Mollie Freeman weaves part of herself into every project.
“My husband says I made my hobby my life,” said the longtime Sacramento textile artist.
Freeman will be among the many talented artists featured in this weekend’s annual Sacramento Weavers’ and Spinners’ Guild open house at the Shepard Garden and Arts Center in McKinley Park. The theme: “Fiber Adventures – Necessity to Luxury.”
That theme is perfect for her, Freeman said. “I do dish towels, which are very practical, but I also do much more complicated projects. That’s what I really love to do.”
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Bright colors fill her work. On her favorite loom, turquoise, green, orange and magenta come together in a vibrant plaid.
“I love chartreuse,” she said. “I love purple; there’s a little purple in almost every project.”
As she talked, Freeman moved the shuttle back and forth across the warp threads with rhythmic precision. In stocking feet, she worked the loom’s pedals like a pipe organ, springing the harnesses into place to move the yarns. Pushing those pedals can be work.
For example, a 24-inch-wide cotton dish towel needs 528 warp threads. “It gets very heavy, especially if you’re weaving yards of fabric,” she noted.
Freeman, whose grandmother was a weaver, has been weaving since the 1970s. “I started with a macrame class, then I wanted to weave.”
As most craftspeople do, she accumulated a lot of tools for her pursuit. After her looms became too much for a spare bedroom, she turned the family room into a weaving studio. Four large looms pack the space with other projects waiting their turns on smaller tabletop models. Spools of hand-dyed yarn fill bookcases on two walls.
“I usually have work on all four looms at the same time,” she said. “I like to go from project to project and not just work on one thing at a time.”
An accomplished tailor and seamstress as well as weaver, Freeman makes one-of-a-kind jackets out of her handmade fabrics. She tweaks patterns to best show off the intricate weaves she’s created, seven yards at a time.
“I dye my own yarn, and I make my own buttons, too,” she said. “I could never find buttons that went with the jackets I was making, so I figured out how I could do something different.”
Sometimes when she finishes the fabric on a loom, she’ll decide it needs something more. For example, she used foliage and natural dyes to “eco-print” a wine-colored leaf pattern over woven mauve and pink stripes. She quilt-stitched bright orange daisies on a pink and orange twill. She made stamps and stencils to create free-flowing patterns on subtle silk stripes.
“The challenge comes in the planning; that’s my favorite part,” Freeman said. “I like all the set-up that’s involved before you ever start. Then, doing something with the fabric when it’s done. The actual weaving isn’t my favorite; I can’t wait to get it done. Once you throw the shuttle a few times, you know what it looks like.”
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Weavers and Spinners open house
What: Hosted by the Sacramento Weavers’ and Spinners’ Guild, this large show and sale features hundreds of handmade textiles, clothing, tapestries, baskets, fibers and more. Guild members will demonstrate several textile techniques.
Where: Shepard Garden and Arts Center, 3330 McKinley Blvd., Sacramento
When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday