It has been more than a year since we experienced the ravages of Covid. Can we remember? Do we? Toilet paper was in short supply. I did a little dance in the grocery aisle when TP was in stock again. We chased appointments in order to get a vaccine.
So much has happened. It’s hard to remember that so recently – it seems so long ago, now – Patch died. Colleen completed a memorial scarf/shawl with his colors – green eyes.
Patch would sit on and among Colleen’s looms. (Yes, that is plural – looms!) As a weaver cat, Patch was taught not to play with the warp and weft – threads. He was large enough to disrupt the weaving process until he was ready to move. We miss him.
Diplomacy. Not my strong suit. Present & former wife – we all survived the encounter. They were cordial. We were there, for my daughter, the common point: and, of course, Noa, the youngest grandchild. At least we are civil; I/we had always intended to be so. A peace offering: Colleen gave Lisa a spinning wheel she was not using. We were making space: a new wheel will soon arrive. Either way, it worked out for the good. It was a strange day on many levels. It ended peacefully. One never knows. Strained? Tension? Nah!
We volunteered – rather I was Shanghaied – to help take apart and reassemble a computerized loom. Be careful what you agree to do. Be very careful!! There are a lot of moving parts. A lot! I took along blue tape and we numbered each section with matching numbers as they came apart. (The tape faced the same way and the numbers matched. Brilliant!) To be sure, the reassembly was hell. But my numbers matched despite disagreement on how it should be. READ: The numbered blue tape is immutably located! I prevailed and the job was done in mere hours. It did not rattle and there are only a couple extra bolts lying around. It could’a been worse. Yes, let me say once more, it could’a been worse. A lot! Computerized loom? I don’t know. They cost upwards the price of a small car. Me? I’ll take the car.
That would be past tense of killed. I’m a dead husband after this post. Oh well… we laugh a lot around here. What do you do during a pandemic and you’re home alone? My brother was once a stock day trader from home dealing with the big stock brokers and would laugh to trade shares over the phone wearing just his underwear. Yeah yeah, you get where I’m going. Someone got distracted early one morning and started winding a warp before breakfast. I don’t think there’s any family who follows my blog regularly. They will (all, I hope) miss this. Meanwhile, just about any and everybody else in the world will know.
Que? … that we have and eat healthy fruit – banana, grapefruit, apple …. you’re all peering at the background, right?
Me? Dead ham. I’m dead ham. If I didn’t mention you’d never notice….
I have once again exposed my bookcase to scrutiny. (I hand-built it.) But, I am illustrating another fact. If you weave or spin, you have more than one wheel. It’s common. I’ve been told, one woman had 40 wheels – spinning – in her home. I’m lucky. We only have … well…. there’s a great wheel – so called because … they are also called walking wheels. They are among the oldest spinning wheels around. Modern? The wheels are now more modest in size, and, larger in cost. Castle and Saxony are popular styles. We have multiples. Of course. Why? Let me ask, would you just have one camera if you are a photographer? Laughing? Probably the greatest satisfaction (ever?) – indulging your (beloved) wife.
… the opposite of minimalist. I wish. Ha! We are close to clutter. But not! Call it cozy. Call it busy. What weaver wouldn’t kill for a studio like this? Barn loom and four modern looms. I have cameras – lots. Looms (five) are bigger and standout in a room. Alas, we have looms in the living room. Don’t forget the great wheel! And we have beer mugs – lots. My Nantucket baskets await. I shall give them away one day. Ha ha.
Consider it home. We (truly) live in it. It’s a happy home. Did you peek into the background? There’s something to catch your eye everywhere. Meaning and memories abound, stories to regale you of adventure and fun, not clutter, but about love. If there were only one beer mug it would just be a representative of the genre, a commemorative. But, each one after is a memory of place and travels. Yes, we’ve been around a bit. …making up for lost time. Yup, stuffed…with love.
During covid I am down to two chief subjects, my cats and flowers. Boring is good. It means we are safe and sound. I have joined Colleen in obsessing over weather. I have four different weather apps open and one beach cam. And we cook and eat. …repeat. Colleen asked me to photograph her handicraft and mine. We completed these projects among others. Spinning fiber to yarn; weaving yarn to material, scarves; weaving Nantucket baskets. I’m not bragging; the girl’s got talent. Me? I’m better than I was but not as good as I’m gonna be.
Weaving. Colleen wove this in a week. It was a sampler demonstrating double weave. ??? I think. Who knows? I was on my own to explore Amish country. Quaint. It is a clash of modern vs old. Horse and buggy, bicycle without pedals, modern hay baler pulled by horse, clothing without buttons, it’s just so dyssynchronous.
There are many who gawk. (Guilty, me.) The folks are oblivious. They tolerate. There’s no choice. They are out in the public. Or, that would make me rude. Sorry. A camera and me? There’s no way i pass up a photo op. I just do my best to be discrete.
