Welcome to the MAFA Forum

 Hope MAFA folks will enjoy this new site and contribute as well. If you sell--check the Shop pages for opportunities to list your products.

Dave

Comments

Posted on Fri, 06/19/2009 - 12:15

Hi Dave,
Are you going to MAFA? Would you like to help spread the word about Weavolution? Please pm me if you are, thanks,
Claudia, Weavolution co-founder

Posted on Sat, 06/20/2009 - 03:32

For those of you attending MAFA at the end of the month...check out the "projects" folder here on Weavolution, search word "key fobs," and get a peek on what might be waiting for you in your goodie bag!

Frances Irwin Handweavers will be providing MAFA with the key fob instructions (in pdf format) so you can download the directions from the organization's website once the conference concludes.

Sally

Posted on Sun, 07/19/2009 - 17:25

Lovely key fobs!  I have one that has seen it's last days and hope I am lucky enough to get one in my goody bag!!   I am teaching at MAFA and look forward to meeting people on this forum at the conference!  MAFA is my favorite conference and I am so priviledged to be teaching there!  See you all very soon!!

Su :-)

Posted on Thu, 07/23/2009 - 23:22

I will be at MAFA. This is my first time at a MAFA Conference. I am lucky enough to be in Jason Collingwood's rug workshop! I am from Cincinnati, OH area.  I hope to make some new weaving friends at MAFA.

Ruthie

Posted on Fri, 07/24/2009 - 03:23

For those MAFA members who live in the northern New Jersey region-

Jockey Hollow Weavers has 3 openings left in the October 8-9 "Exploring-Not-So-Plain-Weave" workshop with west coast weaver Bonnie Tarses. 

Participants will learn unique methods of color blending, design directly on the warping board, create subtle patterns in the reed, discover exciting things to do with thrums and scraps, work with non-traditional wefts, practice spontaneous weaving from the heart, experiment with log cabin variations, joining techniques, and chenille tricks. All of this (and more) is accomplished in a warm and playful atmosphere, round robin style. Bonnie shares her secrets, hints and tips through luscious examples from her 49 years of weaving.

 
Jockey Hollow limits their workshops to 15 participants to ensure a good student-to-faculty ratio. If we have more than 3 inquiries, a wait list will be created.
 
The workshop cost is $125 for non-guild members, and there will be a $15 materials fee, payable to the instructor at the start of the workshop. 
 
The guild meets in Mendham, New Jersey, and directions can be found at www.geocities.com/jockeyhollowweavers
 
If interested, please contact the JHW program co-chair at: [email protected] or call (973) 706-7745.

 

Posted on Thu, 08/13/2009 - 17:06

MAFA 2009 Report

Part 1 of 7

A number of people have asked me for a report on MAFA's Workshop Weekend.  Weavolution allows a maximum of 5000 characters, so I'm posting in pieces.

INTRODUCTION

(A quick disclaimer: While I’m one of the volunteers who helps with communications and therefore occasionally post on behalf of MAFA, the MidAtlantic Fiber Association, this article is purely my own opinion, and should not be construed as representing the official views of MAFA or its Board.)

 The MAFA Workshop Weekend was held from Thursday, July 30 through Sunday, August 2, 2009 at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  According to the conference directory, there were 16 instructors from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, teaching 15 three-day classes, 151 students, and 10 on-site vendors.  (An eleventh vendor, The Mannings, was only 20 minutes away from the site, and opted to put flyers with directions and a map in the conference “goodie bags,” and stayed open late and on Sunday for the conference-goers.)

 This was the second MAFA conference held in the Workshop Weekend format, and everyone seemed to be having a blast—even those courageous and selfless volunteers who organized the conference and saw to its running even as they tried to enjoy their well-deserved classes.  Gettysburg College was a new venue, selected after the expected venue (which had housed the conference in 2007) informed MAFA organizers a mere eight months before the conference that—whoops!—it could only guarantee 100 beds, and that MAFA was not going to have access to the classrooms with water (which would put a kibosh on the dye classes).

 

Posted on Thu, 08/13/2009 - 17:21

MAFA 2009 Report

Part 7 of 7

Disclaimer: This article is purely my own opinion, and should not be construed as representing the official views of MAFA or its Board.

SUGGESTIONS
I write this section with some trepidation, knowing full well that to whine is to volunteer, and the conference organizers and MAFA Board know who I am, where I live, and what my phone number and email are.

•    Ask for more detailed loom information (weaving width, stand) on the registration form.  A 24” table loom on a stand is bigger than some floor looms, and has to be planned for accordingly.
•    Correct the non-members surcharge.  Non-MAFA individuals got away cheap this time: the non-member surcharge should be equal to the individual-member dues…which, since MAFA is on a two-years dues schedule, should be $20, not $10.  (This might also encourage people to get their guilds to join or re-join MAFA.)
•    Repeat critical information from the brochure in the registration packet/letter.  (Namely: materials fee if applicable; no elevators in dorm).
     o    For me, the brochure is a constant companion from the time it’s issued until the time I register…and then it’s gone and forgotten.  “It was in the brochure” is an understandable answer, but it’s not a particularly friendly or useful one.
      o    Almost everyone took materials fees in stride and felt silly because they had forgotten, but…it’s a long time from a January registration to a July conference, and it wouldn’t take that much room on the letter to remind people of the materials fee.
       o    Also: sometimes you *think* you stated something explicitly, but may not have (e.g., no elevators in dorm).  It’s a good idea to reiterate, just to cover yourself.
•    Provide the roommate’s email/phone number in the registration packet/letter.  It’d be nice to “meet” before the conference and perhaps coordinate what to bring.
•    Give street numbers or approximations thereof for buildings.  Mailing addresses (i.e., college P.O. box) are not real useful when using a GPS or getting directions off the Internet.
•    Provide maps of the inside of buildings showing where rooms are located.  This may be hard to obtain, given what I saw of the emergency-exit maps in the dorm (which had no room numbers or you-are-here dots), and may have to be created.
       o    This is particularly critical when not all rooms have physical numbers or the floor plan is confusing/not the same on different floors, as for the dorm MAFA had for the Workshop Weekend.
•    Set up a bulletin board (or two) for for-sale notices and other communications among participants.
•    Provide a printout of last-minute notes and reminders if this information is available at the time of registration, e.g.
     o    Which door to the dorm the key unlocks (sometimes a back door looks more like the front door than the front door)
     o    Checkout procedures; where keys should be dropped off
•    Persuade the college to remove all un-needed furniture from the classrooms, rather than stacking it up in a corner.  It may not be as out of the way as one might hope.
•    Offer more intermediate-advanced spinning classes or spinning + weaving combination classes.  I’ve heard that this Weekend’s non-novice spinning class was phenomenal…but it was only one class.  Spinners deserve a chance to suffer from indecision when selecting a Workshop Weekend class, too.  :-)  It’s also possible that there was such a wealth of great weaving classes that they cannibalized one another.  Two weaving classes had to be cancelled for lack of enrollment, after all, and at least one ran with a borderline number of students.

