How Study Groups Can Help Weavers

Updated: Dec 30, 2020

In the weaving community, small study groups are often formed to increase knowledge, share tips, problems and solutions, and build conversation and friendships across what is normally an isolated profession or hobby. After looking at study groups, we found an article in Handwoven, May-June 2010, “Study Groups Rock” by Madelyn van der Hoogt; an informative read.

From Interviews posted here on the Blog, we see that our own masterful weavers; Barbara Herbster and Marjie Thompson have belonged to their study groups for most of their weaving careers. At the end of this article, there are examples and including some links to study group examples for further review.

The image below is from: Photo credit: cyclonebill/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Do Study Groups always have a teacher / leader / facilitator?

Sometimes study groups form around a ‘mentor’ who has special knowledge and is willing to lead the group. Other study groups agree to a consensus decision-making process. In either case, logistics and planning for meetings are essential.

Where to find Weaving Study Groups?

Weavers’ guilds often act to organize study groups for their members as a benefit of the guild membership. Study groups also form around friendships, proximity, and interest, functioning without ‘support’ from guilds.

How do study group members meet during COVID restrictions?

For some, COVID restrictions have encouraged the use of ZOOM meetings. Though, there are some study groups with a nationwide membership, who have been ‘meeting’ online for years. Many groups start from a common location, e.g., gathering in homes of interested members. The community-wide distribution of vaccinations will help to bring back in-person meetings.

How do Study Groups choose what to study?

Weaving offers a great variety of elements to study. Study Groups are often organized around:

· Particular weave structures

· A weaving book, resource, or draft

· Historical collections, library collections

· Weaving techniques and problems

· Color explorations

· Interpretations of artwork and children’s books, for example the Charles River Weavers chose to create weavings inspired by Monet's "Poppy Fields".

What specific methodologies do Study Groups use?

Methodologies are as varied as the individuals who form the study group, for example:

· The group chooses a single draft, but each can vary the treadlings or yarn choices

· Members chose their own draft and focus on a common element; color, historical significance, home use, fashion-type, artwork

· Groups choose to investigate a single structure over months or change structures each month

Item exchanges - napkins, placemats, towels, etc.

· Groups make samples and compile them into a finished product

· Record sheets, photos, and notes are part of tracking group projects.

Examples of Study Groups (…there are many across the country):

· Charles River Weavers (local MA group since 2012)

· Chattahochee Weavers’ Guild has study groups that meets weekly

· Complex Weavers Study Groups

· Cross-Country Weavers (sharing samples since 1957)

· Weavers Guild of Springfield

· Wednesday Weavers (local MA group since 1956)

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