We don't get much chance to weave in public. The occasional sheep-to-shawl, or guild demonstration, yes, but not often do we see weaving on the train on the way to work, or weaving in the doctor's office while waiting. Knitters and spindlers have all the fun.
Weaving is much more a solitary craft. But,occasionally we get out there, and perhaps lure a few new converts to the craft. Interweave Press
has been sponsoring an award they call FiberHearts
, for guilds that do weaving outreach: teaching, demonstrating, and generally putting weaving in the public eye.
My local guild
was the recipient of one of the first FiberHearts
awards, in 2003. We have two guild ringleaders, Beryl Moody and Igor Raven, who manage to organize, set up, staff and cajole others to staff, lots of demonstrations in our local community through the year. We have a presence at our County Fair, we also spin and demonstrate weaving at other local events held at the fair grounds. The guild has purchased inkle looms, which are set up on demonstration days and have a docent present to help children (and adults!) learn to weave inkle bands. We have sheep to shawl demonstrations, and lots of spinners come out and spin. It was these activities that led to the FiberHearts award in 2003.
We decided that some of the money would be used to sponsor another guild outreach we call the Rug Project. We would, as a group, spin, dye, warp and weave a knotted pile rug, in public, and invite others to learn and participate as we demonstrate. The project could involve almost everyone in our guild: we bought wool and mohair from local producers, we spun the warp and weft yarns, dyed them with natural materials available locally, designed a rug based on local images such as acorns, oak leaves, quail, deer, and snowflakes, and we weave in public whenever we get the chance.
Much of the wool and mohair for the project was donated, then we sent it to Yolo Wool Mill
to be processed into French combed top. We spun the yarn, and then invited Karen Urbanek
to come and teach a workshop on natural dyeing. The design team: Ginger Luters, Teresa Poston, Jan Evers and Eileen Jorgensen, came up with a design representative of our local area. I taught 2 knotted pile workshops to our guild members, with the understanding that the trained weavers would then demonstrate and teach others as the rug progressed.
We built a portable loom out of galvanized pipe, met to warp the loom, and I started the rug out with a border. Then we were out in public! We demonstrated and taught and events through the summer of 2004, then the rug went home with a different weaver each month. Members have been weaving in their homes, and I had not seen the rug for many months. Our target date for completing this first (!) rug is June 2005. Recently, the rug loom showed up at a guild meeting, and I was pleased and surprised at the progress:
This is the back of the loom, showing the rug as it wraps around after weaving. The picture above is the rug as the weaver would see it: the weaving edge.
I cannot tell you how pleased I am, not only with the progress on the loom, but also that we have managed to lure at least one new weaver (Hi Jan!) and several experienced weavers (Hi Dee, Sue, Beryl and Igor!) into knotted pile. It is a delight to me that other people enjoy this process, and that everyone in the guild who has worked on this project has had such fun.
We plan to raffle the rug at the conclusion, and I have my money ready to buy tickets. We hope to raise back the investment Interweave made in our guild, and keep our outreach projects going. Thank you all!