Monday, June 8, 2015

What the white yarn in the bushes does to a grayscale and tapestry workshops that don't suck

I had to leave for the Michigan conference early last Friday morning. As I have learned (slowly) in the past few years, I need a final day to pack the suitcases and make sure all the lectures, handouts, and supplies are in order. And I need to sit on the deck and eat a big plate of nachos and relax for a bit. Because I knew this was coming the next morning...
Sometime Thursday afternoon Emily came inside holding a damp and rather grubby skein of white yarn and she said, "I found this in the bushes out front. Do you need it?"

This is what happens when you don't stick your hand all the way down into the 5 gallon pail that the yarn was soaking in overnight to find the last one (because it is too full and you don't want the water to go over the top of your glove if you must know). The skein-that-was-found-in-the-bushes was missing from grayscale #6. That color seemed awfully close to grayscale #7 which was the darkest black but I just chalked it up to the ease of dyeing gradation in dark colors. But now I knew. The skein-that-was-found-in-the-bushes was obviously dumped out with the soak water sometime later when I was cleaning up and being that I'm pretty wiped out after a week of dyeing and it was probably 11 pm, I didn't see it. Had that skein been in the pot, the #6 gray would have been lighter and I would not have had to spend 15 minutes today labeling that same grayscale so that I the students could get the colors in the correct order.

I am teaching at the Michigan League of Handweaver's conference in Holland, MI this week. I arrived Friday to a flurry of activity and things have been rocking every since. What with the fashion and the sewing and the knitting and the eating, there has even been some tapestry weaving going on.

Saturday I taught my new Introduction to Tapestry class. I loved that class. I have no idea if the students liked it even remotely, but it was my baby. I enjoyed giving my unbiased opinion about this fiber medium that I love so much and I do hope they came away with something of interest. At least they got yarn cards.
I made two mistakes on these cards, so by the time I corrected them for the students they didn't look quite as pretty as this (I like things to be pretty). AVL is not a yarn, it is a loom. ALV is a yarn. And I left off Weaving Southwest's tapestry yarn. They had to punch another hole to add it and though the symmetry of the card was improved, the type was not.

Sunday I taught The Mobile Tapestry Weaver which is a one-day class I teach on portable looms made by Jim Hokett. These tiny looms are loved by many. The class was a lot of fun for me, though I think a few students quickly learned how much more difficult it is to learn tapestry techniques without a shedding mechanism. May they persevere (and get a bigger loom for learning--but then they can totally go back to the Hokett for the rest of their lives).
And today I started Predicting the Unpredictable: Color in Tapestry which is a three day workshop. I have an amazing group of students in the class who made me laugh right out loud more than once. We did some exercises with Color-Aid paper and then we started working on value using yarn and a grayscale. Some people see value quite quickly, but if you dig a little bit, you usually discover they have had a lot of visual experience with this somewhere. People who have not practiced looking at value struggle a bit. But they get better.
We are staying in the dorm at Hope College in Holland, MI. I feel a little like I'm a sophomore in college again what with the cement block walls, extra long single beds covered in vinyl, shared bathrooms in which the stall door does not close, raucous meetings in the dorm hallway among my new best friends (the distinguished teachers of MLH)... and the absolute worst lighting in the world. But it is home for a few days and we love it.

P.S. Many of you have asked to see a photo of the little black dress.
There is no photo. Such evidence didn't seem wise at the time. But just to make you happy, here is a photo from the first time I wore the thing, one hand-built house, two hand-built businesses, and two children ago in my sister's life.
I know. Mostly you can't see the dress and you definitely can't tell whether I had on a strapless bra (I can guarantee I didn't), but that is all you get because I don't know where the rest of the wedding photos are right now and what is more, I don't care.

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