Golden Gate Fiber Institute

I wish I were a better blogger- I think of so many things to write and then there are just not enough hours in the day.

At the end of July we had our second summer intensive of the Golden Gate Fiber Institute.  This year we had 5 teachers – Judith MacKenzie McCuin, Bonnie Tarses, Darlene Hayes, Jeane deCoster and Loyce Ericson. Students made handspun handwoven scarves, Horoscope Shawls and fabric, felted vests, many skeins of beautiful naturally dyed yarn and fitted patterns to make sweaters, vests and other garments.

I was able to take Horoscope weaving with Bonnie Tarses. As is often the case (in this instance due to all of the other preparations for the Institute)  I was behind in class – we were supposed to come with our looms warped and several of the other students did. I had my warp wound but not yet dressed on the loom. (Lann teased me and said I was “in danger of being weft behind” ;-)   Regardless of the state of my warp -I learned so much in the class – how to draft a warp using a horoscope as the legend, how to assign colors to letters and make woven words, and got to eat some of the best chocolate ever- thanks to Bonnie’s brother in law who is an amateur chocolatier.

I love the idea of using color as meaning – either horoscope or letters/words to create a piece of cloth that has meaning both in the intent and in the actual colors chosen.  I though a great deal about the time and care that goes into making clothes that are hand dyed, hand spun and hand woven (our theme for summer 2009 was Slow Clothes). We live in throw away culture – it seems that so many things are made to last only a short time and then be thrown away.  I love events like GGFI,  SOAR, Sock Summit and the Madrona Fiber Arts winter retreat because everyone brings the things they have made and they are so varied and intricate and beautiful. The skill and artistry we pour into our clothing always amazes me. It is as if to say – why make something plain when you can make it beautiful and lasting.  Ask most knitters – why knit socks? Or lace? Or sweaters? Non knitters will ask because they have not had the pleasure of knitting and/or of wearing a hand knit garment and see only the garment and the time involved and believe that you can buy socks or sweaters from any discount store for far less than the cost of the yarn.  Knitters know that those hand knit garments are treasures – knit with love and they are both beautiful and functional.


I have finally begun to weave my horoscope shawl – as I weave I think about the interplay of the planets, houses and signs in my horoscope. Right there in my weaving are the planets dancing thru house and sign each represented by 5 strands of bright silk. The Sun is a golden yellow, Venus is a lovely green, Mars is red (of course) and Pluto is turquoise. I am listening to Caroline Casey’s Making the Gods Work For You: the Astrological Language of the Psyche so I can understand what it means to have my Sun in Scorpio and my Moon in Gemini. I love weaving with meaning and symbol in color. I have plans to do more horoscopes and to make peace prayer flags and towels.

As I weave I am also thinking about next summer’s intensive – we have dates – Aug 8-15, 2010. We are working on a theme and teachers.  Something about old structures and new forms but that is only my internal working idea. We want to work with traditional and much loved forms and structures and see how we can expand them and push the envelope so to speak, take them to new heights or depths – whichever seems most appropriate

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