Mother and daughter Sue Willingham of The Willingham Weavery and Janet Dawson of The Weaver's Palette are an international, east-meets-west, island to island, border hopping, mother/daughter weaving duo extraordinaire! They live on opposites coasts of two different countries but visit one another as often as possible and, due to the wonders of the interwebs (and a couple of webcams and hands free phones), they weave “together” almost as much as if they lived down the road. The two of them live and breathe to weave and are often in consultation with one another on projects, on teaching, and on life in general.
Together Janet and Sue represent over 30 years of weaving and teaching experience. Their shared enthusiasm for their craft will inspire you and their mother/daughter antics will entertain you while their breadth of teaching experience and subtle (or not so subtle) differences in approach and technique provide you with a solid foundation of weaving theory and skills that will enable you to weave confidently on your own for years to come.
Weaving I: Beginning Weaving
With detailed instructions and step by step guidance, Sue and Janet lead students through the process of planning a project, winding a warp, and dressing a floor loom. Students will have lots of time at the loom each day to learn and practice good weaving techniques and to explore plain weave, twill and basket weave under the guidance of two attentive and experienced instructors.
Each day will also include discussions and demonstrations covering a variety of basic weaving information, skills and techniques, such as record keeping, suggestions for accuracy in dressing the loom and while weaving, the difference between different types of looms, choosing yarns and setts, and much more.
Students should bring their own small, sharp scissors, blunt end tapestry needles, and note taking supplies. All other materials and equipment will be provided (though students who have their own shuttles and bobbins may wish to bring these as well). A materials fee will be charged for yarns and handouts provided.
Weaving II: Continuing Weaving
Weaving II is a round robin of weaving structures varying from three to eight shafts, such as krokbragd, waffle weave, lace, fancy twills, block weaves, unit weaves, and/or two shuttle weaves. Using pre-wound warps and drafts provided by the instructors, student will work in pairs to dress the looms, each with a different structure, and then work individually to weave a sample of each.
This smorgasbord of structures is merely the background for the real focus of the class: discussions and demonstrations designed to help students refine their weaving technique, learn advanced weaving skills, increase their understanding of written standard and profile drafts, and gain comfort and confidence at the loom.
Hours and Registration
Courses run from Monday to Friday from 9 am to 4 pm and include formal instruction each morning and afternoon plus several hours of weaving time with two (2!) experienced instructors close at hand, for a total of 6 hours of instruction and supervised weaving each day for five days. In addition, the studio will be open before and after scheduled class times from Monday to Thursday and students are welcome and encouraged to weave on their own as much as they like between classes. Those who complete their first project with time to spare may plan and weave a second if time permits (additional materials fees may apply in this case).
There is a maximum enrolment of eight students in each course and there will be two (2!) instructors on hand at all times, so students will receive plenty of individual attention and assistance.Courses cost $395 plus materials. There are only eight spots available in each, so register early to avoid disappointment! A non-refundable deposit of $150 will hold your place. To register for either course, contact Sue by email at msuewill[at]centurytel[dot]net, by phone at 1-206-463-1747, or by mailing a cheque to Sue Willingham, PO Box 2395, Vashon, WA 98070-2395. We recommend that you call before mailing a cheque to make sure that there is still space available.
Praise for Sue and Janet's courses from past students:"It was a tremendous class from a learning perspective but also very fun. I enjoyed everyone and Sue and Janet really set the tone for a serious, comprehensive and non-threatening class."
"It was helpful to have both of you there to guide us and give us your different perspectives. We covered a lot of material!"
"Janet's demo of 'This is what I do when I do like this' was very helpful for me; it gave me permission to speed up, make some noise, and find a new rhythm in my weaving."
"Both of you are born teachers, with a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm to share. Your attentiveness and sensitivity to each student made being in class a real pleasure."
"I've always loved yarn: the colours, the textures, the feel of it in my fingers... As a girl, I used to spend hours sifting through my grandmother's yarn drawer and winding up the tangled skeins into tidy balls, then unwinding them so I could do it all over again. Gramma taught me to knit when I was nine and to crochet a little later but when I moved to Cape Breton Island in 1994 and took my first weaving class, I knew I'd found my place: at the loom.
