Threads • The Warp and Weft of a Weaving Life

After scrambling to recover from my time away from studio and family for the New York State Sheep and Wool Fair, I got to dive into another fiber adventure with Laverne Waddington of fame. Laverne came to deliver an amazing presentation for our guild (Weavers of Western MA).  She gave a slide and video presentation entitled “Weaving on Simple Looms in South America” in which she covered her extensive travels and studies with a wide range of indigenous weavers who weave on “simple” looms. The looms do not have shafts or treadles, but they are often far from simple. Some have as many as 20 sets of string heddles used to achieve some amazingly complex structures and designs. The weavers Laverne featured will often use pick up techniques with insane speed to create designs that multi-shaft weavers in N. America can only dream about.  After the guild program, a small group of us got to take the inspiration from Laverne’s program to actually learn some of the techniques at Barbara Hurley’s lovely condo.  Some of the loom components seen below.



This was the second workshop I have taken from Laverne, and it only confirmed what I experienced previously – she is a great teacher – organized, calm, encouraging and oh so knowledgeable.  You can see that we had a great time.



If you really want to peruse Laverne’s work check out her blog, but I got a few pics of some of the samples of her weaving that she brought with her from Bolivia.



She really challenged us


We worked on complimentary warp pick up, tubular edging (weaving a tubular band as you sew it to the edge of your textile) and pebble weave – all warp-faced techniques on back-strap looms.  I am not really planning on doing a lot of backstrap weaving being the owner of an entire infrastructure for floor loom weaving, but what I love about Laverne’s workshops is that you learn specific techniques that are somehow broadly applicable and which deepen your weaving knowledge and understanding.  I would seize any opportunity you have to take a workshop with Laverne.

I had to leave the workshop a little early to prepare for another great fiber adventure/opportunity.  When I taught at NEWS, I brought my deflected double weave coat as a sample.  I told my students that even though I loved the fabric I was so disappointed in my inability to tailor the coat to fit properly.  On of my (angelic) students Shirley Bergert offered to help me re-tailor the coat if I could come to her house/studio in CT. So, I took the “failed” garment down to Shirley’s house with huge skepticism. I even promised Madelyn van der Hoogt that if we didn’t succeed I would send a box load of DDW samples to her from the coat. Anyway, Shirley sure has the skills!  We fearlessly ripped the coat apart, and she proceeded to recut, reassemble, fit and sew, so that now I have a BEAUTIFUL coat that fits perfectly.  I also got to see Shirley’s endless creativity expressed in her house.  She tiled her upstairs bathroom in large-scale, amazing sea creature motifs, the top of every baluster on her stairs has a different inlaid leaf or flower from her area. I ate delicious vegetarian fare prepared by Shirley and her husband Ed including home-baked bread and fresh cappuccinos . . .Shirley – can you adopt me???Coat Remake1

Here is the coat in process.  I still have some pressing, hemming and button attaching to do, but as soon as I can I will post pics.

When I got home from Shirley’s with my coat, we began to do some Halloween decorating.  My husband is a huge Halloween fan, and we love pulling out the decorations to enjoy every October. Even though our big kids are on their own now, we still have our youngest son at home, and we have recently added a delightful German exchange student Tobi to the household, so we decided to go to town.  We had a little get-together with some spooky treats including a chicken pot pie with pastry chicken legs poking out.

Halloween Book Group1 Halloween Book Group2  Halloween Book Group4 Halloween Book Group5And finally I have to weep and wail about my computer woes.  I am currently using my husbands computer because mine went grey about a week ago and has been unresponsive despite the concerted efforts of talented team at Calm Computing.  They tell me that my data is in there somewhere, but I can’t get to it, and it really makes me realize how dependent I am.

So, the theme of this blog entry is the endlessly applicable metaphor of the “fabric of life.” How every warp mimics life in its struggles, charms, broken threads and triumphs – hopefully resulting in a useful, beautiful set of interwoven threads.  Now if I can get a non-metaphorical warp on my loom . . .


  • November 1, 2013

    Marlene Toerien

    I hope you had a wonderful Halloween. I love the handwoven cushion in the 3rd from last photo. My friend and fellow weaver wove a piece of material for Marianne Fassler to use for the SA Mercedes Benz fashion week and it was chosen the best garment of the four that MF designed and Samsung are using it as part of their promotion material printed on paper and plastic for this week.

  • November 11, 2013

    Marlene Toerien

    HI it is my friends fabric, we have Mercedez Benz Fashion Week and this year it was sponsored by Samsung, you can try and see it on Amaze Africa, click on Marianne Fassler, or on, and click on Samsung Fashion Week. Her piece is the navy and red handwoven cloth, it is the second year Madelein wove material for Marianne Fassler.