CNCHnet . . . The Textile Arts Webzine of the Conference of Northern California Handweavers

In Memory of Marian Oyen Thormalen

It is with deep sadness that Gravander Spinners announce the death of our teacher, mentor, confidante and friend, Marian Oyen Thormahlen. We remember her every time we pick up a spindle, shuttle or a pair of cards. We remember with a smile her words as we learned to spin on a spindle, “Save your 1st yarn, you will never be able to spin yarn like this again-even if you try”. As we sit down at our wheels, we hear her remind us to spin away from the orifice and ply from a ball, NOT the bobbin.


Marian Thormalen

Her stories of weavers connected us to the knowledge of great weavers and spinners of the past. She delighted in working with her “fiber friends” –her llamas, sheep & dogs. No one knew more or shared more about the care & feeding of llamas & sheep to get beautiful fiber to spin. She freely gave advice about blending fiber to create stable yarn & the surprising way to process a skein.

And who could forget the amazing picture of her in the 1976 fashion show as Conference chairman in a long orange & white handwoven coat & skirt regally accompanied by her white standard poodle. Did you know she forgot her shoes and was barefoot? She laughed at herself and when conference roommates were worried that she wasn’t moving or seeming to breath in bed she said, “Good garden seed, I just lie down and get the job done-quietly!”

She was our connection with the traditions passed down from Mama Gravander, and helped us create new traditions—we still enjoy her cranberry margaritas at our Christmas Party. We are young, we are old, we are spinners. Our teacher & friend, Marian Thormahlan 1929-2014.

A Weaver’s Prayer
Oh God, the warp you gave me,
My life,
I got it tangled,
I broke some threads,
I made mistakes,
I wove too bright a border.

You take the shuttle out of
My hand
And let me rest awhile
And mend my threads, correct
my faults
And put it all in order.
–Valborg Gravander

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