Colorado 2018: The design challenge.
How do you know what to weave if you don't have an art background?

Dates: August 19-23, 2018
Location: Colorado State University's Mountain Campus at Pingree Park, 50 miles west of Fort Collins, Colorado.

The retreat went well! See THIS blog post for all the fun.


The Masterclass

The structure of tapestry weaving can often interfere with the ephemeral designs that live in our imaginations. Learning to design successfully for tapestry includes understanding the technical limitations of the medium and the ways to get around them. What really is weavable in tapestry? And how do I get from that little jewel of a design in my head to a fully realized work?

For some of us, discouragement is common. We might tell ourselves, “I love weaving tapestry, but I don’t have any design ideas and I can’t find even one glimmer of a design. How do I begin?”  Or worse yet, "I don't have an art degree, no wonder this is so hard!" The secret is to start. Having a toolbox of idea generators to assist you is essential.

Bring the seeds of an idea with you, and we’ll work on how to modify designs for success in tapestry. You will find new ideas while we work together and you'll go home with a firmer direction for your weaving.

Color use is an important partner to successful design. We’ll use and expand our knowledge of color theory in the context of our design studies. Learn the importance of understanding value and some tricks to seeing it for yourself. You'll be amazed how important value is in tapestry design.

Specific exercises in color and design will also be available for those who really need a step-by-step approach. For those of you who are comfortable creating your own direction, I will be there for advice and to suggest exercises or experiments to bring you to the next level. Supplemental handouts will be provided for use at the workshop and later at home. We’ll look at tapestries by a wide variety of contemporary artists, how they approach the design process, and how you might learn from their methods.

This masterclass is for people who know basic tapestry techniques and are ready to work on their design skills and use of color. This is not a workshop for beginners. You may choose to spend much or all of your workshop time working on design. Or you might explore ways to realize your ideas in the actual weaving, learning to mix colors for various effects and experimenting with what is actually achievable in this wonderful medium. Or you may choose to take the environmental route and use the gorgeous setting of CSU Mountain Campus as design inspiration.

And of course we are going to have a great time!



The design retreat will be held at CSU's Mountain Campus at the end of Pingree Park road. This is a gorgeous setting surrounded by the Mummy Range and backing up to the north side of Rocky Mountain National Park. I guarantee you're going to enjoy the approach to this beautiful place.

Enjoy your days working in the spacious classroom or the sunroom of your cabin or take a walk and do some weaving outside. Presentations from me will be aimed at increasing your design toolbox as we talk about what designs are best woven and what is best left to other mediums. I will be available to answer questions privately about your design ideas or about any technique challenges and I will bring a few demonstration looms and can work through technique challenges with you.

You can spend all your time in the classroom weaving from your head or images that you bring, or you can follow me outside and watch what is around you. Take photographs, make a sketch, or just sit and watch. You'll learn to pick one thing that stood out for you and create a tapestry design from it. I'll encourage you to spend at least some of your time weaving as that activity further slows the brain and allows you to experience the inspirational moment again.

This retreat is scheduled during the part of August when the college students have finished their programs and before the 5th graders of Fort Collins visit. (Fifth graders in Fort Collins are required to participate in Eco-Week where they spend 3 days at the mountain campus learning about ecology. This is a fantastic thing, but a dining hall full of them is not necessarily what we would find restful.) Campus will be very quiet. There will be a few other groups there, but for the most part we will enjoy a dining hall without a lot of noise and few people wandering around campus.

August can be a magnificent time on the mountain. Yes, there is more chance of rain. But the storm clouds are stunning and they usually pass quickly. In 2017 it was pretty cloudy but the lighting for photographs was phenomenal and when the sun broke it was inspiring!


  • Inspiration and design discussion with me each day, plus open studio with my assistance. The studio in Hotchkiss Lodge will always be open and you can work as much or as little as you like.
  • I will bring some Hokett looms that you can borrow if you'd like to try them out and will probably have some for sale.
  • I will bring yarn that you can use. However if you're working on something specific, I'd suggest bringing your own weft. Weft I will provide includes Harrisville Highland, Harrisville Shetland, Harrisville singles, and Weaver's Bazaar 18/2 and 8/2 wool.
  • Handouts so you can remember what we talked about when you go home.
  • Meals will be provided for each of the four days of this retreat, Sunday evening through Thursday noon. Meals will be taken in the campus dining hall. They can accommodate most food issues so please note any on the registration form.
  • All linens, private bath with shower in each room, extra wool blankets (if you're allergic to wool, please bring your own blanket and note that all my tapestry weft is wool!). Cabin rooms have electric heat which is adjustable for your comfort.


For the workshop:

  • portable tapestry loom. You can warp ahead of time if it makes you more comfortable or you can wait and see what inspiration brings and warp when you know what sett and size you want to use. 
  • your familiar weaving tools
  • yarn (I will bring a good supply of yarn, but you might consider bringing some of the yarn you usually weave with also so what you're doing is transferable to your home studio--that is up to you. I will have plenty!)
  • I will have some warp available, but if you have a favorite warp, please bring some. I will have some small bundles of warp intended for use on Hokett looms. I will also have cones of cotton seine twine warp in various sizes but not enough for everyone to warp at once.
  • drawing/design supplies, idea notebook
  • (optional) camera if you like to use it for design (and computer/iPad if you use them for design)
  • design ideas to expand upon during the workshop
  • If you are someone one who likes to work with music, please bring headphones for your device.
  • You may want something to sit on if you want to weave or draw outside. A portable folding chair or just a mat or blanket you can carry can help make working outside more comfortable.
  • Lighting in Hotchkiss Lodge where we will work is pretty good, but if you like good strong light especially in the evening, please bring a portable task light.

For the mountain campus:

  • Bring clothing appropriate for August at high altitude in Colorado. Though the front range around Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins can be quite warm this time of year, CSU's Mountain Campus is significantly higher in elevation and you should be prepared for some chilly mornings and evenings. It often rains in the afternoons in Colorado in August, so I recommend a rain jacket and even an umbrella. You will want sturdy shoes for walking on uneven ground as well as any hikes you want to take. Mud, rocks, and water all happen here.
  • a small backpack or comfortable bag to carry drawing supplies, water, a camera and maybe a loom. If you want to do some hiking, make sure your gear is appropriate. Don't forget your trekking poles if you use them for balance (as I do!).
  • The stars will be stunning. Don't forget to go outside at night to look at them. But you'll want a flashlight for getting around.
  • a water bottle. CSU Mountain Campus is at 9,000 feet elevation and drinking a lot of water is your best defense against altitude problems. You'll want to stay well hydrated in the weeks before you arrive and continue drinking while on campus.


Retreat fee plus food: $550
Housing is billed separately at the rates below (price is for the entire retreat):

Private room: $650
Shared room (2 people): $525


You can get a full refund for amounts paid minus a $150 cancellation fee until June 15th. After that nothing is refundable unless I can fill your spot. If I am able to fill your spot, you will get a refund minus $150.


Housing is in multi-room cabins. Each room has a private bath and has two or three twin beds (with a top bunk that will remain unused except for storage!). There are no larger beds available. Each cabin has a sun porch. You can reserve a room privately or share with a friend or significant other. If your significant other would like to come with you to the campus but does not want to participate in the retreat, please check the box indicating this on the registration form. 

If you'd like a shared room but are not coming with a friend or spouse, I can match you with someone else.

There is a lounge in each cabin with a deck. Each cabin has a small refrigerator in the lounge that you are welcome to use.

Conference Cabin layout.

Conference Cabin layout.


There is no cell service at CSU Mountain Campus or anywhere nearby. Believe me. None. 

There are several public phones that are available for your use and there is limited wifi access in the campus buildings. It should be enough to communicate with your loved ones that you are safe and enjoying yourselves mightily. The wifi is quite limited, so don't expect to be able to post to social media. You can send basic emails and that is about it! This retreat is a great opportunity to unplug for a few days.

A note on wifi: Though at times the wifi appears to work very well, there is actually very little bandwidth. If you make that video call home, it means that no one else on campus can check their email or send a message. Please avoid video calls if at all possible. 


Note: Mealtimes will be announced at the retreat. The campus often schedules groups specifically for efficiency in the dining hall. Our group will be one of the only ones on campus, so mealtimes will be about half an hour long.


