As I approach the final yard or so of this 5/2 cotton warp, I think it has finally figured out what it wants to be. The pattern yarn is Bockens 8/2 Möbelåtta wool, dense and smooth. I’ve had this yarn since 2009, when this unexpected visit to Vävstuga set in motion my love of Glimåkra looms. If only I had ordered that little red loom the day I first saw it. It was, of course, a Julia. If you know of anyone who is selling a Julia in the iconic red color, please let me know.
Back to the yardage on my loom. I’m having fun weaving with three shuttles. It doesn’t go quickly, but the cloth makes me happy. I have discovered that I only like monks’ belt with wool pattern yarns. Cotton looks too stranded and unkempt. I don’t like to see the background peeking through the pattern threads. I’m hoping these pattern threads full nicely and create smooth cloth. Long pattern floats can be problematic, but this yardage is for a boudoir pillow. I can’t think of a more coddled and gentle existence than that.
As for me, I am weaving and I am happy. Buttonwood is still very much a work-in-progress, but it is a functional and livable home, and I can work on the small touches a bit at a time, as my instinct leads me. As my focus turns inward with the short days and long nights, I am filled with peace. It’s so much easier to move toward simplicity and mindfulness here. So much of the desperate symbolism had completely drained away from the things that surrounded me for years. Things simply are…things. I have gone from having excess, to having equilibrium, and now am moving toward what evolves beyond that. I think it’s clarity and joy.
Some thirty years ago, I had a passing fancy for a handful of towns along the Connecticut River in Franklin County, MA. Each of these towns had one or two outstanding shops that I would visit on occasion. I found myself in Greenfield on Saturday. The Textile Company is still on Power Square, and they still take only cash or checks. Outside, it’s an unimpressive old factory building, covered in asphalt siding, but inside is a gem of a fabric shop. They have just enough quilting fabric to satisfy, without there being so much that my head starts spinning.
I found a packet of pre-cut fabric squares, which quilters call ‘charms.’ They are very charming. I am going to make a pair of pillows, pieced but not quilted. By the time I’m done, the narrow, mostly red, stripes will only be 1/2 inch wide, there may be some hand-sewn kantha stitching, and vintage buttons attached.
Somehow, I came away with too much fabric. The salesperson was very enthusiastic. I suppose I can use the remnants in some rag place mats.
That was as much of my shadow as I could find in Greenfield. Lund Silversmiths is no longer in business, and the breathtakingly creative jeweler on Main Street moved to NJ years ago.
I took a meandering route home, driving through Turners Falls and Millers Falls, where a faint shadow lingered. Renovators’ Supply is still there, somewhere, but doesn’t have a retail showroom at present.
The Connecticut River is beautiful as it passes through farmlands, and it was a particularly pleasant afternoon, warm enough that my vest and scarf kept me comfy. I don’t remember the river being this lovely. Change is gradual and continual. I have become a person who notices rivers.
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.