Monday, October 24, 2011

There's always one....

If  you've attended many weaving workshops or if you're a workshop teacher, you know from experience that: "there's always one."  One person in the workshop who either: shows up late, doesn't have their loom ready, didn't follow the preparation instructions, didn't read or understand the course description and is not mentally prepared, or any combination of the above.  They are often a distraction and a challenge to the teacher and the rest of the workshop participants.  We can only take a deep breath and hope that there is some cosmic lesson in it for us as well as "the one" (and that we will all get the lesson before we are driven to mayhem, murder or lose our minds entirely).  The workshop must forge ahead.

Well, dear readers, this past weekend I had the privilege of attending a weaving workshop with Sara Lamb at the Spinning Loft  in  Howell, Mi. and I was "the one".

Saturday morning started out with one obstacle after another, from clothing that didn't work to a torn fingernail that needed attention, to more catbox chaos than I meet with most mornings, to construction delays on the road.  But I did arrive for the workshop just in time with everything that I needed.

Being a weaving workshop veteran (junkie?) of over 30 years, I have a cache of workshop supplies and a system for getting myself set-up when weaving away from home.  As I lugged this stuff into the workshop space, some of other workshop participants expressed interest and appreciation.  That was when I made my first mistake of the workshop...the one that challenged all the weaving fates.  I said, "This ain't my first rodeo." 

If I hadn't been so pleased with myself at that comment, I would have heard the snorts, pawing and banging against the stanchions of the bull warp chains that were waiting in the I mean on the table to my left.  
They look pretty innocuous lying there, don't they?  Well they had my number.  I may have been to rodeos before, but apparently I've only been doing the weaving equivalent of tie down roping, barrel racing, chuck wagon racing, and perhaps a clown act or two.  It seems my smug little comment signed me right up for the bull riding event.

Sara started out with talking about how she works and the kind of fabrics that she weaves for clothing.  We learned about fabric design for clothing including setts, drape, structure (and the advantages of simple weaves), and color arrangement.  Her talk gave us a glimpse of how she approaches the creation of the wonderful, colorful textiles and garments that she makes.

Then we set about designing our warps from the warp chains that were provided (thanks Chelsea and Beth!) and the coordinating cones of yarn.  Oh...and by the way, Sara designs in the reed which means warping from front to back.  I'm a back to front warper....I've warped front to back before and it ain't pretty.
The bull warp started warming up in the pen as I approached the dyed warp chains to make my selection.

I chose three warp chains because....well, you know, three is a good number in design and these seemed like kind of skinny chains.  I was thinking of a warp maybe 8 inches, 10 inches max., for a sampler.  I went over to the front of my loom, set up the lease sticks and.... whoops!! lost the cross in part of one of the chains.  The bull warp was loose and I was on his back for the ride!!

Through the day this warp threw me the challenges of skipped dents, tangled threads, lost threading crosses, and more tangled threads.  Not to mention the bucking, jumping, and twisting of color and design theory.  My classmates were merrily getting their looms warped, tied on and starting to weave while I was sitting there staring at a field of white texsolve heddles.  
At the end of Saturday, I had just finished sleying the reed and I hoped that the bull ride was over.  Not so...Sunday morning the bull had rested up and was ready for my ride through threading the heddles.  Again there were missed dents in the reed, miscounting, and a group of warp ends that had snaked their way back out of the reed. There were not enough heddles on some of the shafts and even a repair heddle had to be put in place.

All the while, Sara, was patient and supportive.  She answered questions with aplomb.  And gave some some suggestions and advice when I'm sure she couldn't stand to watch me wrestle with that warp...any more.  And sometimes I took the advice...sometimes later than sooner (because I have my share of bull headed-ness).

She talked us through designing and painting warps, set up a dye table, painted some warps and several of the more proficient students painted some to take home with them.  Since I was "the one" in this workshop and since we have a guild dye day coming up in January, I just stayed on the bull and finished threading the heddles.  Finally it was time to wind on the back beam.  Sara dealt with the tangles and snags in front of the reed, for which I am eternally grateful.  I cranked the warp beam and inserted the paper.  

By this time it was 4 PM and the workshop was over at 5 PM.  I was getting ready to lash on to the front apron rod, when the weaver beside me, Wayne, was (ahem) cutting off his warp:

Isn't it gorgeous?!  Wayne has been weaving since Christmas of 2010! Clearly the man was born to weave.

