Conversation with Teresa Loveless of Weaving Southwest

Weaving Southwest has a vibrant history in northern New Mexico that has influenced weaving traditions far and wide. I recently took advantage of this treasure trove of experience in a class taught by Teresa Loveless, the granddaughter of Weaving Southwest pioneer, Rachel Brown. I hoped to sharpen my tapestry skills by learning a fresh approach, and I was not disappointed! Teresa’s attentive teaching style brims with encouragement, making every student exceed their own expectations.

Weaving Southwest in Arroyo Seco, New Mexico

Weaving Southwest in Arroyo Seco, New Mexico.

Weaving Southwest student accomplishments.

Teresa Loveless on the right with her five happy students from the class “Habitat, A Study in Verticals.”

Join me as I sit with Teresa in the park across from the shop to talk about her dreams and aspirations…

Fast forward twenty years. What would you like to be known for?

I have an interest in preservation of culture, and seeing that carried out through textiles. Preserving culture through textiles worldwide is a hidden passion of mine, and I’m working on ways to make that happen.

This sounds like a big dream.

Yes, it is a big dream that I have given a lot of thought to. With modern technology there is great potential. Technology makes it possible to pick out every little niche of fiber in the world and pull it all together in a classy and educational way.

What can be done to preserve cultures through textiles?

You could go to little villages or communities, and through today’s technology, bring them all together and preserve entire cultures. In Before They Pass Away, photographer Jimmy Nelson documents some of the most secluded tribes in the world. And he put them together in an incredible photo book, with their beautiful textiles draping all over them. That book was part of the inspiration for my dream.

Your grandmother taught you how to weave; and your mother taught you jewelry making. And now you are passing weaving on to your very young daughter. What are your thoughts about people passing what they know on to their children and grandchildren?

I grew up in this family of artists and inventors, and they were weavers and jewelers and everything in between, and I did it all. I wove and I made jewelry. It was normal. It was my life. When I went away and realized that not everyone brought their loom to college, or that making a silver ring is not something everybody can do… that was eye opening.

For me, it is all about passing it along. Teach your kids to do what you do. Even if they think they’re going to go off and do something else. I was going to go be a scientist. And then I came back. Clearly, I’m not a scientist. I’m a weaver.

Because it was passed on through my family, and because of my incredible grandmother, I am able to help preserve culture. I am helping to preserve beauty through textiles.

What about your daughter, do you think she will become a weaver?

Pass on the tradition, pass on the skill, and pass on, hopefully, the love for it. But my daughter loves bugs more than she likes yarn right now, so maybe she’ll be the scientist, who knows?

Weaving Southwest in New Mexico

Weaving Southwest pickup truck depicts the down-to-earth approach of the shop. Highly accomplished, yet unpretentious.

Tell me about your sweet spot. Are there times when you think, “I was made for this?”

I’m doing it here, like the class we just finished. I love teaching. I love being able to share what I know, what was passed on to me. It doesn’t matter how much someone knows or doesn’t know when they come. From afar, weaving does look a little confusing, but if you get the feel of it, if you understand the warp and weft and structure… Oh, the things you can do!

You enjoy simplifying things for people, don’t you?

That’s it, definitely! It doesn’t have to be hard. There are all sorts of technical terms, but weaving does not have to be difficult. Seeing people blossom, from, “Oh my gosh, which is warp, which is weft?” Or, “Do I do a single dovetail here?,” to realizing you can do a single dovetail wherever you want, …but you don’t have to. There are so many options. If you go into it with confidence you’re going to be able to produce incredible work!

You seem happy to see your students flourish…

Oh, yes. When I see my students happy, then I’m happy!

Thank you for taking time with me. It has been fun to get to know you more!

Absolutely! Thanks!

Study in verticals from class at Weaving Southwest in NM.

This study in verticals is hung horizontally just above the work table in my weaving studio. Makes me smile.

May you dream big.

Very happy weaving,
Karen

2 Comments

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Hi Karen
    I love this post, I hope you had a wonderful time. It sure looks fun, I’ve never been to New Mexico, but maybe I will have to go someday soon.
    I am wondering about your recent post about linen scarves, I have been watching for an update to see how they came out after you washed them. Did I miss that one or is it coming up sometime soon?
    Love all your posts and wait for them to come up in my inbox!

    Thank you for all you do for us.
    Liberty

    • Karen says:

      Liberty, you are so sweet! We did have a wonderful time. New Mexico is worth the visit. You will see interesting landscapes with color that shifts according to the weather and time of day.

      Thank you for asking about the linen scarves. You haven’t missed anything. I have a few “irons in the fire” right now, and the linen scarves are in the queue. You might see them next week.

