Sunday, March 22, 2009

Acting our Age
I've been taking weaving lessons. My teacher is a retired Home-Ec teacher who told me to just come over straight from work every Monday night - she would make me dinner. I was so there.

When she told me I'd be sleying the reed on the loom. I got all excited. Wow! This hobby is way more exciting than people give it credit for I thought. Turns out...THIS is sleying - in weaving terms anyway.

The great thing about my spinning and weaving guild is that I feel so young. The average age is about 62 so I clock in on the low end. That is...until "the kid" showed up. No, really...she's thirteen years old. When she arrived at the guild meeting with her mother, I thought "poor kid's been dragged to this meeting by her fibre addicted mom." Turns out it was the other way around. This young lady is willowy, blond with intelligent deep brown eyes and the soul of an artist. As we were weaving together at our last lesson I was thinking how beautiful she would be in about 2 or 3 years. Let's see - bright, polite, pretty and loves the fibre arts. Why she'd make a perfect daughter in law. I began plotting in my mind how I could convince my twin teen aged sons to drop by the guild meeting when I suddenly realized that at age 18 they were too old for her! My babies were too old!!! That makes I was processing this horrible realization, she asked our teacher a question that blew me away. "Could I bring two of my friends to the next guild meeting? They're 12 and want to learn to weave."

These fibre arts that we love so much are quite trendy with young people these days. My 13 year old guild mate is not an isolated incident. She's part of a trend. What's really touched me most is the absolute joy on the faces of the older guild members as these young people come to the meetings and take their first tentative steps towards becoming weavers, spinners and knitters. These people have buried husbands, sold their looms to go into retirement homes and struggled with aging eyes and hands that don't quite work so well when you need them to. Most importantly, they know that these arts aren't taught in schools or even within homes any more. They are the keepers of the crafts and these young people represent the future. This blanket was woven in four hours by a guild member in her eighties. You don't make magic like this in four hours without decades of practice and love.

We're seeing this passing of the torch in many ways and some of us are better sports about it than others. Some of our beloved magazines have a younger, hipper vibe. They feature designs flattering those in their twenties. A woman "of substance" wouldn't be caught dead in that stuff. The styling has an edge to it and everything comes with a hood. Ah, for the good old days when knits were classic and each issue of our favourite magazine had scores of patterns we couldn't wait to start! Drat that new editor. It just hasn't been the same since she took over.

We need to take a different view. Yes, things may be changing but if we're honest, so are we. Let's support those young designers and editors who are reinventing the craft. All of the designs may not be for us but if it brings new fibre artists into the fold - hurray! If you love knitting, weaving, spinning enough then you'll be wistful yet a little glad when next you look at a new set of designs. It's the way things should be. After all - every woman has three distinct stages to her life:
  1. Babe
  2. District Attorney
  3. Driving Miss Daisy


Cheryl from Creemore said...

Hey Michelle

You're so lucky to have great teachers/mentors ... especially ones who'll make you dinner!

Dressing your loom is really not much different from knitting and spinning. Each and every small step is necessary to the final outcome. I learned to enjoy the challenge of threading the loom... you can experience the meditative "zen" of it just like spinning or knitting.

Try to be as comfortable as possible, put on some great music and you're done in no time.

It's great to see that you've taken the plunge!

I enjoy your blog!

Susan from Colorado said...

I almost cried when I read the line about older ladies selling their looms to go into retirement homes, because that's how I got my first loom, and it almost broke my heart (again) to think of that 85 year old lady having to ask her son to sell her loom for her. But the blessing is that her loom went to ME who loves it very much, and it won't sit empty while I own it.

Anonymous said...

Hey! I forgot to say Haooy Birthday to you elsewhere, so I'll wish you a happy belated here. Hope you had a great day, and the year to come is wonderful!