Our Weaving Ways (Winter 2017)

It does feel like the winter of our discontent.

While we normally enjoy our cozy days at home, in a happy fog of hominess and solitude, buoyed by cats purring, a warm fire, and comfort food, this winter is different.

Politics, chaotic change, and uncertainty intrude at every level. I spend too much time reading the New York Times and checking Twitter, and rolling my eyes, feeling my gut clench. I know I should walk away from the computer but that seems irresponsible.

I need to know.

But I also need to soothe myself and seek some solace.

And so I keep doing the things I always do, as insignificant as they sometimes seem.

The quilting, the embroidery, the ironing, the sewing group, spending time with you.

And the weaving.

The quiet repetition of winding warp, of slowly dressing the loom, of throwing the shuttle, and watching something grow from nothing, demand my focus and let me forget the so-called real world for awhile.

So, here’s what we’ve been weaving, since, after all, this is a place to celebrate loving hands and that which is handmade, not a place of lament and worry.

A bunch of towels:

The large photo shows the towel I made for Caroline, who won the giveaway late last year. Others were gifts for friends.

These ended up in the Etsy shop:

I’ve also made some scarves. This one is the first thing I made on my new loom:

And two others:

And a baby blanket:

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Don’s been busy, too. He made this beautiful runner in colors that make me think of the tropics, along with coordinating placemats:

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And he just finished this runner for a customer:

Even though we’ve been cranky and distracted by news of the world, we carry on and do the things we love.

I know I won’t stop worrying but I also now I won’t stop hoping and, in that hope, I’ll continue to create because creating feels like building, and building feels positive . . . and I need all the positive I can get right now.

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114 thoughts on “Our Weaving Ways (Winter 2017)

  1. Yes, it’s a hard balance to strike between being on alert and stepping back from it. We’re struggling with that, too. I think there is much solace in making, and I try to spend some time on that most days. Also we need physical activity and RPT (Real People Time.) Though we both tend to be homebodies, we also feel better when we have some frequent contact with humans, in the flesh. Another thing to balance…

  2. Beautiful work as ever, Kerry. I should imagine that weaving must be a wonderfully absorbing labour of love. I am finding that I am knitting much more than ever – focusing on scarves where I don’t have to think too much about complicated patterns, but can enjoy sufficient intricacy to take my mind off things. Thank heavens for our crafty instincts! 🙂

  3. Your weaving is wonderful, Kerry. And how prolific you are! I am so glad that you have something to absorb you, to not only take your mind off what is happening, but also to give your mind time to process all that is happening.

    • Processing everything that is happening is an up-hill battle because, every day, there’s some new nuttiness! I keep trying to figure out if the chaos is strategic or if he-who-will-not- be-named simply had attention deficit disorder. The weaving provides respite . . .

  4. I wish I could say that times are quieter here, but alas not. The Québec shooting (this is NOT my Canada) worrying about you, our American cousins, worrying about the world in general….but let’s talk weaving, and equipment….
    Ah, your new loom, the big Leclerc. How do you like it?? And Kerry, I’m curious….After two sessions at Vävstuga, will there be a third? I so so so want to go for the linen classes, perhaps next year. Could not make it happen this year. And the wonderful Glimåkra looms…are you tempted? I am…even though I am loom settled, or should be….. May February be a gentler month!!

    • Oh, that shooting was so awful and such a shock! Canada?? Surely not . . .
      I like the big Leclerc a lot but i need to use it more. I’ve only done two projects and I’m still getting used to it–need to force myself to use only that loom until it really feels like mine. I am sure we’ll go back to Vavstuga but probably not this year. She does a class called Sagas and Fluff I’m very intrigued by and I think I could be happy in any of the workshops, really! I like using the Glimakra looms but haven’t really been tempted . . . yet. If one shows dup on Craigslist, for a great price, who knows! Thanks, Carmen–you’ve got me thinking happier thoughts!

