Archives for the month of: November, 2010

It’s a quiet day here, getting things ready for the 3rd Ward Holiday Fair and finishing up stuff before Isa and I go to Peru (!)

So, some quiet inspiration:

Courtesy Benoit Millot and Fonda Lashay for the link

As a textile conservator I know that stain removal from fabric  is hard. And it doesn’t really make a difference if we’re talking about a pre-Colombian Peruvian mantle or a your beloved silk dress. It will be hard. And the first rule is to act fast (I know.. probably this post comes way to late).

Acting fast means taking care of the stain as soon as it happens. Every substance will be easier to remove before it has time to penetrate the fibers and make friends with them (or chemically bond with them). The second trick is also a Chemistry rule ( high school science class anyone?) – Like dissolves like. What this means is that as everyone else, stains like to hang out with materials that have a similar composition or places where they can bond. So to be efficient in removing them, you’ll have to attack the stain with a product that they like even better. Like removing grease with a greasy soap..

Also a good strategy to attack stains is to work on them from the back – in this way you’ll avoid that the stain will spread deeper in the fabric.

Below is a list of common procedures and products used in stain removal, with focus on food-y stains:

Butter, Cream & Fatty Stains: Wash immediately  in warm water. If it is an old stain, apply (you can brush it with an old toothbrush) a grease solvent, e.g. spot stain removal and let it stay for a couple of waters before washing. One trick very used in my family is to  apply flour, bread or talk powder  just after it happens, to soak up the grease. It works.

Coffee & Tea: For a fresh tea or coffee stain, immediately pour boiling water over the stain until it disappears. Or, soak the stain with borax and water, then wash as usual. On old stains, make a paste of borax and water, leave on for 15 minutes, then wash as usual.

Red wine: Immediately bloat the stain with a camp cloth and then soak the stain with white wine or vinegar – they’ll both neutralize the red wine stain. Wash it normally. For old stains try to use non-alkali soaps.

Wax: All the Holiday’s meals call for candles and the wax always ends up in the table-cloth. To get candle wax off your tablecloth, put a plain paper bag over the spot, and press with a warm (not hot) iron. Continue this, using fresh pieces of paper until all the wax is absorbed.  Or try to put the table-cloth in the freezer and then, once frozen, just scrap the wax out.

Blood: Wash it in cold water immediately – warm water will make it clog. If it is a small stain, like the ones you sometimes do while sewing, use your own saliva to clean it out – works really really well on cotton.

Does anyone one have a different trick that wants to share? Holiday season is only starting and we all know what that means..

from here.

a few DIY turkey options to inspire you today.

from here.

from here

and here.


and here.

take the time to hug your loved ones, have gratitude for your meal, and take a moment to feel deep thanks for all your blessings.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.  ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy


Until next time keep your needle threaded!

Joetta Maue is a full time artist primarily using photography and fibers. Her most recent work is a series of embroideries and images exploring intimacy. Joetta exhibits her work throughout the United States and internationally, and authors the art and craft blog Little Yellowbird as well as regularly contributes to Mr. X Stitch. Joetta lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband, baby son, two cats, a goldfish.

Thanksgiving.. Being a foreigner, I don’t have much to say about it, besides that I do like the turkey. So I decided to take this post into a different direction. Let’s talk about fashion…

If I would ask you to explain me the Pilgrims outfit, your answer would come up as something like this right?

Pilgrim’s costumes are generally associated with dark and somber clothes, large white collars and cuffs, and bucket shoes and hats. But that wasn’t true. Pilgrims costumes actually followed fashion in vogue in Europe during the 17th century (or to the biggest extent, a simplified version of it). Something like this..

(Courtesy of

Let’s start from the bottom – shoes! I was asked a question last year on a Thanksgiving trivia game, regarding pilgrims shoes. I don’t remember the exact q&a but, in any case, pilgrims shoes didn’t have buckles. Neither did their hats! Buckles weren’t fashionable in the beginning of the 17th century in Europe. And later on, when they started to be, only the wealthiest of the pilgrims would probably be able to afford them. However, most of the paintings depicting the Pilgrims arrival to North America were done later in the century, so they would just show the costumes as it was fashionable by then.

So leave your buckle heels at home this year!

Pilgrim Shoe, by Roger Vivier, 1950s

Also, the pilgrims didn’t wear only black and white. In fact, pure black textiles in the 17th century was very difficult to achieve, since synthetic dyes weren’t even a dream yet. So, actually, pilgrims clothes, as the north american indians’ ones, would have had natural wool and cotton colors or been dyed with natural dyes. Think browns, golden yellows, blues, reds and beiges.. The dark or black garments would be reserved for special occasions and worship on Sundays.

Something like this 19th century painting..

