CNCH 2010

I had planned to blog about CNCH during CNCH, but as it turned out I was having too much fun meeting folks, teaching classes, editing articles, launching a new website design, adding a shopping cart to the site, and giving a keynote speech…

Well, you get the idea.  I’ve been busier than a bunch of monkeys in a fire-ant patch.

And then of course, I came home to my two favorite guys grinning at me over a week’s worth of laundry and dishes.

So…I’m finally just now getting to relate the wonderful adventure that was CNCH!

The first adventure was the drive down.  I carpooled with Selah Barling, who was going to the conference as well as visiting family in the San Francisco area.  Selah and I had the classic road-trip fun, chattering away, stopping for cool sites, eating at strange and new places.

We saw Mount Shasta

Mount Shasta


One of the cool things about traveling with fiber-folk is that when you stop and enthuse: “Look! Barbed wire is a two-ply construction with supplemental knots!”  They don’t look at you like you’re crazy.

Barbed wire


The view from my hotel room made me realize that I wasn’t in Seattle any longer.

Santa Clara, California


Though Santa Clara did its best to make me feel at home.

Rainy California


The first day I taught a basic rigid-heddle class, where I gave the students organic, hand-dyed 100% merino sock yarn.

(Note: Yes, all the yarn from the Box Full of Promise did get skeined and dyed, largely due to the beneficient Astrid Bear, of Damselfly Yarns, who loaned me her Crazy Monkey skein winder.  After winding 143 skeins of 300 yards each, let me just say that is one nifty tool, and big thanks to Astrid!)

When I’m teaching, I get so absorbed in what the students are doing that I usually forget to take pictures until everyone’s gone home.  But I did manage to catch a couple of new weavers with my camera.

New weavers

The gal in the pink sweater had never woven before, but said her Swedish grandmother would be proud of her.

I think she’s right, gramma would be proud.

Proud scarf


Margaret was my class angel, and a big help, especially during the set-up.  (Little did she know that she’d be helping assemble looms.)

Margaret the class angel


Wandering around in the dealer’s room, I found a few knitters who fessed up to getting bit by the weaving bug.

Knitter, caught weaving!


Soon after I took this picture, I found myself in a conversation with Jasmine (of the Knitmore Girls podcast) enthusing about getting a floor loom.  I grinned; it’s wonderful to see folks discovering the world of handweaving.  (And little do they realize how often one loom leads to two, and so on…)


In the dealers room I was quite restrained.

 Take One Hame

Eric: Yes, I brought home yarn.  And yes, some of it was even that vintage, gold-electroplated yarn John Marshall was tempting folks with.  But look at it this way…I did not bring home a baby alpaca.  Kinda puts things in perspective, no?


Baby alpaca

(Because I could have so fit that cria in the car, just saying…)


At the Village Spinning and Weaving booth Sheila O’Hara modeled the dance moves of “The Flocketts” (As seen in her colorful weaving on the back wall.)

Dancing with the Flockettes


Also at the convention center during CNCH was a martial arts tournament, which added a lot of interest and energy to the event.  BTW, martial arts kids?  Very polite.

martial arts tournament


The second day I taught beyond-the-basics rigid-heddle weaving.  I didn’t take any pictures that day, because I was a wee bitty nervous.  Because <gulp> Peggy Osterkamp was one of the students.  You see, I learned much of what I know about warping from Peggy’s books and video.  Before class began, I took her aside and told her to correct anything if I messed up an explanation, because it was more important for students to get good information than for me to save face.

I looked over at her occasionally, but she didn’t step in.  Not once.  Which made me feel like I’d won the “Not a bad teacher at all” award.  Whoo-hoo!

Laverne Waddington was at the class, and took a couple of pictures which you can see one on her blog.  (It’s also a great post about teaching weaving in general.)

And Franco Rios did a great blog summary of the class.  It was fun getting to meet several “virtual fiber folk” in real life.


That night was the banquet, at which I’d be giving the keynote address.

Nancy Weber and Kathy Alexander, the CNCH 2010 co-chairs, did the announcements and introductions.  (They’re pictured in the background, standing against the wall.)  I’ve never run a conference, and this was my first time getting a glimpse into how much work and coordination was involved.  Wow!  Hats off to both of these ladies.  The event was great, and I hope they’re both relaxing somewhere poolside, beverages in hand.


And then it was my turn.  I feel about public speaking the same way I feel about skydiving: it’s both thrilling and terrifying.

I’d never given a keynote before, and thus solicited advice.  Bonnie Inouye was especially supportive and helpful and I also got great tips from Ruby LeslieMadelyn van der Hoogt, and Bonnie Tarses.  Then I played around with presentation software and made it my own.

