Weaving whiz’s memory deeply woven into many hearts

November 1, 2023

The Late Betty Christians

Weaving whiz’s memory deeply woven into many hearts

By Ron Beeber, Contributing Writer

PENTWATER — Weaving is the craft or action of interlacing threads to form fabric. Search on the Internet the phrase “beauty of weaving,” and one finds this statement: “the way yarns go to form a fabric symbolizes relationships that we build and hold in this world. Nothing is created without weaving — be it mother/fatherhood, childhood, sister/brotherhood, friendship or a love relationship.”  

The backing is one of Betty Christians’ woven rugs.

Friendships and weaving go hand in hand at the Pentwater’s Artisan Learning Center. And all the fun happens in “Bet’s Weave Corner,” the area named after the late Betty Christians. She was an experienced weaver who brought her skills from Grand Rapids to Pentwater, and mentored other PALC members in the art of weaving. Betty passed away in 2019, but her memory is still deeply woven into the hearts of many. Arlene Tiemeyer is one of them. 

“I’ve been weaving for about 25 years,” said Tiemeyer, who lives in Borculo, Michigan. The mother of 13 children added, “I thought I’d just weave rag rugs, but a rug loom was just too expensive. So I joined the Woodland Weavers and Spinners Guild in Grand Rapids years ago. Betty was also a member. When I bought an old barn loom for $100 so I could weave rugs, Betty taught me everything.”  

Then Christians moved to Pentwater and became the PALC’s weaving mentor. “I wasn’t familiar with Pentwater until I drove up here for her funeral,” continued Tiemeyer.  “I got here and said to those I met, ‘Is there anything I can do here to help, in honor of Betty?’ And they said, ‘Well, we don’t have a weaving mentor anymore.” And so Tiemeyer filled the void, driving 2.5 hours roundtrip in good weather. “I found out that Betty would set up the looms late at night so members could just come in and weave the next day,” explained Tiemeyer. “I’ve now taught these basics to others. I’m working myself out of a job,” she said jokingly.        

“I know Arlene would love to learn other crafts here,” added PALC member Vern Blocher. “But I have her by the neck,” he joked. He further explained that he learned

VERN BLOCHER — Vern looks at a scarf woven by the late Betty Christians.

weaving under Christians’ tutelage at the PALC when both of them were still working. “We both had day jobs, and were here in the evening. I’ve since learned more about the basics of weaving from Arlene.”

“This is what Gene lived for,” added PALC co-founder Barb Davidson about her late husband’s motivation.  “Sharing and caring, and love for one another. Gene wanted to start a place where everyone could get together and use their smarts to help mentor everyone.”

Arlene’s finger points to a page from a pattern book, where weavers often get a basic idea. “I call it my jumping off point,” she said. “I just like to play.”

The nonprofit artisan center has so far raised $130,000 of the $250,000 it needs to repair, replace, and add new equipment. For more information, call (231) 869-5323.  Tax deductible contributions can be conveniently charged to a credit card by logging onto oceanafoundation.org/give/our-funds. In the “Search Funds” box, enter “Equipping the Pentwater Artisan Learning Center for the Next 20 Years Fund.” Click on “Give Now,” and then scroll down to where the words “Equipping …” are shown in a gray background. Click on those words, and the background shading will turn blue.  Then, follow the prompts to charge a contribution.

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