Saturday, March 10, 2018

I'm teaching at Convergence in July!!!

I began my life as a weaver in a 6 week class with Norman Kennedy at the Marshfield School of Weaving in 1980, and I have been teaching weaving classes for over 20 years.  But my Bluemont Concert Series day job has kept me from participating in most of the many exciting summer conferences and seminars - until recently.  I decided I could squeeze one conference into our very busy summer concert schedule a few years ago, and this worked well enough that I taught at two conferences last year - Midwest and MAFA.

On the strength of these successes, I went ahead and applied to teach at Convergence in 2018 - and got accepted!  I am really, really excited about going to Convergence for a number of reasons:

- It's THE national weaving conference in the U.S - I'll meet lots of weavers and fellow teachers.

- Convergence is taking place in Reno, Nevada this year - this will be my first visit to Nevada.
I love visiting new places and I look forward to connecting with guilds and schools in the western states for future classes.

- I'm going to room with my weaving road trip buddy Liz, who just moved from Virginia to New Mexico.  We are going to pretend she hasn't moved away and carry on having weaving adventures together!

There will be -

Can you say Marketplace

 There are so many interesting and exciting classes!

I will be leading 3 different seminars and teaching 2 workshops

Introduction to Hand Spindles - Friday, July 6th - 3 Hour Seminar

The Colorful History of Tartan - Saturday, July 7th - 90 Minute morning Seminar
Tartan Weaving - Tuesday-Thursday, July 10-12th - 3 Day Workshop

L'Amour de Maman - Acadian Weaving - Saturday, July 7th - 90 Minute afternoon Seminar
L'Amour de Maman - Acadian Weaving - Sunday-Monday, July 8-9th - 2 Day Workshop

Won't you join me?  It will be a terrific adventure!  Convince a friend to come along - there is still room in both of my workshop classes.

I hope to see you there!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

2017 was One Amazing Year, part the second

Picking up from my previous post - my friend, Martha Owen came to visit in July - Martha is the resident Spinner/Knitter/Dyer at the Campbell Folk School.  We spent a day hiking on the Appalachian Trail near my home and at Harpers Ferry WV and then drove up to Millersville PA together where we were both teaching at the MAFA conference.  MAFA = MidAtlantic Fiber Association.  
After all that hiking, my dog Idgy really wanted to come with us to MAFA!  She leapt over all the luggage into the van to prove that there really was room for her.  Sorry, Idgy!  No dogs allowed.

This is my home regional conference but only the second MAFA conference I've been able to attend.  It was a great gathering in spite of scorching temperatures which resulted in brown outs by the local power company.  Then the A/C broke in building where I was teaching Acadian Weaving on our second afternoon,  but the building where Martha was teaching beginning spinning had the heat stuck on!  Creative use of fans saved the weekend.

We also fit in a little antiquing on the way back, although this sweet old blanket came from a vendor at the MAFA market.  I hope to weave a reproduction of this before too long.

September found me heading back to Vermont with my road trip buddy, Liz, for a week long Tweeds and Estate Checks class at the Marshfield School of Weaving.  The students had a great time working on the old looms, weaving a sample on each warp and then choosing a loom to weave off a few yards of tweed cloth. Here is the Hebridean tweed web - we sampled with many different weft colors.  One of the exciting aspects of traditional tweed is how much of an impact the color of the weft thread has on the fabric - these color and weave effects are endlessly fascinating!
To finish off the week, Norman Kennedy led a wool waulking for us on Friday afternoon - a real highlight!

The last weekend of September brings a great local fiber festival - the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival.  On Friday, I volunteered once again to jury for the fleece sale check in and in the afternoon taught my How To Choose a Fleece class - I really appreciate being able to bring the students right into the fleece sale and have them unrolling and learning hands on about fleece.  On Saturday and Sunday I taught four spinning classes - Hand Spindles (twice), Handpaint Magic Spinning and Traditional Wool Preparation.  I really was too busy to take photos!

In early October I made my third trip of the year to the Marshfield School of Weaving in Vermont for a 3 day October spinning class co-taught with Norman Kennedy.  My husband came along on this trip and we had a nice visit with our son in Northampton, MA - I visited WEBS twice! - and then my husband hiked and drove around Vermont all weekend enjoying the colorful splendor that is leaf season in Vermont.
This class was treated to a tour of some of the wonderful antique wheels and fiber tools that the Marshfield School of Weaving has recently acquired from the now dismantled American Textile Heritage Museum.
We had several antique wheels in class for students to try.

