I've been spending a great deal of time with my camera and computer, composing PDF instruction sheets, and pairing these with videos, outlining various aspects of sprang. Yes, I've already published books and a DVD ... but it seems people want a human presence as they work their way through.
Bending to requests for on-line teaching, I've run a few pilot projects, teaching sprang on-line. To my great surprise, it seems to be successful. People are learning to manipulate threads by chatting with me over Zoom ... supported by videos and PDFs ... nevertheless, gaining confidence with the technique.
I used to teach knitting through a city recreation program. The beginning knitting class was always a six-week long course, meeting 2 hours per week. It has often occurred to me that sprang could/should be presented the same way. In the past I almost always traveled to a place to teach. The sponsoring organization would request that I compact the instruction into perhaps a 3-day course. I often saw that participants felt overwhelmed with the information. My pilot projects have offered instruction in that same once-a-week-for-several-weeks format ... to great success.
I am pleased to announce that I am gaining confidence in this presentation method. I will be offering a class that will meet on Thursday evenings, starting March 4, and running for 6 Thursdays. The materials fee will include an already-warped sprang frame ... as this is how I usually teach. We begin with the basic stitch (and not with warping). Yes, there will be a bit of cost to post that frame to you ... but not insurmountable.
If you are interested in this six-week introduction to sprang, go to http://www.spranglady.com/store/p86/Intro_to_Sprang_On-line
For those who have already attended a class, who feel they have the basics, but who want a bit of help to start exploring, I have something for you as well. Discussions with many former students have revealed an interest in a kind of on-going supported sprang challenge. My website now offers a 12-month subscription that gives you instructions on making a sample, and then, based on that sample, helps you calculate number of threads and length of initial warp, so that you can make a neckscarf, pair of fingerless mittens, or hat. Each month features a different "stitch" or sprang structure, complete with an instruction sheet and how-to video. ... and there are "bonuses" such as methods to reduce the size of the loops at the edges, instructions for false-circular warp, lace pattern writing, and more. And there will be a monthly Zoom meeting where we can chat. If this interests you, check out
It's been a while since I last posted. I've not been idle. I've been working my way through some very different territory.
I last posted about some sprang lace patterns. Work on those continues. I believe I've written over 300 ... but it depends on how you count ... when I write patterns for alphabet letters, does that count as a single large one, or 26 (or is it 52 because there are capital and lower case)? A big Thanks to Ria Hooghiemstra and Debbie McClelland who have made numerous samples, caught countless errors, and made superbe suggestions. And then there's the editorial work of organizing the patterns with some kind of consistency so that others can use them. Big Thanks to Ruth Temple who is helping out on that score.
I've also been exploring ways to teach on-line. I've written out a number of new instruction sheets, and have set up a couple of pilot projects to test out ways to teach by Zoom.
Very important is to figure out how to place cameras, where to sit, where to place the lights .... all necessary to get a good focus on my fingers to communicate to you how to work the stitches.
A long time ago I used to teach knitting. It was a six week course to give a class the basics, develop the skills to start to feel independent with the technique. My instinct is that learning sprang is the same thing. The problem is that guilds invite me to travel to teach in their town. A six week long, once-a week class is just not in the discussions. But now that I'm thinking about teaching on-line ....
And yet another project (after much encouragement from my excellent daughter Claire) has me looking at a subscription based do-a-long. I have heard from many students, yes, they took the class, and yes they felt they learned a great deal in the class, but sitting here with a ball of yarn in one hand, a sprang frame in the other, and an idea in the head, and just can't seem to get to making it all happen. More than one former student has described this state to me. I put it back to the crash course I've always taught ... a class that is extended over weeks, would give time to absorb information better ... nevertheless what to do for people who had to endure a crash course.
I've been hearing that you can sign up for a year's worth of cross stitch patterns, or knitting patterns, or quilting patterns. My daughter has encouraged me to design a program for those of you interested in exploring sprang.
The key to making something that ends up the size you want is, to start by making a swatch. I'm working on a series of twelve different sprang stitches, each with a swatch.
Membership in my at-present-theoretical sprang subscription would give you support to try a new stitch each month, make a swatch, and then make a neckscarf based on that swatch. Yes, there's a pattern for a Mobius scarf, as well as for a hat, and another pattern for mittens included in the membership.
You could have a whole series of swatches. If you use the same yarn and the same number of stitches, you will have a document of different stitches and their various gauges with that yarn. You could also have a lovely collection of neckscarves of a variety of stitch patterns.
I am thinking I could also add some Zoom meetings for Question and Answer sessions as part of the subscription. I want to get people to use the sprang technique.
For now, my website has a button on the top, allowing you to "login". Just now that puts you on a mailing list, and you'll be sure to hear from me when this subscription thing really happens ... hopefully by mid-January 2021.
If you're interested, login.
And one more thing. As a member of The Braid Society who is also an instructor, I'm offering an on-line tutorial on the subject of sprang starting January 4, 2021. If you're interested, sign in to the discussion group that is braids and bands.io
The tutorial will feature the very basics of sprang ... no frame needed ... and it's free for all those participating in that group.
