Chilkat Warp Trick-of-Trade

Here's a trick-of-the-trade to create smoother, more even Chilkat or Ravenstail warp with no give:  after you wash your warp, pull tight as you wrap the warp around the back of a chair -- let dry thoroughly, then groom.

Washed Chilkat warp is pulled tight and set out to dry

Here’s a trick-of-the-trade to create smoother, more even Chilkat or Ravenstail warp with no give: after you wash your warp, pull tight as you wrap the warp around the back of a chair — let dry thoroughly, then groom.

Why do you want a smother, move even warp with no give?  When you are weaving your weft yarns over this warp, you will notice a less bumpy, more evenly-laid fabric.

Periodically I post various tricks-of-the-trade in regards to spinning, weaving, designing or anything else I may think of to post here on my blog for all you wonderful artists/craftspeople out there in the world!–for more tricks, check out “Tools-of-the-Trade in the column to the right…

The Annual Fall-time Dyeing Process


Clarissa uses a trouser rack for her 2nd stage of the drying process of her newly-dyed weft yarns for Chilkat weavings

I generally dye my weft yarns for weaving twice a year:  in the Spring when all the snow has melted from the back yard and in the Fall when the leaves are turning the same color as my favorite golden yellow weft yarns shown above!

Gently wash 2oz or 4oz skeins of yarn in lukewarm water with a squirt of Ivory dish soap

Gently wash 2oz or 4oz skeins of yarn in lukewarm water with a squirt of Ivory dish soap

I dye a total of 16 ozs (1 pound) of wool per dye bath, so in the big bread bowl above, I gently washed and rinsed 8 2-oz skeins of yarn.  After your wash and rinse, let yarn soak in the bowl for another hour before placing in dye bath – this allowance of time gives your yarns better absorbtion of color as well as evenly-distributed color.


Using rubber gloves, separately add each skein to the dye-bath; gently give the skein a stir into the bath

I ALWAYS DYE OUTSIDE.  It is safer, especially if there is no wind.  I use Lanaset commercial dyes for my weft yarns; they are color-fast, intense colors that will not fade easily.  Follow the directions in your Lanaset dye recipe.  Make your dye bath accordingly.  Always wear rubber gloves when working with commercial dyes; always wear a dust mask too especially if there is wind or in an enclosed space – commercial powder dyes are toxic!


While gently stirring the dye bath every 2 minutes (shown in right pot), I had prepared the next dye batch by soaking the washed and rinsed weft yarns (in left bowl) AND in the meantime, I had washed about 100 yards of warp (in middle pot) — yes, indeed I am a multi-tasker!


When cooking outdoors, use a windscreen made from a piece of foil hooked together at the seam by a large paper clip…I learned this trick from my friend Lis Saya who helped me dye yarns last year…!

4-Year Old Grand-daughter Spins Warp


4-year-old Amelie Soleil Haas spins Chilkat warp on her thigh for the first time

For the past two days, Amelie has come into Grandma Rissy’s studio and has seen me splitting cedar bark, getting it all ready to begin spinning yards of warp for my next projects.  Amelie tried her hand at splitting bark last week, and to my surprise she was darn good adept at it.  Today, she surprised me even more when she asked if she could spin the warp, to which of course I said “sure, why not?” and I only had to show her one time and gave her all the pointers like I do my weaving students, and voile’ she was a natural !   She spun like she had been doing it all her life (only 4 years!).  I don’t know if I felt so much pride in my life…!  Then again, she IS my grand-daughter and I suppose that’s what Grandmas are supposed to feel like!


Clarissa is touching the large coil of cedar bark BEFORE it is split into the thin strips as shown

After I cook all the sap out of the cedar bark, I split the coils of cedar into very fine strips.  Each fine strip is then spun with the wool on our thighs to create the warp (the verticle-hanging yarns on the weaving loom).  It took me 26 hours to split about a pound of cedar bark; I did it in 2.5 days…(while watching a Netflix television series, of course!).  Watching a movie or television series, helps me to “getterdun!”

