Friday, November 27, 2009

Blue Light Specials for Black Friday/Cyber Monday

Not out shopping? Maybe you already have been, but are back home? No need to feel left out!

All this weekend (and maybe next week) I will be featuring Blue Light specials in my Etsy shops:

To make it easier for you, here are the searches for JUST the sale items in these shops:

To be notified of the Blue Light Specials, check my twitter page or facebook page. You must be a friend of mind on facebook to see them there...but just request, and i will approve you. For Twitter, you don't have to be a member, or be following me, you can just check my profile.

Each special will be posted individually. When that item is gone, it is gone *unless multiples are listed to begin with*

Look for the twitter has tag #bluelightspecial to sort all the specials, if you are a twitterer already!

Happy Black Friday! Hope everyone had a marvelous Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday.

Question from John Toft yesterday: when and where is the NCBA convention?

Here is the info, John. Thanks so much for asking! It would be wonderful to meet you there!

NCBA Convention 2010
"Celebrating Baskets!"
March 11-14, 2010
Sheraton Imperial Hotel
Durham, NC

You must be a member to attend.
Online Brochure will hopefully be up by next week at the latest!
Registration is all online (or you can still mail it) and is happening NOW!

This blog will feature some classes and teacher information, stay tuned!

for more posts about NCBA 2010, click here

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

NCBA Convention Brochure Has Arrived!

It's finally here! The 2010 North Carolina Basketmakers Association Convention Brochure has arrived! I am so excited - aren't you? Almost 200 beautiful baskets all for the weaving...and celebrating! The theme is "Celebrating Baskets!" That is the cover of the brochure, at left.
Convention Brochure has been posted online.

Since this year NCBA has a new online system, members are already entering their class choices - no waiting for a deadline! So wonderful. Thanks very much to Jim D'Errico for getting this new system up and running for NCBA! Jim deserves a very hearty congratulations, i am sure this was a big job. Jim's wife, Andria, is the Class Assignments Chair, and they have been working together to fulfill their vision of how class assignments should be - for over a year now. So cool.

I can't wait to see you all at convention, it is so much fun every year. This year i am teaching three classes, and i hope to soon tell you about them. I am going to list them in this space, on my blog, with photos and descriptions. As i was about to do so, it occurred to me that there are probably other teachers who would like to tell you more about the classes they will be teaching. So i am making this offer: if you are a teacher, teaching at NCBA this year, i will publish your class information in this blog. For details, please email me.


for more posts about NCBA 2010, click here

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

15. Three Considerations for Faster, Easier Coiling Post 15

Thanks so much to Jeannie and Donna for their comments on the last post.

We are almost finished with this series, but i must address the use of “starts."

Starting a basket from nothing, or making a button, can be time consuming. Many people today have never made their own basket start. Though button-building is something I think every basketmaker should definitely learn, the use of prepared, commercial starts is a wonderful way for novice basketmakers to be introduced to coiling.

Because button-making is challenging, it is not optimal as the first lesson a student must learn. Historically, apprentices a huge amount of time observing and doing menial tasks before being allowed to try their hand at a craft. Today’s students walk into a class with a desire to make something, and the expectation that it will be made quickly and with little anguish. For these students, it is better to build proficiency in handling pine needles and understanding the basic processes of coiling, the mechanics of how the basket is built, BEFORE the student attempts a button start. Once competence is achieved at maintaining coil size, adding materials (binder and core) and basic stitching, it is easier to turn to the complexities of making a basket out of “thin air,” that is turning a pile of pine needles and thread into a basket. So for speed and ease of use, I recommend use of a basketry start for beginners.

When learning to make a button basket, or a basket "from nothing," i have found the best way to learn to make a button is to focus on only that skill. Work on the button ONLY, until the technique is mastered. A student with several successful baskets under her belt will be more able to focus on the task at hand, without worrying about "what comes next." When i teach this skill, allot 2 hours, and encourage students to make at least 2 buttons AFTER they feel like they have mastered the technique. This provides the added bonus of having three baskets "ready to coil."

