How Fate Brought Me to Weaving
Today is I Love Yarn Day, a celebration of all things yarn-related that aims to encourage others to give the fiber arts a try! To honor the occasion, Christina has decided to share with you her own weaving story…and we'd love to hear yours as well! Just drop us a line in the comments or on our Facebook page. Happy I Love Yarn Day! ~Gina
When I think back to how I became a weaver, I can’t help but be amazed at how well the universe seemed to be shoving me in that direction while I remained oblivious. So many little things happened that led to me to the loom. It all started, though, with a pottery class.
Well, actually it started with a pottery class that didn’t fit into my work and school schedule. It was probably six or seven years ago, and I was living in Las Cruces, New Mexico. I had been wanting to take an art class at the local art museum for quite some time, and was leaning towards pottery. I’d thrown a few pieces of pottery in high school and had greatly enjoyed it and found that I was actually pretty good at it. Unfortunately the class was full during the same times I was giving tours at a local museum so there was no way I could take it, so I started looking at the other classes available.
I ruled out photography, drawing, and painting, as well as jewelry making. I noticed there was a weaving class that was held twice a week in the evenings on days when I wasn’t taking night classes. Our museum had a weaver who did weekly demonstrations and I was always in awe at how easily cloth was created as she threw the shuttle and beat the heddle. I told two of my friends about the class and they also thought it sounded like fun and said if I was doing it, they’d do it too.
Then our car needed an expensive repair and it seemed as if maybe I wouldn’t be able to take the class after all. I told my friends to go ahead without me and let me know how it was, but they insisted on paying for me so I could take the class with them. If not for the generosity of my wonderful friends I would not be writing this very post today.
I still remember that big weaving studio. It was upstairs in a fairly warm room and the walls were filled with cones and skeins of yarn and the room had around eight giant floor looms. My friends and I were the only new weavers (the rest of those in the class had taken it before and so were happily weaving away in a sort of independent study) so the teacher taught had us pick out our yarns and taught us to measure warp and then had us warp our own looms.
Being inexperienced with warping, I think it took us at least two full class periods as well as a Saturday during studio hours spent pulling the threads through the reed and the heddles before we were finally all set up and ready to weave. We were taught basic plain weave and twill and were told to weave whatever we wanted. Weave we did, quite happily, too. We came in during Saturday studio hours (which were conveniently the same time as the farmer’s market held on the same street) and we were all so proud when we finally reached the end of both our warps and the class, and took our cloth off the loom.
My cloth was not symmetrical (I had started to run out of warp when I realized I probably should have planned things a bit better) and the selvedges were exactly what one might expect from a first-time weaver. But I loved weaving and I was so proud of my runner. I also thought I’d never weave again because at the time I thought owning a loom was completely out of the question.
A few years later I applied for a job at Fiberarts magazine, which was owned by a little company called Interweave, but ended up later getting an email from Madelyn van der Hoogt telling me there was an assistant editor opening at a magazine called Handwoven and that she’d like to interview me. That one weaving class (combined with several years of journalism experience) helped get me the job and soon I discovered the rigid-heddle loom and eventually bought a used floor loom at a yard sale. I found that not only did I love weaving, but I was good at it. I’ve since designed many weaving projects and my selvedges, while not perfect, have significantly improved.
If it had not been for the bad timing of that pottery class, or if my friends hadn’t insisted on paying for me to take the weaving class, or even if Madelyn had not sought me out to work for Handwoven I would not be writing this today, much less with an 8-shaft loom sitting in the next room over. When I’m sitting at my loom, I feel completely at home—even when I’m fixing the 100th broken warp thread or unweaving because I made a treadling error. A lot had to go right for me to find weaving, and I’m so grateful it did. And even though my first weaving project is perhaps not my best, I still treasure it because it’s reminds me of when I first fell in love with warp and weft.