As of today the holiday season is officially over for me and I’m finally back in the office (even if the office is just down the hall from the kitchen where I spent much of the holiday season). The guests have all safely arrived back home and the rigid-heddle loom was not only a hit with the seven-year-old, but her nineteen-year-old sister also asked very nicely if she could have a go at weaving a scarf and was just as entranced with the process.
Watching those two weave on a loom for the first time was a wonderful experience. It made me remember the moment I first realized that I was actually creating cloth. I had knit before I had woven, so I was not completely new to textiles, but the thrill was like no other. I could see that same pure joy on their faces as they began watching their cloth take shape and when each scarf came off the loom, there was the pride of knowing, “I made this!” It was a wonderful thing to witness.
It’s not only the act of weaving that can bring such joy, but also the gift of a handwoven item. While I have heard many a horror story of people giving gifts of carefully handmade items (whether woven, crocheted, knit, or other) that were tossed aside as cheap and meaningless by the recipient, I have been lucky enough that the recipients of my handwovens have always been grateful. None, though, were so grateful as my grandfather this year.
A recent widower, my grandfather is getting used to living alone. I knew he would often get so cold during the Kansas winter so I decided to weave him a scarf. Normally I would use my favorite alpaca, but for a man not accustomed to washing wool I decided instead to use a superwash blend of deliciously soft merino and easy to care for acrylic. My grandfather is of good, solid German stock and shuns ostentatious patterns and color combinations, so I chose a simple (but classic) herringbone pattern in navy blue and a silvery gray.
The knitting yarn was a bit springy, which made both winding and warping a bit of a challenge (lesson learned on that front) but it wove up quickly and beautifully and when I threw it into the washer on high after wet-finishing, there was not a bit of felting to be seen—perfect. The scarf arrived on Christmas Eve and while I was not there to see him open it, I did get plenty of thanks. He said he not only wore it all day Christmas Eve, but also to bed at night to keep him extra warm and every day after that.
As much as I enjoy giving out fancy scarves and elegant tea towels, I sometimes forget that the simplest gifts can be the best, especially when they are full of love. I’m glad that the scarf makes my grandfather happy, if even for a few moments. I hope it keeps him warm when the wind blows and the snow snows. As the weather warms I will weave for him some towels to use around the house out of soft, sensible cotton to clean up his messes and brighten his kitchen.
I hope that what I give him brings him happiness and comfort and, if I’m honest, something he can brag about at the senior center. Most of all I hope when he wears his scarf or uses his towels he thinks of me: his eldest grandchild so far from Kansas, but still so very close.