The Tale of the Tundra Tassels

The request came in through the website; a commission was being offered. A weaver was needed to make an inkle belt. Few of us must weave for money, and an inkle would never create enough income for the idea to entice most of our members. Eyes quickly glazed and looked away at the mere thought.

Then our web mistress sent the message directly to me. It seemed this person was persistent in her quest and had asked please again. She was going to the Artic for three weeks in February and wanted an inkle belt to wear while there. In an effort to let her down gently, and maybe get a little bit of a story, I contacted her and asked her exactly what she wanted. She told me she had already bought a belt but was disappointed by it. She assumed I would find her odd when she explained that it would do, but it was the wrong red. It was not the red she wanted to see cutting through the great white Arctic expanses and would clash with the rest of her ensemble. She was working diligently to make her anorak (an eskimo windbreaker) and moose hide mittens; wisely leaving her necessary footwear to the professional mukluk makers. She still had more than a month to find a weaver to create her bright red belt of her dreams. She had to try.

I have many inkle looms. The world of weaving hardly gets simpler. I have many red yarns; only needing to make a choice in material, diameter and hue. She’s a neighbor, only living a mile from me. She seemed weird enough to be a weaver, so I felt compelled to help. I offered to set up the loom and show her how to weave it herself with a little coaching. She loved the idea, and we agreed to meet.

The next day I took a few books and one of my little inkles and went to see and show. The blue and white demo warp had been worked by many hands large and small over the years, but she still saw the beauty of the structure despite the obvious tension changes. She fingered the cloth and said she thought it was neat, but really wasn’t anything like the belt she bought. She brought out what she had, and she was right. I was showing her an inkle. She was holding a ceinture fléchée.

It wasn’t even a pretty ceinture fléchée; machine made from chunky poly yarns in uninspiring colors. It was a big thick French Canadian belt 6 feet long, 5 inches wide, and a structure so stiff you could beat back a bear with it. Trappers wore them wrapped twice around the waist. They could use them as utility belts and back braces when heavy loads required more lumbar support than usual. Cinched tightly enough, even I might be able to move a moose, but that particular belt was unattractive enough that I wouldn’t have wanted to wear it even in the Arctic. She brought out a book to show me her inspiration photo. The front cover showed a woman happily dragging a sled across the frozen tundra. A bright red belt circled her waist, and that photo was laid over a much closer view of the belt. It was a beautiful Pendleton red Metis ceinture fléchée, stunning enough to inspire, and worthy of wear anywhere. I completely understood and wanted to help, so we had to quickly move to a plan B.

Ceinture fléchée belts

Ceinture fléchée belts from Bertie’s collection

It turns out that my personal textile collection contains two ceinture fléchées, one of which is a beautiful Pendleton red Metis. They both came through Bertie, so I have no real knowledge of their history or monetary value. None of that has ever mattered to me as I consider them all priceless and have no desire to sell off a single stitch. I was willing to rent the belt to her on the condition that she return it with the story when she came back and thawed out, but we both had concerns over its eventual condition after three weeks in the Arctic. When I found her one she could buy and keep forever, we settled into the perfect plan C. A Canadian company named Etchiboy has a website where you can pick from many beautiful ceinture fléchées. She ordered a stunning red and white belt for about the same price I would have charged her to rent mine. I get to keep my ceinture fléchées safe and warm, and she has her total, completely coordinated, eskimo suit; stylishly worn on her intrepid Arctic adventure to keep together forever. It turned out that what she thought she wanted wasn’t what she thought, but what she really wanted she eventually got.

Red tassels bound for the Arctic

Red tassels bound for the Arctic

We did decide to make up a few matching tassels to sew on her mukluks (the lady on the book had hers flying in the picture) to really complete the look. I made one extra tassel on a clip in sparkly blue and white. It did not match her colors, so the rest of her intrepid expedition will share it, with the hope of its eventual return it to me with pictures and the story of its Arctic travels.

This is where Marcia eludes, outruns, or is eaten by a polar bear… update to come when and if she returns…

Blue tassel to be worn by Arctic explorers

Blue tassel to be worn by Arctic explorers

Free Trade Expo report (and pictures!)

