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Holiday Weaving Courses in Spanish (Galicia, northwest Spain) in Summer 2010

learning to weave in anna champeney textile studio in spainThis blog post is a plug for the special 5-day intensive weave course taught in Spanish (suitable for intermediate-level and above Spanish speakers), at the Textile Studio in Cristosende, A Teixeira, in north Spain, in July 2010.   You won´t be offered any Spanish classes during the course (although Anna will always translate when necessary) but you will be immersed in a Spanish-speaking environment and surrounded by the Spanish language… What is more, this holiday craft option in Spain will enable you to learn the creative art of weaving textiles on a loom by hand!    You´ll be very proud of your first hand-woven textile – woven “in Spanish”!

About the studio and venue: Anna Champeney specialises in weaving traditional Galician Spanish folk textiles and designing her own range of limited-edition textile designs for scarves and interiors.  Together with her partner, Lluis Grau, Anna has been offering Spanish craft holidays and self-catering cottage holidays since 2004.

About loom weaving: Many people who watched Monty Don´s Mastercrafts series on weaving earlier this year in  March 2010 on television in the UK will have been fascinated and inspired by the fabrics woven by the 3 contestants over a 6 week period!  The art of weaving cloth by hand from the beginning is a magical and very satisfying experience.  Unlike some “hobby crafts” loom weaving is not a craft that offers easy and quick satisfaction (the setting up of the loom requires patience and care) but it is a craft which can become addictive once the basics have been mastered and offers infinite creative possibilities.  The rythmic experience of weaving is immensely satisfying and also relaxing!    As opposed to knitting, weaving requries two sets of threads – the warp (set up under tension on the loom) and the weft (which is wound onto a bobbin and interwoven through the warp on a shuttle).   The first part of learning to weave involves setting up the warp threads on the loom and the second part is the actual weaving in the weft threads on a shuttle.  The loom itself is what enables weavers to weave many different patterns and even complete beginners will be able to weave at least 3 different patterns.

Cristosende village where the course is heldAbout the Ribeira Sacra in Galicia, Spain: The Ribeira Sacra, where the Textile Studio is situated, is a  rural area of outstanding natural beauty in Galicia, north Spain, which centres on the River Sil canyon, with its steep terraces of vineyards (D.O. Ribeira Sacra).  The climate is not as hot as in southern Spain and the area retains its green-ness even in the heat of summer, with its forests of sweet chestnuts.

Loom weaving course details:

Dates:  4 – 8 July 2010

Location: Anna Champeney Estudio Textil, Cristosende 76-78, A Teixeira (Ribeira Sacra), Ourense, Galicia, Spain

Course Outline:

  • Loom preparation (each participant has the exclusive use of a 4 or 8 shaft Louet table loom during the course and there are special discounts to pupils who wish to purchase a loom after the course)
  • Weave samples – different patterns, colours and yarns
  • Creative Weaving I: The Design Process, Experimentation, Obervation and Analysis
  • Creative Weaving II:  Understanding pattern drafts and project sheets
  • Weave final project piece (fabric for cushion cover, linen towel, bathroom, wall-piece or kitchen bag ….)

Cost: (includes materials and teas/coffees, excludes accommodation and travel): 390€ (approximately 351 pounds stirling (correct at the time of writing))

Accommodation options: 5 accommodation places in individual / shared rooms are available at Casa dos Artesans (awarded the Spanish mact quality symbol), some 30 metres from the Textile Studio.  Shared rooms (2 people) – 30€ per night / Individual rooms – 45€ per night.  The Casa Grande de Cristosende (rural hotel and restaurant in the same village as the Textile studio) has rooms from approximately 65€ per night.  Further information about other accommodation options on request.

How To Get Here: Fly to Santiago de Compostela (flights available from Stanstead or Heathrow) and hire a car or travel on by direct coach service to Ourense city (we facilitate a time-table when you book on the course) from where a transfer is available to the Textile Studio.  Alternatively, fly to Madrid and take the train / coach to Ourense  or Monforte de Lemos (where a transfer service to the Textile Studio is available).


You may also be interested in the following options- Self-catering cottage holidays in the Ribeira Sacra for 2 – 5 people (additional craft activities available in Spanish or English) / 3-week Textile Assistantship in the Ribeira Sacra / Basketry and Weaving Tuition in the Ribeira Sacra / Otros cursos de artesanía en español

Weaving Assistant Kathleen McCormick on Learning To Weave in Spain

An intensive 3-week weave course or Textile Assistantship at Anna Champeney Textile Studio in Galicia, north Spain enabled Kathleen McCormick to turn weaving into a part-time career in Ireland.  Here she tells us about the experience .


l-r Kathleen with fellow assistant Tracey and Anna Champeney and final work produced during the assistantship
What made you choose to do the 3-week Textile Assistantship in Anna Champeney Estudio Textil in Spain, as opposed to a conventional beginners´ weave course? I wanted to become immersed in the whole process and world of hand-weaving.  Another factor which influenced me was knowing – from a previous visit – that the studio was in an attractive setting in Spain.  I had got to know Anna through a previous visit and I fell in love with Galician Felpa (loop-pile) weaving.  Also, I had met Anna´s partner, basketmaker Lluis Grau, and so I was able to combine weaving tuition with basketry. You have been a professional basketmaker in Ireland for many years.
What attracted you to weaving on a loom? I used to spin my home-grown fleece from my own sheep.  I hand-dyed it but could only use it by knitting it.  When I discovered that I could learn to weave this opened up a whole new world to me.  Now I could do something with the homespun fleece and dye wool to my requirements.  On the course we did some natural dyeing – which I already knew about, albeit in a somewhat haphazard way.  Anna taught us to chronicle what we did and how we came to get the resultant colour.  Anna also taught us to use other dyes.  I now dye Irish fleece in white, mid-grey and dark Jacob´s fleece.
What did you learn during the three-week assistantship course? What didn´t I learn is the question on the three weeks of the assistantship???  One of the really important things I learned, which is very personal, is that “no-one could take this from me” – meaning that I was actually there, I was actually doing this course and the value of it would always be with me, whatever life threw at me.  I learned discipline in work methods – Keeping time is essential (being up early and at the textile workshop is a very important thing), but then Tracey, my co-assistant, and I  both had a good work ethos.  I learned about the history of Spanish felpa weaving and some of the social structure of the women who not only wove the felpa bedcovers but also grew the flax for the linen yarn.  I learned about the structure of weaving.  Making a warp on the warping mill and the method of warping a loom (one of several methods), weaving various patterns which I found very difficult due to age and lack of ability to retain patterns in my memory beyond two minutes, and several different fabric finishing techniques.  Anna gave us tasks she would have done herself thus giving us a good view of the life of a professional weaver.  Tracey and I brought humour into the workshop, seriousness in our intention to learn.  We spent the mornings doing jobs for Anna as weaving assistants and the afternoon was spent doing and learning weaving.
Tell us about the most challenging part of learning to weave and use natural dyes. The biggest challenge for me in learning to weave was that I suffer from dyslexia for numbers and patterns – I do not know when my children were born nor in what year I got married or what year anything happened.  If I try to remember how to read a pattern I panic, really, but give me a job of weaving and I can do it, can read th at pattern, and work out what needs to be done to create one particular job.  I am actually quite a good weaver of rugs.

The asssistantship was fairly intense, but did you have the chance to explore the local area during the 3 weeks?  If so, what were your impressions of the Ribeira Sacra in Galicia, north Spain, where Anna Champeney Textile Studio is located? I did have some time to myself for walking.  The Ribeira Sacra is unbelievably beautiful, especially where Anna and Lluis live.  the birdlife was second-to-none and I was there in the area twice, so I heard the cuckoo and the hoopoe and several other birds whilst out walking in the vineyards. 


You now make and sell your own work from your craft studio in Ireland.  How did you make the leap from being a beginner to actually starting to sell your work? Well, I have always made and sold whatever I have made.  I think it´s just part of my character.  Perhaps I am a “Chancer” too!  Really, my friend Maire ni-Neachtain was a great help and encouraged me to sell and exhibit.  I have been part of two Crafts Council of Ireland exhibitions and hope to sell rugs to the public through going to a national sale in May.  Also, I sell my wares everywhere by talking about them to interested people, as well as getting the odd private commission. 


You used a Louet table loom during the textile assistantship in Spain. What is your opinion of these looms and what looms do you now use?  I think the Louet table looms that Anna has in her studio for courses are excellent to learn on or to use if you have limited space.  I prefer a floor loom – especially for my rug weaving.  I am using an old Glimakra floor loom but in the next few days I am to get a second loom which is Finnish.


What weave projects do you have planned for the future? I have in mind more rugs and I have the wool for them already.  I did a five-day course with Jason Collingwod, who is the son of famous weaver, Peter Collingwood.  Jason is an accomplished rug weaver, having learned fro mhis father, and he taught the technique of “Shaft Shifting”.  I would love to set up one of the looms I have as an experiment in “shaft shifting”.  It makes for a wonderful rug.  I would also like to explore the world of tapestry weaving but have ideas to try which require time and time-out.


Can you offer any advice to those thinking of learning to weave themselves? Go to Anna and learn the basics of weaving and enjoy every minute of the experience!


And for more information on your work? I have two websites – one for weaving and one for baskets www.basketbarn.ie.  Although the two crafts have things in common they are as different as glass blwoing and wood carving!!


Further Information about the Textile AssistantshipClick here



kathleen weaving pile fabric on a Louet table loom

kathleen weaving









a sample produced during the assistantship

Sample weaving







ribeira sacra in north spain

Ribeira sacra in north Spain


Learning to Weave – my personal experience by Anna Champeney of AC Estudio Textil in Galicia, Spain)

First Attempts - DIY loom weaving

British weaver Anna Champeney set up her weave studio as a in 2005 in a mountain village of north Spain.  Here´s how learned to weave as a second career.

My background – I originally studied Ancient History and Archaeology at Bristol university in the UK and became a museum curator specialising in contemporary craft exhibitions.  So I came to woven texiles when in my late twenties, as part of a lifestyle and career change.

So.  My pathway into weave has not been through the conventional route of doing a 3 year BA course at art school.

There are pros and cons with both methods.  I learned more slowly but achieved a comparable level of technical and creative skills to a BA student in the end.  But I had to find suitably qualified teachers for different aspects of learning and sometimes had to go quite far afield and pay for one-to-one tuition.

It was, also, the only option open to me in my life at the time.  I am  now quite happy with that option as I think it´s given me the chance to develop a more individual style.  Studying at a high-prestige Art School would have given me more instant credibility and inspired confidence that I have had to work far harder to develop, however, which is a disadvantage initially.

It must be said that before starting to re-train as a weaver I already had a fairly good understanding of how the world of professional craft worked in the UK at the time through my previous career as contemporary craft exhibitions curator in museums and galleries and specialist organisations in the UK.  

How I started

I had my first taste of loom weaving when about 10 years old at school.  I was very lucky to have excellent art teachers.  My first loom was very simple, made at home by my dad.  I loved the experience but never imagined I´d end up being a professional weaver!

When in my late twenties I embarked on the journey of changing my life and career, determined to learn to weave and reach professional level.  I was too impatient to wait for a weave course of course, so I cobbled together a very basic frame loom using bits of wood and nails, household string and other bits and bobs of yarns.  The actual result you can see in the photo. 

Had I been aged 9 I might have been really pleased, but at 30 I could only think “that’s really horrible, I’m not going to make my living with this”. But I just had the urge to do something with my hands.  Having said that, I was really pleased to have been able to weave anything at all – and at least I had made a start!

2000 – Introductory weave course. A couple of months on, in late summer 2000, I did a short introductory weave course with rug weaver Luke Atkinson in Cumbria.  I will always be grateful to Luke for teaching me the basics.  I couldn’t believe it when she presented me with a basket of natural-dyed yarns to use in my sample piece, they seemed just too precious.  I’m sure that, in part, it was the chance to use some of her gorgeous natural-dyed yarns which influenced me in my choice to dye my own yarns naturally in my own work.

Sample made on first weave course

I was so pleased with the sample I wove under Luke’s guidance – which you can see here / although it was full of classic beginner’s “errors” such as uneven edges or “selvedges”.  It´s the kind of textile any beginner will make on a first course.

Felpa towel sample made on my 1st weave course in Spain

I remember being disappointed that, however much I tried to design the fantastic textiles I had in my head- the results were not quite as I intended.  No, that’s wrong, they were nothing like what I intended!  I didn’t realise – and how could I – that woven textile design is complex and depends on many different factors which I, as a complete beginner, just wasn’t even aware of.  The interaction of different kinds of fibres, the spacing of the yarns on the loom, the way you beat the fabric, the interaction of the colours, the individual intersections of warp and weft to create pattern … and even how you wash the textile after cutting it from the loom – all these were working together in ways I was quite oblivious of – creating fabrics with quite different characteristics to those I was intending.   As such, stripey tea towels turned out to be as stiff as sacking, and scarves were so rigid that they were more like neck carpets.   On the other hand, other unexpected results were interesting and intreaguing.   But I didn’t have the educational tools to really be able to understand or interpret these either. 2001 – Introduction to textile analysis and drafting It was only when I did a week’s textile drafting course with Barcelona-based weaver and textile artist Francisca Pellisca, that I began to find out about how woven textiles really work.  In her course, which was something like a revelation to me, I learned how to analyse woven cloth by looking at it up close and representing its structure on squared paper and to start to relate cloth to the mechanics of the loom.  Francisca was adamant that every weaving project should involve sampling, draw-downs, and a meticulous recording of how you weave each different sample.  Her course gave me the tools I had been lacking to then go away and really start to progress – and begin to find out how to learn and improve on my own.  Francisca’s approach to cloth design works for me and it is one I now teach in weave courses at my studio in Spain. Woollen scarves with natural dyes 2003 - 2006

