Time To Weave – January 2015
In anthropology now, the term ‘thick description’ refers to a dense accumulation of ordinary information about a culture, as opposed to abstract or theoretical analysis. It means observing the details of life until they begin to coagulate or cohere into an interpretation.
I’d like to see thick description make a comeback. Apart from sheer sensuous pleasure, it gives you the comforting feeling that you’re not altogether adrift, that at least you have an actual context to enter into and real things to grapple with.
— Anatole Broyard
My first formal training in adult life was in animal husbandry (BS 1979). I farmed. I cowboyed. I went overseas to teach agriculture twice for extended periods of time in SE Asia.
Being in a vastly different culture made me awaken to and question the ways in which I made sense of the world. I came to see the world through the eyes of the people with whom I then livd and it was vastly different than the way in which I had been raised. Eventually I returned for my doctorate in epistemology, including a clinical component.
In spite of my education I most enjoyed being outdoors doing physical work. I started training Labrador retrievers for field work and put my first bitch through AKC Master Hunter. In 1997 we bought a pair of trained pack llamas for accessing the Continental Divide Trail that runs from Canada to Mexico along the crest of the Rocky Mountains. Over the years we added to our herd. We returned to Canada in 2000, started a retreat, and eventually ran a dozen packers as a registered guide for backcountry work in the northern Parkland region of Manitoba. It was a lot of fun.
Over the years annual shearing produced a lot of fibre. The natural next step was processing the fibre and weaving it. After the purchase of our first hand loom we came across a power loom which we purchased. Many hundreds of pounds of wool yarn came with it. Neighbours here could not sell the raw wool from their sheep for any decent price. We exchanged our assistance shearing for wool; we started stockpiling. We kept our eyes out for other looms at very reasonable prices. Often some level of refurbishing or repair or fabrication was required. We started rescuing machines. We shared these with others out of our desire to simply promote weaving. And a few years ago on a trip to the Carolinas to train dogs we bought seven hundred and fifty pounds of heavy cotton yarn for making into blankets and hauled it home, all at a fraction of the cost of buying it retail here in Canada.
We currently have four very different hand looms and one power loom and enough yarn to keep us going for a very long time. We enjoy every aspect of weaving: literature, looms, tools, yarn, our mentors, encouraging others, and the physical nature of weaving itself.
This site was begun as a way for us make a record of what we learn, and to both record it in an attractive and usable format, as well as to present it in a way that others might also benefit, and that they too might be drawn into this hidden wholeness of weaving.
Within the field of sociology there is recognition that there is something elemental – an ‘enduring pattern‘ – that in given similar geographical, economic, and social circumstances, communities maintain habits of life and mind over immense periods.