NAME: Cathie Wier
BACKSTORY: Cathie is a weaver who loves doubleweave and texture. She is inspired by nature, attracted to the layers, colors and textures that she observes in the forests and rivers of the Olympic Peninsula and beyond. She weaves one-of-a-kind scarves, exploring patterns, textures, and techniques. Her wall hangings are three-dimensional, often combining weaving and split-ply work. In the last year she has been experimenting with various shibori techniques and dyeing as well. Her work has been shown in juried and group shows in the Northwest. She was awarded a Peoples Choice award for her kinetic installation at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center.
HOW I GOT INTO WEAVING
In the last year of her life, my mother taught me to weave. At least in retrospect, I see that is what she was trying to do. She was struggling with cancer during that last year and I visited frequently, making the trip from Washington State down to California. I spent time with her in her weaving workroom “helping” her with various parts of the weaving process. I noticed the books she looked at for reference. I knew that she wrote up a draft and description of each project. She even had me set up my own project on her small Norwood 4-shaft loom and take it home with me “on loan”. I never touched that project at home. I was busy working full-time and wasn’t in love with weaving, even though I admired her work.
As the months went by and she couldn’t make it down to her workroom, I wanted to ask about the project she had barely threaded on the loom. I was curious, but I didn’t want to upset her for not having the energy to tackle it. And so it was that when she died, I didn’t know what she had planned. I slept in her workroom during that visit and decided I would have to finish it. Her plan all along? I discovered the draft titled “Twill Doubleweave Blanket”. I knew what twill was, but I had no idea what “doubleweave” meant. I had not yet woven a single project myself and now I was going to tackle weaving 2 layers at once? At first this was overwhelming, but I realized I could start learning on the 4-shaft loom I had at home. There was no rush to move this big loom to Washington and jump into the project.
I began to explore the various aspects of weaving. I learned about twills and practiced making towels. I worked on my selvages. I am a book-learner, so I dove into her library and became fascinated with doubleweave. I wove double-width projects and worked on the tension at the fold. I loved to page through Mom’s 15-year collection of Handwoven Magazine. My confidence grew and I finally moved the big loom to my home from California, along with many odd pieces of equipment and her closet full of yarn. I had no idea what some of the tools were and the yarn stash was amazing. I didn’t know what I would want to use in the future, so virtually all of it came home.
After a year of practice, and many conversations and tears at the loom, I felt ready to tackle the project. When I sat down to look at the draft Mom had left and carefully reviewed the threading on the loom, I realized the two didn’t match. My heart sank. Was I wrong about all of this? Then I realized, Mom had simplified. She hadn’t threaded it as a twill doubleweave, but as plain weave in both layers. Whew.
Once I got started, it didn’t take long. I was eager to finally finish this project. I finished it on my birthday in 2001. What a gift my mother had given me – a beautiful blanket and a love for weaving. Now I had a passion beyond my work as a programmer/software engineer/consultant.
I love the problem-solving aspects of weaving and enjoy designing my own structures. Plus, I have a stash of yarn that always whispers encouragement. To that stash I’ve added my own favorites: tencel, bamboo, fine wool, and more unconventional “yarns”: thread, monofilament, and wire.
Images: Feature: The Minnow; Mesmerize; Turbulence
NEXT TIME: Bhakti Ziek