“Pilgrims going to church”, (1867) by George Henry Boughton, New York Public Library

Also, amongst the passengers of the Mayflower there were wool carders, tailors and seamstress, and shoe and hat makers. With all these resources, one can think that even if simple, the North American Pilgrim’s clothing could be at least creative.

Amongst the Wampanoag there’s probably even more wrong preconceived ideas. For instance, no long feathered headdresses or living in teepees.

The basic Wampanoag clothing for men, women and children was the breechcloth. Breechcloths were made from soft deerskin and worn between the legs with each end tucked under a belt, hanging down as flaps in the front and back. Women would also wear skirts. The deerskin mantle was another garment worn by both men and women. It fastened at one shoulder and was wrapped about the body in various ways, often tied at the waist with a woven belt. The women were the responsible for tanning the skin and sewing it into a garment. (

“The First Thanksgiving” (1915), by Jean Louis Gerome Ferris (American painter, 1863-1930)

Although they would normally walk barefoot, they would also wear Moccasinash made of deer, elk and moose skin on the feet in cold weather or rough terrain. The word moccasin is a Wampanoag word for a single shoe. The correct word for a pair is moccasinash.  (

In the absence of good photo or illustration of the moccasins, I leave you with a lovely Wampanoag  twined, braided and hand-dyed bag:

Bag, 1980-1984

(Courtesy of the National Museum of American Indian)

Textile Arts Center will be off until Sunday, enjoying the deserved holiday. We wish to you all a very fashionable Thanksgiving, spent amongst loved ones.

See you next Monday!

Yesterdays talk about wrapping paper and all our recent holiday party planning has us thinking much more about the upcoming Holiday Craft Fairs.

The popularity of DIY and handmade items has created quite the plethora of fairs to choose from… but we hope you’ll come visit us at the two we are participating in!


Deb Klein has taken her successful fair out of the Brooklyn Lyceum and will hold it at Textile Arts Center and Littlefields on December 18 + 19 — perfect timing for the last minute shopper. Littlefields is just a few blocks away, so you get twice the fun and free workshops!


3rd Ward and BK Based do their magic, once again. This is sure to be bigger and better than last years, and perfect for the early bird shoppers. Highlights include live music, cheap coffee and cocktails. Can’t wait!

Last year we participated in a few fairs, including BK Lyceum and 3rd Ward, doing weaving demos and marketing classes.

THIS year, we’ll be having our own fair and selling some handmade items (all by TAC staff). Here’s a little sneak peak of some of the items we’ll be selling (think woven suspenders and circle scarves, jewelry, belts, and keychains)

Plus, we’ll be showing some work from the Awamaki Labs and our fave rubberband master, Margarita of M2 Jewelry.

(courtesy Awamaki – work in progress)

(courtesy M2 Jewelry)

See you there!

Last night I had sunday dinner over at my parents house. It’s been a nice little tradition I’ve started for myself in the past few weeks. Quite possibly has everything to do with wanting comfort before the pending doom of Jan – April, but the really fun (and sickly sappy) atmosphere around the holidays.

My mother is extremely creative. She works in marketing for software securities (womp, womp) so I’ve always loved seeing her little visions come to life in our small brick house. Christmas morning stays the same: wake up, have a giant waffle brunch with every topping ever, open gifts from our over-the-years-appliqued stockings, and on to spending 3+ hours going around in circles opening one present at a time. It’s always been a joke about my brother and I opening presents with such care — playing with each new toy before moving on — amidst cousins in a mountain of Hallmark wrapping paper.

I think this care came mostly from the appreciation of the time my mother took in wrapping presents. We have 3 large garment boxes piled with carefully wrapped ribbons and interesting folded papers. I can’t remember the last time we bought a roll of wrapping paper. Most pieces have holes and old tape, names of past recipients somehow covered up for the new year. The presentation has always been the best part. Particularly receiving socks filled with pennies. Was an evil trick, but worth the laugh.

This paper hoarding is definitely a tradition I can deal with, so I’ll start this year saving the great papers. I’m definitely down with the creative recycling people have been making more popular. And if it becomes a tradition, it will be more than a passing trend to be more conscious of my consumption.

I really enjoy these from John Boak:

A baking pan!

A sophisticated patchwork

A plastic bottle!

An aerosol spray can lid!

Or using traditional Japanese wrapping techniques and using fabric instead:

(courtesy Ikebukuro Diary)

(courtesy PSFK)

What will you do with your wrapping this season? We’ve got a few great workshops in our Holiday Gift Series coming up:

Paper Marbled Wrapping Paper

Sunday December, 12 — 11-2PM

(traditional Turkish Ebru)


Block Printing for Wrapping

Sunday, December 12 — 3-6PM

Really adorable block printed labels from Corrabelle

I love the Legos! From mamalibrarian

Our Afterschool kids have been starting work on their collaborative group projects, so there’s been a lot of discussion lately about site specific and installation work. The theme they will be working with is “structure”. Who doesn’t want to build a fort?!

