Thursday, November 19, 2009

Weaving and Writing in Asheville

Any weavers out there?

Donald and I were the lucky recipients of a wonderful loom a year or so back. It's gorgeous!

I took weaving lessons many many years ago while we were still in Atlanta. At the Chastain Arts Center (a place I really love), Dream Weaver Studio (sadly - no longer in business), and from master weaver and lovely lady Betty Smith who was a long time instructor at the John C. Campbell Folk School (another place I really love). While I was taking a class with Betty, she introduced me to her friend and neighbor - another Betty Smith. Betty Smith, Musician. This is from her webpage:

Betty Smith has performed, taught and shared traditional music of the South for over thirty years in concert halls, festivals, workshops and classrooms. She combines her musical roots and talents with her skills as a communicator to present musical experiences which have been described as 'unique' and 'magical'. With her extensive collection of Southern, Appalachian and British ballads, folk songs and hymms - she takes her audience on a cultural voyage.

While trying her best to teach me to weave, we would listen to recordings of Ms. Smith's music. One of my favorites was a poem by Byron Herbert Reece, Georgia's Appalachian Poet, which Ms. Smith had put to music. The Ballad of the Weaver. These weaving lessons will remain dear to my heart for a number of reasons - Betty and her husband were lovely people to spend time with. Interesting and wonderful story tellers. I will always remember them with great fondness and be thankful for the things I learned from them - sadly, weaving didn't seem to be one of them. Oh, I tried. And I tried. Once the loom was dressed, I loved throwing the shuttle and watching fabric appear like magic. But I just never got it.

Just. Never. Did. Get. It.

I rented a small loom from Betty and brought it home. After much head scratching, reading Betty's notes, reading Deborah Chandler's wonderful LEARNING TO WEAVE book, I had my loom dressed and settled in with a smile to begin the, to me, fun part of weaving. I threw the shuttle a few times and oddly, I was done. What I thought was going to be a nice long scarf, was instead a piece perhaps long enough to wear as a headband. That was it for me. But the weaving bug had grabbed Donald along the way.

The loom went back to Betty's house. My fascination with the process continued and I did manage to do a scrumptious silk boucle shawl which I still love and cherish. But this was done in the Dream Weaver's Studio with more help from the resident weavers than I should admit to. Dressing the loom just makes no sense to me. There's a good deal of math involved. NOT, by any means, a strong point for me. There's a lot, I think, mechanical aptitude needed. Certainly not a strong point of mine, but absolutely one for Donald.

Years went by and whenever the occasion might present itself at which I was able to watch someone weave, I would be totally entranced with it all.

As we all know, God works in mysterious ways. Right? And this wonderful loom found its way to us.

And it sat.

and it sat.

and it sat in our sunroom for over a year.

and it takes up a huge amount of room.

but, it's also beautiful.

Then as luck would have it, at one of our neighborhood get-togethers, the subject of weaving came up. Seems one of our neighbors also has a loom and has done some weaving in the past. He and Donald got to talking and next thing I knew a little spark found its way into Donald's always curious self and he's reading about the loom. Asking questions. Searching out things on-line.

And so we made a little trip to Asheville, NC last week.

Asheville is wonderful. There's more to Asheville than just the Biltmore Estate; although that's pretty awesome, indeed.

The downtown area, unlike many cities, is vibrant and full of lovely little restaurants with outdoor seating, funky shops and galleries and a fascinating mix of architectural styles which the city embraces and honors.

There's a great little well-known bookstore/cafe; Malaprop's, which has this fun piece of sculpture in front.

And right down the street from Malaprop's, is EarthGuild - ta DA! A place to buy missing, needed and wanted parts and supplies for The Loom. We spent a fun hour or more here. Donald found everything he needed, including knowledgeable folks to answer all his weaving questions.

And being surrounded by all the gorgeous fibers was more than I could stand.

I don't knit very often, but every once in awhile the urge will hit. How could it not in a place like this?!

Here's what I got. Won't this make a fun and sassy scarf?

And before we know it, Donald will be weaving beautiful pieces like these -

O.K. - Next stop.

Accent on Books. Artisan booksellers since 1983.

This is where the Official "Clothes Lines" Launch Party was held. And a lovely event it was. And a fine time was had by all!

Huge thanks to Byron Ballard and the entire staff for a wonderful evening.

Byron tells us about 50 people attended the launch.

Me, Celia Miles and Byron Ballard

(What's more fun than cuddlin' with your honey in a bookstore?!
Not much!!!)

This was a lovely, lovely day.

Topped off with dinner at one of our favorite restaurants - The Italian Restaurant in Pineola, NC

life is good.


Byron Ballard said...

Thanks, Kaye. I'm looking forward to seeing some weaving.

le0pard13 said...

That's a gorgeous loom. Congrats, Kaye.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting to see and read about the loom. I dare say that it takes a coordination that I lack. Also, I had to comment as Asheville is one of my most favorite places. My aunt and several cousins live in the area and I've made the trip several times from Maine since childhood. The last couple with my own kids so that they can see how beautiful it is... Thank you for reminding me.

Vicki Lane said...

Oh, you hit some of my favorite places and people! Byron is terrific, as is Celia, as is Accent on Books and so is Malaprops. And Earth Guild always makes me wish I knew how (or had time ) to knit. I to tried to learn to weave years ago but the dressing the loom part did me in.

My earliest memory of Betty Smith (the musician) is from back in the early seventies. Betty was singing and playing her psaltery early one morning at a bluegrass festival in Florida -- and as I wakened to the lovely sounds, for a moment I thought it might be angels.

Vicki Lane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Now you all know I'll be keeping you posted with Donald's weaving progress! The man amazes me constantly. He's curious enough about so much that he will just tackle a huge variety of things, and ends up doing them all quite well.

Teagan - I'm so glad had a pleasant little walk down memory lane! Always a fun thing!! I hope you're able to get back to the area soon.

Vicki - I can well imagine you thought you were being awakened by angels! The recording I have of hers is a cassette and I'm thinking it's time to order it on CD. and isn't it funny that you and I had the very same reaction to dressing a loom? It did me in too.

I'm going to try to knit my new yarn into a scarf in the next week or so (maybe over the long Thanksgiving weekend). I'm excited about my new yarn. The fibers have come such a long way in recent years. Gorgeous overdyes and a multitude of textures.

B.G. Ritts said...

That loom looks similar to the one my step-mother used for years. She also had a smaller wooden one, and the smallest was made of metal. I still have a few of her pieces, including a bookmark. She loved weaving, but wasn't so keen on the finishing. She'd make a whole bunch before she could get herself into the mood to stop weaving and start sewing the ends.

That's the same way my dad felt about leather work. He loved doing the tooling, but he didn't care much for lacing to finish the piece.

Jill said...

I think that I hear the shuttle going back and forth. Looking forward to seeing your and Donald's work! The Italian Restaurant is also one of my favorite places.

Jen Forbus said...

What a fantastic day! I can't wait to see what you knit and what Donald weaves on the loom!! I need to get my crochet hook back in business. I'm still trying to figure out a way to ditch the full time job (it's such a time drain) and still keep food in my mouth, a roof over my head and my Internet connected! LOL