Posted on Thu, 08/13/2009 - 17:27

MAFA 2009 Report

Part 6 of 7

VENUE (continued)

CLASSROOMS
It was scary when I dropped off my loom in my classroom.  The room’s tables and chairs had been stacked in precarious piles along the perimeter of the room, reducing its usable dimensions by a good few feet on all sides, and the room was packed so tightly with Baby Wolves, Harrisville Model As, Schachts and Dorothys on stands, and even an AVL WDL (not to mention more standard table looms) that it was nearly impossible to maneuver.  I identified my friend Lori’s new Louet Jane loom near the front of the room, wended through the maze of looms, feeling rather like the little red car in the game “Traffic Jam,” and shoved Lori’s loom over to make room for mine.  I also left a note to apologize.

I was sure the classroom was not going to work.

Fortunately, Lori’s husband had helped her bring her equipment into the classroom, and knew what a mess it was.  He got there early on Friday, hauled all the excess furniture into the hallway, and helped rearrange the looms so that we could actually fit in the classroom (yes, with all floor looms unfolded!).  And…y’know, if we could fit 17 people in Sharon Alderman's class, about half of whom had floor looms or largish table looms on stands...the classrooms are big enough.

Some of the classrooms were a little oddly configured for the classes.  For example, the crackle-weave class was in a small lecture hall with curved tables set on risers.  I think there was only one floor loom in that class; I don’t think another would have fit, though there was plenty of room for table looms.

The dyeing and warp-painting classes were held in science labs.  There was some concern whether everyone would get to paint their warps because there wasn’t enough counter space for everyone to spread out at once.  (In my opinion, given that it was a full class, they needed both the lab AND a gym or cafeteria with 15 or 16 long banquet tables, something that any venue might be hard-pressed to provide.)  In the end though, all warps were painted and put on looms.

CAFETERIA

The food was varied and acceptable.  Not haute cuisine, but decent—and certainly a LOT better than when I was in college.  I noticed that the cafeteria ran out of some selections, but I’ve also heard complaints about the cafeteria running out of food, period.  I’m not positive, but I think this was a result of the cafeteria basically shutting down about 10 minutes before the meal hour ended, as opposed to the 300 teenage boys attending soccer camp devouring everything before the weavers got a chance.

The cafeteria’s policy is to enforce portion control, which means that one is allowed to get only one small entrée at a time.  However, seconds are allowed (if they haven’t run out, though I personally thought the crispy French fries were much more worthwhile than the entrees, so this wasn’t a problem).  The cafeteria has two soft-serve ice cream machines with several flavors apiece.  I think the espresso chocolate chip and cookie dough were the favorite flavors for the Workshop Weekend participants; I personally favored the vanilla with Snickers pieces.

Despite my injudicious consumption of ice cream and French fries, I lost five pounds over the weekend, so there might be something to this portion-control idea….

Posted on Thu, 08/13/2009 - 17:26

MAFA 2009 Report

Part 5 of 7

THE VENUE (in excruciating detail)

Although there were some minor glitches, Gettysburg College was pretty good overall, and I hope that the MAFA conference can find a home there.  The location is reasonably central for the region (and with a region that extends from the eastern Great Lakes to the Outer Banks, with forays into West Virginia and Ohio, no location will be ever convenient for the majority of the members), with decent highway access.  Airport access is not ideal (75 minutes to Baltimore BWI; Harrisburg is closer, but it’s not as large an airport, so flights are less frequent and more expensive), but it seems likely that as one gets closer to Baltimore and Washington, the venues will become more expensive and/or not as nice.

The campus is quite pretty and basically flat, with wide, well-maintained walkways between buildings.  The buildings were close together, and it was possible to navigate among the classroom buildings with minimal time outside.  Unfortunately, the cafeteria and student union building were just far enough away from the classrooms that quite a few people got drenched by a torrential downpour that occurred right after lunch on Saturday.

Since Gettysburg College does not have a summer session, parking was in low demand, and a few people (I’m not naming names) opted to park in places other than the designated lot.  These daredevils were spared the shock at the end of the weekend of finding that construction in the area had removed the entrance by which many of us had entered the designated lot.

DORMS
Initially, I was NOT happy about the dorms.  It was about 95 degrees and 95 percent humidity when I arrived; with all the doors to the dorm propped open, the air conditioning in the maze-like halls was fighting a losing battle.  And I had failed to make the inference from the conference brochure that “There are elevators in the classroom building” meant there were no elevators in the dorm…and my room was on the third floor!

However, after some chance for reflection (plus a party in my friends’ suite), I’ve decided I really like the way the dorms are set up (other than the lack of elevators).  There is some variation, but the rooms are basically arranged in suites, each with two bedrooms (double occupancy), a bath, and a large common area with a kitchen (stovetop, full-sized refrigerator).  Definitely great for socializing; I could see groups sponsoring small spin-ins, knit-ins, Weavolution/ Ravelry/ WeaveTech/ Spindlers/etc. get-togethers, and/or progressive parties based in the suites.

In the past, there has been discussion about how we’re not getting any younger, so maybe dorms don’t work anymore.  I disagree, despite the horror stories I’ve heard about Towsend University and other past venues.  My very first MAFA conference was in 2005, which was held at a conference center.  It wasn’t as expensive as Convergence, but it still wasn’t cheap!  It also was not as well-attended as expected, probably because of the price.

