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Midwest Weavers Conference 2007
June 17, 2007by Jane Patrick
As a Nebraska girl, it DID feel like I was returning to my roots when I traveled with colleague Betsy Blumenthal to Blair, Nebraska (just north of Omaha) for Midwest Weavers Conference, Roots 2007. The setting of Dana College was beautiful and just down the hill from the Black Elk-Neihardt Park (a city park that is part of the Nebraska state arboretum) where I walked several early mornings to a cacophony of bird song, swaying grasses, and sparkling spiderweb “flags” dotting the landscape.
The gathering of 250 was enthusiastic and energetic, as well as cheerfully helpful. I was impressed with my students’ eagerness to learn new techniques. These weavers were definitely lifelong learners, and it gave me pause to assess my own determination and desires to continue to learn.
The classes I taught were Inkle Weaving, Do It (how to get done what you want to get done), and Weaving to Go (easy projects to take with you gleaned from my book Time to Weave). I was fortunate to have some really great folk in my classes, and even made the acquaintance of Mary Lou Sherrerd, whose husband, Paul, I water-skied with at my uncle’s cabin at Lake Minitar in western Nebraska many, many moons ago. (Sometimes the world is very small.)
For me, the highlight of the conference was seeing the many people I’ve known over the years as both editor of Handwoven and sales manager at Schacht Spindle: Commercial exhibitors: Jim and Susan from the Yarn Barn (Kansas) with tons of books, equipment and yarn; Susan McFarland of Susan’s Fiber Shop with yarns, books, and fiber; the good folk from Personal Threads in Omaha and the Plum Nelly in Hastings, Nebraska. Also, Russell Groff was still making the rounds with yarns from his warehouse. Also vending were Susan Markle of Trading Post for the Fiber Arts with some very cool spinning fiber, Red Fish with a huge array of beautiful, hand-dyed silk, and Lunatic Fringe with their rainbow of perle cotton. Conference presenters: Margaret Roach Wheeler gave the keynote address and impressed us with an array of her fantastical creations. Mary Zicafoose gave the closing remarks that included at slide show of Nebraska scenes as well as the poetry of of Nebraskan Ted Kooser. Here’s some encouragement for you — in college Kooser was discouraged by his writing professors from pursuing a degree in poety. He then worked for many years in the insurance industry, waking up early to write poety before work. After retirement he pursued poety full time, eventually winning the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and being appointed US poet Laureate. The lesson: just keep after what it is you’re passionate about and you just might achieve what it is you want! Chatted with Elda Kohls, Jennifer Moore, and Susan Wilson about the art and craft of teaching. All in all I was impressed with the dedication of the teaching staff and the energy given to generously sharing textile information. The conference organizers should feel great about their well-organized event! Thank you, Roots 2007!
Black Elk-Neihardt Park http://www.benpark.org/Aboutus.asp
Ted Kooser http://www.tedkooser.com/
Margaret Roach Wheeler http://www.ozarkartistscolony.com/Wheeler/
Mary Zicafoose http://www.maryzicafoose.com/
Elda Kohls http://www.eldakohls.com/
Jennifer Moore http://www.doubleweaver.com
Susan Wilson http://www.weavespindye.org/pages/?p=mem-artist.html&loc=1-58-00