I don’t often write about what I’m up to, but the reason you haven’t heard from me in the last 2 weeks is because I’ve been in Montreal.  I ostensibly booked a week on the intermediate jacquard course with Louise Lemieux Berube at the Centre for Contemporary Textiles in Montreal, but I added the two weekends either side so that I would have time to look around Montreal, and also allow myself time to complete work if I needed it.  As it happened, I managed to complete all the work within the 5 days so I had the extra 2 1/2 days to explore some more.  I stayed at a wonderful B&B – a tiny room and a shared bathroom, but so quirky and served breakfast by 2 lovely lads with freshly baked (on the premises) croissants every morning, and interesting fellow guests to chat to over breakfast.  Because I had the luxury of several days to look around, I didn’t feel the usual pressure of rushing to see everything at once.  In fact, on the first day, I only visited one museum, the Science Museum, which was great fun! 

Montreal is a vibrant place.  Although French is the first language, everyone seems to be bilingual and as soon as I asked something in my halting French, I was answered in perfect English!  The City of Montreal does its best to promote Canadian makers and I really enjoyed browsing in the galleries and quality craft shops in the evenings.  There are also 2 great contemporary art galleries, and a fine arts gallery, and I also managed to fit in a visit to the Redpath Museum which houses archeological artefacts and minerals.  St Catherine‘s is a great street for clothes shopping.  In fact, everywhere around Montreal there are little pockets of great shops and restaurants.  You turn a corner and voila, another little gem of a square or area where there are loads of quality eateries (!) and shops. 

I’m not a city person, but I loved Montreal!  It feels very safe to a woman travelling on her own.  The people are warm and genuinely friendly.  The temperature was quite high and humid whilst I was there, although the weather has not generally been good in Montreal this year (as in most places I know!!) but I did wonder to myself how it would feel in the depths of winter when it can reach 40 below and they have an underground city to alleviate having to go outside too much in blizzards and freezing conditions. 

My fellow students were fun, and we shared a lovely meal together in the middle of the week.  On the Friday night, three of us decided to go out together to the old town and have a look around some of the galleries and share a meal together – we ended up having crepes which were sweet with a filling of curried chicken and Swiss cheese!!  A very different experience!! 

I hadn’t realised that I wouldn’t be doing any weaving, and I was quite looking forward to trying out the Samtex jacquard to see how it compares with the TC-1 and the Jacq3G, so I was a little disappointed about that.  However, it was quite nice to spend the time designing, and not have to wait in line to weave my 400 picks.  Because there were 13 of us on the course, not all the designs could be woven whilst we were there, so I’m waiting on a parcel arriving in the post sometime soon.  It would have been lovely to have seen everyone else’s work actually woven and to have learnt from each other’s successes and mistakes, but I guess that’s the drawback of a week.  Some folk had been at the previous week’s course – an introduction to Photoshop and Pointcarre software, whilst others had previously attended the intermediate course.  I was at a slight disadvantage through not knowing Photoshop as well as I perhaps should have, but Louise was kind enough to help me in the initial stages where I required Photoshop, and then I worked in Pointcarre.  I last encountered Pointcarre in 2004 when I went to the Lisio Foundation to learn jacquard weaving, so at least I had some experience with it, and it’s not so different from other jacquard software which I have used, such as Scotweave and ArahWeave.  There are some really useful gizmos in the programme, but not enough in my mind to justify the huge price tag.  For value for money for individual weavers, ArahWeave comes out way on top, in my opinion.  The only drawback is it uses Linux, and that’s a whole new ball game if you’ve been weaned on Windows!  Still, all this learning keeps the mind active and that’s no bad thing! 

So I’m back with a deeper understanding of what I’m doing when I design for my sample jacquards, and hopefully it’ll make me a better teacher as well.