Dishtowels on the loomI haven’t been regular about blogging lately, as my family is good about reminding me. Summer hours are loaded up with food-related duties, and now I have chicken duty (one I love as much as the food stuff!) as well. That leaves little time for blogging and other relaxing pursuits.

Like weaving.

We were blessed with the gift of two looms, one a 48″ floor loom and the other a 15″ table variety. Though I didn’t mean to get involved with either, of course I did. The practice of warping (creating and placing all those threads that run the length of the fabric, from front to back on a loom) is a mathematical and coordination challenge, and I love both. Weaving (the part where you send a shuttle full of thread from side to side) actually takes the least amount of time in the whole process.  Who knew.

As I was setting up the large loom for some dishtowels, I got to thinking about our good fortune in receiving this gift. In the first place, the generous donor included everything an accomplished weaver needs: shuttles and bobbins, extra heddles for the warp yarn to pass through, two reeds (another place for those warp threads), a large variety and quantity of threads and yarns, a warping board and books galore. I’m pretty sure the purchasing of all this was well over $4000.

But that’s not the real value, in my book. The real and impossible-to-calculate worth is the experience of the first owner as she moved from one project to the next. I did not know this weaver, and her wonderful husband passed all this along to us when she died so I never will. Not face-to-face anyway.

But there is so much of her infused in her tools. I see how she set up her heddles, what her colorway preferences were, the way she warped her loom (yes, there are different methods).  And there are times when I feel her presence nearby as I’m working. It happens when I feel stuck, and then suddenly I know exactly what to do. Several days ago it happened when I was warping those dishtowels. I wasn’t stuck, but I was filled with a sense of what her own mental discipline and rambling might have been as she carried the thread from peg to peg around the board. Again I felt her gentle and humorous reaction when I realized that one decision I made about how to structure a counting thread could have been done more effectively; it was as if she was saying how she had done the same thing herself and that doing it “wrong” is always what teaches us the most.  How true.

I have no idea how such communication occurs, I just know that it does. And the result is that I understand that I am as much of a thread as those on the loom, being woven into a tradition as old as humankind itself.  Our forebears, whether blood-related or not, are the foundational warp for the ever-growing work of life. I am blessed with the richness of feeling my life intertwine with those of all my ancestors.

And you absolutely, definitely, most certainly cannot put a monetary value on that.


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