And I brought home a stunning Quebec wheel that I bought from Norman - an early wedding anniversary present.  Did you know that the 35th anniversary is for spinning wheels, too? 

These Canadian Production Wheels - CPW to the aficionado - have large wheels and are FAST! Great for high twist and/or speedy spinning.  They were designed to spin mill prepared pencil roving at a time when there were many wool mills and home spinners were trying to compete with factory production.  If you want to learn more, there is  great group on Ravelry called CPW Lovers.

We were away 10 days for this New England trip, then I was home for 10 days, catching up with my day job and home before I drove down to North Carolina for a week long Aran & Gansey Design knitting class at the John C Campbell Folk School.  It was a real treat to catch autumn in New England and then again in the Smoky Mountains!
I had a great group of students who produced quite an array of samples in our week together.

And then it was time for the Southeast Animal Fiber Fair in Asheville, where once again I taught my Acadian Weaving class.  I arrived Friday afternoon , set up my classroom and then dashed over to the fleece sale area.  A beautiful Corriedale fleece and half of a Wensleydale ram fleece were squeezed into my car for the trip home!

The grand finale of my 2017 teaching year was a weekend Tartan Throws class at Red Stone Glen Fiber Arts Center in Pennsylvania.  This was my first time teaching at Red Stone Glen and we have already scheduled another class for November 2018.  I had always enjoyed working with Tom Knisely and Sara Bixler at The Mannings, and they have brought all their expertise and sparkling creative energy to make Red Stone Glen a very special place for learning and camaraderie.

I celebrated my 60th birthday that weekend!  Is this the best birthday card ever?  What a wonderful way to enter my next decade!

I'm looking forward to teaching in some new venues in 2018, including Convergence in Reno, Nevada!  More on this soon.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

2017 was One Amazing Year!

In 2017 I taught more classes and traveled more places than ever before!  It was a bit of a whirlwind, and I'm happy to have 3 months at home now to reorganize my house and give more focus to my day job and family, but it was a lot of fun.  This year the majority of my classes were either L'Amour de Maman - Acadian Weaving or Tartan Weaving.

January saw me back in Vermont, teaching L'Amour de Maman at the Marshfield School of Weaving.

In February I taught L'Amour de Maman for the Williamsburg Spinners and Weavers Guild and did a wool waulking for the guild meeting.  Sometimes in spite of all my efforts a group of volunteers cannot agree on the rhythm - I believe there is video evidence on Facebook...

March brought the first tartan class of the year for the Weavers Guild of Greater Baltimore
as well as a meeting program on the History of Tartan and a wool waulking.

And then I went to the Florida Tropical Weavers Guild Conference.

This was only the second weaving conference I have attended and I gotta say that weaving conferences are terrific fun!  It's delightful to see so many weavers and to meet up with other teachers.  Michele Benson wove the longest blanket warp for the wool waulking, just a gorgeous length of wool.  This was probably the first and last time a wool waulking has been interrupted to rush outside to watch a missile launch!

Also, Florida has Sand Hill Cranes, Manatees and Alligators - all very exciting to see!

In April, I had the pleasure of hosting Kathrin Weber of Blazing Shuttles, who came to Virginia to teach two classes for the Waterford Weavers Guild.  Kathrin is a delightful woman and a patient and inspiring teacher.

I was very happy to finally have the opportunity to take one of her weaving classes and also her dye class.

May always begins with the excitement of the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, and this was my second year volunteering for the Fleece Sale.

Some great sweater spotting in the fleece sale amongst customers and fellow volunteers -

I learn so much by handling and examining so many different fleeces and I love helping shoppers find the best fleece for their needs.

I came home with a Texel and a Romanov fleece to add to my teaching inventory and also one of Lee Langstaff's Shepherds Hey Farm fleeces, the lovely Tallulah.  And just a little yarn...

Then, I flew down to Arkansas to teach an Acadian Weaving class for Red Scottie Fibers in Eureka Springs.  Debbie Davis has a beautiful shop and teaching studio and Eureka Springs is a fascinating and delightful little town.

It is built on the side of a mountain and I spent my free time walking up and down and enjoying the architecture and some of the many springs and grottos.  I'm very excited to be returning to Red Scottie for two classes in September 2018.