I would love to hear how you feel about making buttons and using basketry starts. Next post will be on different kinds of prepared basketry starts. Please leave a positive comment here for everyone to read! Thanks

Sunday, November 15, 2009

"Natural Selection" at LabourLove Gallery, Durham, NC

Opening this Friday at LabourLove Gallery, Durham, "Natural Selection," an exhibition featuring 5 Eastern North Carolina Artists, including Pamela Zimmerman.

Gallery Reception/Open House is Friday, November 20, from 6 -9pm, with artists in attendance.
Exhibition will run until January 15. Gallery hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 11am - 7 pm.

For more information read about it online, or join LabourLove Gallery's Facebook Fan Page

LabourLove Gallery can be found at
Durham, NC, 27701
phone: (919) 373-4451

newspaper review in the Chronicle

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mid-November Treasury Team Highlights!

Another video of great items on etsy from the Treasury Team!

Featured sellers:

Arosha Twists
By The Way
Felt Sew Crafty
Crazy Daisies Designs
Leaping Gazelle
Midnight Coiler
Nifty Knits

for a complete list of Treasury Team shops, please see the team blog!

14. Three Considerations for Faster, Easier Coiling Post 14

Thanks to Donna and Nancy who commented on the previous post. We talked about stitches. We need to revisit pine needle briefly, to talk about adding them....

Adding pine needles to the bundle is probably the most time consuming process of all, which is one of the main reasons people love the Southern Longleaf Pine. Longer needles mean fewer adds. Adding needles usual require that one stop stitching, some people actually put down the needle they are stitching with, prepare the pine needle, and add it.

To make the most of your time, have caps already removed, so they can be picked up with the non-dominant hand and added without laying down the sewing needle. Removing the whole cap, or fascicle, of the needle sometimes allows the needles to stay in a cluster, which allows you to add more at one time. The fastest, easiest way to add pine needles to a coil is on the outside of the coil with fascicles on. They can be added singly, or in multiples.

I would love to hear about your thoughts on adding needles, please leave a positive comment here for everyone to read! Thanks

Next post will be on starting a basket, please hold those thoughts for the next post…

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

13. Three Considerations for Faster, Easier Coiling Post 13.

In the previous post in this series, we discussed removing fascicles from pine needles. Thanks so much to everyone who commented. The comments were obviously in favor of removing the sheath ends. There was one anonymous comment, that was made by me...i wanted to make sure people COULD leave anonymous comments, because several people said they had trouble. All you have to do is choose "anonymous" when it asks you for a profile...So please, leave a comment! There is no obligation or consequences. Thanks so much!

As we continue, habit or thought process…what about stitches?

How many stitches per inch? Do you use two where one will do?

Fancy stitches are wonderful. There are so many different kinds. If you are making a sampler, or your stitch is an integral part of the design, of course it makes sense to use a fancy stitch. (This article is not about pricing, but remember when faced with pricing baskets for sale, realize that a double or triple stitch will take you 2/3x or even twice as long, use double the binder and make the basket’s price that much higher.)

So, if you are trying to make baskets to cover all price points, or in the fastest, most efficient way possible, consider your stitch. A plain stitch, such as the separate stitch, is obviously the quickest way to build a basket, uses the least effort and binder. Using a wide binder, such as raffia or sinew, allows you to use fewer stitches per inch and still hold the basket together.

Stitching forward is quicker than constant reversals. So using the fern stitch (2 stitches in each hole, moving forward) is faster than a "V" stitch, which is still 2 stitches in each spot, but requires backstitching a row (two stitches in each hole, one moving forward and one moving backward.) Once you learn all the stitches thoroughly, it is really just as time-consuming to do the diamond stitch as it is to do a straight backstitch.