An artist and college friend of mine, Jordan Taler, who currently works for City Arts, has agreed to collaborate with us in this section of the curriculum. It’s been so interesting so far, to see the kids’ reaction to more conceptual work through a very hands on approach and imaginative games and storytelling.



(courtesy Jordan Taler)

When we participated in the Ghouls and Gourds festival at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, we happened upon the work of Patrick Dougherty. Beyond being a perfect example for the kids’ project, with titles such as “Childhood Dreams”, his work was incredibly beautiful to see in person.


From his bio:

“Combining his carpentry skills with his love of nature, Patrick Dougherty began to learn about primitive techniques of building and to experiment with tree saplings as construction material. Beginning about 1980 with small works, fashioned in his backyard, he quickly moved from single pieces on conventional pedestals to monumental site-specific installations that require sticks by the truckload. To date he has built over two hundred such massive sculptures all over the world.

His home base is his handmade house of log in Chapel Hill, NC where he lives with his wife Linda and son Sam.” (

(courtesy Brooklyn Botanic Gardens)

His work takes me back very easily to childhood fantasies, whether through goblins and mythical creatures, or playing house by making something for yourself.. Either way an escape from reality and a place to hide. It also reminds me, though, of everything today in the DIY, back-to-the-land mentality. We’re craving something of being able to live off of nature alone, and Dougherty has created completely beautiful structures that take our imaginations elsewhere, but could be taken to the level of livable.

The process is also of interest, using volunteers to help gather and clean branches, and aid in the weaving process. Pieces are generally left up until nature takes its course.

Another artist this reminds me of is Stephen Talasnik, who recently had an installation at Storm King Art Center. Talasnik was also the special guest lecturer last night at the monthly Textile Study Group of New York meeting. Unfortunately, we had a full house with 3 classes going on here, so missed it.. Did anyone get to go? Would love to hear about it.

Anyway, can’t wait to see what the kids do for their site specific piece!

This past weekend, much to the G trains chagrin, I headed up to Greenpoint  for a lecture/discussion with Tara St. James, designer of sustainable line Study NY.

The discussion happened at the MOVES Pop Up shop at 214 Franklin St, and focused on clothing manufacturing and the differences between choosing to produce locally vs. overseas.

I’m so happy that Tara invited me to come. The mimosas were free, got to catch up with Titania Inglis and Greta Eagan, met some really great new people, and happily discovered MOVES. The Pop Up shop (up until Christmas!) houses a group of great independent clothing and jewelry designers including founder Ruffeo Hearts Lil Snotty, Study NY, H Fredriksson, and more. (see below for list and pics)

Tara led us in the discussion and shared her history, opinions on sustainability, and resources. The amount of transparency was definitely applauded by attendees who were mostly designers. Though I already adored her, my respect for Tara grew by 3PM when we all finally dispersed. Her honesty and dedication to working sustainably, and the time she spends on educating and mentoring.. To name a few of her side projects: an intern project Study Hall, and mentorship with Awamaki Weaving Lab. She’s just really great. And I would like to purchase majority of her designs:



MOVES is a project collaboration by Ruffeo Hearts Lil Snotty and Williamsburg Fashion Weekend. Once the discussion started, I was more clear on MOVES purpose: to bring designers, artists, and consumers together to share inspiration, resources, and networks in order to aid others in their design process, production, promotion. The point being to educate the public, as well, and lend a hand to fellow designers… much friendlier than the cutthroat scene we might expect or are accustomed to. My shy-self was quite relieved.

This lecture was the first of many interesting events that MOVES has planned. How about a new hair cut this Sunday with a french coiffure? Or music, drinks, and a Tam Aura trunk show on Saturday?

For your Holiday Shopping Pleasure here are some images and list of participating designers:


Ruffeo Hearts Lil Snotty



H Fredricksson



Andy Lifschutz



Tam Aura



All Participating Designers:


















One month ago, my friend (and awesome collections manager at the Met) Becky Fifield shared on facebook the link for this exhibition at the Foundling Museum in London. Immediately I traveled back in time..

In 2007, when I was still in textile conservation school, I studied abroad in Antwerp, Belgium. While there, I went to see an amazing exhibition in an old orphanage, featuring their collection of 18th century textile swatches. Why would a orphanage have such a collection? The reason is heartbreaking. During those times, when a mother was leaving a baby at the orphanage, it was very common to tear part or cut part of her garment and leave it with the baby. These little pieaces of fabric would be stored by the institution along with the baby’s identification. If any time in the future, the mother was able to come back and get her baby, the identification was made possible by matching the swatch of fabric that the she would have kept with the swatch in the orphanage database.

