Mind explosion…

What a two weeks this has been.  A roller coaster of a ride, spectacular, scary, and really really fun.  So much to tell…

I’ll start with the vacation I took with a friend and my daughter, to weaving heaven.  My former editor from when I worked for Handwoven magazine is a fantastic weaver and runs a weaving school in her home on Whidbey Island, off the coast of Washington State.  For all my readers who are weavers, and even those who aren’t, Madelyn van der Hoogt’s school is a bucket list item that should be at the top.  She teaches four times a year, two weeks at a time.  The first week is Weaving 1, where you get a solid footing on the joy of handweaving, and the second week, which is what we all took, since we are somewhat experienced weavers, called Weaving 2, is all about structure, design, blocks and profile drafts.  I visited Madelyn’s school when I was on the island teaching for the Whidbey Weaver’s Guild back in May of 2016, right before my husband died, and I vowed I’d be back.  With my daughter.

In fact, when we first went round the room to introduce ourselves, I followed my daughter, and really really tried hard not to be Daryl Lancaster but to just be Brianna’s Mom.  It is hard to be a student when you are a nationally known instructor and to gracefully side step all the questions about garment construction and what to do if…  I was there to learn, and be Brianna’s mom.  That part eventually worked out well.  There were 13 of us, and Madelyn’s assistant Suzie, who owns Eugene Textile Center, was there to help in every way, and she brought a huge selection of books and weaving equipment and well, my poor credit card was smoking…  I realize that after 40 years of weaving, there isn’t much I don’t have, but because I was Brianna’s mom, and she moaned and whined about how much she really needed an electric bobbin winder, (I did too at her age) what could I do but buy a new one, state of the art, for $380, but that one is for me, she gets my old one.  Fair is fair.  I’m not that generous of a  mom…

Brianna was of course, the star student. But I was pretty close behind.  There were 32 looms, prewarped in various 4-8 shaft plus structures, many of them double shuttle, that means a ground cloth and some decorative element floating across the surface, like overshot.  That’s my sample on the loom.

The first loom Brianna tried, of course, was the drawloom.  Madelyn had three in the studio.  This is a monster piece of equipment, the precursor to the Jacquard loom, allowing complex pictorial weaving by controlling individual threads.  Usual time on this little sample was about 6-8 hours.  Brianna of course did it in 4 1/2.  And she did it perfectly. 


We both hopped from loom to loom (I opted not to spend time working on the draw loom, at almost 63, I know this will never be part of my repertoire and though I understand the premise, I had no desire to even try.  There were two many other looms to tackle)

There were a couple rules, we always had to use a temple, that toothed stick across the warp that maintains width, which assured that no one would break a thread.  And we had to weave a full square sample.  The samples were generous.  Most were about 12-14 inches square.  That’s basically a pillow and I thought about looking for some plain pillows and just mounting the samples on the front for some pretty cool decorations on the couch.  Except there are the dogs…

We wove until we were punch drunk and cross eyed, and yet we kept on.  There were lectures every day, Madelyn is such a great teacher.  Though truth be told, I’m not all that interested in complex structures, they just aren’t that important in my regular body of work (I’m a color texture sort of gal) but nevertheless,  I had a blast, each new loom was like starting a new 500 piece puzzle and you know how I love those.  

Four of the looms had structures on them that all shared the same profile draft.  There was huck, double weave, turned twill and summer/winter.  And the design was the same for all.  I found that completely fascinating and that the weaving software I’ve been using for some 20 years, actually had a block substitution feature I never knew existed, where you can plug in any unit weave into a profile draft by just clicking a menu item…  That just made me smile. 

One of the looms had a Swedish Snowflake Twill from Mary Atwater’s book.  Brianna wove on that one, and the evening after the first day of class, I got an email from one of my former students Cheryl Wolf, who took a workshop with me in northern Washington State last May.  She wove the same sample in Madelyn’s class, and went on to weave yardage from it.  We worked together in the class with the Whatcom Weaver’s Guild, to carefully match the snowflake pattern in the back.  I talked about it in this blog post.  She finished the jacket (my swing coat pattern with optional shawl collar) and sent me photos and I was thrilled to pass them around the class.

And we kept weaving…  

Between the two of us, Brianna and I  covered all but one of the looms in the studio.  There were three draw looms in all, and the morning of the second day, Brianna decided to design a piece using one of the other draw looms, taking the block pattern that was already “programmed” in the loom, and modifying it for a very personal design.  That’s the loom in the back corner, I went over to take a photo of her weaving on it and she was already finished.  When I saw what she had woven once they came off the loom, I cried.  My husband was a pole climber back in the day, before I met him, and spent 47 years in the telephone industry.  She wove telephone poles and clouds in his honor.

I was the first one to weave on the newest addition to the line up, a parallel threading based on the Echo and Iris technique du jour.  

And Sally caught a great shot of me weaving on the Louet Megado digital dobby loom.  The weave structure was pretty complex, but the computer did all the work so that was really the easiest one of all the 20 samples I managed to do.  I think Brianna did 23 total, including two draw loom pieces.  I have a fabulous stack of samples. And so does she…

We traveled back to Seattle that Saturday morning, and Brianna arranged the airport hotel, and the Uber ride up to the Chilhuly museum.  Wow.  Just Wow.  I’ll talk about that in my next post…

Stay tuned…

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May 8, 2018 8:47 pm

Oh wow! Thanks for this! Now I know what to add to my “ bucket” list! What beautiful phots of beautiful weaving?

Cate Markey
Cate Markey
May 8, 2018 8:59 pm

It sounds like a heavenly week. And Brianna’s weaving in honor of your husband – oh my.

Seriously what a dream to have all those looms warped and ready to go and with such cool threads/threadings. And Madelyn just gets younger all the time!

JoAnne Tuffnell
JoAnne Tuffnell
May 8, 2018 9:10 pm

This exciting summary of your week at The Weaver’s School is such a treat, Daryl! I’m going to the June 11-15 class and am so eager to go, but also so in awe. I hope my brain is wide open that week! Thanks for this great review.

Nancy Weber
Nancy Weber
May 8, 2018 9:37 pm

Wow — me too, add this one to the bucket list. So glad you and Brianna had a great time and you could be “mom” and not a nationally-known instructor. Hugs,

Gerri Barosso
Gerri Barosso
May 9, 2018 9:54 pm

Sounds wonderful to have a week like that and with Madelyn. I’m not sure I could take the pressure! The two day round robin at Midwest felt intense at times.

Must have been really special to see your daughter excel. And the poles and clouds-no words.

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