Back in October, I took the Weaving II class at Madelyn van der Hoogt’s Weaver’s School on Whidbey Island. This is something I’d been saving and scheming for, ever since I interviewed her back in WeaveCast Episode 16.
It took about two years to bring the money and time together, but at long last I was able to go. And the trip did not disappoint.
Whidbey Island is gorgeous, and there are about five B&Bs within walking distance to The Weaver’s School. So I got to park my car and walk around the island the whole time. I’d never stayed at a B&B before, so had no idea that each breakfast at The Blue Goose Inn would be a homemade feast. And even though I’d gotten the cheapest, most economy room, it was still huge to my eyes, with an oversized claw-foot tub that I thoroughly enjoyed. (Hot baths and chocolate, two of mankind’s greatest inventions.)
The Weaver’s School is also within walking distance to a yarn shop, a fantastic coffee house, great restaurants, and the waterfront. I swear, it’s as if Madelyn had this all planned out when she picked the place!
Because it was October, with Halloween just around the corner, all the local businesses had gotten together and put up humorous scare-crows. There was a bank, preschool, massage therapist, and even an orthopedic surgeon represented.
The classes were amazing. Weaving II is the intermediate-level class. Each morning started with a lecture, then in the afternoon, we wove on pre-warped looms. Every loom was set up with a different weave structure, and the combination of learning about the structure, and then immediately getting to go weave it really helped cement the lessons in my brain.
There are more looms there than you could reasonably expect to get to. ( Though if I hadn’t been sick as a dog the whole time, I would have given it a serious try.) The glorious setting, the great B&B food, and the decadence of getting to weave on looms that some one else had already warped made me feel as though I’d gone to a “Weaving Spa.” Forget seaweed wraps, plunk me down in front of a twill-blocks sampler and I’m a happy woman.
I learned about Lampas, a type of doubleweave with unequal fabrics in each layer.
I wove summer and winter for the first time.
Played around again with huck lace.
I tried out deflected doubleweave for the first time. (It really needs to be washed to show off the deflection.) This was a fun sampler, because after I wove the sample as writ, I played around and created my own designs.
I also did a color gamp in twill blocks.
And a differential shrinkage sample, using merino (black) and 10/2 cotton (the colors.) The paper is a scan of the sample before it was washed, and the cloth shows the “after.” It’s cool how the color blocks drew up into little blisters or bubbles.
I got to play on not one, but two, types of drawlooms.
First was the Opphämta drawloom, which is apparently pretty rare.
And then the Damask drawloom. Which I just had no mojo with at all. Which was a shame, because I had this ambitious plan to do some interesting colorwork to complement the design. I enjoyed weaving on the drawloom, it was very peaceful and made a lovely chiming sound. But threads broke. I would like another shot some time when I’m not coughing my head off, and I have a damask shuttle to hand. A Damask drawloom has a very short shed, and I had a bit of trouble getting a standard shuttle through.
I had a spendid time, despite being sicker than I’d been in years. (You know you’re sick on vacation when discovering that the hospital is within walking distance makes you happier than the similar proximity of the beach.) I was on antibiotics, and my doctor told me I wasn’t infectious, which I truly hope was the case.
There were five of us in the class: me, Leila, Cynthia, Karen, and Annika. And you know how there’s always that one student in class who drives you nuts? Didn’t happen this time, everyone was a delight. (Here’s hoping the other students felt the same!) This is a dreadful picture of me because (a) sick and (b) the day I figured “What the heck, it’s weaving school. I can wear the tatty shirt; no one will care.” turned out to be group picture day.
Madelyn is a wonderful teacher and her assistant, Suzie Liles, was delightful, too.
Highlights of the week:
- Intermediate-level lectures on structure from Madelyn van der Hoogt herself. (And yes, they are as clear and comprehensive as you’d imagine.)
- Draw-loom weaving. Madelyn had two styles of drawlooms. One set up for Damask, and the other for Opphämta. I got to weave on both of them, I can’t tell you how much this geeked me out.
- Spa-like weaving on pre-warped looms. (A week just to be a weaver, with no other responsibilities! Fabulous!)
- Access to a 32-shaft Louet Megado.
See that last item? Madelyn owns and actually lets students weave on a 32-shaft Megado. She had it set up for a twill, which was intricate and pretty, but didn’t really show off the full design potential of the 32-shaft loom. So I asked her if I could go back to the B&B that evening and create a custom design to weave on the Megado. She said yes! I can’t really say what she talked about in the lecture after that because images of weaving designs were dancing in my head.
See, a year or two ago, I’d seen Marg Coe give a five-minute demo on how to design woven words using Adobe Photoshop, and I happened to have a copy of Photoshop Elements on my laptop… It took me about five hours, but after playing around in the online help and experimenting, I figured out how to do it.
And of course, once you can create words, you can create images as well. I searched on Google Images for spirals, found a shape I liked, took the image into Photoshop and traced it using the Pen tool. Then did a pattern fill with twills and imported it into Fiberworks and….Viola!
I was sick as a dog, lying on the floor of my B&B room at 1am, typing on my laptop and I felt as though I’d discovered fire! With this technique, a 32-shaft loom could be used like a jacquard to weave anything. (Anything 32 threads wide, but still, anything.)
It was truly a turning point in my weaving life.
So…anyone got a 32-shaft loom I could borrow for a year or so?
Even the ride home on the ferry was magical.