A few weeks ago I met a long time friend on the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls. As a gardener I am always amazed at this wonderful place.
I posted this photograph after shooting my way along the bridge and a fellow weaver used it as color inspiration. I thought I would as well. (Of course hers was finished within days of the picture going up).
I also decided to move out of the realm of safety and work with new materials, sort of. I’m using 20/2 mercerized cotton and a draft from Twill Thrills to make a scarf.
I did the math. Ordered the cotton. Did the math again. Then started winding the warp.
Truth be told this is my least favorite part of weaving and it took me three days to do it because there were a few moments when I just had to walk away.
I finally got it to the loom and threaded it. It’s an advancing twill pattern at 40 E.P.I. Yes, forty ends per inch. At this point I’m saying to myself “You must be out of your mind” but it got better . . .
I had 32 threads leftover at the end. Not usually a problem unless you decide to do graded colors, ugh. Not happy at this point. It was sort of a random twill so I decided to just to a repeat of part of the pattern and see how it turned out. At this point I was not going to rethread it.
Yesterday I began sleying the reed 4 threads per dent. I got halfway through and decided to break until this morning when the light was better. Finished an hour or so ago. I’ll tie it on, spend some time on the floor doing tie-ups and finally start weaving later today with any luck. Then I’ll be able to see what kind of mess I truly made and if I can live with it or start over.
The interesting part to me is the weavers I have that surround me, that inspire me. I weave with a woman who weaves nothing but twills. She threads her loom without a draft starting in the center and working her way to either edge designing it as she goes along. Her work is amazing. I felt like I was channeling her as I threaded all of those extra ends. I don’ begin to think I’m capable of doing what she does but it’s having weavers around me giving that inspiration. They’re all mentors without knowing it.
I think that’s what makes it so important to show and share your work – no matter what kind of work it is or what your skill level. You never know who you’re going to inspire.
It’s seems a little funny to me that the only photograph I have of my favorite teacher of all time is of her as a student standing in front of the one room schoolhouse she attended in Rowe. She’s second from the right in the back row. Her best friend, standing next to her with the blonde hair, is Olive Wright, the last Wright to live at Fort Pelham Farm. This is all coincidental because we didn’t move into the house until 1967 which was the last of the four years I had Fannie von Reuss Chenburg for a teacher.
Rowe is a very small town. When I started school there were 6 of us in my kindergarten class. The next year it dropped to 4 and that’s the way it stayed until I entered a nine town regional in Buckland. Mrs. von was my teacher from the third through the sixth grades. Until the last year she taught it all to all 4 grades at the same time. I’m sure that it took a little different skill set to do this but this is how she was taught so it didn’t really seem that different.
My memories of her are so mixed but I have to say that I loved her. She was well-traveled in exotic places and would tell us stories of her time in the Middle East and Europe. She also told us about her escapades with Olive. I remember how wonderfully she would tell these stories so your imagination would take you to a different time and place. Those stories stick with me still. We did flag drills in Phys. Ed. We drew glorious maps in geography, learned our math diligently and reading was always a top priority. I was writing critical thinking papers in the fourth grade. My most memorable topic being “What would happen if there were too many people?”. She was an outdoors woman walking to school many days and telling us about the otters in Pelham Lake that she would watch on the way in or what birds were at her feeders. I remember her having and teaching an enormous respect for life.
There was the dark side that any of us that had her for a teacher would tell you. I honestly can’t remember what precipitated some of these incidents but I do remember chalk being thrown and yard sticks being slapped on your desk. The sound of the chalk clinking on her wedding ring as she rolled it back and forth in her hands. We always knew she was in a good mood when she wore earrings to school.
We made kites. We would play outdoors for extended recess on those first true spring days when the only place to play was the pavement because the snowbanks were too high. We jumped rope and played rolly at the bat. We played a game, school wide called “Run Sheep Run” which I think was a take on Capture the Flag. She would have us come to her house where her flower gardens were a sight to behold. They must have been pretty wonderful, I still think about them today. We have a peony in our garden that comes from hers. These were all magical moments.
Fannie von Reuss Chenburg helped mold some wonderful people. We all took away a little bit of her. You can see it still in all of us as adults – that love of nature and quiet, that sense of adventure, the caring about each individual. When I get together with the kids in my class, now long into adulthood there is something that we all have in common and I think it’s her.