Denny was also ready to cut off her warp:
So pretty...and look it matches her shirt.

Mary Beth had resolved the color challenge her warp initially presented:
  Doesn't that look like sunshine peeking through a waterfall?

And me....
 I discovered that my lashing cord was too short for a 14" wide warp(Remember that 8 to 10" wide plan? ...the bull had its own plan.)  So I attended the weaving workshop and never threw the shuttle once.

Despite that it was a great workshop and I did learn a lot.  Thanks so much to Sara and Beth!  My apologies to you and all of the workshop participants for being "the one."  I hope I wasn't a disruption or an impediment to your progress in weaving.

While  I loaded my loom into the car I was able to see both the front (photo above) and the back of the loom:
As I gazed at those colors in the parking lot I heard a little whisper of a voice: "psst...hey, Valerie".  
Oh my gosh, the bull warp was talking to me!  
It said, "Just so you know, I do have a name:  It's L'Oreal 
You know....
Because 'I'm worth it'...."

Gotta go...the warp beckons.  But from here on I resolve to attend every workshop as though it were "my first rodeo."


  1. Oh dear!

    I had a very stern (but loving) principal once in elementary school, and he often quoted the Scripture "Pride cometh before a fall, and a haughty spirit before destruction." I HATE IT when I have to keep learning that the hard way! I say to myself, "Mr Carlaw warned you about this."

    Looking forward to seeing it once you've got it tamed.

  2. trish at tangled threads7:19 PM

    Some days there is just no winnin' for losin'. Sigh.

  3. I'm filled with trepidation - I have to warp a loom that I've had for several years, but never woven on, for a "Farm day" demo this coming Sunday.

    I have a scarf planned, calculated, and everything, but I'm not sure I want to do it on a loom that I don't "know." However, my big loom is buried.

    I'll try to take heart from your post and remain humble - maybe that will make it go more smoothly...

    Your warp is really beautiful - can't wait to see how it turns out!

  4. I have been through every one of those struggles, though on my own at home. When I was fighting to warp from the back to front, and it never did work for me, Sara said - why are you doing that? You have a Gilmore. They are meant to be warped from the front. It's taken time but I'm finally comfortable and I do like designing from the front. I even sley from my hand from time to time. I've come to love it and I hope you'll make peace with this challenge. Your colors are fabulous. Sara is all about color!

    Oddly because we're in the same guild, I can't remember her giving a weaving workshop here. A prophet in her own country?

  5. LOL! Okay, I know you're going to tame that bull warp into a beautiful steer..right? Glad it was worth it. I would have been stopped right at the front to back warping.

  6. So it was obviously not your first rodeo..I dare say it will not be your last...looks like you are having too much fun!! ..even on those days that bull throws you.

  7. No! That's not how I remember you :)!

    I remember you being helpful with "experienced weaver" comments to me and with me to everyone, lots of weaving talk (which is so welcome in a group: we need to hear how everyone does things), and I remember you as willing to try new ways, which is all good!

    New ways take time to incorporate. You have years of other ways of doing things, so trying to turn around and try another way is laudable!

  8. Anonymous11:13 PM

    You are too kind! :-)

    I'm nearly finished hemstitching the flaming scarf -- will post a photo on Ravelry.

    It was terrific getting to know you. I pray the dreaded "obstacles" have finished up their season!


  9. Love your analogy! Judging by the end results it looks like the bull was turned into a lamb.

    I've long been baffled about designing in the reed: once the warp is measured and chained, how do you design as you sley without making a huge tangled mess?

    PS the verification word is "refiner" is that prophetic or what!?

  10. This was wonderful to read for a nonweaver!!

    (Especially the visuals!!)

  11. Thanks for an entertaining read! I know exactly what you mean about "the one". I am sure that Sara's recollection of the weekend was more accurate. Only you could hear the bull beating at the bars. And we wouldn't grow without a little struggle (and sometimes a little embarrassment)
    Last summer I taught a workshop where "the one" ended up checking herself out of the hospital to take the workshop (!!!) and checking herself back in half way through because she pushed herself too hard!
    Very scary.


tie in the loose ends...