Thursday, April 25, 2013

Itinerant Weavers

Kate Kitchen, Peter Harris, Susan Middleton, Agota Dolinay, Line Dufour
Itininerant weavers has been a part of weaving history for centuries. Weavers went from town to town offering their services to whatever tapestry or fabric weaving endeavour was underway. This was common in Europe, and in Ontario, it wasn't unusual for fabric and rug weavers to offer their weaving service to rural inhabitants who may have had a barn loom, though I doubt any tapestry weaving was woven there!
Peter Harris, Susan Middleton, Agota Dolinay, Line Dufour and Kate Kitchen

The the international tapestry project, Fate, Destiny and Self Determination, refers to this once common practice and today,  several 'itinerant weavers' offered their weaving abilitities to the international tapestry project, Fate, Destiny and Self Determination.
Peter Harris, Susan Middleton and Agota Dolinay
We welcomed Peter Harris, a well respected and dedicated tapestry weaver and cashmir shawl researcher. Peter has travelled extensively in India to conduct much of his research as well as in the United States. Peter is a great story teller, excellent speaker about his travels and research and a good writer. To know more about him go to his blog at
Along side him in this photo is Susan Middleton, who matches Peter in his wanderlust as it relates to her passion for tapestry and her interest in Eleanor of Aquitane. She is very personable and also matches Peter in her ability to "weave a good yarn" about her travels and weaving adventures.
Agota Dolinay is highly regarded by the those at the Toronto Weaving School for her aimiability, and her skill and talent at whatever she undertakes.  She also has a travel bug and will be off to Europe shortly to visit and while there will visit a well beloved ex-student, Amy Stein who resides in France presently. Give Amy lots of hugs for us! Agota will be travelling to Peru in October to study weaving with Maximo Laura through Puchka Tours

Michelle Kortinen and Susan Middleton
Michelle visited the project for the first time and it was simultaneously her first visit to the Toronto Weaving School. I've only just recently met Michelle who is working for the McMichael Canadian Gallery in Kleinburg ( , well worth visiting if you are ever in the Toronto area. This gallery houses an incredible collection of the Group of Seven work and other Canadian artists superseded only by the Art Gallery of Ontario .
Another shape completed for the international tapestry project by Kate Kitchen who wrote:
"I was immediately intrigued when I was invited by Line Dufour to choose a shape to weave for the international tapestry project, but also mystified. How was I going to make something so small and so free-standing? I was reassured when other tapestry weavers began to share the way they had woven their shapes, and that seems to be the point – not only the gestalt that is created by the connecting when all the shapes come together, but also the connecting with the how of the making. It has been fascinating to construct a very small and completely unique loom for each piece. And at the end, the nails come out, the loom disappears, leaving one small and uniquely woven shape."
Lastly, another participant , Aneesha Parrone,  wrote a tribute to the project in her latest newsletter. Click on the link below to see what she said about the project and learn more about her and her weaving/art activities. I know you'll enjoy the wonderful quotes and references she often defers to. I know I do! I've also posted an email she sent me about her own unfolding as a weaver on the Toronto Weaving School blog.



Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Building Structures for Erosion Control

Thoughts on Fate, Destiny and Determination tapestry project by Dorothy Clews of Australia.
Building small stone structures  for erosion control and stream bed protection seem to have little to do with tapestry weaving. But yesterday, as I was laying down carefully placed graduated sized rocks at a workshop in the middle of an eroded gully, I was reminded how like tapestry it was and how each rock when fitted into place would almost give a metaphorical click when put in the right place- rather like an area of tapestry will settle in once you have woven on top of it, when previously you were wondering whether you would have to unweave it because it did not look quite right. There is a place for every rock you pick up and in this weaving project there is a place for every tapestry shape. Somewhere in the grand plan of the tapestry there is a place for my shape, joining with all the other shapes that have winged their way to Line’s mailbox.
I can imagine a host of participants under Line's supervision carefully building this multi pieced work, directing the flow of colours. I wonder if the carefully thought out shapes and patterns will fit to the determined cartoon, or whether the shapes will find their own place, their destiny decided on by the structure, texture and shape of each idiosyncratic piece and the person placing them within the overall tapestry. How much is determined by the shape maker? And how much by the person who finds a place for the shape?.

