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Woven Stories: How do weavers tell stories?

Woven Stories with Kaori Chen, Sandy Lommen, and Jan Rowell

In today’s post, NYS Writers Institute Graduate Assistant Kaori Otera Chen talks with two weavers, Jan Rowell and Sandy Lommen, about their stories that are woven into fabric.

One evening, I was attending a Hudson-Mohawk Weavers’ Guild meeting sitting with weavers in the church. I was a brand new weaver and member of the group. That night, I learned how weavers tell their stories through handwoven fabrics. During the Show and Tell, where weavers share their handwoven fabrics with other weavers, Jan Rowell stood up in front of many other weavers and shared her story, woven into a set of handwoven table runners that Jan made from her father’s shirts in memory of her father.

I was deeply moved by Jan’s Show and Tell and how she shared her story with all of us. After her father passed away, Jan tore his shirts into strips and wove them into beautiful table runners. Those table runners have been given to every member of her family so that her father will always be with his family. Later, Jan told me that weaving her father’s shirts was a part of her grieving process.

Sandy Lommen, a long-time weaving practitioner, tells us another heartfelt woven story. Sandy made a handwoven winter coat for her mother when her father passed away. When Sandy got her father’s ties from her mother, she asked her mother, “Would you like me to make a jacket out of these ties?” Sandy wove her father’s ties into a fabric and made a winter coat for her mother. Her mother loved it and wore the coat until she passed away. Now, the coat stays with Sandy as if both her parents are staying with her.

Jan’s table runners and Sandy’s winter coat inform my doctoral dissertation research project on contemporary weaving practices in which I explore the questions – What does weaving mean to weavers? Why do weavers weave?


It has been two years since I encountered with weavers in the Albany, NY area and started learning weaving and life lessons from them. Today, I would like to invite you to the world that is meaningful and important to me.


Let’s listen to the stories that Jan Rowell and Sandy Lommen have woven into fabrics.


You may also visit the Hudson-Mohawk Weavers Guild website at https://www.hmwg.org/ to learn more about their upcoming 2020 Virtual Show & Sale.


NYS Writers Institute

Science Library 320

University at Albany

1400 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12222

(518) 442-5620

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