Sunday, January 21, 2018

A weaving-filled 2017

The week before Christmas 2017 saw the completion of a decades-long project, the restoration of the ‘curvey-back settee’ that Mom knew as a child and we have had since Aunt Ethel and Uncle Harve willed it to us.  The design and weaving of the upholstery only took three years and the structural restoration took the talent of a local woodworker, but 17 yards of gimp came off the loom on the 21st , was wet-finished and applied to the settee in two days, giving us a nice Christmas present to share with daughter Zella. 

The gimp, a narrow plain weave band usually is woven on an inkle loom but I much prefer my 4-shaft 36” with beater removed.  I weighted the warp directly and wound the woven gimp onto the cloth beam.  It is pretty easy to keep the tension even this way and the band consistent width with the aid of a folded card.  I was able to use many of the leftovers of the 20/2 custom-spun wool/mohair yarn that I had hand-dyed for the upholstery so I hope the entire will wear well.

The family 'curvey-back settee' fully restored and in its new handwoven clothes - at last!

The Rosary Society’s commission for a pall kept me and my looms busy for much of the year and that piece, Stars of St. Mary Pall, may be included in the Complex Weavers 40th Anniversary book.  Here is a peek only, as I may not 'publish' the piece lest that disqualify it for the book.


After the blessing of the new pall
Now the Rosary Society has given me a new commission for a cloth to cover the table holding an urn. That is now underway, using the same weave structure but with a tapestry technique shaping a 12-peaked crown. Here is a miniature where I’ve practiced the technique for Crown of Saint Mary cloth and learned what to allow for shrinkage and take-up. 

practice-piece for the 'Crown of St. Mary' cloth for the table holding the urn

With suggestions from fellow weavers via WeaveTech List I chose Sigrid's lace-lettering and wove a portion of the Hail Mary 1-up/1-down, then reduced the scale and wove a more compact version for the Crown of St. Mary cloth 
John did most of the driving in June for my teaching at Midwest Weavers Conference in Indianapolis and again in August for the Weavers Guild of Minneapolis trip to lead a Lustrous Linens weaving workshop.  What great people to have as students for what I have declared are my last travels to teach.  I love teaching because I learn so much, but I no longer like the traveling.

A couple pieces were accepted into  a local juried show themed “Forgotten Spaces”.   One gave  me some fun using honeycomb to  provide nests for Devonian-era fossils found on the shore .  The other was woven with a variation on Moorman technique to secure a few of the thousand perfectly crafted but totally useless metal, (4-inch long!) eyed  heddles that a friend found in the stash of a passed-on weaver.

Beneath the San and Under the Waves - honey comb with fossils. (Tip your head to the right to view it as intended.)

'Exquisitely Made and Totally Useless', a triptych with inlaid too-long-eyed wire heddles.
In early November as I was in the studio and John was cleaning up after breakfast, there was a tremendous CRASH and I when I had dropped down the ladder from the studio I saw John, stunned but standing, looking at the Grandfather clock, laying on its face.  He had seen it just before it landed, with Greyfur scrambling away, unhurt but quite obviously the cause, as he chased a fly (or something) behind the clock from the nearby lampstand.  Who could imagine?

Though the case popped many joints, splitting the oak frame multiple places, breaking off the door... all of the glass is intact and John has it running again and keeping good time.  We will seek professional repairs in the Spring.  And none of us got hurt!


Our new associate priest Father Scott, is from Glasgow and when he saw me in my State of Michigan shawl, told me he his mother liked shawls and thought she might really like a Michigan tartan shawl. Knowing that his mother actually had raised four boys to the priesthood, I wanted to acknowledge that amazing feat, so made borders in white and embroidered four simple crosses in the corners.  I chose Zephyr for the shawl, but had to over-dye their ‘mushroom’ color to get a good 'sand'.  She has promised me a picture, but here is a detail. 

Michigan tartan shawl in silk/wool with embroidered corners
In July I had a delightful surprise when I saw, for the first time in over 20 years, the green scarves I designed, dyed, and wove for St. Anne’s church in thanks-giving for my confirmation.  I had feared they were discarded or moth-eaten, but our new priest, Fr. Joe, said he just found them in a drawer.