Friday, April 19, 2013

With Spring, new life and new students

Fetneh, Gert, Diane, Marion are the first 4 people who are our daytime tapestry weavers.
What a wonderful week. In the spring session like daffodils, I have welcomed a growing number of tapestry students! This is such a great joy for me. I had been concerned about how few people were interested in tapestry for the last while.  They are interested, curious and engaged.

Michele, Madeleine, Maxime and Delia.
I am also very delighted to see that cultural diversity is playing out in the tapestry weaving group as well as the fabric weaving classes. Through weaving we deepen our connection to each other by learning about the weaving practices that arise in their own cultural heritage. Through weaving we begin a discussion , our conversation the strand that weaves us together in friendship.

The cultural mosaic is one of the themes for the international tapestry project. New shapes arive from all over the world weekly for Fate, Destiny and Self Determination tapestry project. It's still not too late to participate, either by weaving a shape or coming to 255 Royal York Road, 2nd Floor, Room 30, Toronto on any of these dates that are remaining listed below between 10am to 9pm. A new schedule will be available in September.
MONDAY      WEDNESDAYApril 22                        
April 29          April 24
May 6             May 1
May 13           May 8
May 27           May 55
June 3            May 22

This week I am featuring Stephnie (not a typo) Cantoni from Perth Australia. She did an awesome job of documenting her process and it is a great educational resource on how to create a shape, which, if you have tried tapestry weaving, is challenging because of the limitations and constraints of the technique.
She received her shapes by email and had to reduce the size to the specified dimensions: no side to exceed 10cm or 4". Stephnie choose to do 2 shapes.
Design for shape 2.

 Selecting pure hues from the colour wheel, primary, secondary and/or tertiary colours.
Starting shape one. What's interesting about Stephnie's approach is that she lay in a pass of sewing thread, then used that sewing thread to secure the edges of the tapestry so that they would not sag where the weaving was not supported.
 Shape 1 done and starting shape 2.
To create a thin diagonal line in tapestry Stephnie used what she calls a flying shuttle technique. The picture says a thousand words.
Shape 2 proceeding
The weaving process completed for shape 1 and 2.
The completed shapes on the front.....
....and on the back.
Check out Ixchel Suarez's two person exhibit at the Burlington Art Centre from April 20 - June 2. Opening is this Sunday. Go to to learn more.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Clever approach to weaving a Shape

Merna Strauch, from California, USA, created this beautiful  shape for the international tapestry project, Fate, Destiny and Self Determination . She sent along the steps she used to create this jewel of a piece.  It might help those who are still trying to think about  how to approach creating their shapes.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Cultural Mosaic as inspiration

Kate Kitchen
The international tapestry project, Fate, Destiny and Self Determination, progresses and each day new shapes arive. One of sections of the tapestry is being woven by guest weavers and non weavers alike. By having many people weave on this section of the tapestry, it references the historical (and still ongoing) practice of many weavers weaving a tapestry. The solitary artist/tapestry weaver is a more contemporary approach.
The shapes that people weave and send to me echo the shapes that are part of the main tapestry. These shapes, or cells of colour, make reference to our cultural mosaic. Canada, as well as the United States, is made of up diverse cultural groups from every corner of the planet.
The shape featured in this blog post is by Karen Piegorsch. I liked the way her documentation became an instructional approach. We see clearly how she secured the edges of the shape before removing it from the loom, and below.....
how she secured the warp threads. I agree with Karen - I almost like the back more than the front! Karen writes:
Hi Line,
      I'm excited to report that my shape is ready to send. Will get it into the post toward the end of this week. Meanwhile, I'm attaching photos. I think it's funny that the back (playfully finished with crayons) is rather more interesting than the front!
      Cheers, and all best wishes for this project. Thanks for the opportunity to be a part of it. 

Karen Piegorsch, PhD
Synergo LLC

If you would like to participate contact me at

This project was generously funded by the Ontario Arts Council.