The Northwest Coast Weavers Supply


Louet yarns held in small hand-woven cedar bark baskets – “The Coppers” Chilkat robe limited-edition block print by David Svenson, 1984

The Northwest Coast Weavers Supply ( online shop has been launched !!!  This is THE online source we have all needed!  This is our one-stop shop to buy Ravenstail or Chilkat warp and the best commercially-spun 100% merino weft yarns by company-brand “Louet” — will also begin carrying looms (for local delivery only), loom bags, no-sap cedar bark (bark is boiled to remove sap for splitting to spin with your wool), merino wool roving, and instruction books.  And within the year, will also offer other items for sale such as cloth covers, tote bags, mugs, greeting cards, warp sticks, embellishment items, etc.

Owned and operated by Lily Hope in Juneau, Alaska, place your order now on line for your weaving projects or classes by clicking here or give Lily a call on her cell at:  907-957-8378

Another Apprentice is Launched


Back-side of the Chilkat face by Crystal Rogers

Crystal Rogers has returned towards completion of her child-size Chilkat robe.  She began her apprenticeship with me last summer during our Chilkat weaving retreat and tour in Yukon and the northern parts of southeast Alaska.  (Click here to read about the weaving tour and see many, many photos)

Front side of Crystal's Chilkat face of her child-size robe

Front side of Crystal’s Chilkat face of her child-size robe

Any student or apprentice who learns Chilkat weaving with me is directly part of Jennie Thlunaut’s Chilkat weaving legacy.  I am proud of Crystal for completing her Chilkat face.  She has learned just about everything I learned from Jennie Thlunaut nearly 30 years ago…now she is on the Chilkat path of a life-long learning process  by way of weaving, weaving, weaving!!!  Congratulations Crystal! — Anytime you need assistance in your weaving, you know how to get a hold of me!


Ravenstail Weaving Class in a Log “Cabin” in Teslin, Yukon


The beautiful natural blonde Ravenstail weaving “classroom” held in the livingroom of Cabin #1, part of the Teslin Motel, Teslin, Yukon Territory, Canada

Teslin Cultural Center rented what I call a log cabin “mansion” to host a Ravenstail class/retreat held morning, noon and night for two weeks this past July 7-21.  Weavers stocked the fridge with fresh fish and rhubarb; someone always brought food – we ate like queens!  We wove like monsters!


Marge Beaufeld, Nita Clarke and Gwen Wally

One of the most fabulous things about teaching is when the student’s “light goes on” – like, yeah man, they get it!  Things are clicking and continue to click after that!  Yeah, can we hear an AMEN!?  Can we hear a HOO HA!?


Marge and Nita check the speed of Clarissa’s fingering…!

Students teaching students - fantastic!

Students teaching students – fantastic!

I bought 7 books of the Ravenstail Patterns (Contemporary and Ancient) compiled by the Ravenstail Weavers’ Guild (contact Kay Parker (907)-586-2491 for copies of the book).  Instead of weaving the exact same headband, I suggested three simple designs from the handbook for the students to choose from using the design patterns and colors in whatever order they wish – each headband was very different from the next!  In this way, each headband was personalized.

Trisha and her mother Louise Baker each wove a project on the same loom - Here they show the Ravenstail headdress they are about to remove from the loom.

Trisha and her mother Louise Baker each wove a project on the same loom – Here they are beginning to wrap the warp ends of the Ravenstail headdress  and once finished will remove from the loom.