One of the three scarves woven for St. Anne's last century. This one, in a place of honor, under the tabernacle. 
This joy was somewhat sustaining when, in December, I found another of my liturgical weaving gifts, carelessly abandoned in a drawer. Through friends and through responses to a posting on WeaveTech List, I’ve gratefully received some needed sympathy for the pain I experienced when I discovered the draw-loom woven linen altar cloth, gifted to our parish church 20 years ago, somewhat wadded, in an unlined drawer under other cloths. Friends have also provided some possibly useful suggestions. Abuse and neglect of any fine textile is painful to witness.  This cloth was featured on pages 151-152 of Reflections from a Flaxen Past. 

Photo from 2008 when the linen cloth was still in use at St.Mary's, showing the handspun gold silk draw-loom-woven border.

detail of the white draw-loom patterning side of the linen cloth
Hard lesson learned! Please, please never give an important and valuable piece of weaving to any institution without finding a ‘sponsor’ in an individual or group.  Such work needs someone to feel a responsibility to provide continued care and respect. Churches often depend on volunteers who are difficult to supervise without giving offense. 
Now, back to the loom and the cloth that the Rosary Society has commissioned me to weave – wonder if they would consider ‘adopting’ the linen altar cloth?

Wishing everyone a healthy and fiber-filled 2018  as I weave and prepare the new edition of Warp with a Trapeze and Dance…  [It is imperative, as the current edition is all but sold out.]  Kati 1-21-18

Thursday, January 5, 2017

I am re-draw-loomed And having a blast!

...Thoroughly consumed, enthralled and excited about weaving damask on the drawloom. Now, I have a big, complex loom that does not require electricity. Eight years ago I sold my first drawloom to Kay Faulkner and this 'new' one is a Myrehed combination - having unit draw as well as shaft draw. The learning curve has been steep and challenging - including figuring out how to make the counter-marche tie-up possible for this arthritic body of mine.

Here is a picture from Kay of her version of the top-controlled CM tie-up with some color-coding for easier, accurate changes mid-warp.


Kay has dyed the cords to help distinguish the treadle positions from the top.  Each cord is anchored under the treadle, threaded up through the hole in the lower lamm, the upper lamm, and then a large knot is tied with the treadle at floor level so the cord will not escape. Treadle tie-up is accomplished by lifting on the knot then placing a peg above the lamm needed for lifting or lowering of the attached shaft following the tie-up draft desired.

Convergence in Milwaukee was too near to stay away, and besides, I wanted to bring our Aussie, Kay Faulkner, back with me to play a bit. The drive across Big Mac began the trip ‘over the top’ as we say - far more pleasant than Chicago traffic.

Big Mac - the 5-mile-long bridge across the Straights of Mackinaw, is always under maintenance, but such a view! 
I gleefully accepted my sister Diane’s invitation to have supper and an overnight, as I was able to have some play-time with her in Gulliver, and her daughter/my niece Deb, visiting from Italy. Well, my BiL Bob is fun too.

Not only did I get to see and play with Kay who was teaching at Convergence, but I made new, and renewed old friendships, including Anne and Rex Dixon, Jukka Yrjola and his partner/son Jarko of Toika, Art Elkins of Webs, Richard of Ashford, and Barry and Jane of Schacht.

Photo op with Barry and Jane.  First time in a long time, they too attended an HGA Convergence.
This Convergence so very much impressed me with the weaving exhibits, the cheerful mood around the HGA booth and the quality of the conference details... that I renewed my membership in Handweavers Guild of America after many years of protest.

Milwaukee enchanted me for the small-town atmosphere and friendliness, the old-world architecture with big-city goodies like buses, restaurants and a great museum.

Couldn't resist this invitation to capture the old German architecture reflected in the modern neighbor.
Shortly before the riots broke out (as it turned out), we left Milwaukee on ferry-boat Badger steaming back east across Lake Michigan.

Kay and Kati on the lounge deck, toast the slightly sooty but sunny sail on the S S Badger Ferry, east toward Michigan.

Kay admires our welcoming Southern Cross Australian flag.

Kay tries to capture the grasses on the shore of our relatively-tiny inland freshwater sea, actually Thunder Bay on Great-Lake Huron - home of Treehouse Studio.

