Thursday, May 01, 2014

A Busman's Holiday

     The Conference of Northern California Handweavers (CNCH) was established in 1953 to further the art and appreciation of the craft of handweaving. As the umbrella organization for the fiber arts guilds in Northern California (from California's Central Coast to the Oregon state line), CNCH is tasked with holding a conference every year for fiber artists. Over the years, this mission has evolved into a biennial "conference" (held in even-numbered years) and an "alternate" retreat (held in odd-numbered years) that rotates among the five different geographic areas. 2014 is the year Area 5 (North Bay to Oregon) guilds hosted the full conference, which was held last weekend.
     I was looking forward to CNCH2014, as I had helped behind the scenes at CNCH2012 and hadn't taken any classes. This time, I was taking a class, and when Exploring Weave Structures on A Single Warp, taught by master weaver Robyn Spady, was announced, I was On It. When registration opened on November 1, I had my class registration completed and my hotel reservations made within the first 10 minutes. About six weeks ago, Robyn sent out instructions on how to warp our looms, and I spent last weekend winding a warp and dressing my workshop loom in preparation for the class. On Thursday afternoon, I--along with my suitcase, my loom, and a tote bin full of supplies--were dropped off at the Oakland Convention Center Marriott. I checked into the hotel a day early, to give myself time on Friday morning to do a bit of shopping before my class started at 1:00 p.m.
     Conference, for me, is a bit of a "busman's holiday." For those unfamiliar with the term, a busman's holiday is when you do something on the weekend that is very similar to what you do for a living. As I'm a fiber artist and weaver, spending the weekend at a conference about fiber and in a class, weaving, can seem pretty boring. For me, however, it's a chance to see people that I rarely see in person, make business contacts with vendors, and (most important) play.
     The Marketplace, though small when compared to a gargantuan expo such as Stitches West, was so laser-focused on weaving and spinning that it took me the entire morning to tour it, and I still didn't see everything. I had an opportunity to talk to the maker of my workshop loom about some modifications and upgrades; a chance to buy another end feed shuttle (because one EFS is never enough); picked up a bunch of nice hemp yarn from an Idaho vendor who I normally only visit online; and got to test-drive AVL's latest loom. I also got to visit with people: people I knew from previous conferences; fellow guild members; and online friends and acquaintances I finally met in real life. The time flew by, as did the entire conference: between classes, a banquet, a fashion show, and a couple meetings, I was on the run until I got home on Sunday evening.
     In spending some time interacting with the wider fiber arts community in real life, I also noticed some interesting developments. The most interesting (and a little scary) is that, for better or worse, I have a little bit of fame/notoriety in the fiber arts community. I was stopped several times by people I didn't know who said,"I'm so-and-so. You answered my questions on Ravelry. Thanks, the information was a big help." It's a little bit disconcerting, but also nice to know that I might have helped someone. This also means that people Know Me, and I have to be on my best behavior: I can't be the cranky, irritable old trout that I sometimes can be (especially if I haven't had any coffee), as it can put people off. I also need to "schedule" a lot more time to interact with people, so I don't have to cut them off because I need to be someplace else.
     All in all, it was a lovely weekend. I came home physically tired, but creatively energized, and ready to tackle my work once again.

(NOTE: I'll relate my experiences in the weaving class in my next post. Stay tuned...)