Thursday, December 4, 2014

A dozen gift ideas for tapestry weavers. (So you don't have to get your tinsel in a tangle!)

Life gets a little nuts around the holidays. It is a beautiful time of the year but it can be hard to stop long enough to find the still joy of it. Buying things for other people can be a happy practice in gratitude and giving or it can be a frustrating proposition. If you are a tapestry weaver or you have a weaver on your gift list, here are a few suggestions. You tapestry weavers might want to forward this post to your main gift-buying love.

1. An online class with Rebecca Mezoff. (You knew that one was going to be first, right?) What better gift could there be than education. My introductory tapestry techniques class is designed to give tapestry weavers a solid foundation in the basic skills. It is offered in several formats and you can find more details on my website HERE. Registration is open now for the class that starts January 5th... just after we've all recovered from the festivities.

2. A membership to the American Tapestry Alliance. ATA is a wonderful organization that every tapestry artist should belong to. The organization works hard to further the knowledge of tapestry in the world. Membership gives you access to a wonderful quarterly newsletter, scads of learning opportunities including workshops and mentorship programs, an online list discussion, juried shows, online exhibitions, educational articles, and the ability to be part of a vibrant community of tapestry artists. Go HERE to sign up!

3. A handbeater. Every tapestry weaver needs a hand beater regardless of the kind of loom they weave on. Threads Thru Time makes lovely beaters that are for sale in their Etsy shop. They are beautiful piece of art that will be a cherished tool for decades. I just got a new set a couple weeks ago and am already in love.
4. A small tapestry loom. A brand new Mirrix loom under the tree is pretty much a dream come true for any tapestry weaver. These sturdy versatile looms are made in the USA. I love them and own more than I will admit to.
5. A large tapestry loom! If you are in the market for a fantastic, solid, American-made piece of equipment, I can't recommend the countermarche Harrisville Rug Loom highly enough. It is my main loom and I will never part with it (though I may have Harrisville Designs make me a larger version!). There are two things on this loom that most floor looms don't have which make it excellent for tapestry: a warp extender (amazing, even warp tension) and a worm gear (infinite ability to loosen and tighten the warp). See the loom HERE. Check out this great video about Harrisville--woodshop shown at the end.

6. Jim Hokett is a woodworker who married a weaver. He makes wonderful small weaving tools (and some wonderful large ones too!) in his workshop in Magdalena, New Mexico. I teach a class using his small looms. These little lap looms and the tools that go with them are a fantastic gift for someone who already has a fleet of tapestry looms or for someone who is just starting out and wants to see what tapestry is all about. Take a tour of his blog to see some of the wonderful things he makes. Hokett Would Work (he also has a great sense of humor). Jim sells some of his things through The Woolery or you can contact him directly. I love these little 7 x 8 inch looms, his 7 inch shed stick, and his small turned beaters for starters.
7. Yarn. Every weaver needs yarn. Sometimes the best policy if you don't know what to get someone is to get a gift certificate so your weaver can choose their own fiber. The basic tapestry yarn I use for my students and online classes is made by Harrisville Designs. I buy undyed Harrisville Highland (color #44) and dye it myself. So if your weaver is a dyer, this is a great base yarn. You can also buy this yarn already dyed in cones or skeins.

One of my new favorite yarns (used in the above picture of the little weaving on the Hokett loom) is made by Weavers Bazaar. This yarn is made in England, but the shipping over the pond for small amounts is incredibly reasonable. Matty and Lin are the friendliest people and they can help you choose a good sample bag for your weaver. They even have gift packs all made up in various colorways.

There are a few other ideas about yarn sources in this blog post of mine.

8. An umbrella swift. Every yarn user needs a swift and a ball winder. If you buy yarn in skeins, it has to be made into balls before you can use it. Yes, you can have your wife hold it on her hands while you wind it into a ball by hand, but that may eventually lead to some marital tension due to the length of time it takes to do this. I use THIS ball winder (available in many places). There are various swifts out there of varying cost. I like THESE little metal ones. HERE is another wooden option.

9. A few fun gifts.
What weaver doesn't like to send cards with sheep on them? HERE are some cute ones. And HERE is another set of holiday cards picturing weavers.
Does your weaver put stickers on their car or elsewhere? HERE is one of a floor loom.
How about a T-shirt with weaverly stuff on it? THIS one is especially good. Weavers ARE warped.
HERE are some tote bags with various funny things on them.
What about THIS one?
I think this weaver needs to take up tapestry in retirement. I frequently say that tapestry weaving is a hedge against dementia and possibly insanity.

10. Bobbins. Many tapestry weavers use them. These brassy bobs made by John Moss and sold by Kathe Todd-Hooker at Fine Fiber Press are absolutely beautiful.
11. BOOKS! Books are always a good choice in my estimation. There are so many great books about tapestry out there. Here are a few of my more recent suggestions and a few classics.
  • Jean Pierre Larochette's recent book The Tree of Lives. See THIS blog post for details.
  • The Thread's Course in Tapestry by Mete Lise Rossing. See THIS post for details.
  • Any of Kathe Todd-Hooker's tapestry books. I especially recommend Tapestry 101 and Line in Tapestry.
  • If your tapestry weaver is interested in color (and who isn't?), I recommend a study of Joannes Itten. The Art of Color: the subjective experience and objective rationale of color is perhaps the best book about color out there--at least it is the one everyone should start with. The full version costs more than $100, but it is a gorgeous large-format book and I highly recommend it. If you can't swing the big book, there are smaller versions with less text and just a few plates. Here it is on Amazon. Try for a good used copy.
  • Woven Color by James Koehler. This is the autobiography of a tapestry weaver from the southwestern US. James was my mentor and teacher and this is his story from growing up in Michigan to his life as a benedictine monk to his career as a tapestry weaver. It is full of color plates of his work and pictures from his life. He finished this book in 2010 and passed away unexpectedly in 2011. This book is his voice now. See THIS video for more about James.
  • Tapestry Handbook: The Next Generation by Carol Russell. This is an old standard. This second edition is full of gorgeous tapestries. The text is about tapestry technique and while it isn't a super comprehensive manual, it is extremely solid and a book that all tapestry weavers should have on their shelves.
  • This is a book my mom got me for Christmas a few years ago and it has an honored place on my tapestry bookshelf. The Art of Modern Tapestry: Dovecot Studios since 1912 by David Weir. I most certainly want to visit this swimming-pool-turned-tapestry-studio, so if anyone has some extra frequent flier miles and a time-share in Edinburgh, I'm open!
12. An in-person workshop -- make a trip out of it! If your weaver loves to travel and take event workshops, I am teaching my popular Color Gradation Techniques for Tapestry class in Golden, Colorado April 30 - May 3. Registration for that is now open and you can find out more HERE. If that class isn't the one, I'll be teaching a color theory class and a few others at the Michigan League of Handweavers conference in Holland, MI in June. Registration for that is not yet open. And there will be more classes offered in Crested Butte and Golden, Colorado in the fall.

Have a wonderful holiday season. Drink the egg nog. Go see the Christmas lights. Play in the snow with some little kids. Love each other. Weave something!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Rebecca! These are all wonderful suggestions...I've already passed your list around at my house.


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