Making the Ryoanji Quilt

Karla Stille came in as a last-minute substitute to present the November program. Wearing a kimono she introduced us to the interesting and multi-talented Margaret Fabrizio.


Margaret Fabrizio-musician and visual artist


Before she became a recognized quilt maker, Margaret was famous harpsichordist, once performing with the Grateful Dead and constructing a collage for one of their album covers. Click on the link below for a sample of Margaret Fabrizio playing Art of Fugue Contrapunctus 1.

Art of Fugue Contrapunctus 1

Eventually Margaret Fabrizio expanded into the visual arts. The video Karla shared with us documented Margaret’s process as she designed, pieced, assembled, and quilted the Ryoanji quilt.


The Ryoanji Quilt

Fabrizio started by gathering the materials using only fabrics she already had in her stash. She chose a variety of beautiful Japanese indigo blues, cutting up kimonos and clothing. She selected as the centerpiece of the quilt a fabric she had purchased in Japan which pictured the stone garden of the Ryoanji Temple. One of her goals was mastering the crooked seam technique.

The video gave us an intimate view of Margaret’s creative process, the ups and downs of quilt making, and a sprinkling of her unique humor.

Thanks, Karla, for introducing us to this fascinating woman. For those who weren’t able to attend the meeting or would like to take another look, the entire video can be viewed by clicking on the following link.

Ryoanji Quilt Video

Posted in Program | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Irish Fiber Traditions

Guild member, Dee Kruger, is proud of her Irish heritage and is an active participant in the Iowa Irish Fest held in Waterloo each summer. Through this connection the Guild was invited to have a booth at Irish Fest in August and demonstrate weaving and spinning. Dee also created displays showing a variety of other traditional Irish fiber arts.


Dawn Ask Martin demonstrated spinning at the Guild’s booth at Irish Fest. 

Since not all members were able to see Dee’s work in person, she was asked to talk about Irish fiber traditions for our October program. Here are some of the highlights.

Bobbin lace was made on a pillow stuffed with straw. The bobbins were made of wood or bone.


Bobbin lace is the oldest form of Irish lace making.


When the Irish were no longer allowed to sell wool to England, flax and the high quality linen made from it became important.

Linen  or cotton was used in Irish crochet. A padded ring was used for the center, and the motifs were attached to a background.


Deb made beautiful examples of Irish crochet.

Tatting started with fishermen making nets. The scaled-down technique was adapted to make lace.


Tatting is a way of making lace with a shuttle.

Bobbin lace, tatting, and crochet required little equipment and were sold as luxury items to the English. This provided Irish women a way to earn money and feed their families during times of starvation.

The crois was a belt worn by men and women as part of the traditional Irish costume. It was woven without a loom. The colors used could often be used to identify the weaver. The crois was also used for hand fasting in marriage ceremonies tying the couple’s hands together to symbolize their commitment to each other.


The crois was traditionally woven using six colors.

Traditional fishermen’s sweaters were knitted using textured stitches like ribbing, cables, and bobbles. They were often knitted in the grease to resist water.


Aran knitting dates back to 1890-1900’s.

Dee mentioned many visitors to the booth were surprised to discover Iowa has its own tartan.


Some Guild members have woven their own Iowa tartan.

Thanks to Dee, visitors to the Guild’s booth had much to see. They also enjoyed the hands-on experiences of weaving and spinning. We appreciated the opportunity of having another avenue to fulfill our mission of honoring and promoting the fiber arts.


Posted in Program, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Guild Hosts the Iowa Federation Meeting

After more than a year of planning, our Guild rolled out the welcome mat to the Iowa Federation of Handweavers and Spinners on October 7, 2017. Sixty-three fiber aficionados and vendors gathered at the beautiful New Aldaya Lifescapes facility in Cedar Falls.

A highlight of the meeting was keynote speaker, John Mullarkey. A nationally known teacher and author, John’s specialty is tablet or card weaving. He kept the mood light with his delightful personality and humor as he described how he uses all of the bands he weaves.


John shares his contact information. His shirt’s collar and pocket lining are constructed from his card-woven fabric.


John’s tablet-woven shoe laces are on their second pair of shoes. The twist used in the weaving produces an attractive band that is exceptionally strong.

Thirty-six popular choice items were entered in seven different categories. The quality of the entries made choosing a favorite difficult. See the entries in the following slideshow.




This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Who doesn’t like to shop? The Fall Federation vendors did not disappoint with a wide selection of fiber and related items available.



This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After lunch the Federation business meeting was held, the Popular Choice winners were announced, and the door prizes were awarded. We also enjoyed a fashion show where models shared their wearable art.


Popular Choice winners left to right: Ellen Sakornbut-dying, Karen Agee-handspun, Bev Pennell-handwoven, Stephanie Vanhousen-small loom and knitted, Becky Metcalf-felted and other fibers


Fashion show participants model their wearable art.

Following refreshments John Mullarkey shared his personal history with “string,” starting at a young age knitting with his grandmother to his present focus on card weaving. Along his journey through the fiber arts, John continues taking classes and workshops, meeting amazing teachers, and making lifelong friends. Some of the workshops are wonderful, some he doesn’t “hate as much as he thought he would,” and some he is certain he will never try again. There is one thing they all have in common: he learns new things which inspire him to innovate his card weaving.

So go out and take that class, learn something new, get out of your comfort zone. You may discover, like John, you bring new insights to the things you love to do.

So thanks go out to John Mullarkey for being our speaker, and to the attendees, vendors, venue staff, and members of the NEIWS Guild who came together for another successful Fall Federation meeting.






Posted in Iowa Federation of Handweavers and Spinners | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival


The Northeast Iowa Weavers and Spinners Guild was well represented at this year’s Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival held June 17-18 at the Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center in Ames, Iowa.


Sarah Humke was on the festival planning committee. She also conducted an introductory class on lace knitting and its history.


In addition to vending, Mary Stichter taught children’s classes both Saturday and Sunday on Kumihimo braiding and turning wool into yarn using a drop spindle.


Dawn Ask-Martin taught a crochet class on Saturday. She also demonstrated and helped with Mary Stichter’s booth.


Mother and son duo, Ellen Sakornbut and Patrick Mayer, had a busy week end vending at the festival. Ellen also led the class “Basics of Dyeing.”


Participants in Lisa Nelson’s felting class made cobweb scarves from colorful merino wool roving.

Guild member M. Paula Survilla was the featured author for the festival. She read and signed copies of her new children’s book, Over the Moon. She also designed the festival’s logo seen at the top of this page. Paula was assisted in her Knitbaahpurl booth by Joyce Boss.

The Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival was a wonderful event. We are very proud of our talented members who contributed to its success.

Posted in Classes, Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival, Promoting Fiber Arts, Sales | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Classes | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Program, Virginia Olson Competition | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spring Open House and Sale 2017

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.

Posted in Open House, Promoting Fiber Arts, Sales | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment