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
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
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
Contributed by Linda Blue