The Conference of Northern California Handweavers (CNCH) will always have a special place in my heart. At the suggestion of my friend Janet Finch, I came to it as a registered participant and student in 2010 in Santa Clara, California. It was my first ever weaving conference and I had a ball!
I took classes with Robyn Spady and Syne Mitchell. Syne had agreed to sell my first book, Andean Pebble Weave, and gave me so much support on her website WeaveZine. It was our first chance to meet after much online contact. I met online weaving buddy Franco in Syne’s class and hope to see him again this fall when I visit Sacramento. Franco has been an online friend for almost five years now! and I look forward to his Facebook posts with his special sense of humor everyday.
In 2010 I thought it would be fun to enter three sashes in the wall hanging section of the gallery. They won a blue ribbon!
Kathe Todd Hooker and Pat Sparks shared with me their experiences with weavers in communities of Russian Old Believers in Oregon and Kathe showed me her collection of Old Believer sashes. Those Old Believer sashes have taken me places. They appear in my second book and have led me to other online friendships. I am now a part of a nice online Ukranian weaving group as a result.
I met and hung out in the Vendor Hall with a group of people on the Santa Cruz guild’s Education Booth. I was backstrap weaving there while they were inkle weaving and loop braiding and these folks would become my very good friends…Yonat, Annie and Ingrid. I shared my room with Janet, Sandra and Linda, all from Humboldt County and met Becky and Connie. Many friendships started and many great things were born at that conference.
So, it was quite a thrill to be back at CNCH in 2014, as an instructor this time.
I would get to enjoy the view from “the other side” It was fun to have my name on this list at the Marriott in Oakland California amongst the other very familiar instructor names in the last half of the alphabet…
Below, you can see organizers Elaine Gray and Connie Anderholm (at the computer keyboard).Connie has woven with me many a time on my visits up to Humboldt County. They are checking-in instructor Tracy Shapiro (with whom I have also woven up in Humboldt!). Tracy taught a basket-making workshop. It was so much fun running into my students and familiar faces all over the place. I had a whole new group of backstrap weaving friends with whom to mingle from the Foothill Guild in Nevada City. I had concluded a workshop with them the previous day.
Linda Hartshorn, with whom I had shared that room back in 2010, was there instructing too, as was Ingrid Crickmore who had been loop braiding at the Education booth just for fun in 2010. Ingrid and I have backstrap woven together in Santa Cruz , California many times and we taught together at Braids 2012 in Manchester UK.
I shared my room with Jennifer Moore. We had met in Santa Fe prior to Jennifer’s trip to Tinkuy 2013 in Cusco, Peru and it was fun to catch up with her post-trip and hear about her experience there. So much catching up to do in such a short space of time…a mere two and a half days.
The theme of the conference was Branch Out with Fibers. The center pieces on the tables at the Friday night banquet reflected that. Keynote speaker Robyn Spady had us in stitches with her highly entertaining and clever presentation on her Top Ten Reasons for Branching out with Fiber.
I am sure that I arrived on time for the banquet but it seemed that everyone else had arrived there early. The Humboldt table was full and so I swung around and begged a seat at the very next table. There were friendly faces everywhere. I got to meet a group of Raverly fiber folk there. It is always nice to put faces to those Ravelry names and discover mutual friends and acquaintances.
I spent Friday afternoon and Saturday morning teaching a class on Andean Tubular Bands. Some of the people had been my students before in Backstrap Basics classes and it was nice to see them again. We worked hard and learned how to weave the ñawi awapa as well as weave and sew a tubular band as an edging.
I walked into my set-up classroom and found this on the table…
…a balanced double weave bag from Mexico. My students always bring the coolest things along to show me. I have been studying this pick-up techique as practiced by the Cora, Huichol and Otomi people of Mexico and have woven my own pieces. I hadn’t run across this particular motif.
Many of my students had already discovered the stand in the Vendor Hall that was selling products of the CTTC (Centro de Textiles Tradicionales de Cusco). Many of the pieces were edged with the same tubular band that we were about to study in the class. That’s a placemat you can see above.
Abigail Killey is selling these pieces at her Organic Cotton Fabric Shop in Bodega, California and she had her stand right at the entrance of the Vendor Hall. It was difficult not to stop there for a LONG time examining all the beautiful Peuvian weavings. My students bought pieces and brought them to class and we were able to examine the way in which the weavers had cleverly disguised the ends of their tubular bands.
I hung out with Abigail in my free time and showed her some basic backstrap weaving techniques using the little jakima beginner kits she was selling.
Here are some of the large pieces that Abigail had amongst the smaller purses, placemats and table runners….
I love the colors and the large and jolly joining stitches on this large piece from Chahuaytire…
I run into CTTC pieces all over the place. My students bring them to class, I saw them in Santa Fe NM at the Folk Art Festival, they were at Convergence, in Cusco of course, on my many visits there and at CNCH. I never tire of seeing them, fondling and photographing them and yes, I finally bought my first piece for a teaching aid at CNCH.
