Saturday, July 23, 2011

Midwest Weavers Conference at Finlandia Univ. Hancock, MI II

A report on Midwest Weavers Conference, Finlandia is long overdue. For the first time in my memory Midwest was on Michigan soil and it was because a couple of folks said "We Can Do This - small as we are" Jean Lind and Mary Brownell did a truly amazing job of organizing and carrying it off. The setting at Finlandia University International School of Art and Design in the Copper Country of Michigan's Upper Peninsula (UP) has Lake Superior on three sides. From the dormitory we walked into the dining hall and then two floors down exited onto the street. The well- stocked vendor hall, in the Physical Fittness Building made one fit, just getting up the two flights of stairs. If one were not so fit, there was a constantly circulating bus to handle the climbing and the distances. You should be able to find more pictures and reports of conference activity at  The beautiful loom pictured is in the museum at the Finnish American Heritage Center at Finlandia U.  The brake is made from a Model T crank. I was very impressed with the curating and display of the museum collections.

The weather for the pre-conference workshops was lovely, but mid-week when regular conference began, so did the very 'Scottish' weather with wind and rain. We had a lot of fun, learned much, made new friends, saw great exhibits including very exciting rag rugs. The Scandinavian sense of design is alive and well in the UP. There were rugs in the juried exhibit, in the gallery exhibits, in the guild exhibits with The Weavers Guild of Minnesota Rag Rug Study Group putting up a stunning and educational display. Especially pleasing to me was learning that they documented the use of the Trapeze method for a very successful rug warp. (Thanks weavers for this endorsement. I love hearing of new applications for this ancient and fundamentally simple aid to good weaving). There was a great gathering for Rag Rugs and their weavers and collectors led by Janet Meany. Your can visit to learn more.  The rug here is Moonlight, by Jessica Speer.

My class of tartan weavers were very brave with all of them (eventually) trying and liking) live- weight tensioning! A couple of them are now planning to design and weave a guild tartan.

There were many "V.I.Ws." (very important weavers) in attendance including Wendy Morris from London, UK for the annual meeting of Complex Weavers. She arrived sleepless, foodless, lugage-less and flightless due to Chicago's bad weather, but cheerfully conducted a well-attended meeting for a number of us existing and new members of CW. What a trooper!

The fashion show was excellent with prizes awarded to a couple of my favorite weavers. Peggy Bowman’s jacket/homage to her cat was modeled by teacher/musician Nadine Sanders .
Another favorite winner was the handspun sweater dyed with mushroom colors by Julie Hurd from Lake Charlevoix Area WG. Here she is modeling her Michigan Tartan Triangle shawl. Her sweater can be seen on the Midwest site. 

Sheila O'Hara was our exciting keynote speaker, instructor and exhibitor with some new work, woven images from antique photos of native Americans, including a mind-bending jacquard-woven interpretation of a NA rug weaver. Go to .

When I wasn't teaching I was able to take a class called "Twist and Stretch", with Marcia Kosmerchock, and think I may just need to try some texture with tartans. 

 We enjoyed Trenary Toast and shopping at Merimekko - yes, that Merimekko, of Finnland whose designer cows decorate the dining hall wall at Finlandia U.  I grew up with cows and like them a lot.  These are special.

My ‘teenager’ and I drove west and north to visit Thunder Bay, a HUGE Canadian city on the western end of Lake Superior with many ethnic areas, and then east along the northern shore of Superior where the lupines blew me away with their beauty. We lunched in elegance at Red Rock Inn and overnighted in WaWa, Ontario before coming home to our cat family. 

Now my focus is on a fleece-to-shawl demonstration our Northeast Michigan WG is planning for the Alcona County Fair mid-August. We hope to generate a good donation to the Alcona Animal Shelter from raffling off a hand dyed/hand spun/hand woven Michigan tartan shawl. [We’ll take donations for tickets by mail.]

Treadle with Joy, Kati