Friday, September 18, 2015

A bit of Tartan and the Fall Fiber Festivals!

As many of you eastern fiber lovers probably already know, The Mannings Handweaving School and Supply Center has announced that they will be closing their doors after December 30th of this year.  So, it was with excitement and some sadness that I drove up to East Berlin, Pennsylvania last weekend to teach my last class for Carol & Ron.  I had twelve adventurous students for a tartan class that I developed especially for The Mannings some years ago - a Tartan Sampler that offers 15 very different traditional, historic tartans that explore the design features of this unique cloth from a simple Rob Roy red and black check right up to the very complex Clan Chattan and Prince Charles Edward Stewart tartans.

This is a challenging class for weavers of all skill levels - there is a lot of color changing and learning to look ahead and make choices about when to end a color and when to carry it along.   I also have all the looms tied up to a walking twill treadling -  the treadling sequence is 1, 3, 2, 4 for a more natural motion, but this takes some concentration to learn.  Add to that the 15 different looms and 15 different patterns to decipher and the first day feels like a lot of uphill for some students, but after a good sleep the new knowledge is better settled in the brain and muscles and on the second day there are more smiling faces in the classroom!

I have a number of tartan class options, some are round robin and in others a student weaves on their own loom on a single pattern.  The round robin classes have distinct challenges but the reward is a beautiful array of samples at the end of the weekend!  These are my samples from the weekend - clockwise from the top left: Farquharson, Grant, Munro, Barclay Hunting, Cameron, Clan Chattan and Colquhoun.

It was a great weekend!  I dusted off my History of Tartan slide lecture and now I'm all fired up to edit and improve it and - hopefully - start working on my book this winter, once my schedule settles down.

Which would be late November - because - the fall fiber festivals are coming!  I am participating in two: the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival on Sept. 25-27th right here in Berryville, Virginia and the aptly named Fall Fiber Festival & Sheepdog Trials on Oct. 3 & 4th in Montpelier, Virginia.

For Shenandoah, I am slated to teach three classes:
How To Choose a Fleece - Friday afternoon
Weaving: Warping Your 4 Harness Loom - Saturday afternoon
and Spinning With Handpainted Rovings - Sunday afternoon.
Class information is here and class registration closes on Thursday, September 24th - the day before the festival opens - so if you are interested in any of these classes, please sign up now!

At Fall Fiber, I will be teaching three classes, details here:
Handpaint Magic - Knitting with handpainted yarns - Saturday afternoon
How To Choose a Fleece - Sunday morning
Point Spinning on Spindle and Great Wheel - Sunday afternoon
The class registration for Fall Fiber closes on September 26th - one week before the festival takes place - contact Bitty Yancey at to sign up.

After Fall Fiber, I get a weekend at home and then I hop an airplane to fly down south to teach a week long class October 18 - 24 on Knitting Design: Aran & Gansey Style at the John C Campbell Folk School.  There is still room in this class, and an October week at the Folk School is a little piece of heaven, so consider joining us.  If you know how to knit and you are interested in Irish/Scottish/Arans/Gansey knitting, you will have a great week.  Don't let that D word (Design) scare you off, because this class is aimed at a wide range of knitters.  You can design something as simple as a mug cozy or scarf right on up to a whole sweater!

(Someday I hope to have a photograph of beautiful handwoven linen samples here, but I have been fighting with Blogger and iPhoto for the last two hours and I give up.  For now.)

Then, after two whole weekends at home, it's a road trip with my sister Carolyn, right back to Brasstown, North Carolina for a week of teaching weaving: 18th-century Linens for Shaker Week at the Folk School.  This class is nearly full and I am very excited to be bringing my sister Carolyn along.  She has been helping me sell yarn at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival for about two decades and this is my big chance to pay her back a little for all that help.  We are planning to make a few stops along the way, including the Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia in Stauton, VA and probably a few yarn stores along the way.  Road Trip!

And then things will quiet down a bit.  I don't have any classes scheduled until April 2016, but there is plenty to do here at the homestead.  More on that, by and by!

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