Weaving the fabric of life: Every Thread Handwoven in Williamsburg teaches the basics of an ancient craft

Some tools of the weaving trade — including an arched hand loom, above — at Every Thread Handwoven in the Brassworks building in Williamsburg on Monday.

Some tools of the weaving trade — including an arched hand loom, above — at Every Thread Handwoven in the Brassworks building in Williamsburg on Monday. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

Sarah Whittier works on an upright tapestry loom at the Every Thread Handwoven studio during a recent visit to the space in the Brassworks building in Williamsburg.

Sarah Whittier works on an upright tapestry loom at the Every Thread Handwoven studio during a recent visit to the space in the Brassworks building in Williamsburg. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

Sarah Whittier works on an upright tapestry loom at the Every Thread Handwoven studio during a recent visit to the space in the Brassworks building in Williamsburg.

Sarah Whittier works on an upright tapestry loom at the Every Thread Handwoven studio during a recent visit to the space in the Brassworks building in Williamsburg. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

An arched hand loom at Every Thread Handwoven on Monday in the Brassworks building in Williamsburg.

An arched hand loom at Every Thread Handwoven on Monday in the Brassworks building in Williamsburg. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

Every Thread Handwoven owner Danielle Garber does some hand weaving on a Swedish floor loom at her studio in the Brassworks building in Williamsburg.

Every Thread Handwoven owner Danielle Garber does some hand weaving on a Swedish floor loom at her studio in the Brassworks building in Williamsburg. PHOTOS FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

Every Thread Handwoven owner Danielle Garber does some hand weaving on a Swedish floor loom at her studio in the Brassworks building in Williamsburg.

Every Thread Handwoven owner Danielle Garber does some hand weaving on a Swedish floor loom at her studio in the Brassworks building in Williamsburg. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

Every Thread Handwoven owner Danielle Garber does some hand weaving on a Swedish floor loom at her studio in the Brassworks building in Williamsburg.

Every Thread Handwoven owner Danielle Garber does some hand weaving on a Swedish floor loom at her studio in the Brassworks building in Williamsburg. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

Every Thread Handwoven in the Brassworks building in Williamsburg.

Every Thread Handwoven in the Brassworks building in Williamsburg. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

Every Thread Handwoven owner Danielle Garber at her studio in the Brassworks building in Williamsburg.

Every Thread Handwoven owner Danielle Garber at her studio in the Brassworks building in Williamsburg. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

Every Thread Handwoven owner Danielle Garber at her studio in the Brassworks building in Williamsburg.

Every Thread Handwoven owner Danielle Garber at her studio in the Brassworks building in Williamsburg. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

Sarah Whittier works on an upright tapestry loom at the Every Thread Handwoven studio during a recent visit to the space in the Brassworks building in Williamsburg.

Sarah Whittier works on an upright tapestry loom at the Every Thread Handwoven studio during a recent visit to the space in the Brassworks building in Williamsburg. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

By EMILEE KLEIN

Staff Writer

Published: 06-26-2024 4:42 PM

WILLIAMSBURG — Ten large floor looms consuming most of the space in a room would normally bring an air of intimidation, but the Swedish looms at this weaving studio instead sculpt the room into cozy nooks, decorated with plants, seven day candles and soft hazy light streaming in through the windows.

And if the space wasn’t homey enough, Danielle Garber, who owns Every Thread Handwoven, offered tea to this reporter upon entering the room.

“I really want the studio to feel like home,” Garber said, “Not just the people who are doing the bigger classes but for anybody who comes in for anything we have here.”

Every Thread Handwoven is one of many weaving studios in the Pioneer Valley, but what Garber believes sets it apart is its approach to weaving as more than a skill or craft. This studio, located on the second floor of the Brassworks Building, takes an unorthodox approach by using weaving as a metaphor, a tool to “weave the fabric of the life that we’re creating.”

