In 2010, my mother, Clarissa Rizal, led a two week beginning Chilkat weaving class, which I assistant taught with her. During that class, a friend brought over a few Chilkat robes for all of us to study. One of them was the Flotilla Robe. This Chilkat blanket is one of my favorites. It is woven in sections, with each mirrored section nearly identical to its match. This Chilkat blanket is the epitome of precision.
Fast forward to 2017. I get a FB message from the caretaker of that same Flotilla Chilkat Robe. She asks if I can repair the warp fringe rows, evaluate the side fringe, and add dance handles. Of course I said yes.
She dropped the Robe off at my home a few weeks later. Just like that.
I called my apprentice over, excited for her to see the Flotilla Robe again, too, as she was in that beginning class in 2010.
Together, she and I checked out the needed repairs. We determined we needed to completely take out and reweave the three fringe rows, since they were unraveling from the far right side.
We sifted through all my yellow yarns, and miraculously found an exact match to the 200-year-old yellow, to reweave the fringe rows. We had just enough. I always think of this as divine alignment; to have just enough.
We noted that the fringe rows were four finger-widths apart, before cutting them free.
This is how much of the fringe rows were gone. Pretty crazy, huh? The three woven fringe rows are vital to the life of a robe, as they bind the long warps to keep them from tangling when the robe is danced. And this Flotilla Robe gets a lot of dancing time.
We tightened the side braid fringe. The side braids themselves were structurally intact, thank goodness, but the fringe here had been lashed on with tiny thread, that was putting strain on the sidebraids. We used 100% merino undeyed wool yarn to refasten the fringe in the crease of the side braids. Someday we will put dyed side fringe on our robes, too.
On the last day, in early January, 2018, I realized I’d never constructed a dance handle. I texted my good friend, fellow Chilkat weaver, Ricky Tagaban. He came over to see the robe, and help execute the final repairs.
He knew a texhnique for spinning soft leather together, and showed me how. I said, “Daaaang, where’d you learn this?” And he said, “Robby Littlefield.” Thank you, Robby and Ricky. The handles turned out supple and beautiful.
As we were packing up the Flotilla Robe to return it to its caretaker, Ricky said, “I’ve never worn a Chilkat Robe.” My jaw dropped. “No way!?” “True,” he said. “I’ve worn a Ravenstail one, but never had a Chilkat robe on my shoulders.” We changed that.
I’m always happier to work on projects, when I can share them with friends and family. It was an honor to work on this robe with Ricky and Anastasia, and I look forward to seeing this Flotilla Robe dance again.