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.
I'm in Minnesota, teaching classes. The Duluth Art Institute hosted a sprang class, attended by several members of the local handweavers guild.
Sprang class started on Friday evening, and worked all day Saturday, and then again Sunday morning. Participants had practice with the basic stitch, as well as some variations. Everyone was able to practice setting up, working the piece, and several different finishing techniques. It was a superbe group of students. Thanks so much to Michelle, Louise, and Lynnea, for all the work they did to organize the event. It warms my heart to hear that this group plans to now form a "sprang study group", to maintain skills learned, and to help each other in further explorations of the technique. I'll be happy to skype in occasionally.
I then went down the road to Grand Marais, Minnesota, to teach at the North House Folk School during their Fiber Week. There were ten people in my fingerweaving class. We started at the beginning, and are progressed through diverse motifs. Another terrific group of students.
The third day I presented the theory of arrowheads ...
... and several lovely arrowheads were made.
Photo at the end of the 3-day class. Most students completed several straps, in a variety of designs. Congratulations to the new finger weavers.
Many thanks to Jessa, Ben, and the rest of the North House team for organizing this event.
Getting ready for another round of teaching, I'm preparing warps. I special-dye them, to ease the learning process. My daughter hosted the dying. We used the leftover dyestuff to color some knitting yarn. It was perfect weather to hang the skeins to dry.
The organizers of the Intermountain Weavers Conference asked me back for this year. I taught three classes: intro to sprang, sprang lace and sprang in S&Z. The students were eager and enthusiastic. The world has a few more practitioners of sprang!
Then on to the DC area, to be specific, George Washington’s Mount Vernon. I’ll gave a talk on the subject of sprang. I also handed over another replica of the Braddock sash. This time the beneficiary was Carlyle House. They will soon unveil a mannequin dressed out as Edward Braddock in his military uniform.
Then on to Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology. They have a collection of some 200 pieces of sprang bonnets, some complete, some just little bits.
Researcher Julia Galliker and I had a look at these pieces. We’re intending to compile our findings into a database (Julia has a gift for databases) and we will present this information at the Textiles of the Nile Valley Conference in Antwerp, Belgium, at the end of October.
The Saskatchewan Handweavers held a Shindig, and invited me to come, to teach sprang, and to give the Saturday evening keynote address. The drive across the prairies was a stark contrast to the sights of earlier in the year, the giant redwoods of California, and the Rockies in Colorado.
The Saskatchewan handweavers asked me to teach a sprang class, and to give the Saturday evening Keynote address.
Participants in my class were eager to learn. The organizing committee hired photographer Sparkling Medusa Creative Services, Angela Reddekopp to take photos.
And later the next week, Jenny sent me photos of projects completed in the days following the class.
Back to the folks in California. Janet recently posted a photo of a sprang vest she made, using her handspun cotton. Well done Janet!!!!
Here I am, on a 3-city teaching tour of Colorado. Spring weather is living up to it’s reputation, sunshine, rain, snow, sleet, and then sun again.
I am teaching classes in Montrose, Boulder, and Colorado Springs.
Everyone works on her own frame, creating several sample pieces. In the introductory class, we explore the basic interlinking stitch, and then some variations. You learn the basic stitch, some finishing techniques, and then how to start from ‘scratch’.
My hostesses to date have been lovely. Many thanks to Bobbie, Mary, Janet, Sue, and Cheryl. I’ve been treated to a tour of Black Canyon of the Gunnison Park, and a drive through the Rockies, from Montrose to Boulder. Looking forward to a tour of the Schacht Loom factory.
In-between teaching, I’ve kept myself busy working on some Coptic designs, working out the pattern, and then testing them by making sample pieces.
So, I’m here in New Zealand. I’ve toured around a bit. Beautiful country. Mountains, valleys, and seaside.
Some Kiwis are quite serious about their chocolate. I happened upon a shop that claimed to be the Global Home of Chocolate Therapy … they did indeed have some excellent chocolate inside.
I saw the place where they make the Ashford spinning wheels, and met Richard and Elizabeth. Indeed Richard made the sprang frames that students used on my whirlwind teaching tour.
