Category Archives: Past Programs

September 17, 2020 – Carol James on Sprang

The September Black Sheep Guild program will feature Carol James, expert in sprang and the would-have-been keynote speaker from CNCH 2020. She’ll talk about the fascinating structure that is sprang. There will be a live demonstration and examples of the tremendous variety of clothing and other items that can be made with the versatile technique. She’ll include examples from history and modern applications.


Carol James has been playing with strings for a long time; she learned to embroider and to crochet before she entered kindergarten. Since the 1980s she has been exploring a wide, flat, braiding technique known in North America as fingerweaving. In the mid 1990s she was introduced to sprang. She is now a world-recognized teacher. She has spent the past 20 years rediscovering textile forms that had been considered lost, resurrecting these ancient techniques and making them accessible to everyone through her publications, books and workshops. Carol believes that textile creation is part of our human heritage. Textile is an amalgamation of threads interconnecting with each other, just as humans work together in order to create the fabric of society. The method used to create fabric in disparate communities around the world is often quite similar. This is a common language of humans: the construction of fabric. Woven together we are stronger.

Carol James’s website may be found at

Carol writes about the image on the right: “I made myself a new sprang shirt, using a 5/2 mercerized cotton from Lunatic Fringe, leftovers from other projects. Inspired by the stitch pattern in a Ukrainian belt, I made vertical stripes in the body. I inserted a weft along the shoulder where front and back meet, it gives stability to the  shoulder, bearing the weight of the sleeve.” More information about this piece is on the blog at Carol’s website.

June 18, 2020 – Karen Donde – Designing Handwoven Fabric You Can Wear.


Karen Donde weaves garments, fashion accessories and home textiles for sale and teaches beginning-advanced weaving classes and assorted workshops for guilds and conferences. Teaching credits include HGA’s Convergence 2012, 2014 and 2016 and 2020, Southeast Fiber Forum, the Mid-Atlantic Fiber Association’s Workshop Weekend, Midwest Weavers Conference, Intermountain Weavers Guild Conference and Florida Tropical Weavers Conference. In Asheville, NC, she has taught at Sutherland Handweaving Studio, Friends & Fiberworks, Local Cloth and her own studio.


Photos are used with the kind permission of the copyright holder, Karen Donde.

Take a look at Karen’s website:


May 21, 2020 – Sally Fox


Sienna colored specimen

Long-time Fibershed source of inspiration, color-grown-in cotton developer and
biodynamic grower since 1982, and shepherd and farmer Sally Fox is our speaker for May, 2020. Sally will be presenting to us about her farming life, developing strains of colored cotton over the past four decades.

Check out her website at

April 16, 2020 – Tien Chiu – Designing with Painted Warps


People often find color in weaving to be so complicated that it feels downright mystical. But it’s not. Color in weaving follows rules, and once you understand the underlying rules, you can design beautiful work.
Painted warps are beautiful. But they can be difficult to design with. Painted-warp colors can change radically when woven, depending on your weft yarn colors and your choice of design. This program explains the basics of how color works in weaving and then covers how to choose weft, weave structure, and sett to showcase the colors of your painted warp – either by preserving the original colors or by blending them with a carefully chosen weft color to bring out their beauty.
For those who don’t know me, I’m Tien Chiu, a long-time member of Black Sheep, and the Guild webmistress. I’ve been weaving since 2006, and have had my work featured in Handwoven, Shuttle Spindle & Dyepot, and Complex Weavers Journal. My handwoven wedding ensemble won Best in Show at CNCH and is currently part of the permanent collection at The Henry Ford Museum. I teach color in weaving online, at , and I take an “art science” approach to color – which is to say, I approach it in an analytical fashion, looking for underlying rules. You can read some of the articles I’ve written about color in weaving on my website: as well as  in the most recent two issues of Shuttle Spindle & Dyepot.

Mar 19, 2020 – Wedge Weave and Me : Postponed

This presentation  is postponed.

Due to public health concerns, we have canceled our March meeting and will postpone Janette’s presentation on wedge weave to a future date. As the folk dancers say, now is the time to do what we do best, and take care of one another.

What is wedge weave and why is it so much fun? Janette Gross will talk about her growing love for the technique and share some of the many ways it can be played with. Open slits, closed slits, traditional zig zag design, little scalloped edges, big scalloped edges, in combination with other techniques and more. She will also talk about how she develops a design from the initial idea or theme to sketches, color choices, sampling, final project calculations and then what happens on the loom. Pieces of Janette’s and others will be available for touching and discussion. If you have a piece you’ve done, bring it to share.


                                                         Ice Break 34 X 27″    – Photo: R. R. Jones
Ice Break and Vanishing Glaciers are currently in the IMPACT show at the Mills Building in San Francisco until mid-March.

