Project Highlight | Walking Libraries (2016-2019)

Project Highlight | Walking Libraries

Threaded Events

Posted on: Monday, December 31, 2012

A contemplative moment at 'event of a thread' (photo by Abigail Doan)

It is true. Everyone is talking about Ann Hamilton's installation, 'event of a thread' at The Park Avenue Armory in NYC, and with good reason – it is modern interactive textile magic.

I particularly loved this quote from the exhibition's statement flyer: "Anni Albers, in writing for Encyclopedia Brittanica, reflected that all weaving traces back to the event of a thread."

How apropos for the times that we are living in and the efforts of so many who are trying to re-connect us with the warp and weft of identifying, sharing, and reviving thread traditions.

Here are just a few selections of what I consider to be exquisite events of a thread:

Moshekwa Langa

Щастлива Нова Година! Happy New Year and 2013!

Fete for the Senses 2012

Posted on: Tuesday, December 25, 2012

'Fete for the Senses' table top installation by Abigail Doan

Settling into life in NYC again has been a bit surreal. I feel fortunate to have been re-introduced to the creative spirit of this vibrant city with the collaborative effort of artists, designers, and makers featured at Fete for the Senses. I am still processing all of the goodness that transpired and hope to write more about the event soon. Until then, here is a sampling of images and views, with more photos on Tumblr and Pinterest.

'Fete for the Senses' table top detail by Abigail Doan

Details and surfaces from BALMASEDA and Sassa Bjorg

EKO-LAB recycled glass bottle and cord necklace

Handmade Herkimer rock crystal and organic cotton neck piece by EKO-LAB

Marion + Willson textile collection debut at 'Fete for the Senses'

Wishing everyone a joyful and peaceful conclusion to 2012.

Ancient Futures | Thessaloniki Inspiration

Posted on: Tuesday, September 11, 2012

detail of weighted loom at the Museum of Byzantine Culture, Thessaloniki
self portrait with ceramics at the Museum of Byzantine Culture, Thessaloniki
Gold treasure from the Museum of Byzantine Culture, Thessaloniki

Just a sampling of some of the objects, scenes and textures that inspired me during last week's two day trip to Thessaloniki. All photos by Abigail Doan.

Moving Meshes by Maria Blaisse

Posted on: Saturday, September 08, 2012

'Moving Meshes' by Maria Blaisse at Domaine de Boisbuchet

Please enjoy my recent article on designer Maria Blaisse's textile and movement research project 'Moving Meshes' at Domaine de Boisbuchet in the Southwest of France. 

Beyond Domestic Space

Posted on: Sunday, September 02, 2012

I sometimes feel as if I am overly engaged with my domestic space. I think long and hard about how each day is orchestrated and often obsess about pockets of light, fleeting images, as well as the work at hand or under foot. 

This – all in conjunction with having a family and (lovingly) balancing the needs and desires of those around me. You would really laugh if you saw how I weave my hours together. The methods are rather unorthodox and the cool rhythm? 'Organic' for lack of a better term.

Lace Window, Sofia (photo by Abigail Doan, 2012)

I often wonder what happens behind the windows and curtains of homes around me. The toil and worry that must go on – despite our modern methods and the technology that is meant to connect us and make our lives more productive.

My neighbors' terraces at dusk

This is why I make a point of walking and observing in the outdoors every day – beyond my domestic space as a way to understand the labor behind a life well-lived. The act of doing so makes (some of) the obsessing melt away, and I am always treated to moments that I might not have otherwise discovered as someone whose tasks seem so imperative.

Exterior shot in Sofia, 2012

I say that we should labor for the light ... or perhaps the lighter side of what motivates and sustains us. The inside and the outside really do want to meld and the steps are right there – emerging from the atmosphere of the seemingly mundane and routine.

(all photos by Abigail Doan)

The Warp and Weft of Returning Home

Posted on: Friday, July 13, 2012

Hand-dyed and handwoven shawl by my mother, Abigail McEnroe

It is always so wonderful to visit my parents on their small farm in upstate New York – to experience first hand the 'sheep-to-shawl' process continually underway in my mother's pastures, barn, and upstairs studio.

