I traveled across the Canadian Prairies last week, to get to Olds, Alberta. You can see the Canadian Rockies at the edge of the prairie, in the very center of this photo.
Olds College hosts Fibre Week every year. They have a Master Spinner and a Master Weaver program. I went to teach classes in finger weaving and sprang.
The classroom they assigned to me had hooks all around the room ... perfect for fingerweaving. The students were lovely. They all came to find a technique that works for them.
Some students got as far as chevron and arrowhead. Well done!
I then taught a one-day sprang class. Students had a go at the basic stitch, as well as set up and some finishing techniques.
The pieces made in these classes are not always much to look at, do not do justice to the amount of learning that has happened. They are like the first pieces in a beginning knitting class. No one judges knitting by the projects completed in a beginning knitting class. That's what these pieces are, the very beginning of sprang and finger weaving.
Congratulations to my students. You all did very well. It was a pleasure to share these techniques with you.
Visiting at the RedFish Yarn display earlier this year, they told me that they welcome finished pieces. So .... wanting more people to touch sprang, and because I do like the color and feel of RedFish yarn, I've set to work, and have created two pieces.
The yellow piece reflects a lace pattern that I wrote out, after examining sprang pieces in the British Museum collection, specifically EA21632.
The multi-colored piece is a circular warp neckscarf with a twined design, and I suppose you're wondering how I did it. Here are a series of photos that might help you to understand.
If you want to know how to create those yellow twining lines, have a look at my YouTube videos
If you want to see the finished pieces, I'll deliver them to RedFish in time for the HGA Convergence Vendor's Hall in Reno, Nevada, this July.
Once again, I'm at the Kelsey Museum, studying their collection of sprang bonnets.
I'm working with Dr Julia Galliker. We are documenting items in the collection found at Karanis. As part of this work, I am writing out the patterns for these bonnets. To error-check the patterns, I make replica bonnets .... Lovely to see them side-by-side with the originals.
April 2018, there were several destinations on my calendar, Grand Forks, British Columbia, Bissell House, St Louis, Missouri, the Vesterheim Museum, Decorah, Iowa, and a family wedding in California.
I started out travelling to Grand Forks.
I taught diverse braiding techniques to a group of school teachers, Aboriginal Education specialists, in Grand Forks, British Columbia.
Then off to St Louis, Missouri.
I went to St. Louis because I had been asked to have a look at a sprang sash in the keeping of the General Daniel Bissell House in St. Louis, Missouri.
General Daniel Bissell built the house in the early 1800s. He was involved in the military history of the time. His military uniform is part of the collection at the house, including a sprang sash. I brought along two sashes that I had made, to compare and contrast.
The sash is almost 10 ft long, features geometric lace designs, triangles and diamond shapes, and is in excellent condition.
Then on to the Vesterheim Museum in Decorah, Iowa. Sprang has been redlisted by the Norwegian Government, highlighting its cultural signifacance, and the danger of its loss. The Norwegian-American museum in Decorah asked me to teach a 4-day class. I travelled from St Louis to Decorah by way of Minneapolis.
The Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum is contained in several buildings in downtown Decorah, Iowa.
The class covered the basics of sprang, the interlinking stitch, ways to set up, decorative possibilities, and diverse finishing techniques. The 4-day length of the class allowed participants enough time in supported exploration to get comfortable with the technique.
Chief Curator Laurann Gilbertson treated us to a viewing of sprang items from the museum collection.
Then on to California, where I attended a family wedding.
At the British Museum last Fall, I saw a 'pocket' that dates to the 1700s. Recently I had a close look at my photos and made one that looks pretty close to the original. Instead of silk, I used wool.
I wore this pocket while attending an event recently, the Kalamazoo Living History Show.
Perhaps you can see my pocket, hanging off my left side. Many thanks to James Townsend and to Chris Hornby for providing me with a place to sit. I was able to talk with lots of people introducing them to sprang, met a couple of former students, and enticed a couple of people to give sprang a try.
