Monday, November 15, 2010

Once Upon a Time, I was a Weaver

In 1984, I was the only student in a graduating class of 109 that listed "4 harness weaving" in the activity portion next to her senior portrait.  I would wager I was the only student in Strafford County with that listing, possibly the state.   I went on to study studio art in college, with an emphasis on traditional craft, particularly weaving.  

To everyone's amazement, I landed a job designing and weaving narrow decorative trim right after graduation.  Heritage Trimming was located twenty-five minutes from my house, in a sweet old New England mill.  I loved that job.  I was but one girl in a long rich history of weaving girls. 

Built in the 1800's in Germany and Austria, the beautiful Jaquard Looms were eight feet tall and ten feet wide (or wider), and they were in perfect working order.  They were the ancestors of today's computer, but even I was able to make repairs to them.

Sadly, the mill burned to the ground in 1994.  No people were hurt, but all the looms perished.  I'm thankful to have been able to spend many hours with those magnificent looms (and the people too). I can't walk into an old mill today without stopping to draw in a huge whiff of that delicious oily-dusty-old-mill smell.  Heritage Trimming is woven elsewhere now, I'm guessing on newer looms, but they have saved many of the traditional motifs. 

Today, I present my 48 inch Macomber 8 harness loom, in her prime new location, our guest room.

I'm looking forward to dressing her with some recycled silk for a stole.   In the meantime, you should come sleep with her.  She's big, but there's still room for you.


Mary said...

I think I still have some seconds from your ribbon and lace weaving days. Some are little lengths like 5 inches long and I can't part with them.

Love, Merle

mary jane said...

When you said weaving trims was one of your first jobs after college, I imagined dog collars I guess...not dainty elegant pretty. So sad the factory burned, such a loss.

Can't wait to see your 48 inch gal in the guest room, would love to visit her.

Ellen said...

Come, let's make a big mess and stay up late.

craftivore said...

What a wonderful craft to know so intimately, glad you've gone back to it. Sad about the mills in NH, even without the fire they would have moved on.

Brenda said...

I just discovered your blog through ravelry. You sound like someone I'd love to have in my neighbourhood. BTW _ I love the colours of mud season. The shades of browns and greys.