Learning the basics of tapestry weaving: Foundations Tapestry Retreat 2019

I just got home from an amazing week teaching my Foundations Tapestry Retreat at CSU Mountain Campus. This is the fourth retreat I’ve taught at this location and I have loved every single one. I didn’t want to leave yesterday but I’ll be back there next year for two retreats in June.

Three Lindas and two Karens

This group of twelve women included three Linda/Lyndas and two Karens. I will admit that it made learning the names easier for me, but in general everyone seemed to become a cohesive group quite quickly. It is my belief that the location of a retreat self-selects certain traits in people. Tapestry weavers already tend to be people who have a certain level of fortitude and even a little stubbornness and from that pool of potential retreat participants, the high-mountain setting, the difficulty in getting there, and the promise of time outdoors further self-selects people who are pretty darn easy going. These women* were a group that got to know each other fairly quickly, shared ideas and experiments, and made sure everyone was included in all the discoveries happening. I’m so grateful for their good humor, laughter, and can-do attitudes!

The workshop focused on beginning tapestry techniques. We started with warping tips, yarn choices, and how to create a structurally sound textile. From there I presented the basic tapestry techniques and allowed each weaver to choose where they would start their explorations. Everyone made different choices, but in the end, every single person had a good grasp on the basics and had started incorporating their own design ideas into their weaving.

Setting up for the Colorado 2019 Foundations Tapestry Retreat

Yarn table almost finished, Colorado 2019 Foundations Tapestry Retreat

Learning to weave tapestry

This retreat was for beginning tapestry weavers. Some people had more experience than others mostly in my online classes, but no one had done any significant work in tapestry before. I was excited to see how quickly they picked up the concepts and ran with them.

Karen D’s project. She mastered the greek key including color gradation!

Lynda C valiantly struggled with this tapestry loom and by the end of the retreat, had made some great headway! In future I will provide an explanatory video about which loom to choose before the retreat!

Kantu was working on many things here including yarn management and the color gradation worked very well!

Amy’s plan for the next part of her weaving.

Sarah’s landscape weaving.

Linda J’s cabin weaving complete with pick and pick tree trunks, a burn area, and goldenbanner flowers.

Process shots

I walked through the workshop studio one evening and found these three weavings all in a row.

Anne’s new pipe loom and her interpretation of the beach. Wine was undoubtedly finished after dinner.

Norma’s first weaving, glasses at the ready.

Wanda’s first weaving… and apparently it works well for a coaster

Collaborative loom making

I wasn’t sure how making copper pipe looms in this retreat was going to go over, but it was a lot of fun. Five people made looms and they turned out great. The next day we made some PVC jigs for Fringeless warping just for good measure. Kantu and Anne warped their looms and Anne wove most of a piece on hers in the last day of the retreat.

Kantu and Wanda making looms.

Wanda and Karen cutting PVC for Fringeless jigs.

Karen cutting her copper pipe for the loom.

Anne cutting pipe with support from Kantu.

Reviewing our work

I like to have a time at the end of any retreat where we talk about what we learned and what we made. We lined up everything we wove on two tables and talked about our successes, our learning experiences, and where everyone wanted to learn moving forward.

Two tables of tapestry from four days of work.

The smaller pieces from the Colorado 2019 retreat participants.

Group photo

This was a fantastic group of weavers. I am grateful for their good humor, the fact that they didn’t seem to mind the daily rain or cold temperatures, or that they didn’t think I was nuts in my daily moose search (or they didn’t say so out loud).

Front row: Linda, Karen, Norma, Anne, Karen. Back row: Lynda, Linda, Kim, Sarah, Wanda, Amy, Rebecca, Kantu.

Take a look at the gallery below for more photos. Click to enlarge, hover for caption. If you get the blog via email, you’ll have to go to my blog online HERE to see the captions.

Fiber retreats have become very popular in recent years. Have you been on one yourself and if so, what was your favorite part of it? Were you willing to put in the effort to get to a remote location or do you prefer to fly into a city and take an Uber to a hotel for the workshop? Tell us below!


*I do often have men in my tapestry retreats. So don’t let the number of women in my retreat photos scare you away from giving a retreat a try regardless of gender identification!