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Loom with a view – the next steps…..

It never ceases to amaze me that even in the middle of Winter, when the bush is dry and grey, suddenly there will be a tiny spot of colour bravely peeping through the sandy earth.

After the lockdown of 2020, I made a very conscious decision to slow down on my travelling and spend more time in this paradise that I am privileged to call ‘Home’.  That was when I decided to start my Patreon page – what a leap into the dark unknown that was!

Now, bear in mind that I am the biggest techno-dunce on the planet, and being just such a techno-dunce, I pressed the wrong button on the website and launched my page long before I was actually ready to. This was a fairly horrifying experience as I had my first subscriber within about half an hour, so I couldn’t even pretend that I hadn’t done it!

In a way, this was a good thing, because I think that if I hadn’t done it, I would quite possibly still be procrastinating about it. What the Patreon page did for me, was show me that putting myself ‘out there’, need not be as terrifying as I had always thought it would be.

It has also helped to keep me really motivated in my weaving. Posting on a weekly basis for both harness and rigid heddle weavers is quite a load, but it certainly keeps me on my toes and has forced me to explore structures and techniques in far greater depth and variety than I would have otherwise.

Our latest Rigid Heddle project on the page is this fulled wool scarf:

It forms part of our exploration of texture in weaving, and was, quite simply, one of the most terrifying weaves of my life! I am pretty conservative in my weaving, and I like things to be technically sound. Well the weaving of this scarf was anything but technically sound – I called it the ‘Gappy Scarf’, and good reason for why…..

Now, the project was planned with a view to heavily wet finishing it, so I knew that it would eventually stabilise, but that didn’t make the weaving any more comfortable! The result though, after being severely mistreated with hot water, and lots of rubbing and scrubbing was quite astonishing – and even more astonishing is the fact that I love the end result, and am contemplating making a second one.

Patreon has taught me a huge amount, and it seemed like a logical step forward to begin exploring the world of on-line learning – what a mine-field! This little exploration started this time last year, when I was “home for the Winter”. …. And it was, to begin with, totally intimidating!

However, the more I thought about it, the more it made sense that this was the next logical step for me to take for a number of reasons. Firstly, it allows me to consolidate what I teach in a live workshop, and secondly it allows me to reach a bigger audience, because much as I love the teaching and the travelling and meeting new and wonderful people, I am after all, only one person.

Going on-line certainly doesn’t mean that I won’t be teaching live workshops anymore – far from it, but it there are always people who, for one reason or another aren’t able to attend one of the few workshops that I can teach in a year, and so this offers a solution to this situation.

The upshot of all of this, is that two weeks ago – give or take a couple of days, I finally published my first on-line short course!!! Nothing fancy or complicated, just a Houndstooth scarf. The point is that I’ve been and gone and done it, and you can find it here: https://brooklands.co.za/workshops-courses/weaving-a-houndstooth-pattern/

Short course number two is already in production and the plan is to have it out there early in July.

Ten years ago I didn’t even know how to send an e mail. I was just a stay at home Mom who loved her craft – just goes to show that life has plans for all of us one way or another.

Until the next time, stay warm and keep weaving!

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THREAD HANDED – 2022 – report back.

The beginning of this month, saw me, once again heading South, from my beloved Bushveld, towards Van Reenen for another Thread Handed event. Believe it or not, this was our sixth, and our fifth visit to the Green Lantern.

Our previous visit was at the beginning of March 2020. I remember that while we all talked about this virus that was taking over the world, none of us really believed that it would affect us here on the Southern Tip of Africa – how wrong we were! Last year we had to cancel, and so, arriving back at the Green Lantern was more than a little nostalgic.

We were a small group this time around, having decided not to offer a spinning class. I was on my own as Linda, also couldn’t join us, so, good as it was to be back, it was also a little strange.

