This past weekend I traveled down to Oakland to teach at the Conference of Northern California Handweavers. It was a fun time. I hadn’t been immersed in the fiber world in a while and it was good to be back.
I was there to teach two classes, “Beginning Rigid Heddle Weaving” and “e-Textiles”.
It’s always a blast teaching beginning weaving, because there’s this “ah-ha!” moment that happens when people get how weaving works, and as one student put it, “I can’t believe I finished an entire scarf in a whole day!” (I’m guessing she was a knitter.) There were a few hiccups during the class, like the moment I realized we didn’t have warping pegs for everyone–we got creative and threw chairs on top of tables–I wish I’d taken a picture of that. There were a few cantankerous looms, but we got them sorted.
I skipped what I heard was a great Saturday night presentation to finish prepping for the eTextile class the next day. Work and life had been extra busy leading up to the conference, so there were things I needed to get done. Darn my work ethic! I would have like to see Peggy Osterkamp talk, she’s one of my fiber gurus; I’ve learned a tremendous amount from her books and had the honor of meeting her person, too.
The eTextile class the next day was a guilty pleasure for me. It’s hard to get 12 people together in a room who like blinky-glowy things as much as I do, so it always tickles me when I teach an eTextile class and get to spend a whole day with such folks. Class went well, the extra prep time I put in meant more Arduino Lilypad samples and demos than I’d had in previous classes. The students whipped through the sampler, got into programming in a big way, and we had extra time at the end to go into a tour of some of the great eTextile projects and websites.
I had so much fun, that I’m currently putting together a September weekend workshop in which students will learn eTextiles basics and then go on to modify a garment to create a work of wearable electronic art. If you’re interested in this or future eTextile workshops, you can sign up to receive eTextile workshop information.
Another highlight of the conference was getting to spend time with the other instructors. My roommate was the lovely and effervescent Jacey Boggs. As you know if you’ve taken a class from her or watched her video, she’s fun and lively. She’s also very, very smart. I see her working as force for good in the fiber world for a long time to come. I wish I hadn’t had to be so heads-down prepping for the eTextiles class, there were so many interesting things we could have talked about.
I was good in the vendor hall. Falling down only a couple of times in front of the Just Our Yarn booth (Hand-painted 140/2 silk!) and Lunatic Fringe (Silk tram! On vintage bakelite bobbins!). I steeled myself against the many charms of the Gilmore booth’s Mini Wave loom. It’s so cute! And I actually do have a legitimate need to weave shoelaces that are 110 inches or longer now. But it wouldn’t have fit in my suitcase (I took a card, one may yet follow me home.)
Meals with other instructors is one of the great things about teaching at conferences. There’s so much to share, and other teachers are so inspiring. This conference I got to meet Sara Lamb and Stephanie Gaustad for the first time, and chat a bit with Judith MacKenzie and John Mullarkey. On the way back from the conference I flew out with basketry teacher Judy Zugish, who was a delightful companion as we waited in the airport.
My only regret about CNCH is that I wish I’d taken more pictures. I tend to get so focused on making sure the classes run well and students have a good time, that I forget to take pictures. The only took two: a clever hand-made needle threader a student brought to the eTextile class (I am so going to make myself some of these for class) and Jacey Boggs’ spinning wheel after I signed it (there’s a longer story that’s hers to tell, but the gist is she’s having students sign her wheel and as a past student I qualified–I’m in green, about 7 o’clock.)