Honestly, I can easily tolerate staying in a dorm and having a roommate I’ve not met before if it means I save a hundred-plus dollars (which I can then spend at the vendors!).  (Plus my roommates have been really wonderful women, and I’m glad to have had the chance to meet them.)

Posted on Thu, 08/13/2009 - 17:28

MAFA 2009 Report

Part 4 of 7

OPEN STUDIO

Friday evening was the open-studio evening, during which we students visited the other classrooms to see what everyone else was doing.  While I was very happy with my class and wouldn’t have traded it for another, I have to admit I felt a twinge of envy when I saw what the other classes were working on!  In particular, the iridescent tencel scarves in Virginia West’s class were absolutely gorgeous (and infinitely more wearable than my doubleweave sampler and color-and-weave gamps).

There will eventually be pictures from the open-studio night and other parts of the Workshop Weekend at MAFA’s website, www.mafafiber.org.  (Okay, so I still haven’t uploaded the photos I took to my computer, much less edited them!  …and neither have the other designated photographers that I know about.)(If you have good photos to share from the Weekend, please email me: [email protected].)

FASHION SHOW

On Saturday night, Alisa Brown (Weavers of the Mid-Hudson) once again hosted the MAFA fashion show.  This is not a glitzy, professional show with anorexic models and loud music.  Instead, it is a warm, friendly, show-and-tell.  Members of the audience take their turn in the spotlight (and at the short, low catwalk) to display their work.  There were elegant jackets, snappy vests, and exquisite shawls, representing a variety of techniques, including handweaving, knitting, and felting.  Having recently acquired an ayatakadai, I was particularly taken with David Moran’s meditation hangings, which he had braided on his takadai.

The natural-dye class modeled their skeins; the dyeing instructors also showed their own creations.  Carol Wood brought a manikin on stage to show the breath-taking lace wedding gown she had knit for a friend.  Debbie MacCrea modeled a painstakingly accurate re-enactment costume, created with cloth that was not only dyed using period dyes, but also dyes that were appropriate to her non-wealthy persona.

Posted on Thu, 08/13/2009 - 17:30

MAFA 2009 Report

Part 3 of 7

MY CLASS

Although I registered comparatively late (for a MAFA member--mid-January), I was lucky and managed to get into Sharon Alderman’s class just before it filled up.

Sharon is a fantastic teacher, extremely knowledgeable, systematic, and thorough.  The amount of material she covered was enormous, but she was careful to make sure it was clear to the class before she moved on to the next topic.  She also made sure she circulated around the classroom during the hands-on portions of the class, checking, reassuring, demonstrating.  This is particularly admirable not only because it’s good teaching technique but also because it was quite a challenge.  The classroom was filled to capacity, and it was difficult to navigate around all the looms and accoutrements.  In addition, Sharon is scheduled for foot surgery in the very near future, and it is painful for her to walk or stand.  Clearly, when she makes a commitment to teach, she doesn’t let anything get in her way!

When I was trying to decide on which class to take, and had posted online for advice, someone had warned me that Sharon might not be the best instructor for beginners.  I’d argue that she’d be a fine instructor for beginners… but some of the topics that she covered in my class would be an absolute misery for a beginner, or to anyone who wasn’t comfortable with drafts and drawdowns.

My favorite part of the class was the portion on loom-controlled doubleweave.  I had never done doubleweave before, and it is quite delightful to play with two layers of cloth at the same time and see how tubes and doublewidth cloth develop.  Sharon’s cross-section diagrams and shaft-lifting notation took the mystery out of what was happening without taking away any of the magic.  As is often the case in workshops focusing on structure, having a table loom with front levers is a great help—it forces you to really think about what the shafts are doing.  For example: “I have to get the top layer out of the way, so I lift the odd-numbered shafts: 1, 3, 5, 7.  Add the first shed for the bottom layer: 2, 6.” In contrast, thinking “Next pick: treadle 3” may give the same result in the cloth, but doesn’t do much for your understanding of what’s going on.

The most valuable part of my class involved learning how to take a design idea and translate it into a color-and-weave structure.  Like many things that are worthwhile and challenging, it wasn’t particularly fun.  There were moments that I felt like banging my head against the breast beam, because I just wasn’t getting it.  I wasn’t alone in this, because the consensus in my class was to ask Sharon to do a second walkthrough of the process.  But…if something is easy and fun, the chances are good that you’ll learn it on your own.  For something as mind-boggling as inventing your own weave structures (see p. 227 ff in Sharon’s book, _Mastering Weave Structures_), you really need the discipline of a class, and a very good instructor.  Of course, a very determined, self-motivated person can learn anything she sets out to learn.  Personally, I’m not that disciplined, so taking classes is necessary for me to stretch my horizons in directions that are of benefit to me, but where I would not venture on my own.

Sharon does something in this class that I initially thought was both sneaky and cruel: In this class, the way you use the same warp for both doubleweave and color-and-weave is to cut it off after the doubleweave and rethread (argh!), tossing unneeded threads out of the way back over the back beam.  She glosses this over in the class description, and deliberately neglects to mention threading and sleying hooks in the materials list (though she does mention lease sticks, which in retrospect probably should have tipped us off).

I still think Sharon is sneaky.  However…I just finished a plainweave color-and-weave gamp on my workshop loom, and am working on a straight-twill gamp.  I’ve wanted those gamps for years, but never worked up the energy to sit down and weave them.  Other members of my class are using their rethreaded warps to play with structures of their own design.  Sometimes, the best thing a teacher can do for reluctant students is to give them a good hard shove in the right direction.  Sharon is obviously a master of this technique.
 

Posted on Thu, 08/13/2009 - 17:32

MAFA 2009 Report

Part 2 of 7

CLASSES

At the MAFA Workshop Weekend each student takes a single three-day class.  This is different from conferences such as Convergence—and, for that matter, the MAFA conference before 2007—at which multi-day classes may be offered on the weekdays prior to the weekend conference, and participants can select from among many 1.5 – 3 hour seminars during the main weekend days of the conference.

The switch in format came about for many reasons, not the least of which is that most of those who wanted to see the conference continue and were willing to work to make it happen would rather immerse themselves in one intensive, hands-on class than attend 4-5 short lectures.  In addition, with some notable exceptions, the guilds in MAFA’s region are small; even with several banding together, it’s extremely difficult to agree upon, coordinate, and finance a multi-day workshop.