      It’s really great to know you keep coming back!
      Karen

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Weaving Southwest Habitat Class

I just spent three days at Weaving Southwest in Arroyo Seco, New Mexico, studying tapestry techniques with Teresa Loveless. It was a great experience! “Habitat, a Study in Verticals” is a fun and informative class, with exceptional personal attention given to each student. The looms are Rio Grande walking looms that were designed by Teresa’s grandmother, Rachel Brown. You weave standing up!

Spectacular rainbow near Arroyo Seco, New Mexico.

This stunning double rainbow over the mountains greeted us on our first evening in Arroyo Seco. Images like this inspire countless artisans in New Mexico.

The emphasis for this class is vertical joins in weft-faced plain weave tapestry. Teresa uses memorable words and phrases that help students remember techniques. Just ask me about threads kissing! Besides the vertical joins, we also practiced other tapestry and shuttle techniques, including pick and pick, color gradation, and hatching. Finishing techniques, like sewing in loose threads, stitching slits, braiding fringe, and blocking the finished piece were covered at the end of the last day.

Rio Grande walking loom at Weaving Southwest.

Standing in front of the Rio Grande walking loom I used at Weaving Southwest, after weaving the first portion of my design.

Weaving Southwest class.

Five students in the class each have a loom.

We had a fabulous selection of Weaving Southwest’s own rug wool in rich, fabulous colors. To take advantage of the hand-dyed wool’s unique features, I chose background colors that had an almost variegated appearance.

Color gradations in tapestry class at Weaving Southwest.

Color gradation with three shades of red, using “wavy lines.”

Tapestry class at Weaving Southwest.

Pick and pick, creating vertical stripes of color, is one of my favorite techniques. Maybe I will make an entire wool rug using pick and pick.

Tapestry class at Weaving Southwest

Just enough time to add some hatching at the end portion of my piece. Fun!

I will show you my finished piece in an upcoming post. And I will share a personal conversation I had with Teresa, talking about her big dreams.

May you learn something beautiful.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

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Pointers for Exploring New Mexico Fiber Arts Trails

Do you know that New Mexico has a guide to rural fiber arts destinations across the state? Last week, Steve and I dusted off the New Mexico Fiber Arts Trails, driving 1,100 miles through mountainous deserts and lush Rio Grande River valleys. We reveled in views of God’s creation, like cottonwood trees in brilliant yellow, and the Sandia mountains turning purple and watermelon pink in the setting sun. We visited interesting studios and shops all along the way, and encountered weavers who are true artisans.

Cottonwood trees in New Mexico at their golden peak.

Cottonwood trees at their golden peak along the Rio Grande River.

Four Pointers for Your New Mexico Fiber Arts Trails Adventure:

1. Call ahead. Some of the stops are one-person studios, attached to a residence. Some places have changed their hours or days of the week that they are open. We drove two hours one day to visit a special shop, only to find a note on the door that said they were closed that day of the week.
2. Ask good questions. I like to ask a weaver a question that only another weaver would ask. Instead of introducing myself as a fellow handweaver, I like to let them figure it out by the questions I ask.
3. Wear something handwoven. My handwoven cap opened the door to conversation with other weavers.
4. Resist adding to your stash. I knew that I would have the opportunity to purchase beautiful yarn, but I decided in advance not to add to my stash. I gathered information instead; and now I have more resources to choose from when it is time to order yarn.

My Favorite Stops:

Albuquerque
Sacramento Mountain Weavers (not listed on the Fiber Arts Trails), Kelly Stewart
Located in historic Old Town, this shop has a Glimåkra Standard loom (like mine). Among other things, Kelly has woven rag rugs from strips of soft leather.

Majestic mountains and colorful cottonwood trees in New Mexico.

Majestic mountains and colorful cottonwood trees set the scene for exploration along the New Mexico Fiber Arts Trails.

Edgewood
Robin Pascal Fiber Artist
Robin’s studio is nestled in a scenic hillside covered with trees and wildlife. Her handspun yarn proved irresistible to me. This is where I broke my own rule of not adding to my stash.

Handspun and hand painted yarn by Robin Pascal.

Too pretty to pass up, I came home with some of Robin Pascal’s beautiful handspun wool/silk, and a little skein of her hand painted cotton flake yarn.

Arroyo Seco (just north of Taos)
Weaving Southwest, Teresa Loveless
Amazing tapestry weavings on display! Teresa is the granddaughter of acclaimed tapestry weaver and author, Rachel Brown. Teresa carries her grandmother’s legacy by teaching tapestry techniques to interested students. There are Rio Grande walking looms in the teaching studio, where you do all the weaving standing up, not sitting. Who knows? You may see me taking a class from Teresa. Her passion for tapestry weaving is contagious.