  5. I must admit if I had your talent I might be oblivious to the world. Absolutely beautiful work. 🙂 The world news is enough to put us all in straight jackets regardless of belief. I truly believe it has sunk to the lowest level of fear mongering regardless of the topic. I watch one local and one world news and never ever check news on FB or Twitter. I value my sanity. 🙂 Weave on, friend. 🙂

    • Thanks, Judy! And regarding the news–it changes so constantly–I feel compelled to follow along! I am trying to limit myself to the New York Times, though, and really not pay much attention to Facebook. Ugh . . . I hate this.

  6. The weaving you do is beautiful. And so many finishes! When I look at a piece of woven cloth I think that it must take eons to complete and yet you have so many all complete! They are lovely. I can just picture the peaceful serenity of sitting at a loom and doing this lovely work.

    • Yes, similar to the serenity you feel when you do your handwork! The items of mine I showed here were four separate projects, really, done on two different looms. The towels were all done on one long warp, then the brown scarf, and the other two scarves were done on one warp. Then the baby blanket. And the work took place over about three months. It does take time but, like any craft, there are ways of streamlining and getting the most from the time invested.

  7. I stopped reading some of the news, it’s painful to see stupid on both sides,it’s time some Americans grow up and stop acting like ten year olds. My rant for the day. 😀 Love all your linens,blanket and scarves. The table runner makes me happy for it is in my favorite colors..

  8. Such beautiful scarves, Kerry. I am pleased that you have these noble pursuits to take your mind away from some of the awful things happening in your country right now. Distressing American news continues to fill our airwaves, and so I restrict myself to only a small amount of it.
    But nowhere feels totally safe these days.
    It’s been revealed that Trump’s actions (along with white nationalist Marine Le Pen’s of France) influenced the young man who slaughtered 6 and injured 19 others in a place of worship here in Canada just days ago — and you realize how extremist views can infect and affect others far away.

  9. That seems very positive. I’m becoming much more of an activist than I have ever been, but it feels more like a gesture to appease me than anything else. I’ll take a leaf from your book.

    • I’ve being feeling more like an activist than ever . . . but not sure what to do! There are no marches or protests in my rural area and my state’s members of Congress don’t need so much pressure to oppose some of the changes coming down. I’m a rebel with a cause but no venue!

      • I hear you. After years of relative isolation and quiet, I find myself waking up to the shocking reality that the battles we fought have to be refought. I wonder how humans can make the same mistakes all over again — either not realizing, or caring, about the eerie similarities of our time to other devastatingly ruinous eras and nations.
        Hitler succeeded in his evil ways because others supported him, or stayed quiet, or told themselves he wouldn’t really go as far as he did — until it was too late. Now that most of the survivors of that era have died, the collective wisdom of experience and lessons-learned seems to have died with them. But not if activists of all stripes turn their concern into action.
        It can be a small thing – signing petitions — to a larger thing – running for public office, or supporting someone else who is/should be considering it. The mid-terms are 20 months away.

      • Snap! I’ve joinerd various organisations, and I write all the time to my MP, who cuts and pastes a reply that in no way addresses the points I make…

  10. lovely towels, scarves and runners. terrible news…I am glad you can get to your weaving to relax. Yes, this is a strange winter – and we haven’t really had a normal winter again this year, so can’t even feel good about hunkering down and doing nothing but play with fiber. 🙂 It is snowing today, but not a storm – light steady stuff, 1-5 forecast ( a safe forecast, I think, since we already have the 1. And I hope it stops before it passes 5. 🙂 ) No day off today. 😦

  11. Kindred spirits Kerry…I can see the two of us, weaving, embroidering, knitting over tea and scones and chocolate…and muttering and grumbling, intertwined with happy yodeling over beautiful projects. Keep on weaving friend, its all beautiful!!

    • Your recent post (which I think I still haven’t commented on but I read it!) made me feel encouraged to write mine. I was feeling too glum to write but, you’re right, we need to bring ourselves up in the ways we can!

  12. Beautiful work, as always. I especially love the colors in Caroline’s towel. I’m doing more ducking (the news) than keeping up, so I’m sympathetic to your look/don’t look dilemma. A friend mentioned she has a do “something/step away/recharge” cycle going as her way of coping with it all. The loom is a good place to recharge.

