Wild Weaving Workshop N

Wild Weaving Workshop N

I know I know, I still havent blogged about the dye day workshop yet… like I had planned to do before today 🙂 Its TIME, it gets sucked into some black hole of time suck despite my best efforts at what ‘I’ think of as efficiency. I suspect this version of mine is not ‘real’ efficiency so much as wishful thinking efficiency. Apparently there is a difference. As in… it isnt actually efficiency. But the point is, here we are. Sunday evening and everyone has gone home. The room that has been filled all day with chatter and amazing yarns and looms everywhere and mini-stashes to ooh and aah over.. well its empty again, left only with yarn scraps, some stray coffee cups, and a few sparkly bits floating around. It was a very awesome day. So I wanted to share it with you while it was all fresh in my mind, because my kind of ‘efficiency’ often requires that some things fall out of my brain, I am preempting this by writing it now. And I have to admit to feeling rather smug about this 🙂 Patty and I had a pretty solid program written up for the day. We wanted to be sure that we would cover all the things that we found important to review and share in just one day together, which seems like plenty of time but you know, once you get started, its that time vortex again… So our day was split up into three parts, weaving basics, design, and hands on weaving. It was such a pleasure to see everyones looms arrive and check out the warps they had set up, all so different, all so beautiful 🙂 Sometimes the warp itself is such a visual delight its almost a shame to change it by adding weft! However as the day progressed we saw some incredible weaving happening.   One thing I was really pleased to be sharing was my developing approach to freeform weaving and what that means, at least to me. I am sure my approach to it is not new or unique, but at least for me it is, and the more I do, the more defined and concrete these ideas become as I consider how to best approach the problem of design and freeform. I say ‘problem’ here because, if you look at anything creative as a ‘problem’ it just asks for a solution! The ‘problem’ for me with weaving is actually the goal, so not a ‘problem’ as in there is something wrong, but as in a challenge, to which we can see the outcome we want, and the challenge (problem) is to find a way to...

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Manic Dynamic Majacrafters – Magic made on Looms!

Manic Dynamic Majacrafters – Magic made on Looms!

A little while ago, we (Esther, Donni, and Me) started up our new Manic Dynamic Majacrafters Facebook Group especially for those of us lucky enough to have our own Majacraft Dynamic Heddle loom to play with, (and those aspiring to have one). Since we started this group it has grown and grown in a most splendid fashion! We are up to over 160 members, and the creativity I see within the group is just fantastic and so inspirational.  I love it that the pieces people are making are all so incredibly different, unique, and very diverse, everyone has their own touch and special approach to working on their looms. So I thought it was a very interesting thing to highlight this idea of individuality and uniqueness by setting up a challenge for everyone! And the challenge? Make a piece in which the focus was on texture and form, rather than colour, so using the same tonal range within each piece, and working on developing ways of varying the weaving through creating surface design. I thought this might really highlight the unique approaches to the constructions and techniques used when creating these works of art. The results were stunning! I have gathered up some examples here of work from our group members. Its eye candy. Its brain boost. Its simply manically marvellous 🙂 I love each piece!   First, a pic of the piece made by a special friend who lives here in Holland too, Brigitte. These are totally ‘her’ colours 🙂 and I especially adore the way she has used the coils to make texture in the weft. Next is an image of some stunning textural elements created by Mary of Fiber Creek Farm, theres a lot going on in this piece but that is balanced beautifully by her choices of natural shades. This next gorgeous piece is from Tracie , I just love the colour, its so light and dreamy, and her use of contrasting textures and open weave really adds to that quality.    Now here is a very striking and dramatic item made by Robyn Betts from some amazingly black Alpaca fleece. She has also used some wonderful texture contrasts, and made a diva of a drapey scarf. I could see myself wearing this one ALL winter. Ahem 😉   What follows now is another wonderful, made in Holland, piece from Karen Bruinsma, her ‘Waterfall’ scarf, which combines some beautiful aqua blue shades with some very pretty textures and her clever use of the little felted neps that she created for this too. I must learn how to do that! Its awesome. The next image is from Rahel Hecht, who is creating some really stunning weavings...

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Workshoping with WoolWench and JazzTurtle

Workshoping with WoolWench and JazzTurtle

Its over, our glorious days of exciting projects, shared teaching, and some group hilarity. We started on the Friday evening, with a meal together followed by some really cool drum carding and fiber prep for the following day. This first group was the beginning art yarn spinners, and although some were already experienced spinners, the ‘art’ techniques we had in store were new to them. It was quite a treat to see the wheels all in a row and waiting for their spinners to get started. What I enjoyed the most about this group was the enthusiasm they showed for every technique, and their complete willingness to dive in and give everything a go, even if they were not sure about the outcome, thats the kind of creative risk taking I love the most! Our second group were the advanced art yarn spinners, so we covered some more difficult techniques such as spinning on elastic and on wire, specifically with the intention of weaving with them, because our final day was a fantastic weaving day, finishing on the Tuesday afternoon. It was exciting to see eyes light up on the discovery of new possibilities in weaving, and the idea that weaving could actually be cool and exciting and innovative and not complicated or difficult! This is not a post with an hour by hour description of what we did during our workshop days, but rather an impression of the things that I personally found important in them. Of course, the topmost important things were the  people and connections made. In each group there was a wonderful dynamic and level of excitement about what we were doing. I love it when people make discoveries, have an ‘aha’ moment as a bunch of stuff falls into place in their heads and their hands as they spin something new. We had a few of those! I also think that part of teaching is offering experiences to people in a safe environment, where they can grow their expertise and confidence in what they are doing, so I hope we were able to provide this, I certainly saw some amazing yarns being made, and one in particular stands out, as Cara experimented with a new technique, and holding out the length of yarn she had made we could see a vast improvement from the start of it to the end of it! Thats a success 🙂 It was also a fantastic experience to be part of a teaching team, especially with the fabulous Esther Rodgers, I had the best time both during and after classes, and it was a wonderful chance to get to know each other and share stories and hilarity and ideas....

