Sunday, April 13, 2008

Topic Overview: Weaving

Presenting the first installment of a new feature, topic overviews, which will focus on how to gain in-depth knowledge of a topic or skill. This week's feature: weaving.

Yes, there's more than one way to make a scarf. In fact, weaving allows you to make everything from scarves to tapestries to clothing fabric and gives you total control of the colors and pattern.

If you're interested, start with the two-day weaving workshop at Conner Prairie. You'll do a project (probably a scarf) from start to finish -- everything from choosing the yarn to cutting the fringe. The class is expensive, but you'll get a great overview of the weaving process. These people really know what they're doing; they weave all of the blankets and other fiber items on display in the living history areas of the museum.

Want to learn more? Sign up for the introductory weaving class at the Indianapolis Art Center. Instead of doing one project from start to finish, you'll focus on learning types of weaving patterns and making small samplers. (It's a good solution to the center's equipment problems; when I took the class about a year ago, there weren't enough looms to go around, and there were only four people in the class.)

Still interested? Make the drive to Arcadia, which is home to Tabby Tree Weaver. This is another chance to get a start-to-finish lesson in weaving, and there's plenty of personal attention. (I made a table runner.) When that project is finished, you can rent a loom for a low weekly rate to get even more practice.

That's where my personal experience with weaving ends, but there are lots of other options. Classes are offered at the Indiana Traditional Arts Center in Monrovia and the Weaver's Loft in Guilford. Or, get connected with a local weaving guild for advice and ideas.

A word of caution: No matter how much you enjoy that first Conner Prairie class, do not buy a loom until you've had more practice. You'll learn more as you go about what kind of loom you might like, and you'll find out whether you find the repetition involved in weaving to be soothing or tedious.

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