I need to marshal my thoughts on the experience of Braids, but I’m not sure I am up to the task yet. I feel as though I have been through a car wash where they squirt threads, braids and bands at you instead of coloured foam. I have been completely soaked and scrubbed and polished with braids and have met several million people who are braiding experts and enthusiasts. At least that is how it seems.
Let’s focus on a few tangibles to make it easier. The registration desk made a fabulous first impression: we all got the usual name badges in plastic holders, but in this case every holder came with an individual hand-braided lanyard. How cool is that? I found it far too hard to choose — and then the problem was compounded when we had a further choice of goodie bag. I panicked and adopted the “first one off the top of the pile approach” but some people were there for half an hour comparing and discussing bags and lanyards…
The goodies inside included the most attractive conference proceedings I have ever seen. Guess I’ve been going to the wrong kind of conferences. I was taking a ply-splitting class with Barbara Walker so I also came away with a copy of her new book. So many gorgeous things inside. I really ought to read both of them, but I just keep looking at the pictures.
After Barbara’s class (on Monday and Tuesday) I did loop braiding with Ingrid Crickmore (on Thursday and Friday). I will have to come back to reflect on both these classes once I have sorted out the tangle of samples which currently covers the coffee table. I learned so much and am very much hoping that I won’t immediately forget it all. As well as the classes, there were lectures every morning; we also went to see the Braids exhibition at MOSI and on our “day off” we went to Macclesfield to visit Paradise Silk Mill and the museums relating to the silk industry. Is it any wonder my brain is fried?
On top of all that content, there were people to by the dozen: a few I had met before, many completely new, some whose names were known to me and some whom I have known online for years but never actually met. Dot Lumb played a particularly cunning trick on me… She had mentioned that she hoped to attend the “Braiders’ Bazaar” which was held on Monday evening, so I had been looking out for her but didn’t see her. So when she came up and introduced herself on Thursday evening at the conference dinner I was completely taken by surprise! It was great to have the opportunity for a proper chat — well as proper a chat as can be had at a conference dinner — about textiles, textile magazines and all.
There are many more thoughts arising… about braids, about yarns, about specialisms, about things I haven’t put into words yet. I have a week of fringe-twisting and studio-moving ahead so I hope the manual labour will give my head a rest and let some of the ideas crystallise a bit more.