I discovered weaving back in 2005 as a college student. We wove fabric samples with fancy, expensive equipment that I had to leave behind after graduation. I’d come a long way for someone who had never seen handwoven fabric or even a loom in person.
Wanting to continue weaving, I began to re-learn the craft with what tools and materials I could acquire. I started over from scratch; reconstructing the knowledge and skill of weaving in a way that I could sustain in my own context.
That meant starting with weaving narrow bands with cardboard squares (tablets), then buying an inkle loom, then a rigid heddle loom, then a table loom, and so on.
There are not many weavers where I live. Until I’d joined a guild 47 miles away in 2016 I’d woven and practiced alone.
When I saw that Gist Yarn had a remote residency that helps fiber artists engage their local communities about weaving, I knew it was meant for me.
I share my weaving with thousands of people over the internet, meanwhile, the people that I interact with every day have never seen me at a loom. Many are probably just like me, only needing to see the process to realize they too were meant to weave. What if I didn’t have to weave alone anymore?
For decades now, I have been finding peace, patience, and a sense of accomplishment through weaving. It is time to share that with the people in my own orbit.
How was I going to do that? Well, I had to get off the internet, out of my house, and into the public. I had to engage the people within the 10-mile radius where I live.
My newly renovated local library turned out to be the perfect starting point. Our technology lab, Studio 304 would be hosting a Creator Showcase in a few months. Perfect! They’d help me work out the bugs by sharing my weaving project and I’d also get to know other creatives in my community.
Going back to my early days of weaving from scratch, I designed a portable frame loom that I could take, show, and share with others. I wrote instructions on how to weave a colorful bracelet on a frame using premium yarn from Gist Yarn Co and filmed a video tutorial.
I began weaving at the library each week and to my surprise many people took interest. I was weaving all over the place. On the porch, at the park, at the beach, just wherever. Most people I met didn’t necessarily want to weave but they loved watching the process and wanted to wear the colorful bracelets. That was cool too.
I put together some weaving kits and wound bobbins of yarn to pass out at public events. One was a back-to-school jam at a local elementary school and the other was the popular summer Art Beat in downtown South Bend. It was so fun seeing people grab those colorful little cocoons of string like they were candies. Creativity shows up wherever there are beautiful materials to inspire.
I had a sign on my table inviting people to craft with me at the library in case anyone would be interested. The first fiber artist meet-up would be immediately following the Creator Showcase. I was calling for all generations and skill levels to come together for 2hours on a weekday evening to celebrate their common thread in fiber arts.
When the time came at the Showcase, I spoke of the joys of weaving and the unmatched power of human ingenuity. After all, the textiles that I wove with this simple, ancient technology still cannot be duplicated by modern machinery. I wove a few unique, everyday items using the small portable frames to be placed on exhibit in the library’s new art gallery.
It was so affirming to have people who design video games and create elaborate sculptures using robots be enthusiastic about my sticks and string.
After the showcase was finished, I walked across the library courtyard, and upstairs to the meeting room that I had reserved for the first fiber artist meet-up. Would anyone come?
Yes, We packed the room with 2 weavers, 3 spinners, 2 rug twiners, a crocheter, a stitcher, and a quilter! We have met several times now and continue to invite new people to join us. I have also had a mini-workshop in which 5 people learned to weave the colorful bracelets on a frame loom. Imagine that! I finally have weaver friends that I can meet with in my own community.
I am thankful to Gist Yarn Company for investing in me as a fiber artist and helping to enrich my community with their yarn and tools.