Braiding Teachers at the 2015 Valley Forge Spring Braid In: Deb Weinhold, Dottie Pepe, Nancy Young, Christine Manges, Pat Beltz, Dianne Tobias, Bobbi Mahler, Pam Rowan, Kris McDermet
Christine here. OK, after a long silence, I am returning to the braiding post.
What kept me busy (and not blogging) for a long time was the preparation for the Spring Valley Forge Braid In, which I think was especially wonderful this year. Those of us who are interested in teaching met early on Thursday night and went over a handout on short to long teaching topics. Pam Rowan and Bobbi Mahler brought some of their one-day and shorter classprojects for us to view. We reviewed syllabuses for several week long classes, such as tote bag or chair pad or oval rug. And we (tried to ) talk about teaching left-handed (not left-opening, but left-handed) braiders, which I think everyone still left a little confused about!
One-hour Braiding Class: Pam Rowan’s door-hanger: braided strands with embellishments
I bring up that session on teaching first because I think teaching braiding to others is really important to keeping our craft alive and flourishing.
5-strand Strip Rug by Peggyann Watts
My other classes — Beginners (although Dottie Pepe and Deb Weinhold taught more of that) and Continuous Square and Multistrand Strip — went well overall (check out student project photos!) although I hadn’t quite realized just how fussy and meticulous the C. Square is. Several people made early braiding or lacing mistakes (braiding a quadruple corner instead of a triple; lacing a crossover loop, or miscounting a side) that affected each and every row thereafter. I think in the future, I have to seriously limit the class size for this shape, and insist that after each row of braiding, and each row of lacing, I check the square before people move on. Well, at least I know that for next time!
Continuous Square made by Peggyann Watts
The final class that I taught was on butting, and I don’t think I should have left it to Sunday morning. The class centered on the new Annie’s Fanny butt, which Anne Morton Caldwell came up with and which I find clear, simpler than many butts, and I’ve never made a mistake with it yet, which is saying something! I think everyone found it interesting, but not many people stayed to try it after I demonstrated how easily it came together… I think many were just thinking about the long drive home and packing up.
Many people did buy the booklet with full diagrams of butting straight braids, same-color braids, and butting in tight spaces, so hopefully that will be useful. (Butt Booklet: $15 postage paid, contact me at email@example.com).
If there’s one thing that I always remember after teaching at braid ins, it’s the difficulty of working with braiders who have their openings on the other side from me. I braid with left openings, a fact that I blame on Norma Sturges for her excellent and informative book The Braided Rug Book — because we all are “victims” of our first rug braiding instructor’s preference for openings. Our brains settle into an immutable pathway and we’re stuck, comfortable only with the first way we learned to braid. As I progressed to more complex shapes in my braiding, I also used Verna Cox’s Illustrated Guide to Rug Braiding — also a left-opening braider. Then I got to know Dianne Tobias and later Kris McDermet — both left-opening as well, so clearly the Force is with us LO people, right?
Unfortunately, when it comes to braid ins, people come from all over and from a history of being taught not only by LO, but also RO, teachers.
5-Strand Strip Rug with Diamond Pattern, by Colleen Blaisdell
Pam Rowan and Bobbi Mahler both are right-opening braiders who helped me out in classes. I think, from now on, that any advanced class that I teach should be taught in cooperation with a right-opening braider. There are too many of them out there, and my mind just doesn’t bend that way. So, I need the assistance of RO teachers — particularly for hearts or squares — or anything with corners. RO braiders lace on the back of the rug, and things MOVE back there. Corners change location by one loop on the back, so you can’t just mirror-image LO diagrams with corners and have them still correct for RO braiders.
Well, with each experience, we learn a bit more, and how to do things better in the future.
In the next posts, I’ll put up images from the fashion show (which was HYSTERICAL) and the rug challenge (Just for Kids) and Show and Tell — all of which were truly wonderful.