Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Visiting Penland

My friend Beth Johnson is teaching an 8 week fiber intensive class at the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina. She invited me to come down to be a guest instructor for 2 days and although the timing was tough, my husband and my work partner said I had to go - so I went!

Spring is a wonderful time to drive south. Every hour brings new species in bloom. I got so excited when I spotted the first redbud blooming! Here is a view from the school:

And the weaving studio:
My primary role was to conduct a wool waulking - the traditional Scottish method of finishing wool tweed and blanketing after it comes off the loom. The web is sewn end to end into a loop and wetted thoroughly. Then it is placed on a table, and a group of people grasp the cloth, thump it down on the table and pass it to their neighbor, in a sunwise or clockwise direction. The rhythm is maintained with songs sung to a steady beat: the singer sits or stands at the head of the table and starts the song. The songs generally have a chorus, which the participants join in.

We had lots of cloth to waulk:

And we had a blast, singing, thumping, laughing. There were libations, and snacks - Marge Warren supplied shortbread and haggis rolls! Here is Marge in her traditional garb:

Marge and Beth both teach at the Campbell Folk school - that is how we met. They both teach tartan weaving, among other things. Marge very generously shared with me her notebook from her District Checks class. I am planning a Tweeds & District Checks class to teach the The Mannings this fall, and I was glad to see her work and talk with her about yarn sources.

I also did lecture/demos each morning on 18th c. rugs, Acadian weaving traditions, and early linen weaves.

Beth has studied weaving in Japan, and the students were wrapping skeins of cotton for Kasuri ikat weaving. I wound a set of skeins and dipped them in the indigo pot and brought them home to weave sometime. Ikat is a fascinating tradition - I just love the cloth. Here are skeins ready dyed and a student sample on the loom:

Beth had a book a fabric samples from one of the studios where she had studied.

I'm going to try to get her to come up to Virginia and teach a class on Kasuri/ikat dyeing and weaving. Anyone want to come?

Here are my skeins drying on the clothesline and the bucket with all the resist ties - I liked the way they looked...


Joanne said...

I looked into visiting Penland once and determined that it wouldn't work out, but your photos help 'take me there.' This weaving is fascinating! I wish I'd been there for the waulking and singing, that would have been my favorite part. I don't think I'll ever become really interested in weaving again, but your photos give me all the best bits!

annmarie said...

Many, many years ago, as a high school student in Georgia, I dreamed of going to Penland. Maybe one of these days I'll be able to follow on that dream...:)