I guess I've been with the center the longest so I thought I'd just write a bit of a history. We moved here in 1980. I'd learnt to weave tapestry in Guadalajara in 1978. So when we moved to Augusta, GA I kept doing that. However, my goal had been to learn how to use the looms. At a bluegrass picking party, Liz Batchelor (who's now one of our weavers) told me about this place in Norris where they'd teach you to weave. The center had been going for several years, having moved from renting just one room in there, to renting the whole place to buying the property. I think they were still renting it when I joined.
We went to check this place out the first chance we had after we moved to Knoxville. At the time it was called the Community Craft Center. We were in a very old red building. The weaving area was smaller than ours is now but we had fewer looms. The building had no heat or running water. We used electric heaters in winter but it was still cold. We had the only wheel chair accessible outhouse in East Tennessee, at least that we knew of. The out house had no heat at all! Ellen Cain, who was the weaving instructor at the time, was my teacher. She had developed the weaving department. They wove placemats and rugs on a variety of looms that they'd been able to acquire as a group.
Weaving on the table loom that first time was so cool! I absolutely loved it.
We had moved up here in July. I knew immediately that I wanted a floor loom. They told me that I needed a LeClerc Nilus, the jack loom. So I ordered a loom and bench, sight unseen. We were pretty poor at the time but this was an important investment and we just did it.
The loom boxes arrived Thanksgiving weekend so I took them home and we set it up. Since then I've woven on that loom almost every day. It's still my work horse and I love nothing more than to sit on the bench and see the fabric develop as I throw the shuttle.
Most of the people that were weaving then aren't at the center anymore. Some has passed away, others have moved away or developed other interests. As time goes by, we have new students and it's great to watch them develop their style of weaving. Each of us have different interests. I think that's what makes us great. We learn from each other.
From that old red building we moved across the street to a modern building that we built. The center has been very successful in keeping the crafts going. When the building was built, we thought it was so huge and just perfect for our needs. Now we're bursting at the seams, especially the weaving department.
Looking forward, we hope to raise money to add to the building. The potential for more classes is really great and we just need more room for our looms!