High Summer

Isn’t it grand? There have been summer classes to take, regional conferences to attend, as well as some down time for sitting in a chaise lounge in the shade, doing some knitting and reading a few of the latest weaving periodicals. I’ve done a bit of all these things.

Bob and I made quick trip to Camden, Maine about a week ago, so on the way home I got to make a stop at Halcyon. I bought the Sept/Oct issue of Handwoven as well as an issue of Selvedge. With a price tag of almost $30, I don’t buy Selvedge too often. But I ask you, how could I resist the Renaissance issue??

The Renaissance issue 2019

With articles about the global textile industry, costumes for Anthony and Cleopatra for the National Theatre, a renovation of the Whitchurch silk mill, two articles on lace– and the clencher for me–an an article on “text-iles.” Oh boy!

My summer got off to a great start at the last meeting of the year of my close-knit weaving group that goes by a couple of names–Wacky Weavers, The Flockettes, or simply the Marymount Weaving Women. The group has been going for 40 years, led by Sr. Bianca from the order of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary. Although I’m not Catholic, I’ve been in the group for more than 25 years now. In May, I arranged for Mae Colburn to speak to us. She is currently involved in a number of remarkable textile projects, and she is likely to be an important voice in contemporary weaving.

Mae is the daughter of a weaver with Swedish heritage and expertise in Scandinavian weaving traditions. Mae’s mother teaches traditional wadmal weaving and has developed a fulling mill that will soon be available in the US. Here’s a link to some of Carol Colburn’s interesting projects.

Mae is currently Helena Hernmarck’s assistant. She is taking to tapestry as well as she took to weaving cloth for clothing. Mae is also part of a group of weavers producing one of a kind garments for well to do clients. You can read about that here. Mae’s presentation to us was about finding one’s way in a fast paced environment with high technology, by choosing to make things entirely by hand without any modern technology (beyond the use of administrative technologies). Her company, called Friends of Light, uses only locally sourced fibers that are then spun and dyed and woven to shape (no cutting!) by members of the group. The group intends to pay themselves a fair wage for their labors. I hope they can make this work! They already have a handful of commissions, and they’ve already realized that they did not account for a number of administrative costs. One of Mae’s interesting points in her presentation was that although we now live in an age where ‘time is money,’ there may be a desire for things made entirely by hand and for the benefit of one client only. I hope she and her Friends of Light collaborators are successful. That would be a boon for weavers everywhere–not to mention a boon other crafts as well.

Here is Mae wearing one of the made to order jackets. There is not cutting–each piece of the garment is woven to shape for it’s intended recipient. Yeah….

At the end of the day, I happened to get this photo of Mae and Sr. Bianca together. For me it’s a touching image of the generation of weavers who taught me to weave, holding hands with the future generation of textile artists who are now coming of age. Sr. Bianca is 91 now, and Mae is….well, she is a beautiful young woman! It was a memorable meeting.

Along the way to this moment in high summer there were regional conferences everywhere. I did not make it to NEWS this year, and I was pleasantly surprised to get a survey asking me why I did not attend. I guess the powers that be in New England want to know what they can do to entice some of us to attend. I wish I had gone for a day, to see the exhibits and to visit the vendors, and, most of all, to hear Mary Zicafoose give the key-note address. She is a great speaker and I’m still smarting a bit from missing it. A few friends let me know I really missed a good presentation (but I already knew that!)!

There are big changes afloat in my weaving life. I have decided to make a total re-do of my studio space. Over the few years I’ve lived here in what is our ‘retirement house,’ I have managed to to fill my generous space so that I can barely move. I have made the decision to sell my two biggest floor looms and replace them with only one loom. That will make a noticeable difference in my space. My big Toika (60″ weaving width) is already gone! It’s seems miraculous that it sold so quickly, and I give all credit for that to the Weaving Center at Marymount Convent. The weavers there are not afraid to dream big, and they all love Toikas, since that is what Sr. Bianca has in the studio. That loom was sentimental to me. It came from my dear friend June, who was part of the small group I mentioned earlier–the Wacky Weavers– and who was responsible for my joining the group. Now her loom lives with someone else who weaves at that center. Perfect.

Soon I will put my 40″ AVL (16S mechanical dobby) up for sale. I have already scoped out the loom I want!– a 60″ AVL computerized dobby with 16S. I have the very loom in mind and have agreed to get it as soon as my AVL leaves the premises. Want a mechanical dobby? Get in touch! It’s got lots of great features, and if you live in an area that loses power due to storms or severe winter weather, you can still weave on a mechanical dobby.

This is the latest fabric I cut from the AVL. It’s a JOY (Just Our Yarn) warp with a Treenway silk weft. I wanted to make a jacket with the fabric, but I’ll be lucky to get a vest out of it. Somehow my 5 yard warp turned into only 2 3/4 yards when woven. Clearly, my warp was not 5 yards!

It’s an interesting weave structure–sort of a broken twill on 10 shafts that creates little pebble shapes. It has great drape.

When all these changes fall into place, I’ll have my big Shannock vertical loom for tapestry, a big dobby for fabric weaving, a taka dai, and a sewing machine and serger in the main room, with plenty of wiggle room to actually get to these things. In the adjacent room I have two walls of bookshelves that hold my textile library, and in the middle of that room is my small 8S Baby Wolf. I’m so excited to get to this next phase of organization.

It’s high summer, and I have great hopes for getting more space with better organization by the time fall rolls around. Here’s hoping!

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1 Response to High Summer

  1. Melody Serra says:

    Oh no, I somehow missed that there was a new post.

    I heart heart heart the photo of Mae and Sr. Bianca, so sweet!

    The fabric you’re working on is such a stunning red. Miss you!

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