Saturday, August 12, 2023

Spring 2023 Travel Adventures

 I do not post very often to my blog, but I do try to keep my teaching calendar up to date here.  

If you are interested in a remote program/slide lecture for your fiber guild meeting, that information is in the post for June 19, 2020.

I have had a lot of travel so far this year, and some delightful fiber events, so let's get caught up!

Interestingly, I have had quite a number of workshops and conferences cancelled this year, largely to lack of registration.  I'm curious to know if this is a trend - if the economy is causing some weavers to hold back from signing up for classes, or if some folks are still avoiding in person events.  But I have to say that the two weaving conferences I attended in June had very enthusiastic attendees who were delighted to finally be getting together to share their love of fiber!

In March, I joined my dear friend, Martha Owen at the John C Campbell Folk School to co-teach our Sing 'Til the Work's All Done class.  We designed this class to highlight our best individual skills and share the fun with other fiber enthusiasts.  It is a 5 day class that teaches worsted wool preparation and spinning for warp yarn, woolen prep and spinning for weft yarn, natural dyeing and various techniques of blending colored fiber, and basic weaving on a prepared floor loom (linsey woolsey cloth) as well as the option to plan and weave a rigid heddle project, all using handspun yarns.

In our March class, one of our students chose to work with the Swedish Band loom and wove a lovely band with her handspun!

We also had 3 scarves, a loom shaped bag, and lots of samples of linsey woolsey with handspun weft.

And a field trip to see Martha's Shetland sheep getting sheared.

We will continue to offer this class as long as there is enough interest; we have offered it once a year at the Folk School and it is on the schedule for August 2024.  We also taught a 2.5 day version at MAFA called Worsted, Woolen, Woven.

In May, I got to attend a two terrific classes at the MD Sheep & Wool Festival and then volunteer once again for the Fleece Sale.  I had not been to MD Sheep & Wool since 2019, and it was such a treat to see so many old friends and to assist one of the fleece judging teams this year.  I took a Gotlands class with Deb Robson and a Marling class with Cecelia Campochiaro - both were excellent and inspiring!

Later in May, my husband and I took a 2 week trip to Scotland along with our son Robbie, daughter-in-law Leigh, and Leigh's parents, Rip & Roxann.  

We stayed in Edinburgh at the beginning and end of our trip, spent 4 days holed up in the smallest hotel room in Europe while suffering from Covid-19 (probably caught on the airplane, in spite of our vigilant mask wearing), visited Aviemore in the Highlands and enjoyed a day at the Highland Life Museum before returning to Edinburgh for a few more days.

Part of the Processional Frieze from the National Portrait Gallery

Edinburgh sunset, looking down to the Firth of Forth

The Sir Walter Scott monument in Edinburgh

Welcome message in our hotel room in Glasgow

We didn't get out much in Glasgow,
but the 4th day we felt well enough to take a short walk along the Clyde

A black house at the Highland Life Museum

A beautiful Highland Coo at the Highland Folk Museum

Tweed sample books, Highland Life Museum

One of the highlights of this trip for me was a day trip to Dundee to see the Tartan exhibit at the V&A Dundee.

I set a goal in February to knit myself a new aran cardigan to wear in Scotland.  I chose some Corriedale/Corriedale blend yarn from Solitude Wool that I bought specifically for an aran sweater, and Carol Feller's lovely design Curdach.  I cast on on February 28th, worked steadily for 12 weeks and I finished knitting the second sleeve after driving to western MA, to our son and DIL’s house. (We flew together out of Boston) I knit the button band in the car on the way to the airport, wore the cardigan on the plane to Scotland and worked the buttonhole band in our first AirB&B in Edinburgh. 

With some new friends in the St Andrew Square Garden

Riding the Hop On Hop Off Bus around Edinburgh

I chose the buttons from a booth at the MD Sheep & Wool Festival without a sample of the yarn to guide me, but they were a perfect color choice.  I sewed the buttons onto the button band on Tuesday morning and then proudly wore it in the streets of Edinburgh and throughout our two week trip.  We had no rain at all during our visit, and only one day that was too hot to wear my new cardigan.

OK - that's enough for this post!  More travel adventures in the next one.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

It's About Time for a new post!

 I do not post very often to my blog, but I do try to keep my teaching calendar up to date here.  And if you are interested in a remote program/slide lecture for your fiber guild meeting, that information is in the post for June 19, 2020.

                        Farewell to The Burrow, our beloved 1900 farmhouse

Hello, Shepherdstown!

So much has happened since my last post in June 2020 - we finally found a house we could both love, and we moved to Shepherdstown, West Virginia.  We bought our new home - a 2018 Craftsman style house - in August 2021, sold our old house in March 2022, and finally completed our move July 1, 2022.  

I now have a 2.5 car garage for my weaving and teaching studio and fiber storage - it's is great to have so much space!

We also moved my old studio shed, which has now been christened The Wool Shed, and all my spinning wheels, fiber prep equipment and fiber storage are there.

I had my first students in my new studio in January this year - 3 new weavers learning to warp, beam and thread in the traditional manner.  I helped them prepare their looms for the L'Amour de Maman - Acadian Weaving class that I taught for the Fiber Guild of the Blue Ridge in late January.

