Madrona 2011: eTextiles, Core Spinning, Garments, Lever Knitting, oh my!

I got back from Madrona yesterday.  As always, it was a whirlwind.  This year I ended up teaching two entirely new classes, one with a co-teacher, which was another first for me.  I enjoy working up new material to teach, but it’s a lot more work because all the samples are new, the notes are new, the lecture is new.  It’s a whole frog-ball of new.

All day Thursday Selah Barling and I taught the “Garments from the Rigid-Heddle Loom” class.  In reality, Selah taught the class and I was support and occasional comic relief.  Towards the end, though, I jumped in and started making fitting tweaks and offering sartorial suggestions.

Selah and Syne co-teach

(She looks even prettier with her eyes open, but this was the only picture with the two of us wearing our class samples.)

This was Selah’s teaching debut in this format (a whole room full of students) and I am pleased to say that she was magnificent.  A born teacher.  The basic project was a vest of Selah’s design (that I helped translate into digital format and resize.)  Each student brought in fabric they’d woven before class, made a muslin (which Selah helped them custom-fit) and sewed up the vest.

Selah, teaching and muslins

What was great about the class was seeing how one basic pattern could look so different depending on the fabric and fit customization.  They were all beautiful in different ways.  Here are pictures of some of our well-garbed students.

Friday I got to take a core-spinning class with Jacey Boggs, which was a real treat.  Jacey is a lively and talented instructor.  Laura Fry was taking that class as well, so we sat together and had fun as a couple of weavers visiting the land of knitters and spinners.  I’d brought conductive thread and used that as my core spinning.  Ta-da!  My own handspun, conductive, wool-insulated yarn!  This totally solves the problem of how to overlap traces without having them short out.  And it’s so beautiful that I could hardly stop spinning it.

Another reason that I was in love with core spinning was that I splurged (after several years of scheming and preparation) and bought myself a HansenCrafts miniSpinner.  It is seriously lovely, smooth and quiet.  When I bought mine, Sarah Anderson was in the booth at the same time and when she saw me coming, snatched up the rosewood and maple spinner and clutched it to her chest proclaiming, “This one’s mine!”  (She and I roomed together at GGFI, so she knows my predilection for pretty fiber tools.)

Sarah Anderson

My guess is that when you have to fight the spinning instructors off to purchase a wheel, it’s a good one.  I bought the cherry model.  I looked at all the exotic woods, but I love cherry and how it ages so beautifully.  That and it’s the lightest miniSpinner.  Beth and Kevin Hansen were wonderfully helpful and after Kevin learned that I sometimes play around with microcontrollers (behold my geek fu!) gave me some insider info about the electronics.

Note: an electric wheel is great for learning how to spin art yarns: the orifice is big, and you don’t have to treadle, so you can just focus on what your hands are doing.

Saturday was my debut eTextile class, “eTextiles for Knitters and Weavers.”  I had wondered whether I had enough material for six hours, but by the end of class, students were telling me they would have loved it as a two-day class.  We covered electronic basics, sample circuits with LEDs, electroluminescent wire, and programable circuits using the Aniomagic schemer.  It was wacky mad-science fun.

This is the soldering demo.  Fortunately I did not set off any smoke alarms. (Suzanne, the organizer, really has no idea what I get up to in class, this is probably a good thing.)

soldering demo

Here are some of the absolutely fun things students made: a glowing mobius scarf, LED-enhanced buttons, and an exquisitely knitted hat enhanced with a schemer and programmable light boards.

Schemer hat

Saturday was also my birthday.  Selah and I went out for lunch at a Mexican restaurant.  I discovered that if you tell the waitress: “Es mi cumpleaños” this happens to you.

silly birthday hat

They also sing and provide a sugar-covered deep fried tortilla.  Fortunately I am the kind of person who loves wearing a goofy hat and being sung to (unlike my husband, who would have hidden under the table until they went away.)  After they left, Selah and I examined the stitching on the top of the sombrero, which was lovely.

stitching on the hat

Sunday I finally got to take the “Knitting for Speed and Efficiency” class with Stephanie.  It was grand fun.  Both because of Stephanie’s entertaining ways and because of the fun brain-stretchiness of learning something new: knitting.  This is me wearing a fair-isle knitting belt.  Wearing a plaid skirt and knitting with a belt and hugely long DPNs, I felt that somewhere my Scottish ancestors were doing high fives.

lever knitting

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