I did some other shopping…
I got this wonderful super fine reed from the stand that was selling textiles and implements from Laos and other SE Asian countries. This is even finer than the reed I got from the Chinese minorities stand at Convergence. When I get to Australia I will see if my brother can remove the rather heavy frame that it is in so I can use it on my backstrap loom…maybe with silk! Excited!
And, speaking of silk….
I got these small, very affordable skeins of 60/2 silk from Redfish Dyeworks.
I had bought tiny spools of 60/2 silk from a bargain basket in a yarn store when I was in the UK in 2012. I got olive green, shades of terracotta, purple, brown, deep reds…mainly darkish tones.
I found how lovely it was to use as supplementary weft on a ground weave of fine Guatemalan cotton (see the scarf at left) and lamented not having bought some paler colors.
Well, now I have them and know where to get more when I need and so do you now!
So, that is what I bought. There were many cool things to look at. See, below, the wooden rigid heddles and clasp for band weaving from Glimakra and plastic rigid heddle segments from Village Spinning and Weaving…perfect for getting kids into a bit of band weaving on a simple backstrap loom.
I took a quick run through the galleries. I loved Ingrid Crickmore’s display of loop braids in the Instructors’ Gallery. She managed to combine two of her loves,…braiding and fiddle tunes. The words on the braids are lines and titles of fiddle tunes.
There was a Spinning Corral where I ran into my friend, Cookie. Cookie has woven with me up in Humboldt as well as down in Pala Alto. She is one very creative lady. Here she is showing the blending board she made and decorated with Zentangles.
My friend, Autumn, was asked to wear a dress made from plastic newspaper wrappers and shopping bags at the Fashion Show on Saturday night. She had been hesitant about accepting and named me as a possible candidate for the role…I wanted to slap her when she told me that! Phew…she went ahead and did it with everyone’s encouragement! I so wish I had been able to photograph her modeling it…she looked stunning. Here is the dress on display in the Vendor Hall. It was surprisingly soft, was made by Sandy Drobny, and is entitled “Evening News”.
Sheila O’Hara was in the Vendor Hall working for Vllage Spinning and Weaving and had a display of some of her famous jacquard-woven tapestries. Sheila and I had chatted at CNCH 2010 and she remembered every word of thst conversation as did I. She is such an energetic person! She took my arm when I entered the Vendor Hall. It was the warmest welcome ever.
I love her four season “flockettes” ….
She makes the most beautiful tapestry versions of Edward S Curtis photographs of Native Americans. This is a piece that she recently finished that depicts South America at top as a condor and North America as an eagle…
Sunday was all about accepting invitations that I had been receiving to visit various instructors’ classrooms. This is the nice part about not teaching every day :-) but it was impossible to visit all! I also wanted to meet up with my Santa Cruz friends who were driving up for the day to visit the Vendor Hall and hang out. And, it was also the time for saying goodbyes as some friends hit the road early for long drives home. Plus I needed to meet with my new host from Truckee who would take me on to my next weaving gathering leaving at noon…so little time!
My host in Grass Valley, Diane, took this class. This was her first ever CNCH and I know that she must have felt as excited as I had felt back in 2010. Here she is inspecting her piece after her first session of rolling….
I was lucky as Diane sent me a picture of her finished piece after she got home from the conference. She had taken my backstrap weaving class just before CNCH and now I know that she will have problems deciding where to go next after all the exciting things she has learned lately. Last I heard she was back at her backstrap weaving finishing off the bands we started in class….yay.
I saw my friend Ruth in Linda Hartshorn’s class on Shadow Weave and got to see her weaving as part of the ”round robin” style of sampling…
As I said, it was impossible to stop in at every workshop. When I got to Sara’s I was already a half hour late for my Santa Cruz meet-up. And then at noon, I was whisked off to Truckee by my new host, Suzanne. There were quick goodbyes, hugs and expressions of congratulations and gratitude to the organizers.
So, I have seen CNCH from both sides now…as a student and as an instructor. Both sides were equally exciting and fun. This experience in 2014, I guess, was different because I knew a lot more people. 2010 was great because it was my first ever conference and EVERYTHING was fresh and interesting.
I had planned to write about the Lake Tahoe gathering here but I think this is enough for this week. Lake Tahoe was heavenly! I stayed at Truckee near Donner Lake, then South Lake Tahoe and finished just outside Reno. Now I am in Washington state. and weavers arrive tomorrow! I am excited beacuse I get to go to the Portland guild’s meeting tomorrow night where Rosalie Nielson will be presenting. I have not had the chance to hear another weaver speak at one of these meetings. And there is bound to be Show and Tell….my favorite part.
I will leave you with two very different faces of Tahoe and Reno…
Slot machines at the airport…not something you see every day…no, I wasn’t tempted.