Textile Forum, for me, is like a party and a family reunion and a conference and a fair and a week of crazy textile stuff all rolled up into one. It’s the one week in my year that’s making me run in circles a huge lot beforehand, packing up loads of stuff, losing lots and lots of sleep over fretting if all will go well (and the occasional late-night doing of stuff), and writing more lists than for anything else in my year.

It’s also the week making me absurdly happy because it’s bringing textile folks together, and there is so much networking and learning and sharing taking place. I’m part of this, and that is a wonderful feeling for which I gladly pay the price in sleep and coffee over-consumption.

Finally, it’s the week that is making me really, really tired – so there will be no blogging from tomorrow on until I’ve recovered from the Textile Forum, which, according to experience, takes me about a week as well… which means I’ll be back on the blog on Monday, November 19.

See you then – and happy textile and non-textile shenanigans until then!

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In 2017, Anja got together with me to organise a weekend meet-up for sewing, chatting, and having some workshops with me, called “Historisches Nähtreffen”, and that was such a success that we decided to do it again.

So we asked people if they would like a second one (they did!) and what kind of workshops they would like, and in the end, we decided on the basics of sewing and on how to spin with distaff and spindle, just like last year, and two new kids on the block: medieval embroidery and an introduction to sprang.

Which means I’ve been sitting down doing some sprang in the last weeks, too – to find out about possible frame solutions for the workshop, to test materials and, of course, to make a plan for the actual workshop. As in “what to teach and in what sequence”.

The result? This:

That’s the preliminary test run, and there will be more tests – but I really like how this came out, and that it is actually large enough to fit a phone (or a powerbank, in this case). I’m also amazed, as usual, how stretchy this is. When it came off the frame, it was really long and really narrow, and I had my doubts that it would actually fit. It still gets longer and narrower when taken off:

Sprang. Fascinating.

Posted in textile techniques and tools, work-related, workshops | 2 Comments

My trusty little computer and my little phone have conspired to make my life a little more interesting, resulting in about one and a half days lost with trying to get Windows running again and transferring data from the old phone to the new one.

Just in case you are running Windows on your machine, and just in case you have not done so – go and make yourself a system recovery CD or USB-stick or whatever works for your machine. It can make things much, much easier (since the stuff the companies give out as “recovery CD” only give you the option to wipe drive C: completely or to wipe everything completely, no repair options given). I thoroughly recommend it. It also takes next to no time to do. As Mighty Microsoft themselves instruct us: Click the start button, open the Control Panel, click System and Maintenance, and then Backup and Restore. In the left pane, click Create a system repair disc, and then follow the steps.

I also recommend getting a bit more info on whether your system is compatible with a new-fangled spiffy drive or not… before you kill a few drivers in your running system trying to get the new drive running, and consequently have troubles getting to work again. It was sheer bad luck that this mishap killed both the touchpad and the keyboard drivers simultaneously, together with freezing the system at some point where everything looked fully loaded but obviously was not.

I could possibly have saved a bit of nerves and a bit of time, by the way, if I had thought of stealing a cable-bound USB mouse from the Most Patient Husband’s desk earlier…

 

In the end, I did manage the transfer – I installed Windows7 on the empty new SHDD (to find out that it did not work really well either, by the way), made a recovery CD from there, then repaired my old installation of Windows, bringing it to a state where the cloning tool was happy with it and actually agreed on cloning the old disk to the new one. It cost me about a day and a half, a lot of nerves and a few tears, but it did get done in the end and now I’m happy to have a stable system and enough space for photos and documentation for the Forum. Whew.

Next time, I’ll try to have better timing!

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I’ve started packing in earnest, and preparing all the things to take along to the Forum, so there’s a nice heap of stuff accumulating. Including some books, of course, and lots and lots of materials, and mails are getting written to coordinate stuff.

Plus I have found out that switching from one phone to a new one, even if it’s the same make and model, is not as easy as cloning the data drives for a computer… sigh. (My old phone is not reliable anymore – one of its antenna modules has died a while ago, and the other one seems to have hiccups, which means that I might not receive messages… which is not optimal for a work phone.)

