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.


  1. Yay! for learning experiences. Since I am just now really getting into the 'spinning' that ERIN started me on (she disguised it as a going away gift - HA, she is sneaky that one is) there will be NO WEAVING in this house!!! After all, there is no room for looms as I have loads of fleeces hanging out everywhere (some of which might be very good for rug warp)

    1. Spinning and Weaving are reciprocal gateways :) If you try one, you will -eventually- try the other.

      Meanwhile, fleeces can be dyed (as you know) and spun. Which makes an entirely different look as dyeing the yarn.

      BUt you'll weave. I promise. It'll happen ;-)

  2. Ya, Cheryl, especially when I send you paypal money so you can pick up a loom for me out there in Beautiful Arizona. How it gets from there to here...mere details, my dear!

    Thanks for the call last night - hearing about the sheepies always make me smile :)