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first fruits of the loom

Everywhere I look in this house there is work to be done. The chalkboard reminds me seventy times a day that something must be cooked for dinner tonight, and something must be purchased from Whole Foods, and after that if I can stay on my feet we really need more soap set up to cure.

Meanwhile, the dishwasher and the washing machine are ravenous beasts that can never be satisfied. Though I offer them sacrifices at least twice daily, still it is not enough. Their tribute piles up on every surface, demanding to be fed to the hideous dirt demons.

So for a few minutes every day I am actively trying to stop looking at my house. It will never meet your standards of cleanliness, I remind myself. Not with two kids and a dog and a wheelbarrow of soil-covered parsnips drying in the middle of my living room. (Yes, that is a real thing that's in my line of vision right now.) Look at something pleasant and orderly for a moment, I tell myself, and don't think about the next ten years.

So for now I am looking at my loom.

a crappy flash photograph because I'm too busy cleaning dring the daytime to take pictures when it's light

The first slap-dash warping job I mentioned is already used up and off the machine. I had hoped to turn the product into Christmas gifts, but as with everything I make the first fruits needed to be immediately tithed to the children.

Harvey: "It's finished! Can it be for me?"
Me: "Well, I was going to give this as a present."
Harvey: "It can be a present for PowPow!"
Me: "What is PowPow going to do with a dish towel?"
Harvey: "He can use it for a blanket."
Me: "PowPow already has a blanket. I made him a quilt and a pillow!"
Harvey: "He doesn't have a WARM blanket. And Suzanna doesn't have a blanket!"
Me: "Okay, you can have this for Suzanna, but I am NOT making a separate bed for her; she needs to share with PowPow and that's final."

Okay, don't look at me that way. I put my foot down on A LOT OF OTHER THINGS. Besides, Harvey helped weave this textile, so it's only fair that he should help decide what it's used for.

All tucked in and warm

Meanwhile I poured a hundred bucks into my new hobby and ordered a warping board from Etsy to try to take the set-up down from three hours to one. While I waited for that to arrive (plus the other warping tools and some yarn which tipped the scales over the free-shipping mark) I strung a small warp to make some headbands for Chanukah.

Harvey didn\'t ask for a headband at least

This headband was made from some heavy wool I found left over in the box of loom accessories. Thanks fourth-grade self! You saved me some money! (Although you really should have bought us a warping board, just saying.) I made the headband in plain weave and sewed some fabric-covered elastic on the back. I hope it wasn't too rustic for my brother's fancy girlfriend... I tend to make things I might like to wear, forgetting that I'm a filthy hippy while my brother only dates brilliant accomplished tiny women. (This one is a doctor!)

This headband is made with relics!

The second headband was for my mom. In the box of ye old goodies I found something that really brought me back in time; a ball of yarn I had spun from Chocky's fur. Chocky was a samoyed my parents owned when I was young. He was a very special dog for my family, a dog with a larger-than-canine personality that was only matched by his thick white coat of fur which needed constant maintenance. It was my mother who did all that brushing, and even though she cursed when she hit a snag in the fur, and even though she yelled till she was horse when that dog wouldn't come back in the woods (which was most of the time) she loved Chocky dearly. She keeps a photograph of him in the place of honor above her kitchen sink.

When it came time to bury Chocky's ashes in the backyard, the whole family assembled. My brother even drove in from the city for the funeral. But it turns out my family is terrible at acting formal and we had some trouble striking the right tone. Dan was there, though, and he had brought his trumpet. So when when everyone was standing around cracking stupid jokes because we didn't know what to say, Dan walked a few paces off and started to play Taps. As the notes of the music drifted over us in the setting sun, the weight of the moment finally settle on us. We all realized how much we really loved that dog. I have never been prouder to be married to a horn player with an appreciation of high church ceremony.

So I wanted to make something for my mother with that tiny bit of fur, but it was too thin to hold together on its own in either weaving or knitting. After a few failed attempts, I paired it with some blue mohair and cashmere and alternated rows unevenly to create this woven look. Again it came out rustic, but like Taps it was just beautiful enough to stir the right emotion. Mom really liked it.

sentimental gifts for my mom

Meanwhile, the warping board came in and I am ready to start on actual dish towels.

Of course, Harvey is eyeing the red thread that I bought and keeps asking when it's time to work in HIS weaving. And Zion, apropos of nothing, asks if I can sew him a robot. So it's not like the to-do list is getting any shorter...


In my defense it is a very small wheelbarrow, and parsnips are yummy delicious food. Perhaps they don't belong in the living room, true, but the root cellar isn't ready yet!

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