Ada K. Dietz: Algebraic Expressions in Handwoven Textiles with Cross Country Weavers

Date(s) - 03/05/2022 - 05/14/2022
11:00 am - 3:00 pm

Little Loomhouse


The Little Loomhouse presents in the Lou Tate Gallery 

  Honeycomb (X+Y)2 circa 1950s

Swedish Lace (X+Y)2 circa 1950s


Ada K. Dietz, Algebraic Expressions in Handwoven Textiles with contemporary interpretation provided by members of Cross Country Weavers

In 1951, Two women, with their Heinz terrier, “Pickles”, bought a trailer, packed up their equipment, closed up their Long Beach “Hobby Looms Studio” and started on an over year-long tour across the United States and Canada promoting their idea of using algebraic expressions to write weaving drafts.  These two women were Mathematician, Ada K. Dietz, and Textile Artist, Ruth E. Foster. Their work made a definitive contribution to creative folk-art growth, including inspiring the beginnings of the Cross Country Weavers (CCW) in 1957. CCW continues to this day, celebrating its 65th anniversary this year. In collaboration for this exhibit, current members of the group have created new interpretations of Algebraic Expressions to be shown alongside the Loomhouse’s collection of original woven samples and artifacts from the writing and publishing of Algebraic Expressions in Handwoven Textiles draft book, and Dietz and Foster’s tour across the country.

Exhibition runs March 5 – May 14, 2022 in the Lou Tate Gallery.

Gallery Hrs: Tues- Fri 10am – 3pm, Sat 11am – 4pm

Opening Reception: Saturday, March 5, 2-4pm, free and open to the public

About Ada K. Dietz

Ada K. Dietz was a Counselor and Biology-Mathematics Teacher at Eastern High School in Detroit, Michigan when, inspired by Ruth Foster, she studied weaving at Wayne University in Detroit under Nellie Sargent Johnson. Dietz began writing weaving drafts during Johnson’s class because students were discouraged from copying patterns. It was after Dietz met Foster and they traveled north to study at the Banff School of Fine Arts in Canada that she began developing her ideas for using mathematical equations for writing weaving drafts.

About Ruth E. Foster

Ruth E. Foster was a Weaver with the Hewson Studios in Los Angeles when she met Ada Dietz in Detroit while doing further studies in weaving. Foster studied at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and Wayne University, Detroit, Michigan, and taught weaving in the art department at Polytechnic High School in Long Beach California. Foster provided the color and patterning to Dietz’s drafts.

About Cross Country Weavers

Established in 1957, CCW is a group of 30 geographically diverse weavers, invited to participate in an annual sample exchange focused on a specific topic. In addition to the exchange between members, two traveling notebooks are assembled for public access and are archived at the Thousand Islands Arts Center – Home of the Handweaving Museum in Clayton, New York and the University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth.

About the Little Loomhouse connection

Dietz’s work was first publicly exhibited at the 1948 Country Fair sponsored by Lou Tate’s Little Loomhouse in Louisville, Kentucky. Because of the interest in her work, Tate asked Dietz to assemble an exhibition and begin work on a draft book, which was later published by the Little Loomhouse in 1949 and titled Algebraic Expressions in Handwoven Textiles.

Ada K. Dietz & Ruth E. Foster weaving on Lou Tate Little Looms at the Little Loomhouse, Louisville, KY, circa 1946