Vermont 2018: Foundations Retreat

Dates: May 17-21, 2018
Location: Good Commons, 4771 Route 100A, Plymouth, VT, 05056

For more about this retreat, see my review of it on the blog HERE.


Building a firm foundation

Tapestry weaving sometimes seems difficult, but there are some basic concepts that, once mastered, support all the other things we do in this medium. This retreat focuses on building a firm foundation in tapestry skills. It is intended for people who are fairly new to tapestry weaving. Whether you are an absolute beginner or have some experience but have struggled with understanding the underlying concepts in tapestry, this retreat could be a lot of fun for you.

We're going to dive right into weaving. Getting your fingers into the warp and making mistakes is the best way to learn. I'll present a few different weaving options for the week and you can choose whether you want to weave a sampler of techniques or focus on a small finished piece. I'll give you some starting ideas and cartoons and you may have enough time to complete both.

We'll dive into the concepts that are the basis for everything else in tapestry:

  • materials and tools including looms and yarn
  • best warping practices
  • what loom might be the best for you
  • foundational skills and knowledge such as weft tension and meet and separate
  • making basic shapes and how to put shapes together to create forms
  • what kinds of forms are best for this medium and which are best left for the painters
  • how to start and finish your pieces
  • next steps in learning about tapestry weaving

I will provide you with a book of handouts along with slide presentations demonstrating these things.

Tapestry weaving is an engaging medium full of endless possibilities in design, technique, and color-use. If you're interested in catching the tapestry bug, this retreat will make sure you do.


The setting

Vermont 2018 will be held at Good Commons, a retreat house in Plymouth, Vermont. Good Commons is committed to providing creative space in a relaxing environment for their guests.

Enjoy your days working in the beautiful downstairs studio with other tapestry weavers. We will share meals together in the Good Commons dining room prepared by one of its fantastic chefs. Afternoons provide time for further work on weaving with my help, or may be spent at your discretion exploring the local state parks, the President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site, a hike on the Long Trail, or a brew at the Long Trail Brewery. In the evenings, join your fellow students for a glass of wine on the deck or in the hot tub, relax with a good book, watch a movie with new friends in the upstairs living room, continue to weave, or play a game. The house has communal living spaces on each floor. There is a balcony on the second floor and a hot tub and fire pit in the back garden.

This retreat is designed to be a meeting of the minds. We hope to operate as a group of cooperative learners during our time together. We also understand that while shared space is creative space, respect for the contemplative artistic practice of others is necessary and valued.

This retreat is open to a small number of tapestry students participating in the workshop only (due to space limitations). Family members and spouses are welcome only if they are participants in the workshop. 

Participants are requested to stay at Good Commons or the Good Farm Barn Apartment. If this housing situation will not work for you, please consider a different retreat experience (the only exception involves ADA access or if you live locally, see below).



Workshop instruction with the full group each morning plus open studio with my assistance each afternoon. The studio will always be open and you can work as much or as little as you like. If you can't sleep and want to weave at 3 am, you may to do that!

Meals will be provided for each of the five days of this retreat, Thursday evening through Monday noon. Self-serve breakfast options will be available each morning. The Good Commons chef will provide lunch and dinner service. This will be my third retreat and fourth time staying at Good Commons and the food is consistently excellent. Vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, and some other dietary restrictions can be accommodated. Please indicate any concerns on your registration form.

All linens, central A/C, Wi-fi, hot tub, hair dryers, washer/dryer.

Take-home bonuses:

  • Book of informational handouts: we'll use these during the retreat and you can take your copy home.
  • Online design class registration coupon for 25% off (class rolls out in April 2018).
  • A few surprise goodies.

I will send all participants a detailed list of potential materials to consider upon registration. 

