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Archive for March, 2014

These are a few of my favorite things: #37 – The Weaver magazine

Anyone who has woven more than a few weft picks in their life is aware that weaving has been around for a very long time.  Today, we have access to so much information and we’re able to create patterns with a couple of stokes and clicks of our mouse.  In the past century, weaving publications have come and gone.  Some were around years ago and many weavers today may not be aware of them.  This brings me to my latest favorite thing . . . The Weaver magazine. The first issue of The Weaver was published in 1935.  There were four issues a year.  The last issue was published in July 1942.  Fortunately, through the beauty and convenience of the internet, we have access to all 26 issues.  You can access all of them at the following link http://www.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/weaver.html The Weaver cover 1-1 All it takes is a look at an issue or two to appreciate the peek into the history of hand weaving.  The authors include such weavers such as Nellie Sargeant Johnson, Osma Couch Gallinger . . . and the legendary Mary Meigs Atwater.  These are just a few of the weavers that contributed so much to our craft and their articles help continue their legacies for future generations of weavers.

Penland weavers in 1935

Penland weavers in 1935

Beyond the weaving information, there are a number of things that are surprising when I look at issues of The Weaver.  First, the authors (mostly women) are listed by their own names.  If you look back over 75 years ago, women were often listed as Mrs. <insert husband’s name>.  Were weavers over 75 years ago their own contemporaries?  It may appear so.  Another thing I really marvel at is the hand-drawn drafts . . . including the penmanship.  Such beautiful handwriting!  Plus, I can only imagine how much work went into creating one publication since the publishing tools and advantages we have today (namely, computers) were only a dream at the time. In looking through some of the issues, the following were just a few of the articles that caught my attention

Volume 1, Issue 3Miniature Patterns for Hand Weaving by Josephine Estes (below is one of the five pages of the articles drafts) Minature patterns - 1-3 Volume 5, Issue 3Miniature Patterns for Hand Weaving by Josephine Estes (below is one of the five pages of the articles drafts) Minature patterns - 5-3Volume 2, Issue 4 – Lightning Weaving by Elmer Wallace Hickman . . . Before reading this issue I was unfamiliar with Lightning Weaving.  Yes, it’s a Scandinavian tapestry technique . . . but, I love the name and the drawings!       Lighting weave - 2-4Volume 4, Issue 1 – Know Thy Thread by Osma Couch Gallinger . . . If you’re looking for a little guidance on what is the appropriate yarn or thread for your project, there are four pages that may be of help.  Not all of the yarns may be available, but it’s amazing how much of it is still relevant. Know thy Threads - 4-1Volume 6, Issue 2 – Bronson Weave – Four Ways by Mary Meigs Atwater . . . A nine-page article that may intrigue any weaver interested in learning more about Bronson lace. Bronson Weave 4 ways - 6-2Volume 7, Issue 2 – Types of Overshot by Osma Couch Gallinger . . . I thought this was a wonderful look at overshot patterning.  The image below is just one page of the four pages of hand-drawn images.           Types of Overshot - 7-2Volume 4, Issue 4 – How Many Ways to Weave Honeysuckle by Berta Frey . . . Looking for one threading with some versatility?  Check out this article!   How many ways to weave Honeysuckle - 4-4There are even numerous articles that I would consider off-the-beaten-path . . . the two below are just a couple that may capture your attention.

Volume 7, Issue 2 – Finish of Edges by Mary Meigs Atwater Finish of Edges - 7 - 2Volume 1, Issue 3 – New Ideas for Tablet Woven Rugs by Beatrice A. Shephard . . . I’m totally and completely intrigued by the idea of a tablet woven rug.  It’s not a project I would likely undertake, but I can certainly marvel at the work of others. Tablet woven rugs - 1-3The Weaver magazine may lack the visual impact of color . . . but, so what?  Hopefully, some of the above articles will encourage you to check it out . . . and, while you’re looking at your first issue, think retro . . . think nostalgia . . . and then think how incredible these projects could look in color. Enjoy!

These are a few of my favorite things: #36 – Tapestry

Mention the word tapestry in the company of weavers and at least one person will proclaim they dislike tapestry (sometimes even stronger and more passionate language arises).  In fact, I wish I had a dollar for every time someone said something disparaging about weaving tapestry.  I could have a pretty good dinner with a nice glass (or two) of wine.