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Weaving. An Unexpected Journey.

Weaving. An Unexpected Journey.

Unexpected? Actually, yes it is. I started out spinning because my aunt suggested it and set me up with a wheel and lessons, and now, I cant for the life of me remember exactly how that came about! I have never been much of a knitter, apart from in my teen years, inspired by a lovely german woman staying with us, I did make many crazy colourful leg warmers and several attempts at jerseys. I bought a book of stitches and worked through it, even learning some fancy celtic type cables that got integrated into the current leg warmer at the time. But no matter how many fancy stitches I learned I couldn’t follow a pattern, and now I wouldn’t be able to recreate those cables even if I concentrated very hard. But I love spinning anyway. I love the fiber and the colours and, well, all the things from my last blog post! I have been lucky to be able to find a good outlet with Etsy for selling what I make, or we would be swimming in yarn here. In fact I could have single-handedly shored up the outer defence dykes with colourful skeins and saved the Netherlands from the rising water level effects of global warming by 2015, if I wasnt selling the yarn I produce. I never once aspired to weaving. It always seemed like a seriously technical art, involving counting, repeated patterns (a lost concept on me) and an organised mind. I never wanted to make tea towels. I guess I had quite a few stereotyped pre-judgements about what weaving was all about. I was generalising way too much. Because in fact, weaving is actually totally amazing. It combines colour, texture, fiber, and creativity in a very satisfying way. Did you ever do something just once, and realise in the first few minutes, that it was something you had actually always wanted to do but hadnt realised it until that exact moment when your hands began that specific journey? Thats me and weaving. Its not just because its a fantastic way to finally be able to really use the yarns I make myself, its also something to do with the wonderful way the fibers and yarns interlock, like putting that last piece into a jigsaw puzzle, everything just fits. I love to use really textured yarns, but also very fine yarns that make a beautiful fabric, each strand woven through the others. I find it incredibly tactile and cant help but run my hands  over the fabric as it builds up, just to feel the substance of what I am creating from single threads of fiber.  Maybe I am just a weirdo, its like...

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Christmas Giveaway and Newsletter!

Christmas Giveaway and Newsletter!

Time goes so fast doesn’t it?! I can’t believe we are almost at the end of 2012 already, in some ways it feels like its been just the blink of an eye, but in other ways, thinking back on the things I have done and achieved, its been an incredibly full, exciting, and interesting year! Some highlights for me have been, my One Wheel Indiegogo campaign and all the associated yarns spun to fund my Majacraft Aura, including a feature on the Majacraft blog and the amazing design Andy Poad so skillfully etched on the wheel for me, its truly the One Wheel 🙂 Another highlight of course was the weekend when I received my wheel, unboxing and assembling it during the JazzTurtle workshop at the home of the lovely Alet. That was a magic couple of days, meeting Esther Rodgers, sharing the learning experience with some amazing women, and enjoying the lovely environment so generously provided by Alet.  The next highlight for me was taking part in the Leather and Lace secret stash challenge, dreamed up and hosted by the lovely Arlene of Spin Artiste, and Deb Lambert of Picasso’s Moon. This was a huge honour for me, it was set up by invitation, and I was so excited to see my name and yarn among those of my fiber heros such as Lexi Boeger, and Ashley Martineau, in total about 20 spinners whose work I utterly admire. This travelling yarn show is now progressing along the East coast of the US and will reach its final destination in April at the SWAY Guild Art Yarn Festival, where the yarns will be auctioned, with proceeds donated to the Farm Animal Sanctuary. Another Spin Artiste highlight for me has been the opportunity to make some guest posts for Arlene, interviewing some very talented fiberistas on this side of the planet, what an honour and a pleasure! Other writing this year included the ‘Spinners Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocolypse’ for the Entangled Magazine, as well as a feature of one of my yarns in the ‘Fiber Lust’ section of the same edition!  I also have an article coming in the next edition of the Dutch magazine the ‘Spin en Verfkrant’ – soon to be known as ‘Vezels’ (Fibers). I am looking forward to that and will let you know when its out. Another highlight has truly been the Find Your Inner Fiber Hero Workshop I hosted and taught right here in the WoolWench house at the beginning of the month. It was a real thrill to see people enjoying fiber, making new discoveries, helping each other, and just generally being as excited about spinning as I am!  I am thrilled to have had...

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