Thursday, March 06, 2008

Much Ado

Me? Missing? Yep, sorry.

Lots to do this time of year, not the least of which is planning, preparing and scheduling for upcoming workshops. Providing the materials for each class, for each person in each class, has turned out to be the most challenging part of preparation.

I'm dyeing.
dyed silk6

Silk. 15 pounds of it to be exact. That's enough for 2 classes: first in July at the Golden Gate Fiber Institute, and then at SOAR in PA this year.

In order to have enough supplies prepared, I have to think ahead. Often, as soon as contracts are signed, I order supplies. That can be up to two years ahead of scheduled conferences, but, if I have a commitment, I will start gathering materials, supplies and working on the details (start being the keyword here).

Let's back up: first, I figure out how many people will potentially need which fiber/yarn/looms. I have already set a materials fee for the organizers, based on current prices. As has happened before, prices can change or worse, availability is not assured. So I buy the raw materials I need for the classes scheduled, and store them in a bin marked with the intended class. I plop lists in the bin: what each person will need, how many people possible, and what I have requested be provided by the organizers, and general class materials I need to bring for everyone to use (ball winders, scissors, tape measures, tools, that sort of stuff).

If I have to cut up, dye, apportion or otherwise handle the materials, I start that process too. Dyeing 15 pounds of silk tops is not onerous, but dyeing it many different colors in little batches so everyone has choices can become so. Cutting up parts for looms, individually, is not a chore, but doing it for (in this case) 30 people means planning.

Both of the classes mentioned above are silk cut pile classes, so that means I also need to make looms:


Copper prices have fluctuated wildly in recent years, so I check at the time of scheduling, set the materials fee, and go buy the pipe. For 30 people, that's over 300 feet of copper pipe I am storing, which I then start cutting up into little bits. The loom has a few other parts, which I also buy and store.

Then there are tools: shuttles, card weaving cards, yarns, various clips, sticks and flotsam, which I order in groups of a thousand (I'd like a thousand flotsam, please).

Lots can (and does) go awry: things can change, classes get cancelled, *a few extra* people are put into a class beyond the numbers I expect, so I need to be flexible.

I plan for a full class, every time, but sometimes enrollment falls short. Just prior to the class, I try to get an accurate head count from my contact person. This gets tricky. If they tell me the class is full, and I prepare, ship and pay for all the materials, and I get there to a less-than-full class, who pays for all the extra stuff? If they tell me the class has x number of people signed up, and I get there and there are extra people, who splits materials with them?

Some things are beyond anyone's ability to anticipate: that last minute person who cancels, that last minute person who signs up. I always plan for a few extra, it's one of those cost of doing business things.

All this means that I have been variously employed weighing, measuring, cutting, making lists, dyeing and the like. I hope this doesn't sound like one long whine, because it isn't. I enjoy the anticipation, I have fun with choosing colors and dyeing, measuring and packing up the silk, while preparing for the various venues. It is one of my great pleasures to be able to go to so many gatherings of spinners and weavers, spending time with friends, meeting new friends, and just generally playing with fiber.

In fact, I can hardly wait! Golden Gate Fiber is filling up: two classes, Darlene Hayes' Natural Dyeing and Judith's class, are close to full now. The weather on the coast will be fabulous, could be cool and foggy (which I love) and 6 days will be a nice retreat. SOAR will be a week before Rhinebeck, so I'm planning to stay on, peek at some leaves, and attend my first big wool show back East. You gotta love this stuff, it just doesn't get any better!


Blogger Phiala said...

I am very, very excited that SOAR is so close to home this year, and am going to try terribly hard to make it. I'm also going to Complex Weavers (Peter Collingwood!!!!), so it will be a busy fiber-filled year for me.

8:47 AM  
Blogger Phiala said...

Oh, and I have to do the prep work for a two-hole tablet weaving class for Saturday. Nothing is done except the handout! Nothing like what you do, since the class is only six and I don't get paid, but I still need to be professional about it.

8:49 AM  
Blogger kim said...


I'll bring my knotted pile loom along for SOAR as it seems silly to ship it to you when you'll be on the east coast in 7 months. That way you'll have an extra, already assembled.


10:27 AM  
Blogger Ellie said...

Hi Sara, I took and enjoyed one of your classes at MAFA. I remember how well organized you were. Is it not possible for an instructor to establish a limit on the number of people in the class? I would think you should be able to do it, most especially with all the prep you have to do. Ellie May

4:15 PM  
Blogger claudia said...

Dude. Rhinebeck!

BTW, I never knew that Point Bonita camp was there. Wow, great location.

6:49 PM  
Blogger Bonnie said...

You might consider doing a small workshop at your place called,"Getting Ready to Teach a Workshop". It is a skill you have truly perfected:)

5:17 PM  
Blogger Deanna said...

You are indeed a most talented workshop teacher. Does it give you a sense of "all's right with the world" when you survey the prepared materials for an upcoming workshop?

And I think you should have a policy that once the workshop organizer gives you the number of people to prepare for, they cannot add anyone else at the last minute. That actually helps the organizer, and you, too.

7:48 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

I'm excited to be seeing you again at both of these events - Golden Gate Fiber Institute and SOAR.

I took a card weaving retreat class with you a couple of years ago at SOAR and it was a lot of fun.

See you in July


6:22 AM  
Blogger Tamami said...

I've signed up for Golden Gate Intensive, but unfortunately not your class as I'm not a weaver (yet!). But I'm so excited to have a chance to say hi. I've read your blog for a long time and your writing always soothes me. See you in July, and Barbara too!

3:38 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home