The education coordinators came up with a fabulous menu of classes this year.  When I showed the preliminary list to friends, the response was inevitably “Wow!”  Personally, I couldn’t decide (even though I had insider information and knew what the proposed classes were six months before they were officially announced); I sent my registration form in with a list of my top-seven choices and a note to put me in whichever class made things easiest for the registrar.

Here’s a list of the classes that were held, with the name and state/country of the instructor:
1)    “More for Your Money: Loom-controlled Double Weave and Color-and-Weave Effects,” Sharon Alderman (UT)
2)    “Color Interaction for Handweavers,” Su Butler (IL)
3)    “3-End Block Weave,” Jason Collingwood (U.K.)
4)    “Brocades and Other Inlay Techniques,” Inge Dam (Canada)
5)    “Straight Eight, A Versatile Threading,” Tom Knisely (PA)
6)    “Painting with Fabric Strips,” Nadine Sanders (WA)
7)    “Surprisingly Simple Summer and Winter,” Sarah Saulson (NY)
8)    “Spinning for Knitting,” Amy Tyler (MI)
9)    “Painted Warps and Woven Patterns: A Love Affair between Color and Structure,” Betty Vera (NY)
10)    “Advancing Twill — Sampler to Scarf,” Virginia West (MD)
11)    “Classic Crackle and More,” Susan Wilson (CO)
12)    “Shimmering Silk, An Inspiring Fibre,” Heather Winslow (IL)
13)    “A Spectrum of Color from Natural Dyes,” Carol Wood & Debbie McCrea (NY)

As always, there were also novice classes in spinning and weaving; it’s part of MAFA’s mission to offer these classes at every conference, and they will run, even if only one student signs up.
14)    “Learn to Weave, Then Take the Next Step,” Barbara Diefenderfer (MD)
15)    “Novice Spinning,” Sally Jenkins (MD)

An instructor’s sudden illness forced the last-minute cancellation of one class.  Just to prove that there is no favoritism at MAFA…MAFA’s own Vice-President was left with almost no choices, and ended up in the novice weaving class.  (The VP is a teacher by profession, so she was absolutely fine with having the chance to observe a master teacher and talk with her about the development of a weaving curriculum.  But still….!)

By the way, if there are classes you’d like to see for the 2011 Workshop Weekend, or if you’d otherwise like to volunteer to help with the planning , please email [email protected].  If suggesting a class, please give the instructor’s name and some sort of information that will help MAFA locate him or her (website URLs are ideal; even a state/country will help.  It’s amazing how hard it can be to sift through the hits on Google).
 

Posted on Wed, 08/19/2009 - 00:10

 Although it has been a few weeks since MAFA, I have to say thanks to all the indiviiduals who put forth a huge amount of effort to make a Great Experience. I was a vendor at the event and I have to say that Cathy Olson really was great with that aspect of the event. I did not realize that the organizers of the event had last minute changes and that even adds to my appreciation of the event. The fashion show was marvelous and both Tom K. and I have comitted to creating something for the next event. I hope that MAFA can use Gettsburg College as the host location next time. Really was a great time and I enjoyed meeting everyone. Could we have a special name tag for MAFA Weavolution members next time? 

Posted on Sun, 08/30/2009 - 19:50

I enjoyed your summary of the recent MAFA conference, and wanted to add my 2 cents' worth.
This was my first MAFA event, but I was attracted to it because of the VERY reasonable price, and the outstanding instructor list.  Very impressive.  I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the conference. 
My one area of improvement would be to hold the fashion show on Friday evening instead of Saturday.  First of all, we get to meet the folks who have worked so hard organizing the event, and feel the "group" connection that makes it all warm and fuzzy.  Secondly, and even more important, the classes have another day to work on their projects, so the viewing of the other classes is much more informative if it is done Saturday evening.
Also, another factor concerning the lack of elevators in the dorms:  I do believe this should be clearly stated, (or a question of handicap needs clearly stated)  to avoid last minute necessary changes.  (I was on the first floor, but would have been concerned on a higher level without an elevator, as my mobility is variable.)
Thanks to MAFA for the fine work they do in organizing a very valuable and fun experience.
Trina
Posted on Fri, 06/19/2009 - 12:15

Hi Dave,
Are you going to MAFA? Would you like to help spread the word about Weavolution? Please pm me if you are, thanks,
Claudia, Weavolution co-founder

Posted on Sat, 06/20/2009 - 03:32

For those of you attending MAFA at the end of the month...check out the "projects" folder here on Weavolution, search word "key fobs," and get a peek on what might be waiting for you in your goodie bag!

Frances Irwin Handweavers will be providing MAFA with the key fob instructions (in pdf format) so you can download the directions from the organization's website once the conference concludes.

Sally

Posted on Sun, 07/19/2009 - 17:25

Lovely key fobs!  I have one that has seen it's last days and hope I am lucky enough to get one in my goody bag!!   I am teaching at MAFA and look forward to meeting people on this forum at the conference!  MAFA is my favorite conference and I am so priviledged to be teaching there!  See you all very soon!!

Su :-)

Posted on Thu, 07/23/2009 - 23:22

I will be at MAFA. This is my first time at a MAFA Conference. I am lucky enough to be in Jason Collingwood's rug workshop! I am from Cincinnati, OH area.  I hope to make some new weaving friends at MAFA.

Ruthie

Posted on Fri, 07/24/2009 - 03:23

For those MAFA members who live in the northern New Jersey region-

Jockey Hollow Weavers has 3 openings left in the October 8-9 "Exploring-Not-So-Plain-Weave" workshop with west coast weaver Bonnie Tarses. 

Participants will learn unique methods of color blending, design directly on the warping board, create subtle patterns in the reed, discover exciting things to do with thrums and scraps, work with non-traditional wefts, practice spontaneous weaving from the heart, experiment with log cabin variations, joining techniques, and chenille tricks. All of this (and more) is accomplished in a warm and playful atmosphere, round robin style. Bonnie shares her secrets, hints and tips through luscious examples from her 49 years of weaving.

 
Jockey Hollow limits their workshops to 15 participants to ensure a good student-to-faculty ratio. If we have more than 3 inquiries, a wait list will be created.
 
