Get the Most Out of Any Weaving Workshop

Once in college I was told by a professor that the best students sat in the front row. Overachiever that I was, I sat in the front and center of pretty much any class thereafter. I don’t want to brag, but I did graduate with honors, and now I write about weaving for a living. I think I’ve done well.

You could argue that my status as an overachiever is probably more to do with my good grades than the seating arrangement, and that’s probably at least partially true. I did discover that sitting in the front helped me focus more and get distracted less. I took copious notes and really watched the professor. I felt more confident and participated more.

Now when it comes to weaving workshops and classes, sitting in the front and center of the classroom might not always be possible or advisable. Fortunately, there are other tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your learning experience.

1. Bring the right supplies: I took a natural dyeing class at Convergence a few years ago. I dyed probably 20 samples using different mordents, dyes, and the like. I only brought a notebook, folder, and pen to take notes and ended up trying to come up with an elaborate coding system to keep track of all my samples. It was a mess, and I never could decipher it when home. Don’t be like me. If you’re taking a class where you know you’ll be making samples of cloth, bring safety pins and tags with strings or a binder full of plastic sleeves and blank notecards. Always bring a permanent marker—no matter how many the instructor brings, it will never be enough, and several will invariably turn out to not work right.

weaving workshop

While notebooks might make you feel nostalgic, binders will help you keep more organized notes.

2. Use a binder: I love notebooks. There’s just something about a brand-new notebook that reminds me of the first day of school—full of hope and potential. Unfortunately, they’re not the best way to take notes. Leave the notebook at home and bring a binder full of loose-leaf paper instead. With a binder, you can easily slip extra pages, handouts, and sample sleeves wherever you want between your notes. You can remove pages to review or lend to a friend and then put them right back in.

3. Preview your materials: Whenever you get a handout for the class or workshop, read or skim it over immediately. Pay attention to what subjects will be covered and in what order. If there are words or phrases you don’t understand but need to know, ask before the class starts or look them up if you have a tablet or smartphone. If there are broader concepts that seem confusing or tricky, make a note to pay close attention, and ask questions when the instructor covers those subjects. Reviewing handouts helps you prepare your mind.

4. Outline everything: My notes used to be a mess. Each one always started at the leftmost margin with a dash or bullet point at the start of each new thought. Finding specific bits of information after the fact involved having to read over every single note. Then I learned to take note in outline form, and everything changed. The broadest subjects sit at the left margin after Roman numerals, slightly less broad get uppercase letters and sit about ½-inch away from the margin, and so on and so forth. For example, my notes might read: I. Twill, A. 4-shaft Twills, 1. Goose Eye Twill. Now I can easily find information even years after the fact.

5. Review your notes: As soon as you can after class, review your notes, and rewrite or edit them as needed. Add pages to your binder for non-standard abbreviations or vocabulary. Highlight the most important information or concepts. Although this information might be fresh in your mind right now, in the future you will be happy you took the time to clarify everything.

Whether you’re taking a hands-on workshop or enjoying a lecture-based seminar, I hope these tips and tricks help you to get the most out of your learning experience.

Happy Weaving!

Featured Image: Getty Images.

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