Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dee Dee's Woven Life

At our May 16 meet up at the Double Tree Inn Cafe, Dee Dee King/weaverlyone spoke to our little group of ten about her lifelong study of weaving. Dee Dee, who travelled from Squaw Valley for our get together, has been weaving for 36 years and spinning for 15 years. She is a member of the Handweavers of the Valley in Exeter, Ca.

Which came first weaving or knitting? Weaving! The first weaving was in 5,000 BC in Egypt, but the first knitting wasn't till the 5th century AD when people started knitting socks.

Because weaving is such a structured art form, weavers are constantly in search of fibers with drape, and Dee Dee prefers natural fibers like rayon(a wood fiber), cotton and wool. She acquires her supplies from several sources. "Use the best materials you can afford," Dee Dee encouraged. Every January, she buys about 100 pounds from Webs, Woodland Woolworks and/or Yarn Barn because they sell the large cones of fine weight thread that she uses mostly.

Libraries have the best weaving books for beginning weavers. She brought two books to show us, The Weaving, Spinning, Dyeing Book by Rachel Brown and The New Key to Weaving by Mary Black. Dee Dee also recommends a monthly magazine called "Handwoven" by Interweave Press.

Her hard work is both enjoyable and profitable. She earns about $3,000/yr beyond just supplies selling her weavings at the Hand Weavers of the Valley Show and Sale in every year on the last Saturday in October at the Veteran's Memorial. Carole Dulitz will have a booth again this year too. (Thank you Dee Dee for the correct day of the sale!)

Perhaps you're like me wondering what will the public buy? like knitting, weaving is difficult to price. Dee Dee sells lots of woven dishtowels and other linens. A woven dishtowel will last forever if you're careful. Her dishtowels and place mats are four for $40. A baby blanket will run you about $45.

She also said that how you display your work counts for a lot; you can't simply pile things on a table top. Also, "I encourage you when you're doing your handwork to finish it beautifully. There's no sense in doing the work and having it fall apart," Dee Dee said. She recommends having small giveaway pieces to attract additional interest. She likes earth balls, which are felted little balls for cat toys, and mug rugs, a square coaster made from Pearle cotton. She was super nice and brought one for each of us and a set of four for Suzanne to enjoy.

Sometimes she sells custom order horse blankets, but her favorite weavings are wool rugs. She brought a beautiful one to show us.

Did you know the word shoddy is a weaving term? It describes a piece of weaving before it has been wet finished. Or I suppose like in knitting or crochet before blocking. So don't do shoddy work, always block your pieces.

We were curious about how Dee Dee made so many different size weavings. They are all different widths, so we thought she had to restring her looms for each time. But Dee Dee told us she has 11 floor looms at her home, in the garage and in the barn. "I don't sit and watch t.v." she said.

As you can imagine the start up cost for weaving is high, but Dee Dee shares her love of weaving by having weaving meetings at her home and enjoys teaching weaving to her students. Dee is a continuation school teacher for low-functioning special ed. students. "They love weaving," she said smiling; "My grandmother taught it as therapy to the guys after World War I." She has also taught potholder weaving at the Boy Scout Jamboree.


Darcys Knotty Knitter said...

Very cool wish I could have been there:)Hugs Darcy

Sandy said...

One small correction of the information on the Harvest show and sale. It is the last Saturday in October. (Halloween this year) and the regular Handweavers of the Valley guild meetings are the second Saturday of the month.