Eight months ago I asked the universe (and my friends) for weaving students and I am full of gratitude that it really is happening. After 33 years as a weaver, I am now also a teacher. My blog, my advertising in yarn stores, etc. have not created even a nibble, but Lou of SF Fibers and other friends have sent work my way. Weaving creates camaraderie and a wonderful community and I love passing it on.
It’s hard for me to create a business because each new person becomes a friend and it’s hard to charge friends for helping them, but I actually now have a bank account and am aiming to bring in as much income as I spend on fiber work each year ( a number that seems to keep growing). It’s a modest goal (day job pays for the rest of life), but it feels really good to create my identity as a self-supporting fiber artist.
My first client was a friend’s neighbor and she had mentioned to him that she wanted to learn to weave. When I mentioned to him my new career, a match was made. She came to my house 2-3 times a month for 5 months and learned weaving from scratch. It was a learning curve for me: what is essential to teach first; how do I restrain my enthusiasm so I don’t overwhelm a student with info; how to let the student personalize the work and yet learn the basics of loom set up, plain weave and twill?
Then I met an experienced weaver who doesn’t need a teacher but sometimes needs help sometimes with the mechanics of setting up a loom. Some of the learning here was the mechanics of warping with fine threads, but the biggest learning was again to restrain my tendency to take over and run things. This was her project and I changed it from her desired front to back warping to my favored back to front and good things did not come from that decision. We laugh about it now, but taking on a project that seemed simple and went astray meant that I ended up working about 20 very painful hours that I hadn’t planned on.
In November I finally hooked up with the eight year old daughter of a friend’s friend who wanted to learn to weave. Teaching adults is fine. Teaching children is really a blast. This little girl was creating cardboard looms for herself and weaving with her fingers. Needle weaving and shuttles opened new worlds for her. She has a strong sense of color and design. She intuitively asks “what would happen if” and names ancient weaving styles. With my little 7 inch Easy Weaver she quickly learned to how to create straight selvages and churns out product after product. Her dolls get shawls and rugs and blankets and now with a circular knitting loom she is churning out hats, and scarves. The holiday season brought her a larger loom and the joys (NOT) of really learning to warp a rigid heddle loom. It requires a lot of patience and perseverance (and some adult help), for an eight year old to warp a loom, but she’s got the passion and it’s contagious.
A neighbor who has never woven wants help to do a one time weaving project. Friends want to learn to dye with indigo. A young friend joins me in a dye day with silk scarves as we create furoshiki wraps for our Christmas gifts.
A young designer needs help developing a product. An old loom on craigslist needs to be restored. A beginning weaver needs to learn to read drafts and set up a four shaft table loom. We’re setting up a Spinners’ Night Out in Oakland. The work keeps coming. The joys of more and more fiber art work, of teaching and inspiring new weavers keep growing. I am very grateful.