The workshop cost is $125 for non-guild members, and there will be a $15 materials fee, payable to the instructor at the start of the workshop. 
 
The guild meets in Mendham, New Jersey, and directions can be found at www.geocities.com/jockeyhollowweavers
 
If interested, please contact the JHW program co-chair at: [email protected] or call (973) 706-7745.

 

Posted on Thu, 08/13/2009 - 17:06

MAFA 2009 Report

Part 1 of 7

A number of people have asked me for a report on MAFA's Workshop Weekend.  Weavolution allows a maximum of 5000 characters, so I'm posting in pieces.

INTRODUCTION

(A quick disclaimer: While I’m one of the volunteers who helps with communications and therefore occasionally post on behalf of MAFA, the MidAtlantic Fiber Association, this article is purely my own opinion, and should not be construed as representing the official views of MAFA or its Board.)

 The MAFA Workshop Weekend was held from Thursday, July 30 through Sunday, August 2, 2009 at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  According to the conference directory, there were 16 instructors from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, teaching 15 three-day classes, 151 students, and 10 on-site vendors.  (An eleventh vendor, The Mannings, was only 20 minutes away from the site, and opted to put flyers with directions and a map in the conference “goodie bags,” and stayed open late and on Sunday for the conference-goers.)

 This was the second MAFA conference held in the Workshop Weekend format, and everyone seemed to be having a blast—even those courageous and selfless volunteers who organized the conference and saw to its running even as they tried to enjoy their well-deserved classes.  Gettysburg College was a new venue, selected after the expected venue (which had housed the conference in 2007) informed MAFA organizers a mere eight months before the conference that—whoops!—it could only guarantee 100 beds, and that MAFA was not going to have access to the classrooms with water (which would put a kibosh on the dye classes).

 

Posted on Thu, 08/13/2009 - 17:21

MAFA 2009 Report

Part 7 of 7

Disclaimer: This article is purely my own opinion, and should not be construed as representing the official views of MAFA or its Board.

SUGGESTIONS
I write this section with some trepidation, knowing full well that to whine is to volunteer, and the conference organizers and MAFA Board know who I am, where I live, and what my phone number and email are.

•    Ask for more detailed loom information (weaving width, stand) on the registration form.  A 24” table loom on a stand is bigger than some floor looms, and has to be planned for accordingly.
•    Correct the non-members surcharge.  Non-MAFA individuals got away cheap this time: the non-member surcharge should be equal to the individual-member dues…which, since MAFA is on a two-years dues schedule, should be $20, not $10.  (This might also encourage people to get their guilds to join or re-join MAFA.)
•    Repeat critical information from the brochure in the registration packet/letter.  (Namely: materials fee if applicable; no elevators in dorm).
     o    For me, the brochure is a constant companion from the time it’s issued until the time I register…and then it’s gone and forgotten.  “It was in the brochure” is an understandable answer, but it’s not a particularly friendly or useful one.
      o    Almost everyone took materials fees in stride and felt silly because they had forgotten, but…it’s a long time from a January registration to a July conference, and it wouldn’t take that much room on the letter to remind people of the materials fee.
       o    Also: sometimes you *think* you stated something explicitly, but may not have (e.g., no elevators in dorm).  It’s a good idea to reiterate, just to cover yourself.
•    Provide the roommate’s email/phone number in the registration packet/letter.  It’d be nice to “meet” before the conference and perhaps coordinate what to bring.
•    Give street numbers or approximations thereof for buildings.  Mailing addresses (i.e., college P.O. box) are not real useful when using a GPS or getting directions off the Internet.
•    Provide maps of the inside of buildings showing where rooms are located.  This may be hard to obtain, given what I saw of the emergency-exit maps in the dorm (which had no room numbers or you-are-here dots), and may have to be created.
       o    This is particularly critical when not all rooms have physical numbers or the floor plan is confusing/not the same on different floors, as for the dorm MAFA had for the Workshop Weekend.
•    Set up a bulletin board (or two) for for-sale notices and other communications among participants.
•    Provide a printout of last-minute notes and reminders if this information is available at the time of registration, e.g.
     o    Which door to the dorm the key unlocks (sometimes a back door looks more like the front door than the front door)
     o    Checkout procedures; where keys should be dropped off
•    Persuade the college to remove all un-needed furniture from the classrooms, rather than stacking it up in a corner.  It may not be as out of the way as one might hope.
•    Offer more intermediate-advanced spinning classes or spinning + weaving combination classes.  I’ve heard that this Weekend’s non-novice spinning class was phenomenal…but it was only one class.  Spinners deserve a chance to suffer from indecision when selecting a Workshop Weekend class, too.  :-)  It’s also possible that there was such a wealth of great weaving classes that they cannibalized one another.  Two weaving classes had to be cancelled for lack of enrollment, after all, and at least one ran with a borderline number of students.

Posted on Thu, 08/13/2009 - 17:27

MAFA 2009 Report

Part 6 of 7

VENUE (continued)

CLASSROOMS
It was scary when I dropped off my loom in my classroom.  The room’s tables and chairs had been stacked in precarious piles along the perimeter of the room, reducing its usable dimensions by a good few feet on all sides, and the room was packed so tightly with Baby Wolves, Harrisville Model As, Schachts and Dorothys on stands, and even an AVL WDL (not to mention more standard table looms) that it was nearly impossible to maneuver.  I identified my friend Lori’s new Louet Jane loom near the front of the room, wended through the maze of looms, feeling rather like the little red car in the game “Traffic Jam,” and shoved Lori’s loom over to make room for mine.  I also left a note to apologize.

I was sure the classroom was not going to work.

Fortunately, Lori’s husband had helped her bring her equipment into the classroom, and knew what a mess it was.  He got there early on Friday, hauled all the excess furniture into the hallway, and helped rearrange the looms so that we could actually fit in the classroom (yes, with all floor looms unfolded!).  And…y’know, if we could fit 17 people in Sharon Alderman's class, about half of whom had floor looms or largish table looms on stands...the classrooms are big enough.

Some of the classrooms were a little oddly configured for the classes.  For example, the crackle-weave class was in a small lecture hall with curved tables set on risers.  I think there was only one floor loom in that class; I don’t think another would have fit, though there was plenty of room for table looms.

