Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Weavers Yarn

A long time ago I enjoyed rummaging about in my grandmother's attic. There I found a fascinating spinning wheel. Grandmother told me that it once had been used by her family and I could have it. It is still a prized possession.

Long before TV I amused myself in the evenings by helping my mother with her rug braiding by rolling fabric strips into balls. It was magical to see mother make beautiful and useful rugs out of worn out fabric.

In grade school our teacher assigned us to read Silas Marner by George Eliot, a classic story of little Eppy and the kind weaver of Ravelo. The story has made a lasting impression on me.

Much, much later I was employed in several hospitals where weaving was used as part of the Occupation Therapy Program for the recovering patients. It was intriguing to see patients throw shuttles to weave.

In the 1970's I had a stressful work situation that kept me near the telephone as well as being a care taker for my daughter who was slowly recovering from major surgeries. I needed to be close by but also needed a stress reliever. I learned that Gertrude Schecter was giving weaving lessons at her home in Belmont, MA. Gertrude accepted me as a student. The course involved buying an 8" 4 harness Structo Artcraft Loom. The Structo was limited but with it I learned the basics and I was hooked on weaving. November '71 I picked up a 40" 4 harness Ad-a-harness Macomber Loom from the factory in Saugus, MA. In the 90's I added 4 more harnesses.

Solo weaving gave me a great deal of pleasure throughout the years, however in 1994 I moved to Oak Ridge. My bride, Rosemary, knew of the Appalachian Arts Craft Center and suggested I check out the weaving department. Ellen Cain and a group of weavers welcomed me warmly. It was through the craft center that my involvement in weaving really took off. Sharing problem solving, show-and-tell, plus occasional workshops enriched the weaving experience immensely. Grace Foster offered a workshop in tapestry weaving. I found that branch of weaving also to my liking and have continued to work at it. Further instruction form Marti Fleisher has also been very helpful.

Recently I've had to downsize to fit everything into an apartment. Reluctantly, I parted with a Cambridge loom and a Herald loom. I made room for may 8 harness Macomber and a 24" Shannock tapestry loom.

I have a great debt of gratitude to all of the people who have inspired and taught me along the way. I am particularly thankful to Carol Pricher who agreed to ably lead our Weaving Department at the time of Ellen's death.

BY: Carl Bretz
a Tuesday Weaver


LA said...

Carl...Please forgive me for "messing" with your post. But I wanted our followers to see what we see each week! I am so glad you've returned from the Land of Enchantment, and I look forward to seeing you on Tuesdays. You have more to tell of your story...and I'm always ready to listen!

Anonymous said...

Carl,thank you for sharing your story. I really enjoyed reading it!


Bonnie said...

Thanks LouAnn for the picture. I did not have one.

Tina said...

Carl, I did not know of your weaving history. Lovely story, I really enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing, Tina

Maggie said...

Very nice!

Anonymous said...

Carl, you're our Dad! We miss you when you're gone and just thankful you're there when you come, weaving away, our steady rock as we get into the chaos that is Tuesday!
I'm glad that you told us about how you started to weave. It's great to get the background of where you came from! I'm glad Rosemary suggested you join the group!

Theresa said...

Wonderful story! Belmont MA, a familiar place to me also. The movers must have had a few choice words for that Macomber no doubt. They have moved operations to York ME, which is where you probably got the additional harnesses from. Great looms though, good sturdy workhorses
and how lucky to have one of Shannocks lovely tapestry looms.
Weave on!