It's no secret that I currently work for a lovely company called Harrisville Designs in western NH.
In their own words, they are one of the last woolen spinning mills in the US, and the only industrial community of the early 19th century that still survives in America in its original form. You can see more of their story here: Our Story. They sell floor looms, yarn, and a number of fiber art kits for children, including their extremely popular potholder looms.
From February to November, Harrisville Designs hosts a number of workshops covering everything from rug weaving to natural dyeing to Fair Isle knitting to garment design. Ranging from a 3-day weekend to a full week, the workshops are relaxing, informative, and a lot of fun. In October, I was given the opportunity to experience "Beginning Weaving and Beyond" with Tom Jipson, an experienced weaver in the southern New Hampshire area.
In short, it was the best week ever. From Monday to Friday, I wove from 9-4 every day. On the first day, I walked into the studio not knowing what to expect, and a little nervous (it took me back to my Driver's Ed days, and the day I took my SATs - being homeschooled, a classroom setting is unfamiliar and a little scary for me). Tom immediately made me feel comfortable. He is calm, kind, and extremely knowledgeable when it comes to all things weaving.
I learned how to warp my loom on the first day. It was quiet and relaxing in the studio. Everyone was in their sock feet, and we wound our yarn around the warping boards in unison. Colorful cones of yarn were laid out on the tables for us to choose from, and the sun shone in through the old windows.
The second day through the fifth day were all blurs of color, laughter, peace, and creativity. I was the youngest in the class by about 15-20 years, if not more, but I enjoyed myself thoroughly. Being around people with similar interests, with my only responsibility being to weave as much as I could, was amazing. I would get to the studio by 9, take off my shoes, and make a cup of tea. Then I'd weave as much as I could, broken only by occasional lessons from Tom or troubleshooting.
At the end of the week, I had three beautiful pieces to take home. The first piece was a sampler of sorts, the second was a twill, and the third was a lacy piece.
This class was good for my creative soul. The rhythm of weaving is like nothing else. Reading the drafts is like figuring out a puzzle, and putting colors together is like painting a beautiful picture from your mind alone. The studio was filled with the sound of the harnesses lifting and the treadles clacking and the low murmur of kindred spirits encouraging you on to further progress.
Do I recommend this class? Absolutely. I would take it again. I wish it had lasted for a month, but I doubt my back could take a month straight of weaving 7 hours a day. (Thank goodness for yoga and stretching!). It inspired me to start saving for my own floor loom and dream of the day when I can weave in my own studio at home.