Weaving and creating fabric has been happening for thousands of years- it is an art and a craft that many of us take for granted, but when you see the many fine tea towels, shawls, placemats, table runners, scarves, and more being produced in the Kendal at Longwood Weaving room, you can’t help but be amazed and impressed.
The Kendal Weavers
The Weavers are led by a steering committee of 3, and we like to introduce Nann Miller and Leslie Leonard, resident members of Kendal’s Weaving studio where Leslie is on the Steering Committee and Nann teaches classes. Nann says the Studio is the largest and best-stocked weaving studio she’s ever been in. That’s saying something- Nann was a weaver of limited edition works for many years!!
Nann was introduced to weaving by taking a class in college and then changed her major from interior design to get a degree in the Arts. She has taught at the collegiate level, and Nann has also done production weaving. For 20 years or so, she produced limited edition special silk scarves for juried craft shows around the country sponsored by American Craft Council. She has also been the president of the Handweavers Guild of America and on the board of the American Craft Council. Nann has taught weaving for many years, professionally, and now teaches the Weaving classes here at Kendal. She teaches many of the weaving classes at Kendal and helps mentor everyone, from those just starting, to people who have been weaving for years but want to try something new, or experiment.
Everyone is Welcome
By contrast, Leslie Leonard only started weaving 5 years ago or so, after living here at Kendal at Longwood for several years. Leslie has been a knitter and was concerned that arthritis would eventually make hand knitting more difficult, so decided to give weaving a try. She found she really loved it and has been making amazing things, from scarves to placemats to tea towels, for over 5 years now.
Leslie has clearly worked and perfected her craft. She had just completed a set of tea towels to give to friends she will visit later in the summer on a trip to the UK. The towels have an amazing intricate pattern, and fantastic drape, and are so soft- simply a pleasure to hold- it makes you want to make an offer for one on the spot. But somehow, it seems clear getting something this wonderful needs to be earned.
Producing Wonderful Things- For Friends and To Share
Many of the weavers make things as gifts for family members- but as any serious crafter knows- sometimes you run out of things people in need long before your ideas and joy in creating slow down. Many of the weavers create items to donate to the annual craft show at Kendal and to sell in the Gateway Gift Shop. The money raised goes to support the Kendal Residents Association and the Weaving Studio. There are occasional expenses to repair a loom, purchase supplies, or buy a new loom.
The samples of work on the wall show amazing craftsmanship, as do the works in progress. There’s so much fine fabric being created, and the possibilities are endless. The tea towels, scarves, and more being created are clearly being crafted as a labor of love, but also with the purpose of getting better with each project, and experimenting to produce something while learning more about the craft with each throw of the shuttles and press of the beater.
When you walk into the Weaving Studio at Kendal at Longwood, it’s easy to be amazed. There is nice indirect natural light from large windows, and looms of every size are present in the room. There’s a variety- from tabletop “lap” looms all the way up to large looms with up to 8 shafts. The shafts, along with the threading, will help determine the pattern that can be created.
While one is interested in knitting and other crafts, weaving and the size of the equipment have always made it a daunting craft to explore. But Nann and Leslie make it seem easy, as they talk about teaching people and easing them into what is one of our oldest crafts, that certainly looks challenging and even daunting when you see the number of threads, the warp, and the weave that need to come together to create these amazing works.
Common Purpose- Community
Like with any group or committee at Kendal-Crosslands Communities, the residents work together to make sure everything from the looms to the yarn, to the classes taught are organized. People take turns sweeping up, keeping the floor clean of dust and bits of yarn and thread, and making sure the lovely wools and cotton in the “stash” are kept safe from moths until they become something new.
The weavers have a true community – weaving their craft, and their friendships together. There are even some weavers who are still working on projects, even though they are starting to struggle with memory issues. The other members of this craft guild help guide them, and the weaving seems to help them feel more settled as well as part of the larger community, which is important as we age, and part of Kendal’s overall mission to transform the experience of aging.
Want to Learn More About Our Community?
One of the best things about Kendal-Crosslands is the depth of talent and experiences our residents bring with them, and then share generously with the community. Because of it, residents are discovering new interests and talents, and this is part of how we help transform the experience of aging. If you’d like to learn more, just click the link below to download our Digital Brochure.