I received the seminar evaluations from Convergence® and they are very encouraging. Maybe I will be chosen to teach at the next Convergence®!
I take the evaluations very seriously and so does the committee. As the slogan of the commercial says: “Never stop improving!”
One suggestion, made by a couple of people, caught my attention: to use a PowerPoint presentation instead of talking from the monograph.
On the surface, the suggestion sounds good, and it is one that I had given a lot of thought before the conference. As a veteran faculty member for over 30 years, I took a class on how to use PowerPoint when it was first introduced, and I have used it ever since, albeit different versions.
So, why don’t I use PowerPoint at Convergence®?
First let me say the circumstances when I do use it – then I will explain some important differences.
When I teach trainees, we have a curriculum. I know what they know (or at least should know) and I know what I must discuss in the talk that I am giving. The students receive a copy of the slides that I use and they can add notes if they so wish.
Another good use is when I give a broad talk to a general audience. That was the case this past spring when I received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Craftsmen’s Guild and I gave a talk about my involvement with Guild, shown below. It was an historical prospective, and if somebody in the audience didn’t know me or the Guild, they would have gotten a snapshot of the last thirty-five years with slides showing past Guild events and people.
Somewhere between these two cases is when I used to present results of my studies at medical conferences; attendees receive an advance copies of all of the abstracts to be presented and each individual can choose what to attend; the material is new, but only those people familiar with the specific field are likely to be interested in hearing what a speaker has to say. PowerPoint slides can show tables, graphs, videos, photos, etc.
None of these circumstances are true for the seminars I taught at Convergence®. While the topics may seem specific, the background of the attendees is very varied. In a past twill seminar, for example, I had an attendee who had just learned to weave and had never woven a twill before and another who wove lots of twills but wanted an overview so she could design her own.
When I present from the monograph, I know what material is there, but I am able to either linger on a topic or be brief, because I can watch the audience. If everyone is nodding, no sense in spending more time on that topic; if people look puzzled, it’s time to slow down and go over the material in a different way. If people are taking notes, I slow down so they won’t get behind.
If I were presenting from slides, this would not be possible: for one thing, the audience would be watching the screen and not me; and I would be watching the screen as well; the lights would likely be dimmed, so adding notes may not be as easy. If I needed to cover a topic in a slightly different way, I may not have the right slide, and I wouldn’t even know it. Similarly, I wouldn’t know to skip slides that are not needed.
The other thing that watching my audience does for me is to allow me to gauge when people are getting unfocused. The rule of thumb is 20 minutes, but 20 minutes is an average for all topics and all listeners; it could be 15 or it could be 30. As I watch people, I can tell when attendees are getting tired, I switch to a tale, or a joke. It breaks up the material and allows a mental breather.
Another consideration is the quality of the colors. When my husband Terry Dwyer takes photos of the samples and pieces, he uses a white balance card to adjust for the quality of the ambient light; the computer that he uses to process the photos and the printer we use to print the monographs are also calibrated for color with a device called a Munki. All equipment is made to agree as much as technology allows: the same blue persists. But transporting a file to a different computer and projector can change colors dramatically and the colors on a screen can also change depending on the lights in the room. I see this all the times with my presentations to our trainees: my blue tracings show up as purple; it doesn’t matter when presenting medical data, but our weavings have color that matters. Just recently I saw a mismatch in a printed publication discussing a yarn; the author was talking about a red yarn, but there was no red yarn in the photo, a purple one instead.
While our technology is wonderful and I am often happy to embrace it, it does not mean that a tool is the best for all circumstances.
Convergence® Yarn and the Plaited Twill
As promised in the last blog, here is a picture of the scarf woven as a plaited twill using the Convergence® yarn, 10/2 Tencel, in the wood violet color way as the warp and a 12/2 grey purple silk as the weft; the drawdown is below.
(Right-click on these drafts to get a larger version in a new window.)
This draft has been derived from the Manual of Swedish Handweaving, by Ulla Cyrus-Zetterström, which was where I first came across plaited twills. My edition was printed in 1984. While there is no draft for a four shaft plaited twill in the book, the explanation of this class of twills and how they are derived makes it possible to adopt the information to four shafts.
The scarf doesn’t show the twill very well both because the warp is variegated and the sett of 24 epi makes each repeat only ⅓” of an inch. However, the twill lines going in different directions reflects the light nicely and gives the fabric movement.
Below is a sample woven with 3/2 cotton which shows the plaited twill much better.
While preparing for my Convergence® classes I wrote about plaited twills in my blog of January 18, 2016. However, I introduced an error when I said that plaited twills couldn’t be woven on four shafts (it has now been corrected). Plaited twills cannot be woven on four shafts using either a straight draw or a double two-tie unit, both of which are employed when weaving plaited wills on more than four shafts, as is shown in that blog. There I also showed a herringbone twill which is related to the four-shaft plaited twill, as can be seen in the drawdown above.
If we look at a slightly different drawdown for an 8-shaft plaited twill from that shown in that previous blog, we can see how the tie-up produces the plaiting: we have right hand and left hand twill lines, albeit broken, which form the basis of the tie-up. Then the threading and the treadling can be a straight draw.
(Right-click on these drafts to get a larger version in a new window.)
Using that principle, we can design plaited twills on any number of shafts. Here is a 40-shaft plaited twill which I designed recently. The tie-up shows very clearly the right and left hand twill lines. I am hoping to weave this twill soon!
(Right-click on these drafts to get a larger version in a new window.)
Countdown to Convergence®
Next month at this time, I will be at Convergence® in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I am not quite ready yet, but I will be by the time we are set to leave.
Between seminars, studio classes, and a super-seminar, I have five to teach and, to date, over 140 participants. I am truly excited.
