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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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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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From where I sit at my loom with a view – there are new worlds that need to be explored.

A fitting representation of my current state of mind……?

Anybody who knew me ten years ago simply can’t believe that I am doing what I’m doing today. Yes, the weaving has always been there and always been a part of who I am, bu technology on the other hand was always something I studiously avoided. Anything, from sending an e mail to researching a topic on-line, simply was not part of my make-up. My children used to joke that I would never learn to use a computer because, although I was very comfortable with pen and paper, a stone tablet and a chisel would probably have been more appropriate. Now, I sit at my desk and communicate with people all over the world at a touch of a button, I chat away on Facebook and share my progress on Instagram without raising an eyebrow, let alone a sweat.

Perhaps my life works in ten year cycles or something, but whatever it is, I now find myself starting off on yet another voyage of exploration, as I explore putting some of my teaching on-line. I don’t think that I will ever learn not to say ‘NEVER’ , because this is just another one of those things that I was NEVER going to do!

I suppose that the current situation has us all changing our minds about what we will or will not do, and much as I was always adamant that for me, on-line was not that way to go, I now have to admit that perhaps it is the way to go. Photographing work as I progress, making videos of basic processes, writing patterns and putting instructions into an understandable text form seem to have wormed their way into my working routine – and trust me, it is much easier to teach a class live than to try and write (ok – type then), all the intructions step by step – but somehow I’m managing to get it done – and I’m taking the first steps in a whole new direction.

My decision to start a page on the Patreon platform was not taken lightly, and I thought about it for a loooooong time before actually taking the plunge. Now, as I work through my ideas for sharing my knowledge, I find that I’m actually enjoying the process very much indeed – AND – perhaps even more importantly, I’m finding that teaching remotely is giving me the opportunity to share a lot information that so often gets glossed over when teaching a workshop – pleasant surprise no.1. It is also, in a strange way, almost a more concrete way of sharing information, in that the subscribers to my Patreon page can go back again and again to reference information.

So, slowly I am being won around to the value of teaching and mentoring on-line – this is me we’re talking about here – the Latent Luddite – getting excited about what our new world has to offer….. and I’ve love you to join me on the journey, so please feel free to visit me at www.patreon.com/weaveatbrooklands for a small taste of what I have to offer in my Weaving Diaries. I would love to see you there……