There are so many things to be done this time of year, it can be overwhelming, but my holiday mantra is to embrace the gifts those seasonal tasks bring. For example, we always struggle to make my family’s holiday missive fresh and original. (One year we wrote the whole letter as a Gilbert and Sullivan patter song). But writing that letter is also a chance to reflect on the year, the new experiences and new friends, as well as the challenges we’ve overcome.
My weaving adventures for the year are always part of the letter, although I limit that part lest my relatives’ eyes glaze over. But it’s been a good weaving year for me. It started with an amazing trip to Guatemala with Deb Chandler and Teresa Cordón, authors of the book Traditional Weavers of Guatemala, and friends from fair trade organization Clothroads. Guatemala’s weaving is as varied and inspiring as its people. You can read about the jaspe (ikat) weavers of Salcajá in the latest issue of Handwoven, part of my holiday report to you.
Press deadlines don’t leave me much time for weaving workshops, but I have the great good fortune to produce Interweave’s weaving videos, so I’m always picking up tips and ideas from fine weavers and fiber artists. This year, we visited Deb Essen in her Montana studio, to shoot videos on color in weaving and on unlocking profile drafts. I learned some new things about how yarn size affects our perception of color in cloth, and some great tricks for doing profile drafts with weaving software. In June, we visited talented dyer Beth McTear in Germantown, Pennsylvania, to learn about two kinds of Japanese shibori dyeing and about natural indigo dyeing that doesn’t require a vat. Beth made indigo so approachable, I may try it at home this coming year! She also infected me with her love of Philadelphia, although I’m still not sold on the whole Philly cheese steak thing. (“Total gut bomb,” as Jeff, our wonderful videographer said. Although Jeff meant it as a compliment.)
We ended the year at beautiful Red Stone Glen Fiber Arts School in Pennsylvania, shooting beginning weaving and rug weaving videos with dear friend Tom Knisely. One mind-blowing tip from Tom: when you’re threading your jack loom, remove the top bar across the back of the castle, then raise the shafts and prop them up with a book or box. Voilà! The heddle eyes are at a convenient height, and you can thread without getting a crick in your neck! I tried it as soon as I got home, and it’s a game-changer.
In between all the press deadlines and video trips, there was Convergence 2016 in Milwaukie, Wisconsin. I came back recharged and inspired by my classes, by the galleries and fashion show, by all the innovations by our cherished loom makers (watch for more about that in the Handwoven September/October 2017 issue), and by the energy of our weaving community. I just received the annual fundraising letter from HGA, and I will be sending my donation before New Year to support the Fiber Trust and its work with student weavers, These young people are doing amazing work, and anyone who saw it at Convergence knows that weaving has a bright future.
2016 was a good year, and 2017 will be even better. I hope to see some of you at Tinkuy in Peru next November, at Yarn Fest at our home base of Loveland, Colorado, and around the country. And if we can’t meet in person, don’t forget to write!
Happy holidays, and weave in peace,
Featured Image: Anita’s weaving journeys in 2016 took her to Pennsylvania where she filmed videos with the delightful Tom Knisely and to Guatemala where Anita got to watch and learn from jaspe weavers. Photos by Anita Osterhaug