I think I started thinking about tapestry recently when I realized my friend and amazing tapestry weaver, James Koehler, passed away three years ago this week.  He was incredible!  Not only as a tapestry weaver, but also as a teacher and friend.  He once watched me give away awards for a bath towel exhibit at the ANWG 2007 conference in Red Deer, Alberta wearing nothing more than a bath towel.  Nearly every time I saw him after that, he would would say Robyn.  I didn’t recognize you with clothes on.  The chance he would say it increased with the number of people that would hear his comment.  Talk about watching heads whip around.  A former monk saying something like that sounded rather shocking.  One can’t help but love someone with a sense of humor like that!

To learn more about James Koehler, you can watch a short video of him describing how he became a weaver.  The video was produced when James received a New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2007.  http://www.nmartmuseum.org/governors/awards/video.php?select=231

James Koehler

James Koehler

James Koehler tapestry

One of James’ amazing tapestries

Fortunately, James left behind many inspired weavers to share his techniques with other weavers.  In fact, Rebecca Mezoff was kind enough to post a video on YouTube of his tapestry join technique.  You may see her video by clicking on the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TwNVX3nPGc

Koelher tapestry join by Rebecca Mezoff

For years I avoided tapestry.  Why?  It was slow and time-consuming.  Then came my decision to complete HGA’s Certificate of Excellence in weaving (COE-W).  Three of the 40 woven samples required in Level I of the COE-W are tapestries (albeit, small ones).  If I wanted to complete the COE-W, I was going to have to tackle tapestry.  I went forward kicking . . . but, not screaming . . . and guess what?  After developing my skills, I was able to weave a nice little tapestry.  Below is one of them.

Cherries by Robyn Spady

Cherries by Robyn Spady

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I didn’t abdicate from my floor looms in favor of weaving tapestries; however, I developed a new appreciation for tapestry techniques and tapestry weavers.  I also pursued incorporating tapestry techniques into my regular weaving.  For example, I sometimes use a clasped weft technique to create a bi-colored weft effect.  Below is an example of clasped weft in the weft pile picks used while weaving corduroy.


Corduroy weft piles picks woven using clasped weft (uncut)

Corduroy weft piles picks woven using clasped weft  (half the pile weft is cut - notice the shift in color)

Corduroy weft piles picks woven using clasped weft (half the pile weft is cut – notice the shift in color)

Tapestry techniques are just one set of skills I think weavers should develop . . . at least to some degree.  There are even some resources available.

First stop for more information, should be Weaving Today.  They have a free tapestry ebook available for download.  Just click on the link http://www.weavingtoday.com/tapestry-weaving/

Handwoven tapestry PDF cover

When you’re ready to move on, head on over to the American Tapestry Alliance’s website http://americantapestryalliance.org/.  There’s tons of information and inspiration just waiting for you.  There is also a significant collection of tapestry-related articles listed under the Education tab.  Below is an image of the top of the list.

AMA articles images

Interested in more on tapestry???  Cool!  Check out the on-line PDF available from Archie Brennan and Susan Martin Maffei.  http://www.brennan-maffei.com/images/TapestryWeavingTechniques.pdf

Brennan's technique

Also, there’s a wonderful 16 minute video made available by Debbie Herd that introduces the viewer to tapestry techniques that may get you inspired to purchase Archie’s 8-disc DVD set.  http://debbieherd.blogspot.com/2013/07/woven-tapestry-techniques-with-archie.html

If you need a little more to inspire you to learn more about tapestry techniques, I’ve included some images from some of my favorite tapestry artists.

Maximo Laura – http://www.maximolaura.com/about.htm

Maximo Laura

Sarah Swett – http://www.sarah-swett.com/

Red Nuns by Sara Swett

Red Nuns by Sara Swett

Cecilia Blomberg – http://www.ceciliablomberg.com/

Cecilia Blomber - Multnomah Falls

Cecilia Blomberg – Multnomah Falls (1998)

Margo MacDonald – http://www.margomacdonald.com/

Margo MacDonald tapestry

Kathy Todd Hooker – http://kathetoddhooker.blogspot.com/

Kathy Todd Hooker


If you’ve shrugged off or even runway from weaving tapestry, give it a try.  It’s easy to get started.  A piece of heavy cardboard with some notches cut into the top and bottom can made a good little loom to warp up.


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