sosumi weaving

handwoven textile design


Pamela WhitlockComment

We are taking a few days off from the loom to catch up on outdoor chores before the summer turns into winter. We've been in this house for five years and the doors still are not painted. We are about to remedy that beginning tomorrow. What has been a very boring white front door is about to turn crimson. All the other doors will turn black... both inside and out. Testing it on one door first, though. 

Our air has cleared up quite a bit but it is still dry and windy and the humidity is extremely low so we are always aware of the fire danger. "They" are predicting a major temperature drop here this weekend and sweaters are about ready to be pulled down from the top shelf in the closet where they have been since May. It stays cold here at 6200' for a long time. 

Photos below are from a trip Pamela took forty years ago. Ladakh, India. Elevation 11,500 feet. 

Who Are We?

Pamela Whitlock1 Comment

We have met many of you "on the road" either through the galleries that represent our work or at shows.  For those of you who have heard our spiel you may sit back and do something else. But for those of you who only know us in a virtual world let us introduce Pamela today..... since she is the person who started the whole sosumi thing.

First of all, the name/word sosumi. It means absolutely nothing.  As a matter of fact, Richard came up with that name in 1988.  Pamela was weaving designs that had a distinctly Japanese look.  Richard wanted something that was also a bit humorous.  Sosumi was born..... as in "You don't like it? So sue me!"  That's all it is.  

OK, now about Pamela. Born in Pittsburgh,PA in the early '50's. Moved to White Plains, NY, for elementary school, Greenwich, CT, for junior high and high school.  Graduated in 1970 and went to Antioch College where she thought she wanted to be an architect, and worked on inflatable buildings with a group by the name of Ant Farm.  Such hippies!

But to back up a bit: Pamela took her one and only weaving class in 1969 in Ludlow,VT, at a place called Fletcher Farm Craft School.  She had a real love of textiles stemming from her mom being an extraordinary knitter, and from having gone to the D+D building in NYC with her mom to go through swatch books by the dozens.  Her home had furniture upholstered in fabric by The Textile Designer giant, Jack Lenor Larsen. Those swatches+knitting yarn+the late 60's/early 70's formed the beginning of her path of weaving.  

She went to school in New Zealand as well (think more sheep than people), and traveled overland through Asia for a year to further pique her interest in weaving.  She had probably woven in just about every fiber available, in every color fad, in most weaving techniques, before she settled on shadow weave as her Technique of Choice.  She is able to get a wonderful 3-D effect with it using a black thread that contrasts nicely with just about any color out there.  (Richard weaves the color-weave effect scarves that we will get to in another blog.)

What else to know about Pamela?  She LOVES to cook and was part owner of a restaurant started in 1977 in Yellow Springs, OH, that is still operating.  Check out The Winds Cafe.  She did all of the baking there.  

What else?  She is very short. She LOVES her kids and four grandchildren.  She loves her Bear. And of course she loves Richard.  She lives a very content life at about 6200' high in a beautiful wide valley in western Wyoming surrounded by 10,000' mountains, and is just a stone's throw from The Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. 

Hey!  She even knows how to weave a palm frond basket!  (1983-ish in Fiji.)

Time For Some New Work

Pamela WhitlockComment

We are into our usual Autumn routine: filling orders that we took back in February. This now becomes our Busy Season.

We are experimenting with some bolder designs. Crisper colors. Designs that we were playing with during a very rainy and cold May. Intense ribbons of color. Feel free to let us know what you think!

When Smoke Is All You Can See

Pamela WhitlockComment

It has been a solid week of decreasing visibility in our little valley. Little by little the mountain ranges have disappeared. We used to be able to see the nearly 11,000' peaks. Not now. Then we could see the 9,000' peaks to the north. They, too, have disappeared. We now have visibility of maybe five miles when it used to be five times that. You can see from these photos how bad the fires are to the north and west of us. The first picture was taken a year ago. Pretty decent air. The second was at the beginning of the week. The last was taken just a few moments ago.

When it is gloomy, as it has been for the past week, we are thankful that we have so many colors on hand to brighten our mood.

Sometimes It Is Just Quiet

Pamela WhitlockComment

We have been working so hard lately getting orders ready for three accounts, one right after another. The first one went out yesterday to a brand new account in Richmond,VA. The Jazzy Giraffe/D. Wright Clothing placed an order with us in February at the American Craft Council Show in Baltimore. We have never been to this store but it looks like it will be a great fit. Next to go out next week is one going to one of our favorite accounts- the Textile Museum in Washington,DC.  And, closing out shipments for August will be one going to another new account- The Goldsmith in Binghamton,NY. Then we get busy all over again for September.

Today we did something a little different. We volunteered to help on an episode of Restaurant Impossible for a camp kitchen redo. Love the show and loved doing something so different from studio time. Only one photo (below) of our time there. We signed a nondisclosure agreement which meant no pictures once we were inside the camp.

