Tapestry Weaving with April Rhodes


I started noticing the tapestry weaving trend almost three years ago when Elise Blaha Cripe posted one of her experiments with it on her blog. At the time I was kind of meh about it. 

Little by little, I saw more and more weavings showing up in the craft blogosphere. I became more intrigued and noticed ones I liked. I tried my hand at it with a little cardboard loom I made myself. The tapestry itself is pretty shoddy work, but I loved making it. Within a few days, I was obsessed. My weaving pinterest board ballooned. I found the superstars of the tapestry weaving word and fell in love. 

Most folks who have dipped even the tiniest of toes in the weaving waters have heard of Maryanne Moodie. Her bold, brightly-colored, geometric pieces are stunning (this one is my favorite). And then there is Natalie Miller, with pieces like this (deep swoon). And Hannah Waldron, in a whole different stratosphere. And Rose Jensen Holm

I started looking at tapestries from places like Oaxaco, Mexico. And every pattern in the world could be incorporated into a weaving. 

There are so many ways to be inspired - my mind has been exploding with the beauty. So when, for my birthday this year, my sweet wife got me a day-long tapestry weaving class with fabric designer and weaver April Rhodes, I was beside myself with excitement. I counted down the days. 

The class itself was wonderful. April was a complete delight, and it was so fun and creativity-affirming to spend 8 hours with other crafty women weaving our yarn in and out of the warp thread on our looms. 

It was also, as so many things are, a learning experience on a deeper level. I went in with a design, prepared to incorporate some of the Mexican weaving images I had seen and to weave something beautiful enough to hang alongside Maryanne Moodie's pieces. My first time weaving on a real lap loom. Because that's totally reasonable. 

My perfectionist self was running around my brain like a maniac for much of the day. The shapes I'd envisioned were not quite as simple to make as I'd anticipated (shocker). Though April tried to gently encourage me away from them, I forged ahead. And while I did make the shapes, I didn't finish my piece and I understood why she had suggested something different for my first real weaving. I spent much of the time frustrated and tense, trying to get all the stitches to line up exactly. (Also, I did math! On purpose!)

The woman sitting next to me kept saying "I love this! I'm having so much fun!" 

"Me too," I would reply, through clenched teeth.

I love the look of what I'm making, and I cannot wait to finish it, but when I got home and allowed the yoga practice I've been cultivating to seep its way into my weaving, I realized I needed to breath a little, to set it aside and remember why I enjoyed weaving that first time on my little cardboard loom when I didn't know what it was "supposed" to look like. 

This is just the first one. There will be many others, and if I want to, I can get better each time. I could also decide that getting better isn't what it's about. I could decide it's about the moving meditation of yarn through thread, of my hands moving across the textured stitches. 

Knowing me, I probably won't. 

But I could.

And who knows. I'm learning every day.

p.s. My previous weaving. All those warp threads showing! Eek! :)

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