So I’m bouncing from one end of the living space to the other, gathering stuff and dropping it off and trying to think of absolutely everything. I also have a little bit of a cold that needs to be banished before the madness that is the Textile Forum starts…

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Websites can be a funny thing. Especially if the site is not quite what you would expect it to be… or to offer.

One example of this is the website of current Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, which can be found here. Only he (or his social media/PR team) have let the domain rent expire, and thus the domain came up for sale, and someone else bought it and put a photo there plus a rather indecent song…

There’s a similar thing going on right here in Germany, also concerning politics – someone bought the domain “mutterallerprobleme.de” (Mother of All Problems) and set it up with an automatic redirect to… well.. the official CSU party website.

Which, I admit, amuses me no end.

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While we’re at the current in-topic of tablet weaving, here are some links:

Lise Ræder Knudsen has updated her publication list, so you can now read her work about tablet weaving from Verruchio in Italy and “Ancient Running Animals” from Fort Milan in the Taklamakan Desert, China.

Not tablet-weaving, but textiles from far abroad: Vikings purchased silk from Persia.

And being on the topic of Norway, here’s a film about the Jellstad Ship

enjoy!

 

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Since I’ve been talking about needing guinea pigs, I thought I might give you a little bit of background on the development of my workshops in general.

I love giving workshops, or courses, or lessons, or whatever you want to call it. I really enjoy being able to pass on knowledge – theoretical and practical – and see how people start to become friends with a new technique. No matter whether it’s braiding, knitting, weaving, or any other craft, every single person has his or her own, personal pattern of movements, and preferences on how to do things, or handle elements and tools. It’s always fascinating for me to see this unique, personal finger dance develop, and it makes one part of why I like teaching so much.

Just like with many other things, though, a lesson does not spring from nothing to full perfection – it needs an astounding lot of work and preparation to develop a workshop or course.

This starts with making a basic concept. What do I want to teach? Are the students adults or children? What do they want and expect from the course? How likely is it that they have previous experience with the technique? How long can I make the course, and how deep into the technique can we go?

Usually, I try to put a lot of information into each workshop, to make sure that everyone goes out with a good, solid understanding of the basics and the tools to develop this further. This means structuring the workshop carefully so that I can set a relatively high pace, while still allowing enough time to try out things and get a bit of practice.

Once the basic concept stands, it’s on to test runs and thinking about logistics. I usually do several test runs of the course, working the course programme and babbling to myself. I’m also checking how long each step takes me (and then, obviously, extra time gets factored in for having several people doing this the first time ever), and trying to find the best sequence of tasks. For some workshops, I’ve also done “live test runs” with a few willing people, testing out if things all work like they are supposed to do.

Logistics are another thing that needs consideration. How much space do I need per person? Table space and floor space can both be an issue depending on the venue. How many tools do I need? What are the materials necessary? How much extras need to be available in case of calamities? Will participants want to bring (maybe to test) their own tools as well?

Keeping in mind that there are several persons who need to do something at the same time, tool count can rack up quickly. One of the reasons why it took me so long to develop the tablet-weaving course range was that I had to bite the bullet and buy a freakishly large amount of clamps. To fit up to 8 people into the course, I need four clamps each for the warping method I use – and that means 32 clamps. These have to be bought (and it is worth it to get good quality ones, as they are gently but consistently abused), transported, and stored. Similar things are true for other crafts. I need to have enough netting needles for a course – these, at least, are lightweight and easy to store, though having them made is an investment as well. Sprang courses require having a frame available for each participant, plus some large demonstration frame to show the whole class the movements and what happens with the threads. These, too, need to be designed, made, paid for, and stored.

Once all this is done, I can sit down and write the final workshop script that will keep me on track while I’m teaching, and make sure I don’t forget mentioning a crucial detail when it is necessary to do so (because these crucial details often get so ingrained if you have done the craft for a while that you are not aware of them anymore).

And then, finally, I can work on the course description and set the price. So if you’ve ever wondered what goes behind a workshop I give, and why I charge as much for it as I do – there you are.

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