In a recent post, I mentioned that I am taking an online class on teaching. That's because I love doing it, but have been an infrequent teacher for the past several decades. I'm looking toward a number of teaching opportunities next year, and I want them to be the best possible experiences for everyone involved.
I so enjoy the people I meet by teaching workshops on topics I'm passionate about. One of my fantasies involves figuring out how to be part of a gathering that lets me introduce to each other the people who came to Scotland, those who were in California, those who found their way to New Hampshire, those who will be making pilgrimages to future workshops. . . .
It was truly a source of joy for me to hear that a group of the people in my workshops at UK Knit Camp last year immediately formed the Blacker and Beyond group on Ravelry to stay in touch with each other, and they are coordinating activities to increase awareness of (and markets for) rare-breed wools. (Ravelry has free memberships. If you're already a member, here's a direct link to Blacker and Beyond. The group is named for Sue Blacker's Blacker Yarns and Blacker Designs, because she generously donated most of the materials for our workshops.)
And now I've learned that twenty folks from the recent SOAR (Spin-Off Autumn Retreat) events have organized a year-long (or more) spin-along experience to take them more deeply into the breeds that I only had time to tantalize them with in our brief time together a few weeks ago.
I get happy chills when I find out about these things. They make what I'm doing worthwhile.
Here's what I normally look like when teaching:
That was at SOAR a couple of weeks ago. I have a few photos of workshop participants to help myself remember the wonderful vibe in the room, but I don't put pictures of other people out in the wide world without permission, and I'm always so involved with the wool that I forget to ask for permission. Oh, well!
Here's what I looked like for a fancy gig (KDTV taping, with professional television make-up—Note to family: I figured I'd better identify myself so you would know who it was):
Over the past several months, I've been negotiating agreements and arranging for supplies for next year's teaching. It takes a LOT of advance planning and help to stage the wool-centric workshops that people have been wanting and that I enjoy presenting. Because of the amount of work that happens behind the scenes, the number of presentations I can make is limited, and 2012 is already booked up. (We have several more months of logistics to complete for the workshops already on the calendar.)
I want to make an announcement about next year's teaching here, now, because later this week Spinning Daily (an e-newsletter from Interweave Press) will have a post with information on The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook and it will link to my workshop page. I want the people who read my blog to hear about things first! I've delayed putting this information up because I've been so busy . . . teaching (and getting ready to teach). Funny. Anyway.
The events will vary in the lengths of the workshops (3 hours, 6 hours, 12 hours, or more); the topics covered; the number of breeds included; the number of participants; and the teaching/learning environment. Also, of course, in the costs, although I almost never have any control over that piece of the equation of attending. More details on dates and links to the sponsors' websites are on the aforementioned workshop page. If you have questions about a particular event's individual characteristics, feel free to contact me.
Here's my 2012 teaching overview
February 2012: Madrona Fiber Arts, Tacoma, Washington—I'll be doing a banquet talk on the little project that grew (The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook), workshop sessions on both rare-breed wools and breed-specific yarns for knitters and/or spinners (in other words, some sessions will be fiber-based and some will be yarn-based), a couple of half-day classes on publishing alternatives for fiber folk, and a walk-in fiber clinic. The list of instructors was posted yesterday, and registration opens, I hear with a flurry, some time in November—get on the mailing list for an announcement of when. If you are interested in Madrona, stay on top of the calendar and get up to speed on the registration process before you begin. Keep in mind that some spaces may be available after the initial rush, and cancellations may create openings later.
March 2012: Explore 4 Retreat, Friday Harbor, Washington—A leisurely fibers-for-spinning workshop (more expansive schedule than usual, enjoying a focused selection of fibers) in a relaxed environment. Deposits now will save spaces; full registration is required by the end of January so I can get all the supplies arranged.
May 2012: Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, West Friendship, Maryland—A two-day pre-festival workshop (12 hours) on Thursday and Friday, plus two morning walkabouts in the barns on Saturday and Sunday, visiting with sheep (walkabouts will be the same schedule on both days). (Below: An American Tunis sheep in the Parade of Breeds at Maryland in 2011.)
June 2012: Olds College Fiber Week, Olds, Alberta—Although this event's activities haven't been firmed up, workshop organizer Michelle Boyd and I are both operating on the assumption that I'll be there and I'll be teaching something. We've been talking about this for a while, in bits and pieces between our teaching commitments. We thought we might have twenty minutes to visit about details when we were both teaching at SOAR in New Hampshire, but that ended up being a joke. We did get to wave hello as we both went to our classrooms (which were really close to each other). We're continuing the discussion by e-mail.
July 2012: Convergence 2012 (Handweavers Guild of America), Long Beach, California—Two two-day (12-hour) workshops on rare-breed wools. Pick one workshop or the other; HGA has asked me to facilitate the same workshop twice to accommodate the predicted number of registrations.
July 2012: Minnesota Weaving Guild, Minneapolis, Minnesota—An evening guild program plus a three-day (18-hour) workshop on rare-breed wools.
September 2012: The Spinning Loft, Howell, Michigan—Owner Beth Smith and I are still working on what I'll be teaching. I'm expecting that there will be an evening program on Friday night and a two-day workshop on Saturday and Sunday.
Below: Some of Sue Bundy's Karakul sheep at Maryland (Sue is part of Solitude Wool); a Karakul fleece ready to be shorn before summer arrives; and samples of Karakul yarns from The Fleece & FIber Sourcebook.
For all of my teaching events, basic spinning skills are sufficient: the ability to spin singles and make a two-ply yarn. While most people like to bring their spinning wheels to the workshops, some participants find they prefer to sample with handspindles, and that's fine with me.
Okay, I'd better post this. The day's getting away from me.