Sunday, November 8, 2015

Former Student Snapshot - Bill Griffith - in his own words….

"I began to weave in the spring of 1980 soon after moving to Vermont and have been weaving ever since. I first heard about Norman Kennedy and the Marshfield School of Weaving in the mid 1970's when I was living in Williamsburg, VA. Several of my friends worked at Colonial Williamsburg and they knew Norman, who had recently moved north to start the school. In late 1979, I made a trip to New England to visit the weaving school and liked life in Vermont so much that I found a job in Montpelier and became a neighbor.
 My early hands-on experience with weaving was with Craig Evans who was at that time an apprentice at the school. Between Norman and Craig they taught me to make my first warp for cotton dishtowels and to dress the loom.  My first loom was a beautiful barn frame loom from Burke, VT that Craig has used for many years. I took to wearving easily since I was already interested in the creative process. Weaving applealed to me as a quiet meditative activity with endless possibilities and I like the importance of perfection and balance.
 In 2001, I moved to Spain and purchased a 137 cm Eeva loom from Toika in Finland. For years, I have woven mainly baby blankets, rag rugs, sofa blankets and scarves. Future projects are rag rugs for our home and to try to repoduce some early 20th c. Catalan floor tile patterns (Rajola Hidraculica) as textiles. For me, weaving here in Sitges, a coastal town south of Barcelona, isn't all that different from how I worked in the US. I have woven a lot of things for our home, gifts for friends and I also take commissions and sell now and then through word of mouth or on the internet.
Happily, Norman and Craig have continued to be inspirations and good friends. We keep in regular contact and I visit them and the school whenever I am in the US. I have also enjoyed knowing Kate Smith through the years and being familiar with her beautiful work. I love her blog, which keeps me informed of the activities at the school more then ever before.
Weaving is a skill that continues to fascinate me. Over the years, when people have asked me why I weave, I often reply that at one time in m life I was fortunate to live in a place where there was a weaving school. The weavers were open to sharing their knowledge and I was fortunate to learn from them. I continue to weave because I believe in the importance of preserving traditional ways.. Besides, I love it and it's a wonderful and productive way to spend my time!"

Bill Griffith weaving in Spain

His beautiful Toika loom

Cotton Baby Blanket

Cotton Baby Blanket
Cotton Scarf
Cotton Scarf
Cotton Scarves
Wool Scarves
Sprang Hammock
Cotton Baby Blankets
Cotton Sofa Throw
Linen/Cotton Rag Rug
Cotton Table Mat
Wool Rag Rug
Cotton/ Linen Rag R
Wool/Silk Shawl

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


This fall was a busy few months  of former students returning to help celebrate our 40th year anniversary.  First to arrive was Hilarie Bleavins from North Carolina who had come last year with her mother, Chris Barber, for the first time.  Chris accompanied Hilarie again this year but chose not to weave but just work on her book and visit us in the studio.  Hilarie wove a very large wool checked throw and a warp of dishtowels in the 5 days that she was here.

Next of our former students to return were Lem and Jessie Hudson from Delaware as it is always such a delight to have them here.  Lem decided to try his hand at rag rugs and specifically wanted to learn the technique of creating arrows in the weft by twining two different color rags.  Jessie was keen to continue her love of overshot but to branch out into a new fiber - linen.  Both  completed beautiful projects and gave them some new skills.

Our local weavers were back to weave after being away for the summer and Ada's first project was to weave a piece of overshot from the Silas Burton draft book.  Heather Pipino was here from Barre, VT after a few year hiatus and she was eager to try a long linen warp for curtains in a huck pattern.  Tashni Chamberlin from Adamant, VT was our first work study student for the fall and she has been working on dishtowels and some amazing tapestry rugs.
Stay tuned for the next blog of former student, Bill Griffith and what he's been up to for the past 30 years!
Hillarie Bleavin weaving a checked throw.

and then some dishtowels.

Hilarie and Chris with the more then ample throw!

Jessie Hudson back to weave linen overshot.
Lem Hudson cutting rags for rag rugs.
Lem mastering the "arrows".
Close up of the arrows.
Lem & Jessie's final projects.
Heather Pipino weaving a long length of huck linen
for curtains.
Huck Linen.
Tashi weaving weft faced rugs.
Tashni's dishtowels.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Snapshots of Former Students 40 years ago at MSW ~ Kathy Weigold