Humanely procured fleece like this is an art form unto itself

My mother has been working to perfect this Blue Faced Leicester and Finnsheep cross for years now, and she seems close to satisfied in terms of the length of the fleece and its gorgeous, lustrous quality. During the time of my visit she was busy preparing for various craft fairs and exhibits in the Cooperstown region, and she gave me a sneak preview of the above shawl and its painted skein warp technique. Read more about the 'painted skein' technique in this great article by Aviva Leigh for HAND/EYE magazine online.

A quiet moment in my mother's fiber and weaving studio

There is something transformative about experiencing the field and the flock together – while observing the ewes' movements from dawn to dusk, and witnessing how all of this translates into a final creation that is either wearable or simply an homage to humane husbandry and old-fashioned farming practices. I guess that I am a bit spoiled as some one who observed this slow process during my childhood, and thanks to my mother, now have a lot of these ideas ingrained like the warp and weft of a colorful map that brings me home again – no matter where I chose to roam.

My mother's flock grazing peacefully at sunset

(all photos by Abigail Doan)

Balmaseda Hand-Spun Fabric Bundle

Posted on: Friday, June 22, 2012

Hand-spun fiber from recycled fabric scraps gathered from designer studios
and production floors across New York City and Brooklyn (photo: Abigail Doan)

Such a treat to spend some quality time with Zaida Adriana Goveo Balmaseda of BALMASEDA in NYC yesterday. After over a year of communicating virtually and sharing our love for the myriad ways that fiber might resourcefully be celebrated in art and fashion, we sat down for a delicious meal at ABC Kitchen downtown.

Zaida holds her hand-spun bundle of pure textile goodness

How lucky was I to receive this blissful bundle of hand-spun recycled fiber scraps (beautifully labeled) from Zaida's studio? The hues are amazing, and it is so happy in my own studio amidst my fiber forms and other vintage textile bits that I have accumulated over the years.

BALMASEDA will be presenting some of their latest creations at The Green Fashion Bazaar on July 15 during Amsterdam Fashion Week. You can follow their news and event announcements on Facebook and Twitter

I previously featured BALMASEDA in this article for EcoSalon, 'Plying A More Fashionable Fiber Frontier'.

World Environment Day 2012

Posted on: Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Sea life in Sithonia, Greece (photo by Abigail Doan)
My boys exploring the coast early on a Sunday morning (photo by Abigail Doan)
My mother, Abigail Trevor, makes friend with a starfish
A micro/macro view of the coast in Sithonia, Greece (photo by Abigail Doan)

It's World Environment Day 2012

Teach your children to love what is both fragile and resilient.

Lítill Terrariums Land in Berlin

Posted on: Thursday, May 31, 2012

(photo courtesy of Lítill and Lauren Coleman)

A beautiful new installation by artist friend Lauren Coleman of Lítill terrariums currently on view through July 15, 2012 at Direktorenhaus in Berlin. 

You can read my review at

Holding Pattern(s) and Landing

Posted on: Sunday, May 20, 2012

My Alabama Chanin DIY t-shirt in a holding pattern over lower Manhattan

I am taking off from NYC for Bulgaria today and this past week feels like a dream state of conversations scraps, beautiful new threads, and uncanny metaphors. I used to be a good traveler but after years of being an avid adventurer and nesting in various pockets of the globe, being in flight makes me more nervous than it used to. I now have to visualize positive things at the end of the journey – reconnecting with my boys, sharing presents from the road, eating a good meal and having a glass of bootleg Bulgarian red wine upon arrival. I also love how my husband and I walk around the house for a few hours sharing stories and anecdotes while I unpack and settle in.

This week was definitely one of overlapping patterns and deep-seated memories that wanted to surface. Many of these sensations were heightened by my time at New York Design Week's MAKESHIFT 2012 events created by the hugely generous Natalie and team at Alabama Chanin. From the hum of the carnival-like atmosphere during Tuesday night's talk at The Standard East Village to the Crafting Fashion Pop Up at Billy Reid to the DIY sewing circle on Friday afternoon in the Standard's penthouse – all were fertile ground for both digging deep and finding a freshly torqued groove. 

