Thursday, September 18, 2014

2014 WI Sheep & Wool

This week I returned to the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival held the first week of September in the town of Jefferson, a 40' drive from Madison. This event is always a pleasure to attend, with all the trappings for people with fiber obsessions. A user friendly facility, nice variety of vendors, good organization, and newborn lambs. How can you resist?

But is it really possible to teach tapestry in an afternoon?

This year I decided to offer "Tapestry Trees" and 11 enthusiastic students signed up, none of who had ever woven tapestry. I supplied all materials but encouraged students to bring their handspun. Wisconsin has a very vibrant hand spinning community.

We wound a 3" warp with seine twine onto a simple board loom, skipped foundation knots or twining and dove right into the weaving. I asked them to consider what sort of land their tree was growing on and with some simple "over/under" demonstrating, they took off.

I wonder about rushing people so much, pushing them to move on, telling them there are 20 minutes left until cutoff. On the other hand, if this is a taste of tapestry, perhaps this sampling will encourage some to study further.

As usual my students surprise and amaze me. When the tree trunk was started they were setting up three opposing wefts. They sorted through value choices and considered how to weave the shape to suggest an evergreen, maple or birch. One student chose the desert as her landscape.

There are many Sheep and Wool events across the country. Check one out if you can. I imagine you'll return home satisfied, possibly with a new skein of yarn.