Weaving Southwest in Arroyo Seco, NM. Beautiful tapestries, yarns, and looms inside!

Enjoying the cool air in Arroyo Seco, Steve and I stand outside one of our favorite stops on this adventure.

Ranchos de Taos
Old Martina’s Hall Restaurant, Tapestry Exhibit (not listed on the Fiber Arts Trails)
Art Through The Loom Weaving Guild Show, August 20th through February 28th, 2015
This outstanding tapestry exhibit is not to be missed if you are anywhere near the vicinity! Downstairs and upstairs, every room in this restored, old dance hall is adorned with exquisite pieces of traditional and contemporary woven tapestries by nineteen different artists.

San Francisco de Asis, serene historic chapel in Ranchos de Toas, New Mexico

Serene historic chapel, San Francisco de Asis, is across the street from the renovated old dance hall, Old Martina’s Hall. We enjoyed an impressive tapestry exhibit at Old Martina’s Hall.

Chimayó
Trujillo’s Weaving Shop (not listed on the Fiber Arts Trails), Carlos Trujillo
The first thing we saw when we entered the shop was a huge, rustic Rio Grande walking loom. Carlos was at the loom, weaving. He clearly loves designing at the loom, using unique color combinations in traditional designs. His grandfather built this impressive loom. Two women in an adjacent room filled with looms allowed me to watch over their shoulders as they wove traditional Chimayó patterns. One of the women showed me the small, narrow loom they now use for weaving coasters, and told me, “This was the loom Carlos learned to weave on when he was a little boy. As he grew, blocks were added to raise the loom to fit him.”

Chimayó weaving is a craft carefully handed down from one generation to the next.

Chimayó weaving, a skilled craft, is passed on from one generation to the next.

Chimayó
Centinela Traditional Arts, Irvin Trujillo
Irvin allowed me to watch and ask questions as he wove in the massive weaving room in the far end of the shop. It was inspiring to watch this master weaver at work. I found Irvin to be unpretentious, even though his expertise is astounding. You should see his intricate tapestries that hang in the showroom of the shop! Weaving is second nature to Irvin, who has been creating with wool on a loom since he was a young boy.

Rio Grande River in New Mexico.

Rio Grande River in New Mexico is the subject of many woven tapestries. Artisans often find creative ways to interpret this beauty.

Magdalena
Cat Brysch Creations Studio
Cat’s nine looms are clothed in colors that describe the terrain and sky of this beautiful mountainous desert. She took the time to explain each loom’s fabric to me, as I marveled at her skill of blending colors in the warp.

Weaving studio in little sleepy town in New Mexico.

Surrounded by mountains, the little sleepy town of Magdalena is home of an active weaving studio. The scenic views that Cat enjoys every day influence her selection of colors and textures in her weaving.

Pie Town
If you go as far as Magdalena, you might as well go another 56 miles to Pie-o-neer in Pie Town, New Mexico. The green chile stew is fantastic, but if I had known how good the hot-from-the-oven double cherry (tart and sweet) pie would be, I would have skipped the stew and ordered two slices of pie! Steve said the same about his slice of warmed peach pie. It was a great way to end our Fiber Arts Trails adventure.

Pie Town, New Mexico - best pie ever!

Nothing like a really good slice of homemade pie!

New Mexico scenery.

Scenic desert after dessert.

May you go on explorations and adventures.

Your traveling weaver,
Karen

7 Comments

  • Bev says:

    I love the picture of you and Steve in your hats outside the Weaving Southwest studio. You two seem to fit right in. What beautiful fall photos you took along the way! Blessings to you, Karen!

  • Helen Hart says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your trip and writings. I have been to a few of these places–I so appreciate your photos and want to go back. Helen in Cheyenne, WY

    • Karen says:

      Helen, it’s always fun to see how other weavers do things, isn’t it? I think it’s fascinating to visit other studios, and see a wide variety of weaving styles. I always learn something!

      Karen

  • Melanie Sharp says:

    Thanks for posting this. I was just in Taos earlier this month for the Wool Festival, and of course, had to make it to Weaving Southwest in Arroyo Seco as well. Fun little town, isn’t it? I hope you got to have icecream at the Taos Cow next door to Weaving Southwest!

    • Karen says:

      As a matter of fact, Melanie, I did! I had delicious veggie pot pie at the Taos Cow for lunch, and caramel pinon ice cream for dessert. Very tasty!
      One of these years, I would like to make it to the Taos Wool Festival…

      Karen

  • […] as I enjoyed the experiences of Vävstuga (Vävstuga Autum, Vävstuga Autumn II) and New Mexico (Pointers for Exploring New Mexico Fiber Arts Trails), I have been eager to put my hands to the tasks of weaving here in my own little studio. Winding […]

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