That translates to over 12,000 pages to print! Each participant receives at least a monograph and they range from some 50 pages to over 100. The printing has begun – but it’s my husband Terry who is printing, punching and binding. Being organized is the key to getting it done.
Now that I am close to the finish line, here are some highlights of the various presentations.
I am finished with the monograph for Four to More; that will be on Wednesday morning. I have woven some samplers for it and I have written about them in previous blogs. But here is a fancy basket weave on eight shafts that was an early piece on eight shaft I wove.
For the Interaction of Structure and Function on Thursday: twills, silk and shawls seem perfect for each other. Then again, how about this silk shawl with huck lace stripes?
Weaving Errors will be on Friday morning. Those topics, too, have been discussed in previous blogs. But here is a picture from the series on how to fix a broken warp thread. The replacement warp end is shown in gold to make it obvious. Pictorial steps by steps should make it easier for participants to fix them in the future.
I have woven several samplers in color and weave for that seminar on Friday afternoon, each with several samples and I have written about some of them in previous blogs. This is my one of favorites, alternating red and black on a birds’ eye threading and treadling. I must have liked the motifs so much that I just discovered that the eight-shaft deflected double weave I am currently working on has similar motifs of crosses and boxes!
The studio on Saturday will be on Reinventing-Twills. I love twills, and I have written six previous blogs on them. Here is the simplest of twills, front and back, on thee shafts, where it all starts.
I will take a break from writing this blog as I get ready for Convergence®. I will resume after the conference, but on a monthly basis. I hope to see you in Milwaukee!
Hurrah for Convergence®
I just finished my scarf using the Convergence® yarn in the wood violet color way.
Oh, wait, I am a month late! Oh, well, I guess my scarf is ready for the next one!
I don’t know where the next one will be, but two things I know: HGA’s Executive Director Liz Williamson is working hard to make sure that the conference is as affordable as possible; some convention cities offer more perks than others, so it behooves us to go where they make an offer we can’t refuse. The other thing is that I have never been to a Convergence® – and I have been to all of them since 1982 – where the locale didn’t have something unique in art, architecture, food, etc. I just embrace what the place has to offer. In Milwaukee, I drank beer – I am not much of a beer drinker, but when in Rome…. Besides, most of the excitement is with the Convergence® itself. I am looking forward to the next one, wherever it may be.
Convergence® 2016 was a wonderful experience for me. The exhibits, fashion show, market place, they are always good. The Small Expressions exhibit at the art museum was great, and I loved that museum, those wings opening were phenomenal. It is always fun to see old friends and make new ones. I took Judy Dominic’s studio on soft books and it was inspirational. I haven’t quite gotten to work on finishing my books, but I will. I have tried the pin loom that I bought and the sea silk yarn I purchased will probably go on the loom next (the loom that still has the other Convergence scarf!).
There were two things that really stood out for me. The first was the atmosphere – the excitement, people smiling and carrying on with abundant energy even though I know that, by Friday, everybody was tired; the spirit of sharing, whether it was a mint or a tip on warping; and the rolling-up-our-sleeves-and-make-it-happen attitude, which started with the staff and it became contagious. Perhaps I am wrong, but it seemed that clearing out of the convention center for HGA – the exhibits and the booth – went a lot faster than I can remember in the past. Staff, Board members and volunteers all working together – after all, WE are HGA!
I was walking to my seminar one morning along with an attendee and here comes the loom moving squad. I said hello to them and then I said to the attendee: “it’s not in too many organizations where you see Board members actually doing manual labor.” “They are Board members?” she asked; “Yes, Penny Morgan, your president-elect, and Kathy Perito, your fist vice-president elect. Go, girls!”
The other thing that stood out for me was personal; I loved teaching all 5 of my seminars. I did get tired by Friday, but it was all worth it. Teaching is very rewarding when the students are attentive, ask great questions, and anticipate what comes next. But nothing comes close to the excitement I feel when I look at the audience and I can tell that somebody made the connection: the proverbial light bulb went on! Wow! Nothing can beat that feeling.
“Inspiration is for Amateurs”
June 19, 2016
I was reading my current issue of Handwoven (#180, May/June 1916) which includes a nice project by Rebecca Fox called Plan B Pillow Top, where she explains how she changed course when a fabric she originally designed for a scarf made a better pillow.
What struck me right below the title of the article was a quote by painter and photographer Chuck Close that said: “Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work.” So I am back thinking about inspiration.
I couldn’t disagree more with the “Inspiration is for amateurs” part. Perhaps it’s just a poor choice of words.
“The rest of us just show up and get to work” is, of course, saying “just do it.” But to “just do it” we need inspiration.
I would argue that the non-amateurs – for a lack of a better word – internalize the inspiration. The sunrise on the beach (Space Coast, FL, June 2016) will find itself in some weaving: maybe a color combination, perhaps the undulation of the waves, or maybe remembering the pebbly texture of the sand.
We are moved by music: the opera Carmen by Georges Bizet inspired two of my shawl, here is the latest knitted one:
The wonderful smell of freshly cut grass inspired the woven shawl “Stepping through the Garden”:
We take all of our sensory inputs and make them part of our being, and in turn they show up when we “show up and get to work.”
None of us stare at our warping board and say: “oh, muse, show me what to weave next.” We sit down with an idea of turning some beautiful yarns into gorgeous fabric – where does that idea come from? Inspiration!
Chuck Close’s advice to young artists is “not to wait around for inspiration.” I would say that a better advice to young artists is to pay attention so that the sights and sounds around us become internalized: notice the small and large things you encounter, stop and smell the proverbial roses, carefully observe the world around you, not only what Mother Nature offers but also what human ingenuity has created (Rocket Garden, Kennedy Space Center, Space Coast, Florida, June 2016).
Then “showing up and getting to work” – just do it! – become infinitely easier.
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