Giving students the ability to continue their passion after graduation

The Sarah Fuller Smith Loom Award has been awarded to one student graduating from the weaving department since 1929. “The award covers not only the loom, but all the other needs that go into keeping weaving accessible as students reach a new chapter in their lives,” explained Erin Miller, head of Weaving.

Emerson Croft '21 stands in the woods with a blanket they designed while a student in Berea College Craft
Emerson Croft ’21 designed and created a new line of baby blankets for Berea College Craft during their time as a weaving student. Photo by Justin Skeens

Emerson Croft ’21, a 2021 Sarah Fuller Smith Loom Award recipient, had been working with fibers since the age of 6. “My grandmother taught me how to crotchet. This started a love of creating.

“Weaving wasn’t something I knew about until I came to Berea,” Croft continued, “but I spent all four years in Student Craft learning about weaving, then I was asked to stay and be the weaving manager.”

A bench, scissors, measuring tape, shuttle, bobbins, warping board, mill and fringe twister are all items a student needs besides a loom when they graduate, Miller explained.

“Looms by themselves are expensive, but there is so much more that goes into weaving than just the loom itself,” she said. “A weaver needs something to sit on, a warping board or a mill to put the yarn on the board and yarn to weave with.” 

Receiving the loom award has allowed Croft to continue creating outside of the work they do for the College.

“Realizing I have creative freedom has been the best part of receiving a loom,” Croft said. “While I was at Berea, I mainly wove baby blankets. There are many projects that I have created since receiving the loom such as towels, scarves and place mats.”

Just this month, Croft created a baby blanket for their mom and stepfather who are expecting a baby later this year. “It is special that I can show my love by creating something for those I love.”

Giving students the opportunity to continue what they love is important to Croft. “The financial barriers to weaving are immense, especially for Berea students with the financial backgrounds they come from. A loom wouldn’t have been in my future without the award. Students come to Craft and fall in love with it, and I want to help them continue their love of craft.”

Since joining the staff at Berea, Miller has worked to find looms for students who weren’t awarded one upon graduation. “Looms are expensive and hard to find,” she said. “There are not a lot of weaving studios around the country where students can access a loom.” 

If you have a family loom to donate to a graduating student, contact the Weaving studio at, and the department will gift the loom to a student. “We are always looking for more looms to connect with students,” Miller said.

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