Thursday, May 17, 2018

I'm Aiming for a Masters! - Dianne Q

Value gamp by Barbara S

I’m aiming for a Masters.....not in golf or after getting my, I’m working on the Master Weavers Certificate Program. The program comes from Olds College in Alberta but I’m able to get instruction at the Gaelic College (GC). Last June, eight otherwise experienced weavers took the leap into the 5 year program being held in Cape Breton for the first time. We lived for one week at the GC with our instructor, Laura Fry. Most of us had experience with Laura as an instructor before - her tour de force called Magic in the Water and a workshop about Lace Weaves - so her style of practical tips and in depth instructing was not new but, as always, welcome. 

I am a teacher myself. I am the weaving instructor at the GC where the busy summer classes demand an efficiency of style not unlike Laura’s. I’ve incorporated several of her techniques in my practice (using a weaving trapeze/valet, using my hand as a ‘claw’ to thread and sley). The Master Weavers program would, I assumed, test my proficiency to a new level. It didn’t fail.

The week at the GC was jam packed with weaving exercises, lecture time, practice communicating with others, weaving samples, group discussions, weaving colour value samples and, of course, wet finishing. 

The group got to know each other better. Five of us came from the island of Cape Breton, one from the Annapolis Valley on the “mainland” of NS, one from the west side of Newfoundland and one from southern Ontario. 

We were all experienced weavers but it wasn’t crucial to take the course. Indeed, the way the course is set up, a nearly new weaver would gain yards of practical knowledge. You need to know a loom, you need to have dressed looms in the past, you need to be able to work within a time constraint getting those samples done. It was fun, a bit challenging, while reinforcing skills. 

At the end of the week, we went home a bit weary, inspired, focused and ready to take on the homework. Homework! For the next while, the “homework” was frequently on my mind while I did my usual....teaching at the college, preparing for my guild’s fibre festival, attending a workshop on tapestry, selling at market, preparing for Christmas and then finally.....the time slot was there for the homework.

The homework is laid out in a way that takes you step by step through the entire process of making one handwoven piece: tell us how you dress your loom, which of these authors books is good for what you are doing, show a study of colour and your skill at plotting to get what you want when you weave, take a yarn and weave it at several setts to see how it works, look at plain weave and straight twill and how they respond to different finishing techniques, make a scarf or shawl to show how well you have learned all these lessons.

It’s trial and error, it’s stimulating, it’s frustrating, it’s running out of the one yarn you thought would do the job, it’s challenging, it means you have to communicate in writing what you do without thought after years of weaving, it means you have to stay every weft shot, make it fit just like all the other weft shots, drive the family a bit off the rails while you natter on and on about tiny incidentals of your work, it makes you want to do the absolute best, it’s disheartening when the washing machine won’t open at 10 minutes, it’s exciting when the samples and records are all gathered together ready to send for’s even a bit fearful when the package goes into the mail - did I remember everything, did I do it well enough? And then you wait to hear - did I pass?? 

For now I am ready and waiting for next year...1 down and 4 to go.....I’m aiming for my Masters!

 Dianne's final project

1 comment:

Nancy said...

Thank you for sharing your experiences with the program so far. While I spend far more time reading about weaving and watching videos than actually gaining muscle memory by actually weaving, I feel I have learned a lot from others. I certainly admire everyone involved in the program, as it requires a lot of effort by many people (students, teachers such as Laura, and the people who organize the locations, track the "grades", etc.).