I grew up and currently live in a town with a population of a little over 300 people. Although many of the faces have changed over the years I still am connected to the people who were a part of my childhood. I remember when I was in the sixth grade there was a total of 32 kids in the entire school. We didn’t have a third grade that year because there weren’t any kids that age. My mother was “the chief cook and bottle washer” (her words) at the school so I remember the number of people she fed daily.
To say we were close with our peers at the time doesn’t really do justice to what our relationships were. Yes, we went to school every week day. We all were involved in 4-H in one way or another. We spent time at each other’s homes, knew their parents, their extended families. It was as though we were all related. I figure there’s about a 15 year span on either side of my age of people I feel a certain closeness to. These are people I always felt I knew better than the people I went to high school with. When we are reunited for one reason or another it’s more than seeing a long ago friend, it’s more like reunion with a family member you haven’t seen in quite some time. We have a tight, collective history.
I always think of my life as a woven piece of fabric. As time goes by weft threads are added that represent the relationships I have. Family, friends, acquaintances are all represented in one way or another. When I lose someone who is part of my life it creates a hole in the fabric itself. Sometimes it ravels a little, sometimes the hole is so large it threatens to undermine the integrity of the fabric itself. In the past few months three people I grew up with have died, all in their early 50’s. It initially comes as a shock and for me it puts a little hole in the fabric. Those holes are also where their threads end. What initially starts as a fine fabric builds into a heavy, substantial cloth and I feel as though by the time it’s done it will be a beautiful lace. With time the holes become less ragged and are transformed by memories into something beautiful.
I was a mad weaver last week. This piece started out as an experiment in sett really. I had a draft but wanted to use something other than what it called for, because I didn’t have access to the required materials and I just HAD to weave SOMETHING.
The warp is a Berroco’s Ultra Alpaca Fine which is a wool/alpaca/nylon blend, the color – Potting Soil Mix. The weft is Berroco’s alpaca in red. The pattern is an overshot called Orange Peel. The name alone made me want to weave it in orange.
I am proud to say that this project went off without a hitch – from warping to finishing. It also happened in 5 days.
We were going to a nephew’s 30th birthday party on the 6th (yes, I am that old) and I needed a gift. After asking Bill if he would wear it (no, he can’t put anything around his neck), I decided to give myself that deadline. The biggest problem I ran into was finishing. Living in a house with no air conditioning in the middle of a humid heat wave is not conducive to air drying a 72″ wool scarf. I confess to putting it in the dryer on air for a half an hour without adverse results. I also didn’t realize how hot I would be twisting fringe. The results were worth it.
This piece is yummy – so soft and warm. I’m sure it will get used in San Francisco. I was a little sad to see it go but had woven it with the recipient in mind, those are always the best projects.
Now I have to admit that I’m just a little on edge because there is nothing on my loom right at the moment. I have a number of choices right now but I think I will weave a gamp of Harrisville wool that I just purchased. I figured Harrisville was the way for me to go because I love the way their wool is spun and dyed. So 18 colors, 72 inches – I can’t wait to get it started! On the other hand if this heat keeps up maybe I should consider making something in cotton.
Last night’s weaving was a revelation to me. I’ve been doing a sampler in Summer and Winter and because I put on a 3 yard warp I decided I would weave a couple of runners with different treadling to help it all sink in. I have to admit I am such a novice weaver that until last night I had a slight grasp of what I was doing but truly didn’t really understand the structure. Last Sunday Pam held a class on drafting and we also had to do our own draw downs on graph paper. I am amazed at how hard I have to think to make the design part work. I’m sure that after I do this a while it will be easier. The class was excellent and I came away with a much better understanding of structure – how the warp and weft work together to make the desired pattern.
A couple of weeks ago I was weaving the beginning of this pattern, I had done about 2 repeats then left it for my next session. When I got there last night it took about 15 minutes to just figure out where I’d left off. I didn’t have a real draft of what to weave so I struggled to get going and REALLY struggled when the pattern had to change. After weaving and unweaving I finally decided I would look (really look) at what I was weaving and what I wanted it to do and write my own draft – at least the treadle part. I figured out each change by raising different sheds to see what they’d do and wrote it down with whatever repeats I thought would work. Eureka! I wove the next full repeat and it worked exactly the way I wanted it too. This is EXCELLENT – heh, heh.
As I was weaving along I had to take a couple of photos – because I love the way it looks – I could just photograph it all day long. I also wanted you to see that the back of the piece is the exact opposite as far as color and pattern. Weaving is very cool. I was also thankful that all I had was four treadles – with anymore I may never have figured it out.