3-5 pm Arrive
Brief slideshow of tapestry inspiration and plans for the retreat; group introductions
Evening relaxation


9-12 am Workshop (all participants), Hotchkiss Lodge
1-5 pm Open studio or time for exploration and DISCOVERIES!
Campfire: If the weather is good, we can gather around the campfire pit by the river. This is completely optional.
Evening relaxation as you desire; studio open for further weaving exploration
Don't miss the amazing high-altitude skies after dark! (bring a flashlight please)


9-12 am  Workshop
1-5 pm  Open studio with Rebecca or time to work on your own or explore for ideas.
Evening relaxation as you desire; studio open for further weaving exploration


9-12 am Retreat experience wrap-up.*
10 am Group photo on the deck at Hotchkiss
Pack and disperse as needed. 
Lunch is available
Check out by 1 pm

*Note: This final morning is a tremendous opportunity to learn about the experience of other participants. If at all possible, please plan to stay until 11 am for this recap. I will be available for wrap-up until lunch and everyone is invited to share one last meal in the dining hall before heading out.


You do not have to be a hiker to get a tremendous amount out of this retreat! The campus is in a high-mountain setting so the biggest concern is whether you can deal with the 9,000 foot elevation. If you live at and are coming from sea level, consider flying into Denver a couple days before to get used to some altitude before proceeding to the mountain campus, especially if you have experienced issues with altitude in the past. Denver is at approximately 5,000 feet elevation. Altitude sickness is no fun, so make sure to drink plenty of water in the weeks before you come out.

Hiking is not required. Just the views from the campus are so incredible, you could find plenty of inspiration never setting a foot on one of the many hiking trails. The campus does not have paved trails and there are a few stairs, so if you require ADA accessible surfaces, this might not be the right place for your comfort. There are some lovely trails right around the campus that are relatively level and offer views of the mountains and often moose.

If you are a hiker, CSU's Pingree Park campus is one of the most gorgeous places in this part of the Rockies. Hike high into the back side of Rocky Mountain National Park. Stroll through high mountain meadows and above treeline if you're so inclined. Emmaline Lakes are a worthy goal, though I can tell you from personal experience, the last mile includes a fair amount of scrambling over rocks! There are other much gentler trails nearby with rewarding views.


The campus is at the end of Pingree Park road. This is a very wide, well-maintained gravel road that branches off Highway 14 in the Poudre Canyon. The campus is 50 miles west of Fort Collins, CO. This is mountain driving, but this road is exceptionally good and quite wide. Any passenger car and a driver who is okay with moderate mountain driving will be just fine.


I will not be providing transportation to the campus, but it is possible to arrange a shared rental car or carpool with other participants and I can facilitate that communication.

There is a shuttle from Denver International Airport to Fort Collins on GreenRide:

There is NO public transportation from Fort Collins to the Mountain Campus. You'll need to rent a car or find a carpool. In 2017, carpooling was very effective for many people in both retreats.



The images below are from past retreats both at CSU Mountain Campus and in Vermont.

Click on the photos for the full view. Hover for caption in enlarged view. Use arrows right and left to scroll.

It was an experience I will never forget. From the moment my plane arrived till I left down the mountain, I was so thrilled to be there! Thank you Rebecca for fulfilling a “bucket list experience” for me. I came home a changed Tapestry Weaver and learned so much from you and all that gathered together. There was a passion there for learning this extraordinary art form and I was so grateful to be a part of it! Your spirit for teaching others and friendship will always be a gift to me! It was an incredible five day journey for me and I know for those who were able to attend.
— Donna Wynn, Colorado 2017 participant

Directions to CSU Mountain campus

From Fort Collins:

  • Go north on U.S. 287 to Hwy. 14 junction (mile marker 22)
  • Turn west on Hwy. 14 going up Poudre Canyon (at Shell gas station which locals call Ted's Place)
  • Stay on Hwy. 14 past "Kelly Flats" Campground
  • Turn left on Pingree Park Road (County Road 63E)
  • Cross the bridge and continue on the gravel road for 16 miles to reach the Mountain Campus
  • You'll come to a sign for the campus and you'll stay to the right (Pingree Park road continues to the left to some private homes beyond a usually-locked gate--if you come to a locked gate, you've gone just a little bit too far).

The campus is approximately a 3.5 hour drive from Denver International Airport and about 2 hours from Fort Collins.