My first day in Van Reenen was spent unpacking and setting up. As usual, we pretty much took over the hotel lounge, and the staff was ever tolerant and helpful with the moving of furniture and supplying of trestle tables and chairs. By the time people started arriving just after lunch, we were pretty much sorted and were able to relax and catch up before classes started in earnest the following morning. Classes on offer included beginners Rigid Heddle and Harness weaving, as well as a more advanced Rigid Heddle class. Anette Matthews came down from Pretoria to teach a two day, four shaft class on Overshot, and Sue Stevenson from Natal offered a one day introduction to Kumihimo.

Everybody was eager to begin and get their heads down into the work, and Thursday morning was chaotic as the first morning always is. We had people making warps on warping frames, doing direct warps for their Rigid Heddle projects, measuring, cutting, threading, and then suddenly, everything seemed to click into place and we were settling into the programme.

The ladies doing the Overshot class, moved themselves into the small lounge next to the dining room, as they had to concentrate – theirs was all about brain food, and the results spoke for themselves. Anette had devised a really nice project to make potholders from the woven samples, and they managed, all the planning and the prep, the weaving and the finishing in the course of the two days – Hats off to all of them!

Meanwhile the more advanced RH ladies were doing all sorts of manipulations with their warp so that they could weave the warp back on to itself to form the ‘V’ part of their ‘V Cowls’. There was much concentration and more than just a little bit of frustrated muttering as threads escaped and had to be found and put back into place, and threads pulled too tightly or not tightly enough, and in some cases, the last few picks were really a very tight squeeze!

Once again, the results showed the fruits of all the hard work as the pieces began to come off the loom.

Riana, and Elaine, meanwhile, had their noses buried deep in the movements of warp and weft, and Sue, even had enough time to try a little bit of Double Heddle Weaving.

We laughed – a lot…….,  and we worked – jolly hard……,  and all in all we had a really good few days together. Di Kruger stepped in to lend a hand with some of the nitty gritty stuff that needed to be done, and was the best possible PR lady we could have asked for! Ellen Janse van Rensburg, resident of Van Reenen, who brought us there in the first place, stopped by for a few visits and a chance to catch up.

The garden was glorious as usual and the best place in the whole world to relax after a challenging day at the loom!

Looking forward to the next time around!

(If anyone would like more information, or would like to be put on to the mailing list – please feel free to drop me an e mail, and I’ll make sure that you are added)!

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A whole new year at the loom with a view

Somehow, 2021 seemed to both drag its heels and rush past at the speed of light. It seems that perhaps 2022 is going to do exactly the same thing, because it is suddenly almost the end of January and I don’t have very much to show for the month that has just passed!

EXCEPT, that I have lots and lots of wonderful new stock! My order, which was delayed in New Zealand for almost two months finally landed on Christmas Eve – most inconvenient, but also fantastic to finally have the goods in the country, and, unpacking the boxes two weeks later was  a bit like having Christmas all over again!

Several ladies received their long awaited looms. My outstanding reeds arrived – well most of them, as did the outstanding pick-up sticks, shuttles and my long awaited copies of “The Ashford Book of Rigid Heddle Weaving” – whoop whoop!

The cottons fell out of the box in a rainbow of weave-a-liciousness      

                                       

… and so did the gorgeous Ashford DK yarn. This wonderful pure woollen yarn is a blend of Corriedale and Perendale fleece, which means that it is a yarn with wonderful body and character. I use it for so many things, from scarves and shawls to blankets, weft faced projects and pretty much anything in between.

It is not superwash treated, which means that it blooms beautifully during the wet finishing process and also fulls, which for us weavers is a huge bonus.

The colour range is spectacular, and even though I only keep a small selection, I find that I still have more than enough of a palette to feed most of my fantasies!

The new Merino Boucle is also in stock in both the brushed and looped versions. Somebody recently described weaving with this ultra luxurious product as “.. like weaving with snowflakes….” . Fortunately the boucle is a little more resilient and a lot less transient that your run of the mill snowflake!

