Woven in: Andrea Korotky nurtures a lifelong passion for her craft

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Photo: Sanjay Suchak Photo: Sanjay Suchak

The eight-harness loom that Andrea Korotky bought in mid-1970s New York is still a daily companion, standing in the corner of her Charlottesville studio. When the weaver sits down to the loom—which is roughly the size of an upright piano—her more than 40 years of experience are obvious in the fluidity and confidence of her movements. It’s hard to imagine a time when this energetic woman was unfamiliar with her craft.

“I’ve worked with my hands all my life,” she says. Originally a knitter, she began exploring weaving to satisfy an urge to “work really big.” At the time, the native New Yorker was working at Newsweek magazine, and took weaving classes on the side, eventually studying industrial textiles at Parsons and the Fashion Institute of Technology. She bought her loom and had it shipped to her New York apartment. Next, she remembers, “I dreamed of a studio.”

A move to Long Island came with a non-winterized studio in a converted barn, but when Korotky and her husband came to Charlottesville in 2002, she finally had the chance to create a year-round studio and a full-time business—teaching, weaving, and selling looms. A. Korotky Studio occupies a ground-level space at the back of Korotky’s Charlottesville home: a wall of windows, bamboo floors, and jazz on the radio.

This piece, titled “Red Talisman,” is a miniature tapestry (2 1/2 inches wide and 4 inches tall) in a series of pieces designed to be used as a cloth to carry in your pocket.

And, of course, there is Korotky’s work and materials and tools. Shawls, scarves, and other pieces hang on racks and drape over mannequins. The large loom holds a work in progress, and conical spools of yarn stand on shelves.

“It’s physical work, and I love that,” she says—and indeed, the act of weaving is a full-body activity, like the playing of a pipe organ: rhythmic movements that involve feet along with hands. Yet she acknowledges that before the actual weaving can begin, there are many hours of planning, designing, and setup. That’s one reason she keeps several projects going at a time (on a recent day, a black-and-white houndstooth piece was taking shape on a small tabletop loom, while nearby, a tiny hand loom held Korotky’s experiment with adding raffia to a weaving).

Another reason is her sheer love for yarn. “The materials are glorious,” she says, then launches into a detailed discussion of the business of sourcing yarn, which has changed considerably since her early days as a weaver. After years of being able to buy only imported yarns, she says, “American cotton and wool have come back.” She’s also interested in newly available hemp yarn, and even the equipment has gotten better. “Portable looms have come a long way. It makes it possible to get people hooked.”

Indeed, as a teacher, Korotky has shepherded many students into a long-term relationship with weaving, starting them on smaller looms. “Always, two things come together in weaving,” she says of the basic warp-and-weft structure of her craft. “You’re building a palette on which you will then place other color. You’re designing all the time.”

Recent projects include a table-runner-and-placemat set commissioned by a customer in Brooklyn, and the preparation of short courses on color and weave. Korotky teaches at the public library and one-on-one in her studio. She continually develops new ideas about color and pattern, which come to her from sources including dreams and odd glimpses of the world, like faded newspaper boxes at a bus stop.

She says weaving, for her, holds a lifetime of interest, beginning with its most basic quality: “the element of transformation. It is extremely interesting to me that I can take yarn and transform it into cloth…to make something you want to touch and use.”

Though Andrea Korotky has worked with her hands her whole life, it was weaving that satisfied her desire to “work really big.”

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