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Foundations of Weaving 

Why are all first-time students—even experienced weavers—encouraged to take Foundations? In short, because the historic equipment and methods we use are not taught anywhere else. Weavers traditionally were much more responsible for the function of their tools than is possible with modern mass produced looms. They utilized particular skills that maximize efficiency and ergonomics. This class is centered around engaging with our antique looms and the techniques they’re designed for; every intermediate and advanced class we offer is quite literally built on this foundation. 

The Tools
The Marshfield School of Weaving is home to the largest collection of working 18th and 19th-century hand textile tools in the United States. Using handmade equipment perfected through centuries of textile making for the first time is a lesson itself for even the most seasoned weaver. The experience of sitting at a loom that has made cloth for generations of weavers past and generations of weavers to come invites each student into this craft tradition. Students will use 200-year-old spools, skarnes, warping bars, quill wheels, and looms, as well as newly made shuttles, pirns, and temples. 

The Techniques 
Each student will take their own project through from start to finish. Class begins with an introduction to project planning including yarn sizes and calculating setts, followed by multiple end warping (making a warp using multiple yarns at once) and forming a lease using a skarne and warping bars. Next, students beam on their warp with a raddle using solo or assisted methods, learn how to construct the loom harness, draw-in (thread the heddles), sley the reed, tie on the warp, build a counterbalance shedding mechanism, and tie up the treadles in walking fashion. In weaving, students are introduced to the finer points of shuttle handling, pirn winding, and proper use of a temple. If time allows, the webs will be wet finished, otherwise students will receive instruction on how to carry this out at home. Unlike a class focused on creating a collection of woven samples, this class is an in-depth look at the entire weaving process with a strong emphasis on technique. 

The Project
Students may choose to weave one of two projects scaled to their experience level: a length of toweling, or a wool throw inspired by a traditional Scottish wedding blanket. New weavers will work with cotton for the towels or plied wool yarn for the throw. More experienced weavers may choose to weave towels with plied or singles linen, or challenge themselves with a throw woven of singles wool yarns. Either project may be woven in plainweave or twill. The toweling may be woven as napkins or a small tablecloth. Weavers with their own loom access may make a longer warp and any unwoven length may be chained off for weaving at home. Students who finish early may wind a warp to take home or weave on a loom that’s already warped if available. 


Intermediate & Advanced Weaving

More advanced students may pursue a greater range of weave structures, fibers, and long-term study. Classes are offered in pattern weaves like Ms and Os, huck, summer and winter, overshot, spot weave, krokbragd, damask, satin weave, and more. The demands of working with fine linen and silk pose a welcome challenge for the adventurous. Learn about 19th-century Domestic Textiles in a special two day sampler class where students rotate between looms set-up with striped wool Venetian carpeting, linen diaper toweling, checked cotton shirting, and a small overshot coverlet. An ethnic rug weaving class gives students a chance to weave rug styles from across the globe.   Much of our instruction is one on one and can be tailored to a wide range of traditional and contemporary weave structures. A variety of project ideas can be found our Course Catalogue.  


Workshops:  Dyeing, Spinning & Other Techniques

Natural dyes have been a source of awe and delight for millennia and are the subject of shorter one to four day classes.. Local plants are the focus of Dyestuffs From Vermont Meadows, Gardens, and Hedgerows, a class that changes with the seasons and rhythms of nature. Get the blues during the Indigo Intensive, a four day plunge into vatted indigo where students set-up indigo vats, build shades from sky blue to midnight, and experiment with surface design techniques like resist dyeing. Students use mordants to shift colors from scarlet to purple and try their hands at fabric printing.

Spinning classes and working with the processing of bast fibers and flax are also offered in the spring and summer months.  Check out our Guest Instructor Page for workshop offerings.


 Weaving Intensives & Work Study

Students can choose to come and study for a longer period of time either in a weaving intensive or as a work study student. Either option offers the student time to focus intensively on their choice of projects. The work study program is a minimum of 4 weeks and can be as long as 3 months.  The student will choose to do their work study work (3 hrs) either in the morning or afternoon and then the rest of the day is open for their own work.  We are available for supervision of these projects during the hours of 9:30 - 4:30 pm Monday through Friday.  The studio is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and in the 4 week study period it is possible for the student to complete  4 - 6 projects depending on complexity.  Many students come with a focused course of study that they wish to pursue but that is not written in stone.  Some students need to get a feel for what we have to offer before they can decide what they would like to focus on.  Most of our looms are 4 S counter balance barn frame looms  but we also have an 8 S barn frame loom, and a 28 S dobby loom. There is also a  fully equipped dye studio.  Students must have some prior weaving experience and ideally will have taken our 5 day foundation weaving class.