The Lucky Ones

As we come into the home stretch towards Thanksgiving and the holidays, it's good to take time out for gratitude. Here's Lisa Hill, Handwoven contributor and tech editor, dreamer, and philosopher to share some reasons she is thankful to be a weaver today. ––Anita

  Original Placemats on the Loom
   The original placemats on the loom.
  Original Placemats in use
   The original placemats on the table.

I, like many handweavers have a touch of the Luddite (the original Luddites were handweavers after all), and I sometimes fantasize about a weaving life in a mossy cottage away from all the distractions of the modern world—an orderly, calm weaving day during which a deep, systematic understanding of handweaving traditions could be developed . . . but instead, whether because of the blinking lights of our electronic world or because of an idiosyncrasy of mine, my projects are usually driven by a confluence of circumstances.

I would like to say that I have a weaving priority list that I follow with strict discipline, but like a small child I will follow a pretty yarn, a rainy day’s call for a cozy throw, a worn hand towel above the sink, or a beloved friend’s birthday to my next project. In the case of my current project, I had woven a set of placemats that I really liked several years ago, but I liked them so much I had to give them to someone I loved—my mom. So a set of replacements was on my weaving list (the list I mentioned before: the list that I constantly add to, revise, ignore, and long to approach more systematically; the list that causes my stash to optimistically grow; the list that makes me both sad that I will never weave everything on it and happy that I will never be without something I want to weave).  

The new Placemats  
 The new set of placemats waiting for hems  

The placemats were somewhere on my list, and then I found some beautiful, natural-colored raw silk mill ends similar to the yarn I used for the original set. This bumped the placemats up a bit, but the final push was seeing Rosalie Neilson’s downloadable video on Rep. I was reminded how much I liked the structure by watching her video and seeing her gorgeous work. I was set; I had the need, the inspiration, the material, and the ability . . . but wait, did I save my file for the original placemats? (Did you read the part about longing to be more systematic?) So I didn’t have my draft, but I knew where I got the information about rep for the first set. It was in the “Rep Rules” September/October 2005 issue of Handwoven. I knew I could re-read that issue and re-create my project.


Here is where I want to say, “Forget the mossy cottage! We are the lucky ones.” We modern weavers are swimming in a very deep pool of resources. It astounds me that we can download 19 years of Handwoven’s weaving insight and expertise to read, learn from, and be inspired by. Many of us have a complete or semi-complete library of back issues of Handwoven, but I personally welcome anything that I can store digitally as the gerbil trails in my studio get narrower. (I keep fantasizing about digitally stored yarn!) We can take classes with some of today's most accomplished weavers without leaving home, and we have access to more accumulated weaving wisdom than ever before. We are lucky because these resources both enrich our weaving lists and make our dream projects doable. So as appealing as the fantasy of the mossy cottage away from the hustle bustle of the modern world is, there is a lot to be said for the cozy glow of the laptop and the treasure trove of weaving goodness it puts at our fingertips.

—Lisa Hill

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