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From where I sit at my loom with a view – the madness continues…..

Way back on the 21st March when we went into lockdown we all though it would be going back to some sort of normal by now – well – we were wrong weren’t we?

When I restarted this little page, I was determined not to mention the dreaded lurgy, and I have to admit to finding the whole thing now, rather on a level with Brexit as far as the boredom stakes are concerned. But more importantly, i am beginning to feel that the social limitations that have been imposed upon us (for our own good, according to the powers that be), are beginning to really get to me. I NEED to see the faces of the people around me. Right now, I feel as though I trundle down the aisles in Pick ‘n Pay in the company of a vast hoard of possible thugs and bank robbers. Worst of all, I don’t recognize the people that I know – and then I feel like an idiot, because they still seem to recognize me!

On the plus side though, I have – at last – the time to do all sorts of things that I have been thinking of doing for some time now – not least of all putting some of my teaching on-line on the Patreon platform. For those of you who don’t know what Patreon is, it is a platform, that allows people who have something to offer to the world at large a place where they can market themselves, their art, their passion and their skills and earn a small income from doing so. The lurgy has effectively nailed my feet to the floor and kept me at home, where I am spending a large proportion of my time at my desk – when I’m not at my loom or stomping around in the bush….., and while I am now earning a small income from the Patreon page, this time at my desk is also showing me a side of myself that I never really became acquainted with before.

For a start there is this……. I never saw myself as putting my thoughts out there for all to see. Oh, and Facebook – after years of having a Facebook page, I now finally do something on it! Oh, oh – and I have ‘friends’ – and I can see their faces, unless of course they have decided, in solidarity with the lurgy mongers, to post a profile pic of themselves wearing a mask.

Then, there’s Patreon (sorry to be a bit of a bore on the subject), which is forcing me to learn all sorts of new things – and those of you who know me best will know that i am a perpetual student. Yesterday, i filmed a short video of myself demonstrating a particular weaving process on my phone. Following that, I used the programme that I downloaded a couple of weeks ago to edit ( listen to me here….) said little video, convert it to MP4, before uploading it to my Youtube channel so that I could post it to my Patreon page. Talk about a learning curve!

It’s just as well my family don’t read this blog, because by now they would be rolling around on the floor, in hysterics, begging me to stop because their stomachs are aching from laughing too much! But the bottom line is that it is all absolutely, honestly and truly, without a word of a lie – true! Talk about being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century – and, to be quite honest, its not such a scary place after all.

Now, since I have started ” putting myself out there”, and am feeling more comfortable with it, the next thing I have to figure out is a way to deal with the lurgy monsters, and get over my aversion to pseudo thugs and bank-robbers. That challenge can wait until next week though, cause the shopping is done, and I don’t have to go out again for a while so until then I can pretend that the world is almost normal!

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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]]]>