This year is certainly the time for local workshops – and in March, I was able to attend, courtesy of the Telarana Weavers Guild in Mesa, Arizona, Tom Knisely’s Huck Lace Workshop.
Tom provided drafts for both four and eight harness looms. Since my workshop loom has four harnesses, that was my choice by default – and what a fun exercise! This is the first time ever that I have woven a “gamp” ( A gamp is a systematic arrangement of warp threadings or warp color sequences in section of equal size, each section being a minimum of two inches and not more than six, and woven as drawn in. Thank you, Harriet Tidball via Handwoven magazine!) My excuses were numerous, laziness my driver, but there is always a first time for everything, and an opportunity for the best time to make an exception.
Tom’s a great teacher. He’s focused, keeps you on track, has a great sense of humor. While he covers the basics and makes sure you understand the concept, he also allows for curiosity of the structure and individual exploration of new possibilities. If you’re a foodie, you can imagine Tom as the Alton Brown of weaving, minus Brown’s (sometimes) annoying theatrics. You can feel the enthusiasm and passion for the craft – Tom loves to weave, he loves weaving, and he loves to share it, too.
There was a change of tie-up in every new section, each section containing at least six treadling variations. I was constantly amazed at how much my interest was captivated. Time flew by, measured by the aches in my weaving muscles that called for the requisite stretching. Two colors in the warp, then one, two or three colors in the weft. Someone calculated the total number of variations, but I just like knowing that there is an ever-expanding horizon of choice with no chance of getting bored.
One of workshop participants blasted through his warp in two days. That provided an opportunity for Tom to demonstrate how he warps the loom. He shared a lot of interesting tricks of the trade, and gave a new perspective to the warping process – especially overlaying multiple color warps. I believe he has documented most of what he covered in class on his Rag Rug video.
I, for one, muddled along, and in the interest of trying to “square” every sample variation, I finished my warp on the third day, in the morning, with a few of the last variations uncompleted. But now I have a three yard pallate of amazing huck lace – so many scarves, runners and shirt material, and so little time!
My gamp is now washed and hanging in full view in my front room – inspiring me every day and gently reminding me of the great expanse of weaving yet to be done.
A closing note – since The Mannings have closed their shop, Tom and his daughter are working to get the Red Stone Glen FIber Arts Center in Pennsylvania up and running, to continue offering weaving instruction. In the meatime he travels throughout the country, teaching weaving. He also writes a monthly column Notes from the Fell in Handwoven Magazine.