One of these students has returned for more private study: she wound and beamed her second warp this past weekend.

I am still giving a few online slide lectures for guild programs, but planning more and more in-person classes, which is wonderful to return to.  Check out my teaching schedule in the sidebar! If you are interested in seeing my class list, leave a comment on the blog or send me a pm through Messenger - Melissa Weaver Dunning.

My new studio has room for more looms - currently there is a reproduction barn frame loom waiting for a warp, an AVL floor loom with grey and black Shepherd's check yardage, a Schacht Baby Wolf with a Double Rainbow warp, a Schacht Wolf Pup with a cordonne warp that will be used for two Acadian classes and also a for Sing 'Til The Work's All Done class at the John C Campbell Folk School, and a Schacht Flip loom with two Solitude Wool check scarves in progress.

I was scheduled to teach at Convergence in Knoxville in July 2022, but both my husband and I came down with Covid-19 so I had to cancel and spend 2 weeks in bed instead.  I had signed up for a few lectures and Jennifer Moore's Double Rainbow class, so the warp for that class has been waiting 7 months for me to have enough mental bandwidth to start that project on my own.  Jennifer provided me with all the handouts and a few video links, and I finally dove in last weekend - it's weaving up beautifully!

I am trying to get my sewing space in the house better organized, in hopes that this will inspire me to do more finishing of my woven cloth, and maybe even sew a Noh coat before the AWG conference in June!  But I have a number of classes to organize and prepare for between now and then.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Online Teaching

We are living in a brave new world now, and along with a lot of other fiber teachers,  I am re-configuring my computer and other technology to help me adapt to more online teaching.

All of my slide lectures are now available for zoom meetings.  These were all designed to enhance my hands-on weaving, spinning and knitting classes but they also work very well as stand alone programs for guild meetings and other settings.  My fee is $200 for a 90 minute program followed by  live Q&A.  Email program inquiries to
UPDATED - Lecture fees are now $250.

Available programs include:

L’Amour de Maman - Acadian Weaving The earliest European settlers arrived in Maritime Canada beginning in 1632 and were known as Acadians.  Caught in the political conflict between France and England, the Acadians were forcibly removed from their homeland in 1755 and many spent ten long years imprisoned or homeless before eventually settling in Louisiana where they became known as Cajuns.  250 years later, Cajun weavers were following the same weaving traditions as their Acadian foremothers.  Come and hear about this remarkable story and see the beautiful fabrics they created on their two harness looms!

Donegal Tweed - The history of this unique Irish tweed from northwest Ireland dates back to the earliest textile factories in Ireland that gathered hand spinners and hand loom weavers together to provide income in an area of poor soils and subsistence farming.  Donegal tweed is still a thriving industry today 

Norman Kennedy's Ethnic Spinning Scrapbook - Master Weaver and Spinner Norman Kennedy was born in 1933 and he kept an old-fashioned scrapbook from the time he was a teenager, collecting images of spinners and weavers from around the world.  Melissa Weaver Dunning began her study of weaving and spinning in 1980 at The Marshfield School of Weaving in Vermont with Norman as her teacher.  This slide show presents a fascinating selection of spinners from around the world with enlightening commentary.

The Colorful History of Tartan, being a portrait of People, Places and Practices - Once a colorful pattern woven and worn by Scottish Highlanders, tartan was outlawed by the British government after the Jacobite Rebellion in 1745.  The history of how tartan came to be both a fashion icon and a national symbol of Scotland is full of fascinating characters and stories.

Tweeds and District Checks, Weaving from the Scottish Lowlands - Many modern suits and sport coats are made from this iconic twill cloth, using patterns that were developed from the age old Shepherd’s Check and from the colors of the surrounding landscape.  These color & weave designs and heathered dyed in the wool yarns have their own stories to tell, starting with a quick look back at tartans and moving on to the period after the Jacobite uprising and the Scottish Clearances.

18th c. Household Textiles - Domestic hand weavers produced a wide variety of fabric from their rustic looms for clothing, bed coverings, toweling and table linens. Modern weavers will be inspired as we explore two private antique textile collections to see samples of garments, cotton toweling, linen napery, linsey-woolsey, overshot, Venetian carpeting and wool blanketing.

Shaker Weaving and Textiles - Many are familiar with Shaker chairs or buildings, but the Shakers also applied their fundamental principles of utility, simplicity and proportion to textiles.  They are known for weaving poplar strips into cloth for baskets, bonnets and fans, utilitarian cloth for their own use, heavy fulled wool fabric for the Dorothy cloaks they wore and sold, and simple but unique rag rugs that still delight hand weavers today. We will examine hand woven textiles from the archives of three Shaker museums: Pleasant Hill in Kentucky, Hancock in Massachusetts and Canterbury in New Hampshire.
 Shaker Weaving with an emphasis on Shaker Rugs - As above, but with a special focus on the unique aspects of Shaker rugs.  
Traditional Knitting from England, Ireland and Scotland - Many of the foundations of traditional knitting come to us from England, Ireland, and Scotland: Fisherman’s ganseys, Aran cable knitting, Fair Isle multi-colored patterned knitting and delicate Shetland lace.  We will explore each of these traditions through images of garments and knitters, old and new.