Sunday, April 28, 2024

Notes from CNCH, the Conference of Northern California Handweavers


Let's start with the photo above: a series of samples woven on eight shafts in deflected doubleweave by Marta Shannon. It's just one picture of dozens of interesting, colorful, and always original samples created by weavers in my workshop this past weekend: "Deflected Doubleweave for Collapse Fabrics."

The goal of my workshop was twofold: 1) to teach weavers to recognize and even design deflected doubleweave patterns and 2) to push the already tactile, off-the-grid quality of DDW by using "energized" yarns such as Colcolastic, metallic gimp, wool-stainless steel, silk-stainless steel, overtwisted linen singles in S and Z twist, overtwisted wool singles in S and Z twist, and, of course, the ever-reliable Jaggerspun 18/2 superfine merino, which fulls beautifully when you give it some wiggle room in the cloth. (Bottom line: plain weave resists fulling and other collapse techniques, because it's the most stable, firm structure of all, while DDW encourages pleating, poufing, and billowing of your fabric because it has warp and weft floats built in, by design,)

That's a lot of words, so here are some photos to give you a better idea of what we were working on.

Some four-shaft samples woven with wefts of both active and inactive yarns. Weaver Rusti Icenogle points to the bottom sample, which pleats vertically because the rose-colored weft is wool/stainless-steel yarn, which fulls and draws the fabric in after it's washed and agitated with hot water and soap.

You know that famous quote, I think it's from Laura Fry, "It ain't finished until it's finished"? We spent a lot of time at the sinks in the ladies' room scrubbing away at our samples, using regular hand soap....

Above, a series of samples woven by Autumn Barr, who was weaving on her brand new eight-shaft loom for the first time. Her warp was 10/2 cotton (brown) and 18/2 merino (white) and she alternated these two yarns as weft also. It's hard to see in this photo, but the sample at the bottom shows lots of horizontal pleats in the brown stripes, which are drawn in as the white wool fulls in the washing.

This sample belongs to Denise Lee, who wove an eight-shaft pattern I call Mardi Gras. For this sample, she alternated green Colcolastic and 10/2 cotton in the weft. The Colcolastic yarn, brand name Venne, has a 20/2 cotton strand combined with a strand of elastic, which shrinks up immediately when washed.

These samples are woven on eight shafts by Colleen Harvey-Arrison. The larger blocks in teal are 18/2 merino, which fulls and draws in the magenta cotton blocks, adding texture and making them curve and flow over the fabric.

The CNCH conference, affectionately known as "Cinch," is held every year in a different area of northern California. It's well worth attending, with exhibits, vendors (including Lunatic Fringe Yarns, Dharma Trading, and Eugene Textile Center), a keynote speech (this year by tapestry artist Susan Iverson), terrific meals, and lots of friendly fiber artists.

Take Sara Lamb, for instance, who is a well-known author, teacher, spinner, dyer, and weaver.

Sara wears a jacket she wove and sewed, of course! Plus the yarns are handspun silk that she dyed, all plain weave in structure -- showing off those yarns to the maximum.

The cloth is warp-emphasis (and is displayed horizontally in this photo).

I got to rub shoulders with other weaving royalty as well: seen below, Ana Lisa Hedstrom and Peggy Osterkamp. I had dinner with Peggy -- during which at least two weavers came up to our table to thank her for her many books that helped them build their weaving skills.

I fell in love with this tapestry on exhibit, shown below, titled "Pandemic Oasis" and woven by Nancy Isaac of the Loom and Shuttle Guild in San Francisco.

I also fell in love with this tatted piece, a work in progress by Nancy Alegria, in which she is recording the temperature and the sunlight (encoded in colors) of every day in 2024.

Even after the conference, I'm still taking it all in. Lots of learning, too many purchases (I won't list them, but there was yarn involved), and great camaraderie. 

Here's to next year!



margod said...

What a great post about our conference! Thank you for all your positivity and wisdom. While I wasn't able to take your workshop because I was selling all day Saturday, my teacher, Marta Shannon, did and I look forward to discussing it with her. Your class was a major part of the success of our conference and I look forward to seeing you at CNCH next year!

Denise Kovnat said...

Thank you! Feel free to share this, although it's just one person's view of a big event. You're lucky to have Marta as a teacher. Hope to meet you -- perhaps at next year's conference, where I would love to take a workshop.

Anonymous said...

We loved having you at CNCH2024. All your students raved about the class and I can see why. Hope to see you next year.

margod said...

Denise, we did meet! You took my card after our conversation in the bathroom about my DDW scarf on the mannequin.

Anonymous said...

Yes I do remember — I was admiring your Deflected Doubleweave scarf, correct? Hope you did well at the sale!

Notes from CNCH, the Conference of Northern California Handweavers

  Let's start with the photo above: a series of samples woven on eight shafts in deflected doubleweave by Marta Shannon. It's just o...