Monday, April 26, 2010

Getting out of the Comfort Zone

I had two amazing days at a workshop this past weekend! It was my first workshop in some time and I loved what it did for me. It pushed my comfort boundaries! More on this a bit later. The picture above is my Jane loom getting her party clothes on. Its my second warp on this loom due in part to my preference for floor looms, my lack of workshop attendance, and the fact the levers on the loom were a problem. With the workshop 'looming' (ha!) I broke down and quit fighting trying to weave my huck lace diamonds on it. The levers would not return the shafts back down and it was a struggle. The Louet people mailed out new corrected levers and I installed those after making the big cut.... cutting off a fine bamboo warp and calling it quits. They are sure snappy now but it was not a good start to my time with this loom. My loom was part of the initial first batch made and all in that run received replacement levers so this problem appears resolved.

So my warp is 4/8 cotton, sett 24 epi, and designed as three sections: one is alternating light and dark ends, the second is a solid dark colour and the third is two light, then two dark. The threading is a blissfully simple 1,2,3,4 and is 9 1/4 inches in the 6 dent reed (sleyed in exact four thread groupings). The workshop is called 'A Good Deal More on Four' and the instructor is Alison Irwin. We will be looking at double weave pick up, Finn weave pick up, and mock satin damask.
{For my Canadian readers: Alison was the Studio 4 weaving exchange coordinator in the Guild of Canadian Weavers newsletter. She now travels and teaches her weaving classes around BC.} While I have done a simple double weaver sampler, I have never woven Finn weave, or mock satin damask or tried any pick up techniques before. As Alison said, this is like being thrown into the deep end of the pool!

I now realize that I had fallen into a comfortable pattern of weaving the same old, same old stuff all the time. When you are weaving with sales in mind, you tend to go to what works and go for guaranteed results. You slowly lose your spontaneity along the way. Well that seems to be what has happened to me. Do you find that this happens to you? How do you keep things fresh? I found myself thinking about how exciting everything is to a new weaver as they attend workshops. So the answer is to keep going to them! Even techniques you have tried before as every teacher is different in their approach and style.

Or, try teaching what you have learned as Lynnette is now doing. I imagine that the excitement in the room is contagious! While that might be in my future, I'm not ready for that step right now. I'm happy to share here!

So here is my set up at the workshop just under way. I took my stand along and glad I did as I could sit on a chair opposed to standing at the taller long tables that most halls have. This was not a round robin class and I used my own loom for the entire two days. This eliminated the pressure to quickly weave up a sample and move on. We had plenty of time to weave at our own pace.

Most weavers say they hate the round robin pressure as they really don't have time to really understand the theory or thread interplay as they weave. They find all the shifting looms distracting as well. Then trying to review the notes later to pick up on what they might have missed, they depend on the clarity of the teacher's handouts or their own hastily scribbled notes to fill in the blanks!

This is my first bit of double weave pick up! Alison provided the piano wire to do the pick up with and being fine, we could beat with it in place. Alternatively 1.25 mm knitting needles can be used, though they do get a curve in them eventually. I learned that double weave pick up produces completely reversible cloth except when it comes to numerals and letters. It also seems to work up in a more balanced way. You can choose to leave the sides open or close depending on your finished project. We left our sides open to eliminate an extra step in a hectic sequence!

Next was Finn weave: I discovered that the sequence is easier to remember but I can't say that I'm a big fan of this structure. Its not a balanced weave and crowding in the pick up areas bends or distorts the threads to produce the curved effects and the the surrounding areas tend to look too open and loose. A group discussion decided that perhaps using finer threads would reduce this problem. We are using 4/8 which is a tad bit thick! You can see the other two sections simply go along for the ride but produce some interesting colour effects.

Mock satin damask pick up was fun to do and was so reminiscent of draw loom textiles! Alison had some examples of linen done in this technique using two similar colours and it was the play of light that shows up the pattern. We looked at designs and charting and how literally any picture or image could be recreated by using one of the three pick up techniques. Just your preference and the finished project determine which one is best.

Here is Alison (seated) helping Sandy with her sampler. There was a lot of help needed around the room this weekend and Alison had no end of patience!

Some of Alison's display material and in this case, her Finn weave sampler woven in 2/8 cotton.

Double weave pick up scarab beetle and its chart. I believe its done in 4/8 cottons.

Mock satin damask bunny love!

Detail on a denim carry bag....

This piece is called is called Free Fall and I sure wish my camera did the colours justice as its simply lovely!
There were eight of us in the class, besides me:

Here's Lois concentrating very hard on the task at hand....

Barbara is hard at it behind a bevy of looms (all Louet's)

Dawn seemed to be enjoying herself.

Sally seemed to use tea breaks to aid her concentration. It appeared to work as she had a lovely sampler.