People have been asking me for an electronic version of my books, and I've finally given in.
Taproot Video is an instructor co-operative, and they now have the capacity to offer books in this format. My books Fingerweaving Untangled and Sprang Unsprung are now available on the Taproot Video site as down-load-able PDF e-books.
As an added bonus, I've created a left-handed version of Fingerweaving Untangled. The genesis of that book was a set of instruction sheets, created for the first class I taught in fingerweaving. A couple of students in that class were very right-handed, and complained that my directions were backwards, and very awkward for them. Bending to their advice I flipped all the drawings and edited the instructions to satisfy them. This left-handed edition of Fingerweaving Untangled returns to the original drawings and instructions. Available only at Taproot Video https://taprootvideo.com/instructorClasses.jsf?iid=7
Since I've got time on my hands, all travel plans cancelled, I figured I should put my efforts to a project worthy of a great deal of time ... all those lace patterns. I've seen sprang lace in a number of collections, have photographed them, and have made some samples. Now is the time to sit myself down and to go through these, one by one, and render patterns that will be read-able to others.
The inspiration for these patterns come from several sources. There's that book of sprang sashes, repaired by Coby Reijndeers-Baas, sashes with all manner of designs, people, boats, deer, mermaids, and a variety of geometric designs. Then there is that collection of lace from the Cinquantenaire Museum in Brussels that I visited back in 2013. Other lace patterns come from pieces in the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Petri Museum, and assorted other collections.
I'm working on putting the patterns onto a grid, so you'll have a grid pattern. From that grid, I'm deriving a "written pattern" that will read "right-edge stitch, 3 plain stitches, left-edge stitch". Having done that, I then set up a warp and make an actual sample, to check my pattern, and to be reasonably sure that the pattern is correct.
I'd be very happy to have others check these patterns. If you're interested, send me a message by commenting on this blog, or to the "contact me" on this website.
I made myself a new sprang shirt, using a 5/2 mercerized cotton from Lunatic Fringe, leftovers from other projects. Inspired by the stitch pattern in a Ukranian belt, I made vertical stripes in the body. In essence the pattern is two rows of interlinking and one of interlacing ... that means, for example, two rows of Z, and one row of S, then another 2 rows of Z, and one row of S.
The body began as a 7 ft warp, some 300 loops (600 threads). I set it up as a false-circular warp, working from hem towards the shoulders. Just beyond the armpit level, I switched to 2/2 interlacing. The interlacing is less stretchy, quite appropriate to the yoke of the shirt. Because I also doubled the threads, it created a slight gathering, meaning the yoke is narrower than the body of the shirt. I made the two sleeves at the same time, cutting threads to create the desired shape.
The collar is a piece of circular-warp sprang. I calculated that I needed some 24 inches of collar, and started with a 32 inch long circular warp.
Inspired by sprang egg covers made by Sylva Cekalova, I blew out a couple of eggs, and made some sprang covers. Guess we're having omelet for supper.
I've been experimenting. The first one I started with a 6 inch warp (the red one) ... too long. The yellow one was next, at 5 inches initial warp length, also too long. The 3rd one (lavender) started as a 4 inch warp .. and that was the right length. I used a 2/8 silk, and set up 30 loops (60 threads). It took about 45 minutes per egg, warping, working, and finishing.
It's April, and the snow was almost all melted last week ... and then we got some 20cm (8 inches) of snow. Back to winter time. And at the same time the river is rising.
Someone sent me a photo of a Ukranian Sash. Olena Orenchak expressed interest in learning to make this pattern, and I took it as a challenge. So ... I found me some yarn in the colors red, blue, yellow, and green. It looks to me like a combination of S and Z ... two rows of S and one of Z. In sprang that means that the other side of the sash will have two rows of Z and one of S.
So many places closed, so many events cancelled, I feel like I'm in isolation. OK, so I'll try to make productive use of this time. For a long time now I've been working on a document detailing fingerweaving pattern variations. I've set out by putting the patterns into categories: single direction patterns (diagonal stripe, sawtooth etc), two directions (chevrons and arrows), and then another category of arrow-and-lightning, and arrow-and-flame.
The documents cover a variety of variations. The point is to encourage and support exploration. The big question is, "When is it ready?" At what point do I consider it finished? I've been looking through them again, and think it's about time to post them. There is always the outside chance there are critical errors ...
March in Winnipeg. This is the view out my window. More snow last night, but sunny this morning.
Inside it's warm. I'm teaching a Tuesday evening class of fingerweaving at the St Boniface Museum, and a Saturday class of sprang at the C2 Centre for Craft. Thanks to the St Bonface Museum, and to the Manitoba Craft Museum and Library for hosting ... and kudos to the students, all who are doing very well, making good progress.
A big Thanks to the St Boniface Museum for installing hooks in the beams on the ceiling of this room. The Fingerweaving Support Group is now sorely tempted to forgo the access to beer at the food court that is TheForks Commons, and move the weekly meet up site across the river to the St Boniface Museum.