So there you are then – talk about starting the year off with a bang! Exciting projects are in the making, the posts on Patreon will begin again in February, with a revisit to some of the basics that pass so many of us by, and of course – most important of all – Thread Handed is only SIX weeks away!

Looks like 2022 is going to be a bumper year all around for me – and I hope for all of you too!

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Spring has Sprung at the loom with a view

I think that we can all agree that this Winter has been a PROPER Winter! Even here in the beautiful, balmy Lowveld, the temperature dipped below our comfort levels and saw us wearing jeans and sweaters and sometimes even more. This time last year we were already in an out of the swimming pool multiple times a day, but not so this year. In fact we haven’t even dipped a tentative toe into the water because we know that it is still going to be way too cold!

The welcome arrival of Spring also means that my next workshop at the beautiful Crafter’s Lodge is just around the corner – my first trip for some months – and I am so looking forward to it! Not that my time at home has been wasted mind you. I have been hard at it, finishing up the Block Weave and Profiles section on the Patreon page, closely followed by the Rep Weave and the Ponchonotaponcho for the Rigid Heddle weavers.

My current study is Honeycomb and deflected weft structures, also for the Patreon page. It is a structure that works equally well in both disciplines, and has surprised me by showing me that there are some variations which are quite easy and simple to produce on a Rigid Heddle loom, that require more than my normal eight shafts on a harness loom!

For me it is quite a luxury to just have the opportunity to play and experiment at the loom. The above images were all woven on an eight shaft loom, and this morning, I have spend my time translating them for the Rigid Heddle. With a couple of pick-up sticks and some patience, pretty much anything is possible on a RH, and it never ceases to surprise me how versatile this little loom can be.

Honeycomb is a fascinating weave structure which really does ‘ bend the square’. (It also bent my brain a bit this morning, but that’s beside the point)! It consists of alternating areas of plain weave and floats. In the areas where there are floats, the weft packs down into the space, whereas in the plain weave areas, the weft is allowed to build up. These alternating areas of floats and plain weave are then outlined in a heavy weft thread which automatically follows the ups and downs created by the little cells of plain weave. The result can be quite striking.

Add some colour into the mix and the results can be nothing short of jaw-dropping!

For this piece, I used the Ashford 5/2 Mercerised cotton in a 15 dent heddle. I love the way that the colours ‘pop’ against the Black ground cloth.

My morning was productive , creative and comfortable, sitting at my loom on the deck with my back in the Spring sunshine. It was made even more special by the arrival of a “business” of banded Mongooses – and yes, believe it or not, “business” is the collective noun for Mongooses – and Mongooses is the correct plural! They never fail to bring a smile to my face as they scurry about looking for any tasty little morsel that will feed their frenetic energy levels.

The next two weeks are going to fly by. The idea of teaching a workshop face to face for the first time in some months is definitely something to look forward to, and then there’s always the view from my loom to return to when it’s done. Today is one of those days when I count my blessings and realize just how lucky I am!

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The view from my loom has changed a little

…. as the August winds have arrived punctually in the Lowveld and it is too dusty and windy to weave on the patio right now! Having said that, it doesn’t mean that I have been idle – in fact far from it!

The Rep weave is off the eight shaft table loom, and I have to admit to be ridiculously pleased with the result. It really wasn’t my favourite project, which is quite strange because I was really looking forward to it during the planning stages. I think the fact, that I had to change my intentions in terms of material and colour, so radically to begin with put me off somewhat, and then the thickness of the yarn I used turned it into a heavy weave, which matched my mood for most of the time that I was working on it.

The cloth roller was so full, by the time I finished up, that I don’t think I could have managed very many more cm’s, even if I’d wanted to, and when I look at the very substantial roll of weaving sitting on my table, I am a bit startled by the density of what I managed to produce!

Because the weave structure is so heavily textured, the take-up was enormous, and I squeaked to the end of the 4m warp with four placemats of approx 40cm each and one piece slightly longer than the rest, which was my experiment standard. There were 2.5cm of hem for each side of each mat, but even so, the take-up was huge.

