Weaving for Our Community

Community weaving is one of the great traditions at Maine Coast Semester, and I was one of the lucky ones to be a part of it. I was on the first weaving program with Adi and Julia, with Sue West and Yasamin teaching us. We first learned how to spin the wool into yarn on a spinning wheel. You first take a piece of wool, then you split it in half if it is big, then you start to feed it into the wheel. We watched Sue spin first, and it looked so easy. I tried next, and it was not easy… I kept over-spinning it and not spinning it enough. I was failing, you may say, but soon enough, I started to get the hang of it. You could say the student became the master. I was having a great time after I learned how to spin, but it wasn’t long until we all moved on to the real weaving.

The loom was set up with hundreds of strings. Sue explained that we were going to make a blanket that was going to be given away at the end of the semester. I was the first person to put a row in the blanket. The way you weave is with two strings and a pandan. There is the warped thread that is going up and down the loom. Those strings are the base of the blanket. Then there are two strings that go across which are called weft strings. One of the weft strings is white and thicker. That is the string that we spin ourselves, and it comes from our very own sheep on the farm. We also have a thinner blue thread that is store-bought.

When you weave, there are pedals that correlate to the strings to create different patterns. Following the pattern, I alternated the blue and then the white. Gradually I got the hang of it. Weaving is like a rhythm; put the string through, then push it down, then again and again and again. I thought to myself, this is going to take a long time, but I promise it will get done. 

As the semester went forward, I got better and better at weaving. By the end, I was teaching Friday work program weaving. Now you can really say the student became the master. On the 26th of November, we finished the blanket! I was the one to finish it. The blanket was so fun to make. It took some long study hours where I should have been doing work but I was weaving. My personal favorite time to weave was Friday nights. Sue, Yasamin, and I cut it off the loom, and a few days later, I tied the tassels. Now the blanket is ready to go. It will be given away on Monday to one of the students. I will miss the blanket if it is not given to me, but the person who receives it will enjoy it as much I did making it. 

Laine Stuard, Churchill School, New York, NY

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