Sunday, April 5, 2009

Guest Post - Jane Evans

I invited Jane Evans to talk a little bit about her research into Latvian textiles.

Jane was in the spotlight in the most recent issue of Handwoven and since her research resulted in a pretty amazing book, thought people would like to know a little bit more about it.

To see her own artistic statement in cloth, visit Jane's website:

A Joy Forever: Latvian Weaving - Traditional and Modified Uses
A Book by Jane A. Evans

"Occasionally people ask why I wrote a book about Latvian weaving when I am not Latvian. I explain that on encountering some woven blankets from Latvia I became captivated by the beauty and spirit evident in both the fabrics and the people who made them. In fact, I felt so intrigued that for the next 14 years I studied pre-1940 household textiles from Latvia.

In 1977, 2,000 miles from my Saskatchewan home, Peter Collingwood's famous knowledge drew me to my first major weaving conference. While in Toronto, Ontario, I also studied textiles briefly at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). There I encountered my first Latvian weavings and was so lucky as to have Dorothy Burnham show me how to analyze them. Although new to textile research I realized some of those household textiles used weave structures unfamiliar to weavers in North America.

Hearing in my classes of the research, weavers wanted more written information. So in 1985 I wrote about one particular weave structure for my Guild of Canadian Weavers’ Master Weaver research paper, “Tied Latvian Weave," now known as the "paired-tie" weave. Loads of other information was not included.

Fortunately in 1986, at Convergence in Toronto, the revolutionary new Patternland computer program arrived. It could analyze the fabric analysis diagrams I made of Latvian fabrics and reveal the drafting information! So that year began my computer dependency as I initiated writing a book with a PC and DOS.

Things rather mushroomed as Latvian people generously contributed fabrics, books, knowledge, stories, accommodations, encouragement, and friendship. Sometimes boxes arrived out of the blue, full of wonderful items. Latvians from Canada, the United States, and Australia desired to preserve their weaving heritage and urged me to help them record it in English. ("Print this soon, as Volume I, then write more.") I felt honored and strove to do justice to the wealth of valuable information.(I also felt inadequate and exhausted!)

Latvians tend to expect lots of themselves, nonetheless their English far surpassed my non-existent Latvian. Although I compiled a Latvian/English dictionary of basic weaving terms, I could not read general text. At home in Saskatoon I was very fortunate to locate a Latvian/Australian/Canadian who read English, Latvian, and German. She was not a weaver but was immensely capable and supportive. Together we spent months translating writings, and Vija and I are still close friends.

Research trips continued as did the seemingly endless weaving of samples, reading, writing, and proofing. Two small Canada Council for the Arts grants went toward my costs. Thrillingly, Dos Tejedoras press became the publisher.

At Christmas, 1991, A Joy Forever: Latvian Weaving - Traditional and Modified Uses finally was printed. Thanks to numerous sources it is an enduring record of the heritage of Latvian textiles, people, and stories. It also is, for me, an incomparable, life-altering experience. "

I will post a review of A Joy Forever in a couple of days......

No comments: