Guest Post: A Weaver Shares Her Path
Back in September of 2018, I got an email from a woman in Tennessee, Carol Devenski, who was fairly new to weaving. She had seen a weaving swatch that she liked on my blog, and asked if I would share the pattern with her (and kindly offered to pay for it).
Fortunately I kept excellent records back when I was weaving a lot, and I was able to find the exact article that was in Handwoven magazine in the March/April 1985 issue, and she bought a digital copy. I thought that those instructions would be a little confusing because they put three different variations all on one sheet, and in addition, I had done my own variation. So I sent along a few tips too.
When I was learning to weave, so many people helped me! People lent me looms and spinning wheels, taught me to cane chairs and do natural dyeing. I am so glad to be in a position now that I can pass on this beautiful craft.
So I would not ask for any money payment, but I did ask Carol if she would send pictures of her work, and her weaving story, and I am glad to present it today. So here is the story of Carol D from Tennessee!
In truth, textile arts never particularly appealed to me, although I’ve tried a bit of sewing, crochet and other such crafts now and then. For a long while, I taught the art of photography at a local college and had a darkroom in my home, but when digital cameras came along, I set that aside too. And as time passed, when I missed being part of an artistic community, I became a museum volunteer. I only came to weaving quite late in my life, or rather, it came to me.
Several years ago, in a casual conversation with my dear friend Nancy, I mentioned that I was considering learning to weave as a pastime when I visit my grandchildren. Although I had not said so to her, I was thinking of a small frame loom. Nancy called me the next day and said, “I have a loom for you, but you’ll need a truck!” And so, I cleared a room to make space for a true work of art in the guise of a vintage 4-shaft Bexel / Cranbrook countermarch loom that had long been idle, packed away in storage. A fortuitous start to another creative endeavor.To honor such an offering, I have striven to become a competent weaver. I’ve taken a workshop, studied books of techniques, scoured the internet and joined a guild. Despite the skills I’ve acquired, I still tangle threads, break warps, puzzle over drafts and repeatedly throttle my beautiful loom! However, I have learned to laugh and embrace those inevitable flaws and failures and allow myself to simply enjoy the inherent physicality of the loom, the methodical process, and especially the quiet. I am content to weave, whatever that brings.And as I wander along, what continues to amaze and surprise me the most is the kindness of others which seems to leap from place to place, weaver to weaver. An example of many such gestures that have peppered my path:A single query sent to the contemporary tapestry artist, Rebecca Mezoff, led me to Teresa Lovelace and Weaving Southwest* and hand-dyed Churro wool —— and when that source of wool was lost, as I searched for other fibers, I discovered Gwen Lanning and her Textile Ranger website where I found an intriguing “colorious” weaving pattern that she not only shared but explained to me in detail, offering advice that I channeled into the weaving of my own “bed scarf!” A serendipitous journey from just one question!At last, I can now say that I have finally found a pursuit that holds my interest. Generosity has led my way. And I am sincerely grateful.— Carol Devenski
Do you also have the sense that you are leaving a legacy when you help someone, just a small hand up in their creative journey, and later you see them fly? If I offer help or advice, I always hope it will help launch a passion for the work and enrich their lives. It sounds a bit fancy, but I think everyone needs a creative outlet and I want to help facilitate that. You and others have done an amazing job in launching Carol – just *look* at that lovely work.
Yes! I am always so happy to find another person who loves the same crafts I do, and I am happy to help that craft survive. AND I should have also pointed out that I learned from Carol about other interesting artists and resources that I just did not know much about before. It always works both ways. 🙂
It is a beautiful story. I’m always amazed at the way some stories start at something small and wind up being like this one.
It is wonderful when people find a craft that they love, and love to learn about!
I really enjoyed this post and Carol’s writing style. I loved her sentence, “I am content to weave, whatever that brings.” Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to say that about more things in our lives?
On Wed, Apr 17, 2019, 10:16 AM Deep in the Heart of Textiles wrote:
> TextileRanger posted: “Back in September of 2018, I got an email from a > woman in Tennessee, Carol Devenski, who was fairly new to weaving. She had > seen a weaving swatch that she liked on my blog, and asked if I would share > the pattern with her (and kindly offered to pay for it” >
I love her writing too. She doesn’t have her own blog — YET. But I think she should! 🙂
My goodness, she lucked into an amazing loom! And I love that rug draft–I’m going to go download that issue of Handwoven and add this to my list of “wanna make.” When I get to it, maybe you could share your tips with me, too? Both your rug and Carol’s are lovely!
Of course I will share my tips, but I don’t think you will need them. I wove mine in two colors, on opposites, and swapped out one color at a time, instead of using three colors and the traditional treadling throughout. That may be enough for you. 🙂 But if you do get to this project and need more info, I will be happy to send it to you. I kept the email to Carol in my sent box, so I can remember what I said. 🙂
That was a wonderful story and I laughed at her wanting to ‘throttle’ her loom. I too have a Cranbrook, 8 harness, and it has a mind of it’s on on occasion. Lovely weaving from both of you.
Ah, a Cranbrook. I have never woven on one, but they are so beautiful to look at, a piece of art on their own!
Oh my gosh!, Gwen!!! I am overwhelmed by what you have written! I am so delighted to be your “guest” and incredibly flattered by your readers’ generous comments!
Thank you, thank you, thank you! Hugs to all, Carol D.
So glad you liked it! Glad to welcome you to the group of people inspired by Penelope Drooker’s rugs from decades ago, too, and also glad you caused me to pull out my giant notebook of weaving projects to get to “someday,” and give them a fresh look!
how wonderful. Thanks for sharing.
I loved seeing her work!
Wow. I have to show this to Greg. Just breathtaking!
I’m awed by both of you. Your rugs are beautiful 🙂
Thank you, they are fun to make!
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Hi, I bought the Handwoven magazine of March-April 1985 from a sales bin a month ago. For two days now I have tried to decipher the ‘Navajo inspired rugs’ by Penelope Drooker, pattern for blanket No. 2, especially.
I am a newbie at weaving and bought my first loom 5 days ago.
I would appreciate additional explanation greatly ie treadling, weft color order makes no sense to me and whatever useful tips.
Thanks so much. I feel a huge relief having been on Google for hours and finally accidentally spotting this post.
Sure, I am so happy to help! I teach an art class to neighborhood kids in the morning and after that I will write up some helpful tips!
I emailed you about 1 pm my time today– let me know if you haven’t gotten it and I will try again.