Visiting the Hartford Artisans Weaving Center

I’ve been remiss in not posting about our visit to the Hartford Artisans Weaving Center last month. We were introduced to the center by Lucy Morris’s touching article in Handwoven Magazine, and wanted to learn a bit more about their unique program to make weaving accessible to the elderly and visually impaired.

The center’s staff were incredibly welcoming, and we loved getting a tour of the facility with their director Ann Kollegger and geeking out about weaving structures with their designer Tara Patrina. Their studio space was really impressive, with numerous looms in operation as their artisans were hard at work creating impressive lengths of fabric.

Although most of their work is done on big floor looms, it was great to see that they also had a space in their shop filled with dozens of potholders woven by Gene Morris from the charts on our site.

We were happy to have the chance to help to support the Center’s programs by buying a sample of Gene’s work, which now hangs proudly in our kitchen.

Although Gene’s potholders are only sold in-person, you can support the weaving center by ordering one of their larger items, including scarves, towels, table runners and rugs.

Gene’s Potholder Story

While Piglet has been weaving tabby potholders for decades, it was just over three years ago that she stumbled on the potential for more complex weaves, and drew me into the project of creating this collection of charts. Since then we’ve spent hundreds of hours weaving, and hundreds of hours making charts — a wonderful crafting collaboration.

Our decision to post these charts online for free was a natural outgrowth of our professional backgrounds in the open-source software world, and our immersion in various online enthusiast circles of open cultural production: our dream was that they would help other people on their own creative journeys.

Since then, word of our charts has spread by word of mouth within this little niche, and it’s been lovely knowing that a few thousand people come to every month to download patterns. However, there’s no way for us to know who actually ends up using those charts, and it’s hard to have a clear sense of how much influence our work has had.

So it was very touching when a couple of our friends told us about an article they’d found in the Spring 2024 issue of Handwoven Magazine, in which Lucy Morris writes about her husband Gene, whose dementia makes speaking difficult, and whose one expressive outlet is that he weaves hundreds and hundreds of potholders and gives them away.

The article shows him happily surrounded by stacks of his work — and every one of them seems to have been woven from our charts! 

It’s heart-warming to know that this thing we created is making a difference in the life of someone we’ve never met. Our thanks go out to Lucy for sharing this story, and to Gene for bringing so many of our charts to life.

Valentine’s Heart Potholders

With Valentine’s Day coming up next month, I wanted to round up a collection of charts featuring heart shapes. Most of these are shadow weave, but a few other techniques make an appearance towards the end.

Pulsating Heart

Super Hearts

Jumbo Hearts

It’s Raining Hearts (Hallelujah)

Sea of Hearts

Four of Hearts

Queen of Hearts

Box of Hearts

Lots o’ Hearts

Fish Scales

Three-Color Fish Scales

Two-One Basketweave Chevrons

Two-One Twill Pinstripe Chevrons

Tri-Color Two-One Twill Chevrons

Kings County Fiber Festival

New York metro-area folks — Piglet and I will be exhibiting at the Kings County Fiber Festival as part of our local living-history group, making and showing potholders based on weaving patterns found in historical textiles.

Next Saturday, October 7 from 10AM to 5PM, we’ll be in Brooklyn’s Washington Park, at the Old Stone House, on Third Street between 4th and 5th Avenues.

The park will be filled with more than fifty fiber-craft exhibitors and vendors, but we should be easy to find — just look around for the group of people who are all wearing medieval-style clothing.

If you’re in the area and enjoy handcrafts, the festival is worth a visit — and please do swing by our table and introduce yourself; we’d love to meet some of you folks in person!

Hands-On Workshop

Hello NYC-adjacent potholder folks! You are invited to join Piglet and me for a free hands-on workshop we’re running for our historical re-creation group in the evening of Thursday, March 16.

We’ll be talking about some of the weaving structures found in pre-modern fabrics, including pieces of cloth that survived from 500, 1500, or 2500 years ago, that were woven in many variations of tabby and twill. We’ll use examples from our stash of potholders to demonstrate the differences, then hand out looms and loops and let people weave up their own potholders using those same styles.

If you live in the NYC area, and have any interest in learning about handcrafts from more than 400 years ago, bring a loom and some loops and join us!

The photograph below shows some of the samples to be discussed. Top Row: 3/1 ribbed twill; 2/1 twill; 3/1 broken twill. Center: 2/2 houndstooth twill; 2/2 broken chevron twill; 2/2 chevron twill; 2/2 diamond twill. Bottom: plain weave with doubled warp; gauze; 3/3 twill.