Sunday, May 8, 2022



Aware of (ahem) looming deadlines, I checked the Olds College website this morning and levels 1, 2 and 3 of the master weaver program  next month are confirmed.

So now I need to work out how much (more) yarn I have to order.

It has been my practice to take the skeins of wool yarn for the class and turn them into cones to make things easier (more efficient) for the students to do the in-class weaving assignments.

I also wind their first warp for them.

Recently someone was a wee bit shocked that I would go to 'all that work' to make the student experience easier.  More beneficial.

It just made sense to me that I do this because otherwise?  There would be 12 people waiting to use a warping board to wind their warps and a lot of time spent (and frustration)  avoided so that each and every student would be able to jump onto the class work as soon as my initial lecture was complete.

I was a production weaver for 40 or so years.  I have the tools (still) and the expertise to use them.  By doing this pre-class preparation, the students can focus on what they need to learn, not be hanging around waiting, feeling anxious.  Because the five days is heavy duty information and the best way to learn new processes and set the knowledge is to get right at doing the job.

I warn them that it will be 5 days of trying to drink from an information fire hose.  That it is completely expected and normal to feel absolutely overwhelmed the first couple of days.

The class manual has a list of in class exercises for them to work on and given the (usually) wide range of skill levels amongst the class, it just really works 'better' (imho) if the students work through those on their own time while I focus on the stuff I feel is essential to convey, in person.

What this means is that I do not follow the manual from page 1 through to the end but jump around from section to section.  Some students find this disconcerting, but this sort of jumping around is part and parcel of the weaving process, once you start designing your own projects, not just following the directions determined by someone else.

My goal is to help students begin to see how all those disparate pieces begin to link together to get the results they want.

I do at least two major lectures a day, sometimes 3, depending on the schedule and how the days go by.  And then the students are largely left to do the work as outlined in the manual in the order they wish.

The final day there are oral presentations to be done, so during the week I also remind them to read through the parameters of those presentations in order to be prepared to give them.

The program is intense and it's a lot of work.  But it's also one way to really dig into the craft and begin to understand the principles.

OTOH, not everyone wants to spend 5 intense days at a college so I am happily settling into SOS developing content for them.

The SOS classes/lectures are by and large based on the lectures I developed for my Olds students during the pandemic, and some longer form classes with video footage, based on the topics I have been teaching for decades before I started teaching for Olds, many of them rolled into the Olds class(es).

I feel the biggest leg up I can give the level 1 students is the knowledge to analyze their processes and their results.  To think through the principles.  To recognize when something isn't working, and hopefully determine why so they can change their approach, or equipment, or their materials.  To help them be more ergonomic to reduce injury and efficient so as to not waste time.

All of these I have focused on for at least two decades.  It felt right to bring that experience and knowledge with me to the Olds College master weaver program, and now to SOS.

It seems right on this day, which is Mother's Day, even though I am not a 'mother', to reaffirm my commitment to my students to help them as much as I can, for as long as I am able. 

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