I have been teaching myself weaving for two years now. After admiring the old loom at San Juan Island, I learned how to warp at Pipe Spring. I practiced what I knew on a two shaft table loom at Fort Frederica. This summer I got better at balancing warp and weft on the four shaft table loom at Fort Necessity. But I just know enough to do basic projects and I wanted to get better. So I signed up for a weaving class at Red Stone Glen Fiber Arts Center.
Red Stone Glen Fiber Arts Center teaches spinning and weaving classes year round. It is located between Harrisburg and York Pennsylvania. In staying on the east side of Harrisburg, Tom and I had an easy 25 minute drive to class each day. Students can also stay in a house on the grounds or at a local hotel.
The force behind Red Stone Glen is Tom Knisely, a master weaver and author of a dozen books on weaving. He loves to share his passion for weaving with others and get them excited about it too. Of course, these students then purchase looms and yarns from the store. But Red Stone Glen is primarily a teaching facility.
I decided to take the Beginning Weaving class that would cover all the basics. We don’t always know we have a gap in our knowledge of something until someone points it out. This is a five day class where you weave a dish towel, a gamp, and then a scarf. Along the way you learn how to read a pattern, pick out the yarns for a project, and warp a loom. I expected to be the student with the most experience in weaving in the class, but all of the five women in class had experience in weaving. Three of the women had their own looms. But we all had things we needed to learn or gain confidence in.
We started out by learning the parts of the loom (the two hours of class I missed). Soon after I arrived, we started weaving on looms that were already warped. We all wove on Schacht Wolf Pup LT looms, which are small floor looms with four shafts and six treadles. I was amazed how much faster weaving is on a floor loom than the tables looms I have been using the last year. I wove an entire dish towel in a couple of hours!
The next day we talked about reading patterns and got our first practice with it. A gamp is a sampler of patterns, where you try different things to find out what you might like to do later. I did fine with my gamp as long as the patterns were only four row repeats, but I had a harder time with the 16 row repeats. Practice is important. Tom suggested I break the pattern down into four row sections, making it easier for me to follow. My finished gamp turned out pretty well, although I unwittingly repeated one section and skipped another section.
The weaving class was five days long, and this is just the first two days. Tomorrow I will write about the scarf that I designed and made.