Well, what can I say?  As ever, this was a fabulous conference held in a very stimulating city with lots of things to see and do.  And if that wasn’t enough, the Shenandoah, Blue Ridge and Appalacian Mountains are just 1 1/2 hours awayby car in northern Virginia with their stunning skyline drives, richly forested slopes, and wildlife that freely roamed, and, hidden beneath, the most amazing limestone caverns!

My imperturbable travelling companion (aka Agnes) and I were hosted by two fellow weavers, and our warmest thanks and appreciation go to Janet and Chris for having us to stay and putting up with us!  We had a wonderful road trip, albeit a bit too short for what we would have liked to have done, exploring caverns and examining rocks, as well as enjoying wonderful views over the valleys and mountain ranges in the borderlands of Virginia and West Virginia.

The results of this immersion into nature will doubtless come out in our joint exhibition in 2014 which we hope will tour three continents!  Planning got underway and we are very excited about the next year and a half.  We are going to start a separate blog devoted to the exhibition, background information and stuff nearer the time and once a few more venues have been firmed up, but for now I will say that it will be based on our excursions together in the various wilds of the US occasioned by the venues of the CW Seminars.  Our shared love for natural history is the foundation and it will be different from anything anyone has ever seen us do before, although with some input from current skills, of course!

But for now, back to CW Seminars.  What makes it so special?  Well, probably the atmosphere for starters.  Here we are, weaving enthusiasts with a high level of curiosity about many different aspects of the huge field that is weaving.  By no means is it all about shaft envy!!  In fact, CW covers the widest range of topics possible, from inkle loom weaving to jacquard weaving, from a historical perspective to the widest ranging topic of weaving around the world.  Some lectures focussed on specific structures and techniques, others on a broader scale.  The collective level of expertise is awesome, but as Carla said to me, “we may be serious about our weaving, but we don’t take ourselves seriously.”  And she’s right. So much laughter, so much sharing, and so much collective friendship!

Some of my weaving friends from the UK came for the first time, and they told me that the warmth of welcome was wonderful.  At meal times everyone eats together, and very rarely do you find yourself sitting at a table with the same people.  In fact, I try to ensure that at each meal time I sit with at least one person I’ve never met before so that I can find out about them.  I met so many first timers and it was wonderful to hear their weaving experiences and life experiences.  Some are very highly respected in the weaving world and I felt nervous about introducing myself to them.  Other people had less experience in weaving, and were curious to know more, being like absorbent sponges in this hotbed of ideas and skills.  All in all, this isthe most stimulating conference I ever get to go to because of the huge range of knowledge, skills, and experiences of the participants.

Why is this?  Well, partially I think due to the fact that all the class lecturers are from within the membership of the organisation.  And this leads to a wonderful synergy of sharing and appreciation of the knowledge and skills of others.  We are all participants in the conference – not brought in as ‘outside experts’ which I think brings its own hierarchy.  We can, and do, all learn from each other.  We may not necessarily want to use the techniques being shown to us, but we can pick up nuggets that may relate to what we do from an apparently unrelated topic.  This is where the ‘aha’ moments come in – the sideways connection from an approach we hadn’t considered.

This, to me, is one of the incredible assets from attending CW Seminars.  Sometimes, I think CW more effectively stands for Curious Weavers, because that is what we are.  Curiousity leads to new understandings and developments.  Curiousity leads to explorations and play.  Curiousity leads to greater breadth and creativity.

Huge thanks and appreciation go to the Seminars team.  Unsung heroes, who give unselfishly of their time and efforts, for over two years, but without whom the event would not happen.  May you enjoy getting back your weaving time, and also, once you have recovered from the herculean emotional and physical effort of ensuring that everything ran smoothly, appreciating what you also gained from both the working together and the incredible energy you generated to make this conference a wonderful experience for us all.  Perhaps you might also enjoy a certain amount of smugness, knowing that you did such a good job and have now passed the baton on to the organising committee for CW Seminars 2014.  I have certainly started saving for Seattle!!!

Thank you, guys!!