The artists and artisans of the fiber world come to you in The Long Thread Podcast. Each episode features interviews with your favorite spinners, weavers, needleworkers, and fiber artists from across the globe. Get the inspiration, practical advice, and personal stories of experts as we follow the long thread.
Sheri Berger, ColoradoCrossStitcher
Sheri Berger vowed that cross stitch would be the hobby that she kept just for herself.
After turning her scrapbooking hobby into a business, then launching the online yarn store The Loopy Ewe in 2006, she was just looking for a way to relax in the evenings, renew her creativity, and enjoy the sheer pleasure of passing needle and thread through cloth. The Colorado Cross Stitcher was her craft escape.
But the more she became absorbed in cross stitch, the more Sheri wanted to participate in the community. She posted a video to YouTube, and before she knew it, she had launched a new business and a community.
In this episode, Sheri talks about how cross stitching has changed, why it's drawing so many new stitchers now, what it's like to pass The Loopy Ewe to a new owner, and her new hopes for the needlework industry.
Stephenie Gaustad Makes the Cloth of her Dreams
In the early 1970s, a lively community and spirit of fearless exploration sprang up in Northern California that sent ripples around the country and shaped the world as we know it today. The fiber world, of course.
As a child, Stephenie remembers seeing clouds and imagining them as wispy shawls overhead. She uses her fine artist's training and eye when stirring a dyepot, designing clothing, and developing her textile plans, but she is drawn to well made tools and straightforward cloth. When she chose her first sewing machine at age 8, she preferred the straightforward practicality of her treadle machine to her mother's modern bells-and-whistles machine, because she could understand and work with every part of it. (She still has it.)
For decades, Stephenie worked in partnership with Alden Amos, the wheelmaker and teacher whose legendary technical expertise fill the pages of The Alden Amos Big Book of Handspinning. Her illustrations are on nearly every page of the book, bringing abstract concepts and technical directions and a bit of whimsy to the 500 pages. In illustration as in all her work, Stephenie does serious work with a gleeful sense of humor.
In her spinning classes, Stephenie loves listening to the challenges her students bring in, offering suggestions for the wheels and spindles that are giving them fits—suggestions that can be as gentle as a bit more oil or as direct as a quick tap of a hammer and anvil. Join us for a delightful conversation, with a dose of inspiration and empowerment.
This episode is sponsored by Treenway Silks.
Find the show notes for this episode.
Kate Larson: Shepherd, Teacher, Editor
Kate Larson's first childhood memory is of meeting a lamb on her family's farm in rural Indiana. That connection with sheep and the land forms the anchor of her life's work, even as it draws her to stories and communities a world away.
After a careful search, Kate chose her "forever sheep," a flock of Border Leicesters who not only provide her with wool she adores but revitalize the soil of her homestead. Through every thoughtful decision—grazing, breeding, shearing, and the thousand other choices that make up a shepherd's work—she is using her sheep to create the home and the world she wants to be part of.
That devotion to fiber and wool are a natural affinity for the editor of Spin Off, a position Kate has held since 2016, and the author of The Practical Spinner's Guide: Wool. But with a love for literature and admiration for traditional handwork, she also selects and edits the wide-ranging textile stories of PieceWork magazine.
Amy Norris, Weaving Community Organizer
Since Amy Norris learned to weave in the late 1980s, the digital age has swept through weaving in two ways: by linking the global community of weavers to each other, and by using computers to manipulate and execute weaving drafts. Weaving is ancient, but many weavers have been early adopters and digital enthusiasts. As founder and list administrator for WeaveTech, Amy has helped weavers everywhere share information (and play nice) with fellow curious weavers.
The internet has connected all kinds of groups, but the digital revolution offers breakthroughs in what weavers can do. As Amy points out, weaving is a binary system, with each shaft or thread in the up or down position—just the kind of bits and bytes that computers process. Weaving software lets you see how any change in the draft will affect your weaving with just a click—a far cry from the hours with pencils, graph paper, and erasers needed for charting a design before the programs became available. Taking the technology boost a step further, computer-assisted looms use the weaving software to physically control which shafts rise and fall.
These explorations are the stuff of Amy Norris's dreams, so much that a particular, popular effect takes its name partly from her. (Amy and Marg Coe have been working on an approach to designing with parallel threading that has been dubbed the "Corris Effect.") But although computers have changed so much in the weaving world, Amy still believes in and dedicates her time to organizing and supporting programs of her local and regional guilds. Serving on a variety of boards and committees throughout the years, she has played a vital role in maintaining the traditional infrastructure of the weaving community.
Jennifer Moore: Doubleweave Beyond Borders
What does it mean to revive a skill that's been lost for centuries?
In Inca and pre-Inca cultures, weavers in the Andes practiced a form of doubleweave that disappeared sometime after contact with Europeans. Museum collections include pre-Columbian pieces made in doubleweave, but the skilled artisans who wielded backstrap looms at the beginning of this millennium didn't know the technique.
Jennifer Moore was a doubleweave expert when she first went to Peru, with experience teaching the technique to weavers on 4+ shafts. She practiced doubleweave in her studio, working with the interplay of colors and geometric designs. She spoke a little Spanish, no Quechua (the local language), and had tried basic weaving on a backstrap loom a few times.
How did a weaver working with a compu-dobby loom teach expert Andean weavers a technique from their own heritage? She started by teaching herself first, then planting the seeds of an art that has taken root again its native culture.
Join Jennifer Moore as she describes her journey in doubleweave and the thread that joins weavers across time.
Melvenea Hodges, Traditions in Cloth
Melvenea Hodges nurtures a small crop of cotton in her back yard in South Bend, Indiana. Besides beautiful foliage and some of her favorite fiber to spin, she tends her plants to celebrate what she can create with her own hands—not just beautiful textiles but a connection to her heritage and a source of peace.
As a primary school teacher, her working days are hectic, but she and a friend have a pact to save some creativity for themselves. Although her spinning and weaving projects are ambitious, she doesn't confuse creativity with productivity. The magic happens, she says, "once we take away the element of creating for some kind of purpose and just accept that creating is a natural part of being and that it is inherent in us."
That creativity takes the form of exploring Scandinavian weaving, spinning to weave a traditional overshot coverlet, or painting whimsical wooden jewelry. No matter what, though, she grounds each day by spinning cotton, seated on the floor with her back to a wall, losing her thoughts as her spindle turns.
"If your life's whirlwind is whirling too fast," she advises, "get yourself a spindle."
Anita IS a gift to us all! She is always inspiring.
I just love Anita she is a gift to all.
I love the range of guests and topics. All things fiber!