L to R: Patricia Baker, Clarissa Rizal, Nita Clarke, Louise Baker, Bev Morris, Marge Beaufeld, Gwen Wally (Missing: Denise & Kelly Sam)


The log cabin on Teslin Lake; approximately 2300 square feet includes 1 bedroom and 600 sq. ft. loft, full kitchen, and laundry room is about $200/night

I’ve never been one who has been attracted to log cabin style of homes – I’ve always had the judgment that they were big for nothing, however, all of that was changed when I first stepped into the magnificence of the blonde wood making everything golden, though I understand that with age, the wood becomes darker and sometimes grey (which I don’t really like especially growing up in the grey Southeastern Alaskan weather)…


My own personal “weaving room” – the upstairs loft which is almost as big as my own studio though with a fantastic view of the lake free of any sign of human lights from cars, houses, etc.

Thank you to the coordinator of this class, Melaina Sheldon from Teslin Cultural Center!  Thank you TCC for sponsoring this class retreat.  All of us truly appreciate your support!


The start of Clarissa’s child-size ensemble: robe, apron and headdress – multiple weavings going at once motivates the weaver to WEAVE!

I’ve spent the last five Summers in Yukon; I realize that I LOVE YUKON!!!  I love the landscape, all the wild animals (I saw bear, moose, lots of rabbits, wolf, and even lynx!), and I just love the people in this culture.  The way people are reminds me of the way we were in Juneau 40 years ago:  real.  People are very real in Yukon; generous, sharing, accepting, matter of fact, no-nonsense, practical and they’ve got that “wilderness within” quite in tact with that real “native” sense of humor that always makes fun of ourselves – Not like those of us in politics.


Midnight on Teslin Lake; I enjoyed this view at the foot of my bed every time I retired for the day, enjoyed when I’d wake up in the middle of the night with the moon rise and enjoyed every morning at 5:30 with the sunrise – a luxury that I soaked up and will keep with me for a long time!

Already I am planning my return to Yukon next Summer with two weaving retreats in the works; first one to be held at Wayne and Cherri Price’s “mansion” (one of the big, white Ft. Seward houses), Haines, Alaska two weeks BEFORE the Adaka Festival (June 26-July 2, 2015) in Whitehorse and the other campout retreat on the shores of Teslin Lake near the Teslin Cultural Center two weeks BEFORE their “Kus Te Yea” Celebration (July  23, 24 & 25, 2015).  If you are a weaver and are interested in attending, keep these dates in mind and stay posted to my blog!

Atlin Music Festival: 2nd Year Weaving Demo

The sandblox at the Atlin Music Festival was the same size as last year, but it seems this year it was the main hot spot occupying young children of toddlers on up to 10 years old

The sandblox at the Atlin Music Festival was the same size as last year, but it seems this year it was the main hot spot at any given part of the day with at least 50 young children of toddlers up to 10 years old

Atlin Tlingit Louise Gordon is a co-founding member of the Atlin Music Festival.  This is the second consecutive year she has invited indigenous Ravenstail and Chilkat weavers to demonstrate our traditional weaving styles at the Atlin Music Festival.  Atlin is located in the upper part of British Columbia, Canada, just on the Northeastern side of the mountains from Juneau, Alaska.  Click here for more info on the annual music festival in beautiful Atlin, B.C.

Sharon Shorty and Marge Baufeld demonstrate Ravenstail and Chilkat weaving in the Artists' Tent at the Atlin Music Festival, Atlin, B.C.

Sharon Shorty and Marge Baufeld demonstrate Ravenstail and Chilkat weaving in the Artists’ Tent at the Atlin Music Festival, Atlin, B.C.

Gunalcheesh, Louise Gordon for inviting us to demonstrate our weaving traditions at the Atlin Music Festival !

The Atlin Music Festival's Campsite Specs has its sense of humor designating the quiet campers to the left of the sign and the noisy campers to the right!

The Atlin Music Festival’s Campsite Specs has its sense of humor designating the quiet campers to the left of the sign and the noisy campers to the right!

I just loved this sign:  “quiet, family, relax, zen, sleep peacefully…camp on the left of this sign” and those of your who are “loud, noisy, party, music, late hours…camp to the right of this sign…!”

