It’s important to have a champion when learning something new or improving one’s skills; Daryl Lancaster brilliantly champions weavers and seamstresses! While at the loom, she encourages her students with every throw of the shuttle. Her teaching specialty is garment construction with handwoven cloth. She was the contributing features editor for Handwoven magazine for six years. Daryl follows fashion trends, finds inspiration both in museums and in the world around her, teaches widely, publishes books, and is regularly featured in several handweaving and sewing magazines. And she creates stunning handwoven garments! Once again, I’m awestruck by the assembly of nationally and internationally-known teachers at this year’s Fiber College. Go Google “Daryl Lancaster” and then sign up for one of more of her FC classes while you can. What an incredible opportunity to learn from one of the best! Here’s Daryl.
Who are you? Tell us about your fiber journey.
My name is Daryl Lancaster. I have a degree in Fine Arts from the 1970’s when I was first introduced to the loom. I have been making clothing for 50 years, and learning to produce my own cloth was a perfect fit for my garment construction skills. After college I developed a line of handwoven garments and sold them through craft markets and galleries around the country.
By the late 1980’s I was beginning to teach, first about marketing your work, and then eventually about constructing garments from handwoven cloth. I love to instill knowledge, confidence and possibilities in my students, no matter what the level. I’ve been teaching for 25 years, throughout the United States and Canada, and strive to get handweavers to wear something from their own hands. There is no greater joy than to be able to say, “Yes, I made what I’m wearing!”
What’s integral to your work as an artist?
I try to stay on top of what is happening in the Sewing Market, the Fashion World, the handweaving community, and the Art World, and to just observe what’s around me. I read fashion blogs, look at fashion magazines, visit museums, attend handweaving guild meetings, and absorb as much as I can from my surroundings.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever given a student?
“Make it Work” said way before Tim Gunn ever coined the phrase. The challenge with everything is to be able to change course and find a way when things aren’t moving forward in the originally anticipated direction. It is my job to help students find that way to make things work, to constantly adjust techniques and design when necessary.
What’s your favorite piece of work that you’ve created?
I answered this same question for an article I wrote for Threads Magazine. Oddly enough my favorite piece of work is the last one I created. Each work is a journey, taking me some place I’ve never been. Each new work is full of struggles, frustration, and ultimate triumph. Here is the link for the last garment I made in the early spring from award winning yardage I wove the previous year. All of the warp threads are hand-dyed. You can see more in Daryl’s gallery at: http://weaversew.com
What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
My sewing machine. I have a high end Janome, that will come with me when I am buried. I can use just about any loom available and I have many, but that sewing machine and I are really best friends. I might also say that my Stash comes in a close second. I need to be able to pull from what’s around me when I am creating or problem solving. There is no weaving/sewing shop on the corner for inspiration and supplies. I purchase things for my stash when I find them especially when I travel. Then I’m surrounded by color and texture and cloth and yarn while I’m working.
What would your FC students be surprised to know about you?
I’m a breast cancer survivor. Breast Cancer taught me that life is short, and to make each day count.
How do you manage/balance your work self and your creative self?
I recognize that writing, developing new classes, handouts, samples for workshops and for my own work, all are creative processes in their own right. Even cooking dinner can be creative. Sometimes I get bogged down with too many emails and too much paperwork, but even then I try to find a way to stay creative and still get the job done.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
To just make stuff, even if it isn’t any good. Fear of failure is one of the worst emotions one can bring to the table.
What inspired you to become a fiber artist?
When I was in art school, people asked me all the time, what did I want to be when I grew up. The words Fiber Artist were not part of my vocabulary. I would shrug and say I hadn’t any idea what I wanted to do with my art degree, but I never actually wanted to teach. Each step of my journey happened because I was in the right place at the right time. An ad appeared for a production weaver when I had just finished college. I grew into the job. An ad appeared to participate in a craft fair, and I grew into that job. A guild asked me to teach about what I know and the rest is history. Even my frequent contributions to handweaving and sewing publications came because the editor of Handwoven Magazine asked me during a conference 15 years ago, if I would be interested in writing an article. I rarely turn down new opportunities, one never knows where they might lead. So my journey was never planned. And that is how it should be.
You can learn more about Daryl on her website and blog:
There’s still time to sign up for one, two, or all of Daryl’s three classes at this year’s Fiber College. Don’t delay! www.fibercollege.org