 I knew I wasn’t interested in beginners’  “how-to” books, with recipes for projects.  I was interested in developing my own weave style and preferences and coming up with my own original designs.  A tall order for a beginner, but even at the start, when I was using pattern books and magazines with recipes for weaving projects, I resolved that I would, out of principle, always adapt a design in some way, in order to avoid simply copying designs or formulas – learn something new.  By then I was beginning to make work like these twill scarves.  And I was beginning to sell my work which was very exciting.   Every year I add a few new designs and push the boundaries of what I know a little further back.  Every now and again I come across a really good weaving book which opens my eyes to new possibilities and teaches me more.   The challenges of weaving in rural Spain – Living in rural north Spain, where I am the only weaver for miles around, and where there is a complete absence of any weaving guild, association or club, learning on my own – with the occasional course – has really the only option.  I felt this was a distinct disadvantage for me, although I now realise that this isolation is also true for professional weavers in the UK, where only 1.9% of all professional craftspeople are weavers. Being a native English speaker I had one huge advantage over my Spanish counterparts, though, and this was the access I had to a whole range of excellent weaving books in published in English.  Ann Sutton’s The Structure of Weaving and Ideas in Weaving were – and are – my bibles.  It’s a slow process but incredibly rewarding.  I know there is so much more to explore out there and I am just scratching the surface.   Having to struggle – to learn from books – also taught me to persevere and resolve problems on my own.  This was a tough – but very valuable experience.  Being a member of the UK Online Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers in my first years of learning was also comforting when I was starting out as a weaver although it wasn´t the useful networking tool I neeed once I became a professional.  In the absence of experienced weavers locally in Spain there was always someone in the guild who could answer a query or help me out with a problem, or just give words of encouragement.  It was a very friendly environment. 2004/5 – Going professional – By this time I was setting up my own professional weave studio, Anna Champeney Estudio Textil, in Galicia, north Spain, with a setting-up grant from the Dept. of Industry.  From then on I started organising courses and selling work direct from the studio.  9 years on – These are some of my designs from 2009…  all made with linen, wool, silk and natural dyes.  linen, wool & silk scarf

"Spots and Squares" cushions from wool and natural linen

 

tubular double weave scarf

Double weave collapse scarf

 

 

 

 

 

13 years on – 2013

Water Loves Rock 450water loves rock proceso de diseño 450

I now weave on 2 8-12 shaft looms and create my original designs using specialist computer software.  I specialise in double weave and collapse weave textile design but still use natural fibres and dyes for the quality of fibre and colour.

Over the past few years I have worked hard to acquire new skills, particularly design and business skills.  As such I have learned design skills at the Massana Art School in Barcelona, and from international tutors in Denmark and the UK.

It has been fundamental to learn more business skills and learn about online commerce and promotion using the social networks – none of which really existed when I started in 2000.

b 300 pix vert with text copiaI continue to teach intensive courses from my studio and attract more international students.  I sometimes take on textile students on work placements.  I also teach textile techniques to first year fashion students at the ESEDEMA School of Fashion and Textiles in Vigo University.

As for selling my work, I still produce small-scale limited edition textiles but now commercialise my designs at international design fairs and selected shops as well as online, instead of selling direct from the studio to the tourist market.

Another initiative has been to set up an online shop and resource web-site (currently aimed more at the Spanish-speaking market than the English market), where I sell Louet loom products as well as my textiles and my partner´s  baskets.  This is a useful complement to the teaching work.

tejidosAC 450 x 450 pix

I´m still as committed and enthusiastic as when I first started in 2000 but my perspectives have changed as my knowledge and sense of context have deepened and widened through experience.

I have the satisfaction of looking back and seeing how I have been able to create my own pathway into weave, become proficient and more professional.  I feel enormous sense of satisfaction that I have been able to do this – and earn my living – especially from from the tiny mountain hamlet in northwest Spain where I live and work!