It's a lot to take in when you are also processing the vibrant textures of an urban environment like NYC. I honestly felt like more of a farm girl again marveling at the vast spread of eclectic offerings and hues after being in Eastern Europe for close to a year. What I do know is that participating in Friday's sewing circle with Natalie Chanin and friends left me charged in a way that reconfirmed why I came to a place like NYC in the first place. The view from The Standard East Village reminded me more of fields and plots that need cultivating than of urban patches of nutrient-depleted soil or spirit.

Reverse appliqué out in the open by Alabama Chanin

Decades ago (as a teenager, that is),  I would sneak into the city by train to map out a plan of action that included seeing art shows, people watching (fashion included), as well as sketching the outlines of things in Central Park or along the Hudson River. It was all quite dangerous at times, but it seemed like something that I had to do in order to understand the road ahead. The next morning I would wake up at home again in a farmhouse that had a spinning wheel or two, sheep grazing outside, and some neglected chores to get done.

It took me decades to find a way to make this all overlap in a manner or lifestyle that might make sense to myself and others. Working with fiber and caring for the environment (both rural, urban, and in-between) helps me to do this. Living in a far off place like Bulgaria is perhaps the new soil that I need to till. Using my hands to sew an appliqué t-shirt at Friday's workshop was the holding pattern over the city that allowed me to take it all in again and remember why there is goodness in just about every square block and stitch of a densely settled community. So much of our time is spent in thinking about how to move forward, create a perfect product, and even touch down before we know where we really want to go. Perhaps this is why flying is so scary sometimes. It is the landing that reminds us of what we have to deal with once we arrive.

Fiber form in-progress with recycled fiber, moss and lace from Bulgaria, hand-spun wool,
a vintage bead from another decade and a new bead on top from Heath Ceramics

I say that, in addition to humming, we consider extending our holding pattern(s) so that we might take in the full view, expand the conversation, let some other folks pick up the thread, and in turn craft a better course of action. It's not just a quilt that we are making or a sparkling green city for that matter, but rather identifying the space in between so that new things might grow and surprise us as the needle skims the horizon or pokes up through the organic cotton jersey that has it's own natural properties.

Consider the runway as every day. The community as a definition of what is needed – not what you are needing or fearing.

Things will open up and seem so much more fashionable in ways that offer reverse patterns and random threads that often look better hanging loose on the outside than neatly clipped underneath the garment or shiny wing's surface.

MAKESHIFT 2012 /  Alabama Chanin events

To learn more about community and Holding Pattern, read more about this project by Interboro at PS1 last summer.

Makeshift Lyrics

Posted on: Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Alabama Chanin and Heath Ceramics collaboration

It was a beautifully dewy evening in NYC last night –  a great conclusion to my first day back in the U.S. after living for close to a year in Eastern Europe. I might have seemed a bit odd in conversation and wide-eyed to some while soaking up Alabama Chanin's MAKESHIFT event at The Standard, East Village hotel. I was honestly feeling rather jet-lagged and also overwhelmed by the creative embrace of so many good friends and new faces at this much-anticipated design week gathering.

I will write more about the hands-on making and collective sharing that will take place in a round table sewing circle on Friday with Chanin and invited friends. But for now, the idea that I want to share with you and encourage you to consider is the revival of the hum. 

Edith Heath, founder of Heath Ceramics, feels and hears the hum

Cathy Bailey of Heath Ceramics described for us how the sound of humming wheels and activity really went to her core when she visited this Sausalito-based ceramics studio/facility before taking it on as a business. Creating, producing, and finessing surfaces by hand and under one roof is a process like no other.

Consider also the humming that occurs when you are merrily crafting, cooking, mending, or dreaming about something that makes you profoundly happy – busy to the gills but content with doing the work at hand – loving one's thread and engaged with the materials in hand.

Ancient Future Finds in Macedonia

Posted on: Thursday, May 10, 2012

Weighted loom at The Museum on Water
Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
Detail of weighted loom
Village recreation floating on the waters of
Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
I had a magical time visiting the Republic of Macedonia this past weekend. The Sveti (Saint) Naum monastery complex was a stunning site as was Lake Ohrid's, The Museum on Water. My favorite find was the weighted loom pictured above. So boldly sculptural and the perfect fusion of ancient and modern elements. 

(all photos by Abigail Doan)

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