Saturday, July 2, 2011

Insinuating Influence

Most of my teaching travels are to events with either a spinning focus or a knitting focus. On occasion, the focus is on weaving. Such was the case last month at the Midwest Weavers Conference in Hancock, Michigan.

Because the conference, with pre-conference, lasted for a whole week, there was time for me to soak in a bit of weaving inspiration….without even trying! Let me share a few examples.

A number of folks who took my workshops turned out to be quite accomplished weavers. As example, Marcia Kosmerchock took my pre-conference workshop. (Then she taught some weaving workshops on Friday and Saturday.) On the third day of the workshop, she brought in a fabulous example of her collapse-weave work. The fabric had the most amazing texture and surprisingly stretchy drape! And I then saw a pillow of her's that was in the Member’s Exhibit. It had a very cool 3D textural structure to it.

All of the pre-conference workshops were held in the same building. On the second day, we had a chance to visit other workshop classrooms to see what everyone was up to. I got in a quick visit to Cameron Taylor-Brown’s class, “Natural Inspiration. Design Ideas from Nature”. I saw some very interesting strategies for refining ideas from photos of nature by using white cardboard cutouts to frame or re-frame sections of a photo. I came away inspired to play more with color and ideas for seeing texture in new ways.

Later in the week I snuck in to Robin Spady’s class for a look. In her workshop, “Fun, Funky, Fantastic”, participants try all kinds of strategies for insterting embellishments into plain weave. Hey, I thought, I can make plain weave on my Knitter’s Loom. Maybe I can do this too….!

Thursday, there were no workshops. Heather Winslow (who took my Nexus workshop, then taught silk spinning on Friday and knit/crochet edges on Saturday) and I drove to the Chassell Heritage Center to attend a fashion show of women's clothing from many decades, starting with the 1890’s. Prior to the show, we had a chance to examine some fabrics that were on display at the back of the auditorium. Many of the items were made by Finnish weavers. The Upper Peninsula was the destination of many immigrants from Finland and a strong Finnish influence persists today. I was especially intrigued by a plain weft-faced weaving that was a compilation of stripes. The technical execution of the piece was perfect, and I really admired the composition of the stripes. I wish I had a better picture...

And another piece struck me too:

Daryl Lancaster, who had to deal with illness and extreme weather-related travel challenges,
judged the Fashion show on Friday night. I was so pleased to see her give her “judge’s choice” award to my favorite piece in the show, a stupendous jacket, “Spike’s Cuddle Coat”, by Peggy Bowman. You can see a picture of Peggy's jacket on Daryl’s blog.

As it happened, Peggy took my workshop on Saturday, so I had a chance to shower her with praise on her piece.

Also on Saturday, I got a chance to chat briefly with Jane Patrick of Schacht Spindle Co
. Over the past few years, we’d chatted on the phone as part of our committee work for the Spinning & Weaving Association, but I’d never met her in person. It’s so nice to put a face to the voice! Earlier in the week, several folks suggested that I would find her book, The Weaver’s Idea Book: Creative Cloth on a Rigid Heddle Loom to be very helpful in my adventures in weaving with my rigid heddle loom. I’ve got to get that book!

With all the weaving vibes surrounding me for a whole week, I was nearly sucked in to buying another loom! Many of the conference attendees would meet in the evenings in the dorm lounge for some chatting, knitting, and usually some “grape juice” or “lemonade”. One evening, Julie A. (aka, “Chassell Tour”) put up a notice for a rigid heddle loom that she wanted to sell. I was seriously considering it. In the end, I decided not to buy it, and Julie decided to keep it!

Since returning from the conference, I’ve finished one woven scarf and started another inkle band.

Here’s a non-fiber picture that I took on my drive home. I stopped at a road-side rest area somewhere between Chassell and Baraga. This glimpse of Keweenaw Bay is what I saw.

Michigan is beautiful!

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