Latvian Weaving?

I had a Latvian weaving student in a recent class.  She lived in Latvia until she was four and then left.  She is in her seventies and has been spending half her year there and half of it in the US.  There is a community of weavers and a large weaving studio that she works at when she is there.  The looms are over a hundred years old and the women are all in their eighties.  Here's the thing...there are no younger people wanting to learn weaving there.  She's not sure if it's like that in the weaving studios around the country, but she is worried that the weaving culture is going to die out.  Has anyone been to Latvia and seen the weaving studios?  Seems like there ought to be people out there who want to help study and preserve their traditions.  Anyone else aware of this?


Posted on Tue, 10/09/2012 - 14:25

There are many studios around the U.S. that teach weaving, and some specialize in regional types of weaving. (Espanola Valley Arts Center in NM, Vavstuga in MA, Saunderstown Weaving School in RI are three that come to mind, but there are many more where rental looms are available with instruction provided.)

Kati Meek is based in Michigan, and lectures/teaches about Lithuanian weaving. There is a Lithuanian World Center in Lemont, IL (near Joliet).

It looks like there are Latvian cultural centers in Canada, Colorado, and Chicago. That might be a place to start an inquiry about weaving traditions or young people who might have an interest in their specific cultural heritage?

I think the same problem exists here in the US. It seems the average age of a guild member or conference attendee is in the 60's. "Young people" (20-30-40's?) profess they don't have the time, money, or living space to pursue weaving. With the downturn in world economies, these challenges haven't gotten any better. We'll see one or two "younger" women join the guild from time to time, but they seem to be the exception. It is mostly empty-nesters and recent retirees that have the time and disposable income to pursue weaving.

Posted on Fri, 10/12/2012 - 21:52

Dena, see if your Latvian friend can involve some young students & their teacher to do oral histories for the local library or cultural institute with the 80 year old weavers. I bet there is good data to capture to save on regional weaving history, cultures & tradition. Something filed on a smartphone and pieced togeather out of the field might meet a school's social history requirement. And make her feel better about any future loss of weaving history.

Posted on Fri, 10/12/2012 - 23:12

Zaiga Upitis, an older Latvian weaver in this area, has passed along her understanding to Connie Gray. Connie actively teaches Latvian weaving in New England (including this past Wed. at Weavers Guild of Boston). Ievina Priede, a WGB member, is another Latvian weaver who splits her time between countries. I'm sure there are others, who should all be encouraged as well. Apprentices, teachers, writers, we need them all.

Laurie Autio

Posted on Sat, 10/13/2012 - 02:17

The studio is in Latvia and she nor the other weavers there have the energy to organize anything.  She does know of Anita Apinis Herman's book.  I just feel heartbroken at the idea of the older weavers passing on and the looms and knowledge going by.  I do know Connie Gray and will get in touch with her.  The Boston Weaver's guild is close and that sounds like a great bet.  Thank you so much for the information.

Posted on Sat, 10/13/2012 - 08:06

The age thing is happening here and it's not just the weaving. Even the repairmen to fix your furnace, the truck driver and most folks that get a new home. All the local farm markets and should go to the grocery store or bank on pension day. :D

Posted on Sun, 10/14/2012 - 16:31

From here, it is hard to judge the weaving climate in another country. The Baltic states have made a tremendous comeback in being producers of quality linen fabrics - mill woven, of course, but making very nice fabric widely available. This indicates a love of textiles and fiber exists.

Without knowing the group or the region, it is very difficult to see if this might be a generational thing where younger weavers exist, but with different tastes. It could also be that the interest in textiles is there, but moving on to different equipment. While I can understand the concerns, one would neede much more information to form any conclusions.

Posted on Sat, 03/23/2013 - 12:03

I AM latvian, and very much interested in learning the latvian textile traditions.  ( My dad is from Riga and parents were taken by Stalin during the Russian invasion... etc)   I have done some research and what a GORGEOUS country!  Could someone provide some contact info for some of the Latvian weavers who have been mentioned on this thread?  I am SO interested in keeping the Latvian traditions going.  ( both knitting and weaving)