Seen from a distance, it is easy to see the patterns, but it was quite difficult to get an idea of the whole while they were still on the loom. Having said that, seen from a distance I can also see quite a few glaring flaws, but since these were meant as an exploration I don’t really have a problem with that – if they had been a really special project, or a piece for an order I would be quite devastated though.

The bottom line really, is that sometimes one needs to just sit and experiment and learn as one goes. Somehow weaving is like that. We would all love our projects to all turn into masterpieces, but just as there are no omelettes without smashing eggs, sometimes we need to be less than happy with our efforts in order to reap the full benefits of the lesson.

Rep Weave, or Ripsmatta, is a technique that I will certainly revisit in the not too distant future, for, much as a struggled with this weave on so many levels, it has embedded myself in a part of my psyche which, like a terrier with a mouse, simply won’t leave it alone, and keeps on going back for another look.

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There’s a ray of sunshine on my loom with a view….

The bumpy start to my current project, has, I have to say, not really settled down – although…. and I say ‘although’ with more than a little trepidation, I feel that I might be beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Bigger blocks making a strong impression

The Rep-weave experiment is finally starting to take shape – and, although there are some glaring discrepancies, these are not my main focus as I finally get to grips with the building blocks that go towards making up this remarkable technique.

A few months ago, I watched an interview with Lucienne Coifman, on the Handweavers Guild of America’s ‘Textiles and Tea‘ series. I was fascinated by her work, most of which, she told us is made on a 4 shaft loom (with a lot of pick-up involved…..) her words – not mine. The strength and impact of her designs really made an impression on me, and I think that part of the problem that I have had in getting to grips with my own tiny, little experiment in Rep-Weave is that I really just struggled to get my head around constructing a design that looked cohesive.

My main problem , to begin with and in retrospect, was that fact that I made my blocks too small, and the result was confusing to the eye. I think that this thinking was perhaps the result of the fact that I’m experimenting only on my 40cm table loom. It isn’t really wide enough to provide much scope, given the fact that I am using quite a thick cotton for the warp. If I had used the 5/2 cotton that I had originally planned on using, the possibilities, even on such a narrow warp would have been far greater.

However, as soon as I started to expand the length of the weft blocks the designs took on a greater impression of cohesion. The tiny little turning points in the centre of the first two drafts really seemed to draw the eye in to the design, and acted in the same way as that tiny little ‘pop’ of an unusual colour in an otherwise bland palette.

I think that my favourite design possibility of the three is the one on the right. The other two are still on the loom, and the third is yet to be woven. I hope that I have enough warp left to be able to complete it, as one of the things that I had forgotten about with Rep-Weave, is that the warp take-up is huge! Much greater than the more texturally conventional weave structures.

As usual, when I experiment on this sort of basis, i find that I have way to many ideas for the length of warp! In the light of lessons learnt ( the hard way), if I put up another narrow warp for Rep, I will definitely use a much finer cotton to allow myself more room to play around with. However, if I were to put up a warp on one of the wider looms, I think that the Cotton-On would actually be a good choice as it is of acceptable quality, easily available, and comes in a pretty good colour range

Hopefully I’ll finish off my existing warp this week, in time to photograph it and put up some pics in next weeks’post.

In the meantime – stay safe and stay warm.

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It’s been a while since I sat at my loom with a view

…. but having said that, I didn’t realize that it had been quite such a long while!

The air of complacency that has prevailed over the past few months, has, as we all know, been shattered as we crash back into lockdown level 4. I had already decided that I was spending the Winter at home this year, and so, I’m not particularly affected by the decision, apart from the fact that my red-wine stash was perilously low even before Squirrel spoke to the nation on Sunday evening.

That aside though, I am loving being at home again for en extended period of time. It is giving me the space to think and to plan and to develop new projects and explore new techniques. Right now, I am working on some Rep-Weave, or Ripsmatta, or Warp-Rep as it is variously known. The warp rep thing is the culmination of our dive into the concept of block weaves and profile drafting that has been keeping us absorbed on the Patreon page: (remember… https://www.patreon.com/weaveatbrooklands is where you’ll find me, or you can just click on the Patreon button on my Home page). Rep weave seemed to be the logical progression after our study and a really fun way to wind things up.

