Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque interviews weaving artist Ruth Ronan about this beautiful shawl from a painted skein converted to a painted warp.

Weaving Artist Ruth Ronan Featured at Fiber Arts Fiesta

Weaving Artist Ruth Ronan remembers her Mother saying, 

“Plaids would not dare to not match…”

Ruth, a master weaver, recalls her mother laughing about her attention to detail. At age 14, Ruth took on her first big sewing project while her mother was out. She cut out a complicated pattern, matching the eyelets at every seam. No one who knows her today is the least bit surprised.

Patterns and their interpretations come easily to Ruth. She explains it, “My grandmother sewed, quilted, knit, crocheted and tatted and my mother sewed, knit and crocheted, so I was exposed to the fiber arts at an early age.”

However, the featured artist of  Fiber Arts Fiesta 2017 owes her success to more than just exposure. She’s dabbled in knitting, crocheting, tatting and macramé in addition to weaving. After a Las Aranas Spinners and Weavers Guild member helped with warping the loom following a Weavers Conference in 1999, she hasn’t stopped.

“Prolific” and “master weaver” are two adjectives describing Ruth’s work.

Weaving Artist Ruth Ronan talked with Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque about a jacket she wove and sewed.
Ruth Ronan in a jacket she wove and sewed

Her skill as a seamstress is renowned. Lovers of fiber art will relate even more to the symmetry in her woven patterns.

Weaving artist Ruth Ronan taked with Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque about weaving a shawl from a painted skein converted to a painted warp.
Ruth Ronan weaves a shawl from a painted skein converted to a painted warp.

This aspect of weaving draws Ruth to her loom again and again. I asked her to tell us about it.

One secret to Ronan’s success

“Several years ago I developed a method of winding a warp using painted skeins of yarn so that the colors match up – all the blues come at the same place, all the yellows come at the same place, etc. If you just wind a warp normally the colors are a mish mash and make the fabric look muddy. I had an article in the September/October Hand Woven magazine 2010 edition on how to do this.

So now when I go to conventions and conferences I make it a point to hit the vendor market when it opens to look for painted skeins (once they are gone, they are gone – I don’t do the dyeing myself as I don’t have a good place to do it). I then use the yarn to make shawls that are sort of my specialty.”

Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque interviews weaving artist Ruth Ronan about this beautiful shawl from a painted skein converted to a painted warp.
Shawl from a painted skein converted to a painted warp by Ruth Ronan

One way in which Ruth gives back to the community is in creating works of art for her church.

Church altar cloth & stole by weaving artist Ruth Ronan

In addition, she has served as co-chair of the Sheep to Shawl program and the New Mexico State Fair for the past nine years.

Her advice to anyone who aspires to a craft, be it weaving or something else, is to find a guild or group interested in the craft. Take beginning classes and take advantage of the mentors we have in the guild. Then take as many workshops and classes as you can afford – you always learn something new and improve your techniques.

“Get involved and share experiences and techniques.”

"Cat Eyes" is a weaving by weaving artist Ruth Ronan, interviewed by Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.
Weaving Artist Ruth Ronan’s “Cat Eyes”

Ruth Ronan has taken “lots of workshops” and shown woven items in a number of shows. Yet she modestly claims her share of errors and items she doesn’t show off. She is most proud of “Cat Eyes,” her weaving design that won the HGA award from the Handweave Guild at Convergence 2014 in Providence, RI. (NOTE: Check the lapel or look at the bottom of each panel pattern where the weave changes direction.)

Weaving Artist Ruth Ronan calls weaving her third profession

Is there a secret sauce to Ruth’s success? She refers to weaving as her third profession. Ruth first taught music, then earned her masters in computing and worked at Sandia Labs in Albuquerque. Now? She weaves.

See Ruth Ronan and her weavings at Fiber Arts Fiesta 2017. The biennial Fiesta is the major fundraiser for the Albuquerque Fiber Arts Council, Inc. (AFAC), a tax-exempt, non-profit organization. 

Details: Fiber Arts Fiesta2017

Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 19, 20 and 21
9am – 5pm daily
Located at the EXPO New Mexico in the Manuel Lujan Complex

NOTE: This post is part of an ongoing series of articles about artists and their creativity. In an earlier post I wrote about being juried into the show.

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