The finished solar dyed kimono sweater!!!!

I really like how this project turned out. The sweater can be worn open, with the collar folded back, or crossed and held together with a sweater pin; this pin is a hammered copper spiral I bought from an artist online.

This sweater took nearly five months to complete. I didn’t know exactly what I was getting myself into when I started. It includes 119 four-inch woven squares and four half-sized rectangles. It’s my first completely handmade sweater. I learned a lot making it. It contains several sustainable and experimental features:

  • I found the Weave Easy Hand Loom, a vintage 1971 miniature rigid heddle loom, at a thrift store for $3. I discovered that I liked both little looms and rigid heddle looms during this process.
  • I bought the worsted weight wool weft yarns from thrift stores and fellow weavers. (The weft yarns are vertical in the body of the sweater.)
  • I learned how to dye those weft yarns, which were originally undyed, in a solar panel cooker using food coloring and vinegar, a relatively non-toxic dye choice and fossil fuel-free dyeing process. I even constructed a large panel cooker out of used materials to use just for dyeing.
  • The warp yarns were leftover bits of wool yarn from my stash. The granny square composition allowed me to mix and match these leftovers into a harmonious whole.
  • I learned how to lace together the squares invisibly. I removed the squares that I originally placed under the arms with two half-sized rectangles to provide more space for arm movement. It is easy to weave rectangles on this loom. I folded the two removed squares into triangles to make gussets, a common feature on historical, loom-shaped garments.
  • I learned how to knit an edging on handwoven fabric.

The kitties kept me company throughout the entire process, from start to finish.

At last week’s Flagstaff fiber arts gathering at my house I showed the almost-completed sweater to everyone. They liked the little bit of frilliness provided by the bottom edging and advised me not to block it very much. I took their advice. My friend Lauren loved the sweater so much she kept making jokes about wondering if she could walk off with it without me noticing. She now wants to make her own similar sweater on a pin loom she has that she has never used.

Hanging on my warping board you can see my unfinished cochineal-dyed wool vest woven by my mother, who is also in the picture, as well as the backstrap loom scarf warp. I plan to finish those projects next. I will also start the knitted headband I have designed to coordinate with the sweater. An autumn chill has arrived.

The rest of my outfit is thrift store silk.




Artur Sochan

Photographers usually catch the bug of their art reading magazines or going to exhibitions. However, Artur Sochan fell in love with argentic photography by discovering the macabre portfolio of a family friend, a forensic photographer… The morbid crime scenes and cadavers he then saw have left their print on his future art as a photographer and film director.

Born in Poland in 1970, the Warsaw artist is indeed fascinated by bodies, gloomy places and broken objects. The flesh of his models is pallid, cold and rough just like the one of a corpse. The background, minimalistic abandoned places, reminds of lunatic asylums or prisons, even dissection rooms. Death is surrounding… Added to those disturbing elements is the vintage treatment Sochan gives to his pictures, succeeding to create a very spooky mood. And yet, life is at the heart of his work, him who dreams to shot “the perfect portrait of a soul”. First, it is present with the eroticism of the nude bodies, with discreet tattoos and playful masks. Behind the fetichism hides questions of identity and personality. Is it madness, is it freedom, is it love or lust? The more intricate the costumes get (due to the fascination of Sochan for Mexican and Indian ethnology), the more mysterious and troubling the portraits are, with bold body art, mystic headdress and the scary broken dolls, reminding of Voodoo and witchcraft.



Drokpa of India: “Around 2,500 Drokpas live in three small villages in a disputed territory between India and Pakistan. The only fertile valley of Ladakh. The Drokpas are completely different– physically, culturally, linguistically and socially – from the Tibeto-Burman inhabitants of most of Ladakh.”

Jimmy Nelson photo series ‘Before They Pass Away' a book of 500 images, recording the way of some of the worlds most threatened tribes.