Sandy paused for a smile...

Els (left) and Cynthia provided light entertainment.... plus Els brought some great goodies!

We met at a little senior's hall in the waterfront in Crofton, with a wonderful view of Osborne Bay and Salt Spring Island. Here you can see the small ferry coming in to drop off and pick up traffic for the island. Across the water is Treenway Silks, Jane Stafford Textile Studio and many other goodies! So close... and so the moat around the temptation is a good thing!

I created a photoshare of the two days if you'd like to see more pictures. Click here
When I get home again, I plan to try my hand at the techniques again as I have lots of warp left to try a 'do-over' to help reinforce what we learned. Yes, I'm heading back to Vancouver to help with my Dad. He's improved, but still has some difficulties to work out and so has been transferred to another hospital that will suit his needs better. I'm crashing at my sister's place which should be a good way for us to reconnect again.
Meanwhile, my Spring loom is naked. Sad image huh? Scarves waiting to be fringed. Scarf project in mid weave on the Woolhouse CM. Good thing they are all so patient with me. Hubby is staying behind to move some of the final reno stuff forward.
Seems I'll possibly get a tile kitchen back splash while I'm gone! On the other side of the coin, all the carpet on the stairs must be replaced with new (don't ask...) We need a piece 12' x 12'.... and the store only has one small section of our carpet style and colour left that measures 7' 10" x 12'. Crap. This renovation is toughing it out right to the bitter end.
Well, so are we! Back soon.....


Theresa said...

Looks like a wonderful workshop! How many Jane looms where there, looked like a fair amount.
Hope your Dad continues to improve. Maybe by the time you get home, the reno will be done. Wouldn't that be nice.
Happy travels and weaving!

dorothylochmaben said...

Hi there - you have done very well to find time for this blog amongst all the other 'goings on' ! The workshop sounds interesting and hard work but in good company and a pretty location ! The mock satin damask sounds like the bit I would have liked best ! Double weave and pick up together seems like two hard things rolled into one !
The photos are great but one missing ! Where are you ?
Anyway, don't give up on what you are doing on the Spring 'cause I just love your projects and am learning all the time !!!
Hope things go well in Vancouver ! D

Susan said...

Theresa: yes, there are a fair amount of Jane's over here but that is directly due to our close proximity to Jane! Many took advantage of the intial offering by Louet and I believe that Jane Stafford's first order was for 45 of them!

Dorothy: Oh my spring will be dressed when I get back. Its not my preferred state of being!
(I'll tap out a message for you later on my phone.)

The curse (or blessing!) of being the photographer is not much face time. They were all quite patient with me and my snapping, but after a time I had to stop and get to work.

Susan.... who's heading for the door for the ferry!

Sarah said...

What a great workshop report! Looks like great subject matter. There are so many amazing techniques out there. I can understand why we fall back on what we know - it is so much easier, no thinking, just doing. But the excitement of a new technique can be a great lift.
Good luck with your Dad.

Cindie Kitchin eweniquely ewe said...

Thank you for sharing pix from the workshop. I love double weave pick-up - have done tons of it over the year in framed pieces, bookmarks and all my christmas cards one year (what was I thinking???) I have never done mock satin damask - that looks very intriquing.
I'm in a double weave workshop this coming up weekend with Jannie Taylor (teacher for AVL) some interested weave structures - will post pictures after the workshop.

Peg in South Carolina said...

Thanks for sharing this. I really enjoyed reading the post. Yes, workshops are a wonderful way of breaking new ground. As for the complaint about round robins. It was a round robin where I first learned about crackle and knew someday I would come back to it. And I never go to a workshop thinking I'm going to return with solid knowledge nor a completed piece. I go for inspiration. Most of the time it is just a case of having fun and the notes and samples get filed somewhere. But once in a while, something happens and I start studying and exploring what has been presented. In either case, I find workshops very much worthwhile.

Lynnette said...

The wrokshop sounds like fun and I'm sure that the lovely scenery only enhanced it all! All the Jane looms must have made a real difference to the noise level, they are so quiet compared to most of the table looms out there!
Hoping your VCR trip goes well and that your Father goes home soon....

bspinner said...

I agree with those who don't like round robbing workshops. I like to keep my own sample and weave it on my own loom.

Pick-up. I kown it may sound goofy but sometimes it hurts my head after awhile.

I am so happy you dad is doing better!!!

Louisa said...

I'm one of those weird ones who loves pick-up, especially Finnweave. Charts! Yay! I think your problem was just that the threads used were too thick and not flexible enough. I haven't done much of the pick-up damask-type weaves though. Looks lovely fun!

I absolutely prefer the workshops where you use your own loom. I have some nightmare stories to tell about round-robin loom-hopping! Blech.