CNCHnet . . . The Textile Arts Webzine of the Conference of Northern California Handweavers

Spin Me a Story, Weave Me A Tale

The Liaison Luncheon was the stage for Stephenie Gaustad’s grand presentation of the workshop instructors for CNCH 2011, “Spin Me A Story, Weave Me A Tale”.  The following is a transcript of her speech.

It is my pleasure to announce the workshop instructors and their topics. Over the past year our committee has cast out the net for a group of instructors to lead workshops that would catch your imagination, answer your questions, and be memorable. We applied the most basic criteria: would I want to take this class? Our committees reaction to this conferences ten chosen instructors was a resounding YES! We truly hope that you find our selection to YOUR liking. Working within the theme of this conference, allow me to spin you a story, weave you a tale. Beneath the chairs and tables where you are sitting, beneath the floor of this restaurant, below the ground, sandwiched in stone, is gold. Adventurers, seekers and risk takers come to the Motherlode for treasure. They come because they hope they will return home enriched, their hands and pockets full of precious stuff.

Next spring, the adventurous, the seekers, the risk takers, weavers, spinners, dyers, basket makers, and storytellers will come here, why? To learn. To experience. To make. Weavers have three guides to lead them. Tapestry weavers among you will have the opportunity to dig into the realm of the “Small Exquisite tapestry” with Pam Patrie, a Portland, Oregon artist and instructor. Pam’s keen sense of graphic design, in conjunction with her superb technique and warm teaching style, make her an excellent resource for those who want to go on to greater things.

If you have ever been fascinated by a fabric let’s say, at a restaurant, in a plane, standing behind someone in line and you say to yourself, “I’d like to weave something like that.” then Sharon Aldermans group is the one for you. She will lead you down the path to look to the cloth to discover the draft. The workshop is “It is not in the book”.

Another path for weavers leads to traditional carpet and rug techniques but our workshop leader, for all the years I have known her, hardly suffers from “traditional”, “hidebound ” or “staid” adjectives. Her color sense is always bold, electric, decidedly her signature . The title of Sara’s new book is “Woven Treasures” and her class with us is weaving a knotted pile bag. You have the opportunity to work your own treasure with Sara Lamb.

Dyers amongst us can look into their golden pan of colors and pick through the possibilities to find azure blue of the sea, sky and deep mystery. Blue that is so dark and deep that it approaches black… it is “Indigo”. Locked in the pigments of plants, indigo comes with some rough assistants. Your guide, should you wish to pursue the dyers path, will unlock the secrets of dyeing indigo with greater environmental awareness and no ecological harm. In other words, using a “greener indigo”. Your pathfinder is Barbara Shapiro.

Many of our local Miwok people have an extensive, impressive basket tradition. There is a quote from a neighboring tribesman, Greg Sarris of the Pomo that is fitting here. “Baskets have stories, songs and geneologies. They have helped us on our travels and told us who we are as a people. They have healed the sick and forecast momentous events. The weaver’s hands move and the basket takes form so that the story can be known. And the baskets keep talking.”

Our Basket instructors intend to focus on two very different techniques. Two different techniques, and two projects of vastly different scale. One so small that you can enfold one in the palm of your hand, and the other so large you sit upon it. The first technique is twining. Polly Giacchina directs you to the twined basket trail in small format: jewelry. Though the product of the “Twined Basket Jewelry” class be small, the prospect
for larger forms is limited only by your imagination. The second technique is Weaving Splints, a tradition on both sides of the “pond”. Splints or “splits” can be used to make both baskets and furniture. Next May take Thomas Holtkamps class if you want to come home with a splint woven “vanity stool done in porch weave”. Some of us would consider this rectangular, generous stool candidate for a loom bench.

Spinners deal with spiral paths all the time. Spindles and wheels turn, wrapping freshly spun yarn in place. Turning things round and round are second nature to a spinner. Yarn makers travel down a project path to completion and begin again with a new project, in a new direction. Next Spring, spinners will have three portals, three directions beckoning: To the south, to the southern hemisphere, Kaye Collins has found Andean Gold, the luscious, lustrous, warm, and durable fiber of the Alpaca. Kaye encourages you to spin it woolen, spin it worsted, spin Huacaya, spin suri. And dream, dream of Alpaca.

To the East, across the Atlantic, to the shores of England, Scandinavia, Europe and to the steppes beyond, there are breeds of sheep, rare, colorful and with fleece of almost infinite variety: long and lustrous, short, springy and warm, in a range of colors like a paintbox spread open at your feet. Travel with Deb Robson to the sheepy domain of Spinning Treasures from Rare Wools.

To the West, to the edge, to the place where the land gives way to vast open ocean, where “art” meets “the Tao” is the art yarn. In this realm of yarn exists for no other function than to be what it is. Come, experience spinning as ultimate creative process. With a strong focus pulled on creative thinking as well as unorthodox technique, take it to the limits with Lexi Boeger.

Many journeys end with return, a coming home. And friends and loved ones gather round and ask you to Tell the Tale of your travels. Simple, or elaborate these tales bind your people to you, and you to them, and the telling brings them right along with you. Travelers and Tale tellers listen now. You will have a golden opportunity to work with a remarkable storyteller. Interweave Press began on the dining room table as a guild newsletter, and grew into a publishing empire nurtured by the energy and vision of a single woman, Linda Ligon. Linda offers a unique perspective on contemporary craft publishing, new avenues and prospects. She is coming to help you Tell your tale. Pass it on. Three weavers, a dyer, two basket makers, three spinners, a storyteller, and you, now interwoven.

This concludes my telling. And thus begins your tale. Thank you.

Stephenie Gaustad – workshop chair

What will inspire you next?