Thursday, June 16, 2011

Links To The Past -- Ila Roberts

This series of posts honors weavers whose memorial awards will be presented during the 2011 Midwest Weavers Conference

Ila Roberts
Ila Roberts was a founding member of the Prairie Weavers Guild of Springfield, Illinois. Although she was skilled in a variety of crafts, weaving was her favorite.  She taught many people to weave and was always ready to help any weaver who was having problems. While helping a new weaver warp her loom and untangle a very knotted warp, a determined Ila stated, "I've never lost a warp yet!"

Ila held just about every office in the Prairie Weavers Guild over the years and was the "unofficial" guild photographer. She coordinated the annual guild exhibit at the local public library every year, and was a long-time volunteer at the Illinois State Museum.

Ila joined the museum's volunteer corps during an exhibit of Edward Worst weavings, where, as a member of the Prairie Weavers, she demonstrated weaving. After that event, Ila continued working with the Museum’s decorative arts collections and programs, contributing her talents in collections management and the research and installation of exhibitions. During a special exhibition of Joy Orozco dolls, she helped with conservation of the dolls and their costumes, and wove area rugs and bolts of fabric for the doll houses.

Ila celebrated her own family history through her weaving, as well.


You might have known Ila from MWA conference classes or other workshops. She was she also responsible for orchestrating the Swatch Swaps for MWA 2001 and 2003 conferences. According to Vicky Tardy, "Ila always had a kind word of encouragement to new or frustrated weavers and showed us that with patience, anything was possible."

You might not have known how joyfully Ila could multi-task. With a loom on her lap, she could weave while she watched her grandson fish.

Ila wove a wide variety of items and enjoyed trying new weaves, but her favorite items to weave included dish towels, placemats and table runners. At Northern Wefts we'll be presenting the first Ila Roberts Memorial Award for excellence in weaving table linens. The award is sponsored by the Illinois Prairie Weavers Guild.

Thank you to Linda Flotow for her help preparing this post.

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