There is the place for campers and RVs, then there's the "Tent City" with a fabulous view!

There is the place for campers and RVs, then there’s the “Tent City” with a fabulous view!

I never really appreciated outdoor music festivals until this year…!  Like down in Colorado, we’ve got them everywhere in almost every little town and big towns…it’s the norm; kids grow up with this kind of culture.  I didn’t,…alas, I grew up in a rainforest where we could not count on a sunny day to plan something way ahead of time like an outdoor concert much less a day of picking berries without a raincoat!

2nd Year Teaching Chilkat/Ravenstail at Adaka Festival



Louise Baker pays attention to Lily Hope teaching Diane Knopp how to dress her next weaving project on the loom

Ann Smith and I taught our second weaving class together in Chilkat and Ravenstail weaving during the week-long Adaka Festival in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.   Lily Hope assisted for four days (her first time being away from her family!).


Ann Smith drafts out pattern configuration for Ravenstail design

Ann Smith and I were two of Cheryl Samuel’s first students to learn Ravenstail back in 1989.  Since then Ann has woven approximately 5 Ravenstail robes and numerous smaller weavings and has taught classes in Yukon and British Columbia.  Ann was one of my first students in Chilkat weaving back in 1991; in fact, she inspired me to weave robes instead of weaving contemporary pieces of regalia.  Only recently have I decided to incorporate weaving smaller items in my time line!


Clarissa demonstrates the fantastic fingering technique of her teacher/mentor Jennie Thlunaut. L to R: Dan Shorty, Stefanie Sakinya, Diane Knopp, Andra Hunter, Clarissa, Marge Baufeld, Louise Baker, Sally Lutchman, Charlene Baker

Most of the techniques and spiritual information I teach are directly from my apprenticeship with the last of the traditional master weavers, Jennie Thlunaut from Klukwan, Alaska who passed away in July 1986 two months after she taught me.  All students who learn from me are a direct lineage of Jennie’s legacy, the most prolific Chilkat weaver of all time with 50 robes and 8 tunics.


Lily Hope demonstrates weaving techniques on Clarissa’s child-size Chilkat robe to visitors at the Adaka Festival

Lily Hope has been weaving Ravenstail for nearly 10 years.  She started weaving Chilkat weaving 4 years ago when she was an assistant teacher during one of my classes in Juneau; little did anyone know that as she was “student teaching” she was for the first time learning how to weave Chilkat!!!


Louise Baker (Tagish) measures her warp for the child-size headband using Jennie Thlunaut’s old-time technique of cutting a piece of cardboard to the length of the project, wrapping the warp loosely but evenly around the board and then cutting one end, before hanging strands on the loom


The class is fairly full with 10 eager students


Lily demonstrates how to “dress” your loom


Ann helps Marge Beaufeld with her first braids while Nita Clarke whizzes away with happy anticipation of another weaving!


Charlene Baker (Whitehorse) shows Debra Michel (Atlin) the additional weaving she has on her loom – one is her first Chilkat weaving the other is her combination of Chilkat and Ravenstail (of which she is well versed).


Debra Michel weaves her second Chilkat weaving, a dance apron she designed…


Lily helps Zach James (Haines, AK) establish his first row of his Ravenstail pattern while Dan Shorty pays attention


Andra Hunter and her mother, Sally Lutchman contemplate what to do next


Stefanie Sakinya Sidney has begun another weaving project on the other side of her loom…!


Ann Smith (with her granddaughter) have fun with Nita Clarke – (let’s face it people, Chilkat and Ravenstail weaving is a lot of work, but it’s fun work!)


