Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Going Medieval

I spent last weekend leading a very interesting workshop. I was approached by a group of people affiliated with The Knights of the Northern Realm in Edmonton to teach them a bit about medieval spinning and weaving techniques. After a little research, I determined that spindle spinning and tablet weaving would fit the bill and be the most approachable options for absolute newbies. And they all took to it like naturals!

My gracious host and hostess Troy and Lisa took me into their home and fed me extremely well. We had potluck lunches, where I was introduced to Ski Queen, a Norwegian goat cheese that tastes like nothing else in this world and is now my favorite thing. The wine and the conversation flowed freely, and I think I learned about as much from my students as they did from me.
And in between the fun, we went downstairs and spun. Saturday started out with a brief history of spinning and weaving in medieval Europe, then a carding and wool combing demo. Then I gave them spindles!
The whole gang, from left to right: Kirby, Dan, Troy, Janet, Jannicke, and Lisa.
Jannicke spun like she had been doing it all her life. Her only explanation was that her Grandmother was a knitter and she had played with wool since she was a child.
The Masters in Arms in the group, Dan and Troy caught on pretty quickly, too. I was quite amused that Troy, a trained fighter, blacksmith and electrician, complained that he could feel the muscle ache that spinning caused. I think these guys have a new respect for "women's work". Dan is also a professional Fool, so clearly I am a great teacher if I can teach a Fool to spin!
Sunday, we played with linen and silk, then made lucet cords and tackled tablet weaving.

This was clearly Troy's thing....

...his very first braid was better than the one I worked. Look at that thing of beauty!

Lisa worked a fringed edging.

And Jannicke wore hers to dinner!

All in all a really fun weekend. And I know that I have created at least two new fibre fanatics. I stayed an extra day in Edmonton to avoid bad highway condition up north (yes, winter is here), and I took Lisa out to Celeigh Wool, where she bought two new Forrester spindles for herself and Troy, and almost a kilo of wool top and roving! And when she comes up to work in Fort McMurray next week, we're gonna play on wheels and looms. Yay!

I seem to have made a favorable impression--they have invited me to come to their Tournament in July and demonstrate spinning and weaving. Maybe even a warp-weighted loom....hmmmm. Lots to think about as I plow through the Christmas knitting!

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