Why Take Classes...

Recently there has been quite a bit of discussion on various mail lists as to why some textile classes fill, and others don't.

One of the comments that was made startled me. People were accused of sending a person to attend a workshop, who then returns and 'shares' the information with non-attendees. And some conference organizers are saying because of poor attendence, they shouldn't offer so many classes.

Oh no.

First of all, let me confess that I'm a serious workshop junkie. I love taking workshops. I try and take two to three of them each year. Some years more, other years less.

So why do I do this? Well, it's sure not done for the fun of lugging wheels around.

I do it for a variety of reasons. Obviously, one reason is to improve my knowledge. But there are a lot of other reasons.

The interaction within a class is a lot of fun. Textile people are truly a pretty nice bunch of folks. They are generous about sharing information, loaning hooks or oil cans, and will (usually) tell you the sources for the special fiber they found.

Another advantage is getting to know the teacher as a person, as opposed to a columnist or writer. I don't know why, but almost every textile teacher I've ever taken a workshop with was a really nice person. Perhaps I've just been very lucky, but I don't think so.

Another advantage is that when you take a workshop from an instructor, you're benefiting from their depth of knowlege on a single subject -- but you also have access to the breadth of knowlege about their subject. A workshop from Stephanie Gaustad on acid dyes would be a very different than a class taught by Michelle Whipplinger on acid dyes. Both would cover the same basic information but from a different perspective. Plus you get the sidebar conversations that are often as fascinating as the main topic. One year at SOAR, Judith MacKenzie explained to us, in gristly detail, why freezing wool is not an effective means of killing moths. Judith seems like a nice lady, but her epic adventures on attempting to kill moths reminded me of the old folk song that has the refrain, "... and then the cat came back". Trust me, Judith can tell more than you ever wanted to know about moths.

But what about the newer, less-established teachers? All of the established teachers started out as individuals with some special knowledge that they wanted to share. Well, there are other members of our community who are trying to do the same. And I, for one, want to give them that opportunity. If we don't support textile workshops then we lose access to an amazing source of information.

So, I figure that about now, you wondering where this is going. Well, I would like to encourage each of you to try and take at least one workshop each year. And then share your enthusiasm for the class with your friends. Try and remember that many of the teachers have put a lot of time and effort into generating the class you just took. Because of that, it's really not nice to copy handouts or teach the same workshop with your friends.

When you're trying to find the class to take, be sure to look at your regional conferences. If nothing strikes your fancy, then give some hard thought as to what workshops would motivate you to attend. And then tell the organizers. If you're concerned about the cost of attending a distant conference, see if you can find ~14 friends to take a workshop you put on by yourselves.

I try and host a workshop at my home about once a year. I don't ever seem to make any money on the deal, I just get to have a workshop that I want to take. I invite my friends over, we learn a lot, tease each other, eat more than we probably should, and have a good time.

If you have comments, please send email to: Rosemary Brock.

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