Ann reminds the weavers to be mindful of keeping their “stitches” even


Stefanie, Zach, Lily Sharon and Louise


L to R back row: Debra Michel, Charlene Baker, Diane Knopp, Sharon Shorty, Carver Dempsey Bob, Marge Beaufeld, Nita Clarke – Front row: Clarissa Rizal, Ann Smith, Louise Baker (missing: Lily Hope, Zach James, Sally Lutchman, Andra Hunter)

I am totally impressed with the commitment and dedication of the Yukon weavers.  It is quite an honor for us to teach weavers who are eager to learn and eager to create more dance regalia for their family, friends and community members.  This experience has been an instructor’s dream.  And I know it was Jennie’s dream come true as well.  She was the last traditional weaver; imagine how she must have felt!  Imagine what she would feel if she were to see the number of wanna-be-weavers that have come out of the woodwork to dedicate themselves to a life-long learning process!  I know only a small fraction of what she would feel; it has brought me to my knees with gratitude and compassion to be a part of Jennie’s legacy – to be a part of the traditional Chilkat weavers’ legacy and to be a part of this present-day legacy of this younger generation who will carry this forward.  Can I have an Amen!?  Can I have a Hoo-haa!


Looking through the class window at Clarissa’s yellow “Chilkat mobile” in the parking lot of the KwanlinDun Cultural Center in Whitehorse, Yukon

Thank you to Charlene Alexander, Executive Director of the Adaka Festival (in it’s 4th year), who coordinated another year of this amazing event and once again has invited us to teach weaving!  Thank you to all the weavers who came out to learn more about our traditional weaving styles; Gunalcheesh!

A Lead Singer In Preston’s Band “Khu.eex”


17PerformAOf all the things I have ever aspired to be and do, it’s never been to be a lead singer, or one of the singers in a band!  Though at the request of my friend the glassblower, Preston Singletary, I thought I’d give it a go.  We sing traditional Tlingit songs with the back up of a fantastic sound called funk jazz fusion played by outstanding musicians that practically blew flutist Gene Tagaban and I right off the stage with the very first drumbeats at our very first performance in Seattle the night of June 20th.  We are called “Khu.eex”  (pronounced “koo eeeexch” which in the Tlingit language means “potlatch.”

Preston’s other band is called “Little Big Band” – this band is a totally separate band with a totally different sound from Khu.eex,  You may visit Little Big Band’s website by clicking here at “A Little Big”

The following are a few photos of “Khu.eex”  taken by Dan Shanks and I:


Let’s introduce you to “Khu.eex” – L to R: drummer from New Orleans Stanton Moore, Clarissa Rizal, keyboard player from New Jersey Bernie Worrell, Seattle musicians: bass player Preston Singletary, flutist/spoken word Gene Tagaban, saxaphonist Skerik, lead guitar Captain Raab, and sound engineer Randall Dunn at Avast! Studios, Seattle.

Read more about the various band members & the recording studio on their websites:

Bernie Worrell, keyboard artist:

Stanton Moore, drummer:

Preston Singletary, bass:

Gene Tagaban, flutist/spoken word/singer:

Clarissa Rizal, singer/spoken word:

Avast! Recording Studios



Preston rounded up Gene, Captain Raab and Clarissa to create the set list.

I thought to myself “man, this is serious, we are really performing for an audience and are no longer in the recording studio…”  like “hello, wake up dearie, we are not in Kansas anymore…!”  The following photos are rehearsal shots:


Preston, Stanton Skerik and Bernie during our one rehearsal directly before the first of two shows on the evening of Thursday, June 19th, Seattle,Washington.

0Rehearsal2 9Skerik 10BernieWorrell 10StantonMoore

8Robert11TatooedPedals13GeneFlutes14RobPresSkerik0Rehearsal216BernieWorrellHere are a few more shots of our performances:

19PerformC18PerformB24KueexHWhen are we going to take this troupe on tour?  Well, a few things have to line up:  First, Preston is working on finalizing the recording sessions and it looks as though there is enough material for two CD’s.  Secondly, Preston’s two kids have to get a little older by about two years so that they can come on tour with us.  Thirdly, we have to do some fundraising (maybe via Kickstarter) to pay for the tour.

