Sustainable Cloth – Joyful Teamwork!

The Weavers Guild of Greater Baltimore worked as a team and the resulting entry in the Sustainable Cloth Challenge was nothing short of amazing. It’s a great example of what working together can produce in our fiber community.

The “Joyful Storm of Raspberry Cape” is 100% wool from Howell Hill’s organically pastured and grain fed Corriedale cross sheep. Three natural-colored fleeces of cream, gray and chocolate set the tone for this mid-calf length cape. All wool was hand processed, spun, felted, and woven by a team assembled from the Weavers Guild of Greater Baltimore. Fabric for the cape body was floor-loom woven, while the collar fabric was rectangle-loom woven. The weave structure is a balanced broken twill with a sett of 16 ends per inch. Eye-pleasing symmetry in cloth design across the front and back also creates a stunning chevron at the shoulder side seams. Shell buttons secure the cape at the neckline. In an homage to our fibershed’s flora, appliques were naturally dyed with sage, marigold and wineberry prior to felting. A Dogwood flower graces the collar closure, cherry blossoms and monarch butterflies form a nature scape across the back and Black-Eyed-Susans bloom from the hem. With a twirl, the three godets enhance the graceful sweep of this beautiful cape.

To complete the look, the team added knitted gloves.  Four different test swatches were made, with each one representing a general group of possible designs, ranging from colored traveling cables to lace chevrons. Finally, the simple fair isle chevron was decided on to echo the pattern of the accompanying Joyful Storm of Raspberry Cape. The gloves begin just above the elbow with a dark 2×2 seed stitch band to match the neckline of the cape, and continue straight into the colored chevrons. The majority of the glove is plain stockinette stitch to showcase the lovely handspun yarn and elegant shaping. The glove narrows to the wrist, then expands to accommodate the hand. The thumbhole also has a small section of 2×2 seed stitch, creating a cute thumb cowl. Larger dark chevrons cover the hand, and the glove ends at the fingers with a simple rolled brim. The glove is designed to complement the shape of a human arm, featuring dramatic shaping and thumbholes that are off-center to account for the fact our thumbs go more towards our palms than the back of our hands.

Hats off to the Weavers Guild of Greater Baltimore Team!  Below are short bios of each of the team members:

Ashely Moore learned her craft at an early age from her grandmother and great grandmother who taught her how to use yarn to make clothes and other crafts. Knitting and crochet were her main fiber art focus. With an abundance of time on her hands during the pandemic, she learned to spin and weave.  

Cindy Solomon has been a fiber artist off and on since high school. She progressed from needlepoint to cross stitch to knitting. She discovered spinning in 1987 after moving to Columbia and attending her first Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. She has been passionately hooked on spinning ever since! She joined the Weaver’s Guild of Greater Baltimore in 2010 where she learned to weave in 2012.  

An IT-manager-turned-fashion-designer, Edye Sanford emerged on the Baltimore fashion scene 20 years ago. She specializes in custom clothing for women and kids, special occasion alterations, vintage and heirloom redesign, and individualized instruction. With an emphasis on fit, style, and customer service, she enjoys creating timeless garments for clients to enjoy for years to come. 

Heidi Brown has been exploring the fiber arts since age 12, when she learned to weave from a family friend.  Fascinated by spinning for some time, Heidi taught herself to spin yarn seven years ago and now particularly enjoys incorporating handspun yarn into her weaving.  Heid is an active member of the Weaver’s Guild of Greater Baltimore and teaches weaving and fiber arts to middle and high school students at Sandy Spring Friends School in Sandy Spring, MD. 

After an accident in 2010, Janet Lee started spinning for the first time and after a 30-year hiatus, knitting with her handspun yarn. Diving into the fiber world, she began buying fleeces from shepherAs with the goal of “knowing” the animal. Soon, she learned to felt, and recently started to weave. Vibrant colors excite her, but she also appreciates naturally colored sheep’s wool. 

Lee McIntyre, entranced by the sight of a loom in action, has been interested in all things fiber since childhood. She learned how to knit, weave, spin, and to dye fiber. She worked for a year or so in a professional weaving studio, and for a brief while tried to support herself as a handweaver. Now an enthusiastic multi-craft maker, she enjoys exploring various crafts, supporting local fiber producers, cultivating a dye garden, and improving her spinning.  

Mary Pflueger has been weaving since 1987 on two Glimakra countermarche looms: a 10 shaft and a drawloom. She specializes in fine threads and patterns. She has also taught at the WGGB Weaving School for the past 10-15 years. Besides her favorite craft of weaving, she enjoys knitting, spinning and sewing. 

Natalie Love started her interest in natural dyes when she was working on an herbal farm in Maryland. She experimented to find out what plants she could get color from. Her love of chemistry and textiles has been expanded by learning how to spin, weave, and felt.  

Peggy Howell has kept a small flock of sheep for almost 50 years. Currently her flock consists of crossbred ewes sired by a registered Ruppert Corriedale. Raised as organically as possible, their fleeces are marketed primarily at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. 

Rhea Cosentino learned to weave in 2003 with the idea of making her own garments. Drawing inspiration from heirloom weavers, she strives to craft each piece with simplicity, elegance, and timelessness by highlighting the beauty of simple weave structures, natural hues, and earthy colors. 

Sarah Soisson is a relative newcomer to the spinning and weaving community. In 20107, she taught herself how to spin on a drop spindle made of chopsticks and rubber bands, and how to weave on a loom she built out of PVC. Since then, she has won several awards for spinning and weaving, including multiple First Premiums at the 2022 Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. 

Hannah Seppala, the maker of the gloves, is a young knitter from Baltimore with a wide array of experience. Having started knitting in kindergarten, she has since made scarves, blankets, sweaters, gloves, stuffed dragons, and many more miscellaneous projects. She is currently a graduate student at UMBC in the atmospheric physics program, and is known to knit in class as a focus aid. She loves knitting as a craft because of the freedom to make any shape or design.


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