Posted by: bschutzgruber | March 25, 2016

Who got you started?

I’m often asked how I got started weaving and my first response is usually a reference to being fascinated with the process since childhood…. but that doesn’t answer the question.  The answer actually is Jean Gordon.

I met Jean over 30 years ago when she came to a Detroit Story League meeting.  On the verge of retiring from teaching, she was looking at ways to expand her interests now that she would have more time.  When she mentioned that she wove, I made a beeline to talk with her as she was the first person I’d actually met who had a loom.  Jean is the one who connected me with Gloria Teeter.  Gloria offered beginning weaving classes in her studio/shop.  I signed up for the class…. and was hooked!  Jean was my introduction to basket weaving and spinning, connecting me with places where I could learn these crafts.

Avid weaver, spinner, knitter, storyteller, gardener and docent at the University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens, mentor/tutor at the high school where she had taught, Habitat for Humanity volunteer, Jean was always up for an adventure and road trip.  We would spend the next 25+ years traveling to storytelling festivals, conferences and events as well as comparing notes on our latest fiber projects.

Jean died on her 90th birthday in 2013 and I had the honor of helping her family sort through her storytelling and fiber related materials.  Her folktale and storytelling books were donated to the local library.  Her loom, spinning wheel, sewing machine, and all the other items that go along with them found new homes.  Her handspun yarns and dye samples came home with me.


I knew I wanted to do something with the handspun yarns and this January I created a felt wall hanging In the Garden in memory of Jean.

In the Garden 29" x 39" felted wool fiber, silk fabric, wool yarn

In the Garden
29″ x 39″ felted wool fiber, silk fabric, wool yarn

So I ask you…..

Who got YOU started in an activity that you love?



  1. Didn’t know Jean was a weaver. Knew she was kind, intelligent, an interesting teller, and one of the great story listeners. T often told her that when I saw her in the audience, I knew I’d tell well. I was sad to be out of state & missed her memorial. Your felt piece has deeper maning for me now.

  2. Lovely.

  3. It seems storytelling and weaving are very closely linked. That may not be news to anyone but I am not aware of strong links here in the UK, between storytellers and weavers. You maybe more aware of that than me of course with your regular visits here.

    It’s good to get the backstory to that great piece of work Barbara. Given that, it’s interesting that it’s felting rather than weaving.

    Hope you are well 😄

    • As a storyteller, I’ve always noticed that there are so many weaving, spinning, fiber related images in the old folktales. I was on a deadline to complete a wall piece and felting is faster than weaving! 🙂
      I don’t have that much of Jean’s yarns but I may use some with a future tapestry.

      I’m doing well and really look forward to your daily photo blogs!

  4. It’s nice to here about who inspired other weavers to start weaving. I also think in my case other weavers I interact with have a great influence upon my weaving. It was so nice that you could help Jean’s family find good homes for the weaving tools and supplies.

  5. The first time that I walked into a weaving studio, I had no idea that it would be my first step into exploring multi-harness weaves, tapestry, card weaving, and inkle. My high school was more than generous with its support of my pursuits.

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