Saturday, July 18, 2020

Zooming Ahead with Deflected Double Weave

8-shaft Deflected Double Weave sample by Karen Berk. 
Warp and weft yarns are 10/2 Tencel/cotton (in fuchsia) 
and 18/2 Jagger Spun superfine merino.

Like many of us these days, I've been Zooming a lot with friends and family. All of my workshops through January have been cancelled, so I've begun teaching on Zoom -- in some cases, to replace my cancelled on-site workshops and in other cases because guilds are scrambling to offer remote workshops for this fall.

While Zoom workshops can't replace face-to-face communication and hands-on learning -- not to mention the joy of actually touching a handwoven sample -- online workshops can offer a worthwhile learning experience. It all depends on the investment of the students, in my view. And I can't say enough about the investment of the weavers who took my recent workshop, "Deflected Double Weave for Collapse Fabrics."

It served as a fundraiser for the Weaving and Fiber Arts Center here in Rochester, NY (the teaching arm of the Weavers' Guild of Rochester) and also helped test-drive the Zoom format for both the center and our guild. Weavers joined us from near and far -- from California to Canada to Michigan to Virginia to Delaware -- with the bulk of us coming from the Rochester area. 

Over the course of eight sessions in 2 1/2 days -- June 22, June 29 and July 6 -- we gathered on Zoom to study handouts and samples, to analyze drafts in Fiberworks, to view PowerPoints and, thanks to Google Drive, to survey everyone's work. In between sessions, we communicated largely via email and sometimes on the phone. 

Here are more samples:

12-shaft Deflected Double Weave sample by Lillian Whipple.
Warp and weft yarns are 10/2 cotton and lace-weight wool/silk.
The gold yarn is the black motifs is real gold.

4-shaft Deflected Double Weave sample by Barbara Mauger.
Her warp and weft yarns are 8/4 Tencel. 
The gray weft yarns are wool crepe.

12-shaft Deflected Double Weave sample by Linn Sadjak.
Her warp and weft yarns are 10/2 cotton. 
In this sample, she added picks of rayon-tape yarn.

This sample by Jaime Pierce has 10/2 cotton (off-white)
and 18/2 Jagger Spun superfine merino (magenta) in warp and weft.

This is a sample by Eleanor Hartquist shown before finishing.
The gold-colored wefts in the upper horizontal stripe (mostly black) 
will draw the fabric in, creating vertical pleats, after washing.

This 4-shaft sample by Marianne Antczak
uses Colcolastic in the weft (in purple/pink) 
to draw the fabric in width-wise.

Cindy Greenfelder wove this 8-shaft swatch 
using 18/2 Jagger Spun superfine merino (in dark purple) 
to create puckers and pleats after finishing.

My takeaway: Despite the pandemic and social distancing, weavers want to keep on learning. And let's face it, weaving can be a solitary pursuit, so we thoroughly enjoy the company of other weavers. It's why we gather.

For anyone considering teaching or taking a Zoom workshop, I have a few lessons. First off, schedule a dress rehearsal within a week before the class. That way, you can iron out all the kinks -- technology problems, questions about the workshop format, questions about the weaving itself -- before the actual work begins. Who wants to waste time with technology when we could be talking weaving, right?

Another point: For teachers, it's useful to have a document camera on your desk so that everyone can see your samples up close, pick by pick, in focus, well lit and not in motion. (For those of you who have tried holding a sample up to the camera on your computer for others to see, you'll know what I'm talking about.)

A third idea, suggested by a weaver in another Zoom workshop, is to set up a Google Drive file dedicated to the workshop. I uploaded handouts, photos, drafts and other resources and, more important, created an individual file for everyone so they could upload their photos and then I could share them with the group. 

One big benefit is that you can have another teacher take over (in Zoom language, they serve as a co-host, meaning that they can share images from their home computer). In our case, we were fortunate to have Joyce Robards (whom I call my "Weaving Mother" even though we are not that far apart in age) give a presentation on Marian Stubenitsky's newest book, Double with a Twist, which has a different approach to drafting designs.

The course evaluations surprised me, with some folks saying that they actually preferred the Zoom format, mostly because they could weave on their own looms (no schlepping everything to the workshop site) and they had plenty of time to absorb information and work on their samples (no rushing to get everything done in the normal format of 2-1/2 days).

To me, this means that, while nothing can replace the learning that comes with an on-site workshop, much can be gained by teaching or taking a workshop over Zoom. Maybe the greatest benefit is that online workshops can bring weavers from around the globe together virtually, building a sense of community and adding another option to learn about our craft.

I'll close with a Deflected Double Weave sample I wove on 12 shafts using Colcolastic in the middle section (black and gold vertical stripes) to achieve width-wise shrinkage. I wove this in 10/2 cotton, using four colors in both warp and weft, substituting the Colcolastic for one of the colors as I wove the mid-section.

Thanks for reading!

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