At the end of May, I presented another Waulking of the Wool and a hand spindle class at the first High Fiber Festival at the historic Hickory Neck Episcopal Church in Toano, Virginia.

In June I drove to Indianapolis to spend a week teaching for the Midwest Weavers Association Conference.  This is my sister Carolyn's regional conference and we got to room together, plus she took my 3 day pre-conference Scottish Sampler class.

This round robin class combines tartan samples with tweeds and estate checks for a full dose of traditional weaving from Scotland, and we finish up with a mini waulking!  I also taught Traditional Wool Preparation and a lecture demo version of 18th c. Household Textiles.

One of the most exciting parts of this conference was seeing the original and reproduction Linsey Coverlet.  This is a pieced and quilted bedcover made almost entirely of handspun, hand dyed, handwoven linsey woolsey fabrics.  It is simply extraordinary.

There are very few of these coverlets in existence and very little to be found about them on the internet.  A group of spinners & weavers who volunteer at the Conner Prairie museum near Indianapolis has been working for many years on a reproduction of this piece and in this presentation we were able to see both the original and the reproduction.  Countless hours went into this project and the results are wonderful to see!

Coming soon - One Amazing Year, part the second!

2016 Textile Highlights

Reposted from 2/21/17 - because I accidentally deleted some posts.... I will replace the photos soon!

It's good to look back and assess from time to time.  My 2017 schedule started in a whoosh, so I haven't had much time until now to recap the previous year.

I had a quiet winter, starting the year with a wonderful week long visit to Vermont in January to spend time with my teacher, friend and mentor Norman Kennedy.  As an added bonus, I finally got to spend time getting to know Minnesota weaver Bruce Engebretson who was also visiting Norman that week.  Bruce wove a Rio Grande style blanket on Norman's loom and I wove off a set of samples of a German Two Block blanket for a study group.  I also went through much of Norman's textile collection, photographing and taking notes of blankets and coverlets and linens that Norman had woven or collected over the years.

Some of these textiles will appear in my future classes and slide shows, and I brought home a few pieces of tweed and a beautiful old linen Ms&Os towel that Norman gave to me.

One of my long time singing partners, Linda teaches art at a school in Middleburg, Virginia.  The school has a culture study each year, choosing a different country and exploring many aspects of the people, place and culture.  in 2016 they studied Peru and my friend asked if I could help with spinning and weaving, so I took a crash course in Peruvian pebble weave and did 5 workshops with her students.  My husband was my trusty assistant and everyone had a good time.

In my day job life, I am the business manager and Artist-in-Education program manager for the Bluemont Concert Series.  In a small non-profit, you wear many different hats!  I set up cultural and educational programs for schools through our AIE program, so I also arranged for some old friends who are part of the Bolivian musical ensemble Rumisonko to play for the students, - so it was my favorite kind of day, filled with weaving, wonderful traditional altiplano music and a Peruvian lunch prepared by the parents.

 In April, I returned to the Powhatan Festival of Fiber for my second year.  I did two wool waulkings and taught a spindle spinning class.  I will be sorry to miss the festival in 2017, but it is scheduled for the same day as my daughter Lily's wedding - April 29th!

I had a booth with my Peace Weavers yarn business at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival for 25 years and enjoyed sharing the work and fun with each of my three sisters and my Mom as well as a few stalwart fiber friends.  I decided that 25 was a gracious plenty, so in 2016 instead of setting up and running a sales booth,  I volunteered with the fleece sale at MS&W.  It was wet and cold on the check-in day but the team of volunteers were undaunted!  We processed over 1,100 fleeces - they were literally piled up to the ceiling on both sides of the building while those fleeces entered for judging were examined.  Then we pulled the sale only fleeces into the middle of the building and sorted them by class and wool type.

I was busy with my family on Saturday but I returned on Sunday to help for a few hours on the sales floor and with the check out after the festival closed Sunday evening.  It was a lot of work but all the volunteers were in good spirits and it was a pleasure to be a part of that team.  I love seeing and handling fleece - just for the wooly pleasure, but also for the opportunity to expand my knowledge about fleece and breeds.  I hope to volunteer again this year, and hopefully manage a little more restraint in the fleece buying department.  I bought four fleeces: Black Welsh Mountain, Cheviot, Clun Forest and Columbia.