Lest We Forget

Pamela WhitlockComment

Sometimes a video of a penman master is just way more important than photos of an artist's studio. And that's exactly what happened yesterday. 

Richard's studio is large. It fills up about 1000 square feet of our basement. He has many, many windows that bring in beautiful light from the south, west, and north.We had the house built with tall ceilings in the basement so you never feel closed in. His studio can accomplish many tasks. He can do woodworking there as well as metalwork (he has a most beautiful 1940's metal lathe!)  He can make jewelry there as well as cloisonne.  And he has a small spot for weaving on his loom.  But we have chosen to show you the quilting part of his studio.  Although too complicated to explain, Richard has done some wonderful ad-hoc engineering to make, in effect, an alternative to a long arm quilting machine. 

And as a quick note we would like to add two things. First of all we hope to have a shopping cart up and running soon.  And finally you can find us on FaceBook at Sosumi/Pamela Whitlock. 

A Noteworthy Video

Pamela WhitlockComment

This video came to our attention, and we thought you might enjoy it as much as we did:

Needless to say, we appreciate hand work.  Of all the arts of the hand, whether in fine art or crafts, there is none as intimate and immediate as penmanship/calligraphy.  

In our weaving, for instance, if we make a mistake we can usually--almost always--back out of it. Sometimes we lose material, always we lose time.  But the end result is an object, a handwoven scarf, of top quality, the error completely erradicated.

It is not nearly the same with calligraphy or pen art.  The mind directs the hand, the hand holds the pen, the line preserves the record.  Ted Williams ranked hitting a fastball as the most difficult skill in all sport.  Multiply that by, say, ten--and you have pen art.  Such a quiet art, but the artist is always on the razor's edge.  Check out the video.

And Now It Continues

Pamela WhitlockComment

We are not certain how often we will update our blog but for now it'll be fairly regularly. It adds another routine to the day which is always a good thing.

If you are reading this and are in the Jackson Hole area you will be able to see our work again fairly soon! We are going to have a booth at Takin' It to the Streets on September 13th. This takes place at the end of the Fall Arts Festival and coincides with one of our favorite events, Taste of the Tetons. We don't have our booth number/location yet but it's a very small show and only locals exhibit in it. You can't miss us! We will have a wonderful selection of scarves plus four of our big quilts.We will also be doing a show in Denver in October but we will post more about that one once we have the information. 

Let's show you a picture of a virtual quilt that has sold. Obviously it had many more blocks but this will give you an idea of a totally different design that can certainly be made to order. This one was in black+deep charcoal alternating with squares of black+off white but it could be made in any color combinations.  

And in case you wondered what our studios look like..... here's Pamela's. Not very big!(12'x14')(But she gets a lot done in this small space.) We'll post some pix of Richard's tomorrow.

And So It Begins

Pamela WhitlockComment

         Welcome to our blog, and its very first post.

         We intend this to be both pleasant and informative.

         However things might work out over time, our first inclination is to use this blog to inform you of new designs of our handwoven bamboo scarves, as well as our upcoming shows.

         In addition, though, you will see that we have enabled Comments.  That means that you are more than welcome to pitch in.

         In fact, the impetus to creating this blog is to answer the question we hear so often: “How long does it take you to make one of these?”

          The “long” part is, in a sense, unquantifiable.  For starters, we have never done a time/motion study of either of us in action.  That is not likely to change.  Why not?  Because it varies.

          Varies according to what?  Everything: weave structure, color changes, temperature, weather, ancillary stressors, quality of yarn, whims of the Directors of Chaos—whatever.

          Besides which, Pamela weaves much more quickly than Richard.

          Pamela has been weaving since the Summer of Woodstock.  She weaves almost as quickly as the eye can see.  Not quite as quickly as, say, the air jet looms we recently saw at the Pendleton Mill in Oregon, but she can really crank it up.

          Richard is a newbie, by comparison.  Not too bad on a good day, but nowhere near Pamela’s rate.

          And this holds equally true for the other tasks: winding a warp, changing the harnesses and heddles, dressing the loom, etc.

          The key point of the oft-heard question is not “how long,” but “how?”  We intend to address that over time in this blog, initially with text and photos, eventually with videos. 

          Stay tuned.

          Ask questions.

Please note: we reserve the right to edit Comments.  Our goal in editing will be to increase clarity and utility of communication.


Our first “newsy” bit: Pamela has created a new weave structure for our line.  We are naming it “Stacey.”  Here’s a quick pic:

As long as we're at it:

Here is the view outside Pamela's studio:

And here is the view when our dear beast, Bear, is caught in the act.  If you gaze long enough at the Bear, the Bear gazes back into you (perhaps that was Neitzsche's first draft).