I’ve taught classes in several cities, including Wellington, Mosgiel, Ashburton, and Christchurch. Spinner / weavers I’ve met here are quite interested in finger weaving and sprang, and quick to learn.
Thanks to Rosanne & Paul for a delightful tour of Wellington. Many thanks to my Creative Fibre hosts, Robyn, Marilyn, Anne, and a special thanks to Sue Giller, Education Co-ordinator for Creative Fibre, New Zealand.
Over the next few weeks I’ll travel to Whakatane and Taurange, and I’ll visit the good folks at Majacraft. At the end of April I’ll participate in the national fibre conference that will take place in Auckland.
The Red River is frozen solid, and as usual the plows have cleared a track, so people can skate on the river.
But I’m in California. At the invitation of Jules Kliot, I taught a sprang class at the Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles in Berkeley, California. The weather was markedly different from what we were having in Winnipeg.
Many thanks to Jules and to Erin for making this class happen.
Then on to speak to a gathering of the Santa Cruz Handweavers. The place where they meet is in a park.
I then taught two classes to the Santa Cruz Handweavers, one on sprang
And then I taught a second class on the subject of finger weaving.
Thanks to Mibs, Yonat, Barbara, and Ruth, for the work they did to make these workshops a pleasant experience for all.
Looking forward to returning to California again sometime.
But now I’m in New Zealand. Here’s the view from my window
I will be teaching in Wellington, Mosgiel, Ashburton, Halswell, and Taupo, and then attending the national Creative Fibre Conference in Auckland at the end of April.
I’ve been busy teaching. The Midwest Handweavers Conference was held at St Thomas College in St Paul, Minnesota. I taught a finger weaving class and then a sprang class. On the way to Minnesota I stopped in Fargo to visit. Kim Baird said I should look up another instructor while there, Donna Kallner. Arriving at St Thomas College, I was assigned a roommate … none other than Donna Kallner.
What a lovely campus, and terrific vendor’s hall. I found just the yarn I was looking for, the right size yarn to work a more authentic version of that Coptic sprang turban.
Back home, I’m working on yet another pair of sprang leggings. These will hopefully be more accurate to that portrait of a Venetian gondolier.
Not quite sufficient time to finish those leggings, and I’m off to Colorado and the Intermountain Weavers Conference in Durango where I taught a three-day sprang workshop. Great to catch up with former students.
And there was a batch of new sprang students
The lovely thing about a three-day workshop is that students are supported through the learning process. By the third day some really creative things can happen. After the initial bag, and a circular warp lace sampler, and some exploration of twining, some students were ready to explore.
We were looking at images on the internet of wildly braided sprang pieces. Sally offered to use her piece to explore this method. We began the process in class. Recently she sent me this image of the completed piece. You see, sprang is so much more than ugly bags and hats.
After the conference I had the opportunity to tour Mesa Verde, Canyon de Chelly, and Bandelier National Monument, sites of ancient cliff dwellings. One room was clearly set up for weaving, a place for the upper beam in the ceiling, loops to hold the lower beam in the floor. Thanks to Laurie Webster and Glenna Dean for being my tour guides.
In other news, I’ve been working on a collection of sprang lace patterns.
I’m looking for individuals interested in trying out my lace patterns, giving me feed-back on the readability of the patterns. Any takers out there? Send me a note, carol at sash weaver dot com.
Travelling again, teaching and researching in Europe.
First stop Lyon where I stayed opposite the train station
In Lyon I had a look at the turban on the head of a mummie at the Confluence Museum.
Then I went for a walk in the city park
I hear it was snowing back in Winnipeg.
Off to Belgium, where my friend was waiting for me at the train station.
Frieda hosted me for the better part of a week. Together we visited the lace museum in Calais, France, the Gemeentemuseum in TheHague, and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. We saw lots of sprang. Many of the items in these collections were made by Elizabeth VanReesema. Photos of these pieces are in books, but photos just do not do justice to them.
Taught classes in Sint-Job-in-‘t-Goor, fingerweaving one day, sprang the next. Such a pleasure to share these techniques with people who are eager to learn.
Many thanks to Ina and Frieda who organized these workshops, and made everything possible.