Actually I cheated a little bit, by also including a little bit of a rep derivative for the Rigid Heddle weavers, as we expanded our approach to Log Cabin and ended up weaving a set of Rep based place-mats. Rep weave and log cabin actually ave many similarities – loads of differences too, but plenty of similarities – most notably the threading of the warp. In each pattern block the warp is threaded on two shafts, one colour – call it the main colour on one shaft and the second colour call it the background colour on the second shaft. The weft uses two shuttles, one carrying a thick yarn and one carrying a thin yarn, and the alternation of thick and thin, allows one warp colour to dominate and the other colour then becomes subservient. Weaving two picks, one after the other, of the thin yarn allows the other colour to be brought to the top and become the dominant colour.

It’s all quite logical really – a positive and negative effect on the two sides of the cloth, and a pattern constructed through the use of contrasting colours.

I somehow, fell into the habit of referring to the Rigid Heddle project as either Log-Rep or Rep-Cabin – no prizes for guessing where that name came from and was really pretty pleased with the results.

In all three cases above, I had a very clear idea of what I was hoping for in the end product. My warps were carefully planned, and the colours chosen with care, and yet when I put the warp up, and I saw it in colours I had chosen, they all looked awful – dark and in the case of the seaside colours, even threatening – Rather like an approaching thunderstorm in fact.

It was only when I started to weave that the colours regained some clarity, which was obviously provided by the light colour contrast in almost all the blocks. I have to say, that as I began to weave and the colours clarified, I was hugely relieved, and rather stern with myself for being so silly.

Yesterday I started making the warp for the eight shaft four block Rep-Weave study. I’m not using anything fancy – just good old Elle-Cotton on DK, which happens to suite my purpose right now – and which is easily available, even in our little tiny town. My chosen colours are a dark Teal Green, pale Dusty Pink, a nice clear purple and a bright blue. I also chose a Beige, which I later decided not to use.

Once again the warp looked awful – something like a stagnant pond with a bad case of blue/green algae, when I took it off the warping board, but improved once it was on the loom. Being able to see the definition between the colour blocks really improved the perception.

I started weaving my sample this morning, and there are several issues. Firstly, I need to re-sley the reed. I though I might be able to get away with having two ends per dent for four dents and then one per dent for two dents, but the discrepancy is glaringly obvious now that I have started to weave. The selvedges also, are proving to be ridiculously difficult to control and will need some work.

I chose to use the pink cotton as my thick weft, and now I am wondering whether it might not have been better to use the green, so i plan to sample a little bit with that too, just to see what sort of a difference it makes. The warp is around 4m or a bit longer, so I have plenty of room to experiment, which is the whole object of the exercise, and of course I will keep udating on my progress.

Rep is not a new structure to me, but it is a long time since I have done any, and each time I come back to it, I find myself excited by it all over again. The texture is super, and the possiblilities almost endless. I have the feeling that this might once again be a case of the warp being too short and the ideas too long!

Till the next time.

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Right now I can’t sit at my loom with a view

Well – I now I can, but for a while I didn’t want to work there!

After quite a few weeks of fairly consistently overcast weather and the most wonderful Summer rains ( for the first time in eight years), the weather has cleared and the world is looking just wonderful!

My walk this morning took me down the fence-line of our estate – for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it was a spectacular morning, and walking down the fence give me the best view of our beautiful mountains. After all, who needs Table Mountain when you have the beautiful Northern Drakensburg, with Mariepskop standing proud in the morning sun. the second reason for the avoiding the trails – for the next couple of months – is that after the drought, the rains have given rise to an upsurge in the insect population, and the beautiful golden Orb spiders are out in abundance for the first time in years.

