Certificate of excellence, part 2

Part 1 is here.

Shuttle Spindle & Dyepot *

In 1985, when I began work as editor of Shuttle Spindle and Dyepot (SS&D), the quarterly magazine published for its members by the Handweavers Guild of America, the organization had just undergone some turmoil, and my first task was to produce an issue of the magazine within a month (normally a three-month cycle). Fortunately, I had been working in book and magazine publishing for a while, although not in conjunction with my interest in textiles. I had not produced a color magazine involving advertising. My learning curve was steep. I met the goal on time (a long story in a short period, and it occurs to me that if there were a COE in editing and publishing, I might have been granted an honorary one).

* It’s true that there is no comma in the title of the publication.

I was significantly younger then. (Compare the picture below to the sidebar photo. . . .)

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As I looked around in the initial stages of figuring out what to put in the next issue, Mary, the (wonderful) secretary (who taught me how to work with a secretary; I hadn’t a clue), said, “There are some boxes under the work table that you should know about. They came from someone who has earned the Certificate of Excellence.”

I opened the first box and was awestruck. I pulled out skein after skein of jaw-droppingly beautiful yarn. Those boxes contained the materials that Jane Fournier had prepared for her (of course) successful application for the COE in handspinning. Her yarns, samples, and projects had been shipped to the office to be photographed and featured in an article in the magazine. And then there were her clear, careful binders of documentation.

Highlighting Jane’s work in the magazine was one of the most rewarding tasks that I performed in my time at SS&D (December 1985–October 1986).

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I also published Iris Dozer’s article taking a look at the COE program, and I attended a COE judging.

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SS&D covers

 

First Interweave, then Spin-Off

In late 1986, I moved to Colorado to be the book editor at Interweave Press, and began producing books on spinning, dyeing, weaving, and knitting by exceptional authors. A year later, in late 1987, I added to my responsibilities the editing of Spin-Off magazine, focusing on the work of handspinners. (The covers of the issues of Spin-Off that I edited are included at the end of the post that is part 1 in this series.)

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The pictures above show only a few of the books I produced during my years at Interweave. The first book, begun before I was officially on staff, was Rita Buchanan’s A Weaver’s Garden. I edited Alden Amos’s book as a freelance project after I left. 

For fourteen years, my job was to encourage and showcase the creativity of other spinners, artists, and artisans, in book and magazine form, and to give them resources they could use to increase their skill and satisfaction in their crafts. (Oh, and I was a single parent for all but the first year.) My own spinning, always present, took a definite back seat. I spun for relaxation, centering, and the feeling of yarn forming between my fingers.

Editing the magazines and books, I got to know the fiber expertise of many outstanding spinners. Those who had earned a COE had obviously found in the program a rigorous support for their natural tendencies to master the craft. Many other equally gifted and proficient spinners, of course, had not used the COE as a tool to guide their learning and growth. Yes, there is something special about the skill levels achieved by those who have gone through the program. Yet a program is not the only way to reach a desired goal.

Save the Sheep

I capped my years at Interweave with the inception, coordination, and manifestation of the Save the Sheep project, which included a contest for readers, a juried fine-craft show that toured North America for two years, and a book/catalog that both accompanied the show and served as a standalone resource on rare-breed wools. Called Handspun Treasures from Rare Wools, that publication is now out of print.

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A major surprise of the Save the Sheep project was that I had expected to simply gather and print the background resource materials. When I went to do the research to collect the information, I discovered no one had previously assembled the details on rare sheep and wools that spinners would need to know in order to participate. Was there some mention of “spare time” at the beginning of this series of posts? I keep getting myself into these situations. . . .

Nomad Press

Following my time at Interweave, I took on responsibility for Nomad Press, which had been started by master spinner and knitter Priscilla Gibson-Roberts, in order to present her work and that of others who are documenting and passing along important knowledge.

