Janet Dawson, the coast to coast weaver

As one of the co-founders of the Academy, you might expect Janet to have some experience weaving and teaching, and you would be correct.

She is often heard saying “Good cloth, happy weaver!” and “It Depends”. 

These mantras are born from years of experience, starting from the moment she learned to weave at the Cape Breton School of Crafts (now named the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design). That was in 1994,  shortly after she moved to the Canadian East Coast from Seattle.

One might think that Janet was inspired by the rich history of handweaving handed down by the Scottish settlers in the Cape Breton area. But actually, she didn’t have a visa to work or go to school and didn’t have much else to do, so she went to the Cape Breton School of Crafts to meet people and feed her love of fiber arts.

Janet’s mom learned to weave a year later, because she was tired of listening to Janet talking about nothing else, when she didn’t understand the terms. This led to a beautiful partnership, in which Janet teaches regularly with her mom at Willingham Weavery. This is a wonderful thing for the dynamic duo – it allows them to stay involved in each other’s lives, even with a continent and international border between them.

Janet is a colorful, playful person, as evidenced by her hair color(s!) and leggings collection, but that fun-loving persona is the front for a mathematical brain, that allows her to see numbers and patterns everywhere. She can spot a treadling mistake from 50 paces!

Janet is continually fascinated by the technical aspects of weaving, and loves to explore how the parts fit together; how a loom functions, how the threads in a structure work together, and even how to clearly communicate these details to another person. She excels at breaking things down into small and logical steps so that complex ideas are more easily understood and less intimidating.

Janet delights in sharing all the ways that a person can accomplish a goal, whether the method is “traditional” or not. (Hence, the “good cloth, happy weaver” mantra.)

Because of this, her goal is always to provide information and options that allow other weavers to decide best for them how to achieve good cloth and to enjoy themselves while making it. That means sharing how she does things but also how others do things differently, and helping people see the pitfalls and benefits of all the methods.  

As someone with the bonus of an ADHD brain, she has a hard time staying motivated to work on a single thing (unless she happens to be hyper focused). There are so many interesting and exciting things to try and learn, she keeps changing projects up so there’s something new around each corner. The flip side is that one of her superpowers is making connections quickly, and finding fun and interesting ways to share the information that makes it accessible to everyone.

Janet is most often found at home with her husband Ron, her furry kitty overlords Poppy and Black Spot, a jar of Nutella close by, and 73 ideas running around in her head.

From the Course Catalog:

Drafts: The written language of weaving – The first of four parts, that give an in depth understanding of the parts of structural drafts for weaving with shaft looms

What is Twill – This class breaks down the parts of this flexible structure, and will give you a base of understanding for upcoming classes.