Mad about Fiber

Karla Stille found a way to turn an ordinary headband in something with pizazz!

Karla Stille presented the March program, Mad about Fiber. Through her PowerPoint, Karla challenged us to be fearless and try new things. View her presentation below.

To see how this works in real life, Karla had us form four groups, handed out bags of materials, and asked us to create something. After lively discussions and much laughter, the results were shared.

This creation took on a personality and life of its own!

Drumming up some fun!

The Baa Baa Black Sheep drum.

This creation was described as a knitting needle and scissors holder with a sarong.

To wrap up the program, several members shared projects from shawls, to dyeing, to bags and even bones, where they stepped out of their comfort zones and tried something completely different.

Karla’s program was an entertaining way to remind us that amazing things can be the result of letting our imaginations and creativity blossom.

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Bobbin Lace Part 2: The Rest of the Story

February, the month for Valentines, seemed to be a perfect time to learn all about lace and lacemaking. Our Guild has an active group of lacemakers who invited Anita Hansen of the Doris Southard Lace Guild of Cedar Rapids to be our guest speaker.

The first part of Anita’s presentation focused on bobbin lacemaker Doris Southard, who was a member of our Guild. That was covered in Bobbin Lace Part 1.

Anita concentrates on her bobbins.

Anita described lace as a type of cloth where threads outline holes. It should be noted, however, that not all textiles with holes are lace! In lace, a pattern is formed with the holes and denser fabric.

Lace has a long history. At one time it could only be worn or afforded by nobility to show their status. Lace was made in many European countries. England, France, and Italy were highly competitive. Each area had its own style of lace.

In time commoners started making lace to adorn their clothing. One could often determine where a person came from by the style of lace worn.

Anita helps us visualize the crossing and twisting techniques used in bobbin lace with help from Pat, Sue, and Dawn.

Bobbin lace is a type of weaving without a loom. Threads wound on bobbins make up the warp and weft. Regardless of the style of lace, it is all made using the same techniques. The bobbins are used in pairs to cross and twist the threads. Pins are used to anchor the weaving according to the pattern. The work is done on a special pillow which comes a various shapes depending upon the type of lace being made or personal preference.

The tools of bobbin lace: six pairs of bobbins, the pillow, the pattern showing the pricking, and pins.

The number of bobbins required varies greatly. More complex continuous patterns may use a hundred or more bobbins! Plan to use more bobbins when working with fine threads.

Take a look at some of Anita’s examples to see how many bobbins were used for each piece of lace.


Tape lace is not continuous. Its pattern meanders back and forth. This type of lace is less labor intensive and uses fewer bobbins.

Fewer bobbins are needed for tape lace. Still beautiful!

A third type of bobbin lace is made in parts or motifs that are fastened together. Motif lace also uses fewer bobbins than continuous lace.

Anita brought a work in progress for her demonstration.

Anita checked all her bobbins to see they were in the proper sequence. On the right, an enlarged image of the lace is used for reference.
This close-up shows how pins are used and the finished lace. Anita cut off several yards of completed lace before she came to our meeting.
Watch Anita demonstrate bobbin lacemaking.

Our Guild’s bobbin lace group, who refer to themselves as the Twisted Sisters, generally meet once a month at the Guild. They invite anyone interested in giving lacemaking a try to join them. They have extra tools and materials to help you get started. Email Teresa at or Dee at for more information. 

We thank Anita Hansen for sharing her love of bobbin lacemaking with us and for supporting the lacemakers in our Guild with her expertise and knowledge. 

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Bobbin Lace Part 1: Doris Southard, Lacemaker

February, the month for Valentines, seemed to be a perfect time to learn all about lace and lacemaking. Our Guild has an active group of lacemakers who invited Anita Hansen of the Doris Southard Lace Guild of Cedar Rapids to be our guest speaker.

Anita began by describing how a member of our own Guild, Doris Southard, became an internationally known lacemaker.

Doris lived on a farm near New Hartford, Iowa, and enjoyed the fiber arts including knitting, weaving, and crochet. In the 1950s an article in Woman’s Day magazine about bobbin lace caught her attention. Doris decided to teach herself how to make bobbin lace using clothes pins for bobbins and a toilet paper roll for the pillow.

There weren’t many resources available to her in the days before the internet, but Doris corresponded with the article’s author and obtained a few books. She didn’t actually meet another bobbin lace weaver in person for another ten years.

As her skills grew, Doris began teaching bobbin lace to others locally and by correspondence classes By the 1970s she had joined the national organization of bobbin lace weavers and became a well known expert teaching classes at conventions across the United States.

A piece of bobbin lace made by Doris Southard

The articles Doris had written drew the attention of the publishers at Simon and Schuster. They asked her to write an instructional book for bobbin lace. Bobbin Lacemaking was published in 1977 and is still available today. Later editions were entitled Lessons in Bobbin Lacemaking. Doris became the first American author of a bobbin lace book.