The dyeing and warp-painting classes were held in science labs.  There was some concern whether everyone would get to paint their warps because there wasn’t enough counter space for everyone to spread out at once.  (In my opinion, given that it was a full class, they needed both the lab AND a gym or cafeteria with 15 or 16 long banquet tables, something that any venue might be hard-pressed to provide.)  In the end though, all warps were painted and put on looms.

CAFETERIA

The food was varied and acceptable.  Not haute cuisine, but decent—and certainly a LOT better than when I was in college.  I noticed that the cafeteria ran out of some selections, but I’ve also heard complaints about the cafeteria running out of food, period.  I’m not positive, but I think this was a result of the cafeteria basically shutting down about 10 minutes before the meal hour ended, as opposed to the 300 teenage boys attending soccer camp devouring everything before the weavers got a chance.

The cafeteria’s policy is to enforce portion control, which means that one is allowed to get only one small entrée at a time.  However, seconds are allowed (if they haven’t run out, though I personally thought the crispy French fries were much more worthwhile than the entrees, so this wasn’t a problem).  The cafeteria has two soft-serve ice cream machines with several flavors apiece.  I think the espresso chocolate chip and cookie dough were the favorite flavors for the Workshop Weekend participants; I personally favored the vanilla with Snickers pieces.

Despite my injudicious consumption of ice cream and French fries, I lost five pounds over the weekend, so there might be something to this portion-control idea….

Posted on Thu, 08/13/2009 - 17:26

MAFA 2009 Report

Part 5 of 7

THE VENUE (in excruciating detail)

Although there were some minor glitches, Gettysburg College was pretty good overall, and I hope that the MAFA conference can find a home there.  The location is reasonably central for the region (and with a region that extends from the eastern Great Lakes to the Outer Banks, with forays into West Virginia and Ohio, no location will be ever convenient for the majority of the members), with decent highway access.  Airport access is not ideal (75 minutes to Baltimore BWI; Harrisburg is closer, but it’s not as large an airport, so flights are less frequent and more expensive), but it seems likely that as one gets closer to Baltimore and Washington, the venues will become more expensive and/or not as nice.

The campus is quite pretty and basically flat, with wide, well-maintained walkways between buildings.  The buildings were close together, and it was possible to navigate among the classroom buildings with minimal time outside.  Unfortunately, the cafeteria and student union building were just far enough away from the classrooms that quite a few people got drenched by a torrential downpour that occurred right after lunch on Saturday.

Since Gettysburg College does not have a summer session, parking was in low demand, and a few people (I’m not naming names) opted to park in places other than the designated lot.  These daredevils were spared the shock at the end of the weekend of finding that construction in the area had removed the entrance by which many of us had entered the designated lot.

DORMS
Initially, I was NOT happy about the dorms.  It was about 95 degrees and 95 percent humidity when I arrived; with all the doors to the dorm propped open, the air conditioning in the maze-like halls was fighting a losing battle.  And I had failed to make the inference from the conference brochure that “There are elevators in the classroom building” meant there were no elevators in the dorm…and my room was on the third floor!

However, after some chance for reflection (plus a party in my friends’ suite), I’ve decided I really like the way the dorms are set up (other than the lack of elevators).  There is some variation, but the rooms are basically arranged in suites, each with two bedrooms (double occupancy), a bath, and a large common area with a kitchen (stovetop, full-sized refrigerator).  Definitely great for socializing; I could see groups sponsoring small spin-ins, knit-ins, Weavolution/ Ravelry/ WeaveTech/ Spindlers/etc. get-togethers, and/or progressive parties based in the suites.

In the past, there has been discussion about how we’re not getting any younger, so maybe dorms don’t work anymore.  I disagree, despite the horror stories I’ve heard about Towsend University and other past venues.  My very first MAFA conference was in 2005, which was held at a conference center.  It wasn’t as expensive as Convergence, but it still wasn’t cheap!  It also was not as well-attended as expected, probably because of the price.

Honestly, I can easily tolerate staying in a dorm and having a roommate I’ve not met before if it means I save a hundred-plus dollars (which I can then spend at the vendors!).  (Plus my roommates have been really wonderful women, and I’m glad to have had the chance to meet them.)

Posted on Thu, 08/13/2009 - 17:28

MAFA 2009 Report

Part 4 of 7

OPEN STUDIO

Friday evening was the open-studio evening, during which we students visited the other classrooms to see what everyone else was doing.  While I was very happy with my class and wouldn’t have traded it for another, I have to admit I felt a twinge of envy when I saw what the other classes were working on!  In particular, the iridescent tencel scarves in Virginia West’s class were absolutely gorgeous (and infinitely more wearable than my doubleweave sampler and color-and-weave gamps).

There will eventually be pictures from the open-studio night and other parts of the Workshop Weekend at MAFA’s website, www.mafafiber.org.  (Okay, so I still haven’t uploaded the photos I took to my computer, much less edited them!  …and neither have the other designated photographers that I know about.)(If you have good photos to share from the Weekend, please email me: [email protected].)

FASHION SHOW

On Saturday night, Alisa Brown (Weavers of the Mid-Hudson) once again hosted the MAFA fashion show.  This is not a glitzy, professional show with anorexic models and loud music.  Instead, it is a warm, friendly, show-and-tell.  Members of the audience take their turn in the spotlight (and at the short, low catwalk) to display their work.  There were elegant jackets, snappy vests, and exquisite shawls, representing a variety of techniques, including handweaving, knitting, and felting.  Having recently acquired an ayatakadai, I was particularly taken with David Moran’s meditation hangings, which he had braided on his takadai.

The natural-dye class modeled their skeins; the dyeing instructors also showed their own creations.  Carol Wood brought a manikin on stage to show the breath-taking lace wedding gown she had knit for a friend.  Debbie MacCrea modeled a painstakingly accurate re-enactment costume, created with cloth that was not only dyed using period dyes, but also dyes that were appropriate to her non-wealthy persona.

Posted on Thu, 08/13/2009 - 17:30

MAFA 2009 Report

Part 3 of 7

MY CLASS

Although I registered comparatively late (for a MAFA member--mid-January), I was lucky and managed to get into Sharon Alderman’s class just before it filled up.