You can find more information about lodging on the Good Commons website:



For the workshop (detailed materials list will be sent after registration):

  • Looms: If you have a portable tapestry loom, please bring it. You may warp it ahead of time or you can wait to see what you might want to experiment with. A sample loom such as a copper pipe loom or a Hokett is acceptable. Many of my students love Mirrix looms and those are perfect for this workshop. If you're driving, you can even bring a small floor loom.
    If you do not yet own a loom, I have some loaner looms available for this workshop. Please contact me with questions about this.
  • Tools: A tapestry fork if you own one, any other favorite weaving tools. Tools that go with your particular loom.
  • Yarn: If you have a favorite tapestry yarn, please bring your own supply of that yarn. I will be providing a selection of Harrisville Highland which works well at 8 epi. You are welcome to use this yarn if you don't yet have your own stash (or even if you do)!
  • Warp: If you have a favorite warp or if you warped your loom ahead of time, please bring extra warp with you. I will have several cones of warp you are welcome to use in emergencies, but not enough for everyone to warp at once. It is best if you have your own. 
  • If you're a note-taker, a notebook and pen. You will be given handouts.
  • If you are someone one who likes to work with music, please bring headphones for your device.
  • A task light is useful but not required (please also bring an extension cord if your light doesn't run on batteries). The workroom has some big windows, but the light in the studio is poor after dark.

For the house:

  • clothing appropriate for May in Vermont, casual dress is fine
  • bathing suit if you’d like to enjoy the hot tub
  • walking shoes if you’re interested in exploring the nearby state parks or the mountains near Plymouth
  • bathrooms are shared by a few people, so you may want a bag or basket to transport your toiletries and towel


The retreat fee plus three meals and a snack each day is $875. Housing is additional.




4-6 pm Arrive
6:30 Dinner
Brief slideshow of tapestry inspiration and plans for the retreat
Evening relaxation

Friday, Saturday, Sunday                    

9-12 am  Workshop (all participants)
12-1 pm Lunch
1-5 pm  Open Studio with Rebecca or exploration of the surrounding countryside
6:30 pm Dinner
Evening relaxation as you desire; studio open for further weaving exploration. Rebecca will bring some weaving-themed movies that you may enjoy in the 2nd floor living room. The group can decide on each night's show.


9-11 am Workshop review and wrap-up. Discussion of what we learned with show and tell.
Pack and disperse as needed. 
11:30 pm Casual lunch is available
Check out by 1 pm




Good Commons is about 100 miles from three airports: Burlington, VT, Manchester, NH, and Albany, NY. In past years the registrants formed effective carpools to share rental cars or get rides from local people driving near those airports. One group even carpooled from Boston. I am happy to connect people who want to rideshare.


Good Commons is owned by the remarkable Tesha Buss. She bought this old general store and turned it into a gorgeous and comfortable retreat center. There are six bedrooms on the second floor of the house and a large sleeping loft on the third floor. There are six bathrooms in the house: one on the first floor, three on the second, and two adjacent to the sleeping loft. You can make your housing choices in the registration form. Please think about whether you are a light sleeper, enjoy privacy and thus a private room, or if you would prefer to share a room with someone else. The sleeping loft is designated for women only (sorry guys).

If necessary, we will also utilize the Good Farm barn apartment, a beautiful spot about a 15 minute drive from Good Commons. This will provide accommodations for two people who want private rooms if we don't have enough in the main house.



Good Commons has a bathroom on the first floor, but sleeping accommodations are upstairs. There is no lift and the two upper floors are full of short and rather funky stairways. The barn apartment is on the upper floor with no elevator. If you still want to come to the retreat but you can't manage many stairs, please contact me for potential options. The weaving studio is on the first floor with two small though uneven steps to get in. 

Good Commons is situated in a valley, and the cell service is unreliable. Do not count on your cell phone working. Good Commons has a landline which you can use to make free long-distance calls anywhere in the continental USA. Wi-fi is included so you can use Facetime or Skype to call your family from your own cell phone. There is reliable cell service a few miles away.

Be advised that Good Commons is a refurbished 19th century general store, and there are no locks on the bedroom doors. There is sufficient parking for our group.

This is a non-smoking property. Pets are not allowed. We expect that all guests will abide by Good Commons' maintenance standards and respect the privacy and security of their fellow retreatants.

Please contact me directly if you have questions or concerns about these issues.


Below are images of Good Commons from retreats past. Click on the images to enlarge, use arrows at the sides to scroll, hover over photos for captions.