Just before the start of the Fall semester at New Mexico Tech, the administration decided to change things up which resulted in merging my Weaving 101 and 201 classes. This mixing of levels is both synergistic and chaotic. Imagine a class happening in the middle of a lab. While the beginners are inspired by the more advanced students, they are also distracted by all these other things that are going on. They need a quieter, more structured environment to master those basic hard-earned skills. I give huge props to the more experienced students, they have a leave-no-weaver-behind mentality and jump in to help when they see a weaver in trouble. Occasionally, that results in too many answers—sometimes we need just one answer.
All this is going through my head this month as I launched the first of five classes in the Yarnworker School of Weaving. I enjoy the energy of the weave-alongs and I’ve noticed those quietly sitting in the back who may feel like they need to step back a notch. Weave-alongs are meant to challenge, inspire, and encourage. Classes are foundational, comprehensive, and cumulative—each class is designed to build on the skills gained in the previous class.
Being able to teach at the university each week, on the road once a month, and online nearly every day, keeps my skills fresh. I enjoy the challenge of preparing for class, preparing handouts, noting where explanations could be better, samples need to be made, matching the right technology for the right purpose in any given environment, and mulling over students’ questions. The classroom—real or virtual—is where I get inspiration for new patterns, classes, workshops, weave-alongs, books, seminars, and events. It is energizing work. You have to learn how to shut your brain off and not fret with the fretters—you find a way past the fret and dig in.
‘Tis true there’s a lot to manage, but it is the most unified my working life has ever been. My past working life was a constant battle of split focus, which is not the same as multitasking. While I’m currently managing lots of day-to-day activities, they all relate to one thing—teaching weavers.
That’s what my sabbatical last year taught me—I can take all my skills and focus them in one area and the result is a much happier mind and more productive work. It doesn’t seem like it would take me nearly fifty years to learn this. Ultimately, the fact that I have an amazing group of patrons who are willing to support this work and allow me to be experimental and fail forward is what makes this phase of my weaving life possible. Our year of weave-alongs taught me so much, and the continued weave-alongs and school would not happen without them.
I have a map for where we are going, and I’m grateful that the Yarnworker community is so open to those side trips that turn out to be the best part of the journey. We take it one project at a time.
P.S. Registration just opened for another weave-along. We are weaving the Twill Be Done Runner from Handwoven Home. Join us!