Two weekends ago we went to the Celebration of Textiles at the Textile Museum. We had a fabulous time exploring crafts unfamiliar to us, learning more about old favorites, and trying out some of the hands-on activities. Most of the exhibits were by particular groups: guilds, schools, shops, etc.
One of the most interesting exhibits there was the exhibit of braille looms. Braille uses a 6-dot cell to create letters. For weaving, each particular dot stands for one texture (or color). The yarns are manipulated on a loom with 6 harnesses. (Is "harnesses" the right word for this in the weaving world? "Shafts," maybe?) Depending on what the placement of the different textured yarns tells you, you can translate a line of weaving to a particular letter. The demonstrators were spelling out people's names. The combination of linguistics and art is quite clever in this weaving. It made me think of poems written in the shape of something related to the poem, or about ASL "ABC" stories that play off the handshapes of fingerspelling.
At the next table, a guild was demonstrating various kinds of fine embroidery. I loved the blackwork examples. One woman was embroidering a small circular picture of a garden worked all in absolutely miniscule french knots. Incredible. The embroiders were teaching novices to make the stitches on a large piece of gingham stretched on what I guess is a quilting frame. Kids were lining up to try it out as older visitors received cross stitch lessons from other guild members.
We watched a rug maker doing restoration work on an old rug. He talked about the meticulous work that goes into different kinds of carpets. Fascinating to see him work. All I could think was that if he could do that, I can learn to darn socks....
Son tried his hand at weaving on a beautiful old-fashioned tape loom. Several different kinds of looms were on display at the weaving booth and we were intrigued by them. Son seemed confident in his weaving. At first I did not think much about his ability. But then I watched the next child and struggle with how to get a woven pattern as opposed to loops and snarls going every which way. Son defintely could see how the choices he made with his hands would create the woven tape.
I'm afraid this trip may have inspired yet another fibercraft habit. A small loom may be in our future. Perhaps an inkle loom? 0r a rigid heddle? I like the idea of weaving Son a tallis for his bar mitzvah--which is in 6 years....
I loved watching a groups of three knitters work on a "knitting bee" shawl. Wish I had a picture. Very cool. I think we may make that a family project sometime soon!
Last but not least, we watched the sheep in the garden get new spring hairdos. There were so many people crowded around the shearers that I stood back and watched an adorable little girl alternately shriek and giggle each time the sheep bahhhed at her. Too cute!