KOEL Stories

Meet The KOEL Kids: Laura Gross

KOEL Stories
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"Sometimes asking for help is the bravest move you can make." Pittsburgh-based weaver Laura Gross wasn't afraid to reach out for support when she first started our her craft. Having a major doubt answered by weaving extraordinaire, Maryanne Moodie, helped Laura moved a big step forward in her weaving journey. Now, she spends her midnights (and hence the name "The Midnight Weaver") at the loom weaving wall hangings sold on her Etsy shop. Read further to be inspired by Laura's story. 

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1. Tell us more about your background and what led you to choosing weaving as a craft?
I actually hadn’t made anything crafty ever since I was running a friendship bracelet operation during recess in elementary school. After finishing college, I lived in many different places across the US and abroad as a result of my international studies and human resources consulting background. I was very happy and energized with what I was doing, but was I missing a creative outlet. In 2015, after returning to my hometown Pittsburgh, PA, it was on my new year's resolution list to find a hobby. I learned to knit, crochet and make herbal teas. But it was weaving that clicked and I wanted to learn everything I could about it.   

There were very few online materials on learning to weave two and a half years ago, so I gathered information anywhere I could.  I remembered seeing somewhere that there was a teacher named Maryanne Moodie. I really had no clue who she was or (in hindsight) how busy she probably was. All I knew was that she taught people weaving workshops. So I thought, great, I’ll message her with one of my weaving questions. She wrote back to me “Well, did you bubble your tabby?” and I just laughed about that for days because I had no clue what those words meant. I even tried to Google translate them to see if it was an Australian slang. But that little interaction helped move me forward once I finally figured out what she meant. I learned about the history of weaving through Annie Albers' writings, connected with modern weaving teachers like Kellee Vopelak, and studied closely the in progress pictures of Erin Barrett's work.The weaving community is amazingly strong, helpful, and giving. 

Now, weaving is my meditation. Time slows down. It gives me time for self care after chasing around a toddler all day. This has all led me to choose weaving as my craft. And to those of you who are reading this now and think that it’s too late to try something new, or create... I truly hope that you take that leap. Great things will happen.

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2. What makes you a KOEL Kid? 
Hmm, this is a difficult question for me to answer about my own work. I am humbled to be recognized among so many talents out there. For better or worse, I think what makes me different is the variety of what I make. I’ll try anything on the loom. I have a lot of lost time to make up for as a crafter! Maybe someday I’ll find a style that is more focused and uniquely me. 

3. Share with us the creative process behind each of your projects. 
I let my ideas percolate. I am a slow decision maker. (You can ask my husband who will attest to the two weeks of rumination that went into our new kitchen sink faucet!) However, for as much thought that goes into a design before I begin, the process doesn’t end until I’ve ripped out sections once or twice. I take pictures of pretty silhouettes or color combinations when I’m out on a stroller ride with my son and my little welsh corgi. I also believe that art inspires other art, so design blogs and the works of so many makers out there inspire me as well.

4. Pick one of your favourite designs and answer these quick questions

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The inspiration behind this design is... A full moon rise. The significance of this event represents a time of opportunity and re-energizing.  Both of those things are meaningful and important to me right now. 

The dream store in which I would like to stock this design is... What brings me the most joy is seeing what I make in someone’s home. I think that is the biggest compliment of all. If I had to come up with a dream place that I’d love to see any of my designs hanging in Pittsburgh, i’d probably pick the Ace Hotel. It is home to my absolute favorite restaurant, The Whitfield, and the aesthetic is right up my alley. It’s an old YMCA turned hotel/restaurant/event space. 

Which celebrity house can you picture your design at... I don’t know much about celebrity homes, but if I was required to hand deliver my work, I would go to Amy Poehler's house so we could hang out!

If this design made it big, I would... Buy all the hand dyed, hand spun, ethically sourced yarn I could get my hands on. Then, I would convert my stand-alone garage into a studio to house it all. That would be a dream.

If this design could talk, it would say... “Seriously, Laura. You need to stop misplacing your tapestry needle.”

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5. Great things take time, so how much has changed since you first started weaving and where do you see it in the next five years?
I am a mom now so a lot has changed since I first started weaving. I stopped working my corporate job to stay home with my son. With that change, my weaving hobby evolved into a small business. In the last year, my free time has pooled in spurts in the middle of night, hence my business name “The Midnight Weaver”. I have a new appreciation for the time in one day, let alone years. Five years can go by in a blink, but so much can happen in that time. I’m inspired by all of the moms out there who run small businesses, so I hope to keep pursuing this passion while remaining balanced. So long as I love what I’m doing, I’ll just keep doing it!

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Photo Credits: Laura Gross