Welcome to Esther's Blog

Welcome to Esther's Blog

The World According to Esther

Mix Fun with Work, Part 2- Teaching in Holland with Wool Wench

I think I’ve said that I’m lucky. I have amazing friends that are creative and inspiring and wonderful teachers. Sometimes, I get the wonderful honor to co-teach with these amazing friends.  My workshop in Holland was one of those times.

I arrived in Amsterdam early afternoon. Suzy and her husband picked me up at the airport, and Suzy and I went into Amsterdam for a few hours.  We had lunch at my favorite falafel joint, and just enjoyed our walk around the city.  It was less than a year ago that I was here and it felt good to remember where I was going.    Amsterdam jazzturtleGood memories of great times!!   There is something about sitting in a cafe in Amsterdam, along a canal, enjoying mint tea..

After our afternoon in the city, we headed back to Suzy’s place for some dinner and evening creative spinning.  It also finally hit me that I had been traveling for a week, slept little and did lots.  I was exhausted and slept hard and fast.   We joked the next morning that I was falling asleep sitting at the wheel the night before.

1001039_10200580277607912_565640452_nAfter coffee we headed down south, to Alet’s farm,  along the coast of Southern Holland- Zealand.    Zierkizee is a fisherman’s village.. where the water runs right in.  Boats can sail right through the city gates.

We met Alet at her house and then went into town for lunch and to pick up supplies for the workshop and for dinner at the market.    We went to lunch at a lovely cafe, where I had fresh tomato soup with petso and warm crusty bread.     It was so good to laugh and share and plan for the fun of the upcoming weekend.
In the market, there was a booth that was almost as amazing as the trim shop in Copenhagen. Rolls of trims, lace, feathers, bells and other bits and bobs filled 2 booths.   We got feathers and balls and flowers and ribbons for the weaving portion of the workshop.    Again, trims are my weakness and I could have spent the entire afternoon picking through the bins. It was good there were places to be.  We headed back to Alet’s and Suzy had to get home. We had a relaxing dinner and lovely evening stroll along the water.
The next day we packed the car full of goodies like looms, fibers, yarns, wheels and our bits and bobs for the weekend’s fun.

We drove a couple hours north to the retreat center in a National Forest.  Mennorode is an beautiful center, with a library, kitchen facility and classrooms, along with the living facilities. There are trails that lead through the woods, art on the walls and plenty of spots to just sit and knit and enjoy the surroundings.    My room had a beautiful view of the forest.
The weekend was broken into 2 workshops. The first group was focused on creative fiber preparation and foundation art yarn spinning techniques.   We had blending boards, drum carders and a hackle. we had tables full of fiber to use and a room full of creativity.

We started both sessions with a special  exercise  that connected everyone to eachother, their fiber, their wheels and the surroundings.  It allowed people a chance to get out of the box of “control” and just let the fiber happen.   Everyone carded textured batts and then put on blindfolds and spun silently.
Every time I introduce this exercise  people look at me like I’m totally crazy.   What do you MEAN, Spin blindfold?!?!  Yet, when everyone has spun and plied their yarns, it’s always the same. It’s so freeing. It allows people to feel the different fibers. To not worry about controlling the yarn.  There is something totally amazing about hearing nothing but the whir of wheels spinning.  And everyone feels it.

The next 2 days were filled with the same creative energy. SONY DSC This group was really willing to dive in and try everything. Some were “new” art yarn spinners, and some had more experience, but they were all experienced in their creative expression.   We went from carding batts, to rolags to top off the hackle.  We corespun, plied bobbles and navajo plied.  With everything, there was excitement and a playful energy.

During the first part of the workshop, Suzy and I were also working on a collaborative weaving project (that I’ll write more about in another post)  We had lots of fun spinning the yarns and then weaving the shawls.  I have to admit, as much fun as we had teaching together during the day, we had just as much fun at night when we were alone in the classroom- spinning, laughing, sharing ideas and planning our world fibery domination.

1008947_10200850683622468_2086328889_oThe second workshop was geared towards weaving. We started by spinning more advanced art yarn techniques- ones that look extra special when used in weaving.  Twists, corespinning on wire and elastic, silk hankie wrapping, tailspinning and cable plying.   We spent the full day spinning and then on the last day moved to the looms. We worked on ashford knitters looms, majacraft dynamic heddle looms and SAORI looms.  Suzy demoed direct warping and using the majacraft dynamic heddle.  _MG_1435 (Large)I demoed different weaving techniques like clasped weft, add in’s, inlay and manipulating warp threads.

This group was really amazing. The yarns we spun were ones that weren’t necessarily new techniques, though they were new mediums- Corespinning wasn’t new, but on wire and elastic it was. Twists weren’t new, but in a single they were..
What was new was the weaving. It was wonderful to watch everyone weave with vigor and creativity.
There were a few that had never weaved before, and I see looms in all of their near futures. Each person used the yarns she spun over the past days in different ways on their looms.  Each wove with expression and freedom. It was beautiful to see all the happy faces at the end of the last day.

_MG_1495 (Large)  Alet even got her SAORI loom that weekend. I know the feeling of receiving that loom, so it was amazing to be with her when she got hers.

It was a spectacular week. Not only were there 2 groups of extremely creative people that were excited to learn and share,  but I got to teach with an amazing teacher.  We both learned from eachother.  We got to complement eachothers teaching and techniques. I got to hang out and be creative myself with one of my best friends. _MG_1486 (Large)We laughed and shared techniques. We planned future workshops. We spun and wove.  And I think we drank too much coffee and the security guard had a tough time getting us to leave each night, in the wee hours of the morning, we giggled back to our rooms.  We planned for our next collaborative workshop- November 2014!! With more exciting things to come!!

Have I mentioned yet that I’m lucky?  I have amazing, creative, inspiring friends. Wonderful teachers, who share their experiences and knowledge.  Amazing friends who make planning fun future projects exciting.  We have SO many fun things coming!!
If you want to read what Suzy said about our week together- Here and Here. She has some great photos as well!!  To see all my photos, check out my album Here.

1053361_10200850697782822_1056524633_oBut until then.. I must get ready for Stitches Midwest, Twist fest, the fiber arts cruise, Vithard’s visit..    I’ll have a post coming this week about the awesome weaving collaboration that Suzy and I did together on the Majacraft Dynamic Loom (and all the other amazing things I’m making with mine!)

I’ve reopened the shop with the yarns I have in stock.  It will stay open until I leave at the end of the month.  SPIN ON!