Handmade: Learn to weave at Michigan Fine Yarns

Jocelynn Brown
The Detroit News
View Comments

Nancy Peck has been a weaving instructor for nearly 40 years. She started in 1976, after graduating from Michigan State University as a textile major, and later shared her skills at workshops in England, Canada and throughout the United States, including here in Michigan at Greenfield Village, where she learned to weave in her early 30s. She's also held lectures in Korea, where she lived for more than three years. However, it wasn't until last year that she started teaching the age-old art at a yarn shop.

"Textiles have been important to me, and weaving was just another way to use fibers," explains the Dearborn resident, who now teaches rigid heddle weaving at Michigan Fine Yarns in Livonia.

"It's very easy for beginners to learn," Peck explains. "It's fast and not expensive, and it's a good way to get started. They work especially well in yarn shops because the yarns that shops sell are very adaptable to these looms. Knitting yarn works best in this type of loom. The rigid heddle is about eight threads to an inch, so that's quite large. It isn't going to take forever to put it on a loom. A student can be weaving in the first class, so it's a pretty fast gratification."

Peck, who served as president of Handweavers Guild of America from 2006-2011, works with each student on an individual basis, and many are returning students who come with their own project. She says, "They can do what they want, and some want to do a more advanced technique, and they learn from what others are doing."

In all the years she's been weaving, Peck says she's never run out of things to make. She often weaves for herself on "more complicated" looms, making a lot of her clothes by sewing together strips of woven yardage she creates to form larger pieces of fabric. She often wears her hand-woven garments to class, and says she learned to sew before she was taught to weave.

About Michigan Fine Yarns, Peck says, "I visited the shop when they were in Plymouth and I thought it was very unique. She (owner Swaran Dhaliwal) has a lot of merchandise and unique specialty yarns with a large selection."

Former student Mary Morrison of Livonia says, "Nancy has years of experience in weaving and makes class fun and informative. Weaving is the perfect next hobby if you are a lover of fiber and have a stash of yarn."

The looms Peck instructs her students on are made by Ashford and Schacht, and available for sale at the shop, along with weaving accessories. She says, "The magic is that it's the type of loom that's portable and very versatile."

Prices for these tabletop looms range from $154.99 to $315, and the fee for a series of classes, consisting of four two-hour sessions, is $50. Classes are held on Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays, and there's a minimum of two and a maximum of five students per series. The next series is set to begin sometime in March. To register, or for more detailed information, call Michigan Fine Yarns at (734) 462-2800.

Detroit News Staff Writer Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150 or jbrown@detroitnews.com. For more craft news and giveaways, visit her blog at detroitnews.com/crafts.

Contact Michigan Fine Yarns, 37519 Ann Arbor in Livonia, at (734) 462-2800 or visit miknitboutique.com.

View Comments