Now that the laundry is done, students are back on the studio looms finishing their classes, and the boxes I shipped back from Convergence have been emptied, it’s time to reflect on the inspiring but exhausting experience last month in Albuquerque. Convergence is the biannual conference of the Handweavers Guild of America and attracts weavers, spinners, dyers and basketmakers from around the world.
I hadn’t attended since 2006 in Grand Rapids, where I met Barb by the way. So I got there early to warp a rented loom for my 3 day workshop and didn’t leave until they were kicking us out of the exhibit hall at 4 Sunday afternoon. I spent a lot of time in vendor hall where I picked up some books from the Unicorn booth, a few skeins and cones of unusual yarns I want to try, several tubes of Bockens 8/2 cotton for classes…on sale (it pays to shop on Sunday) a new ondule (fan) reed for Barb, and my personal indulgence, a Randall Darwall scarf that begged me to take it home.
My workshop was outstanding. Robyn Spady calls it Pictures, Piles, Potpourri and Perplexing Curiousities. If you are a structure person, and ever have a chance to take it, don’t hesitate. There were 13 uncommon structures, on 32 different looms and 31 participants. Still, we all managed to weave all 13 samples. The sample notebook of all the structures is worth way more than Robyn charges for a supply fee. I warped one of the handwoven velvet looms. Actually I just threaded, beamed the ground warp, sleyed and tied on. Robyn had already done the heavy lifting, bringing the velvet pile warp on a secondary warp “beam” she had fashioned from empty wire spools she got from Lowe’s. Here’s a picture of the pile warp set up. It worked pretty well, but we had some tension issues as the sampling continued.
Other neat structures that I’ll definitely spend more time with include a fantastic supplementary warp and weft that I will subject to one of my differential shrinkage experiments…definitely making a SAMPLE first; a corkscrew twill that begs further study; and beiderwand. I’d always been curious about beiderwand, and now the next thing on the loom will be a scarf that tests the structure with fine yarns: one of those beautiful hand dyed skeins of 30/2 Tencel from Just Our Yarn (met these creative ladies in vendor hall) for ground and a soy silk I found at another booth as the pattern weft. Yes, I’m sampling first.
My other Convergence classes included a behind the scenes tour of the Juried Fashion Show with Daryl Lancaster, where I collected a bunch of clothing construction tips…and got to see inside some of these beautiful pieces. Sunday morning I attended a seminar with Rosalie Neilson all about designing warp rep with curves. When pressed, she said getting real curves takes more than 8 shafts, but her design technique will be very useful and her work is gorgeous. Here are a few samples.
While in New Mexico, I spent time with good friends from New Jersey, reconnected with other friends I usually only see at conferences and met some fun new people. As a personal highlight, I got to spend a few days with my sister and her family in Las Cruces, and then drove north with her to tour Santa Fe and Albuquerque before the conference began.
Kelly was also around while I spent Tuesday afternoon warping that velvet. I was so focused, I didn’t notice her taking pictures with her phone. She posted them on her facebook page with some interesting descriptions of what I was doing. Here’s Kelly at our Monday lunch spot in Santa Fe.
Convergence is an expensive proposition, but this trip was well worth it. I asked a few HGA board members at dinner one night where the 2012 Convergence would be and was given the party line, “Well, there WILL be one.” They remained mum on location except to say the executive staff was negotiating with four sites and they didn’t want to muck up negotiations. Look for the site announcement in Shuttle, Spindle and Dyepot or join HGA’s email list.
If you’d like to peek at the workshop sample notebook, just let me know when you’ll be in downtown Asheville and I’ll bring it to the studio. Pique, corduroy or beaded leno anyone?