I would love to hear about your stitch choices, please leave a positive comment here for everyone to read! Thanks

Next post will be on adding needles to the bundle, please hold those thoughts for the next post…

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Beautiful Multifiber Basket by Lynn Hoyt

Isn't this a wonderfully textural, unusual basket? I love it! I really enjoy the way all the colors interact with each other...and it makes me want to touch it, it looks so soft!

This basket was made by Lynn Hoyt, of Blount's Creek, NC, using a pottery base i made, and a technique i recently taught the Natural Fibers Group at a guild meeting. It is a very simple technique, and I love the depth and unique look it gives to baskets.

To make a multifiber basket like this, you can use yarn and prepared fibers, but the most fun thing to do is to prepare your own, using old clothes. I really love to use clothes that are beyond wearing, but have significance to me, as i talked about in this previous blogpost, Memories in a Basket. Lynn used this idea to prepare her childhood bedspread (blue and white) for incorporation into her memory basket. I think that goes very well with the theme of sun and starry skies, don't you? What a loving way to save a little scrap of her childhood. I understand she has another one in progress, using her sister's bedspread. aaaawww.

Also added for bulk and texture were yarn and prepared dyed sisal (yellowish.) Other worn clothing was dyed dark colors to add accent (black) to this great multifiber memory bowl! I also love how Lynn shaped her basket, she accentuated little twists I incorporated into the clay, and this helped to make an asymmetrical basket, with dips in the rim, very intriguing.

Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful basket with us, Lynn! Anyone else who has a basket made from a base they acquired from me, i would love to show them here! Check my shop for bases to make your own unique memory baskets!

to find more baskets made with these pottery bases, click on the label pottery base below

Monday, November 9, 2009

Obama Declares National Native American Month!

As a basketmaker practicing traditional techniques, i am constantly aware of the heritage passed to us by our indigenous cultures. My grandmother tells me that i have native blood, and her mother gave her a native American name. In researching my geneaology, i find my great great great great grandmother was a woman named Elizabeth who was "bought off a wagon" for the sum of $25 by my great great great grandfather. It is not clear what tribe she belonged to. what is clear is how she must have suffered, stolen from her people and sold as a slave. She later disappeared, and i like to think that maybe she found a way to return to the family she was born to....

Native peoples have endured so much. The culture, language and lands of the First Americans has been so altered by Americans who came after is fitting that our President has chosen to make a proclamation...




The indigenous peoples of North America -- the First Americans -- have woven rich and diverse threads into the tapestry of our Nation's heritage. Throughout their long history on this great land, they have faced moments of profound triumph and tragedy alike. During National Native American Heritage Month, we recognize their many accomplishments, contributions, and sacrifices, and we pay tribute to their participation in all aspects of American society.

This month, we celebrate the ancestry and time-honored traditions of American Indians and Alaska Natives in North America. They have guided our land stewardship policies, added immeasurably to our cultural heritage, and demonstrated courage in the face of adversity. From the American Revolution to combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, they have fought valiantly in defense of our Nation as dedicated servicemen and women. Their native languages have also played a pivotal role on the battlefield. During World Wars I and II, Native American code talkers developed unbreakable codes to communicate military messages that saved countless lives. Native Americans have distinguished themselves as inventors, entrepreneurs, spiritual leaders, and scholars. Our debt to our First Americans is immense, as is our responsibility to ensure their fair, equal treatment and honor the commitments we made to their forebears.

The Native American community today faces huge challenges that have been ignored by our Government for too long. To help address this disparity, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act allocates more than $3 billion to help these communities deal with their most pressing needs. In the Fiscal Year 2010 budget, my Administration has proposed over $17 billion for programs carried out by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Health Service, and other Federal agencies that have a critical role to play in improving the lives of Native Americans. These programs will increase educational opportunities, address the scourge of alcohol abuse and domestic violence, promote economic development, and provide access to comprehensive, accessible, and affordable health care. While funding increases do not make up for past deficiencies, they do reflect our determination to honor tribal sovereignty and ensure continued progress on reservations across America.