  13. So beautiful, but – details, Woman! Cotton, linen, cottolin? 8 Harnesses? Weaving draft sources? On the peach scarf that you wove on your new loom, is the multicolor stripe in the warp?
    They are all gorgeous. It looks like you have been weaving for many years instead of just a few.

    • Thank you, Gwen! That’s a very nice thing to say! Regarding the details–I’m sorry I didn’t include them–I think only a few of my readers weave and I didn’t want to overwhelm them. So, for you–the towels are cottolin warp and random cotton and cotton weft. The weave structure is 4-shaft Rosepath from the Davison book. Very simple–the action comes from treadling changes and color. The peachy-rusty scarf is an M and W draft, again very easy 4-shaft, and, yes, there’s a stripe of variegated wool that runs warp-wise. It’s wool and the copper-colored fiber used for the rest of the warp and weft is silk/wool. The other two scarves are 4-shaft herringbone plaid and Tencel. If you have other questions, let me know!

      • Thank you for the information. I love how you did bands of different treadlings, separated by white, especially in the one that looks teal/gray and dark gray. Your towels and runners look so fresh and modern!

      • Thanks for the weaving details. I was happy to find them tucked in the comments section! It is fun to see how you two are creating and “playing” at the loom. I find handwork and music two reliable and delightful diversions! Glad you do too!

      • Yup–handwork and music (although we’re more listeners to than makers of music, usually)! I will try to remember that some folks want the details of the weaving and include those details more regularly in the future!

  14. Oh, I am in love with Don’s water hued creation. But you knew I would be!

    And of course, your work is so beautiful, it invites me to put out my hand and stroke the texture through time and space and revel in wonderful quality. Believe me, if I could my tea towel drawer would be emptied and restocked with your creations and I’ll bet I’m not the only admirer who thinks that!

    Thank you for adding those pops of textural beauty to my day ❤

    Here's a question for you re the state of the world, this is the one I pose myself whenever I have spent too much time talking about or researching the facts of what is going on: When did our worrying about events ever change them, make it better or make us feel good? Yes, there's a dangerous narcissist in the White House and therefore none of the rules apply. But worrying won't change that. Let's all live our lives and love what we are doing and take every opportunity to love and support every one else. Act when we can, help where we can, do what we can – and always be grateful and look for the good stuff. It's there and there is more and more good stuff happening. We just won't hear about in the media. Go high! xo

    • Your advice is really so sensible and I’m sure you’re absolutely right. Part of my problem is wanting to do something and not knowing what to do. There have been 5 tweets from him in the past hour alone, on radically different topics, and all could be seen as incendiary. My mind spins with all the different issues! But, this morning, I will go to my sewing group, and do some slow, mellow stitching and drink coffee and have a snack . . . and I will try and follow your advice! And thanks for the kids words about the weaving–of course I knew which your favorite would be!

  15. Beautiful work, Kerry. I’m curious, do you view your vintage linens differently now that you are weaving. Are you more critical or more appreciative of those handmade vintage items that you come across?

    I, too, am fixated on current events. Last thing I do before I go to bed and first thing I do in the morning (even before feeding the cat and having coffee) is scan the headlines.

    • I do look at my vintage linens differently! I understand some of them way better now, in fact. There were things that I used to think were done to the fabric–like cutting and drawing threads out to make a pattern–that I now know is done in the weaving. I think mostly I am more appreciative and amazed!
      And about the obsession with the world–I actually am using Twitter now and have gotten five tweets from “him” in the past hour. It has me in knots but I feel I need to keep an eye on things . . . it all happens so fast!

    • That’s so nice of you, Ginene! Thank you! And the towels love to be used–and they are very hard working, too. I think I should make some in a dark color so they would be less likely to show spots and people might feel better about putting them to work!

      • Kerry, An antique and vintage clothing store owner gave me this recipe for soaking and getting stains out that works wonderfully. Two cups of Biz, 1 Cup of Cascade Dishwashing Powder to 5 Gal of Water. Soak for three days and wash. I’ve gotten 70 year old stains out with the recipe. I love your white towels.

