Transcendental Weaving

Since Madelyn chose to get everyone stirred up over warping last week, I think it’s time to restore some serenity to our weaving community. ( Tell us which warping method is best, you have until this Friday. Prizes will be announced in next week's newsletter.)


President Lincoln with George McClellan at
Antietam. Notice the coverlet at left.

Rita Hagenbruch's reproduction of the

Antietam coverlet.


We are so often buffeted by life’s necessities: work deadlines, juggling family schedules, volunteer activities, elections, taxes, even holidays. In the race of everyday living, we are often denied the luxury to just experience, to explore in depth, to “live deliberately,” as the great New England Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson would have said.


Weaving can offer us a welcome relief from all that outcome-oriented activity – a chance to sit deliberately down with one’s loom, far from the madding crowd, and experience the rhythms of one’s own body and mind. For some of us, it’s enough to beat and throw, watching the cloth grow. For others, weaving is a chance to indulge our curiosity or to visit other times and places. In the November/December issue of Handwoven, we explore the many facets of “slow cloth” into which we invest abundant time and imagination. Rita Hagenbruch introduces us to a reproduction coverlet she designed based on a Civil War photo of Abraham Lincoln at Antietam. What a journey from photo to cloth! Mary Berent explores the “perfect union” of pearl cotton and overshot, and Sarah Swett, with her characteristic humor, melds weaving and literature with a grocery list in tapestry.


You can weave your loving intentions for a friend or child into Maurine Adrezin’s tapestry wall dolls. You can visit Sara Lamb’s studio yurt in the forest and Rita Buchanan’s Connecticut haven, and read how Sarah Swett’s studio invites her back each day to focus on the fibers she loves. Maggie Casey challenges you to find out how slow you can go, spinning and sampling to create fabric that is utterly and uniquely yours. And if all this isn’t inspiration enough, take a look at the Slow Cloth gallery and be amazed at what weaverly skill and patience have wrought.


So fight your daily battles, fight the warping wars if you must, but always know that you may work small miracles in the beauty and simplicity of your weaving. As Emerson said, “We ascribe beauty to that which is simple; which has no superfluous parts; which exactly answers its ends.”

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