Liz Spear Handwoven



My parents were both teachers, and, while I always liked learning new things, and new connections between known things, I wasn't drawn to education as a career. After my first summer as a camp counselor, at the tender age of 17, I announced that I'd be majoring in ART in college, and not Art Education. Nearly 25 years later, (1996), I taught for the first time at Penland, a one week, beginning weaving class, recommended by Catharine Ellis, my weaving teacher at Haywood Community College.

The following summer, I assisted Edwina Bringle to learn how to pace a two week weaving class. I returned to teach at Penland three more times, (98, 00, 04), and began teaching at John C. Campbell Folk School in 2003, Appalachian Center for Craft in 05, and Arrowmont in 06.

with a student

I love teaching beginners, and helping them realize that their brain is bigger than that loom. I generally teach weaving with rags in these beginning classes, because there are only 12 threads per inch, instead of 16 or 20, and the weaving goes faster with rags, and I get to do my rag fabric schtick about weaving anything with rags that you can weave with thread. I'm presenting the weaving process, rather than specific projects: I help the students accomplish whatever it is that they want to do. We've woven fabric for vests, jackets, hats, totebags, and pillow covers, rugs, scarves, and runners. And potholders.

One student went on to establish a rag-weaving business, and now weaves uppers for clogs, as well as scarves, boas, bags, and anything else they can think of. Another student gleefully cut up all of her old corporate wardrobe and made pet rugs of silks and rayons and cotton.

Educational demonstrations for my craft organizations are another teaching venue that I enjoy, and squeeze in, several times each year. Every time, I get to hear stories about working in the textile mills, seeing Grandmama weave rugs after the neighbor down the street cut up the household's old worn-out clothes, and to explain to wide-eyed youngsters that, yes, it's the same process as their potholder loom.


In the last several years, I've also presented slide lectures on my work to weaving guilds, to a couple of weaving classes at Penland, and to most summer weaving classes at Haywood Community College. These lectures include the development of my current work, and business, as well as how-to info on garment design and construction. Nobody wants to cut up their handwoven fabric, and it's good for them to see how it's managed, so easily.

You can find where and when I'll be teaching and demonstrating on my schedule page.