Monday, May 21, 2012

Sprang at CNCH 2012

Just got back last night from CNCH and a class on working in sprang with Stephenie Gaustad.  It was a good class; I learned a lot even though I've worked sprang before.  The project was a small bag or pouch in basic single sprang, of hemp fiber.

Stephenie is a great teacher; her serenity and patience kept students relaxed and able to concentrate on a technique that was completely new to a lot of us.

Here she is demonstrating how to check that the warp is set up correctly at the start of the piece.

She had us working on a wooden frame, with cords at top and bottom of the piece as described in Collingwood.  Here's my frame with the first pair of rows worked.  I found the stiff hemp difficult and springy to work with, and you can see that I was concerned that the top and bottom cords were deflecting making my warps different lengths.  I just couldn't bring myself to let the warps be loose enough, and couldn't get my holding cords tight enough I guess.

I did get my bag completely spranged and did the crocheted center line, and stitched up the sides, so I consider my workshop product a success.  I still need to figure out what to do with the top edge and a handle or draw cord.

Stephenie also described how to soften up the hemp after the bag is completed, by boiling it in water with laundry soap and some washing soda.
CNCH puts on a good regional conference.  Here's a photo of the spinning exhibit, one of the seven exhibits in the big hall along with all the vendors.  The skeins in the background on the right of the photo are all spun from a fiber supply given to each participant. The pieces in the foreground are items made from last year's spun yarn.  You can see how much more muted the results are from this year's palette.

Northern California has such a different feel from the southern half of the state for me.  There's something older and more mysterious, as if the remnants of fairies still inhabit the earth there, or the spirits of the Indians who first came there.  Maybe it's just that I spent my childhood in Northern California, so there's more play and imagination associated with the area.  Point Reyes, Half Moon Bay... there's magic in those hills and waters.

There was an eclipse as I was waiting for my plane to return home.  Even with the news media trying their darndest to educate people, they don't seem to get through.  I point to the ground outside the window, and people ignore me and look into the sky, saying "oh, I, that's bright!"  Why don't people realize that to see it you need to look not at the light, but at the shadow it casts to see its essence and shape?  I'm sure there's something metaphorical in there. 

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