In honor of the 40th anniversary of the Marshfield School of Weaving we are going to feature in this blog some of the students from those early days and hear the story of how they arrived andwhat they are doing now.
So….meet Kathy Weigold in her own words…
"Weaving is the heartbeat of my soul.  It is as important as breathing.  Melodramatic?  Perhaps…
The production weaving methods learned at MSW in September of 1980 under Norman Kennedy was to have a huge impact on my life.  Little did I know then, but my career was born.  Imagine, a beginning weaver making two blankets in six weeks!  One small blanket started with the raw fleece, then learning to spin it all from scratch…sink or swim…. but once you find that just right combination of foot, hand and eye, it's magic!  My inspiration to take that course was the desire to learn how to use the walking wheel my mother inherited from her great grandmother.  I then saw an ad for MSW in Handwoven Magazine about using 19th c. looms and walking wheels were pictured.  The description was enticing.  I was 21 at the time and had just started to learn about weaving on a floor loom.  The second blanket was a double width, singles weft spun from roving on the walking wheel.  It had to be carefully woven and measured so that pattern matched when sewing the two pieces together.  It was also my introduction to end feed shuttles, they really made a difference.  I was hooked!  I quickly acquired some and still use them to this day, three decades and miles upon miles of fabric later, all on my 18th c. loom and using the old methods learned from Norman and found no where else.  There was no slowing down either.  No dust  settling here.  I currently make fabric a reality for Dahlia Popovits (Boston, MA) and Camille Benjamin, (Putnam, CT) both designers of wearables since the mid-eighties.  In my spare time I make my own designs and sell at Swiftwaters, a craft cooperative in Willimantic, CT.  I haven't run out of color combination yet!
I met Kate, when going back to MSW in 1982, to weave a coverlet as an independent study for a week. Subsequently, in 1985 I went back to make a warp faced carpet.  Kate was now much more in the role of teaching and running the school.  I was led there on a few more occasions, most recently in 2012 for some linenwork and to wish Norman a happy 80th.  Many kudos to Kate for all her hard work and determination to keep alive what Norman started 40 years ago, and to be successful in her own right.  And Norman, may you have many more stories to tell and wisdom to impart.
Check out Kathy in action below.

MSW studio in 1980

Kathy's first class …learning to spin.

Picking wool with Norman's dog, Molly.

Norman weaving blanketing.

Making a warp for coverlet.
Edit spinning on a walking wheel.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Ahh….August! Back from our summer vacation….

After being on a break for two months it was good to get back to classes and seeing students again. We started off the month with our annual indigo intensive (see the blog before this one on that), a few new students and a few old regulars. Joan Funk was here from Ohio for the first time as was Claudine Bouchard from south of Quebec city. Claudine wanted help with weaving tartans as she had been working on creating her own designs using a fine two ply worsted. Joan chose the old stand-by - our striped throw - and both did a beautiful job on their respective projects. Bob Clarke, from Ottawa,Ontario was back for his third year and will be with us for a month. He started off with a full sized Scottish Wedding blanket and then moved on to overshot and summer winter. Also that week was Jillian Westfall, from Athens, GA who had come for the indigo intensive and dyed the fabric that she was going to use to weave the Japanese fabric Saki Ori. This is a very time consuming project as the fabric strips are only 1/8" wide but she perservered and wove enough fabric for an apron. The following we had a new local student come for the first time - Tashni from Adamant - and she will be with us for 6 weeks doing as many projects as she can fit in. Along with Tashni was Alexandra Kohl who wanted to expand her weaving knowledge of some 4 shaft weaves and chose a log cabin design that she wove with grey and white. It was incredibly stunning! The next week our two new students also came from Ohio - Susan Conover and Mary Beebee - and both of these experienced weavers chose something to give them a challenge. Mary decided to work with a 60/2 silk in a fairly intricate twill pattern and Susan wanted to weave one of the most complicated Silas Burton warp faced carpets in the finer weight. Much to our dismay, the yarn ordered for that was not really suitable for a warp and when every yellow thread in the pattern starting breaking with every shot, we decided to do major surgery and replace it with another yarn. The color choice was actually alot more pleasing and the warp was redeemed. Lesson for us though….don't try out a new yarn on a student! Michael Lobel, our Van Gogh expert frzom NYC was here again to resume his new found weaving passion and delight us with more images of Van Gogh's little known drawings and paintings from his "Weaver's" series. With Michaels permission I would like to do a whole blog sometime on these incredible paintings. Michael chose to start off the week with a wool throw with striped borders and then finished up the week weaving some cotton towels. Mary was also able to fit in a second project and finished off one of our linen rug warps with a multi-stranded wool weft. And last but not least, Dosia is back! Leaving the city life of Brooklyn behind she has moved back to Marshfield and will be a ….hopefully!…permanent feature at the school. Her first project was a painted silk warp and this coming week she is going to teach a practice class in warp painting to one of her friends to see if this is something that we could offer in the future. Stay tuned!
Joan Funk weaving a Scottish Wedding style throw.

Claudine Bouchard wove a tartan scarf
of her own design.

Bob Clarke back for a month…first project a
full sized Scottish Wedding Blanket.

Jillian's prepared rags for her Saki Ori….dyed in
Indigo the week before at the Indigo Intensive.

Jillian working on her Saki Ori.

Jillian's finished piece.
Alexandra Kohl's log cabin shawl.
Detail of the pattern.

Tashni working on her first warp of dishtowels.
Dosia helping Bob with his second project of overshot runners.
Dosia's painted warp in silk.
The finished piece!

Lynnette helping Michael  beam on his wool throw.
Mary threading her 60/2 silk scarf.
Susan warping her Silas Burton warp faced carpet.
The carpet on the loom.
Mary's second project - a wool yarn rag rug.
Susan's resurrected carpet with color change.
Close up of the color change.
Mary's rug.
Michael's throw.