  16. You and Don have been so busy and the results of your busyness are glorious! Despite having had a fidgetty and worried winter so far you have used your time to good effect. The colours and colour combinations are so pretty – I just adore those scarves! If I owned the towels I wouldn’t use them except on grand occasions and then I would just flap them about and show them off!

      • I found your blog on Kaggsy’s blog. I weave and knit but nothing like your work. You’ve given me inspiration in these very dark days (and I don’t mean the weather, which hasn’t been bad in NYC.) I just don’t feel the strength to do anything. Too obsessed with checking Huff Post and NPR. Exquisite weaving. I checked my Davison book and I would really, really have to concentrate. Don’t think I have it in me at the moment.

  17. These are so beautiful! I have spinners and weavers at Kids Take Stock today and boy are they something to watch! Would love to see the two of you in action! Your creativity and color selections are wonderful with every color way you choose!

  18. I am bowled over–you do such beautiful work! I have a little loom at home that my husband bought me for Christmas. I haven’t played with it yet, but I’d imagine my results won’t quite compare with yours. But I’m inspired by you! And I understand you completely about the news. One awful thing after another; it makes me feel so helpless about doing anything, but I found a WWII-era article in one of my old magazines this week (posted yesterday) that really put some things in perspective for me and made me feel like I CAN do something, even if it’s not on a national or global level. Take care and happy weaving… 🙂

    • Your first efforts won’t look like my work but I’ve only been weaving about 3 years so you could start now and aim for that kind of timeline! I’ve been to two intensive week-long workshops, too–that helped me a lot!

  19. I know I’m across the pond but I’ve been feeling the same as you too recently. Twitter is so depressing but at the same time it’s all so important, it keeps me hooked. I think in difficult times, it is important to be *doing* things that make you feel good. Building something beautiful by hand is brilliant contrast to the dark forces in politics trying to destroy everything. The rainbow striped towel is my favourite – those colours are almost good enough to eat!

  20. [D] These are SO beautiful, Kerry. A lesson on how to turn political ugliness into practical beauty. [J] Inspriring. Makes me want to side-swipe D off the end of the weaving bench and commandeer the loom! I love beauty for its own sake, but beauty in utility is to me the highest order of art.

    • Thank you both! I agree about the love for beauty in utility–I’ve never quite been motivated to make art for its own sake (never mind not having the skill either!)

  21. Pingback: Our Weaving Ways (Winter 2017) | A Small Country Living in the Outer Hebrides

  22. The winter of our discontent indeed. You could have spoken for me in this post (well, substitute dogs for cats). My husband I recently retired from demanding, stressful, at times politically-influenced jobs and we just wanted some peace and quiet. We thought we could sink into “a happy fog of hominess and solitude,” on our little acreage on a hill–making things, building things, gardening, reading, playing a little music, reveling in the outdoors, enjoying our sweet doggy companions … And then this … I wobble through the days, first obsessed with the news and trying to compose cogent, articulate pleas to my Senators and then almost desperately retreating into the comforting rhythms of spinning and quilting. No matter what, a pall seems to lie over everything.
    It’s a balance between remaining vigilant and remaining sane.
    Your weaving is gorgeous. I will be trying to get my old loom up and running next year and may be looking to you for advice–it has been so many years since I used it.
    Thanks for this post, Kerry. It’s nice to know others out there are feeling the same way.

    • Wow–it’s as if we are twins of different mothers! SO many of the same feelings and fears. I will look forward to hearing of your weaving adventures once you start up again, and helping if I can. Are you on Facebook? There are some wonderful weaving boards where you’d find hundreds of people to help!

      • There’s one just called Weaving and another called 4-Shaft Weaving. Then there’s one called Marguerite P. Davison in Color–do you use the Davison book?

      • I don’t use any books at this point. The last time I wove was about 1976 and I only had two books (New Key to Weaving?? and some sort of pattern book). I will be starting fresh. I suspect that I will still have the basic muscle memory of weaving, but I feel a little overwhelmed by all the resources and information available now. I have some catching-up to do. The Davison book looks wonderful. In any case, I doubt that I will be weaving before next winter. My little loom needs some work.

