Posted on July 29, 2013
I had told the weavers about the Kus Te Yea Celebration 2013 in Teslin. This biennial event is held in the odd-numbered years from “Celebration” sponsored by the Sealaska Heritage Institute held in Juneau, Alaska in the even-numbered years. This is 2013; the odd year we’ve been waiting for; time to head to Teslin!
We knew that we wanted to attend the event, we just didn’t know where we were going to stay since none of us brought complete camping equipment, although we were ready to get additional equipment and camp out if we had to just like everyone else! However, a week before Celebration 2013, we were invited to come out and demonstrate; – they had a space all ready for us as if they were expecting us to come! We checked out of our comfy apartment in Whitehorse closing up that part of our Weavers’ Tour (click here if you missed the Whitehorse story) and were up for another adventure!
The cabin designated for the weavers to demonstrate is an uninsulated wooden shell with screened windows without glass. We removed the wooden shutters for added light, air, view and ambiance! There are “skylights” and all of us just jumped with joy – what a perfect place to weave! And all our very own for three whole days!? Wow! Thank you Kus Te Yea organizers for our very own space!
Immediately the very first day just as we were setting up, Ricky Tagaban and Jackie Kookesh surprised us – we didn’t know they were coming! Also others from a couple of years ago returned: Dan Shorty and Tatiana (?), and two others whose names have slipped me. Pretty soon we had four people spinning and four people weaving. Fun!
Crowds of visitors, far and near, visited us. One of the most rewarding things about demonstrating Chilkat weaving is to provide the visual, tactile information about the amount of work involved in just preparing the materials BEFORE you begin to weave. Demonstrating educates the general public (and even our own people) about the spinning process as well as the actual weaving. I am delighted when visitors are amazed at how we spin the warp on our thigh. No matter what age, they are always shocked. So much fun.
Also, it is an educational experience for us as various individuals who come to see what we are doing; more often than not they have a story to tell in regards to a relative or friend who was (or currently is or wants to be) a weaver. Or they tell us a story regarding an old robe and how it was sold, or how it disappeared or how much it cost when it sold. We hear many, many stories from our audience. Storytelling is a big aspect of weaving. We discover that when we demonstrate the art of weaving, we also learn to listen to the stories involved with weaving – our active listening skills are improved. In so doing, we are learning while we teach and demonstrate. The act of listening to our visitor’s stories is a large part of our “oral history.”
There is nothing quite like watching a weaving take its course. The texture of the weave does depend on the weaver’s skill, however, there are always other factors like the fineness of the warp (the yarns that hang down), as well as your particular mood that moment, that hour, that day.
Weaving also creates a certain kind of tension whether it be within us or without us – tension is an aspect of weaving; there are at least two,…tactile tension and psychological tension. Tension keeps us on our toes, it helps build up and it can also help let down. Living in close proximity with other weavers always causes a bit of tension; it’s natural. We learn to adjust to the various personality traits. We learn to tolerate. We learn to support. We learn to take care of one another and watch out for one another. We learn respect. We are always learning as we weave our webs.