Big wheel? Walking spinning wheel. Great wheel. Used as early as the 14th century, it’s more of a curiosity among spinners nowadays. I have seen few in use while many are simply display pieces. Not ours! Colleen has been determined to make ours go. And so, she did. And It works! And she spun up a pern (bobbin)… a few. Why? Because she can. It adds history and brings back skill that is being lost to the lure of modern life. This venerable tool was once a major source of yarn that got spun into fabric that was made into…
Someone once said to me that the sign of genius is a messy desk. Ha ha! I wish. Nantucket basket weaving takes space and material. It’s controlled chaos. I know where everything is. The tools of the trade are organized so I lay my hand on whatever is required quickly. Piles of material await use. Right!? Really! There is absolute organization. Rims take time and so I let them accumulate. Hence, there are a lot of baskets awaiting the finishing touch. Note: the background is Colleen’s big wheel (spinning, not tricycle) and one of the smaller looms. What else is in the background? …two more regular spinning wheels, finished baskets on the mantle and on the TV cabinet…. Sometimes the lines between worhshop and home blur. It’s ours, we’re fine.
Since I know Colleen we have been taking pictures of barn looms. I shoot to see the tie up and set up. Fascinating?! Well, we bought a real one a couple years back. It dates back to the revolutionary war period – old, real old. And then we won another one in a chance pick up from a man who got a pile of wood at a government auction and didn’t know what to do with it. (The name – they kept them in barns, or the construction of the loom was like constructing a barn.) No one knows. After a couple of years, it works. I built the harnesses. And we tied the heddles – hand tied – my surgical skill came in handy. It works! Did I say that? We actually… Colleen is actually weaving with it. Ain’t that grand?
The beauty of inviting anyone to dinner is that you have to straighten and clean. Our tables were covered – with projects and stuff. Of course! The aftermath of cleaning: It’s still cluttered. And there is a screen of drying wool locks – we took it away later. I daresay we have a way to go in order to be minimalist. (I don’t think that is ever happening.) Shhh… it’s all hiding – the stuff. Tomorrow we shall begin again – to take out what we work with. And upstairs, behind me, is the office I use. There’s no path thru the room. I have things on the floor while I sort and search. Yes, the great room is full of weaving implements – too numerous to name… and ah! bundles of artificial flowers! What to say: “Home!”
As long as we are talking technique, let me mention background. Most folks forget to look at the clutter in the background. You know, the stuff behind your subject. … like the light pole sticking out of some loved one’s head. Clutter. Distraction. Ha! I often find myself looking at the background to see the clutter that got “snuck” into someone else’s photo. Oh well, no one likes a messy background. It’s distracting and shows that you were not paying attention when you tried to focus on your foreground subject.
No one likes a cluttered messy home. “Minimalist” is “in” these days. Me, us, we seem to have accumulated an assortment of weaving and spinning things that would do any shopkeeper proud. Nice stuff. Displayed. We do work with most of the stuff you can see. (There’s more!!) Since, we are not entertaining in the near future, anything goes. A lot of fiber equipment is out and in use. This is not a display so much as it is a workshop of “in progress” projects. It’s home. And, it feels like it, though I laugh because not even the cats can make a straight line across the room.
… two spinning wheels, two looms, winder, lazy kate, carder, great wheel, fiber, ball winder… we’re not showing off. We – mostly Colleen – have many projects simultaneously in progress. …and, nary a cat in sight. And, I daresay any picture (in this room) unless it’s a closeup will have distracting background to be considered.
Nutley. He’s aptly named because he is – nuts. Curious… curiosity killed … cute as hell, a bit dim in the brain department. I could go on… and on. Suffice to say, he’s a special kitty…very!
I bet you never heard of them. Obvious, it/they are to place under your mug/glass to keep from staining the table beneath. Practical and eminently useful, they are in fact a fancier coaster. And they sell. I see them occasionally in stores. But, since Colleen weaves, we have our own. As in, the shoemaker’s kids have…. They are indeed quite a lot of fun – to make and to see and to use. So, here’s the latest batch fresh off the loom. Someone in our house has talent. Yes!
These are snapshots, out of focus, poorly composed, grab shots if you will. The spinning wheel is an Ashford, akin to a comparable Nikon camera. It is a venerable wheel, well respected among spinners. Who knew? I don’t. But here are the only three owners this wheel has known. Colleen is the third owner. Ha! Of course, how do you pass up a bargain. The previous owner knew the original owner and I met them all at the sale. Imagine that? It’s a small world.
I made these (heddles and the jig)! The jig was supposed to look more professional. This is the experiment – the jig made out of scrap before the final design is agreed upon. Heddles? Any weaver knows. They are made commercially. But we have an old barn loom. The request was for a handmade look. I’ve made/built the harnesses. Why not go ahead and make a jig for heddles too? Are you with me? No? Don’t fret. I have to tie the 8/2 cotton with (surgical) knots to create a hole/eye at the top, bottom, and middle. They need to be consistent. i.e. they need to be uniform. Damn! It ain’t easy. But yes! I started tying the heddles up and realized that my precision tying surgical knots gave me a distinct advantage. Don’t ask. I started. Then I was told there were four harnesses and that each harness required 200 heddles each. Maybe 400. But 200 for now. Per/each! Damn! I got myself into a load of work. Maybe I should make a nicer jig. Nah! No! That would change the eye holes. Yarggggh! Oh well! I’m back to work (OR). Remember that book? – Everything I learned in life, I learned in kinder garten. The very good news is that this operation can take days/weeks as opposed to an operation which is finished in the same calendar day. Oh yeah! I bet you have trouble even knowing what a heddle is? I’ve got about 750 to do as I write this post. Oh boy oh boy…