Saturday, June 5, 2021

Learning on Line

Early Covid Learning

One of the main benefits of belonging to a guild is the opportunity to learn more about your craft.  Learning may come from the informal sharing of information or it may come from structured lessons.  Our guild usually has a busy workshop schedule with both member and invited instructors.  

For some subjects even the best video doesn't replace an in person experience.  Dressing a loom for the first time is likely one of them.  There are so many subtle hand movements that it helps if you have someone watch while you try them yourself.  We had just planned a series of in-person workshops for beginners when the Covid pandemic appeared. 

 In the early stages of the pandemic, we were able to continue using our studio albeit with strict precautions and limited numbers.  As the public health situation worsened, we were forced to rethink how we could continue to deliver educational programs.

This past year technology has helped many of us cope with physical isolation and adapting it to educational programs was obvious.  So, we moved to learning on-line.  Linda Wilson's previous experience with distance learning was a great asset.  Linda chose two topics for our first learning adventures, Double Weave and Summer and Winter.  The photos below are works created by workshop participants.
Joyce's double weave blocks

Double weave is a versatile weaving technique that can produce many different effects.  Once you've mastered weaving in layers you can manipulate how those layers interact to produce blocks of colour, patterns and even surface effects.  Simple block designs can be used to create warp and weft colour interactions.  The piece above is the result of mixing the 3 colours of yarn.
The workshop participants looked at different forms of double weave, including "deflected double weave".  When yarns that have different shrinkage properties are combined in deflected double weave the end result is a highly textured cloth that is revealed after wet finishing. 

Doug's scarf

Sue's deflected double weave

The "Tale of Two Sides" workshop in April was all about the weave structure, Summer and Winter.  Summer and Winter pieces are interesting for areas of almost pure colours (see the orange stripes in Val's piece), two distinct faces and interesting surface detail.  Below are two examples based on a two colour warp and two threading blocks.  Both weavers chose a stripped design.  

Judy's hand towel
Judy obviously had a fun playing with stripes in this hand towel.  Sometimes the blue weft crosses the entire warp and sometimes it hides on the backside.  Val's piece was designed to show the "two sides" at once.

Val's hand towel
You can expand the concept of summer and winter blocks to create patterns as shown in Sandra's towels below.  One side of the towel will be light (summer) and the other side will show the pattern in the dark colours (winter).

Sandra's S&W towels

Some lessons learned from this experience.  First, you get to weave your samples on your own loom at your own pace.  No rushing to finish all those round robin samples.  Second you don't have to travel to the workshop location.  Instead you can stay home and even attend the lessons in comfy clothes.  Third you can meet new people from far away places, be inspired by their ideas and come away with new friends.

More workshops are in the planning stages and we hope to be able to resume in person lessons again late in 2021.  If you are a beginner or interested in expanding your horizons you can always contact us by email to find out what is in the works.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Time Out for Meditation

Ripples in the sand

Now and then,we all need some down time.  We need a period when there are no deadlines or goals to meet, no people to please and no pandemics to worry about.  We need time to just sit on the beach and count the ripples in the sand.  


Even if you love your craft it can sometimes become a source of stress.  You might be doing commission work with deadlines.  You might have a study group challenge to work out.  You might even have a self imposed goal to perfect a design or learn a new technique.  All that stress can lead to a creativity block.  When you can't find the inspiration to keep going don't just quit instead take a step back and try something simple that you can do with a minimum of effort. 

Mindless knitted scarf

You could try some mindless knitting like this scarf that Sylvia says was pretty much mindless knitting.  What makes it interesting is how Sylvia salvaged some ugly pink wool by over dyeing it to create a variegated yarn.  A larger shawl is shown in the picture below.  It may look complex but it is simple repetitive knitting.

shawl from over dyed yarns

Corrie's plain weave with warp stripes
If you have a loom you could try some "meditative weaving".  Pick a simple design or plain weave and just throw the shuttle with no goal other than enjoying the rhythm of the process.

plain weave scarf

Try making something familiar such as tea towels.  Wind a narrow warp for dishcloths or mug rugs. Weave something for yourself. 

Marilynn's tea towels


wool singles
The ultimate past-time for meditation has got to be spinning with its rhythmic motion and the soft swishing of the wheel.  Just feeling the fibre slipping through your hands has got to be soothing.  So make yourself some yarn for that mindless knitting project.

Hopefully after a short period of down time you will be recharged and ready to explore new horizons.

With that in mind take a look at Rita's towels in deflected double weave.  It is an unusual choice for tea towels but in 2/8 cotton it makes a thick and thirsty cloth.  Some of the towel patterns are reminiscent of those ripples in the sand. 

Rita's deflected double weave towels