Friday, March 28, 2008

Virtual Weaving-Seattle Weavers Guild

Yesterday was the Seattle Weavers Guild meeting. The program for the day was presented by Jannie Taylor. There is a lovely bio on her at Look under "workshops" and then "teacher profiles".
The subject of the presentation was on weaving software, what is available and how it all works. She hooked her computer up to the digital projector and opened and discussed a few of the more common weaving software programs and was actually able to show us how they work. She is an engaging and entertaining speaker. Lets face it, for some, the topic of software and technology isn't as exciting as discussing weaving techniques and color. She never gave us a dull moment. Actually, Jannie was discussing weaving techniques and color, just in the context of using weaving software.
There was one or two particular points that she made that I thought were completely spot on. She pointed out, or reminded us, that there is a learning curve to practically every new skill we try and using weaving software is no exception. She suggested approaching learning the software as play. Play with it for 10 minutes a day or so, make a mess and then get rid of it. One will be surprised how soon you can learn to use the software doing this. She also cautioned about expecting to get new software and design fabric for a wedding dress the first time out.
She pointed out how we adults tend to be focused on having a tangible outcome rather than just playing around with things. I have to agree with her although I am one of those people who do a lot of playing around whether it be on the computer, dyeing, weaving, music, climbing, etc. I have many things that don't turn out well because I thought I would try out a "what if ". When I do have a success, I consider all of the "goofs" to be part of that success. I include the cost of materials in this. That means the first time I produce something wonderful, it costs a lot more in materials than the next time I produce it. I usually approach workshops with the idea of what I can learn and what can I try that is new to me rather than what wonderful fiber thing I will bring home. I even go to the extent of picking colors that I don't particularly like or use often. That means the things I bring home from workshops are not usually suitable for framing!
I must admit though, it isn't always easy to do this. Sometimes I would love to be able to pull something fantastic off in one go. When that does seem to happen, I have to admit that it was more the result of previous hard work coming together than any super talent that I have. What does that mean? It means the previous hard work and time needs to have been put in place. So play, make mistakes, ask "what if?". Have fun, scream and yell in frustration, scream and yell in triumph! The rewards are so worth it.
In the meantime, I am going to reconfigure my weaving software (long story) and get it set up to do a bit of virtual weaving.
Happy playing! -Renee

Thursday, March 20, 2008

An Ah-Ha Moment or, Why I Do What I Do

Ok, this is not a fiber photo. It does have a connection to fiber and what it means to me so read on!
I am giving my knees a break from tiling the mudroom floor and have been checking in on my friends and family through e-mail and blogs. I checked in with my dyeing friend Dana whose blog you can find through the Fiber Links list on the sidebar of my blog. She has been struggling, as we all do now and then, through life's sticky spots but in her post she talked about how her textile work is helping her find her way through. It was when reading her post that I had one of those Ah-Ha moments.
This is what I posted in the comments section;
"(It is) So appropriate that textiles and the fiber arts lead the way out of the dark places we fall into now and then. We join hands with women throughout time both past and present (and future I forgot to add) when we take up our needles, shuttles, dyepots, and tools."
This is why I have to do what I do with fibers. This is why I am uprooting my life and my husband's life to pursue a MFA in fibers. This is why I want to one day create a fiber art center with like-minded people. This is why I want to share this knowledge with others in a world that is rapidly forgetting some of these skills in favor of technology.
The fiber arts connect us through thousands of years as people, and as women (and men too!) across time and cultures. We need this connection more than ever in the present.
So, what does this picture have to do with the above? It is a picture of me climbing the REI spire in Seattle. I love climbing. It isn't really logical since I am afraid of heights and have to conquer that fear every single time I tie in. Climbing is an apt metaphor for many things in life but in this case, it represents how challenging the journey in fibers can be at times. We wander into dark places and obstacles get in the way and sometimes it is just plain hard and scary, but we keep climbing back to our fiber roots. Because we have to.
Keep weaving, spinning, dyeing, knitting, and the rest. Who knows? We might just save the world! -Renee

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

SVWG Program-Syne Mitchell

Monday night was the Skagit Valley Weavers Guild meeting. I had really been looking forward to the program which featured Syne Mitchell discussing her podcast; WeaveCast. I have mentioned WeaveCast a couple of time in past posts and you will find a link to her podcast in the "Fiber Links " section. If you haven't had a chance to check it out yet, take a bit of time and do so. It is so very worth your while!
Syne gave us a wonderful presentation on what goes on "behind the scenes" when making a podcast. It is very exciting to see weaving taking off in this direction. Weaving can be a very solitary activity. Most of the time, I believe we weavers really enjoy that but it is also wonderful to come together with like-minded people and share. Up until recently, that sharing has been in the form of weaver's guilds and conferences. Now, with Syne's Weavecast and her new online magazine WeaveZine there is a whole new realm where we can connect. Combine these with blogs, weaving lists, and other forums and we have quite a powerful connection.
There were two things about Syne's program that really made me think. Syne mentioned the concern that many of us weavers have about reaching potential young weavers. Knowing how important online communities are to many, if not most, of the younger generation, WeaveCast is an excellent portal into the weaving world that can capture their attention. The possibilities are encouraging.
The other point that I noted is that Syne went looking for podcasts for weavers and, when she couldn't find one, created one herself! There is a lot to think about in that simple statement.
I am, like Syne, on the younger end of the spectrum when I look around the weaving guilds and I am middle aged! Syne has given me a lot to think about as my husband and I are in the process of making a very large mid-life change. That change is taking up a bit of time so my posts to this blog have slowed considerably. I do have several fiber events in April and May coming up so please hang in there!
I have to confess that I am totally addicted to Weavecast as Syne is an excellent story teller and knows how to conduct a great interview. I will be listening with eager interest and reading her online magazine.
To Syne, great job! I promise I will subscribe to the podcast announcements!