Lately, this blog has been all words and no pictures. Here’s what brings me joy in this moment.
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate autumn than by sitting in front of the fireplace at Buttonwood, weaving on my band loom. Nights and mornings are chilly now, and the thick down quilt is a welcome place for the cats and me to snuggle at night. In the morning, the fireplace beckons.
Someday soon, I’ll light the wood furnace, but it’s not quite cold enough.
I’m weaving an indigo and natural linen band to use as handles on a market basket. Next month, I’m taking a workshop to learn to weave the basket. Layer by layer, my life becomes simpler and my material goods more handmade. It takes time to make things by hand, but they last a long time.
Traditionally, the autumn equinox is a time of drawing in the harvest, preparing for the long winter ahead, and tucking away seeds and nuts (yeah, squirrel!). The harvest at Buttonwood is spaciousness. The summer’s crop was unpacked boxes, things put in their rightful places, and especially things released that no longer serve me. I find it fitting that I carried and treasured these things for so many years and in so many places, only to return to my beloved hills where I could let them go.
I will miss these guys when they head south.
They are Sandhill Cranes, infrequent visitors to these New England hills. I have been lucky to share my land with them all summer.
I feel the change of season very strongly in early September. Autumn is teasing and tugging at me, drawing me into darker colors and thoughts of wooly sweaters. When we get the odd warm day, I have to remember that this season is fickle and summer may not want to let go. I was born at this time of year, in the midst of a hurricane. Hurricane Sandy brought me home. It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good.
The curtain tiebacks are coming along. I have ten inches to go on the borders, and then I can start the central band. Except that I may appropriate the band loom to weave a simple striped handle for a market basket. I still do not have a sense of what band loom is best for slow projects vs. quick ones. I keep reaching for the Glimakra band loom, regardless of the project.
August is turning into a shaggy, unkempt dog of a month. Was there really a summer this year? It’s often crisp and cool on the mountain, some ten degrees cooler than the valley, and never as humid. I enjoyed the ceiling fans for a week or so, but mostly, I reach for the pile of blankets at night. I am eager for September, with even more crisp weather and with the sense of urgency that it brings. September is time to gather in most of the harvest and turn the focus more resolutely inward. I love the inward journey toward the winter solstice. The fiber arts take on a renewed focus for me at this time of year. Weaving guilds begin their annual cycle of meetings. I walk the path of a schoolgirl again, scuffing in the leaves and eating fresh apples. I rediscover warm sweaters and take delight in sitting at the hearth. This is my season.
There was a time I would have celebrated the long weekend with a studio retreat. Even though I live in my studio, I think I want to put some intentions together for the weekend and give myself a break from unpacking.
Just for the weekend, I shall
- put unpacking and routine chores aside
- be offline
- design a simple striped band for market basket handles (1″ wide and 120″ long.)
- dye some linen thread in an indigo vat
- visit Hancock Shaker Village and draw upon the well of simplicity that permeates the old buildings
- eat simply prepared, healthful foods
- take time for reflection and meditation
Sounds beautiful, doesn’t it? I could just do these things, but by setting an intention to do them, I am reminded do all this mindfully and with my full attention. After all, I am ushering in my beloved September.
Life at Buttonwood gets better every day. If I could only figure out what box contains my copy of Barbro Wallin’s Moraband, things would be near perfect. I’m tempted to order a second copy, but I suspect this is supposed to be one of those life lessons in patience. Didn’t I already have this one last year, when the new sheets went missing for months, and were finally discovered in a box of art supplies? Did I not learn enough from that?
On the side of perfection, the woods are full of birds, and I have seen so many young ones out exploring the world. Several mornings, I’ve seen young wild turkeys dutifully lined up behind their mother, exploring the land. This morning, a little robin, his plumage half way between juvenile and adult, was on my lawn.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that sparrows and robins are ordinary or boring. While they may be plentiful, they are also insouciant and fascinating little bundles of feathers.
Turning away from the window, a bit reluctantly on such a nice morning, I am making good progress on the band loom with the curtain tieback. I have a little more than ten inches done, and need forty in total for the borders, since they are used on either side of the central band.
As I expected, I am weaving more efficiently using a Glimåkra band knife with the weft thread wrapped around the handle. I am also becoming more efficient in writing about weaving. I can now click on a icon for a Swedish keyboard and get the additional vowels that are necessary to spell words like väv (weave) and dräll
I just wound a striped warp for the band loom. It only has 47 threads but it was slow and fiddly to wind because the colors changed every thread or two.
I’ll be weaving a pair of curtain tie backs. I’m not sure where I will use them but these are the principal colors in my house, so I have many choices where I can use them. Red is not part of the palette; it’s my least favorite color. That makes it ideal for tying a warp.
So, with four looms….I should be four times as productive, or four times as happy. Something like that? I think I am on the way to being four times as happy, and will be when I get the right projects going on the right looms. Things are a bit muddled right now, with quick projects on slow looms, and vice versa.
I might just finish Alisoun’s hair ribbons, a quick project, on the Glimakra band loom, and then put something deliciously complex on the loom, maybe a wide band with more than 20 pattern threads, surrounded by a pair of wide and interesting borders.
My floor loom will probably take a rest after the Midnight Snowflake scarf. I hope to be moving to a new home and studio space in the next five months. I don’t want to repeat the hasty cutting of work-in-progress that was symbolic of my journey here. I can be content with two slow projects and a quick one on the smaller and more portable looms.
I still marvel every day at the convergence of circumstances that brought me home and continue to enrich my life.
This is a Glimakra band loom, a loom that weaves a narrow band of cloth, up to five inches wide.
Do I need that many bands?
Actually, I do.
There are lanyards, belts, sandal straps (for Sseko sandals), apron ties, ribbons for gifts, and ties for pretty bundles of things…the list goes on. Most of these are narrow things, maybe no more than an inch wide.
I could use an inkle loom. In fact I have an Ashford Inklette. There’s something about an inkle loom that is uncomfortable for me. I’ve never found a good posture for holding one, and I always feel like I need another hand when I weave on one. Not so with this loom. I sit facing the side of it, with a shuttle in my left hand and a band knife (picture a dull cake knife) in my right hand, for beating the weft. One foot on each treadle. I can weave yards of warp-patterned bands this way.
In fact, I have woven two lanyards, a pair of sandal straps, which are each two yards long, ties for an apron, and a couple of miscellaneous lengths for pretty bundles of things.
The Texsolv heddles are wonderfully quiet. I could refit my floor loom with them. It might make the treadling a little lighter and a little quieter. Jack looms are never completely quiet, and there is still a lot of hardware that gets lifted on each shaft.
Maybe, just maybe, it’s time for a big, silent, totally adaptable Glimakra Standard loom to join the household. If any of my readers know of one for sale in western/central MA or environs, let’s talk about it.