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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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On the Road again.

London comes to Clarens. Beautiful Merino split shawl in Karoo Moon Yarn.[/caption]   As always, the long drive became a time for thought and contemplation, and also as always, I wondered about the people I would meet, and those who were booked to attend my workshops. I love the teaching part of my life, and the stimulation that comes with it. People look askance when I tell them that I sometimes wonder who learns more – the student or the teacher. [caption id="attachment_745" align="alignright" width="300"] Proposed cushion covers with log Cabin and Houndstooth central panel detail[/caption] In order to explain this comment, let me explain something about myself. I like order and organisation and I like to be in control – which is not always possible in a teaching situation. In fact the biggest learning curve I have had to face is “Learning to tap dance”. Other people refer to it as “becoming Montessori”, or just plain old “Learning to be flexible”. For me, this has not been a particularly easy road, but in retrospect it is a skill well learned. People who attend these workshops are not booking into the local High School and do not want to be treated as such, and many of them come to a class with a fixed idea in their minds of what they would like to achieve. [caption id="attachment_746" align="alignleft" width="300"] Hard at work, discovering the intracies of Double Weave on the Rigid Heddle[/caption] My first approach to teaching Rigid Heddle Weaving was to design a sampler showcasing a variety of colour and weave and textural techniques that could be completed in the space of a day – by a complete beginner. Very disciplined and structured, and in fact I still believe in this concept, but find that the majority of people attending a one day workshop want to go home with more than just a sampler – they want to make something that they can use. Even more challenging is when someone comes a to a workshop with a definite idea of what they think they should be able to make in the space of a day! Then, after teaching for some time,  I started picking up the problem of people who had done the beginners stuff and wanted to do something more advanced. Oh and the ladies who didn’t want to do anything in wool (or cotton) but preferred to work in cotton (or wool). In other words, my pre-conceived idea of how to teach a  weaving workshop was fast disappearing out of the window. Gradually over the last couple of years my tap dancing skills have begun to improve – well I think so anyway. I advertise the classes as I plan them, and then do pretty much what is required by the students. I’ve learnt that it is entirely possible to teach double heddle weaving alongside a beginners colour and weave sampler. I learnt that people doing  two one day workshops sometimes like to take the second day to weave sufficient length to complete a scarf instead of doing the second sampler, and I’ve learnt that free form weaving can happily happen alongside the more conventional. Most importantly though, I have learnt  that it is important to give people what they want so that they enjoy the experience and go home feeling satisfied with what they have accomplished. Secondly, the more there is going on in the classroom, the more it stimulates the imaginations and intellects of the people taking the class. [caption id="attachment_747" align="alignleft" width="195"] Free form with the focus on texture. Blue and white – always clean and fresh[/caption] [caption id="attachment_750" align="alignright" width="300"] Endless possibility on the versatile Rigid Heddle loom.[/caption] I left Clarens having taught workshops which covered, colour and weave, double weave, finger manipulated lace, free form weaving (using the Vari Dent reed), weft faced weaving and even a tiny little bit of very basic tapestry. The variety keeps me on my toes and sometimes I have to dig deep to keep up with the requests of my students. I try and give them as much technical background as I can to go with their explorations and to guide them towards producing textiles of integrety.  When I put my feet up at the end of the day, I  generally feel deeply satisfied (absolutely shattered sometimes, but still satisfied) and I like to think that the students go home with lots of food for thought and a mind abuzz with ideas for many projects yet to come. By the end of the week my mind too, was abuzz with ideas.  For example, I’m thinking that it will be nice to teach some weft faced weaving for a change – perhaps a set of four mug rugs, each showcasing a different aspect of weft faced. Or what about a one ball  wonder scarf using a multicoloured yarn and featuring a few basic pick up techniques…… Maybe Houndstooth is a bit old fashioned these days? What about a thick and thin Log Cabin place mat? [caption id="attachment_748" align="alignright" width="300"] Free form with focus firmly on colour.[/caption] ………And I had a whole long drive all the way back to Hodespruit to think about it and start planning the next one! [caption id="attachment_749" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Maluti Sunrise – looking forward to next year.[/caption]]]>