After six months of prep work and planning I stepped on stage…

Keynote speech

…and it went well!  People laughed, people clapped.

The talk was about how the Internet is changing hand weaving.  If you weren’t there, I’ve made my slides (and audio clips) available on  It’s not as exciting without my speech and jumping around, but it’s a taste of the experience.

There was one awkward moment where I inadvertently stepped into a double-entendre (while describing how to woo knitters away to weaving) and in trying to extricate myself, backed into another.  Everyone laughed, I turned red, we got past it.

And yes, I really did end the talk with a skein-dance and weaving karoke.  And yes, the audience (at least the braver souls among us) sang along.

Epic good times.

Afterwards came meeting folks.  (See the grin on my face?  I was really, really happy to have survived the talk.)

Happy to have survived

Note: The beautiful jacket I’m wearing?  That has a story all its own that I need to blog.  Part of it is my early handweaving (and the WeaveZine background fabric) and it was accomplished with the design and sewing mentorship of Selah.  And yes, we were sewing on snaps at 2am the night before.  Why do you ask?


The next day I taught a three-hour class on how to use web technologies to promote handweaving.  It was a lot of fun for a three-hour lecture.  Great students, with a lot of interesting back-and-forth.  We ajourned to the coffee shop for the last half-hour to access WiFi (and caffiene!) and looked at examples of the things we’d been talking about.

After I was done with all my conference duties I stole away to see the gallery.

I ran into the many-talented Laverne Waddington, author of the first-ever, available-on-WeaveZine, eMonograph: Andean Pebble Weaving.  She also wrote a Backstrap Basics article last summer that’s a wonderful introduction to that style of weaving.

Laverne Waddington

I saw many pretty things:

1) A dress made out of CDs

CD dress

2) Tien Chui’s amazing handwoven wedding dress. (Pictured with her is the seamstress who worked with her on design and construction.)

3) Wedge weave.  This weave construction blows my mind: it’s not square!

wedge weave

4) Examples of Laverne’s work, which are so intricate and beautiful it’s hard to believe they were woven on such a simple loom.

Laverne Waddington's Weaving

That evening, I had dinner with Tien, her future husband Mike, and Daryl Lancaster (who is going to be writing a sewing column for WeaveZine, starting next month.  Woot!)

Dinner with Tien, Mike, and Daryl
Afterwards, I dragged us all into a sari shop (okay, Mike waited in the car).  All three of us weavers made the same happy gasping sound when we walked in the door.  I think saris are just stunningly lovely.  There was no time to try things on, which just about broke my heart, but I promised myself that one day I would to go up to Vancouver, B.C. and shop the sari district.  I medically need a beautiful sari in my wardrobe.


But the most amazing thing of all?  The “Syne Mitchell: Weaver” action figure.

This was a project inspired by Sage Tyrtle of the QN podcast (which I always think of as “the podcast formerly known as Quirky Nomads”) who claimed that she wanted a “Syne Mitchell action figure that she could pull out of her pocket at critical times and ask “Now what would Syne do?”  (Sage teases me mercilessly on Skype for being capable…)

Ruth Temple, musician, morris dancer, and all-around evil genius mastermind made it real.

Ruth started with a Hitty doll.  Which I had never heard of before, but which has a very cool story, and an accompanying book: Hitty Her First Hundred Years .  The little doll is made of wood and has beautiful brown hair and eyes!

Syne Mitchell action figure

Liner Notes:

  • Sage Tyrtle, who does miniature crochet, created the beret.
  • Pam Howard, of the John C. Campbell Folk School, knitted the shawl and made the wee shawl pin.
  • Tien Chui donated scraps from her wedding dress project for the doll’s dress and coat.
  • The belt of the dress is cording that was created for the CNCH badges.
  • Ruth Temple carved an adorable rigid-heddle loom from craft sticks.  (It actually weaves!)  She also (at CNCH) created the card-weaving set.
  • Laura Fry donated the drop spindle with a really nice fiber on it…qiviut?
  • Laverne Waddington gave me a piece of her pickup band weaving that I’m going to put into a backstrap loom for the wee weaver.

I have never before been the recipient of such an inspired, creative, collaborative gift.  It was epic, truly epic.  I LOVE every bit of it, and the doll will have pride of place in my studio.  I’m already planning her wee floor loom.  (And yes, Sage, there will be reprisals…)

You can watch some of my shock and awe on this video, as captured by Nancy Alegria.


CNCH, a rollicking good time!  I’d never met so many Californian weavers before in one place: what fun you all are!


P.S.  The blanket project is still in the works.  There’s a previous project on the big loom that I need to weave off first… at 114 picks per inch.  Oy!

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