returns over and over to handmade textiles. From the colors of turmeric and indigo to the resurgence of ethnic color in a former Soviet republic, he shares some of the amazing places his love for color has taken him.
Recovering from a health crisis, Charllotte Kwon needed to find a new career as well as an outlet for her love of color. She fell in love with the designs, hues, and pace of India, and she founded Maiwa to partner with textile artisans. Beginning with embroidery and printing, she cultivated relationships with families working in longstanding craft traditions, then worked to develop markets to create a livelihood for villagers who work with natural color. Maiwa's latest project is a new website that includes an exhaustive list of dyestuffs and how to use them (including 8 different methods for dyeing with indigo). In this episode, she reflects on how the scope of her project has changed over the decades—and what she hopes uncertain times will bring.
The first issue of Handwoven, which appeared in 1979, included an article by Debbie Redding, "Your Weaving Teacher." Your Weaving Teacher became a regular column full of practical advice until Deborah Chandler (as she was then known) left her writing and teaching pursuits to enter the Peace Corps. She found her way back to weaving, of course. In this conversation with Linda Ligon, she shares her best advice for any weaver—the tips and tricks that make weaving more accessible and enjoyable.
A self-described "spinner who weaves," Sara Lamb works in a wide variety of media: leather, embroidery, dyeing, and knotted cut pile, to name just a few. You might see her in one of her signature Japanese-style jackets, which she makes entirely from scratch, spinning white silk for a year or two before dyeing, weaving, and sewing the fabric into a simple shape. The slow yet intense process takes a year or more—and she has a closet full of them. Sara's willingness to make mistakes (and see them through) has led to a rich library of samples and series of projects.
Sara is the author of Spin to Weave, Practical Spinner's Guide: Silk, and Woven Treasures. She's also the instructor of the workshops Spin to Weave and Spinning Silk.
American-born weaver Deborah Chandler is the author of the bestselling Learning to Weave, an essential book for generations of beginning artisans. She has lived in Guatemala for 20 years, working with Maya weavers and helping them find markets for their work. In this episode, she addresses the complex issue of cultural appropriation as it affects the indigenous weavers she knows: What is a fair price for handmade work? Who should have control over ethnic designs and motifs? How do we determine what's a fair arrangement—and who gets to decide? Deborah and Linda discuss the intersection of ethnic craftsmanship, upscale marketing, and Western consumers.
Deborah Chandler is the creator and director of Weaving Futures, where she has had the pleasure and honor of working with many Maya weavers. She leads cultural tours to communities in the Guatemalan Highlands, with a focus on indigenous artisans and their work. She is the author of two books about Guatemalan textiles, Traditional Weavers of Guatemala and A Textile Traveler’s Guide to Guatemala (both published by Thrums Books). She lives in Guatemala City.
Sarah Wroot brings a reverence to her work with cloth, whether it's spinning, weaving, or stitching. This issue explores her passion for making and preserving textiles. Cloth can derive value from the care that went into its making, the emotional resonance of using it, its connection to the past, or its physical and symbolic protection.
Sarah developed and stitched a hat inspired by a brightly colored hat from Uzbekistan. She spun the yarn for weaving the cloth and embroidering the motifs on it. She describes the process in "Uzbekistan by Hat," Spin Off Summer 2014.
After seeing a historic textile collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum, Sarah embarked on a quest to recreate an 18th-century fabric called cassemire. You can find her articles about spinning for the fabric and finishing the woven cloth on the Spin Off website.
You can find more details about these explorations and her other pursuits at her website, wroot.com.
Although Terry Mattison is the first to say that she's still exploring and learning about natural dyes, she has achieved great results (and great adventures) connecting the realm of fiber with the kingdoms of plant and fungus.
You might be surprised to learn that mushrooms can yield a huge range of colors, even some that can be challenging with plant dyes. Here are a few of Terry's results.
Terry's sample kit for testing for colors in mushrooms fits in a small lunchbox.
To learn more about mushroom dyeing, check out Alissa Allen and Mycopigments. The Facebook group Mushroom and Lichen Dyers United offers resources and discussions from other dyers.
Combining the chemistry of plant dyeing with the line and form of printing, botanical printing (also known as eco-printing) can create spectacular results. Below, a printed napkin that Terry disliked the color of, transformed with a wash of iron.
To learn more about botanical printing, check out The Best of Both Worlds: Enhanced Botanical Printing by Jane Dunnewold or Bundle, Steam, Print! by Janis Thompson.
Maiwa has recently made their extraordinary knowledge base of natural dyeing available online at their Natural Dyes website.
Some natural dyers strongly prefer color that is fast, i.e. unchanged by washing, light, and time; others allowing or even prefer changeable colors, which are known as "fugitive."
Shay Pendray may be best known as the host of The Embroidery Studio and Needle Arts Studio and author of The Needleworker’s Companion. Having visited Japan to learn the techniques of Japanese embroidery over 18 years, she is recognized as an expert in this art form. Shay owned Needle Arts, Inc., a group of retail stores in southern Michigan specializing in needlepoint, thread, and Japanese embroidery. She continues to teach needlepoint near her home in Michigan.
Shay was a student at Henry Ford’s Edison Institute school, which taught children in grades K through 12 from 1929 to 1953. It was located in Greenfield Village (now part of the Henry Ford Museum), which now houses a working weaving studio including an operational Jacquard loom.
Shay and her horse, Einstein, participate in a cattle drive in Wyoming each year, as reported in USA Today.
To learn more about Hardanger embroidery, see “Needlework to Do When Loneliness Comes: Anna Anderson’s Hardanger Tablecloth” by Laurann Gilbertson, and “A Hardanger Coaster to Stitch” by Joan Leuenberger.
Download a copy of the November/December 2012 issue of PieceWork to read more about Hardanger in Laurann Gilbertson’s article, “Needlework to Do When Loneliness Comes: Anna Anderson’s Hardanger Tablecloth.”