Sharon Harris

If I had to define who I am, I am a creator. For 29 years I have worked with the natural world to create gardens that are beautiful, functional, inspiring, comforting and, most of all, nurturing.

Designing gardens is a challenge as one uses living elements to create something solid and defined; something that is firmly grounded but at the same time, creative and constantly changing. Changes occur as plants grow, seasons shift and extreme weather events happen, not to mention human intervention and interaction, such as pruning, dividing, mowing the lawn, additional planting and removing plants. Gardens are dynamic and it is this constant change that is, in my mind, the soul and heart of a garden. It is a wonderful journey that by its very nature encourages and demands both personal and creative growth as one designs something that is alive.

How does a garden designer become a weaver? When I design gardens, I feel them first. I sit with the garden, with the house, the site and the client — I ‘sit’ metaphorically and feel the space; feel what is right. Not what should be but what is right for the house, the site and the client. Out of these three factors, the site and the client have the most weight. The site determines what plants can or cannot be used - soil types, light conditions, maintenance requirements etc. However, it is the client who sees, feels and lives in the garden. To create the right garden for a living, breathing, thinking, feeling human being is equal parts satisfying and challenging.

I have journeyed far in my five decades - not in distance, but in my creative experiences. In addition to exploring plants of every description and origin, I have journeyed into blacksmithing, welding, quilting, knitting, sewing, bread making, cooking techniques, beekeeping, drawing, woodwork…and weaving. As one friend said, weaving was the one that really stuck. As I delved further into weaving, it felt like I was saying “hello” to an old friend. On many levels, it felt like designing a garden. The elements of technique, form, function, practical versus aesthetic considerations and how one can meld all of these elements to create something lasting and beautiful resonated on such a deep level.

At the start of my weaving journey, as someone who runs and works in the garden business more than full-time, there was not even a glimmer of a hope that I would open a weaving studio. So how did ‘The Weaving Room’ come into being?
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The Weaving Room

To keep it very simple, ‘The Weaving Room’ came into being because I felt that it needed to exist.

In December 2019, while sitting at a floor loom in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, USA, I felt ‘The Weaving Room’. It was a powerful, quiet moment that resonated deep within. It didn’t have form, but it had strength and, without a conscious thought of what was to come through 2020, it took a hold deep within. Just as designing with plants became part of my DNA at the age of 24, making cloth took a firm hold within my psyche 28 years later.

The purpose of ‘The Weaving Room’ is to create a space where the weaving of cloth is explored and taught, and the skill of weaving is fostered in workshops, open days and the through the store. I want to make weaving on a floor loom accessible to everyone who wishes to go beyond table looms. That moment in December 2019 was largely due to the floor loom. After two years of weaving on a table loom, the floor loom made making cloth so more exciting, and this was an experience I wanted to share.

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