Monday, February 24, 2014

I Weft My Heart in Harrisville





Hopie and I spent the past two weekends in Harrisville, New Hampshire, at what is best described as adult weaving camp. If you, too, were raised by a mother obsessed with PURITAN SKILL SETS you can imagine how thrilling this was for us (and how much we missed our two other sisters). Like anyone who grew up brainwashed by Tasha Tudor books I've had romantic notions of weaving, but I started researching floor looms in earnest when I was in grad school and exploring linen options for my paintings (I work on a heavy, tight weave linen from India).

So when my friend Charlotte casually asked if I like wanted to go to super-intense adult weaving workshop in New Hampshire with her at the mill her family's been running for five generations, I said DOES A DOLLY HAVE SPOTS.






Harrisville has been spinning virgin wool since 1794 and building looms for home weavers since the fiber art zeitgeist of 1970's; their history is just remarkable. The town is what Yankee dreams are made of.

Tom was our teacher; Tom is maybe in his early-sixties, has a grey ponytail, one dangly silver-and-turquoise earring, a steady yoga practice, and an encyclopedic knowledge of weaving and fiber.

Some people have spiritual gurus; forget them– you don't need them if you have TOM.



Hopie and Charlotte and I took the Learning to Weave class; we worked on a four-harness loom with an unlimited supply of Harrisville's famous yarn (which you can now buy from them directly online). Class was eight hours a day, broken up by trips across the street for BLTs and almond cake at the adoooorable Harrisville General Store, where a group of locals played cribbage at the back corner table. My loom neighbor was a sass-dispensing 65-year-old former-Catholic-nun named Lorraine who baked us all quiche and asked God to help her every time she warped and swore in Polish when she missed her floating selvage. God I love Lorraine.

PEAK LIFE EXPERIENCE. 

Now of course I'm searching Craigslist for used looms with visions of Joshua Tree plant-dying + weaving + block printing workshops dancing in my head DOT DOT DOT.

P.S. thank you for all the generous words of wisdom and support about Flat Top Projects! Updates as soon as I come up for air. New Block Shop collection finally launches this Friday!

24 comments:

  1. Sounds amazing and I really want to see Flat Top weaving!

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  2. Everyone is learning to weave! I can't wait to take a class in April. I feel like weaving fabric to paint (or print) on is like making paper to print on (which I sometimes do), only crazier. Love it.

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  3. Tom sounds like THE guy to meet. What a wonderful week and beginning of new projects to come. <3

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  4. so many coincidences with seeing this post today -
    i am heading out to joshua tree this weekend to escape frigid and snowy minneapolis (so pumped!)
    AND I just got a little table loom. I am super struggling with getting it set up correctly, and it has nothing on these huge floor looms! still, very excited to play around with it. this workshop sounds so fun.
    can't wait to see what you end up doing with your new skills!

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  5. Lily, you sure know how to weave a tale... bwahahahaha. Twill you tell us more yarns about Lorraine?

    I have a feeling your mom and mine are birds of a feather. Momma Fox has a hand loom, table loom, spinning wheel, carding combs, taught me to knit, crochet, calligraphy, how to make my own ink and dye... and has always wanted an alpaca. Now she's mostly obsessed with flowers and corgis. (She loves that her favorite departed corgi chewed our copy of "Corgiville Fair" and "Christmas Cat" - "he left something for us to remember!")

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  6. Gorgeous Lily. This is the first time I have commented on your blog but have been following for awhile. I love what you are doing in Joshua Tree and with Block Shop! I took a weaving class on travels in Laos and it was amazing (and hard work!.... especially in 90+ degree weather :). We wove with silk which was incredibly fine and thin so it took a really long time :). I hope someday I can try out cotton and wool! Really nice stuff. Looking forward to the Friday launch of your Spring line!

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  7. Amazing! This is why I follow your blog and instagram. You're always searching, pushing, creating. Never a moment of acceptance or apathy. Always pushing boundaries and making the most of life. Thanks for being that comfort and inspiration.

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  8. I am so coming to join your Joshua Tree commune. SO THERE.

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  9. While I was in college, I took a "January Term" where we assembled a Harrisville Design four harness loom. We were taught how to dress the loom, then wove a sampler. I also made a set of six "rag rug" style placemats. This was back in 1976.
    I still have the loom. It's been in storage for some time now. I've pulled it out a few times with big plans, however, it needs a few replacement parts before I can dress it again.
    This post has me determined to get my loom fixed up.
    I love New Hampshire. This brings back some great memories.
    I'm also so happy to hear about the Blockshop launch! I love the Dolly scarf (and Dolly the dog, so cute!)

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    1. amazing. have you been back to harrisville since?! they have replacement parts for sale online now. thanks for the excitement for the new block shop collection- we've been working away on this since JUNE, which i can't even believe any more. xoxo!

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    2. I haven't been to Harrisville. I'd love to go and have a look at all that beautiful yarn and the Harrisville General Store, it sounds like my kind of place.
      I have been looking around the website. They have all the parts I need to get my loom back in shape! Thanks for the inspiration!

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  10. Check out my weaver friend Susan who lives and in Avalanche, WI. Yes, Avalanche. :) Her blog is beautiful with pics of her weaving studio/store and insightful musings.
    http://avalanchelooms.blogspot.com

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  11. It's always a good day when there's a new post up over here. Thanks for sharing.

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  12. Tom is amazing and Harrisville wool is so beautiful. But don't get locked into a loom until you've had a chance to check out the Swedish looms and weaving at Vavstuga in Shelburne Falls, MA. It may blow your mind. :)

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    1. WHOAAAAAAAA. I need to come check this place OUT. Mind, blown.

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  13. Ha,ha. Tasha Tudor. Me.too. I taught myself to weave years and years ago, and I haven't improved much, but I persist, and it's still one of my favorite things to do every day. Good luck, you're off to a beautiful start

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    1. LOVE hearing this, Susan! I'm itching to get back on the loom and love hearing you've stuck with it. Power to you.

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  14. Mucho inspiring and a mighty YES to the JT workshops!!!!

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  15. I am having insane weaving envy right now and I wish there was a way to teleport from SF to Harrisville. Ahhhhhh!

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  16. I have been SO jealous of you for this! Living vicariously through your fiber-y instagrams, lady.

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  17. What beautiful colours! alas, i lack the patience!

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  18. Sounds like a wonderful creative experience....and the setting is beautiful. would love to visit the store for those BLTs and cakes!

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