Marcos at the Fair Trade Expo

Marcos at the Fair Trade Expo

When I walked into the Free Trade Expo at John Carroll University, a few people were scattered among the dozen or so booths displaying wares, but I wasn’t looking for any of those. I was in search of the master weaver who hailed all the way from Tiotitlan, and I found him at the back of the room. I had been told he was young, but standing there next to Victoria’s baby Brown loom, he looked like one of my daughter’s college friends. I walked over to say hello, and introduced myself as a brand-new weaver. He smiled, graciously allowed me to take some photos of his rugs, and told me to come back in an hour.

Marcos’ table at the Fair Trade Expo

I became interested in some of the workshops and came back a couple of hours later. The empty warp had been transformed. He smiled up at me when I walked back, that shy young man transformed into a master artisan before the tool of his craft. His hands flew as he made bamboo bobbins zip between the warp threads, effortlessly creating a pattern that existed only in his head. He encouraged me to sit down and try, and patiently guided me as he told me where the color in his tapestry should change. He watched as I painstakingly threw a few picks, intent on doing no harm to the cloth he was creating. I was quick to hand the bobbin back, privileged to have been able to try his technique, and well aware that he was indeed a master. He was so genuine, so gently correcting, and so patient – and so very skilled. What an amazing encounter!

Here are some additional photos of Marcos’ visit.

Marcos' dye demonstration at Kent State University

Marcos’ dye demonstration at Kent State University

Victoria and Marcos

Victoria and Marcos

Elaine watching Marcos weave

Elaine watching Marcos weave

Marcos at the loom

Marcos at the loom

Announcing Eastern Great Lakes Fiber Conference

An announcement from Barb Wainright, 2015 publicity chair for the Eastern Great Lakes Fiber Conference. Note that registration opens April 1st.

What workshops will you take at Eastern Great Lakes Fiber Conference 2015? It may be tough to choose! This October 9th – 12th conference at the Chautauqua Institution in beautiful Chautauqua, New York, has a great lineup of workshops. Teachers include Connie Lippert, Rosalie Neilson, Mary Hettmansperger, Amy Tyler, Chad Alice Hagen, and Anita Luvera Mayer. Complete workshop descriptions and instructor bios are available, as well as the prospectus and registration form.

Registration opens on April 1st—no fooling! All registrations received before April 1st will be processed on opening day, giving you the best chance of getting the workshops you want. Cost for three days of workshops, all events, and nine meals is $355. Lodging options start at $110. The biennial conference includes a banquet plus a fashion show and fiber exhibit. Come show off your accomplishments!

EGLFC organizers would like to thank all who have provided past conferences with table favors and goody bag items. This year we would like to offer a few larger items as door prizes. Please consider getting together with a group of friends, perhaps your entire guild, to create a gift. We will announce the makers’ names and guild affiliation as we award each gift so that everyone can appreciate your artistry. Questions about door prizes? Contact Suanne Pasquarella.

We hope to see you Columbus Day weekend 2015. Learn more about all the fun we have planned. Questions about registration? Contact Kim Witherow.

May show details

The May Show. . .  for many of us that used to be a grand art show at The Cleveland Museum of Art consisting of works, only from local artists. It was highly anticipated as well as attended and probably started many Cleveland artists along their road to success.
In 2015,  the Cuyahoga Weavers Guild is having a May Show. We will once again be at the Beachwood library during the month of May. We will be in the same room, however there have been changes at the library so there are no small entrance cases as have been in the past. That means we have need for many LARGE weavings to fill all that glorious space. Here are some particulars:
  1. Month of April, 2015– Please bring any items you want to put in the show to any of our meetings, study group , our workshop or the regularly scheduled meeting on April 23rd. Please have them labeled with the following:
    • Your Name, city where you live, title of the piece, weave structure,  kind of yarn or materials used, value for insurance, and if it is for sale, price.
    • If for some reason you are not able to attend any of the meetings, please contact Patty to make arrangements for  pick up.
    • Everything must be to Patty by Monday, April 27th, PLEASE!
  2. We will hang the show on Friday, May 1st, 2015 beginning at 12:30 pm until 5:00 pm. We must adhere to these times as the room is scheduled for various other meetings and activities.
  3. Any last minute primping can be done on Saturday, May 2nd between 9:00 am and 12 noon.
  4. Reception, Sunday, May 3rd, 2015 2:00 – 4:00 pm. Please bring a contribution to our snacks and goodies table by 1:30 pm.
  5. Special Note: Our regularly scheduled meeting on May 21st, 2015, 11:30 am, will be in the meeting room with our show.
  6. Take down will be Saturday, May 30th, 10:00 am. If you can collect your items at that time, wonderful. Otherwise, Patty will take them and distribute them at our regularly scheduled meetings in June.
This winter is a fine time to continue weaving for this show. We need works from everyone–we love anything you have done, the more the merrier. And, who knows, you may be on your way to greatness as were many of the intrepid artists from CMA’s shows of the past.

