GT Designs shouts out for Pen and Hook

Renee, from GT Designs and Vintage Art Supplies on Etsy, recently did a shout out for Pen and Hook on her YouTube channel.  Appreciating the finer points of our bone ivory sari silk ribbon for assemblage art, Renee also shows us her very cool booklets comprised of vintage papers and photographs.

If you’re into assemblage art, or if you just like shopping for an assortment of interesting items, Renee’s store is for you. You will also enjoy her YouTube channel.


Thank you, Renee! I really appreciate your creativity and your kindness in doing this. Here is the ribbon that Renee is talking about. It’s a best seller in our store. If you would like to look at it more closely, just click on the link in the caption.


Bone Ivory Dyeable Sari Ribbon

The Fiber Art Saints: Anthony, the fulfilled basket maker

In the early days of Christianity, life was difficult for those who claimed to worship Jesus

Anthony the Abbot, Piero di Cosimo

Christ. They were harshly persecuted by the Romans and others who disagreed with them. It was during this time, in 270 A.D., that a man named Anthony heard a sermon that inspired him to sell his worldly goods, give the proceeds to the poor and follow Christ (Matthew 19: 21). He wanted to draw close to God, so he left and set out to live in the desert. During this ‘desert period’, which lasted perhaps twenty years, Anthony was a hermit and suffered many temptations. He was also given a gift to heal others. Thus, his reputation grew and people began to seek him out for healing and counsel.

Around this time, Christianity was changing. Roman persecution of the church ended in 303 A.D. and not more than 10 years later, the emperor Constantine ended all persecution toward any religion by declaring freedom of worship. As a result, life for Christians became comfortable for the first time. So much so that some feared that they may deny Christ because they were too comfortable. To guard against this, they sold what they had, gave to the poor, and moved to the desert to take part in what is called the ascetic life and what would become monasticism.

The ascetic life was difficult. Devoted to prayer and drawing closer to God, the ascetics denied themselves of anything that would make them comfortable – sleep, fancy foods (and sometimes food in general), family, friendships and material goods. They lived a very simple life. These men and some women gathered together in communities and became known as the Desert Fathers and Mothers.

Because of the influx of so many, Anthony opened two monasteries. To support themselves, the monks made baskets. Athanasius, who wrote a biography of Anthony’s life, said this about Anthony’s introduction into the trade that would fund the monasteries:

“According to Athanasius, Saint Anthony heard a voice telling him ‘Go out and see.’ He went out and saw an angel who wore a girdle with a cross … and on his head was a head cover … He was sitting while braiding palm leaves, then he stood up to pray, and again he sat to weave. A voice came to him saying, ‘Anthony, do this and you will rest.’ Henceforth, he started to wear this tunic that he saw, and began to weave palm leaves, and never was bored again.”*

The last statement, “never was bored again” jumped out at me. As a hermit, Anthony did suffer from boredom; in fact, boredom was one of the many temptations with which the devil used to torture him when he first lived in the desert. Boredom can be an awful state since it is borne out of frustration and  a life that lacks purpose. It can also cause people to do wrong things – ever hear the statement “idle hands are the devil’s workshop”? Yet, boredom can also stimulate us on to greater creativity if we let it.**

Basket making or weaving seemed to be the antidote to Anthony’s problem with boredom. It gave him a means to support himself and his people. It supported him so that he could spend his life praying – the very reason he had moved to the desert.

Nowadays, many people use the fiber arts to help support them as they do other things that are important. For example, opening a fiber arts business can be a means of helping a mother stay home to raise her children. I sell yarn and hand made goods so that I can support myself later on in life, but I have never thought of it as a means of support so that I could live a life devoted to God. That’s pretty awesome.

One thing that I have also noticed about the fiber arts is that they can yield simplicity if we let them. By making our own clothing, household decor, goods and even gifts, we learn not to depend on outside sources so much. We may not have as much as others because making things takes longer than going to a store and buying ready made, but what we have is good quality and will last. By learning new techniques and teaching others, we are certainly not bored and the quality of our work is fulfilling.  The time we spend making can be devoted to prayer. Maybe this fiber arts lifestyle is a God thing after all.

What do you think?




Experienced spinner, weaver inspires creativity in “Spin to Weave”

As a relatively new spinner and weaver, I am forever on the lookout for ideas and tips that 61r0vyeob0l-_sx413_bo1204203200_will help me in my crafting journey. I prefer to buy books  for this so that I can mark the pages and refer to them often but it is rare for me to read through an entire “how to book” cover to cover. “Spin to Weave: The Weaver’s Guide to Making Yarn,” by Sara Lamb, was not like that. This book is so full of great tips and advice from a very experienced and knowledgeable spinner and weaver that you will want to read it cover to cover.

I purchased “Spin to Weave” from Knit Picks at their 40 percent off sale. When the package arrived, I took out the book and was immediately drawn in by the gorgeous, colorful photography. In fact, found myself thumbing through the book several times to look at the pictures before I was able to rip my gaze away and actually read the words. After reading the book, I concluded that it was well worth my money.

Lamb’s designs are shown in simple weave or twill to demonstrate how to make the most of color. She offers great tips on dyeing warp and about what to do if you are not pleased with the colors in a final product. Lamb gives tips on how to spin fiber for weaving and on how to blend colors through plying.

In the back of the book, Lamb shows how she used the spun fibers she made for the book and gives sewing guidelines. My favorite pattern was the Pygora hooded scarf because Lamb demonstrated how to make the most of a relatively small amount of expensive fiber by weaving it with complimentary fibers and by positioning it in a way to take advantage of Pygora’s inherent softness. Other designs included shawls, scarves, a vest and a lovely kimono.

In short, I found the book inspiring. After reading a page or two, I just wanted to go play with my fiber, yarn and dyes. Any book that can inspire creativity like that is definitely worth the read.