Last Monday, I released into the world my first digital course! It’s called The Not-So-Plain Weave Workshop. And because I LOVE the “behind the scenes” details & the “making of” extras, I thought I would share some with you!
A little background, first…
I have been weaving since 2005. And in that time, I have tried A LOT! I’ve worked on different types of looms. I have tried many, many types of weaving patterns. I have experimented with sooooo many yarns. And what has happened during that time is I have zeroed in on what interests me and what doesn’t.
While I find many elements of weaving fascinating, when it comes down to how I want to spend my time, I like creating fabric that focuses on 3 things –
- I LOVE color. I love the play of colors with each other. I love how a tan can look almost peach next to one color, and yellow next to another. It is endlessly intriguing to me.
- I LOVE texture. If you are anything like me, you feel this great need to touch all the fabrics, wherever you go. Texture speaks to the tactile aspect of weaving, which is just as important as the visual.
- I LOVE interesting fabric. And since “interesting” isn’t a very specific term, let me explain my definition. I want to weave fabric that encourages folks to come closer. It beckons the viewer to identify the spot where the blue fabric morphed into purple fabric. It asks people to pay attention to the repeat and smile/think/study the place in the fabric where I intentionally changed it.
As I have narrowed down what really makes me tick as an artist, I’ve also determined the best format. And in most cases, that is plain weave. Plain weave is what you used when you made a potholder as a kid. Over, under, over, under. Simple.
While I love pattern, it has never driven me as a weaver. Thus, using the most basic weaving pattern for my work makes sense. I’m not interested in a complicated pattern distracting my viewer from enjoying the fabulous colors and textures.
The start of the Not-So-Plain Weave Workshop
I’m a part of the Duneland Weaver’s Guild, based out of Chesterton, Indiana. It’s a fabulous, well-established, active group that includes ridiculously talented weavers. I adore them! The creations they bring for show ‘n tell consistently knock my socks off!
Each year, they do an end-of-the-year banquet (“end-of’-the-year” being in May, since they follow the school schedule). Last year, we were sitting at a lovely restaurant, listening to our featured speaker. She made a comment about a project being woven using only plain weave. And my friend, Sue, who’s sitting across from me said something to the effect of, “that’s right up your alley”.
What was so curious about that moment, is that up until that time, I had never thought of myself as being known for doing plain weave. It never even occurred to me!
But as I chewed on it, I came to the realization that I love using plain weave, and why not celebrate that? Plain weave is awesome! And while most weavers simply gloss right over it as beginner’s play, I feel strongly that there is much more to explore. Thus, the idea for the Not-So-Plain Weave Workshop was born!
The making of the Not-So-Plain Weave Workshop
Now that I had a kernel of an idea, I decided to make it real. And how better to do that than offering a class at the local weaving store? This past February, I did the first official, Not-So-Plain Weave Workshop at Three Moons Fiberworks, in downtown Chesterton.
Since I hadn’t taught this class before, I wanted to work with a smaller group. So, Rebecca (the owner) and I decided to cap it at eight students. I ended up with nine, since a pair of girlfriends wanted to do it together.
Just as an aside here, my parents are retired teachers. Not only that, they are planners. I inherited and absorbed lots of those skills. So as I pulled together the samples, the course outline, and the printed materials, I tried to think of every possible opportunity to share more information. My goal was to offer an enticing class that provided fabulous value and inspiration. To that end, I over-planned the heck out it!
I brought chocolates for the table. I had name tags. I had a sign-in sheet. I had a page for each student to take notes. There was a summary handout, plus a page for feedback. I was prepared!!!
And to my great relief and surprise, the experience was completely magical! The group of ladies that participated was so much better than I ever imagined! They weren’t shy to step up to the loom and try something new. They had so many great questions. Because of them, I began thinking that the Not-So-Plain Weave Workshop should go digital one day.
And then, the world came to a halt…
Oh, quarantine. It’s amazing to me how I’ve changed during this time while we are all locked up tight. There’s no way to anticipate how you will respond until you live through it. My coping mechanism has been letting in a tiny bit of news (just enough to gauge how dire the situation is), and then focusing on something I can control. Right now. In my house. Something I can feel good about.
So when it became clear that there will be no classes running anywhere for awhile (including my April class at Three Moons), I decided now is the perfect time to bring my lovely little workshop to life on the internet. I thought, “this is a great idea!”
Until I realized that I had absolutely NO idea how to do it. Zero. No inkling.
Thankfully, I have friends. Fabulous friends who have done things I haven’t done, and learned things I know nothing about. These are the people who helped me bring the Not-So-Plain Weave Workshop to life –
- Cole, one of my website boys, who is probably sick of me emailing him during quarantine! It’s almost daily that I have questions and requests for him. (I owe him LOTS of baked goods as a thank you!)
- Laura, my business buddy and unbelievable supporter, who has created multiple digital courses. When I asked her where to start, she pointed me in the right direction and advised me on things I wouldn’t have even anticipated!
- Marta, my friend and librarian, who edited the course with an eagle eye. At that point, I was unable to make any more decisions about what looked & sounded right. So she was invaluable in giving me a customer’s point of view. Plus, she’s brilliant at formatting and grammar!
In the span of about 4 weeks, the Not-So-Plain Weave Workshop transformed from a live workshop, reaching only eight people at a time, to a digital class that can excite and encourage many, many people from across the globe to get weaving!
Sneak peek of the Not-So-Plain Weave Workshop
Since you’ve come this far with me, it seems only fitting I give you a sneak peek of the course! The Not-So-Plain Weave Workshop includes 4 techniques, all designed as inspiration for how to weave beautiful, complicated-looking fabric using the most simple pattern. Here are the techniques –
- Multiple yarns in the shuttle
- Alternative materials
- Knotted thrums
- Shared dent
Each of these techniques encourages the weaver to use yarns and materials they already have in the house. There are no additional purchases required. Use what you have. Reuse and re-purpose.
My hope is that all students who complete the course begin looking at plain weave differently. They begin to see the great potential waiting for them to explore.
Beginning weavers can create stunning fabric with only a basic knowledge of weaving. Experienced weavers can play and experiment with a weave structure they learned on Day One. Curious crafters can view SO many options for what can be done with weaving.
Plain weave is amazing! If you are intrigued & want to see what all the fuss is about, come join me & our fellow students at https://actoncreative.net/not-so-plain-weave-workshop/
What’s next, you ask? Well, I’m thinking it might be a great idea to publish a course about dressing a loom. And a course simply about weaving would be a logical partner, don’t you think?
I hope you’ve enjoyed this behind the scenes look at the Not-So-Plain Weave Workshop! Like anything worth doing, the journey to produce it was challenging and exciting. I can’t wait to see what you create next! Happy Weaving!!! – chris
p.s. The Not-So-Plain Weave Workshop is not available at this time. But you are welcome to sign-up for the Acton Creative email to be the first to know when it opens back up!