It started with breakfast food.
While Liza Chabot was cooking buckwheat pancakes and grits for breakfast one morning, her boyfriend at the time was setting up her Instagram account. He asked what she’d like her name to be, and she jokingly replied, “Buckwheat and grits!”
That nontraditional moniker became the name of her unconventional weaving business.
“I usually will pick all of my materials and then it’s almost like stream of consciousness, I’ll just start pulling things in,” Chabot said.
To Chabot, weaving is like cooking breakfast. She pulls in this and that to make things work. Breakfast may be buckwheat pancakes and grits. Her weaving project may feature feathers, paper or sticks. She explains, “I’m the girl that shows up to a bar with a bunch of vines in her hand because I’m like, ‘I found these and they’re so cool, I have to use them.’ ”
Chabot, 28, became hooked after an inspiring weaving class a few years ago. In 2014, she signed up for a three-month long, once a week hour-long class at the Kenyon College’s Craft Center, which she notes is “a small cottage on the campus” of the central Ohio college.
After finding a loom on Craigslist, Chabot began weaving on her own. She loves that weaving, a rather technical, orderly task, “combines the looser edge of creativity with the order of the craft.” Instead of deciding to either specialize in wall hangings and tapestry or textiles like many weavers, Chabot does both. Her pieces include wall hangings, blankets, scarves, wall charms and woven wire vegetable baskets. Chabot’s blanket scarves are thick, chunky, warm and bursting with color.
Weaver Karen Blanco, of Island Ford Weaving in West Asheville says Chabot’s willingness to use found objects and have fun with the medium is part of her success. “She uses what maybe a weaver may consider a very simple weave,” Blanco said, “but she’s always playing in her mind with color and then almost making that color like a texture.”
Chabot moved to Durham not long after that first weaving class at Kenyon College – after spending a night in Durham with a friend. “I visited for one night, fell in love with it,” said Chabot, who works in administration for a local technology company. “I noticed that it had this really supportive craft community in a way that a lot of bigger cities don’t. Instead of competition, people were all about collaboration, which I loved.”
In that spirit, Chabot started the Blackberry PopUp Shop, an art market with live music. It’s been held at her house for the past two years in July; more than 200 people attended this year’s event.
The market’s mission, Chabot said, is to foster the community that drew her to Durham in the first place. It is designed, she said, “to bring the community together to celebrate art and to make a fun and affordable platform for makers to sell things and to preview their stuff.”
Betsy Greer is a Durham-based writer who writes about craft and activism at craftivism.com. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Buckwheat & Grits
Liza Chabot, owner of Buckwheat & Grits, sells blankets, scarves, wall hangings, wall charms and woven wire vegetable baskets on her website and at Indio at Brightleaf Square, 905 W. Main St., Durham.
Price: $25-200 and by commission.