  23. Your weavings are really beautiful and I imagine that the concentration they take is very soothing. I made a small felt turtle last night and have to say it was helpful. You’re right, the balance is hard to strike. I’m trying to stay informed, getting a little more active, but don’t want to be on the alert all the time. Well, we have four years to practice!

      • I have a friend who swears the Prez will get bored and resign, but I think he’s loving’ the attention, even if not all great. Then there’s impeachment, of course, but it would have to be country shattering for the Repub’s to go forward with it, and that’s not something I want to contemplate either. But his spokespeople run the gamut from disingenuous to downright mendacious, don’t they? Where’s Big Daddy when you need him?

  24. You’re weaving is magnificent, Kerry. Also, how productive you are! I am glad to the point that you have something to assimilate you, to not just take your brain off what is going on, additionally to give your mind time to process all that is going on…

  25. Well, you both have been very productive and have done gorgeous work! Weaving is wonderful for solace and meditation especially during such scary times. May you continue to find some peace in it.

  26. Beautiful, Kerry and Don! Such fine work, I truly love the colors. So glad you have your craft that provides some reprieve from the situation at hand. I find myself feeling uneasy throughout the day, listening to the radio/reading the headlines ( emailing our senators). Certainly, knitting, spinning, tending to the chores outdoors, all help to place my thoughts elsewhere ( for a time). You are right, this winter has a weight hanging over us….such sadness.

  27. Kerry,
    My sleepy brain just accidentally deleted your lovely comment on my sweater update. Thank you for the encouragement! I don’t know what I did, only that I was working on a different computer and must have used the wrong side of the touch pad or something!!

  28. So beautifully said, Kerry. I’m using part of today to put positive back in the world. I need to resolve that I can’t change the big picture right now, but I can continue to do things in my community that make a difference here. Your pieces are extraordinary. You and Don make a wonderful team.

  29. wonderful, wonderful weaving. You have perfected your skills in such a short time. The news is dread-ful, like you, I am trying to restrict myself but then feel like I HAVE to be informed. When it all gets to be too much I hide out in the studio. Together we can make a difference!

  30. Kerry, now this is going to sound weird, but your post warms my heart.
    Well of course because of the beautiful weaving (those scarves!) but also because I am right there with you in terms of the frightening actions of 45 (that’s how I will refer to him from now on).
    Your work is lovely, and I have to say, the photography is excellent, too.
    Stay strong my friend

  31. Your weaving is beautiful, Kerry!

    I can’t listen to the radio much anymore. Too much disturbing news, so I only tune in now and then, and try to keep busy with productive activities.

  32. I find myself checking news sites and online newspapers like never before and I am torn between the worries and concerns about the world that I and so many like minded people have and the need to get on with daily life and focus on positive outcomes. I also know that many disordered personalities thrive on any sort of attention to feed their enormous egos but what is happening is so serious that one can’t be indifferent. I am still in shock over what’s going on and I live in Australia! So sending you all my and many others support from Down Under! Wonderful that you have this gift of creating such beautiful woven goods to give you some solace. The scarves are so beautiful – I adore the colours! Take care 😃

      • We certainly understand that Kerry. I have lovely friends here from California – they are so upset too. Just have to stay positive and hope the wind starts changing direction very soon – surely the pendulum must swing back in a more reasonable direction at some not too distant point? Take care 😃

  33. Before the industrial revolution, Made in America meant at home. You are ahead of the curve… or, if society collapses, you can have dry dishes without needing the Dollar Store.
    Oscar

    • That’s a good way to look at it! Who needs the Dollar Store anyway? In this area, a nearly 200-year-old house was recently torn down to make room for a Dollar Store . . .

  34. Your woven towels and scarves are gorgeous! I like to get lost in a project and forget the troubles of the world as well as my own problems for a little bit. While I’ve been sewing, lately I’ve been feeling a desire for the comforting rhythm of my knitting needles again.

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