Monday, December 2, 2013

Guest Post - Victoria

New language I learned in class from the teacher:
raw griege: unfinished cloth
sleazy: cloth lacking structural integrity
voluntold: Offering someone else as a resource; and then informing them of their impending generosity. Usually refers to spouse or offspring.
p.i.t.a.: Polite Canadian acronym for a pain in the a**.

I planned on taking the felting class at EGLFC 2013. The incentive behind my primary plan was to be able to do the conference without having to drag a loom along. For all the right reasons, I changed my mind at the last minute and signed on for The Efficient Weaver with Laura Fry. I took comfort in the thought that we only needed to bring a warp and loom; not a warped loom. I did briefly agonize over the vague parameters of the instructions: scarf warp, 16 to 20 epi, about 10” wide. Too many possible choices! Luckily we had just acquired Ann Dixon's book of 4 harness patterns. I picked out a simple Bird's Eye twill, fed it wrong into my Fiberworks PCW and got something I liked much better. I made my warp with 161 threads of aqua marine 5/2 pearl, printed out my pattern and packed my bags.

Our teacher described herself as “stern looking at rest”. Her towering height demands she look down on most everyone. The corners of her mouth fall into a natural frown unless engaged. Laura Fry makes her living at the loom. A true production weaver, she can't waste time or resources. She weaves rectangles all day, every day; and she weaves to sell. An impressive number of years at the loom have given her the wisdom of self awareness as to what works for her and what became an alterable “p.i.t.a.” The Efficient Weaver was all about developing efficiency through our own self awareness. Most of the time we were all laughing.

Written neatly on the board when we came in was “If you are happy with your results, there is no need to change anything.” I know I am barely past my “if it's cloth, it counts” stage of study, but I had not thought myself unhappy. I know parts of the process hurt more than others, but in my ignorance, I didn't know enough to know I could do more about it than ache. Happily for me the dawning awareness of my discontent coincided with it's cure; the little tweaks and changes that could lead to the bliss of conscious control.

The first day she showed us how she wound and warped, and she explained the why behind the way she did everything. All had been thought out to eliminate wasted time or unnecessary discomfort. Laura explained that every rule ever made, fit somebody, at sometime, in a specific instance, but it's not always true or necessary for everybody all the time. The key is to knowing what works best in the current time, place and situation. She distilled what she found worked for her and wrote it on the board.

Laura's Studio Rules
Never tie a knot where a bow will do.
It isn't finished till it's wet finished.
If you can't be perfect, be consistent.
A thread under tension is a thread under control.
All else depends.

She advised that we would still need to answer to our own personal perfection police, but then she granted permission to throw most of the rule book out the window stressing that we were to “Choose your expert; then learn enough to become your own expert.” It was like having a big sister wrap her arm around my shoulder and share the wisdom of her experience; telling me what to watch out for, but letting me know that some rules could be broken without the likelihood of incarceration.

The second day those of us who had not cheated and done so in advance, got warped. She showed us a nifty way of securing lease sticks for use in warping to eliminate any possibility of dropping the cross. I initially failed to grasp this lesson; along with the sticks as they fell to the floor and pulled out the pourey as they went. It turned out my personal disaster simply produced another teaching moment for Laura. With a pick-up stick and 5 minutes time I was back in business. It took longer to confess my disaster than to fix it. I learned to keep tension. I learned a better way to thread heddles and lash on. Most of the warping process went much faster and was under much better control. I won't embrace all of it for my Brown, but I will cheerfully adopt what I can adapt to my best use. I saw my threading error early and choose to accept it's annoyance in trade for the time it would take to repair. It was a workshop warp, and I wanted to weave. I spent most of the the rest of my time practicing my thumbs-up shuttle throwing. The combination of my easily memorized pattern repeats and the new techniques made the yards I wove on the last day almost meditative. I was working at least three times my normal speed. I'll have to improve my bobbin winding if I'm gonna weave this fast.

I won't share the long list of hints, cheats and suggestions offered during class time as there is too much for a single report. Luckily for all, Laura Fry is all over the internet. Find her website at, or her blog at http.// She has made over 20 video clips available on YouTube and is active on Ravelry and Weaveolution. We have her book Magic in the Water in our library. It's all worth the look.

(Victoria wrote this up for her local guild newsletter and shared it with me.)

Victoria's blue sample

my b*tchy resting face

I'm not the only one who talks with her hands  ;)

lots of inter-student consultation


Nancy said...

Amen to all this, Victoria! We had a great time at EGLFC,and Laura's naturally stern visage hides a truly fun and interesting weaver... and woman! Thanks to Laura for making the trek to Western NY to encourage us to move forward with excellence, and common sense!

Laura Fry said...

Who knows, maybe one day I will make it back? The class was great fun. :)