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During the North Alabama Yarn Crawl, I discovered a Saori weaving studio in the Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment complex in Huntsville, Alabama. There’s something to love about a community of crafters creating unique designs by hand. I accepted an invitation to give weaving a try. Instantly, I relaxed as the design began to form during the gentle movements from left to right and back to the left. No pressures, just easy movements at the small loom.
If you are not already familiar with this style of weaving, Saori is an unstructured method of weaving, allowing the student to exercise all creative capacities in a supportive environment. Unlike the intricate patterns and designs of some cultures, this modern weaving method results in innovative uses for both color and texture. Most importantly, anyone can do this and there are no mistakes in the designs. You have full permission to “go with the flow” and It’s a refreshing world for creative.
Saori Weaving Studio
The Handmade Saori Weaving Studio has moved to Belton, Texas and I spent a few minutes with Sarah Dauro, collecting information about Saori weaving for our community, catching up on what’s happening with the weaving classes, and learning about the new location.
Q: Saori weaving has been around since the late 1950’s, but was a new technique for me. Sarah, how did YOU get started with weaving?
A: I have crocheted since I was very little and started knitting a lot about 8 years ago. When I took up spinning I found I was making yarn a lot faster than I was using yarn. So I originally took up weaving as a way to use up handspun yarn faster! My first loom was a rigid heddle loom and although I liked weaving on it, I didn’t really feel like I loved it. I didn’t really fall in love with weaving until I discovered Saori weaving.
Q: We would love to learn more about your studio. Tell me about the classes and classroom space.
A: We offer classes nearly every day of the week. Our “regular” classes can be booked online on Tuesdays – Saturdays from 9 am – 5 pm.
Other days/times are available, including Sundays and evenings. Email to set up a class that works with your schedule.
Classes are individualized but not private, meaning that there may be several students in the studio at the same time but each student is on their own weaving journey and will be taught accordingly.
“Zen-tensives” are full or multi-day classes that give students the opportunity to completely immerse themselves in Saori weaving. Zen-tensives often focus on a specific topic like warping or Saori sewing. When scheduling a zen-tensive, we will work together to customize the class for you.
When you walk into the studio, typically the first thing you notice is the wall of color, otherwise known as the student wall. The student wall contains a variety of colors, fibers, and textures. When you come in for a weaving class, you are free to use any of the yarns on the student wall while creating your project. When your class or project is completed and removed from the loom, it is weighed to determine the materials fee. This way you have a large selection without having to make an investment in a lot of different yarns. Typically the materials fee for a 2-hour class is under $10.
People often ask what they will make in their first class and we usually answer “cloth!” In Saori, we typically approach our weaving “without intent,” meaning that we weave a piece of cloth and then let it decide what it wants to become. New weavers, especially, may not be totally familiar with how a particular fiber will drape or behave during washing, and even old weavers can occasionally be surprised. By weaving without intent, you are giving yourself permission to be creative without limitations and your finished cloth might become anything from a wall-hanging to a new skirt.
Q: If we sign up to attend classes, where can we stay overnight?
A: The weaving center has two guest rooms for overnight visitors. These are the “Alice” room and the “Flamingo” room. The Alice room theme is inspired by Alice in Wonderland and all the magic of fairytale dreams. The upstairs Flamingo room is bright and colorful with delightful flamingoes at every turn.
The upstairs room has a private half bath, but guests share the shower in the Alice bathroom on the lower level. There is one Queen bed in each room.
If you are interested in a larger group getaway, the studio space has a full kitchen and bath to accommodate a party in a sleepover-style setting.
Q: What should we expect when we sign up for a class?
A: In your first weaving class, we will start with the basics of getting to know the loom and finding your weaving rhythm. While you are working, we will talk about the history and philosophy of Saori weaving. As you progress, we will show you various techniques to make your weaving more interesting by adding pops of color, texture, or other fun techniques to help you express your creativity in the woven cloth.
The intensives are 8 hours or longer of teaching time customized to your needs. The cost for an 8-hour intensive is $100 plus materials used. The looms and a great selection of yarns are provided. Additional teaching time is $12.50/hour. For the overnight stay, we charge an additional $40 which allows you to continue weaving in the studio late into the evening. It is not class time but is a great time to continue practicing what you learned that day and take home a much bigger piece of cloth. We don’t specifically provide breakfast, but we do have a selection of breakfast type items available (oatmeal, yogurt, granola, cereal, protein bars, etc.).
Q: For a beginner, what tools and equipment are needed for SAORI weaving? Is it expensive to start this hobby?
A: Saori is both a brand name and a style of weaving. As a brand, Saori makes excellent looms and equipment that are designed to make weaving fun and easy. They have also invented a number of add-on products to assist people with differing physical or mental abilities to be able to comfortably and creatively weave.
As a weaving philosophy or style, Saori-style weaving can be done on any loom. And since Saori is more focused on expressing your personal creativity over making traditional woven items, you can use any types of yarn or other materials to weave with.
So to answer your question, for Saori weaving outside of the classroom, beginners can get started with a variety of different looms and price points: Frame loom ($30-$100), rigid heddle loom (about $75 – $400, depending on size), multi-harness table loom ($750+), a floor loom ($1200+), or a used loom. And there are very few restrictions on weaving materials so you can use everything from strips of cloth from your old clothes to fine cashmere yarns, although we usually recommend cotton for ease and comfort if making clothing here in the south.
Sarah, Thank you for taking the time to talk with me today!
My Crochet Getaway friends, if you are searching for a crafting getaway, look no further than central Texas! As I talked with Sarah, I learned that you do not even need to buy a loom to get started. The project classes can be a great way to try out the process and see if it’s a fit for your style and interests.
June 2, 2018 – Bella Vida Retreat Center, Wimberly, Texas
July 28, 2018 – Cedarbrake Retreat Center, Temple, Texas
Upcoming Trade Events
June 22 – 24, 2018 – Houston Fiber Fest, Cypress, Texas
August 16-26 – DFW Yarn Crawl
Contact the Studio
Handmade Saori Weaving Studio
12866 Stonegate Trail
Belton, TX 76513 (Studio entrance is on Benchmark Trail)
Phone (256) 542-8363
Find the latest information about classes and join the mailing list at https://handmadeSaori.com/classes/
Hours: Generally, the studio is open Tuesday-Friday from 10 am to 4 pm. (with class times available to book online Tuesday – Saturday from 9-5)
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