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All For the Love of Fiber – Reaching Back to Welcome New Generations

Reaching Back to Welcome New Generations

Traditionally, Valentine’s Day has many of us thinking of hearts and flowers and maybe even chocolate, but we wanted to offer a different spin on the February holiday by sharing the story of fiber folks who wanted to honor one of their own, and share the joys of all things fiber with a new generation. It’s a love story of a different kind.

Uarda Taylor, of the Western Reserve Weavers & Spinners Guild in Ohio, came to weaving later on in life. An art teacher by trade, Uarda was a watercolor artist who discovered weaving after retirement. Jumping in with both feet, she was a Guild member since 1992, and served a term as president as well. At 90 years old, “she was a firecracker,” remembers fellow member JoEllen Salkin. “She spent her life weaving and spinning and teaching.”

When Uarda passed away in 2020, her family donated all of her fiber supplies to the Guild. The tools were sold to folks wanting to pursue their work in fiber, and the proceeds from the sales got the members to thinking about the best way to honor their friend, Uarda.

And that’s where Tom comes in.

While many of us know Tom Knisely as a master weaver and teacher, he twinkles when he has a story to share. His two childrens’ books, The Weaver’s Surprise and Spinning Tails, hearken back to the magical fairy tales of his youth. The kind of magic that captures a child’s imagination. The kind of magic that makes anything seem possible.

Tom’s stories have universal appeal, drawing on elements of truth – there really was a rug, just like in The Weaver’s Surprise! And then there’s the process of fibercraft, told by someone who has worked exclusively in weaving and spinning for more than 40 years. Folks know the real deal when they read it, and JoEllen Salkin was no exception.

Salkin read a brief piece in Handwoven Magazine and knew she’d found something special, and after talking it over with the Guild, there was no need to look any further. “These books were written by Tom Knisely, and we all know Tom Knisely. He is so well known and respected, and not just someone writing about spinning and weaving. Plus, we really liked the books!!!”


The Guild decided to spread their love of all things fiber to a younger generation with the purchase and distribution of both of Tom’s books to 44 libraries in Ohio, in Cuyahoga, Geauga and Lake Counties. After submitting a proposal, the books were delivered to all 44 libraries within six months. “Each library has their own system in place, but they were so thrilled to receive the books. They were met with open arms,” says Salkin. At her local library, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, as the books were immediately checked out. In addition to the book donation, the Guild is offering to demonstrate and/or speak at individual libraries interested in learning more about the fiber arts. For more information on the program, check out their website at, or email the Guild at


Salkin encourages every guild to consider making a similar donation to their local communities. “If anyone wants to copy what we did, we’d be happy to share information.” Encouraging a new generation of fiber artists is essential to keep fiber craftsmanship alive and growing. While we all remember crafting loop potholders as children, there’s so much more to learn. Weaving and spinning are lifelong skills that allow us to create useful and beautiful art, but that’s just one aspect. There is the opportunity to be part of a vibrant community, to learn how to focus and problem-solve, and to be more closely connected with the world around us.

All reasons why this gesture of donating books in memory of dear friend, Uarda Taylor, appealed to members of the Western Reserve Weavers & Spinners Guild. “It’s a nice way to honor her. She would have been so happy to be a part of this,” said Salkin.