As we seek to build on and strengthen our nation-to-nation relationship, my Administration is committed to ensuring tribal communities have a meaningful voice in our national policy debates as we confront the challenges facing all Americans. We will continue this constructive dialogue at the White House Tribal Nations Conference held in Washington, D.C., this month. Native American voices have echoed through the mountains, valleys, and plains of our country for thousands of years, and it is now our time to listen.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 2009 as National Native American Heritage Month. I call upon all Americans to commemorate this month with appropriate programs and activities, and to celebrate November 27, 2009, as Native American Heritage Day.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

12. Three Considerations for Faster, Easier Coiling Post 12

Thanks very much to everyone who commented on the last post in this series. We are having more people comment on posts further back, i am sorry i cannot mention you all! Thanks for persisting. I DO need to say hey, Earl, thanks for taking time out from your trek to comment! Also, Tony, i will try to remember to address adding binder again, and detail my method- i am sure more people will want to talk about that again.

As for pine needle length, which J.R. brought up: pine needles do not need to be very long to coil with. It can be done with needles as short as 2 inches...proven by pine needler extra-ordinaire Kaye Burlason, (left, with one of MANY ribbons she has won over her lifetime) of Altoona, FL. Kaye makes little itty bitty minis and wearables with 2 inch pine needles (table of minis shown at right, with LOOOONG pine needles for scale.) But she is VERY experienced (as well as being possibly the most crafty person i have ever had the pleasure to "meet" in my life!)

I would not recommend, for beginners, that you use anything under about 6-8 inches long. I started with needles that short, and was able to handle it. The reason you want to use longer needles is because adding becomes one less thing to do...the more frequently you have to add, the more there is to think about. Most beginners need to focus on the learning the process, stitching, how to hold their hands, etc. But far be it for me to discourage you. Use what you have, and see how it goes. Try to go small-scale. Be PATIENT WITH YOURSELF. Let us know what happens!

On to the next post in our series...

Do you remove the fascicles? If you have never tried coiling with the fascicles (sheath ends) on, you will be amazed at how much faster it is.

Removing fascicles is one of the biggest complaints I hear from new coilers. How do you get that thing off? There are so many ways! Some people just cut them off, I know one lady told me that was her job when she was a kid. They had a big machete and she chopped them off huge bundles of pine needles, all at once, for efficiency, so other members of the family could coil with the pine needles. In one class i attended, the teacher gave each student his own special pair of scissors with teeth to pull off pine needles caps. Judy Mallow sells a wooden tool she developed herself to do the job. If you have read Ginger Jolley’s book, How To Weave a Pine Needle Basket, you will possibly remember that Ginger used her teeth to pull fascicles from pine needles. If you are going to do it Ginger’s way, you probably want to wash them. Ginger’s book is a wonderful example of not following everyone else. She wrote with refreshing individualism. Unfortunately, her book is out of print, and since Ginger herself is gone, it probably will not be reprinted.

I don’t take off the fascicles unless I have to. Of course, starting a basket from a button, you will want to take some off, and probably for the bottom of the basket, but once you get to the sidewalls, fascicles add texture and interest to a pine needle basket. They are laid in right under the stitch on the outside of the basket (usually)….but only when coiling without a gauge is this possible!

I would love to hear about your opinion on fascicles, please leave a positive comment here for everyone to read! Thanks

Next post will be on using different stitches, please hold those thoughts for the next post…

Thursday, November 5, 2009

November Gallery Events
Sixth Street Gallery Shows Small Works of Art

On November 4, Sixth Street Gallery will open it's newest show, Small Spaces Big Creations. The show runs through November 29, 2009. Opening reception will take place during the First Friday artwalk on November 6 from 5 - 9:00PM. Pianist Therese Mitchelle will perform at the reception.

Small Spaces Big Creations is a show of small works - all pieces are no bigger than 12 inches. Artists from across the country and working in a variety of media are part of this month's show.
Gallery hours are Wednesday through Sunday from 12PM to 5PM. Closed Monday, Tuesday and most holidays.