A week after MS&W, I drove to the John C Campbell Folk School in North Carolina's Smokey Mountains to teach a week long spinning & dyeing class called Handpaint Magic Spinning.  While most of the classes I teach are based on historical and/or traditional techniques and textiles, this class was inspired by my deep love of color. 

I know that many spinners love to collect handpainted rovings but some delay spinning these beauties for fear of "messing up".  Other spinners have turned bright multicolored rovings into muddy yarn.  So this class offers a variety of ways to use handpainted rovings to their best advantage.  With the 5 or 6 day Folk School format there is also time to dive in and paint some roving, too.



Then I stayed on to be a student for a change in a weekend natural dyeing class taught by my friends Martha Owen and Elizabeth Johnston.  It was a terrific weekend spent with old friends and new, with more than a dozen dye pots and lots of learning!

I have been a member of the international Complex Weavers Guild for many years and attended the Complex Weavers Seminars in 2012 when they were held in Washington DC.  I applied to lead seminars for the June 2016 Seminars near Chicago, Illinois and was delighted to be selected to lead two - The History of Tartan and Acadian Weaving.  I have slide lectures for these two classes and it was great fun to share my enthusiasm on these subjects.  This is a wonderful organization and I hope to be able to participate in the CW Seminars again in future years.

One of the highlights of my summer season was the opportunity to meet Louise Hunt, who has a podcast called Caithness Craft Collective that I have enjoyed listening to for many years.  Louise and her family came to Washington DC for vacation and spent a weekend in Pennsylvania for the Twinset Knitting Retreat.  I offered to meet them up near Lancaster PA at Twinset Jan's farm and drive them back to DC, which gave us lots of car time for blathering away like old friends!  We made a slight detour through Leesburg, Virginia where we all enjoyed Vietnamese food and a Bluemont Summer concert with the incomparable DuPont Brass band, and I got to introduce Louise and her family to my husband Peter and my daughter Lily who were working the concert as well as to my daughter Hannah and her husband and young son, Benjamin.

At the end of a busy Bluemont Summer concert season, I returned to the Campbell Folk School to teach Tartan Weaving for their Scottish theme week - this year the students wove tartan throws with 2/8 wool and to wet finish these properly, we had a waulking at the end of the week.  I also held a waulking of the wool at the Waterford Homes & Craft Tour in early October.  It was a very soggy weekend and we managed one song in front of the Waterford Weavers Guild tent and then one more song inside the tent to escape the downpour.

There was more wallowing happily in fleeces as I helped the team of jurors at my local fiber festival, the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival in late September.  I juried fleece for several hours and then taught a class on How To Buy a Fleece, talking to the students for a while and then returning to the fleece jurying with them for some hands on experience.  This is one of my favorite classes to teach!  I think every fiber festival that has a fleece sale should have something like this to help educate spinners on the joys and many choices involved in working from fleece to yarn.
I also taught a few classes over the festival weekend - a 3 hour version of HandPaint Magic Spinning, Traditional Wool Preparation and Point Spinning on Great Wheel and Spindle.


To wrap up my teaching year, I had the pleasure of presenting two classes for one of my local guilds, the Waterford Weavers.  The guild chose my 18th c. Household Textiles class and I offered a special warping class for a half dozen students a few weeks before the November class.  We had students come from Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina and Michigan!

I finally got to meet Milissa Ellison Dewey, weaver, spinner & woodturner of Asheville, North Carolina after many FaceBook conversations about old looms and spinning wheels and historic weaving.  She brought a beautiful Lervad loom to the class, a true parlor loom worthy of a fine woodworker.

One of the other landmark events of 2016 was finally moving my 89 year old mother to a retirement community closer to our home.  She had been living at a retirement community in Springfield, Virginia for 14 years, which was a 3 hour round trip drive for me and I was lucky to get over to see her once a month.  She now lives 40 minutes away and I see her at least once a week - a great improvement.  The preparation for her move took much longer than I expected as we sorted, packed & discarded but it was worth all the effort to have her close by.  My daughter Hannah moved with her family at the end of the summer and now lives 10 minutes from my Mom, so she & her toddler Ben also visit often.

What I didn't anticipate is how busy I am now - juggling 25 hours a week at my Bluemont job with spending time with my Mom as well as my grandson is a challenge.  Not to mention all this teaching - but this is an embarrassment of riches.  What better way to spend my time?

I will try to write shorter posts on a regular basis this year.  In between all the other things!