The best laid plans …..
Summer School was so intense, then family problems came along (my Mum is ill) and the blog never happened.
So, belatedly, here’s a summer school summary:
The first challenge was warping the table loom ready before I left, I’ve done a weekend course with Janet before and what she likes to do is give you a warp pattern with several sections, each different, so this was typical, around 3 yards of cotton, 250 ends, 3 different threadings across about 15 inches. I took real care with this, no shortcuts or “that’ll do” – it had to be beyond criticism, and finally I had an absolutely immaculate warp, beautifully even tension, lots of packing sticks, perfect threading etc……. I then had a quick panic – would my rather large home made and definitely not folding loom, fit in my new micro sized car. Phew, it would. So on Sunday I was off heading North, not too long a journey, (around 220 miles) mostly motorway and main roads – around 4 hours of driving plus a short break. It rained.
At QMU, the organisers Doreen Marsh from Scottish Fibres and members of the local guild, got everyone settled in in time for supper then there was a short “meet your tutor” session and an early night. The University is only around 4 years old, and the residential blocks just a short walk from the main study building. The student rooms were very small – about the size of our bathroom 🙂 including a minute en-suite. Not brilliant, but just about OK. We had all our meals provided (plus coffee and biscuit breaks) , and the cooking was mostly excellent especially the veggie options).
On Monday we got started, did I say it was still raining.
Janet is a very rigorous teacher and her aim was not to tell how to weave patterns from books, but to teach us how to design them from scratch (for 8 shafts). She went straight into a seriously technical lecture, which suited the way I think, but threw some of the class a bit!
Finally she let us get weaving. our first threading was for block weaves. With 4 shafts doing one weave and the other 4 doing something else. A bit like rubbing your stomach and patting your head at the same time. We did twill blocks, double weave blocks, satins and more. and kept on doing different block combinations for the next couple of days.
One interesting thing from Janet’s teaching, is that while you’re weaving particualar patterns designed for the threading on the left hand side of your loom, all sorts of serendipity happens in the the middle and right hand sides.
Typically our weaving days started at 9am after breakfast, and finished around 5pm. Supper was at 6pm, then you could continue with weaving if you wished, until they threw you out and locked up around 9pm. There was network access available This was a bit hit and miss, in theory all universities now have a scheme called eduroam to let people from other uni’s log on as a visitor to the local WiFi. In practice, this only seemed to work after 7pm it was also firewalled on ports that I needed to use to check in to work. I did wonder if they locked the whole WiFi while students were supposed to be working to stop them using it during class time. The wired access was OK – but that was a different login and I was too mean to pay the extra tariff for it.
I’d previously looked up the different folk music sessions in Edinburgh, and on monday I dashed for a bus and got to Sandy Bell’s at a bit after 9pm. (The rain had paused for while which was lucky as I spent quite a while wandering the streets of the Old Town clutching a page of directions. )
This is a very famous pub in the old part of Edinburgh, it’s quite a tourist attraction and has musicians every night. I was aiming to just look in and have a listen, but there was small group playing and room for one more, and they kindly let me join in – so I had a couple of hours of music there. The etiquette of sessions is complicated. Not all sessions are open (some are gatherings of people who will welcome visitors, some are more a performance sponsored by the pub to entertain tourists and even though they appear the same – you can’t join in unless invited. The session in Sandy Bell’s was said to be open to visitors with caution, so it was good to be asked to sit and join them. They even ousted a tourist from his seat so that I could sit 🙂 There were even enough tunes played that I knew well enough to join in, though they also played some scottish stuff that I didn’t know at all. I rushed for a late bus back to the college and fell into bed around midnight with twills and tunes rushing through my head. (This was the time that I started to notice the rather unpleasant smell of my new room – traced to the en-suite but never got rid of in spite of pleas for it to be purged with strong chemicals)
By wednesday, Janet decided that at least some of us had exhausted block weaves, so we cut off the weaving we’d done and started rethreading in another set of patterns. 🙁
Now we got started on the next set of lessons, network twills, echo twills, 8 shaft twills, “trompe as writ” (echo twills look interesting – a bit like shadow weave in twill.)
Thursday night was again free later on (they scheduled something every evening, but these mostly finished by 9pm) and I went in search of a pub called the Antiquary just off the centre of the City. I took the car this time and managed after some navigating around diversions and road works to find it – yes it was still raining). This was a bigger session with excellent players, 6 fiddles, a guitar, bouzouki, fretless bass, whistle, bodhran, and me on concertina! I had a lovely evening and because Edinburgh in August is full of tourists for the festival, all these sessions have an audience (something that our local session doesn’t get) so we got a free drink and the occasional round of applause or request for a tune.
On friday we carried on with our 8 shaft twills, and also tried some other
weaves some looms that the tutor had brought along already threaded for trying some other weaves.
We had to get packed by saturday afternoon but I was pretty burnt out by then and didn’t do much. On Saturday they also held a suppliers fair, so we could get a good dose of retail therapy. I would have spent more but the weaving supplier I was buying some bits from only took cash and cheques … and cash always feels worse than using a credit card!
Sunday was time to set off for home, uneventful journey but wet (in fact it rained pretty well the whole week, which may be why scotland didn’t see the riots that happened in other UK cities, a downpour seems to put off looters quite effectively.)
Both DH and cats seemed happy to see me back. DH said that the cats had been yelling at him all week, and how much did I usually feed them (more than he does, it seems!)
I enjoyed reading about summer school, and am quite envious of you having this opportunity to take Janet Phillip’s workshop.