Thursday, May 30, 2019

O Canada!

Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies, 
viewed from the lakeside trail

I wish that everyone could experience the beauty, friendship, laughter and food (oh the food) that I enjoyed while teaching in Canada over the past three weeks.

Cappuccino made by Dave Connelly, 
some of the amazing food and drink I enjoyed in Alberta

Thanks to Lyn Pflueger, a wet felter, spinner, and weaver who teaches at the Alberta College of Art and Design (and to whom I am forever grateful), I was invited to teach four workshops for the Heritage Weavers and Spinners Guild of Calgary, the Sheep Creek Weavers and Fibre Artists Guild, the Crocus Country Fibre Arts Guild, and the Edmonton Weavers' Guild

How to begin to describe the talent and skill of the weavers I met over 21 days? I guess the best way is to start at the beginning....

Above: Lorel Dederer (left) and her sister, Cammy Desjardins

Lorel Dederer shepherded me about and organized everything for the Heritage Guild workshop, "One Warp, Many Structures: An Exploration of Extended Parallel Threading." The 14 weavers who took the class -- from beginners to advanced weavers -- showed an awesome degree of skill and creativity.

Norma Camman talks about her samples of the 4-shaft pattern "Op Art."

Ellen Kovar experimented with collapse techniques 
using the 12-shaft pattern "Pink and Green."

Tracy LaRose painted two warps for her samples 
of the 8-shaft pattern "Falling Stars."

Siri McCormick pretty much knocked it out of the park 
with her warp choices for the pattern "Falling Stars" 
-- even though she insisted she was just using up yarns she had in her stash.

Next stop: Teaching "One Warp, Three Structures: Weaving with 60/2 Silk" at the Sheep Creek Guild. The space was lovely and my accommodations could not be beat: I was staying in the foothills at the timber-frame home of Deb and Stu Turner. Standing in their living room and looking out the front windows, you had a 180-degree view of the Canadian Rockies, the rolling foothills, hundreds of aspens, and the occasional grazing deer. 

The 60/2 silk samples were beautiful as well.

An array of samples: at the top, using hand-dyed bias-cut silk ribbon as weft, 
on the bottom, using 60/2 silk as weft (apologies: can't remember who wove this)

60/2 silk in warp and weft checks, woven by Janine Jones

Sample woven by Brenda Geddes using overtwist wool 
to achieve a collapse effect

After class each day, Deb and I went exploring: She took me to the Leighton Art Center, the former home of landscape artist A. C. Leighton, who started what became the Banff School of Fine Arts... and to the Bluerock Gallery in Black Diamond, where I purchased one of Deb's beautiful scarves... and to the Tin Roof Fibre Studio, where Judy Sysak teaches Saori weaving and dyeing....

Judy Sysak (left) and Deb Turner at the Tin Roof Fibre Studio

Some of Judy's Saori-woven pieces

So I'm thinking to myself: talented fiber artists seem to be everywhere. Is it the medium? The people? Maybe the fact that fiber itself is so universally compelling that gifted folks around the world always manage to find a way to weave, knit, spin, dye, braid, sew and otherwise manipulate and organize soft twisty cords.....

And on to the next workshop: "Paint One, Beam Two: Painting Two Warps and Beaming Them as One" for the Crocus Country Guild. I stayed with Dave and Jan Connelly -- more five-star hospitality -- and was delighted to learn that they raise and train Shelties for agility competitions. They currently have four running about the house and fields.

Flash, who has placed third in Canada in agility competition

We spent the first day dyeing warps in the barn and the next day rinsing and drying them before beginning to dress our looms.

Warp painting in progress: MX fiber-reactive dyes on cellulose fiber

Warps hanging to dry. Dave pulled out a cooler 
that also works to keep food warm. We cranked it up 
to about 85 degrees Fahrenheit 
-- about 29 Celsius -- to cure the warps overnight.

Beaming in progress

Millie Tsuji's loom, dressed and ready for threading

Sad to say, I can't show you any of the final results, because this 2 1/2-day workshop is designed so that the weaving is done at home. (For any program chairs out there, if you're interested, let's talk about a full five-day workshop! We'd start with dyeing warps, then curing them and dressing looms, then threading and weaving up color samples. I think of this as a real weaving retreat.)

Then it was time to head north to Edmonton, with Robin Nixon kindly driving me some three-and-a-half hours to get there. (Fortunately she also got to visit her son, who lives in Edmonton, so it wasn't just a drive up and back for her.) The workshop there was the same as the first one I taught in Calgary, "One Warp, Many Structures: An Exploration of Extended Parallel Threading." Kyla Fischer was the program chair for the workshop and, once again, made sure I ate and slept well and was otherwise comfortable. Plus, she is a master at organizing people and looms! 

People tell me there is something of a good-natured rivalry between Calgary and Edmonton -- so, for the record, I will say that the weavers in both cities were equally skilled and creative.

Sandra Schulz's 4-shaft Echo sample in the "Blooming Leaf" pattern has a dimensional look.

The 8-shaft "Fun House" pattern woven in Echo by Joan White
had some beautiful variations using different weft colors 
-- particularly using a yellow weft (bottom section).

I love the weft-color choices in this Echo sampler in the 8-shaft Falling Stars pattern (readers, if you can remember who wove this, please let me know).

Double Weave sample using the 4-shaft "Blooming Leaf" pattern, 
woven by Bonnie Watt

Kyla Fischer discusses her samples of 8-shaft "Fun House" in Echo and Jin.

Shadow Weave sample woven in the 12-shaft "Lake Water" pattern 
by Catherine Melnychuk

Differential shrinkage sample woven by Kathy Buse 
on 12-shafts in Double Weave using the "Fish Tank" pattern

8-shaft "Many Rivers" pattern woven in Rep by Mary Ann Jackson

8-shaft "Falling Stars" pattern woven in Double Weave by Maryanne Hawryluk. 
Notice the warp colors and how the fabric colors are changed completely by the wefts.

For the record: here are the weft colors used in the sample above.

So much more to say... but I would have to spend many more hours writing about all that we wove and shared. At this point, all I can say is thanks for reading! 

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