Doris was an inspiration to all those who knew her. She enjoyed sharing her expertise even after she was no longer able to manipulate the pins to make lace herself. Her lacemaking legacy lives on through her book, those she taught, her beautiful lace pieces, and the members of the Doris Southard Lace Guild of Cedar Rapids

Photo courtesy of Anita Hansen and the Doris Southard Lace Guild

To learn more about Anita Hanson’s program on bobbin lacemaking, read Bobbin Lace Part 2: The Rest of the Story.

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Bloopers and Fun

This graphic provided some topics for discussion at our January meeting.

January program presenters, Elaine Lawler and Colette Ubben, led a discussion which encouraged members to examine their own creativity and the Guild’s role in their artistic endeavors and personal growth.

Although it is difficult to capture the breadth of the discussion, a few of the highlights are listed here.

Fear Holds Us Back

  • We may be afraid to try new things for fear of failure. The Guild gives us a safe place to try new things.
  • Trying something completely our of our comfort zone in the company of supportive friends can be a freeing experience.
  • Our Guild has evolved because we are not afraid to embrace new ideas. We bought a different building and remodeled it to fit our needs.
  • We are more than weavers and spinners. We appreciate the diversity of fibers arts represented by our members: dyeing, felting, bobbin lace, crochet, knitting, quilting, basketry, tapestry, and more.

Mistakes May Make Something Creative

  • In some traditions a “mistake” is made purposely, as nothing is perfect.
  • Everyone sees things differently. What we may consider a mistake, others may find beautiful.
  • If someone helps you work through a problem remember this: that person is able to help because he/she has probably made that same mistake many times before!
And friends who help you laugh about it!

Creative Spirits are Accidents of Our Own Personalities

  • Everyone sees the world in his/her own way. We all share our unique perspectives with the group.
  • People approaching the same project in different ways may result in something wonderfully creative.
  • Each member of our Guild has different strengths and ways to contribute to its success. Examples mentioned: teaching a class, holding an office, contributing sale items, taking time away from creating to clean and organize, warping looms, tending the flowers and mowing the grass, demonstrating at community events, volunteering for weaving in the schools, making new members feel welcome. It takes all of us to make the Guild what it is.

Who Has Been Your Spark to Creativity?

  • We are all inspired when we see projects others share with the group. We may just admire the craftsmanship, colors, design, or productivity of our members, or we may be motivated to put our own spin on something that has been shared.
  • Classes and workshops give us new skills and ideas to try.
  • Thursday project days at the Guild provide an informal atmosphere to admire others’ work and share ideas.
  • Informal groups get together to work on projects and encourage others to join in the fun.

The Guild Encourages and Inspires our Creative Lives

  • We are fortunate to have own a building devoted to fiber arts.
  • The Guild owns looms, spinning wheels, and related equipment for members to use.
  • Our amazing library contains a wide variety of resources for members’ use.
  • Looms are warped with interesting colors and patterns for members to try something new and different.
  • Study groups meet to learn new things, like bobbin lace, and welcome all interested members to join them.
  • Members encourage each other and help trouble shoot problems.

Another thing which became quite clear during our discussion was the Guild is not just about fiber arts. It is a group of people who care about each other and become a second family. We celebrate our good times, comfort each other during difficult times, and appreciate everyone’s contributions.

So get out of your comfort zone, be creative, and try new things knowing bloopers are nothing to fear. They can give you something to laugh about with your friends. And laughter is a good thing.

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Chemo Hat Project

The grand total for the Guild’s 2018 Chemo Hat Project is in! SEVENTY-TWO hats will be donated to area chemo patients. Many of the hats were made by the members pictured above. Thanks to all whose efforts made this project possible. Some members are already setting a goal of making one hat each month in 2019. 💜

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Shibori Dye Class Scheduled

The class is limited to eight participants. Reserve your spot now!

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Fiber Identification Fun

What can you do when you have a mystery fiber or yarn? How might you attempt to discover its identity?

This was the topic of our November program. Karen Agee, with the help of Teresa Costa, demonstrated some tests which can be performed to solve that mystery.

Karen and Teresa demonstrate the burn test.

First examine how the fiber feels. Next take a sniff.Set your fiber on fire! The way it burns and what is left behind can help you determine its identity. (Plus it’s interesting and fun!)

Try a burn test as shown in this chart from Threads magazine.

Safety always comes first during a burn test. Thanks, Glenn!

Most animals fibers will burn in a similar way as wool, while plant fibers often burn like cotton. If your fiber is a blend, a burn test may tell you if it is mainly natural fibers or a synthetic.

Fibers react differently to acids and alkalines. When placed in bleach, an alkaline, acrylic and tencel lose their color, wool and alpaca are dissolved, and cotton survives. Acid dyes are used on wool and can be used on silk.

So check out your stash and solve a few mysteries, courtesy of Karen and Teresa.

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