Thirty is an important number for Madeline van der Hoogt these days.
She has more than 30 looms in her home used for a weaving school she has run for 30 years — a career she hopes to continue for 30 more.
“I think it’s challenging but also rewarding,” van der Hoogt said of her career in weaving. “It’s intellectually challenging in so many ways.”
The weaving expert had more than a dozen students hailing from all over the country in her home studio last week, learning the artistry and technicalities of weaving on a loom.
Chris Covey, from Bothel, came to weaving school because she purchased a loom from a friend who had been sitting in her living room unused.
The five-day course has allowed her “good concentration time” to really absorb the workings of a loom.
“My son bought me a ‘how to weave’ book,” Covey said. “It was like reading a foreign language.”
Van der Hoogt teaches up to 14 people in eight week-long courses per year, four beginner courses and four intermediate courses.
There is always a waiting list, van der Hoogt said.
“I keep growing,” van der Hoogt said. “I kept buying more looms and needed to have an excuse for it.”
In between courses, van der Hoogt works as the editor-in-chief of Handwoven magazine, which publishes every two months.
Describing herself as a “back-to-the-land farmer-hippie” in the 1970s, van der Hoogt learned how to weave in Guatamala on a back strap loom, with which a weaver leans back and uses his or her body weight to create tension on the loom.
She started weaving in 1981 and by 1984 she was teaching.
Originally from Missouri, van der Hoogt moved her weaving school to Coupeville because of the now-defunct Fiber Forum held at Fort Casey, a large event at which she taught until it ended its run in the 1990s.
The fabrics and textiles that emerge from the looms are largely experimental and educational, but once trained, her students can make anything from clothing to kitchen towels to decorative wall coverings.
“There are a variety of things,” van der Hoogt said.
In her courses, van der Hoogt focuses on weaving basics and getting people comfortable with using all the working parts of the loom.
The basic purpose of any loom is to hold the vertical threads under tension to facilitate the function is basically the same.
Last week, van der Hoogt told a group of students that because the loom can engage the entire body “there’s a mind-body thing that happens” that can be very relaxing and rewarding.
Visit www.weaversschool.com for more information.