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Sunday, January 18, 2009

My other Weaving

Besides weaving with rags and felting with wool I cane and rush chairs. It started when my husband and I were setting up housekeeping and were given four lovely chairs from his grandparents. They had come from the old ice cream parlor that his family had run. The only problem was that they were dried out and had absolutely no vestige of seats left in them. Well free is free and I said "Oh I can figure that out" and we brought them home.

It took me a little while to find someone who sold cane and that particular company enclosed a free sheet of paper explaining how to cane a chair. I ordered enough cane to weave four seats and leaped bravely into the breach.

I suppose I should preface this a little with some background information on my confidence. I grew up the oldest of seven children. My folks were strong believers in doing for themselves. They were both very creative and inventive people. They also instilled in us children a great respect for the earth and for reusing and restoring things that could be rescued.

I watched my mother learn how to cut glass to replace broken panes. She repaired many a toilet. We canned much of our own fruits and vegetables. I learned never to be afraid to try to learn how to do something no matter how daunting it may seem.

That first chair took me almost two months to complete, but 30 years later we are still sitting in it. When I compare it with my work now I am a little embarrassed at the lack of skill, but someday I will reweave them all. It is, I'm afraid, a little like the cobblers children always going without shoes. Anyhow I have since caned hundreds of chairs and even restored chairs in the historic home of Henry Sibley at the Sibley House Museum.

I have become a very good seat weaver and am presently working on a beautiful rocker. I finished the seat and am presently working on the back of the chair. It is a big chair and is using a great deal of cane, but so far no sneaky little problems. I have finished the horizontal and vertical canes and am now working on the diagonals. After those have been completed the chair is finished with a binder that covers the holes and finishes the piece.

This is the current chair I am caning... It has a total of 190 holes drilled around the edge. Re-weavers of chairs charge their customers by the number of holes. This particular chair is woven using fine cane. I just finished one that used super fine cane and man was that a pain to do. The holes are very close together and the cane is much more fragile to work with.

Here is me working in the living room. I do most of my caning while sitting on the sofa. I have a nice soft area rug on the floor there and since I have to flip the chairs so much it provides padding and keeps the chairs from getting scratched

Here is a pic of the cane waiting to be soaked before weaving. I wrap it into little curls and clip with wooden clothespins. It fits more easily into the bowl that way


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  2. Hi Lori,

    I'm sort of a neighbor of yours (living up in northern Minnesota) and was delighted to read your new blog where you wrote about your chair caning experiences. Also enjoyed seeing the Buzzed in Madison piece!

    If you have time, drop by for a visit and "meet" other people in the chair caning business and jump into the conversations or lurk for a while on our seatweaving, chair caning and wicker repair forum at

    We also have a new, national chair caning guild called, The SeatWeavers' Guild and would love to see you at our next annual meeting and workshop in Nelsonville, OH. New website is:

    Nice chatting with you, one fellow chair caner to another! Visit my blog too, let's link up.

    Happy Weaving!

    The Wicker Woman-Cathryn Peters-Angora, MN