Dancing at the Summer Concert


     Tapestry, 2016, 28 by 42 inches    
Click on image for larger view

In winter, live music and opportunities for dancing in our area are few and far between, so this past winter I took on the challenge of a dance on my loom.

“Dancing at the Summer Concert in the Park” breaks new ground for me: my first figurative (albeit still fairly abstract!) design. In this single weaving I combined almost
all of the different weaving techniques I have learned over the past 20 years—Navajo wedgeweave; Navajo beading, or checkerboard; eccentric weft; the patterning of geometric motifs such as stripes, triangles and half circles that I learned from the tapestry weaver Silvia Heyden; and Silvia’s featherweave (which turns out to be a variation of wedgeweave).

Here is a closeup showing  the zigzag effect of Navajo wedgeweave, with two "feathers," which round off the angle between bands of wedges. This angled shoot shows the the graceful arc the feathering  lifts above the surface of the weaving. Above it fly several silken birds and red silk half rounds of music.

feathers and birds

Below is another detail view, the figure in wedgeweave, the ground underfoot in green half rounds and the air filled with upside down half rounds in blues and reds as well as eccentric weft with "drifts" of beading, mostly in silk. As well as multiple techniques, I combined many different yarns in this weaving, resulting in textures shifting from shining and glistening, to soft to matte and slubby--I feel the variety enhances the sense of movement, music and dance.

wedgeweave and halfroundsI usually weave in wool, which I dye myself with acid dyes and indigo, either a heavy rug yarn or a lighter weight Churro yarn. In "Dancing" I used wools of different weights, spin, and ply as well as linen, silk, and artificial fibers, some I dyed myself, others from my “inheritance” from Silvia Heyden. Sadly, this wonderful weaver, my teacher and mentor in recent years, died last year. Her daughter sent me boxes of yarns Silvia left unwoven. I feel both challenged and inspired by her presence in these yarns and a sense of her company as I weave them. (Click here for more about Silvia Heyden's life and images of her work at

"Dancing" is now off the loom and finished, and another summer outdoor concert series in our town and other nearby towns is beginning, and I am happy to be dancing myself, outdoors in the warm summer air!

Stephanie Hoppe Handwoven Rugs

I weave wool rugs and tapestries on a vertical frame loom with the technology perfected by the People of the American Southwest over 1,200 years ago. This way of weaving is slow and requires close and constant attention. It also yields the physical and spiritual rewards of other contemplative practices, as well as a sense of participating in ancient rhythms of work. Textiles woven on this loom are dense but supple, a pleasure to touch as well as look at, and certain to withstand hard wear for many years.

Images of the rugs

Images of the tapestries

Four-selvage weaving----modern applications of an ancient technology

How and why I weave

A handwoven rug will give long-lasting pleasure to the eye and the foot

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