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Textiles + publishing

To sum up, over the years I have been involved in the production of a number of textile books, as a staff editor, freelance editor, or publisher. Sometimes I simply had the idea and knew who the authors should be (In Sheep’s Clothing, by Jane Fournier and Nola Fournier). At other times I coached the author through a stuck spot. Once in a while I have just tech edited. Frequently I have been involved with all stages, from the first idea to the final layout and production. On rare occasions I have written the text from the author’s notes and samples. (No, I’m not saying which books those were. The creative work—the heavy lifting—was the authors’. I was simply a conduit to their publication.)

Here’s a sampling of those titles:

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To be continued in part 3.


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13 Responses

  1. Deborah Robson

    Donna, do you mean the article on Jane’s work? I may have an extra copy. I’ll look.

    Holding out on you? The question is what else I may be holding out on you {wry grin}. I’ve published a *lot* of information that folks have written about lace, including mostly knitted, crocheted, hairpin, bobbin, needle, tatted, woven. . . . In addition to the books and the SS&Ds, the Spin-Off 23-year index (1977-2000) lists approximately 95 articles on lace, of which I edited and published about 75 (numbers are rounded off; I’m not making a mission out of the counting).

  2. Deborah Robson

    P.S. One of the reasons I was able to publish so many more articles in Spin-Off (that list is just the ones that feature *lace*) is that while I was editing the magazine its number of annual pages increased substantially, following subscriber and advertiser support. I had more than 500 printed pages/year to work with, whereas the previous editors had about 250. Those are total pages (including ads), but the growth gave me a huge space within which to include large quantities of great material. It was a moving target, and some of the administrative work never caught up and still haunts me, but it was fun.

  3. Joanne

    Well, I’m honored to have one of my books on your “list.” 🙂 This is interesting stuff. I especially appreciate knowing that some of my favorite books have been strongly affected by your work!

  4. Deb Robson

    I'm honored to have worked on one of your books, Joanne! And to have had an inside view of the development of another. That supper we all had in Estes Park provides an ongoing delightful memory.

  5. Stormy

    I was showing JC Briar a book the other day and she said that I should bring it to your attention…
    The Quest of the Warrior Sheep by Christopher Russel and Christine Russel. It is a fun junior novel featuring different kinds of rare breed sheep that go on a quest.

  6. Deborah Robson

    Thanks so much, Stormy! I’ve located the book and it’s on its way in this direction. Being me, I’d like the cover art to look a bit more like the sheep being featured, but hey, I can tell what some of them are even in cartoon representations {grin}. I look forward to finding out which breeds the others happen to be.

  7. Deborah Robson

    Barbro, I’m sort of stunned myself. The list has added up over the years. I wonder what would happen if I put in the rest of the books? Not this week. It took a while to gather the ones I’ve included, and I have other work to do right now.

  8. Donna

    LOL, yes the article on Jane’s work. And I was just teasing on holding out. What a great book it would be to compile all the old spinoff articles about lace!

    D

  9. Deb Robson

    Just after I left, they did compile a book of Spin-Off articles on spindles. I thought that was a great idea.

    Jane's work was breathtaking.

  10. Louisa

    You honestly don’t need the COE in Handspinning, Deb. You already have an amazing amount of skill and knowledge and it would be pretty much a waste of your precious time to follow all those prescribed steps. You really don’t need to prove yourself to anyone and it’s a moving target anyhow. I was lucky enough to be a “scribe” awhile back during the judging of a COE with Jane Fournier as one of the judges. My, what an eye-opener! She definitely deserves your praise.

    BTW I think I own most of those books as well as most of the magazines you’ve edited. Yes, my bookshelves are well-stocked! Now I’m looking forward impatiently for your latest and greatest to be released. Congratulations on all your (and your co-author’s) hard work and dedication to getting it out there.

  11. Deborah Robson

    Thanks for all your good words, Louisa. It would have been a delight to be a scribe for a COE judging where Jane Fournier was involved. She’s skilled, wise, gentle, modest, and generous.

    I’m waiting somewhat impatiently to see The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook in printed and bound form. Of course I’ve seen the pages at a number of stages–Carol and I saw more iterations of page proofs than for most books, for which I’m grateful. Yet there’s nothing like seeing (and holding) the finished book. You never know what you’ve really made until then.

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