Yes, that is my very own horsehair basket composition, "3 Grains" on the show's postcard ad! I am excited to be included in this show. Please consider this your invitation.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

11. Three Considerations for Faster, Easier Coiling Post 11.

Thanks to everyone who has been following along, and especially those who are leaving comments! It is much easier to have a series like this when there is participation from the readers.

The last post was about binder length. Thanks to Donna, Judy and Tony who told us about their methods. when this series is over, i would like to post my method for adding binder, more specifically, and perhaps it will help you Tony. To Donna, i must ask: how do you assure the knot is completely covered by the coil above? Is this calculated into the placement of the knot? Does this dictate the shaping of your basket? I am very interested in this method, as i have had many people tell me they use it...but i still cannot figure out how it is beneficial. I would love to watch you work sometime!

Now, about collecting and preparing pine needles....I have had many people tell me they spend a lot of time cleaning their pine needles before making a basket with them. Some wash in boiling water, soap or bleach, or all three. Some actually boil them. (One person told me they used PESTICIDE on their needles...which made me gasp...of course pesticide will stay there, and pesticide is that what you want on your basket, and on your hands as you make it???)I have never really understood this. If needles are removed from a prepared lawn, one without animal droppings, I believe they are as clean as they need to be. The same with a pristine wooded area. What, exactly, are you removing?

I would like to preserve as much of the natural oil in the pine needle as possible. Isn’t pine oil a comment ingredient in cleansers (aka PineSol?) As an organic material, pine fibers are subject to decomposition, but the naturally occurring oils combat premature breakdown, as well as attack by bugs. It is the pine tree's own genetically programmed protection. Don't we want to take advantage of that? Isn't this also where the wonderful smell of pine comes from? Boiling needles and subjecting them to harsh chemicals does nothing to stabilize the delicate fiber of the pine needle, and much to damage it.

I have never found little bugs in pine needles I pick up. I think pine needles are naturally very clean. It is very important, however, to first check for animal droppings, and even to ask the owner of the property: “do you have dogs?” If animals frequent the area, I would simply not collect there.

Freshly dropped needles have a wonderful honey brown color, and generally appear very clean. If needles you have found are spotty or have mildew growing on them, they are probably not fresh, have been laying on the ground for months, and would benefit from cleaning. Some spots on pine needles are the result of illness or disease in the tree, and there is not much you can do about that. If you have no choice but to use these needles, of course this will add to the preparation time of your basket.

I recommend looking for clean needles, as opposed to cleaning them every time. If you use bleach to clean your needles, use diluted bleach. Only a tablespoon for a gallon or two of water is fine. it is important that you then neutralize the bleach by rinsing in vinegar, and then very well in water. Ever heard of "acid free" environments that museum curators try to cultivate? Acid contributes to breakdown of materials...but base (the opposite of acid: alkali) does too. Bleach is a VERY strong base, and eats away at things too. If you don't neutralize the bleach, it continues to work...vinegar neutralizes bleach. If you use only as much vinegar as you did bleach, HOPEFULLY you neutralize it, not make it acid. But i would just as soon avoid messing with the pH of the needles all together.

If you suspect your needles harbor very tiny things you cannot see, like chiggers, alternatives to cleaning with water and bleach may be:
• Laying in the strong sunlight on screens for an extended period (turning regularly, assuring there is air circulating on all side, if possible)
• Freezing for a period of a month or more

Another way to get clean needles is to remove them green. I do not advocate removing them from a growing tree, as this could compromise the tree, making it sick or killing it. It takes more than one year for a pine needle to mature.

Sometimes storm-downed trees will render green needles. Lots of people cut trees down. When you see someone cutting down a longleaf pine tree, it pays to ask for a branch or two. Most of the time, they do not care that you want it. They usually don't want any part of the tree, not even the wood, as it is not very good for heating with. At right is the ditch bank in front of my house several years ago...the neighbors cutting two longleaf pines were very happy to have it all dumped in front of my house. After Lynn and I harvested all the needles, we had to haul it to the dump! Alot of work, but we had needles for a LONG time!