“There is something about the life that we are choosing, that we are able to weave that life,” she added. “Through that (weaving) practice, it is exploring self because if we don’t know who we are, and what we truly want or value, then where are we within that fabric?”

Using a open studio model, intuitive weaving practices and community events, Every Thread invites weavers new and old pick up a loom and build relationships with themselves, others and a community at large within the creative practice.

“Almost every single class that I’ve done over many years, almost every single person says, I’m looking for community, I’m wanting to be around other people and I’m wanting to create. A lot of people are missing that creative aspect in their work and wanting to use their hands or the creative side,” Garber said.

Garber’s interest in weaving began during a natural building and sustainable living internship in Argentina 12 years ago. She discovered a weaving studio during her travels and immediately became mesmerized. Once back in the United States, Garber sought out a nearby studio run by Swedish weaver in Berkeley, California. In 2017, she took classes at the Vävstuga Weaving School in Shelburne, which eventually led to her move to the western Massachusetts in 2020. She now lives in upstate New York, where she hopes to develop an extension of Every Thread Handwoven.

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“When I found weaving, it was around me seeking relationship to everything in my life. So like, where did my compost go? Where did my water come from? I was learning about relationships essentially,” Garber said. “I think weaving has become this really beautiful metaphor between what we’re engaging with in the world.”

Rather than solely offering weaving workshops and classes, Every Thread operates akin to an open studio. Each individual determines their own project from their own creative exploration, not from a specific assigned project. Garber guides new weavers through the basics of weaving on Swedish floor looms and provides coaching when needed, but her teaching style allows weavers to connect with the looms, materials and the practice of weaving on their own terms.

“It’s a studio where you can be here monthly, and learn over time and you have your loom and you can create on that and, you know, deepen into your practice and everybody here is doing something very different,” Garber said. “A lot of studios or weaving programs are like ‘come in, we’ll teach you something!’ but it’s not like a studio that you can then keep coming to as if it’s your own.”

Most members of the studio find Garber from her teaching philosophy. Sarah Whittier started weaving three years ago after taking tapestry weaving classes at Snow Farm Craft School, but found few teachers and resources for tapestry weaving in the Valley. Not only did Every Thread offer a large Swedish tapestry loom for Whittier to work on, but Garber’s encouragement of exploration deepened Whittier’s understanding of weaving. The combination resulted in a tapestry of asymmetrical waves of blues and greens.

“Initially it was the only place to go (for tapestry), but I really like Danielle’s approach to education and weaving itself. It’s very exploratory and intuitive and we have that sort of shared creativity. She has a very fluid approach to learning that fits well with my learning style,” Whittier said.

The studio offers two beginner courses consisting of 16, four-hour sessions over eight weeks. The first course walks new weavers through the loom setup, reading a weaving pattern and basic weaving technique before letting students explore their area of interest, whether that’s learning various established techniques and drafts — also known as weaving patterns — or creating something new.

The second session develops the student’s independence on the loom and knowledge of weaving.

Both sessions cost $900.

Seasoned weavers, or students who take both beginner sessions, pay a membership fee to come to the studio anytime on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and use the looms for their own projects. In this role, Garber is just as much of a student as she is a teacher, learning from other weavers in their process.

New weavers who may feel intimidated by the weaving world can attend a New Moon intuitive weaving workshop, where weavers of all experience levels weave small pieces on an mini arched loom without shame or judgment. Garber also hosts monthly open houses for anyone interested in checking out the space and meeting new people with the same interests. Other workshops, like the journal weaving class, further hones in on the themes of relationships.

Garber is also considering how to expand Every Thread’s offerings in the future.

“I’m actually wanting to just kind of start over in a beginner’s mindset because there was so much for me around like really learning the looms, and really understanding techniques and drafting and practices,” she said. “But I am so inspired by every student who comes in here and they have all their new ideas, so I’m kind of coming back into creating my own beginner’s practice.”

Emilee Klein can be reached at eklein@gazettenet.com.