Fun Zipper Pouches, Paper Party Supplies, and More, Handmade and Curated in Montclair, NJ by Claire Cohen.
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A Wonderful Weaving Workshop Weekend Away

creative reuse

This year I'm committed to creating intentional, quality, down time for myself. Back in January I started browsing crafty workshops and landed on an interesting 2-day class at Peters Valley called Zero Waste Backstrap Weaving. That had my name written all over it! I was a weaving and textile design major in college but haven't done any weaving since 1988. That was also the year when I first visited Peters Valley, located in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in northwest NJ. A friend from my program was apprenticing at Peters Valley that summer and I went there to visit her. I've been to nearby Layton about 10 years ago for live music events. This was the extent of my memories of this area. I booked the workshop as well as on-site lodging and a rental car, and the excitement started to build! Driving?! Weaving?! Getting out of town?! Yes, please!


My lodging, Congleton House

I prepared my zero waste materials- Tshirt yarn I made and strips of fabric chosen from my fabric scraps. Warp yarn was provided on-site, as well as the backstrap loom materials. Lunch both days was also provided! I brought food for my other meals and my favorite mug and pour over coffee gear. Friday night I went to nearby Walpack Inn for dinner, I had no idea that salad bars are making a comeback!

The Walpack Inn is 4 miles down the road from Peters Valley

The campus was very rural and sprawling but I navigated it easily, and was so excited to see my favorite birds, red-winged blackbirds, teetering on top of the reeds in the lake as I drove from my lodging to the fiber arts studio. I was a couple minutes late on the first morning, but stopping to watch the birds was a worthy excuse to me!

I've never done backstrap weaving and did a bit of research, but the technique we used wasn't what I expected. We used a rigid heddle because it was faster and easier than using a string heddle, which makes sense for such a short workshop. It was a bit like riding a bike, I didn't actually forget how to weave, some techniques came right back to me. The learning curve wasn't as steep as if I had never done any weaving. I was very pleased with the results and was motivated to drive back over to the studio after dinner to work on my first sampler for another hour.

My samplers

My roommates were in the ceramics and metals workshops and it was really nice to meet and chat with them. I also enjoyed eating lunch with my workshop mates, our instructor, and Peters Valley employees that were assisting. Cynthia Alberto was a wonderfully patient teacher and it was a joy to learn from her.


Being silly wearing our samplers. Our instructor, Cynthia Alberto, was awesome!

I'm so grateful for my weekend away, I hope to return to Peters Valley for more workshops in the future! I will acquire materials for a backstrap loom of my own and have plans for projects using the same type of zero waste materials I brought to the class. Getting away, learning new things, and meeting new people was invaluable to my mental health, energized me, and created wonderful memories. 

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  • Mujju on

    Sounds like fun and great for the environment.

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