Needles that have been harvested directly from the tree rarely need cleaning, but will need to dry before use. If you do get green needles, make sure you spread or hang to dry. You notice the bundles above are only secured at the top, so they flare out, to allow for drying. If there is a place you can hang the whole branch, well, you have saved yourself a step...that works, too, but requires much more room.

The next post is about removing fascicles from pine needles…can you hold those thoughts until then? Thanks! Please comment on this post about collecting and preparing pine needles (except for removal of sheath ends. )

Monday, November 2, 2009

Video Highlights from Etsy Treasury Team, Early November 2009

I love this Animoto video can make one, free, at

Here are some highlights of my Etsy Treasury Team...aren't they amazing? Highlighted are
Glorious Hats
Kims Crafty Apple
Lama Works
Midnight Coiler
Originals by Lauren
Pat's Pottery
Teresa's Prim Treasures
just a few of the FABULOUS teammates with AMAZING gifts just waiting for you to explore!

The full team list can be found on our blog...check them out!


Sunday, November 1, 2009

10. Three Considerations for Faster, Easier Coiling Post 10.

The last post was about direction of coiling. Thanks to everyone who commented. I particularly was interested in Tony's comments about turning his basket upside down, and Sue's about coiling on the side of the basket away from her body...these are exactly the sort of thing I am talking about, each person doing what they need to do to make the basket work...I applaud you for being so creative, and for sharing your creativity! Kim, i am impressed you stuck through the explanation of spirals...i have a feeling you were not alone in your seize up when it comes to geometry of spirals...i am not sure i really understand it either. Perhaps it was my explanation. But don't worry, you don't need to understand geometry or spirals to coil...just do it! One day, after you have ALOT of baskets under your belt, it might dawn on you...or maybe not. Either way, i am sure your baskets will be beautiful!

Again mulling over our inclination to be creatures of habit…

What is your standard binder length? If you have been using raffia, you are obviously limited by the binder length, and this is not an issue for you. If you are cutting binder, optimal length is 2 arm lengths. That is YOUR arm length. People with longer arms can easily use more binder. If you are bridging a floating coil or going around a large gourd on the first row, obviously you will need more than 2 arm lengths. But 2 arms length is short enough to keep the binder from tangling, and long enough to get quite a few stitches in on each add. So if you are using MORE, why are you doing so? If you are using less, you might try extending it to make your coiling more time efficient.

How do you add binder? Elaborate knots add complexity and time to your basket. I have seen all sorts of fancy knots, and estimation techniques for figuring out where the knot will end up, and ways to pull it into the basket. None of that is necessary. The fastest, most efficient way to end/begin new binder is to bury the end in the coil. This takes only seconds. If you zig and zag INSIDE your weaving, it is anchored securely. Care must be taken so the needle is buried, or the binder will be visible. If you are not used to doing this, and you are reversing your stitch direction as well (for example, beginning to coil from the front, and you are not used to it,) the easiest thing is to add the new binder BEFORE burying the old binder in the coil. This way it is plain to see where the new binder should come out. Some very slippery materials, such as horsehair, absolutely will not hold a knot. Meaning, no matter what you do to hide the knot, it will work it's way to the surface eventually. The only way to begin/end binder is to bury it in the coil when using that medium.

I have had many students who rankled at my suggestion they bury the binder. It is always a pleasure to have a student come back for a second class, and see they have stuck with it, learned how to bury the binder, and never looked back. I have tried and tried to learn the knotting techniques, and still don't understand why people do it...anyone want to talk about that?

I would love to hear about your techniques for determining proper binder length and method for adding on, please leave a positive comment here for everyone to read! Thanks

Next post will be on preparation of pine needles for coiling, please hold those thoughts for the next post…