My grandmother was a weaver and though I didn’t spend much time around her, I wanted to learn to weave and carry on the family tradition from a young age. I was quite nomadic after college and my first adult forays into the fiber world were in knitting and crochet because their portable nature satisfied my need to create with yarn. I spent years playing and learning other creative techniques (felting, beading, embroidery and more) and at some point decided that I didn’t want to be “jack of all trades, master of none” so I focused on knitting as both creative outlet and career choice.
The longing to weave persisted, but I was afraid of spreading myself too thin so I decided I would take up weaving when I had at least 3 – 4 months to immerse myself in learning. It might mean that it would be later in life, but I wanted to give myself (and the craft) a chunk of time to thoroughly work through the beginner phase. Fortunately my mother stepped in to teach me again. My mom was my first mentor and inspiration in the world of making things. She was an excellent seamstress and knitter and taught me both at a young age (the knitting didn’t stick at the time, but was still in my hands when I came back to it after college). She, too, had always wanted to weave like her mother and had put it off to retirement. The time came and she took a class (at WEBS!) and my dad bought her a loom and she was on her way. The problem was, she was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and her brain couldn’t remember what she learned. She wove a few small samplers but had to give it up.
I weave on my mom’s loom now because I realized I couldn’t wait for the ‘perfect’ time to learn. I started working at WEBS a few years after my mom passed on and when the opportunity came to take a weaving class I jumped at it even though I didn’t have the luxury of making it the sole focus of my life. Sitting at the loom felt like coming home to me and I have become almost evangelical in urging people to follow their creative dreams.
I have found many ways to continue my weaving and spinning education, starting with classes here at WEBS. We are lucky to have great teachers close by who instruct a wide range of basic and advanced classes, not to mention the many nationally-known guest teachers who present workshops in our store. Our Winter/Spring schedule is out, be sure to check out the offerings and sign up online or in the store.
Many of us also have access to local guilds that feature speakers and classes. I try to take advantage of these opportunities because they allow me to learn new techniques. Even if I decide not to pursue those ideas, I learn so much from being around other weavers, watching how they work with the tools, being inspired by what they create. Bonus for me is that I also learn more about how to teach!
Another wonderful place to expand your horizons is at a regional conference like NEWS, the New England Weavers’ Seminar which will happen July 13 – 16, 2017 in Northampton. These conferences generally have a slate of classes in addition to gallery shows and exhibits. Look for one in your area, there are dozens spread around the country and well worth attending. Besides, there is nothing so satisfying as hanging out with the folks that speak your language and understand your passion!
I see another year of learning in 2017, I have signed up for a workshop in tablet weaving and another in shadow weave. I may add a rep weave class if I’m feeling really adventurous. What will you learn in the coming year?