I am not supposed to call it winter yet, but I know what I see in the weakening afternoon light, and I know what I feel when the embers grow cold in the stove. Sunday was the last day of weaving at Hancock Shaker Village. The visitors were lively and engaging all day. It takes a special sort of person to come out in the chill wind to tour an historic site. They lingered in the Sisters’ shop, warming themselves at the stove and asking thoughtful questions.
I kept busy, winding the last of the warp that I’ll put on the loom when we open again in May. I wove on a strange old loom where the treadles aren’t attached to the loom at all. They should be attached to the floor, but they aren’t. Occasionally, I had to get up and push them back into position as they tended to walk their way under the loom. When the treadling became too difficult, I knew they were out of place. This could be mildly annoying, but it just felt like part of the larger rhythm of weaving. Throw the shuttle again and again. Advance the warp. Move the treadles back into place. Repeat until the daylight falters.
Even with the wood stove, my fingers were numb from the cold by the end of the day and I kept dropping my shuttle. Nonetheless, I was reluctant to sweep out the shop for the last time of the season, and lock up the doors. I am not a ‘winter Shaker,’ just passing thru, seeking the warmth and good food that the community offered. I am not Shaker at all, but the plain, nearly monastic life resonates with me. There’s a part of me that wants to keep the stove alight and weave on into the dim light of winter. Just me. Alone in the shop, listening to the wind rattling the windows.
I drove home in the darkness, my vest zipped up to my chin, my barn coat buttoned up, and the heater going full blast.
My own studio was warm and welcoming, even as the wind raged outside. I am weaving fabric for a boudoir pillow, monks’ belt in shades of blue-green on a pale blue and cream ground, on the warp that has been many unsuccessful things. Maybe this is what it wanted to be, all along. My Glimakra loom murmured and creaked agreeably as I wove along. At the end of the day, I’ll sweep the studio and say goodnight.