Saturday, January 2, 2016

Weaving a Simple Living Guide

Do you remember the song about "the hip bone's connected to the leg bone?" Simple living skills have similar structural connections. Start with something basic, such as clothing. Cloth comes from fibers which come from plants (flax-farming) or animals (wool from sheep, mohair from goats, etc.-farming or ranching-husbandry) which are collected, processed, spun (Rumpelstiltskin-folk tale) into threads or yarns and then woven into cloth or knitted into garments.

The Yankee magazine guide lists only Spinning and Weaving.

The North House Folk School (Grand Marais) has current classes in:
  • clothing & jewelry
  • fiber arts (including natural dyes), and
  • knitting

tapestry loom
Photo by J. Harrington

My Better Half (proud owner of the loom shown above) shared the following two local (Twin Cities area) resources:

We've also found the Shepherd's Harvest Sheep and Wool Festival in Washington County at the fair grounds to be a fun and educational resource each Spring. And, don't forget to check My Minnesota's side bar for blogs such as Sheep Notes. Interest in folk arts, and therefore folk schools, is growing. We'll see what we can do about creating a separate category just for local folk schools.

Back to those connections again. We recently bought a Midwest Foragers Guide, which includes some plants that can serve for dyes, so foraging resources are probably another resource to keep in mind, in addition to books dedicated to natural dyes. Scout & Morgan book store in Cambridge often has a good selection of both kinds of such books.

Rag Rug

By Rachel Hadas
It has arrived—the long rag rug
    multiply folded. On top, one alien hair.
       I put my face to the folds and smell despair
            palpable as salt air
       in all those rooms and houses, small and smug—
enclosures I passed through on my way where?

Whoever did the weaving appears old
    in my mind’s eye. I can’t make out her face,
       can only conjure up the faintest trace
            of an abstracted grace,
       clack of the loom. Does she know they’ll be sold
these precious things, in some unheard-of place?

I perch her on a hill, precariously
    beyond the reach of waves’ daily boom.
       Sun blazes overhead, but her dim room
            (no bigger than the loom)
       is proof against the violence of the sky
From it I further spin what I once called my home:

Endless horizons fading into haze,
    the mornings dawn came up so rosy clear;
       snails in the garden, sheep bells everywhere,
            the brightness of the air,
       terraces, valleys organizing space
and time’s cessation. So this package here

I’m now unwrapping, in New York, today
    (rugs like rainbows, woven with a grace
       my strands of language barely can express;
            dishrags of dailiness
       dispersed and recombined and freshly gay)
comes to me imbued with images,

slowly and faithfully across the water,
    across the world. It represents a time
       I myself snipped and recombined as rhyme
            as soon as I went home,
       if that is where I am. These rugs recover
the sense of stepping twice into a single river.


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