And fourthly, for me, now that my throat is pretty much healed from last Winter’s spell of pneumonia, I can continue to take my voice lessons from Brett Manning’s Singing – click here to find out more about how you can take these fun voice lessons — if I can take voice lessons, you can take voice lessons!  Being a part of Preston’s band, I feel like I have to contribute more than just being able to sing the native tunes; I have to really learn how to sing so my voice is an actual instrument allowing me to be more CREATIVE!!!


Bernie Worrell with Dan Shanks (who was the photographer for most of the photos on this blog post).

Both Bernie and Dan (as well as Gene Tagaban) are part Cherokee — can you see the resemblance?  I can….(elongated shape of skull/face, certain width at bridge of nose, ears are flat to side of head, and the human kind graciousness of their character…)

One-Day Chilkat Weaving Class



Clarissa reveals some of her tricks-of-the-trade, special suggested techniques and the “mistakes” in her recent Chilkat robe “Resilience” to the students in her One-day Weaving Class

Directly after Celebration, Sunday, June 15, 2014 in Juneau, Alaska, I conducted a one-day weaving class for weavers of all experience levels pertinent information gained from my apprenticeship in 1986 with the last traditional Chilkat weaver, Jennie Thlunaut; combined with my experiences as a weaver and teacher of this traditional art form over the past 30 years.  Most of the information was directed towards Chilkat weavers though some of the information can also be applied towards Ravenstail weaving.  This one-day class was to provide the spiritual aspects of weaving, tricks-of-the-trade and to inspire weavers to get back to their weavings!!  It did not matter if weavers were students of mine or from another teacher; all were invited to attend.


Nila Rinehart helps Clarissa and Deana Dartt-Newton remove her “Resilience” Chilkat robe from the loom

One of the best aspects of this class is that we had approximately 20 students from all over the Northwest Coast as far North as Whitehorse, Yukon Territory throughout Southeast Alaska and into Alert Bay and Kincolith on the Nass River, British Columbia.   For me, it was a hoot to have weavers introduce themselves to one another and begin the process of networking!


My assistant and daughter, Lily Hope shows Mary Ebona Miller how to strap just a headboard to the backside of a chair to use as her “loom” – Davina Barrill (orange shirt), Seattle and Donna Cranmer (Alert Bay, B.C.)


Lily demonstrates weaving tricks-of-the-trade to (L to R): Karen Taug, Crystal Worl, Irene Jean Lampe, Nila Rinehart and Crystal Rogers


Donna Cranmer begins weaving her next project of several projects!


Donna Cranmer’s daughter, Gwinti checks out cousin Marley’s work.


Ricky demonstrates an easier method of “dressing” your loom to Karen Taug, Nila and son, Laine Rinehart


Juneauites Crystal Worl takes notes as Crystal Rogers shows Stefanie Sidney (Whitehorse) how to anchor down her heading cord


Vanessa Morgan (Kincolith, Nass River, B.C.) and her child-size Chilkat robe with her starfish/frog clan Clarissa translated into Chilkat design


The next generation of weavers – watch out for them: Crystal Rogers, Crystal Worl, Stefanie Sidney and Amber Baker (Pelly Crossing, Yukon)


Verna Hunt (Alert Bay, B.C.) shares the color and type of yarn she uses for her weavings with Laine Rinehart (Juneau)


Melissa Rinehart (Seattle), Verna and Laine all analyze another type of weft yarn


Ricky Tagaban (Juneau and Charlene Baker (Pelly Crossing, Yukon) share weaving techniques


Angoon weavers Shgen George and Jackie Kookesh share weaving information as they look at Shgen’s newly-hung warp for her first Chilkat roge!


Ricky inspects Shgen’s Chilkat octopus bag – Shgen holds another octopus bag in her hands


Weavers are taking a breather before our potluck feast!

Thank you to all the weavers who came on this past Sunday morning; it was great to see you all together and many of you meeting one another for the first time.   Gunalcheesh!