Weaving’s Grand Masters: A Cage Match

Why choose when you can learn different techniques from each of them?

Handwoven Editors Feb 8, 2024 - 4 min read

Weaving’s Grand Masters: A Cage Match Primary Image

Two of our favorite instructors will be at our events this year! Tom Knisely and John Mullarkey. Photos by George Boe and John Mullarkey

Think you have to decide between teachers? Think again! Tom Knisely and John Mullarkey are two of our favorite instructors, and although weaving is their focus, they each approach it differently.

Having studied and taught weaving and spinning for over four decades, Tom Knisely is one of weaving’s Grand Masters. Whether he’s sampling twill on an 8-shaft loom, weaving rugs on a counterbalance loom, or teaching how to keep either loom in good working condition, there are few weaving topics he hasn’t covered. If WWE stood for World Weaving Entertainment, he would be John Cena, but with glasses and a twinkly manner.

Tom Knisely, Gentle Giant Figure of Weaving

On the other side of the ring is John Mullarkey, another Grand Master. Focusing on tablet weaving, John has been pushing boundaries ever since he began weaving and designing bands. As if that weren’t enough, on a week when he had nothing else to do, he developed the wildly popular Zoom Loom. A former software developer, John looks like an El Greco portrait who would take most of us down in nothing flat in a speed-warping contest.

John Mullarkey, Stealth Ninja of Small Looms

Despite their different weaving paths, Tom and John seem to have more in common than you’d think. They both wear glasses; they both like yarn and know a lot about spinning wheels in addition to looms. And they both love to teach and are very, very good at it.

If you are not lucky enough to take one of their many classes in person, why not bring them into your home instead? Tom’s course Beginning Weaving with Tom Knisely has pretty much everything you need to know to learn how to weave, whether you already own a loom or not. In addition to oodles of information, there is the joy of watching Tom himself.

If you prefer to begin on a smaller scale or simply want to explore band weaving, check out John’s Tablet Weaving Made Easy. It’s a great introduction and a springboard to get you designing your own bands, and John is pretty funny.

Different subjects aside, both courses share John’s and Tom’s love for what they do and the enthusiasm each brings to sharing his knowledge with others. Whether or not you have a chance to meet either man in person, you can watch these courses again and again, learning something new each time while being charmingly entertained. In this cage match, the audience is the winner.

Beginning Weaving and Tablet Weaving Made Easy are both available now as streamable courses you can watch at your own pace, anywhere, any time, on any device.

Not only can you invite these Grand Masters of Weaving into your home through our amazing video courses, but you can also learn from them in person! John will be at Weave Together with Handwoven this month and Tom will be at SOAR 2024. Come join us!

Originally published August 10, 2018; updated February 8, 2024.