This past weekend I went to Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts to attend the biennial conference “New England Weavers Seminar”.
The conference included a series of lectures, hands on classes, and other educational opportunities such as Juried Shows, Guild Exhibitions and guided tours. Since this was my first time attending and I do not have a loom that is easily transportable, I decided to take a series of lecture classes. This year the theme was “Weavers Together: Never Ending Weaving Stories” which brought together historical, cultural and technological influences that showed in many of the weaver’s work.
The lectures and classes that I took were “Color Theory” with Margo Selby, “Using Weaving Software” with Barbara Elkins, “Photographing your Handwovens” with Ann Squire, and “Weaving at Warp Speed” with Dena Moses. What I got out of these classes were more tiny little gems that have influenced how I think about my work instead of an overhaul of my weaving life.
At the stage of weaving that I am at right now, what might have been beneficial would have been to really take an intensive weaving class to explore the physical possibilities instead of a three hour overview. However, the survey type lectures helped me to refocus on little things that I could do to make my weaving that much more enjoyable and profitable to me.
In the “Color Theory” lecture with Margo Selby I learned a bit about my sense of color. I have used colors in my work, but not really in an exploratory manner. It has been very safe, and I haven’t really had the courage to step out of the “color rules” with my weavings. Ad what I took out of this class was color exercises so that I can quickly and effectively work through color ideas and proportions. This is so, before I even start picking up cones of yarn, I can have a wide array of color choices in front of me to influence my decisions!
The “Using Weaving Software” was a look into using WeavePoint as a design tool in your woven work. Because I am setting up my AVL with Fiberworks PCW, I thought that this may be a good opportunity to see a different software, but what it ended up doing was confusing me a little bit. After this lecture, I have decided it was time to finally print the Fiberworks manual for myself so that I can really learn the ins and outs of the program to effectively use it as another weaving tool instead of struggling to understand what is happening on my computer screen.
“Photographing your Handwovens” covered some basic concepts of how to easily take a good photograph. What ended up being more beneficial to me was the short chat I had with the instructor after class. I had uploaded most of the images of my woven work to an iPad and brought it to class. I showed her the images comparing the studio pictures that were taken at my college to the photos that I am now taking in my small apartment. The information I got from the chat was that I am on the right track, and with a little bit more study time with my camera, I should be able to get wonderful photographs that will really showcase my cloth. She had a couple tips for me on how to photograph larger pieces and ways to make the cloth more dynamic. This was an enjoyable class because not only did she touch on the simple functions of a camera, but she showed “bad images” along with “good images” and explained why those were separated into the categories that they were in.
I did take a 6 hour lecture course called “Weaving at Warp Speed” with Dena Moses. Many of the techniques she covered in class was how to listen to your body at the loom and how to use the loom as an extension of your work instead of a separate machine. More than teach me new methods, I have decided to examine more closely how I weave. Something that she did in order to show how she develops a weaving rhythm was that she took a video of herself at the loom. This would be a good tool in order to examine yourself weaving, to see if you are sitting comfortably, developing an economy of motion and what steps could be eliminated to produce cloth quickly.
The greatest knowledge I got out of the conference however was the little bits of information that I got from other attendees. I met so many people, such as Margaret Coe, Susan Saulson, and Jim Wilson (Reedmaker and Owner of Gowdey Reed Company), who helped me think introspectively about what kind of path I am setting myself up for becoming a professional weaver. I also met a few recently graduated college students who are looking for support and knowledge in their weaving that I hope to stay connected with so we can carry on down this path.
I didn’t take many pictures because I was too focused in soaking up as much knowledge as I could. However, I look forward to sharing that knowledge that I did absorb with you in the future.
Although the next few posts will be returning to the study of overshot, I will be adding in new features to my blog and will share with you what I learned at NEWS.
I hope that next time I attend I will have some work on exhibit and hopefully participate in the fashion show (the ideas are already stirring!)