These magnificent creatures string their webs across the pathways, and when I go for a stomp around the trails in the morning, I tend to have my head down, watching my feet rather than looking where I am going. This is mainly because I’m pretty clumsy and tend to trip over my own feet if I’m not careful, and unfortunately, it means that I have been known to walk into a web without realizing it was there. these webs are incredibly strong, given how delicate they are, and I once read that the tensile strength of a spider’s-web is greater than that of a steel cable.

This beautiful lady was particularly spectacular and about the size of the palm of my hand. Her web was to the side of the path, and although you can’t see it in the picture, it reflected as gold in the morning sun. It set me wondering about the possibilities of spinning Spider Silk. I’m guessing it would be possible, but one would need to destroy a huge number of spider’s webs to make anything worthwhile, so please don’t feel tempted to give it a go!

I was reminded again of the strength of the silk that spiders use to construct their webs, when i went to my loom with a view the other day. I have a small table loom which lives out on my patio, and it is one of my favrouite places to sit and work. However, with the inclement weather I hadn’t used it for a while and, noticing a strange looking collection of “stuff” in the corner of the stand – this is what I found:

Ok – the picture makes it look a lot more terrifying than it really is, and for those of you who don’t know what this is, it is the nest of a Brown Button Spider. The spikey things that look like the Corona Virus are her eggs, and she is fiercely protective of them. The White patch at the top of the picture is her nest, and if you look carefully you can see the distinctive red ‘Hourglass’ mark on her belly. Fortunately, she is nowhere near as nasty as her fearsome cousin, and I decided to let her stay so that I could watch the progress. Any thought of work was relegated to the back burner for the duration.

A few days later, I found that she had left her nest – for whatever reason, but the eggs were still there. i decided to move the nest to another location so that I could go back to work, and was astounded by the effort that it took to move the web. It was incredibly resistant to any sort of interference, and it was quite a struggle to get it off the corner of the loom stand.

Those of us who are lucky enough to work with silk yarns or spin silk thread will know what a beautiful material it is to work with. It never ceases to amaze me that something of such humble origins – it comes from insects after all – spiders and worms…….! – can be so magnificent. And yet when I looked closely at my temporary loom stand resident, and find a Golden Orb across the path, I believe that I can understand after all, because the creatures that produce the fibre are every bit as magnificent as their priceless product. We might not like them very much, but they are still just that – Magnificent!

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From where I sit at my loom with a view…..

my world has changed colour almost overnight!

I am once again stuck at home with not even a glass of wine to lighten the mood! But what can we do? I guess that because I’m a ” glass half full” (even if the bottle is empty and cannot be refilled at the moment) kind of person I am trying to put the time to good use. The fact that I don’t have an income worth mentioning right now is another subject altogether, but what I do have is food on the table and a roof over my head in the piece of paradise I am blessed enough to call home.

The past few days have seen Tropical cyclone Eloise ravage the Lowveld and while many areas are now involved in mopping up operations, we were spared the brunt of the storm and have received wonderful soaking rains, resulting in an explosion of colour as the Purple Fruited cluster leaf trees have suddenly fruited in the most spectacular way I have ever seen. The Raisin bushes are all budding and will soon be covered in little yellow flowers to be followed by their little yellow berries, and the ubiquitous Marula’s are hanging heavy with fruit.

Small creatures abound and we have been visited by all manner of these – including another dreaded squirrel in the house. from tiny little tortoises to elegant little Sand Snakes in the flower pots there is plenty to look at and wonder about after good rain in the lowveld!

With so much to fascinate and restless legs that regularly take me out for long walks, it is not always easy to concentrate on the nitty gritty of my daily working life, but it has to be done – big sigh!

One of the things that I find I am really missing during this time is the stimulation of teaching workshops – yes I know you’ve all heard this before, because I keep on going on about it. This has led to me starting to put a lot of my teaching down on paper, and I am even experimenting with putting some of my processes on to video. None of this is my natural habitat, and those of you who have taken a workshop with me will know that there are seldom printed notes to follow and I tend to teach ” off the top of my head”, adjusting my approach to suit my students and the pace at which they are working.

