I grew up in a small town East of Pittsburgh, Pa. My grandmother, Mary Belle Knappenberger, a taileress, imparted her love of sewing to me. I learned to hand sew and then at age 8 to sew on her Singer treadle machine. I made endless doll clothes until I received a Kenmore Sewing machine for my 10th birthday.
I moved on to sewing my own clothes and went to Kent State University in Fashion Design & Merchandising.
We lived in Flint, Michigan after college then moved to Boulder, Colorado. Next came graduate school, starting a family buying our first home and my first loom. In Colorado I had wonderful weaving mentors: Clotilde Barret and Maxine Wendler. Weaving became a permanent part of my fiber art.
In the early 80's we had moved East again to beautiful Chautauqua Lake, NY. I started Chautauqua Softgoods a small retail company selling my one of a kind handwoven garments. I was a member of the Chautauqua Craft Alliance and participated in the shows at Chautauqua Institution.
The kids are grown, I have retired from my career as a Clinical Social Worker and we moved to St. Michaels, Md . I now have a beautiful studio, the time and endless ideas to pursue fiber art. I have 2 floor looms, a Jacquard loom, sewing and embroidery machines and a dye space for creating original garments,
Weaving cloth involves measuring the yarn for the warp, sleying and threading the loom, winding on the warp then weaving the cloth with a weft carried by a shuttle. The yarn can be fine or heavy in a wide variety of fiber: cotton, silk, wool, tencel, rayon, alpaca, synthetic and many specialty fibers. Here I am weaving on the Norwegian made TC1 jacquard loom which is computer driven. I use photoshop to prepare my photos and turn them into weave structures for this loom.
This is my 48", 12 harness, Macomber loom, made in York Maine. The weaving in progress is an afghan of wool/mohair, hand dyed with both natural black walnut and red synthetic dye. Ski shuttles carry the weft through the variegated warp.
I design a garment using a computer design program, draping and/or flat pattern methods. Sewing and choosing finishes, embellishments and designing closures bring it all together. I collect fabric, beads and findings from all over the world when we travel, I also love ceramic buttons handmade by friends.
I use photo shop to prepare my photos and drawings for the Bernina embroidery software. The photos are digitized into stitches and transferred to the embroidery machine. An example is butterfly vest. The lining is hand dyed, The butterfly and milkweed embroideries were created from photos taken in our garden.
Dyeing both yarn and fabric creates unlimited options for original work. I use many kinds of dyes both natural and synthetic. I use various application techniques to dye the yarn, finished fabric or surface of a piece. The yarn on the left is wool yarn dyed using ikat technique for resist areas.
On the right are 2 lengths of handwoven fabric that have been dyed using Shibori techniques. The clay piece was dyed with itajima technique. The fabric is clamped with shapes which resists the dye from penetrating. The blue piece is woven shibori which means design threads are woven extra with the fabric. They are then pulled tight, the fabric is dyed and the pull threads are removed leaving a design.
Original garments may be finished with knitting, crocheting, tablet woven bands, needle felting, beading......the possibilities are endless and the result is a completely original art to wear. This tunic was finished with hand crocheted lace.