Last weekend a group of us joined together in Devon to attend Alice Schlein’s Woven Pixel workshop for 3 days.  We were blessed with wonderful weather, great company, and a tremendous learning experience.  Alice is a very patient and skilled tutor with Photoshop and her methods of using it to design and prepare jacquard and dobby files for weaving.  Several of the company were fellow Complex Weavers and it was great to meet up with them, sometimes for the first time! 

I was staying at a beautiful B&B in a quiet village called Harberton with an excellent pub selling high-class food!  The roads are very narrow with high hedges so it takes a little courage to navigate your way to the Devon Weavers Workshop which is along one of those lanes!! 

The class was intense and we all left with a greater understanding of the processes involved and the ease in which you can use Photoshop for weaving purposes – not the primary aim of its inventors, I think!!  I must admit to getting just a little excited when I realised some of the potential for texture that I was looking at, so my apologies to the rest of the class who put up with my sudden proclamations of delight when something just jumped out of the computer and hit me between the eyes!! 

After the weekend was over, I kidnapped Alice and Bruce and took them north.  It was very noticeable as we drove up the motorway that the beautiful weather was being left behind, but we didn’t do too badly in the Midlands….  OK, so Monday and Wednesday weren’t anything to write home about, but on Tuesday and Thursday we had gorgeous weather…

And now, to the theme of today’s blog – taking Alice and Bruce around the area in which I live, and having them in the house and studio, reminded me of all the things I love here.  I was seeing with fresh eyes – their eyes – and a different way of looking. 

There are so many places of interest – architecturally, socially, historically, landscape – in this area, and they all have so much to offer, that 3 days could only give a tiny taste!!  So the first day was a trip to Macclesfield for the Silk Museum and Paradise Mill, then across the Peak District and into Buxton for its Regency architecture and spa town heritage.  The second day took in a visit to the Gladstone Pottery Museum, an undersung museum where the old pottery is preserved as it was on the day it closed.  Not only is it interesting from a social and industrial perspective, they have lots of hands-on demonstrations and we got to see pot-throwing on a wheel, making a slip-mould, and flower making, as well as painting on pottery.  The highlight of the visit, though, was the permanent exhibit called ‘Flushed With Pride’ about the history of the WC!!!  It was very funny, highly educational and fascinating, complete with olfactory exhibits!!

Our final day was spent at Chatsworth, the home of the Duke & Duchess of Devonshire.  The house is incredible and the gardens quite extensive.  No doubt Alice will put some of her images in her blog for you to see. 

But for me, it was wonderful to see anew, through Alice and Bruce, all the things I love about my life and my environment, and to spend time with great friends.