From the Nov 10th Woodland Spinners & Weaver's Guild newsletter


As we approach the celebration of our guild's 50th year, one member who has  been an active member for a good many of those years is Jochen Ditterich.  Jochen  was encouraged to join our Woodland Weavers and Spinners Guild back in 1965 by Malvina McGarr (of Norwood Looms in Baldwin) from whom he purchased his first loom.

Jochen grew up in Hamburg Germany. The years of WWII and the post war years were harsh and difficult for the Ditterich family. There were times when food was scarce. As a young man Jochen was interested in cycling and took bike trips. On a trip to Finland in 1957 Jochen stayed with a fellow cyclist's family.  His host's mother was a weaver and expected Jochen to help out if he  planned to eat.  Jochen's first weaving project was a waffle weave blanket.  Jochen said he must have woven, unwoven and rewoven that blanket at least ten times trying to get it to meet his friend's mother's expectations.  After returning to Germany, Jochen became an apprentice to a master weaver for 3 years.

Following his apprenticeship, Jochen began working for the German Youth Hostel Association, managing a building that hosted young travelers.  In February, 1962, Jochen went to London, England for three months to work on improving his English speaking skills while working at a youth hostel in Lon-don.  While there, Jochen met a young lady from the US.  She was arranging bike tours for the American Youth Hostel. Her name was Nancy.  While there, Jochen joined Nancy and a group of young people on a hiking trip in Wales. They traveled by train and hitch-hiked. Points of interest were Canarvoran Castle and Mt Snowdin.

After returning to Germany, Jochen decided to come to the United States. He first arrived in Montreal, Canada, then rode a bus to Toronto and on to Detroit.  Jochen came to
the Grand Rapids area. His first job was for the Meijers store at Fuller and Michigan.

During this time Jochen took weaving lessons offered through University of Michi-gan extension courses at the Grand Rapids Art Museum. Walter McBride was the director.  Jochen also took weaving classes from Bob Sailors.  He remembers Mary Saylor and the first National Weaving Show in Detroit. He also took a workshop from Theo Moorman.

Jochen began teaching weaving in Rockford in his home about 1968. Then in 1972 he moved to the Old Mill Square Build-ing in Rockford.  While there he offered workshops with Abbe Koopmans and Peter Collingwood.

On a personal note, Jochen did marry that young woman he met in London.  He and Nancy have had a good marriage, and have raised two children.  Their  daughter Kirsten lives near San Francisco with husband and two daughters (Isobel and Jocelyn). Kirsten is affiliated with the Asian Art Museum.  She lectures on Asian Art and wine.  Their son Kurt is a doctor of psychology and lives in Truckee, California near the Olympic Village.

Jochen continues to weave beautiful scarves and blankets to sell at our sales and other craft sales and art shows in the area. He keeps busy with attending those sales. 

Jochen taught weaving at his shop in Rockford until 1992.  He continues to teach now at the Franciscan Life Process Center.

Jochen remains active with bicycling and teaching aerobics.  Before Labor Day he went on a bicycle trip from Lansing to Sault Sainte Marie

Contributed by Linda Blue