At Graham County’s Stecoah Valley Center, a historic stone schoolhouse and community center near Robbinsville, the Stecoah Valley Weavers teach area residents the arts of weaving and spinning, offering them the opportunity to learn enjoyable, money-making skills while furthering some of the region’s most important craft traditions. The group was organized by spinner Eileen Hallman of Black Mountain and weaver Susan Leveille of Dillsboro. Leveille is a member of the Morgan family, which founded both the Penland School of Crafts in Mitchell County and the Riverwood craft studios in Dillsboro. The Stecoah Valley Weavers is founded on the principal exemplified by Lucy Morgan’s work at Penland-to foster the traditional handcrafts of the Southern Appalachian region, while contributing to the economic wellbeing of the artists and their communities.
Many of the weavers at Stecoah join the guild never having woven before, but wishing to learn. Classes are offered throughout the year that teach spinning and weaving for complete beginners, with continuing instruction and camaraderie as the students’ skills develop. Joyce Ammerman, a member of the guild, joined several years ago after seeing a note in the newspaper about a weaving demonstration at the Stecoah Valley Center’s Harvest Festival. After watching the demonstration, she signed up for a class, and in the years since she has become an expert weaver whose work is much in demand.
Textiles created by the Stecoah Valley Weavers can be purchased at the Stecoah Valley Center Artisan’s Gallery, as well as the Cottage Craftsman in Bryson City, Oaks Gallery in Dillsboro, North Carolina Mountain Made in Franklin, and East Town Mall in Chattanooga.
Contact the Stecoah Valley Center at (828) 479-3364 to find out about how to register for classes and become part of the Stecoah Valley Weavers.