February 1st deadline for MWA Scholarship applications

Midwest Weavers Conference has scholarships for defraying costs to attend the conference. The conference is June 18th to 20th in St. Paul, MN. Scholarship applications will be accepted from now until February 1st. Three scholarships cover registration fees, room, and board.  Other scholarships cover the registration fees. Awardees will be notified well before the early registration which closes March 13th.

You can apply for your own use or you can nominate someone who needs financial help in order to attend this year. Find more information here.


Intermuseum Conservation Association field trip is Thursday, January 15th

The January 15th, 2015 meeting and program will be at the Intermuseum Conservation Association, 2915 Detroit Ave, Cleveland OH 44113. We will meet at the Church of the Saviour, 2537 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights, OH, at 9:30 am to car pool and leave promptly by 9:45 am. We have a 10:30 am tour at ICA. After the tour, we will go to lunch at Kan Zaman, a middle Eastern restaurant at 1616 W. 25th Street, Cleveland, OH 44113, 216-621-1212. There is a buffet, and you can order off the menu.
While we are  in the area, you may want to visit the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Transformer Station. If you and the people in your car are interested in visiting the Transformer Station, that will be up to you after lunch.
Here is the list of participants that are currently signed up: Betty, Jean J., Ele R., Elly R., Nancy, Lynne, Tammy, Jean B., Rose R., Bobbie S., Sarah, and Patty.
Please call or email Patty if there are any additions or deletions to this list.

Holiday potluck is Thursday, December 18th

Come and enjoy CWG’s Holiday Potluck on December 18, 2014 at 11:30 am at the home of Jesse.

If your name begins with A-M, please bring a main dish or salad, if your name begins with N-Z, please bring a salad or dessert.

Newsletter deadline is Monday, December 1st

Time to cozy up with a cup of a favorite, warming beverage and jot down your ideas, thoughts and announcements for the guild.

Please send your news, events, programs, weaving travelogs, photos, reveries, and all manner of materials for the guild’s winter newsletter.  Submit them via

Our members will appreciate the inspiration for the long season ahead.


Art of Cloth field trip is Thursday, November 20th

Join us for a tour of Art of Cloth16695 West Park Circle Drive, Chagrin Falls, OH 44023, on November 20, 2014  at 10:00 am.

This 14-year-old company produces high-end handmade garments. Dying is the main medium used. We are fortunate to be able to visit as they do not regularly have visitors, and we will have the opportunity to purchase items.

Following our tour we will meet at Pine Lake Trout Club17021 Chillicothe Road, Chagrin Falls, OH 44023, 440-543-1331,  for lunch at 12 noon. Please make your own arrangements to drive together to Chagrin Falls.


Susan Conover workshop information

Member Nancy Curtiss shares this information from Susan Conover for all to enjoy.

Susan writes:

The Conover Workshops website is now up and running.  The Fiber Arts classes for 2014/2015 are listed with dates, times, pre-requisites and costs.  Besides throwing the shuttle madly for the past month, I’ve been dabbling in HTML code for website design.  Believe me, I’m much better at weaving than tweaking that code!

My newsletter will be in full swing shortly.  If you are interesting in signing up please scroll down to the bottom of the page.  Ernie, my husband, made the woodworking newsletter a priority by placing it first on the page.  He still doesn’t realize that weaving/spinning is much more important than woodworking.

While my class offerings are paired down from years ago, I am available for private sessions, which would give you the opportunity to fine tune exactly what you are interested in.

If you should have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me by email or phone (440-346-5702 mobile).