|Jason Collingwood at the Whiteboard|
The organizers were my teachers and friends Gail, Kathleen, and Michelle of the Studio 66 Fiber Arts Retreat. As usual, they did a first-class job planning everything from the placement of everyone's looms, pre-measured warps and beautifully dyed weft materials, to a delicious lunch and snacks every day.
To be honest, I wasn't really interested in rug weaving -- just signed up for the class because I have enjoyed the camaraderie of my weaving colleagues so much and didn't want to miss a fun weekend. I still don't much like the idea of putting so much effort into something that people will walk on. Any more than I want to put my heart and soul into dishtowels or washrags. But the twill techniques we learned could be applied to lots of textiles, not just rugs, and I'm already mulling over some ideas...
In just three days' time, Jason shared a lot of information about rugs in general, loom construction and adaptation, and we tried some basic techniques: building up the selvages, twining, starting, joining, and ending the weft so as to keep ends from showing. Jason taught quite a few different (mostly) twill patterns: diagonals, diamonds, triangles of different sizes, lightening bolts, broken twill, zig-zag, changing the direction of twills, undulating twills, skip twill, krokbragd, crossed wefts, contrary motion, clasped wefts, changing the direction of twill in a block, and I'm sure several things I've forgotten. This is why my brain hurts. As a fairly beginning weaver, I was already familiar with basic twill and had done a few easy patterns, but had never done the more complex techniques.
To Jason's credit, he did such a great job explaining things that I was able to follow pretty much everything except the crossed wefts with contrary motion business. But by the time we got to that part, I had absorbed so much information already and had so many ideas buzzing in my head that I pretty much shut down. Note to self: staying out late dancing for a few hours after day one of a three-day seminar might not be the brightest thing to do (but it sure was fun!).
A few of the techniques I tried:
Top (red and cream): This was clasped wefts in straight twill. A fun technique, but it took some time to get the hang of deciding where to put the joins to keep the center diagonal block lined up straight. As you can see from some of my oopses. On the bottom (brown and navy) - undulating twill. Jason gave us the directions for weaving through most of the curve, and challenged us to figure out the rest. I was able to get back to the start of the pattern, but came to a point and was back on my way into another curve before I figured out I could have kept the undulation going just by doubling some of the lines I added.
Top: Krokbragd. Probably my favorite technique from this workshop and something I will definitely explore more. Middle - broken twill. A bit hard to see, but a really cool pattern. Bottom - another attempt at broken twill just alternating colors. Yuck.
Some samples I wish I had woven. The bottom one in gray, red, yellow, and a little white is more Krokbragd. These were just a few of the samples Jason brought along.
Bottom line: never pass up a chance to learn from a legend (or future) legend from the fiber arts world. Three of the three superstars I've had the privilege to meet (I'll save the other two for future postings) were amazing teachers and surprisingly down-to-earth, considering how much adulation they receive. Even though all three discussed some things that were beyond my skill level, I still came home with lessons learned and some memories that I will treasure.