La Crosse Local

E.162: Kathleen Aaker | Riverweave by Kathleen

Listen to “E.162: Kathleen Aaker | Riverweave by Kathleen” on Spreaker.

Look at what fibers you have and the colors…and then start putting that together in your head…figure out a weave pattern…the weaving part is the easy part…setting it all up is pretty involved (on process).

Today we talk to fiber artist Kathleen Aaker of Riverweave by Kathleen. We talk about the process when creating, using sustainable products in her work, what’s coming down the road for this artist, and hitting up the upcoming art fairs after covid.

This podcast is sponsored by Artspire La Crosse.

Amy Gabay 00:00
This podcast is brought to you by Artspire presented by the Pumphouse Regional Art Center to attract, engage, and connect artists in the community through an Art Fair and Sale on Saturday, June 12. Information is at Today we talked to fiber artist, Kathleen Aacker, of Riverweave by Kathleen. We talked about the process when creating, using sustainable products in her work, what’s coming down the road for this artist and hitting up the upcoming art fairs after COVID. You can find more conversations, food reviews, live music and events on our website, I’m Amy.

Brent Hanifl 00:43
And I’m Brent.

Amy Gabay 00:44
And this is La Crosse Local.

Kathleen Aaker 00:48
My name is Kathleen Aacker. I usually go by Kathy and I was born in South Dakota in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I have been thinking about how I got into weaving and I don’t think I can really even… I don’t know if it just happened in my head. Or my mom was a sewer, so we always had fabric around and things like that. And I guess I have some tailors in my ancestry or something. But, so I’m just saying it’s kind of in the genes, maybe? I don’t know. But when I first wanted to do it, I rented a loom. We lived in Portland, Oregon. Rented a loom from a lady and then a lady in our neighborhood was a weaver. And she came over and helped me set it up. And then I just kept at it over the years. I had young kids, but after they were back in school, I got into it more and then it grew. And then I met people, especially in the Viroqua area, met people that were also fiber people, and that really supported my art, so.

Brent Hanifl 02:03
How do you go, you know, with weaving? It seems to be something that you kind of have to start with a plan. Is that true? Or how do you start a project? Do you go through a process, or do you use what you have leftover?

Kathleen Aaker 02:16
Yeah, you know, you have to figure out what you want to make. And then you go and look at what fibers you have and colors that are possible, and then start putting that together in your head. Figure out a weave pattern because there’s lots of different weave patterns that you can use. You have to figure out how many ends per inch because that’s really important. Because that’s the size of a weave and its per inch and how long you want it to be. And then I put my warp on a warping reel. And then you just put your warp on the warping reel and turn in as many times as you want ends per inch, and you have your warp. And then you have to take the warp off the warping reel and thread it into the loom, your reed and thread it into your pedals. And then you have to tie up your treadles. And then you can finally weave. And the weaving part is maybe the easy part. Setting it up is very involved and a lot of work. So a lot of time, I guess that’s the main gist of it.

Brent Hanifl 03:30
You know, you reference some keywords there, you used the word sustainable, handmade. Why is that important to you? Also, where do you get your supplies?

Kathleen Aaker 03:39
With sustainable, I’m so interested in not adding garbage to the world, to the system. So, I am concerned about the manufacturer of the fibers, responsible manufacturing, the companies that sell them, you know? I like, I mean, I try to source them responsibly. So I yeah, it’s mainly like local yarn shops. I know spinners, yarn spinners, harvesters of yarn that spin their own yarn, and yeah, online sources. So mainly, that’s where I can get my fibers that I need.

Brent Hanifl 04:27
With speaking of the kind of the supplies and stuff like that, are there just regions that you find… You spend some time in Oregon, which I know is a large fiber arts community. I spent time in New Mexico, which also has a lot of the weaving and various fiber arts like that. Do you pull from those regions or anything like that? Do you find that there’s different communities that you do pull supplies from or that you particularly enjoy, or?

Kathleen Aaker 04:52
Yeah, when we lived in Oregon, I wasn’t as much into the weaving as I am now. So, my sources, Webs is a source that I go to online, it’s out east. is also out east. I just like their product and especially has a lot of linen product that is from Sweden. And it just seems like that’s the original source sort of. Yeah, so I guess I can’t really say that I pull from much from Oregon or out west places

Brent Hanifl 05:29
You know, I’m sure life has been different for you during COVID. What’s next for you now?

Kathleen Aaker 05:33
So, the summer art fairs are opening up like the Artspire is in June, June 12. And then the Driftless Art Fair which didn’t happen last year, so um, I mean for anybody. All the art fairs are opening up. And I’m a member of Viva gallery in Viroqua, so I keep inventory there. And also at the River City, Great River City Art Gallery in La Crosse.

Brent Hanifl 06:11
Like you mentioned you’re going to be at Artspire Saturday, June 12 from 10am to 5pm. Can people just stop in and see your work there?

Kathleen Aaker 06:19
Yeah, please come and see, definitely. I make a lot of wearables, so it’s really nice if people can come by and touch. Well, for one thing, touching fiber is really important. And try things on see how they look. Art fairs are really a good way for me to sell my product.

Brent Hanifl 06:42
So, if people can’t stop by the area festivals, where’s the best spot for them to go to online?

Kathleen Aaker 06:47
Great River Art Gallery, but it’s new. It’s downtown La Crosse on Main Street. And then Viva Gallery is also on Main Street in Viroqua. And also you can find me online at Facebook, My Riverweave Studio, and at Instagram at river_weave at

Brent Hanifl 07:12
And they can also head over to as well, correct?

Kathleen Aaker 07:17

Brent Hanifl 07:17

Amy Gabay 07:22
La Crosse Local Podcast is a production of River Travel Media. Do you have an interview idea you’d like to share with us? Message us on Facebook at La Crosse Local. Find out more about us at And you can subscribe to the La Crosse Local podcast on your favorite podcast app. If you like us, rate us five stars. We appreciate it.

About La Crosse Local

La Crosse Local is an arts, food, and entertainment podcast and publication for La Crosse County and its surrounding communities.

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