Local members of NorthEast Michigan Weavers and Spinners Guild show off to Kay the DIA (Detroit Institute of Arts) works on display in Alpena.  This, one of 12 pieces around town, is J.S. Copley's "Watson and the Shark" along the river bi-path behind NOAA, our Freshwater Shipwreck Sanctuary.
Way too soon we had to carry Kay over the bridge to Ontario for her visit with  Jette Vandermeiden (check out her amazing weaving videos at "Weaving with Jette" you-tube" and and to teach a workshop for the Huronia Guild. Find our Kay and see an exciting report on the Australian High Court handwoven robes by herself, at 

Meanwhile, back in Alpena, Father Charlie’s mother/my friend Maxine asked me if I would consider weaving a special pall for the Rosary Society members’ funeral Masses. The budget was not generous, but I am a member and may end up under it myself, so I said ‘yes’ for the challenge of it. The draw loom arrived at a perfect time for this, and so far, though my courage is strong, technique and concentration need work. Here is a portion of my explorations.

Simultaneously learning how to weave damask with unit draw and shaft draw, testing the sett and fiber for proper drape, the colors and values for effect, drafting and weaving readable lettering, oh, and testing for shrinkage and take-up.  This three-yard test-warp is not long enough to make all the necessary mistakes!
We had a most welcome visit from our son BJ, his wife Teresita, and two of her sisters, Lourdes and Lett, all from San Diego area. The girls were equally enchanted with ‘shopping’ the shore for stones and fossils, and my stash of yarn. Tess immediately began coaching her sisters on how best to crochet with weaving cotton.


Yarns and hooks and kittens - Oh My!

With encouragement from weaving friends Julie Hurd and Linda VanAndel, three pieces were submitted (and accepted) into the Jordan River Arts Council’s "Rare Threads: Ancestral Inspirations" - and two sold! Here are two of the show’s organizers modeling their acquisitions "Michigan Tartan Glitz" on Linda and "Ingrid Bergman’s Style" on Julie. What greater honor could a weaver ask?

Julie and Linda in Treehouse Treations (I just made that up). photo by M Waara
And at the opening reception I spotted a Michigan tartan shirt across the hall. Yes!, on a distinguished visitor..

Linda and husband John VanAndel (US Navy WWII pilot, Ret.)  in Linda's handwoven-handtailored Michigan tartan shirt.
It seemed to be a year to submit to shows and the Art In The Loft’s first ever juried show ‘Black & White’, accepted two pieces, with the photographer-juror giving ‘Shadow Play’ a money-bearing third place! It was a chance encounter with Sprang-master Carol James,
outside the vendor hall at Convergence, that refreshed my primitive sprang skills and Kay suggested it would be the perfect technique to use on the exposed warp between the two panels. All these honors, I am rolling in it! ‘Fiona’ is my personal favorite. She is now in the collection of my DH as the cat is very much his ‘special’. She is terrible-cute and sweet, also the proverbial scaredy-cat.

Fiona, 23 x 32 in, woven wool on linen
Shadow Play 16 x 46 in, woven, sprang, cotton, w/ wood & bamboo

The Besser Museum’s annual juried show accepted two pieces and Big Bluestem won an honorable mention award.

Colony: Big Blue Stem 30 x28 in, handwoven linen, cotton, grass.  Organics III Early Spring 36 x 23 handwoven wool w sprang.

Our Vet called mid-November to ask if we would consider adopting a rescued cream-colored Persian. Three cats is enough. But then our daughter Zella, in for Thanksgiving, heard the story, said we must inquire... Ambrose (amber-points, but a boy-cat) is a beauty, sweet, and a lover, but four cats IS a LOT of cats and there are still some hissing matches on occasion.

Newly adopted Ambrose, Fiona under the chair, Greyfur of the magnificent tail, and Morag learning to play mice, er...nice.
Near the beginning of the school year the upper grades at All Saints helped spin colored cinctures for the altar servers’ robes. Here are some of the students at work with the Incredible Rope Machine (with an added handle), working on the wool and wool-blend warps.

