Rodrick is one of the world's leading authorities on kumihimo. He lives in Britain, so I was lucky that he was teaching a workshop less than an hour and a half away.
I can't remember if I mentioned it in my last post, but I have had a marudai since Christmas. After a year or so of using the disk, I felt ready to graduate to the "real" thing. I tried to teach myself how to use it using a book by Jacqui Carey, but just couldn't get the hang of it. I signed up for a workshop taught by Carol Franklin at the end of January, but it was canceled for lack of enrollment. This April one was the only other one I could find anywhere near me.
I had to get up way early on Saturday to get to Purcellville, Va., by 8:45 a.m. I was very warmly welcomed by workshop organizer Beth and all the other talented women who belong to the guild.
I have to confess I was a real klutz and much slower than the others to grasp how to wind the threads on the warping pegs, how to secure the warp threads to the leader threads on the tama (bobbins), and how to flip and twist the bobbins so that they would spool the thread naturally when set up on the marudai. Terry had the patience of a saint working with me, the non-weaver in the group.
Saturday was devoted to eight-strand braids, with the day broken up with an amazing potluck lunch. On Sunday, we ventured onto 16-strand braids (and another amazing potluck lunch). It was midway through tying on the 16 bobbins that I finally got the hang of it.
Once the setup was out of the way, I think I did all right with the actual braiding. I could follow most of the diagrams that I attempted from the handouts, anyway.
I don't have the greatest pics, but here are a few snapshots of the weekend:
Here's the group as a whole late Saturday, as we were winding down. (No pun intended. Really.)
The other pictures are from Sunday.
In the photo at left, Rodrick is demonstrating something important. (I don't remember what.) Laritza is clearly paying more attention that I am.
Karen, right, is demonstrating that twisty-hand thing you have to do sometimes. It's awkward to start the bobbin transfer, but your hands land right when you're done, which I suppose is better than starting untwisted and finishing twisted. That's Beth next to her, poring over the textbook (Rodrick's Braids book).
When you know what you're doing, kumi is a very serene, Zenlike, rhythmic art. The wooden tama make a gentle clacking sound as you braid, which is soothing in a wind chime-y kind of way. I know I'm going to like doing this.
I think the Blue Ridge guild will post a photo album on the workshop soon--Beth was snapping away both days--on its site soon, so be sure to check it out.