NAME: Daryl Lancaster
BACKSTORY: Daryl is a hand-weaver and fiber artist known for her award-winning hand-woven fabric and garments who has been constructing garments for more than 50 years!! We first came into contact with each other through Complex Weavers Seminars when she attended a seminar I was giving. During the seminar she asked some really pertinent questions and afterwards came up to me and asked me why I hadn’t presented the work for 8-shaft weavers because that would be so much more useful! I took up the challenge and stopped researching purely for 24-shafts, instead taking what I had learnt on the larger loom and distilling the information for eight shafts – and four whenever possible! The former Features Editor for Handwoven Magazine, Daryl has written more than 100 articles and digital content and frequently contributes to various weaving and sewing publications, writing regularly for Threads Magazine, so she certainly knows her stuff as her many students will attest!
HOW I GOT INTO WEAVING
I started working with fiber at an incredibly young age. My mom was a terrific seamstress and tailor, she made all our household textiles and clothing for herself and her three daughters. I was the eldest. I started by knitting, embroidering, macramé, but by the time I was 10 years old, it was time to start on the sewing machine. By the time I was 15, I was tailoring my own coats and had a small dressmaking business in town.
When it was time for college, money was tight, and a state school was the only option. I dismissed the idea of getting a home economics degree, I could not cook, and could already sew rings around my peers. I could not imagine teaching sewing to others. (Insert snickers…) I had thrived in the art/craft environment of my high school, and though my father pushed me to go into business, I opted to get a fine arts degree. This was the early 1970’s, an especially useful degree back then to be sure. (Insert more snickers…)
I loved the environment, challenges, and staying up all night to complete assignments. I studied ceramics, drawing, painting, and photography. But it was not until I found the textile department, on the second floor of the fine arts building, a room full of looms, and spinning wheels, and yarn, that I found my home.
I spent the rest of my college tenure taking as many fiber/textile related classes, including sewing, draping, pattern design and textile science and history from the home economics department. I studied spinning, dyeing, basket making, silk screening, tablet and inkle weaving, crochet, stitchery, tie dye, and more. And of course, weaving on a shaft loom. Since I already spoke the language of thread, weaving was a natural next step to creating cloth to sew.
And the rest is history as they say. I spent a couple of years as a production weaver for a small design company, while teaching craft classes at a local mall craft shop. Eventually I developed my own brand, handwoven items, and eventually clothing and sold them in craft fairs for 10 years. Facing burn-out and becoming pregnant with my first of two children in my mid 30’s, I veered away from craft fairs and started to teach. There was an instant gratification of seeing the joy students had of doing things themselves, of seeing their own handwoven cloth come to fruition as a garment that fit them.
I continued on that path for 30 years, and now, as I’m backing away from the rigors of teaching, opting out of conferences and huge gatherings, I’m beginning to develop a digital presence to be able to leave a legacy when I can no longer go out on the road. I have hired my daughter to help with the workload, to bring a more youthful presence into what I do, especially with technology. We are working together to develop the more than one dozen patterns I use for my classes into files that can be downloaded. Videos are in the plans, and maybe a book. I am excited about the future, and love that as an artist, we are always reinventing ourselves, and taking advantage of what life throws at us.
Next time : Lillian Whipple