Sharon is a fantastic teacher, extremely knowledgeable, systematic, and thorough.  The amount of material she covered was enormous, but she was careful to make sure it was clear to the class before she moved on to the next topic.  She also made sure she circulated around the classroom during the hands-on portions of the class, checking, reassuring, demonstrating.  This is particularly admirable not only because it’s good teaching technique but also because it was quite a challenge.  The classroom was filled to capacity, and it was difficult to navigate around all the looms and accoutrements.  In addition, Sharon is scheduled for foot surgery in the very near future, and it is painful for her to walk or stand.  Clearly, when she makes a commitment to teach, she doesn’t let anything get in her way!

When I was trying to decide on which class to take, and had posted online for advice, someone had warned me that Sharon might not be the best instructor for beginners.  I’d argue that she’d be a fine instructor for beginners… but some of the topics that she covered in my class would be an absolute misery for a beginner, or to anyone who wasn’t comfortable with drafts and drawdowns.

My favorite part of the class was the portion on loom-controlled doubleweave.  I had never done doubleweave before, and it is quite delightful to play with two layers of cloth at the same time and see how tubes and doublewidth cloth develop.  Sharon’s cross-section diagrams and shaft-lifting notation took the mystery out of what was happening without taking away any of the magic.  As is often the case in workshops focusing on structure, having a table loom with front levers is a great help—it forces you to really think about what the shafts are doing.  For example: “I have to get the top layer out of the way, so I lift the odd-numbered shafts: 1, 3, 5, 7.  Add the first shed for the bottom layer: 2, 6.” In contrast, thinking “Next pick: treadle 3” may give the same result in the cloth, but doesn’t do much for your understanding of what’s going on.

The most valuable part of my class involved learning how to take a design idea and translate it into a color-and-weave structure.  Like many things that are worthwhile and challenging, it wasn’t particularly fun.  There were moments that I felt like banging my head against the breast beam, because I just wasn’t getting it.  I wasn’t alone in this, because the consensus in my class was to ask Sharon to do a second walkthrough of the process.  But…if something is easy and fun, the chances are good that you’ll learn it on your own.  For something as mind-boggling as inventing your own weave structures (see p. 227 ff in Sharon’s book, _Mastering Weave Structures_), you really need the discipline of a class, and a very good instructor.  Of course, a very determined, self-motivated person can learn anything she sets out to learn.  Personally, I’m not that disciplined, so taking classes is necessary for me to stretch my horizons in directions that are of benefit to me, but where I would not venture on my own.

Sharon does something in this class that I initially thought was both sneaky and cruel: In this class, the way you use the same warp for both doubleweave and color-and-weave is to cut it off after the doubleweave and rethread (argh!), tossing unneeded threads out of the way back over the back beam.  She glosses this over in the class description, and deliberately neglects to mention threading and sleying hooks in the materials list (though she does mention lease sticks, which in retrospect probably should have tipped us off).

I still think Sharon is sneaky.  However…I just finished a plainweave color-and-weave gamp on my workshop loom, and am working on a straight-twill gamp.  I’ve wanted those gamps for years, but never worked up the energy to sit down and weave them.  Other members of my class are using their rethreaded warps to play with structures of their own design.  Sometimes, the best thing a teacher can do for reluctant students is to give them a good hard shove in the right direction.  Sharon is obviously a master of this technique.
 

Posted on Thu, 08/13/2009 - 17:32

MAFA 2009 Report

Part 2 of 7

CLASSES

At the MAFA Workshop Weekend each student takes a single three-day class.  This is different from conferences such as Convergence—and, for that matter, the MAFA conference before 2007—at which multi-day classes may be offered on the weekdays prior to the weekend conference, and participants can select from among many 1.5 – 3 hour seminars during the main weekend days of the conference.

The switch in format came about for many reasons, not the least of which is that most of those who wanted to see the conference continue and were willing to work to make it happen would rather immerse themselves in one intensive, hands-on class than attend 4-5 short lectures.  In addition, with some notable exceptions, the guilds in MAFA’s region are small; even with several banding together, it’s extremely difficult to agree upon, coordinate, and finance a multi-day workshop.

The education coordinators came up with a fabulous menu of classes this year.  When I showed the preliminary list to friends, the response was inevitably “Wow!”  Personally, I couldn’t decide (even though I had insider information and knew what the proposed classes were six months before they were officially announced); I sent my registration form in with a list of my top-seven choices and a note to put me in whichever class made things easiest for the registrar.

Here’s a list of the classes that were held, with the name and state/country of the instructor:
1)    “More for Your Money: Loom-controlled Double Weave and Color-and-Weave Effects,” Sharon Alderman (UT)
2)    “Color Interaction for Handweavers,” Su Butler (IL)
3)    “3-End Block Weave,” Jason Collingwood (U.K.)
4)    “Brocades and Other Inlay Techniques,” Inge Dam (Canada)
5)    “Straight Eight, A Versatile Threading,” Tom Knisely (PA)
6)    “Painting with Fabric Strips,” Nadine Sanders (WA)
7)    “Surprisingly Simple Summer and Winter,” Sarah Saulson (NY)
8)    “Spinning for Knitting,” Amy Tyler (MI)
9)    “Painted Warps and Woven Patterns: A Love Affair between Color and Structure,” Betty Vera (NY)
10)    “Advancing Twill — Sampler to Scarf,” Virginia West (MD)
11)    “Classic Crackle and More,” Susan Wilson (CO)
12)    “Shimmering Silk, An Inspiring Fibre,” Heather Winslow (IL)
13)    “A Spectrum of Color from Natural Dyes,” Carol Wood & Debbie McCrea (NY)

As always, there were also novice classes in spinning and weaving; it’s part of MAFA’s mission to offer these classes at every conference, and they will run, even if only one student signs up.
14)    “Learn to Weave, Then Take the Next Step,” Barbara Diefenderfer (MD)
15)    “Novice Spinning,” Sally Jenkins (MD)

An instructor’s sudden illness forced the last-minute cancellation of one class.  Just to prove that there is no favoritism at MAFA…MAFA’s own Vice-President was left with almost no choices, and ended up in the novice weaving class.  (The VP is a teacher by profession, so she was absolutely fine with having the chance to observe a master teacher and talk with her about the development of a weaving curriculum.  But still….!)