The past couple of weeks have seen me trying to make the process of warping a harness loom ( for this term read four shaft, or eight shaft etc) accessible to people who are not able to attend a workshop. I started by writing down what I though was a simple instruction, and the more I wrote, the more I found that there is, in actual fact, no such thing as a simple instruction. Likewise, when it comes to putting it all into video format – there is so much that needs to be said an demonstrated. What i am finding most difficult however, is to try and think through the process with the mind of a beginner.

For me, putting up a warp is a familiar process, which is a routine part of my weaving life. To break it down and explain what I am doing without being able to demonstrate in person is soooo difficult! In ‘real life’ my hands can show what I leave out in words, and the demonstration and the verbal instruction work hand in hand, each piece of the act filling in the bits that the other one leaves out.

This is a tremendous challenge for me, but I have to admit to the fact that I am really enjoying it. The Patreon page was the start, and it feels as though this is a logical progression from there. The ultimate plan is to have a series of techniques available as video/workbook courses. It is my hope that this will allow for a whole lot more flexibility when it comes to teaching what my students would like to learn, and instead of being locked into learning a specific technique on a specific weekend at a workshop, there will be a variety on offer and a freedom of choice.

This doesn’t mean that there won’t be any more workshops, and I promise that as soon as life settles back down into some semblance of what we used to call normal, the notices will go out……., but perhaps what is happening here is that I’m developing a second string to my bow.

Most people of my age are looking forward to retiring – but why should I? After all there is still a beautiful view from my loom!

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From where I sit at my loom with a view

We are all living in the hope…..

that 2021 will allow our lives to go back to some semblance of normality, but that really doesn’t look very likely – at least not in the foreseeable future. Let’s face it, 2020 was, apart from ridiculously challenging, also very interesting. It rocketed the human race out of an apathetic and destructive comfort zone, and made us think. Indeed it made me think on many levels, and I’m not sure that I have reached any conclusions yet either.

I think that the most important lesson I can take away from 2020 is that we all need to learn to adapt. I read a fascinating little book once called ” Good-bye Tiger, Hello Rat” by a man called Jan Bader, who, at the time was resident on a game farm just outside Hoedspruit. His premise was that the Tiger will go extinct in years to come and the Rat will thrive, and all because, if you take the Tiger out of its habitat it cannot survive. In other words, it lacks the ability to adapt, whereas the opportunistic Rat can adapt to pretty much everything apart from an overdose of Warfarin.

For me, 2020 was about trying to adapt what I love to do to a situation in which society closed down and social contact was all but taken away from us. At first the impact on my tiny little business was inestimable. A certain friend, who, if she reads this piece will know exactly who i am talking about, had been nagging ( yes nagging) me to become more visible on social media, and to think about putting some of my teaching on-line. I had been resisting her advice for ages, with all the excuses in the world. Everything I could think of to convince myself that it was not the way for me to go…… and then suddenly, if I wanted to carry on doing what I love, it was the ONLY way to go! This tiger suddenly became a Rat.

From the Facebook pages to the ZOOM calls, to the Patreon page (www.patreon.com/weaveatbrooklands) , right down to this little blog ( in which I seldom mention textiles or weaving (- perhaps that also needs to change?), it was all terrifyingly out of my comfort zone, but as a the year progressed I realized that this type of communication, and on-line teaching and sharing of information is now, and most probably will be for years to come an integral part of our lives.

Most importantly, I think I learned that adaptability is a life skill, with which too few of us are familiar. Sure it’s scary, but also exciting, as learning something new must always be. I always thought that to call someone a ‘Rat’ was an insult – perhaps not so much anymore!

One thing that hasn’t changed though is the way my brain buzzes with new ideas and things to try, and techniques that need to be explored, so stay with me and watch this space to see where the journey takes me over the next few months, and meanwhile, all of you, take care and stay safe