Threads of Feeling, at the Foundling Museum in London, features the same textiles with the same story. Between 1741 and 1760, more than 4000 babies were left by their mothers at the Foundling Hospital and for each one  a sample of the mothers garment or their baby garments was kept as for their identification records.

Worckt with flowers’ Linen or cotton embroidered with flowers © Coram

A bunch of 4 ribbons narrow Yellow Blue Green Pink Silk’ ribbons tied in a bunch with a knot © Coram

(images courtesy of

This collection of fabric swatches in the largest collection of 18th everyday textiles surviving in Britain. The curator, John Styles, comments about the exhibition:

“The process of giving over a baby to the hospital was anonymous. It was a form of adoption, whereby the hospital became the infant’s parent and its previous identity was effaced. The mother’s name was not recorded, but many left personal notes or letters exhorting the hospital to care for their child. Occasionally children were reclaimed. The pieces of fabric in the ledgers were kept, with the expectation that they could be used to identify the child if it was returned to its mother.

The textiles are both beautiful and poignant, embedded in a rich social history. Each swatch reflects the life of a single infant child. But the textiles also tell us about the clothes their mothers wore, because baby clothes were usually made up from worn-out adult clothing. The fabrics reveal how working women struggled to be fashionable in the 18th Century.”


(images courtesy of
The Foundling Museum took this exhibition even a step further by partnering with London Printworks Trust to reproduce one of the fabric swatches. The chosen swatch was baby Florella’s, born in June 19th 1758. London Printowsork’ staff  was able to reproduce  the original repeat pattern using the little fabric swatch and re-printed by hand 30 meters of cotton fabric with it. The fabric was used to recreate a 18th century bedgown, which is now displayed in the exhibition.

Letter and token left with Florella Burney’s at the Foundling Hospital 19th June 1768 © Coram
(image courtesy of
(images courtesy of London Printworks Trust)

Threads of Feeling can be seem at the Foundling Museum until March 6th 2011. If you found yourself in the UK, make sure you don’t miss it.

Big THANK YOU to Sabrina Gschwandtner for coming out to give a great lecture.

So, for those of you who missed the Sabrina Gschwandtner lecture last Thursday, there was a good turnout and great conversation post presentation.

(attendees with The Virgin Knitters exhibition)
Aside from the mishap of badly listed times (sorry, folks) I was really happy with how the evening went. Sabrina is extremely knowledgeable, with lots of thoughts to share. Her presentation covered many great artists and current projects, taking the angle of SOLUTIONS in knitting. I liked this.
Some highlights:
UFO Administration
A week or so ago, I had the privilege of meeting the lovely ladies behind the London shop, Prick Your Finger. They stopped in to say hi on the suggestion of Sabrina.
(“How to be a fairy” —
Sabrina kicked off her presentation about the UFO (UnFinished Objects) Adminitration, and I had NO IDEA it was the same people. In any case, you should check out the blog and — pick from many of the uploaded UFO’s (could be totally based on the background story) and complete the project how you see fit, with as much or little nostalgia as you desire. I really want to visit the shop next time I.. happen to be in London. Sigh
You’ve probably seen the petition before (big knit/crochet Nike check blanket):
microRevolt projects investigate the dawn of sweatshops in early industrial capitalism to inform the current crisis of global expansion and the feminization of labor.”
One feature of microRevolt is knitPro. knitPro is a free application that allows any user to upload a digital photo, to be turned into a crochet/knit/needlepoint pattern to use in your next project. I like this a lot.
Theresa Honeywell
Perhaps something that we’ve seen a lot through history, covering items that traditionally require no cozy. In particular, Honeywell focuses on popart, and the “macho” culture of tattoos, tools, and motorcycles. Using “feminine” crafts, she covers “masculine” objects, creates crochet tattoos, and colorful installations.
Lacey Jane Roberts
Lacey Jane Roberts was also covered in Adrienne Sloane’s talk “Knitting the Political Landscape”. After The California College of Art took away “&Craft”, Roberts was highly affected. In reaction, she replaced the “& Craft” just in time for campus tours and photoshoots.
In the end this sparked some conversation. A question raised was that we’ve seen a lot of “graffiti” and urban craft through the recent years, to the point that perhaps its no longer shocking — it is not the new “thing”. What is next for contemporary textiles? Where do we see it going, as a political voice or other?
Just a side note: our SEAMLESS SWEATERS course begins this Wednesday. Intermediate knitters can go beyond the basics and learn to make simple sweaters, with little finishing. So good! Mention this post and receive 10% off the class!
( For everyone..
( Even babies!
VIRGIN KNITTERS ARTIST TALK: December 3, 7PM with Kimberly Ellen Hall. Join us and come bid for your favorite scarf! (No $ needed)