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).

weft-faced twill rug

This was the swatch that caught Carol’s eye.

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.

wool rug

“Ceniza,” a wool rug in soft purples, greens, and greys. Still one of my favorite pieces that I have made. I wish I could have afforded wool warp back then though, the cotton warp is not my favorite.

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.
countermarch loom

Carol’s countermarch loom, named Lenore, in honor of Lenore Tawney. Used by permission.

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 —
handwoven saddle blanket

Saddle blanket woven with Churro wool. Used by permission.

— 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!
handwoven bed scarf

Handwoven bed scarf. Used by permission.

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
*Weaving Southwest, sadly, is closing.  But you can see what they offered here.
Okay, back to me, Gwen.
First of all, yay to me for being able to put my hands on the pattern I used, but really, that is all I contributed.  Like I said, the article showed three rug variations, and Carol combined two of them into her own creations.  I am in awe of her flawless selvedges and subtle colors.  And her beautiful studio!
I am so glad that Carol’s weaving path led her here, and that she shared her story!