Beating, Shafts, Tie-ups, and Tabby – Gibberish to All but a Weaver

Her children say, “Be warned. Talk about weaving and you’re gonna get a lecture.”

I launch forth anyway and discover the passion and enthusiasm with which Maddelein Anderson throws herself into her hobby which is hardly a hobby anymore. It’s become her life with only hubby, children and grandchildren taking precedence.

Maddelein and her fabulous creations
Maddelein and her fabulous creations

Just to kick off I ask her what got her into weaving of all things and so the roller coaster ride begins.

“After giving up teaching, I started a degree in Fine Arts at the Unisa. I completed the 101’s of drawing, art history, sculpture, etc. and found that the only time I had to work on this was at the weekend. Remember I was raising a family of four with a husband who travelled a lot and came home on Friday afternoons to spend time with us. I felt compelled to give up of my own accord.”

Run out of thread? Easy, just add your mothers' curtains.
Run out of thread? Easy, just add your mothers’ curtains.

“Being a seamstress I had plenty of bits and pieces of material lying around and so I asked my friend if I could do anything with these. Weaving of course and after much deliberation I bought a loom from Finland made by Varvapuu. I took lessons from the best in the field, and as it happened, one loom lead to another. Nowadays I have 3, the Rolls Royce being from Sweden, a Cirrus Öxebäck. The beater is slightly at an angle and heavier so that only one beat is necessary. The tie-ups too are easier.”

Bubble craft with cotton and wool
Bubble craft with cotton and wool

We’re up and down the stairs in her home where she shows me the innovations that she’s come up with that nobody else is doing. No one-dimensional creations for this lady. Oh no, she puts pure cotton with pure wool, washes it in her washing machine and voila, there it is. The ‘bubbles’ that are formed are the cotton bits that don’t shrink as much as the wool does and so you get a 3-dimensional surface that piques the interest of the onlooker and the fascination of other weavers.

Granny with attitude - see that bag
Granny with attitude – see that bag

“I am intrigued by Sakiori weave, a Japanese thing where they use old silk kimonos, ripped up and woven in a tabby weave.”


“Yes, you know it’s like plain and purl in knitting. I use cotton since I can’t always find silk. But I got bored with the pattern so I started adding twill, a 45degree diagonal line in between the rest.”

Maddelein caught the attention of renowned South African designer Marianne Fassler. She was asked to use a China bag. We’ve all seen them, that iconic plastic red, white and blue hold-all so prevalent in African society and elsewhere. Free reign resulted in a weft of plastic, the warp being in pure cotton. Big squares, little ones, warp showing, her creativity matched that of the designer who constructed a jacket which wowed the judges and numbered one of the 20 most beautiful objects in South Africa. The Nelson Mandela statue in Pretoria was also on that list. Samsung, the sponsors of Amaze Africa were so bowled over, they even used it as a design on their phone covers.

More bags by Maddelein
More bags by Maddelein

Maddelein’s work can be seen at her home. She doesn’t use internet, hence no website but she can answer her mobile phone. Write me an email to set up an appointment. Or check her Instagram page: maddeleinweave.

Work in progress
Work in progress

Violetta Teetor –

Marianne Fassler

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