…or home away from home. My husband and I spend some weeks every summer sailing on board our sailboat Pandora. This year, just weeks before we moved on board I spent a week at Becky’s Vavstuga taking her Vavstuga Basics class. This is an absolute prerequisite for any of her other classes, her way of making sure that students have the same basic training before moving on to her more specific classes. This session’s basic class had five projects: a false damask small table square, a small (30″ x 30″) tablecloth, a dishtowel, a bathmat, and a blanket. I decided that all these projects, except the bathmat, would be used on Pandora!
Becky Ashenden’s lovely studio and student residence is furnished entirely in Swedish style (mostly from IKEA) with her handwovens adorning every horizontal surface as well as all the windows! The whole place could be a scene from a Carl Larsson painting. In our bedrooms we each had a handwoven coverlet for our bed and handwoven curtains. In the main sitting room/dining room/kitchenette, there were wool blankets on the backs of the comfy chairs, a tablecloth on the side table in the sitting area, and curtains on the windows. All the curtains had handwoven tapes as tie-backs. We had breakfast each morning up in the residence dining room. Breakfast was made and delivered by Susan (Becky’s business partner), who brought up a different tablecloth each morning, while wearing a matching apron. I have a new appreciation for aprons!
Class started each morning at 9am after breakfast at 8. Monday we made color wrappings for dishtowels and chose the two designs we liked best. Then we began warping for them and also making the warps for the other projects. By the afternoon we were putting the warps on the looms. I will put details of Becky’s Swedish warping techniques on the weaving page. At 11am each day we gathered at a large table in the studio for drafting exercises. All of us except one student were experienced weavers. Some of us had been weaving for decades, and one student had even spent a year at a Swedish handcraft school just like the one where Becky herself had studied. Still, making drafts by hand on graph paper was a useful exercise for all of us!
The studio lights went off promptly at noon signalling lunch. There was one hour to enjoy an amazing lunch with lots of choices served smorgasbord-style. The class information stated that while Becky could not accommodate specific diets, most people on restricted diets could still get plenty to eat. It was true! Each lunch included a platter of raw vegetables, like radish and cucumber, a green salad, a cheese tray, a basket of crackers, a basket of Susan’s still-warm homemade bread, a plate of sliced deli meats and various dishes that were freshly made for that day’s lunch. These main courses included shrimp/fennel salad one day, a wheat berry salad with vegetable and dried fruit another day. It was a feast!
Dinner always included the same assortment of platters holding cheeses, raw veggies, sliced meats, etc. And there would also be a hot main course. There was another loaf of Susan’s delicious bread. We loved it so much that we demanded a photo of her with bread before she sliced it! Becky made a fresh dessert each day to serve after dinner.
The studio re-opened at 1pm each day, so after lunch there was time for a short walk or for perusing the extensive library of weaving books….or shopping in the retail section of Vavstuga! We re-gathered at the table at 3pm each afternoon for another session of instruction which included looking at innumerable handwoven items. I have never seen so many handwoven items in one location. It was exhilarating!
Dinner was at 6pm each evening, and again the studio lights were turned off to bring us all to the table together. The studio re-opened from 7.30 -9 pm for evening weaving.
Our days had a definite rhythm because of Becky and Susan’s hard work and organization. After working together to warp four of the five projects, we were all weaving by Wednesday morning. We warped each project in groups of two which made beaming, threading and sleying a breeze. It is really quite enjoyable to warp with another person (and I’m someone who loves the warping process and looks forward to that time alone!). I want to see if I can institute a warping group when I return home in late summer.
Each day Becky wore a handwoven dress, and we all enjoyed hearing the plans for her summer solstice wedding, including her handwoven fabric design for her wedding dress. She was to be married just a week after our class ended, and I hope there will be photos on her site when she returns! While we did not get to see the dress, we saw the fabric leftovers after the pattern pieces were cut….stunning!
Becky’s studio sits at the entrance to the Bridge of Flowers which is an incredible place in mid-June.
So…..back to Pandora and my handwoven home on the water…..
Ooops! I think I left the hand towel at home, and the bathmat was made for our upstairs guest bathroom.