On Friday, Selma, Jay and I went to Cable, Wisconsin–a town about 30 miles north of our cottage. The yarn store there, Pine Needles had advertised a Navajo Weaving demonstration that Selma and I wanted to attend. We arrived early in Cable, a small northwoods town with an artsy feel. We took a peek at the Cable Natural History museum which is being renovated and is only exhibiting a small piece of their collection. Then we had lunch at a small café in town before heading over to the yarn store.
Pine Needles is a spacious shop with great light, and lots of room for classes and gatherings. When we arrived, the weaver, Laura Berlage had set up her looms and was beginning to talk about her work. She will be teaching classes at the shop in the fall, and the demonstration was a way to attract students as well as show her work.
Laura is 23 and has been weaving since she was 13. She prefers to weave Navajo-style, but also has some European-style looms like the one she made this tapestry on:
Selma asked why she prefers the Navajo style of weaving, and Laura explained that Navajo weaving is done linearly–a whole row at a time, whereas the European style is more like intarsia–you work blocks of color and go fill in other parts later, and at the end, you have slits where the color changes occur that need sewing up.
I asked her what kind of wool is best for rugs that will be walked on and she says, once she finishes a rug, she never wants to step on it, she hangs them on the wall intstead. Laura works with Navajo churro wool, and also with Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride. She designs her own patterns.
Laura is not only a weaver–she’s also a singer and has recorded an album, She owns and runs an organic farm with a 40 member CSA, farmer’s market stand and restaurant clients, she keeps bees and sheep, and she has a degree in creative writing.