Craft Forward

I’ve been trying to think about how to preface this story I’m about to tell you.  There are lots of facets to its awesomeness: the warmth of people in a small city, the kind of generosity that can catch you off-guard, the magic of the universe lining up for you in even a small way.  What I think is making me feel fuzziest is all these things coming together in a shared passion for creativity and the effort to pass on the skills and techniques acquired through its expression.  It’s kind of beautiful, guys.  Who doesn’t need more of that in their lives? No one, that’s who.

Let me tell you what happened.

At the beginning of September I joined the Guelph Guild of Handweavers and Spinners.  At the beginning of the summer, the opportunity came up to buy a second-hand loom, and although I had no idea what to do with one, I jumped.  Joining the Guild was a logical step (since I’m already a spinner anyway), and one counseled by a friend of my mother’s, a master weaver and guild member, who was nice enough to advise me on my purchase.  As it turns out, all the members of the Guild are just… really nice.  See above re: warmth, generosity, magic, etc.

At the first weaving meeting I attended in November, the past-president, Susan, sought me out as a new face.  “What do you have?” she asked, and I described my 15” Dorothy LeClerc.  I have dressed it once, woven once, I’m as much of a beginner as you can get.  “Okay,” she said.  “What do you need?”  Everything else, I replied, and then explained how I’d used Connor’s mini craft table, turned upside down, to make my first warp.  I got points for creativity, but yes, I needed a warping board.

Two weeks later, at the fall spinning “Gathering,” where eager spinners and weavers both clustered around tables shrouded in plastic to dye roving and hand paint yarn, Susan pulled me aside again.  “I think I have something for you,” she said.  Just like that.  She showed me the email, listing a loom, warping board, carders, shuttles… the list went on and on.  A whole arsenal of weaving tools.  “They want it to go to a new weaver,” she said.  “It won’t cost much.  I told them I had you in mind – are you interested?”

Um… yes.  Yes I am.


The cost, as it turned out, was nothing.  Monday evening I met Susan in the South end of town and went to visit an elderly couple, both weavers, both now using walkers and less and less able to manage the physical aspects of their crafts.  A visiting relative (a daughter, granddaughter, in-law, I didn’t catch the connection) and her son had assembled the gear at their front door, and we loaded up Susan’s car.  Not knowing what else to do, I brought them a gift basket.  (Since I’ve started canning, I’m that person – the one who can put together a last minute gift basket.  I surprise myself when I realize I can do these things, you know.  I bet Martha Stewart never gets surprised.)  I felt seized by the need to reassure them that I was a worthy recipient of this windfall, but they were just sweetly happy that their things would continue to get good use, and that they would be used teaching a newcomer the ropes (or the warps).

Somewhat poignantly, the loom still has some weaving on it; the warping mill has a half-finished warp still attached to a bobbin of linen.  They make these things even more precious to me, both materially and artistically.  The warping mill is hand-made by its 96-year-old previous owner.  I’m sitting here writing this, glancing at it occasionally, and feeling luckier than I do on a normal day.

I’m pretty damn lucky.

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  1. Ann Moore
    Posted November 27, 2014 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    You are lucky. Anyone who feels the connectedness to crafters and artisans of old is lucky. Lately I’ve been drawn (again) to the simple beautiful “task” of working warm accessories in pure wool. Like my ancestors did to stay warm. It makes my heart explode to see my little grandsons wrapped in leg warmers and sweaters and arm warmers in their not overheated home. Good luck with that loom. I tried and failed miserably with mine years ago. I am not saying this to put you off. Grab the wisdom, the willingness, the wealth of information stowed in the minds of your fellow guiders. Happy weaving!

    • Alexis
      Posted December 3, 2014 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Ann! My craft room is getting crowded but it’s wonderful. I’m working on a whole series of little boy knits right now that I’m so excited about (and so is Connor, which is a big vote of confidence). Maybe your grandsons will like them too 🙂

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