My first stop was Whitethorn, California, the site of Aunt Janet's Weaving School and the Redwood Coast Arts and Crafts Center. Since my visit last year, Janet has concocted a sprang frame, and has done some pretty amazing work. Nice hammock, Janet!
Tracy and Janet had arranged that I speak to the Eureka Handweavers, and then teach a class at the Eureka Fabric Store.
On to Aptos, where I spent time with Barbara, Yonat, and Ruth. We explored sandal twining, as described by Martha Stanley, in her publication from 2006.
Barbara and Ruth explored patterns in S & Z sprang, and helped me to improve my teaching materials on the subject.
On to Eugene, Oregon. On Monday I was the featured speaker for a meeting of the Eugene Handweavers. Their meetings take place at the Eugene Textile Center.
Then on to Grand Island, Nebraska, where I taught an intro to sprang class to a lovely group of ladies. Many thanks to Judy, Anne, and Peggy for making this happen.
and now that I am back home, I received word of an article for the Eugene Weavers Guild newsletter Thrums. In the March 2018 issue there is an article summing up the 'program' for the February meeting:
Carol James, finger weaver and sprang artist, presented an amazing program on the ancient craft of making cloth with the technique called SPRANG. She demonstrated how yarn wrapped on a frame can be transformed into a functional and decorative fabric that springs open to reveal intricate patterns. Bronze Age bonnets, Coptic caps and carrying bags, military sashes, and ancient or Medieval harlequin patterned pants were part of the historical trail of sprang textiles. Carol also modeled stoles, capes, and a fashionable top of that miraculous cloth. The program was followed by a mini-workshop on 'finger braiding' sponsored by the LCC Education Fund, and an ETC Sprang workshop. Sprang instructions are available in her books, her DVD, and excellent YouTube videos. (see spranglady.com) Carol's program represented years of patient research and endless hours at her Sprang loom to become The Sprang Lady. It was an entertaining and very educational program.
I suddenly realize that January 2018 went past without a single post from me. Well, I was busy with a Braid Society sprang-a-long on the Yahoo site Braids and Bands. I also have been working on a full-length beginning sprang video for DVD. Off to teach in California, Washington, and Nebraska, I will pilot the video with people I meet along the way. Hoping to have the DVD for sale in the Spring. The video will also be available from the Tap Root Video site.
And I made two sweaters in January.
Playing with S& Z patterns, trying to incorporate interlinking, interlacing, and twining in the same garment. I plan to enter these for exhibit in Reno, Nevada, HGA's Convergence and Complex Weavers conferences.
https://www.taprootvideo.com/preview_class.jsf?iid=7&cid=1Tap Root Video has now posted a free video .... me showing you the basic 'stitch' used in sprang. No loom is necessary to do this activity ... and discover what I mean when I say "two rows made with every one row of work". Check it out at Taprootvideo.com
And here is the first review of the video, posted hours after the video went live:
This was the easiest to understand introduction to Sprang! I wasn't sure how interested I was in this technique but after seeing this I am excited to learn more.
Many students have said to me, "that's nice to have a book ... but do you have a DVD?"
In the Summer of 2016, at the Braids Conference in Tacoma, Marilyn Romatka approached me with big ideas for her Tap Root Video site ... and she hooked me. Tap Root Video is trying really hard to be The Go-To site for handicrafts. So now I need to make the movies for the streaming and DVD's so that they can be available. Shouldn't be so bad ... just do your normal teaching, only with a camera man instead of students .... well....
It's a lot of work. Any mis-spoken words are recorded for posterity. My hat is off to movie producers. I am hoping to have video instruction available eventually.
Since returning from my travels, I've been busy writing patterns, and making samples. I sent pieces to the Hermitage and to the British Museum, giving them pieces for others to handle.
Here is a photo of a piece in the British Museum collection, and the matching pattern I've been working on. I'll be teaching sprang at the Lace Museum in Sunnyvale, Calif, in February 2018. Once people get past the basics, I'll be happy to share these and other patterns. Anyone interested in this class should contact Kim at the Lace Museum, by emailing kim at wire lace dot net, or calling 510 565 0994.