Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Upside of Warping and A Little Side Trip

Is there really a downside? I think not, unless your name is Kerry and you get a sack full of email from me before 7:00 AM.

She gets all those emails because when I'm warping, and there are no distractions, I get a great deal of quality thinking time in. And I'm a morning person. We're deep in the planning phase for our fall Overshot class (8 weeks) and the two summer workshops we'll be doing - Dyeing (1 day) and Rag Rugs (two weekends).

I'm winding warp for the Fall 2013 Overshot class. We want samples of the project students will be doing and we need something to photograph for the catalog. The project is textile-based, in that they will weave two 22" square sections of overshot as pillow covers, or one 44"x 22" as a runner or for any other use they'd like.

It took me a little time to realize that I don't necessarily need to have an immediate purpose for the fabric I'm weaving. It's fabric. I can use it in just about any way I want (a million variables not withstanding). Liberating my design process to encompass the world of FABRIC and TEXTILE instead of limiting it to SCARF or RUNNER can be very exciting.
One of my favorite authors and weaving gurus. Peggy makes ethereal textiles in silk.

On the other's nice to have an end in mind. I have several skeins of sport-weight raw silk, that wonderful textured matte stuff in pretty browns and tans. I haven't quite decided what I want to do with it. I only know that when I saw it, at Tess Designer Yarns booth at the Maryland Sheep & Wool festival in 2012, I knew I had to weave something with it. I don't want a complicated structure but I do want to show off the colors. It isn't fabulously strong so I may need to combine it with something else as a warp.

In the meantime, I have PLENTY of other weaving to do for upcoming Fall art shows so as soon as the overshot sample comes off the loom I'll be onto that.

As Kerry mentioned in the last post, we're in a little bit of project overload, and we don't entirely hate it. The overshot is on Bam Bam, the Hearthside loom, and I'm almost done with the first sample. There will be two samples for photographing because we need something representative for the fall class and we need it early for the printed catalog. The next project is also overshot, this time for the class sample. Kerry is winding the warp for that tonight and I'll weave it on one of the classroom looms. In the Loom Lounge, Kerry is just started green and white towels, and I am tying on for waffle weave towels.

Last weekend we road-tripped to State College, PA, for a 36" Leclerc Nilus for Kerry, and to Alexandria for a 48" Macomber for me. Our personal projects are being woven on those and we're so excited! It's comforting to have looms with all their pieces-parts. Kerry's Nilus still had it's warp beam crank! Mine doesn't but I can use a wrench. Along the way we stopped at The Mannings (how could we not?) and had a wonderful conversation with Carol, one of the owners, about some of the very vintage looms they have. Kerry got huggy with the barn loom, and who could blame her? I'll let her tell the story of the barn loom. We also made some purchases but not as much as you might think. We pawed through Tom Knisely's pile o' rugs while Carol talked a little about them and that was worth the trip all by itself.

Weave on, dudes!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Adventures in Teaching

The last few weeks has been incredibly busy for Erin and I. As Erin mentioned, we've been teaching a weaving class at The Hermitage Museum in Norfolk with class meeting several throughout the week. And of course we're also trying to find times to do the silly things in life. Like work full time. And maybe spin. Or knit. Silly us! There's only 24 hours in the day!

*phew* I know that I'm on project overload - but secretly I'm loving every minute of it.

Our students have made real progress on their projects! In this course, students are weaving a tencel twill scarf; they've been able to select their own twill pattern as well as their own colors. The options were seemingly endless for how their projects could turn out.

We have 6 students in class, and experience levels from "What's a loom" to "I wove in college 20 years ago" to "I own a loom but have no idea how to use it."  Keeping everyone on the same timeline has been an interesting task! To me, somedays it feels like herding cats but most days, everything comes together and the class goes very smoothly. Its a joy to watch the students so eager about their work and to watch those weaving 'lightbulb' moments go off!

As Erin mentioned, we've geared up for continuing our weaving courses.

This summer we're very excited to offer a Weekend Rag Rug Workshop. (Say that 3 times fast! Eek!) which is really our secret plan to infect everyone with the Weaving bug.  I am hopeful that we have enough applicants that we can offer this workshop on 2 different weekends this summer.

Here's my first rag rug made from jeans and cotton rug-warp. Its lumpy bumpy and uneven. Why? Well,  because it is a design element, of course!

Don't buy that?
Ok. Fine.
The reality is that its lumpy because I knotted the denim strips together instead of sewing them because I was too lazy to get the sewing machine out.
And its uneven because I just couldn't be bothered to measure out the fabric so that every strip was exactly the same width.

But, being 100% honest, I still love the darned thing. In all its lumpy uneven goodness. Its squishy beneath your feet, nice and thick from the denim, and was an incredibly quick weave. I think once I started weaving, total weave-time was less than an hour. Warping and beaming took maybe an hour in total.

We'll also have a Dye-lab this summer, where participants will be able to dye some sock yarn using food safe dyes (my personal dye-method!)  The neat part is that this custom-dyed sock yarn will be used as weft in the Fall weaving course: an Overshot project.

I've got some yarn in the dye pot now which is some of our sample yarn as we test our lesson plans for the Overshot project. (And might I say Kudos to Erin for her awesome lesson planning. She's got a knack.)

I have no pictures of current weaving for me. My loom is currently being used as a class-loom so it is warped with a student's project.  My most recent weaves are all gifts for other folks - something I love to do. :) 

And Erin's Minerva loom is currently housing some amazing towels that I will let her tell you all about in the next post. (Trust me. They're a story of her incredible passion for doing this whole fiber-addiction as a true art, not just a passing whim which is more my M.O.)

One of the things I'm enjoying most about this teaching experience is learning the different teaching styles of different people. As a riding instructor, most of my teaching work has been in a solitary environment - meaning I was the only instructor in the riding ring. I didn't have to debrief after lessons, or confer on methodology. But in our weaving studio, we are sharing students, space, looms, lesson plans, etc, and really bouncing off of each other's strengths and weaknesses. This is a new and educational experience for me.

I feel incredibly lucky to be working with someone I admire. I'm not only learning from Erin's weaving expertise and passion, I'm also learning about myself - both as an artist and as an instructor.

Its a really enlightening experience and I'm incredibly thankful for the opportunity.