MIDDLEWAY—It’s an ancient craft, a bit of math puzzle and a task that requires the steady discipline of a long-distance runner.
For Diane Myers, weaving colorful patterns in cloth and clothing is also an art form that has become a lifelong fulfillment.
“It’s a challenge to me to make what I’m making feel right,” she said. “It has to feel nice. It has to be something that people love and that I love.”
On different handlooms in her home near Middleway, Myers has been thoughtfully and purposefully weaving wool into distinctive blankets, shawls, scarves, towels and table runners that she sells at various arts and crafts events. The sales of her intricate, supple creations during last fall’s Over the Mountain Studio Tour, an annual showcase of accomplished artists in Jefferson County, gave her extra funds to establish a full-time weaver’s studio just the way she wants, she said.
“It’s the end product,” Myers explained of the motivation driving her weaving success. “I’ve always been a goal-oriented person.”
Setting up a weaving project requires preparation, including some shimmying in tight spaces underneath her handloom. “A lot of people don’t have the patience,” she observed. “It’s not instant gratification by any means.”
A former antiques dealer, Myers is drawn to traditional weaving patterns. Some were designed in the 1700s, though weaving itself dates as far back 7,000 years to the ancient Egyptians, she said.
Myers, 71, retired last spring from a career that ranged from business consulting to teaching, giving her more opportunity to pursue an interest in weaving. She first discovered weaving during a summer study at the Chautauqua Institution as a 20-year-old an art major in college.
As an art student, she formally pursued painting. She tried sculpture. “Nothing really stuck,” she said.
“I always liked fibers,” she reflected. “My grandmother taught me to embroider when I was 7. I learned to knit when I was in high school.”
A native of Pittsburgh, Myers said her art training shapes her weaving projects, particularly in choosing color combinations for the patterns she creates. She carefully selects whatever shades of greens, oranges, grays or browns she might use.
“It’s very creative,” she said. “It’s very satisfying.”
The patterns Myers designs and weaves may look complicated but with a little learning they really aren’t once you learn the mathematical principles of her craft, she said.
Since graduating college, Myers has always been a member of a local weaving guild. But she said the necessity of a career kept her from devoting the time she wanted to explore the seemingly infinite interlacing possibilities from the warp and weft of the weaving art.
With more time since fleeing Northern Virginia’s congestion and high cost of living with her now-retired husband Larry, Myers sets monthly goals on how much weaving she wants to accomplish. That has helped her stay focused and productive, she said.
Now gratefully clocked out of the daily career grind, Myers tries to spend at least two to four hours a day weaving, she said. A simple weaving project like table runner can take two hours of steady work peddling on a loom, she said. Preparing the loom, however, usually takes at least twice as long.
She’s been a member for years of the Waterford Weavers Guild, a group of about 25 people who sell their wares at the annual autumn fair in Waterford, Va. The group is helping to keep the working knowledge of traditional weaving active, including a variety of weaving techniques ranging from lace to huck lace to overshot to twill.
Wherever Myers now encounters fabric, especially in clothing shops, she is compelled to closely examine its patterns, material and texture, she admitted. “That’s like inspiration to me,” she said.