Janette began weaving in 2003 after retiring from 30 years of full-time employment in the business world. She fell in love with weaving on a trip to New Mexico with a workshop at the 2002 Taos Wool Festival. She followed up with weaving classes and workshops in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2005, she moved to Santa Cruz, California. She sought out and met the well known rug weaver Martha Stanley, who became a dear friend and mentor. For over ten years, she has been weaving at least once a week in Martha’s studio under the redwoods in Watsonville, California. There are now five other weavers who dye yarns in an outdoor dye area and weave together in the studio. The group supports one another through encouragement, critique and friendship.

Janette’s passion for the Navajo (Diné) style of weaving called wedge weave has kept her engaged for many years. She enjoys exploring the many ways she can push wedge weave and yet stay true to the technique. Two of her pieces are currently included in the IMPACT tapestry show at the Mills Building in San Francisco and another has been accepted to the American Tapestry Alliance’s ATB13 to be shown in Massachusetts this summer and at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles in the fall.

When she is not traveling or weaving, Janette also derives a lot of pleasure out of working with weavers who are blind or visually impaired. She has been involved in the Santa Cruz guild’s program for the weavers for many years. She is a member of the Santa Cruz Textile Arts Guild, Tapestry Weavers West, the American Tapestry Alliance and the Textile Society of America.

Donna Jeffrey: Bobbin Lace – February 20, 2020



Donna was demonstrating spinning at the Alameda County Fair thirty years ago.  She took a break and walked into what was then Young California Building where there were a couple of ladies demonstrating bobbin lace.  She did not have a clue what that was but fell in love with it.  That fall she signed up for a class and was hooked.

Donna will demonstrate how to make bobbin lace and will bring samples of her work.

Kathy Hattori: Botanical Colors – January 16, 2020

Our speaker for the guild program on January 16th will be Kathy Hattori, longtime Black Sheep member. She has maintained her membership even though she’s lived in Seattle for many years.

Kathy will give us an update on her business, Botanical Colors, and some of her other ventures. In particular, she will talk about the work she does in the natural dye “sector” with brands and commercializing natural dyes.

An example is that Kathy has worked with the Eileen Fisher clothing line to re-dye clothing that the merchant buys back from customers. After Kathy re-dyes these pieces, they are repaired or re-styled by seamstresses and then sold at a discounted price. This reduces the pollution that results from working with chemical dyes and produces a desirable product that might have otherwise ended up in the waste stream.

We look forward to hearing Kathy’s presentation. Please visit her website for more information about Kathy’s work, helpful insights to mordanting, and using natural dyes:

Holiday Party December 19, 2019

Holiday Potluck & Gift Exchange

We will meet at our usual location (Gold Star Room, Redwood City’s Veterans Senior Center). We’ll begin setting up at 5:30 PM, with dinner at 6:30 PM.
After dinner, we’ll have a gift exchange. Gifts should be items that another “fiber person” would enjoy, priced at no more than $15. If you have the time, a handmade gift or a small gift purchased from another fiber artist is especially appreciated. We will use a lighthearted poem to guide the gift exchange. Betsy Blosser has agreed to be our leader again.

October 17, 2019 : Marlie de Swart

Our October speaker will be Marlie de Swart, a longtime spinner, knitter, and weaver. She lives in Bolinas and has a fiber arts store in Point Reyes where many west Marin artists display and sell their textile wares. She is a member of Fibershed and teaches classes in spinning and plying. She is committed to working with local farmers and uses fleeces from the west Marin area.

Marlie has designed many sweaters and vests, some which are showcased in her book, Knitting Woolscapes: Designs Inspired by Coastal Marin Wool. Here’s her website if you’d like to take a look:

Come to the October meeting and see samples of her beautiful work. I’ve attached a couple of photos.

  • Joan Ferguson, for the Programming Committee
Marlie de Swart
Marlie de Swart (photo by Paige Green)
Marlie de Swart knitted designs
Samples of Marlie de Swart designs

September, 2019 : Big Show and Tell !

When we were younger, going back to school in the fall often included a time for sharing “what you did on your summer vacation” as a way of getting to know one another better, and what better way to start off our Guild Season?  Please join us for our first meeting of the year! Bring your recent work, or in-progress study, that thing you started at CNCH or made at another conference and have now finished; and let us share with one another what we have been up to, whether in study groups, or away at workshops and fiber arts gatherings, or on our own in our homes and studios.  What’s new? What favorite old thing have you been studying on?  What would you like to be working on?  Bring it all, and let’s set up a big long table in the middle of the room, and gather around it to see and hear what our fellow guild members are up to. If you’d like, wear something handmade.