Over the past thirty years, I’ve taken too many classes and workshops to mention. Every one of them has expanded my understanding of some aspect of the fiber world, sometimes in unexpected ways. I think my first workshop was sponsored by the St. Louis Weavers’ Guild, taught by Elsie Regensteiner in the mid-1980’s, on rug weaving techniques. My latest classes I’ll get to shortly. There is always something to be learned from a new instructor, even if I already know a good deal about the subject. The instuctor may have a different approach that I’ve never tried, or a trick to solving a problem that is helpful to know. I occasionally have learned about a technique that I’m sure I never want to try again myself, although I may have gained a new appreciation of others’ work. I have often thought that I’m my own best teacher, at least for academic subjects, in that I learn from books, journals, and internet sources, and my own practice, better than from others. However, I’ve discovered that if I’m patient, there are ideas and techniques in weaving that I learn from others, but I would probably never have discovered by myself. Sometimes I learn from the instructors, but quite often I learn from watching and listening to my fellow students.
This year I participated in several different classes and workshops, in Colorado (RMWG and IWC) and Kansas (MWC). The first was Susan Wilson’s crackle workshop for the RMWG. I’d listened to her talks on crackle in California, and read (not thoroughly) her new book (Classic Crackle and More), but I thought I’d get a better feel for this weave structure if I actually tried it under her supervision. I was right, but I haven’t yet tried it on my own.
At the Midwest Weavers Conference in Emporia, Kansas, I tried a spinning class along the lines of “you can spin with anything!” led by Jeannine Glaves, from Oklahoma. It was inspiring and we all had a great deal of fun, trying to spin Christmas tinsel, and other oddities. Lucy Brusic and her husband led a class discussion of mystery books with a weaving/fiber twist in them, and I was introduced to a couple of authors I’d missed over the years. The third and last class at Midwest was “Dye It Yourself Sock Yarn”. I’m not sure I made sock yarn, but I did enjoy listening to the instructor talk about her way of dyeing yarn and dyeing my two skeins of yarn. (I almost never dye yarn on my own, just in workshops.) All of these were after I hit my head, and probably I didn’t get as much out of them as I would without concussion symptoms….
Tom and I both went to the Intermountain Weavers Conference in Durango in July. It was his first conference, and we were both apprehensive about whether he would enjoy it. He took a three-day workshop from Heather Hubbard on Rio Grande style weaving, using my 4S Baby Wolf loom. He turned out to enjoy it, and is still working on his project. Heather was a young, refreshing teacher whose style worked well for Tom, who was interested in various weft-faced weaving techniques, but didn’t have a lot of experience in any of them. My choice was Robyn Spady’s “On the Double–Two Tie” workshop, on double two tie unit weave. I had taught a class about double two tie many years ago, but never used it for much (after recommending that others try it!). I find the structure interesting in that it allows many different structures to be woven on the same warp threading. I’m not good at designing on a D2T threading, but the workshop was great, and Robyn is an excellent teacher. Right now, I’m weaving plaited twill towels on a D2T warp.
This fall, Tom and I both signed up for Lynda Teller Pete’s RMWG workshop about traditional Navajo weaving. Lynda is an outstanding teacher, with clear ideas about Navajo traditions in weaving. She’s a fifth generation Navajo weaver herself, and helped us through every step of weaving a small rug on the upright looms she provided. Tom probably got more out of it than I did, and was braver about trying different motifs, but I gained an appreciation of Navajo tradition and rugs beyond just enjoying their beauty. Even if it did take me five hours to weave the last inch, with Lynda’s help!
So, did I learn things? Yes, definitely. Did I learn things I couldn’t have taught myself? In most cases, yes. Did I love spending time with wonderful, creative people all interested in weaving? Absolutely, and I hope to take more workshops and continue learning from more inspiring teachers, maybe next summer!