By the way, if there are classes you’d like to see for the 2011 Workshop Weekend, or if you’d otherwise like to volunteer to help with the planning , please email [email protected].  If suggesting a class, please give the instructor’s name and some sort of information that will help MAFA locate him or her (website URLs are ideal; even a state/country will help.  It’s amazing how hard it can be to sift through the hits on Google).
 

Posted on Wed, 08/19/2009 - 00:10

 Although it has been a few weeks since MAFA, I have to say thanks to all the indiviiduals who put forth a huge amount of effort to make a Great Experience. I was a vendor at the event and I have to say that Cathy Olson really was great with that aspect of the event. I did not realize that the organizers of the event had last minute changes and that even adds to my appreciation of the event. The fashion show was marvelous and both Tom K. and I have comitted to creating something for the next event. I hope that MAFA can use Gettsburg College as the host location next time. Really was a great time and I enjoyed meeting everyone. Could we have a special name tag for MAFA Weavolution members next time? 

Posted on Sun, 08/30/2009 - 19:50

I enjoyed your summary of the recent MAFA conference, and wanted to add my 2 cents' worth.
This was my first MAFA event, but I was attracted to it because of the VERY reasonable price, and the outstanding instructor list.  Very impressive.  I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the conference. 
My one area of improvement would be to hold the fashion show on Friday evening instead of Saturday.  First of all, we get to meet the folks who have worked so hard organizing the event, and feel the "group" connection that makes it all warm and fuzzy.  Secondly, and even more important, the classes have another day to work on their projects, so the viewing of the other classes is much more informative if it is done Saturday evening.
Also, another factor concerning the lack of elevators in the dorms:  I do believe this should be clearly stated, (or a question of handicap needs clearly stated)  to avoid last minute necessary changes.  (I was on the first floor, but would have been concerned on a higher level without an elevator, as my mobility is variable.)
Thanks to MAFA for the fine work they do in organizing a very valuable and fun experience.
Trina
Posted on Thu, 01/26/2012 - 02:57

MAFA 2013 Conference -- Call for Proposals

MAFA is looking for some talented fiber teachers for 2013!
 
The 2013 MAFA Workshop Weekend will take place at the University of Scranton on June 20-23, 2013. We are looking for instructors interested in teaching weaving, spinning, felting and other fiber arts workshops for our 2013 conference.

The format for the workshops will be a single, 16-hour (3-day) “hands-on” workshop beginning on Friday morning and ending at lunch on Sunday.  Multiple proposals are encouraged.

If you would like to be considered, please send us (via email or US mail) your proposals for workshops.  Deadline for proposals is February 28, 2012.  Selections of teachers will be made in March 2012.

Each proposal must include the following information:
 

  • Title of Workshop
  • Description of Workshop content
  • Required level of student experience
  • Maximum class Size
  • Equipment needed by students
  • Equipment and facility needs for instructor
  • Student materials fee
  • Your equipment and facility needs
  • Your fee for teaching
  • Brief resume of instructor and teaching experience

Please send or email information to Judy Donovan, MAFA Education Chair, at the email OR US mail address below.

Judy Donovan
MAFA Education Chair
c/o 117 Fairmount Avenue
Philadelphia PA 19123

Email:  [email protected]

Posted on Sun, 04/14/2013 - 04:25

Dear Fellow Weavers,

I just mailed my registration for MAFA 2013- i had a difficult  time choosing a workshop- there were so many excellant offerings.  I ended up registering for "Spinning With Commercial Yarns"  i originally took up spinning thinking that i would spin novelty yarns to add texture to my warps/wefts, but i found that i really enjoy the act of spinning, and it is a little addictive.  I drop spindle walking to work, and on the subway. 

Posted on Sun, 06/02/2013 - 11:14

I am taking Tied Weaves with Su Butler, and I am dressing my loom this weekend. I am very excited! (I just posted my warp under projects.) Anyone else taking this workshop? What other workshops are you preparing for?

Posted on Mon, 06/10/2013 - 18:56

Does anyone know about the day visitor policy?
We have some guild members who want to drive over and check it out—
1)  Is there a fee to visit for the day/vendor hall?
2)  What vendors will be there, and where is the vendor hall? (i.e. concern about mobility issues)
3) May day visitors stick around and come to the open studio tour Saturday eve?
4) Friday is the fashion show, can day visitors choose to come on Friday and stay for the show?
5) Can day visitors purchase a meal in the cafeteria?
Information would be extremely helpful. I attended MAFA as a day visitor two different times before I made the plunge to participate. So glad I DID!
 

Posted on Mon, 06/10/2013 - 19:00

Here is a photo of the needle nests our guild made to contribute to the goodie bags. (Frances Irwin Handweavers, northern New Jersey).

Posted on Sun, 12/28/2014 - 14:07

Registration opens Jan 2. Descriptions about the workshops and instructors can be found at the website (link below). In addition, this year there will be 30 vendors in the marketplace and a guild exhibit, so if you cannot attend the whole weekend, consider coming down for an afternoon to check out everything that is going on at Millersville University!

http://mafa-conference-2015.org/index.php

P.S. There are fellowships available. Details and application form can be found on page 25 of the workshop weekend booklet.

Posted on Tue, 02/10/2015 - 16:17

Hey, for those who sent in your registration Jan. 2 or Feb. 1, you should know your class selection by now. (If you don't, it's time to send an email or call, and check on your paperwork.)

In addition to your class, there's even more to anticipate during the workshop weekend!

Thu. 7 p.m., Keynote by Jennifer Moore
Fri. 7 p.m., Informal Fashion Show (don't forget to bring something!)
Sat. 7 p.m., Open Studio Tour

And of course, the vendor hall and guild exhibit will be available throughout the conference.

Although the workshop weekend experience is designed primarily for
folks taking the full, three-day coursework, folks who are unable to take
that much time off from work are invited to come as a day visitor. (I
don’t think there will be a charge for a day visit, but check the MAFA
website for sure, or perhaps someone can chime in on this who knows
more.)

In the past, I have taken advantage of this offer to check out the
vendor hall, guild exhibits, and the open studio tour to collect
information for my guilds on instructors and workshops that may be of
future interest.

(And for those of you who really, really want to come, but cannot, there are a few of us who plan to post live from the conference.)