All Saints students with the two-handled IRM making colored-rope cinctures.  32 three to 4-yard ropes takes a lot of cranking.
Midwest Weavers Conference June 12-17, 2017, at Butler University in Indianapolis has contracted me to lead a Maxi Session: "Trapezes and Weights and Whackings - Oh My", and a couple Mini Sessions of: "Through the Long Eye of the Heddle or Drawloom in a Bag".

A contract with the Weavers Guild of Minnesota, , August 17-20, 2017 will have me offering a program: "For the Love of Lithuanian Weaving" and leading a 3-day workshop "Lustrous Linens - Weaving Linens with Success" .

World-wide weaving friends make my life so rich - but so does having a weaving studio on the Northern shore of Lake Huron with DH and FOUR cats.  Did I say four is a lot of cats? 

A crescent moon, Venus (upper L of the moon) and wintry sunset over Thunder Bay, Michigan

Wishing all handweavers a thread-full, healthful, joyful 2017, Kati

PS, yes there are still some ‘hurt book’ copies. A stack of cases fell over and bent corners on (too)many copies.  KRM

Friday, July 29, 2016

Here I am.... Summer 2016

Once again the lure of weaving has kept me away from the relative tedium of updating my blog, though it is fun to officialize (is that a word?) my weaving processes in this way.  As promised, a picture of a completed Purificator here being cold-mangled on plate glass.  This, along with other of my 'linen weaving rhapsody' appear in the pages of June 2016 Complex Weavers Journal Nu. 111

The damp linen Purificator is stretched out on plate glass, then rolled hard  in both warp and weft directions, both sides, and left to dry.  When dry it is peeled off the glass, folded and is flat, shiny and ready for use.

Oh, another finishing up from last post:  141-feet down and $8,000 later, we have running water again.  Hurrah! and ouch.

As to actual progress... selling enough weaving through the Thunder Bay Arts Council Gallery to keep my rent paid is a very encouraging thing.  Here are two recent sales, obviously related.  The first was a commission for folks seeking a 'hide' for their electric-service-box. The second was an inspiration from the remaining warp coinciding with the first crocuses showing themselves (over the septic tank).

The first,  "Organics - Symphony and Fugue" on the wall of the new Stepanski cabin -  photo by Stepanski.
The second to sell, "Organics - Crocus in the Snow"  The colors of the first are similar to this, in reality, just different lighting.  I don't know where this one now lives I photographed this in our breakfast room.

The Complex Weavers Seminars in St. Charles, IL, mid-June was like a great international family reunion. It began with an overnight with Julie Hurd and husband Al, then a luxurious ride to St. Charles with Linda van Andel driving and Julie navigating. I was spinning on my Hansen mini in the air-conditioned back seat. 
The Pheasant Run Resort was a lovely choice of venue with spacious and clean accommodations and a cheerful staff. The food was pretty good too, especially the plated dinner with cloth napkins.  It seemed appropriate that there were weave patterns on the walls and carpet. See illustrations below. 

Julie and Al, between bites and laughter, the evening before. Distances in northern Michigan are considerable and I was honored to stay with these talented (weaver/gardeners/woodworker) before our early-morning start for St.Charles.
My roommate, Patrice George,Patrice, of FIT, NYC   showed me some marvelous textiles from her collection.  I met Patrice at Convergence, DC in 1992 when she asked to attend my first-ever presentation on  Lithuanian textile research. I am incredibly blessed to know so many contributors to our weaving heritage.  I am so  grateful to have attended C W Seminars yet again.  Thank you Julie and Linda for urging me to apply with the promise of transport!  Love my weaving friends.

Patrice shows the beautiful shawl from her collection, of Tussar silk & cotton - she just learned that more like it are available at
John Malarkey, another of the Seminar leaders, wears his band-weaving, here, very cleverly lining his shirt pocket, another band formed his shirt collar.

Linda, Julie, Marion & Cathy (friend from my years with WG of Kalamazoo) share fiber talk Saturday night before the fashion show.
After-hours room party at CW Seminars, St. Charles. Note the reverse-twill wallpaper and the plaid carpet. Julie and Linda gave a highly-acclaimed seminar "Beyond Scarves and Shawls: Planning cloth" using their award-winning garments with couture sewing to inspire us all.

In my Long-Eye Heddle seminar, the students played the parts of the missing loom frame so my 'Draw-loom in a Bag' would actually work.  Patricia Martin took the picture.

