I spent a night here at the Fort Mason Youth Hostel…what a great place, quite a change from the downtown hostel where I have stayed before. Actually, I stayed at this same hostel way back in 1992 on the first day of a 7-month backpacking and hiking tour of the US. Phew! That takes me back!
My friend Janet picked me up and we headed down south to Santa Cruz (yep, from Santa Cruz Bolivia to Santa Cruz CA) to stay with Janet’s cousin on the winery that she and her husband own. Lucky us, except that neither Janet nor I are wine drinkers! But we got to enjoy the beautiful landscape.The winery is perched on a hill surrounded by Redwood forest and has sweeping views down to the ocean and across the bay to Monterey which are especially nice when viewed from the hot tub 🙂
The mists would rise to reveal Suzie’s pretty flower-laden patio which had a lovely Mediterranean feel. (or at least what I would imagine it to be. It is one of my dreams to be on the Mediterranean, perhaps Malta or some place like that).
Forgive me but I just had to include this next picture. I am a cat person and usually don’t care at all for the small yappy dogs but these two guys were just adorable!
Then it was on to a visit with the Santa Cruz Handweavers Guild for a show-and-tell by members and a slide show by me.
My slide presentation took people on a wee tour of the Bolivian high and lowlands, around the continent and then deep into the textiles, and my experiences learning to weave them. At the same time I got the chance to get reacquainted with some people I had met at CNCH last year as well as meet a lot of new folks.
The following three days were spent weaving at Martha’s beautiful cabin in the woods. That little cabin with the smoke curling out of the chimney warmly greeted us each morning. Martha would join us and entertain us with her tales in her sunny garden for our lunch breaks.
We wove “barefoot“-style and later with loom bars. Annie was happy to get to use a loom that she had bought in Guatemala as well as one of her own woven sashes as a backstrap. Yonat, above right, dove straight in and warped up for the widest motif. Ingrid, with hat, is practicing four-stake warping. That’s Ingrid Crickmore whom I met at CNCH last year. Ingrid is into all things braided and was using her pieces as loom ties during the workshop. The best news is that she has a blog with tutorials on loop braiding and will soon be adding video.
There’s Yonat on the left and Janet. We got to work with Janet’s handspun on day three when she also gave a combing and spinning demo with special tips for spinning for backstrap weaving and everyone loved her yarn.
What was interesting and educational for me was the way people chose their colors and placed their designs…no two were alike. I get to learn too in these situations and I have some new color combinations circling in my mind. A friend had asked me to make him a guitar strap with southwest colors and, thanks to Janet, I now have the perfect combo.
Barbara and Ingrid are at work above showing one of the many cool things about backstrap weaving…you can make short warps quickly and easily for the tiniest projects like a one-of-a-kind key fob or book mark.
During lunch break there was much to see as Martha would bring out textiles from her South American collection. Here is THE textile which I blogged about last week…
Read more about it here.
But, what I didn’t know was that she was saving the best for the last day….
This is another one of those spectacular discontinuous warp pieces from Pitumarca, Peru. From what I have seen, Pitumarca specializes in supplementary warp patterning on these discontinuous warp, or scaffolded, pieces but this one has been done with three colors in the pattern and it is doubled faced. Wow.
There are four panels, red, blue, green and yellow, each with its triple color supplementary warp pattern.
I told you last week that Martha gave me two tubs full of textiles to take back to the winery and peruse. I will show you bits from those tubs in future blog posts but here is just a taste…
But best of all we got to see what Martha herself has been working on…
Firstly, the colors! I have been admiring the yurt bands of Central Asia and wishing that I could somehow use those dusty sun-bleached tones of red and blue that evolve after years of having been stretched around the yurt and exposed to the elements. Well, Martha has just gone ahead and dyed her own. The colors are just gorgeous!
With a lot of patience, dedication and know-how she has come up with just the right hues. I was SO envious! The rug above is her latest work. It is a combination of weft twining and wrapping. One of the twined strands wraps around the other to give a raised surface on a flat ground of twining. I think I understood how it works. That’s on the list to play with when I get home.
One of the highlights of this trip was spending more time with Annie MacHale. You may know her as ASpinnerweaver and she is on my blogroll but I think of her as the Queen of Sashes. She is one creative lady with an irresistible bubbly laugh.
Janet and I got to see her sash collection and hear the stories that go with them, rummage through her yarn stash and go from one inkle loom to the next in her living room/studio checking out her works-in-progress…and the books!!
One thing I have been wanting to promote while on this US tour is the lesser known weavings of the lowland areas of South America. We have all become so familiar with the textiles of one particular region of highland Peru through the hard work of Nilda Callañaupa and the CTTC. I have had the fortune to study with weavers in lowland areas too most notably in Santa Cruz where I live and in coastal Ecuador. The weaving may not be as technically sophisticated as the work being done in the Cusco area but is every bit as note worthy and often sadly neglected.
It seems that the work of the Shipibo people is calling to me from various sources. Just before I left home I found an image of a textile which the photographer had bought in Ecuador but which she believes was made by the Shipibo people of the lowland jungle areas of Peru and this is something I would like to investigate. It is woven with a technique that I have only seen used in South American textiles in images in books of textiles of northern Argentina that are no longer produced.
At the weaving get-together Yonat brought, amongst other things, Shipibo textiles to show that she has in her own personal collection…beautiful embroidered and appliqued pieces (above) with very distinctive designs. I only have some small painted pieces of Shipibo cloth at home. This is what Yonat brought…
And then Martha showed me this…
This too is a Shipibo piece and part of the late Anne Blinks’s collection and something which she had studied. The wonderfully simple branch loom holds a piece of fabric which was probably destined to be a wristlet. The completed woven pieces around it are wristlets, some of which are Anne Blinks’s reproductions. You can see the enormous quantity of fine patterning sticks that have been inserted in the warp to program the design. This was amazing! I love the fact that it is just one color and that the pattern shows as a fine texture. I love the sword/beater too.
See all the fun stuff I got into!
A million thanks to everyone who brought textiles and so willingly shared them with me and the group. There was always a frantic effort on my part to take photos of everything. Peggy also brought some interesting bands that she had bought in Oaxaca.
Now I am up on Janet’s farm in Humboldt County and we are planning a weavers’ gathering here. Take a look at that porch…isn’t that the most perfect backstrap weaving site? I put a cushion on the floor and tied up to one of those posts, nicely shaded while I got to wiggle my toes in the sun. For warping I clamped pegs to the edge of the porch and stood down in the garden. Perfect!
Janet’s husband has a family heirloom coverlet. This was especially thrilling to me as I had seen these in the Folk Art Museum in Williamsburg last year behind glass. I read how they were made with both cotton and wool, the white being cotton and the blue wool and could make out the balanced double weave. Now I have had the chance to touch one and drape it across my lap…a whole different experience.
So that is where I am at so far. We are off to Eureka tomorrow to meet some other weavers and do some backstrap weaving and so I have been able to squeeze in this blog post. Before I go I wanted to show you some things that have been going on in the Ravelry Backstrap Weaving Group…
Marsha and Carinefile are both doing Double weave. Marsha’s piece on the left is a guitar strap with the musician’s name woven in and Carinefile has made the sampler that goes with the tutorial here.
And Bobbie completed a pebble weave bag…
And if you are in an “Eastery” mood from looking at one of Janet’s bunnies, I wrote a post for Easter last year about a colorful Semana Santa, or Holy Week, that I spent in Guatemala in ’08 in three different areas, full of color and beautiful people and textiles.
You can see it here.