Though I've always longed to create beautiful things, my strengths run more toward math, computers and mechanics. This makes weaving perfect for me because it combines structure and beauty, balances planning with creativity, and allows exploration within a clearly defined framework. In short, it lets the arty-farty right side of my brain and the techy and mechanical left side of my brain cooperate rather than compete for my attention.
I also love to teach! I come from a long line of teachers so it's in my blood and discovering a new way to explain an old idea so that it finally clicks for someone who's been struggling is a particular delight. That I can combine my two passions for weaving and teaching into an actual job is a constant source of surprise and wonder for me. That I can do it with my mother? Priceless!”
Janet learned to weave at the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design in 1994 and taught the weaving program there from 2000 to 2009. She has been a member of the Sydney Weavers' Guild since '94 and was the HGA Rep for the Maritime provinces for four years. She has had articles published in the Ontario Spinners & Handweavers magazine, Fibre Focus, and twice in Handwoven Magazine, most recently in the Nov/Dec 2009 issue. Janet has her own weaving business, The Weaver's Palette, and has recently started a second, The Bobbin Tree, an online store catering to weavers and spinners. Her handwoven blankets, scarves, table linens, garments and other items have been sold in shops in the Maritimes for 15 years and now grace the homes and wardrobes of customers across North America, Europe and as far away as Australia and the country of Georgia.
Though Janet has experience weaving and teaching advanced, multi-shaft structures, her current passion is for colour and texture in simple structures like plain weave and basket weave, and twills both plain and fancy.
"Weaving has become the focus of my life since retirement, a way to be creative and to be involved with creative people. I especially enjoy helping people learn to weave and to explore more about weaving. My students never fail to surprise me with their individual flair -- I always learn as much as they do!
Sharing a love of weaving with my daughter is, of course, a very special gift. Her enthusiasm is the reason I took my first class. Since then sharing and consulting together has bridged the miles between us. I am really looking forward to teaching these workshops with Janet!"
Sue learned to weave in 1996 at the Weaving Works in Seattle – and via phone consultations with Janet! She moved to Vashon Island in 1998 and after retiring in 2001 had more time to focus on weaving. In 2005 she was asked by friends to teach them to weave. Her living room wasn't big enough so she converted her garage into a studio and later in 2005 opened the Willingham Weavery there. All of her looms were used when she acquired them. Currently there are eight floor looms and several table looms. During the workshops two more will be added temporarily for participants to use. Sue's weaving interests are eclectic -- she likes to experiment with new weave structures and various yarns. As looms have been added to her studio, new opportunities arise because of the size and number of shafts.
In 2003 Sue was one of the co-founders FiberNet, a group of Vashon fiber enthusiasts who share, teach, and learn from one another and, in 2008, mounted a show in Vashon Island's Blue Heron gallery. An outgrowth of FiberNet and of Sue's weaving classes is Vashon Weavers, a group of island weavers that meets regularly and enthusiastically to share and learn.
Sue has been a member of the Seattle Weavers' Guild since 2002 and is currently serving a third term as recording secretary. For several years she has participated in the Vashon Island Holiday Studio Tour the first two weekends in December; other island weavers also show their work at her studio during these tours.
The Willingham Weavery
Sue's studio, The Willingham Weavery, is located on beautiful Vashon Island in the Puget Sound between Seattle and the Olympic peninsula. There are several places for visitors to the island to stay and to eat; anyone coming from away to take the workshops may contact us and we'll provide you with suggestions.
Sue's studio contains looms made by several different manufacturers so students will have an opportunity to meet and test drive jack, countermarche and rigid heddle looms made by Ashford, Glimakra, Harrisville, LeClerc, Macomber, and Schacht – an invaluable experience for anyone considering purchasing a loom for the first time. The Weavery also has a nearly complete set of Handwoven Magazine and many other weaving texts that students may make use of during the week.