Our current Complex Weavers President, Lynn Smetko, takes a turn with 'Betty', the TC-2 loom at the Fine Line Creative Arts Center, where Seminar attendees were bussed to view the CW Juried Exhibit "Complexities" on Friday night.  Images of Lynn's delicious Shawl 'After Midnight' in silk and merino, can be seen, along with other work in this impressive show, in the pages of June 2016 CW Journal, and coming up at the at Riverside Artists Association in Milwaukee July 30 to August 8, 2016.
Lined up for the Informal Fashion Show following the plated dinner on Saturday.  Here guild-mate Marion Cook Jagst and the next-in-line model
wait their turns.

Another real treat was meeting and studying with CWJ Editor, Ruth MacGregor in her 'Silken Pursuits' seminar. Then I was privileged to have her in my seminar 'Through the Long Eye of a Heddle'.  Of course we did some hanging-out before and after, discovering and enjoying our many common loves - only she lives in France most of the time.
CW Journal editor Ruth MacGregor leads her seminar "Silken Pursuits" at St. Charles

The 'Poster Sessions' introduced at CWS this year was something totally new to me, but apparently common in academia.  It was interesting to see glimpses of research from around the globe and talk to those involved. After dithering and procrastination finally gave way to jumping in with both feet (with encouragement from Laurie Autio and Ruth MacGreggor), I prepared a poster and packed my own samples of Erica de Ruiter's tubular woven selvedges that have now been published in Complex Weavers Journal June 2016 Nu 111.

Another treat at the Seminars was the "Off the Runway" display where we all could see up-close and personal some marvelous weaving, including Tien's 'Musk Oxen'.  The conference was so well organized and coordinated all by VOLUNTEERS!  We are so fortunate that there are great executive and organizational skills within the Complex Weavers Community.  Hats off and shuttles up to everyone involved!
Here the folks from Northern Michigan load the big car (for the return home.) Kati, driver Linda, Marion, and navigator Julie

We packed up Monday morning to return to Northern Michigan from Pheasant Run Resort, but not before a quick walk around the grounds where I actually saw a pheasant running into the tall grasses on the course and spied a beautiful stump on the fairway.


Back at Treehouses Studio:  Last year I purchased a whimsical painting by gallery mate Pat Manning
A charming watercolor by Pat Manning - since it was not framed, I could afford it.

And I have now interpreted her painting in a warp for towels and placemats - and sold a set, with runner, to a gallery mate.  Love my gallery friends!

Our energetic Pat started a clever 'bouquet of owls' as a neighborly gift to new business the 'Owl Café'. Among the owls of felt,  paper, ceramic, one I formed from a bit of a tablet-weaving, but better-received was my inkle band with the words "Owl Café" woven in.
The "Owl bouquet" imagined by Pat Manning for the TBAC Gallery's new neighbor.  You can barely see the inkle band in dark green around the base.

The Northeast Michigan Weavers & Spinners Guild accepted their third annual invitation by the Alpena Farmer's Market to infect children and adults with our love of 'playing string', and for the third year, the market president's twins took to the weaving.  The boys were diligent and focused, finishing the entire warp in a little over 4 hours.  They are a good team.

Sam and Jack Cook remove their new runner from the Peacock loom after hemstitching the final picks. Yes, Sam did the hemstitching!

Weaver (and Master Gardner) Julie invited the Northeasters to her garden party and she and Marion conspired to celebrate my birthday with a chocolate castle cake flying Michigan tartan banners from all four turrets. It was
glazed with caramel and served with whipped cream. YUM!

Turning 75 with fiber friends is the absolute best way to celebrate.

The mold that shaped the castle cake.  Al reported that Julie despaired when it wouldn't come out of the mold, but the woodworker's 'dead-blow hammer' brought it loose in glory.  Keep those woodworkers and their tools close-by!

Julie's absolutely glorious (taller than I am)  "Queen of the Prairie" - just one of the beauties she and Al nurture.

Now, as I prepare to attend Convergence to pick up our Aussie, Kay Faulkner, I am seeing what I can produce for a new juried show called 'Black & White'. 

Deo volente, I will have some pictures for next post.   Kati 7-29-16