Take a Shibori Dyeing Class

Join Mary Kay Madsen and learn folding and stitching techniques for this traditional Japanese resist dyeing. The class will be held at the Northeast Iowa Weavers and Spinners Guild’s dye lab. Registration information can be found below.

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Out of This World

The May program featured the Virginia Olsen Competition. This year’s committee members Janice Fobian, Karla Stille, and Karen DeVries, chose the theme Out of This World. Members entered projects completed during the current Guild year and  voted for their favorites in each category.


During each meeting Karen, Janice, and Karla encouraged members to create projects for the competition.

The committee challenged spinners to “go beyond your imagination and venture into the unknown” in the handspun yarn category. The members chose Lynette Risse’s skein. Lynette started with a bag of scatter bits, an assortment of fiber in a variety of colors. First she sorted and spun according to color; then she plied the colorful result with black alpaca.


Lynette Risse and her handspun skein

The weaving category asked weavers to “be inspired by the Northern Lights.” Diane Davison’s winning project is very precious to her. The cashmere and superwash fiber was once a part of the late Jan Gallagher’s stash and made a very soft scarf.

In addition the committee chose Diane’s scarf to receive the Audrey Stevens Craftsmanship Award. This honor is given for exceptional craftsmanship in a woven item submitted to the Virginia Olsen Competition.


Diane’s scarf received the popular vote in the weaving category and the Audrey Stevens Craftsmanship Award.

“Launch your project into the outer limits” was the guideline for the dyeing category. Colette Ubben used three different dyeing techniques for the yarns in her shawl. The first section was made from a handspun skein sprinkle-dyed with Kool Aid. For the next part, the wool was dyed before spinning. The shawl was finished with a space-dyed skein of handspun wool.


Colette used three different dye methods for the wool in her shawl.

Unsurprisingly the category with the largest number of entries was UFOs. Who doesn’t have a number of unfinished objects stashed away? To qualify, entries could have been started any time before the current year and finished during the current year.

Diane Davison obtained her color gamp from noted weaver and former Guild member Virginia Cleaver in the mid 1990s. The project was started and stopped many times before Diane completed it this year.


Diane’s color gamp was the most popular UFO.

Thanks to all those who entered items in the competition and shared their stories with us. Thanks also to the committee for organizing this annual event.

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Open House and Sale

IMG_0888Saturday, April 22 from 10-4

Sunday, April 23 from 12-4


Browse as assortment of items made by the Guild’s fiber artists such as rugs, scarves, table runners, hats, and bags as well as locally produced yarn and fiber.

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Great Scot! It’s Tartans and Plaids!

“I’ll take Category 1 for $400,” and answers in the the form of a question were things you would have heard during Mary Stichter’s interactive Jeopardy-style program on tartans and plaids. The friendly competition resulted in chocolates for correct answers and a wealth of information for those attending the April meeting.

Did you know:

All tartans are plaids, but not all plaids are tartans.

Tartans are always woven in twill with the same stripes repeated in the warp and the weft. Traditional tartans were made of wool. The stripes in plaids may vary in pattern, color and size.

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Iowa has an official state tartan.

A recent Guild project was weaving the Iowa Tartan on a guild loom, so some Guild members have woven their own Iowa Tartans!


The official Iowa Tartan was approved by the House and Senate on Tartan Day (April 6) 2004.

You can design your own tartan.

Here are links to sites that will help you:




Maybe you’d prefer to design a plaid.

Here is a link for for a tool to help you:


Some fun facts:

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Thanks, Mary, for the entertaining and informative program. Thanks also to Karla Stille for sharing how she designs plaids using algebra and transparent overlays.

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Spring Open House and Sale


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Modified Rep and Waffle Weave Class

Learning about weave structures, selecting yarns, planning designs, warping, and weaving all packed into one weekend!

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Upcycling and Repurposing with Fiber Arts

What do you do with clothing and other fabric items you no longer need? If you are an average American, those items could amount to seventy or eighty pounds per year! Our March program presenters shared ways we can repurpose and upcycle textiles in imaginative ways.

Linda Miller utilizes a variety of fabrics for her woven rugs including old chenille bedspreads, used bath towels, blankets, and denim jeans. She prepares the fabric by tearing or cutting it into strips. To determine the best width for the strips, Linda suggests twisting the fabric. A pencil-sized twist usually works well. Then she joins the strips together before weaving.

You can make rag rugs even if you do not have a loom. Other techniques include braiding, crocheting, toothbrush, and knotting. A quick Google search will result in detailed tutorials for you to try.

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Gail Murfey searches for treasures to upcycle at thrift stores and yard sales. One of her favorites finds is t-shirts. Gail demonstrated how one shirt can yield up to thirty yards of yarn.

Click here for a tutorial so you can make your own t-shirt yarn.


This yarn was made from a tie-dyed t-shirt.

Gail also keeps an eye out for wool sweaters which can be repurposed into hats, mittens, bags, pillows, scarves, and toys, to name a few. She shared some very cute accessories which had been transformed from not so attractive sweaters. Gail suggested that we look at the inside of an ugly sweater. It might actually look nicer than the right side.

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Wool sweater fabric can be felted, used as is, or the sweater can be unraveled for its yarn. Gail scored a pink cashmere sweater which she unraveled, skeined, and soaked to remove the kinks. Using her spinning wheel, she plied it with a soft gray merino wool to make three skeins of scrumptious yarn.

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Just a word of caution: beware of moths. Put unknown wool in the freezer for a few days just to be safe.


Sweater Surgery is a valuable resource for repurposing sweaters.

Gail sometimes buys items at thrift stores just for their uniques buttons and closures which can be used in other projects.

Thanks, Gail and Linda, for inspiring us to look in our closets and cupboards to find treasures of our own to repurpose and upcycle.


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