Did you know that one of the parts of a spinning wheel is called the ‘mother of all’ ? This is fitting since my mother Joy, living on the 2nd floor of our farmhouse, has the ‘mother of all’ loom rooms – decked out with her large loom (she used to own a table top loom as well, but has since sold it ) and two different types of spinning wheels. And decorated in a jolly and charming fashion with her collection of sheep paintings and ornaments, and artwork of various spinners and weavers through the centuries.
Before we bought Blue Belldon, the room was ‘just another bedroom’:
Without a bed in it, it seems so much bigger, despite the large loom at the window, where Mom/Joy has the best view of any window in the house:
She liked the ‘original’ (1980s?) wallpaper in there, so we left it, and she put one of her more intricately-patterned rugs there on the floor, to match the navy on the walls. While this would have been better suited as a blog posting whilst there was still lots of snow on the ground (ie: 5 weeks ago!) and prior to many, many new things being built and done outside, as I’ve been down with that bug for the better part of a month, I’m just going along with this as my next post, as promised. Mom worked hard through the winter and early spring months to weave a rug for a friend of mine who contributed to the film I’m involved in making, as well as three new gold and grey rugs for our bathroom, to match the barnboard and claw-foot tub. Our store-bought gold ones were already pretty worn after just two years here. In fact – two years ago exactly this weekend, for me!
Annette’s ‘slipper mat’ for beside her new guest room bed is in her cream, grey and green colours, and Mom/Joy was good enough to whip that up for her in some thick and cozy-to-the feet off-white wool. Here she is at work on this first project for 2018:
Then, since she still had a fair bit of ‘warp’ on the loom, she asked if I needed anything downstairs and I noticed she had lots of greys and some gold as well – we don’t buy new wool, of course – just use what we have! Re-use, Re-cycle (she originally bought it all at garage sales anyway!) and UPCYCLE! So here’s the lovelies she completed to cozy up our bathroom (The one at the base of the sink is just for guests, she’s made us another for everyday ‘farm’ footwear – ’cause Richard runs in there in his boots to wash his hands, mostly!) (as always, click on smaller photos to enlarge – providing you’re here in the proper WORDPRESS domain and not reading this from your email notices! 😉 )
Mom managed to find old wool that exactly matched our bathroom colour scheme, so we are thrilled to have these! And it’s always great to have her woven AND braided rugs in our part of the house – they are not only of great sentimental value to me, but are farmhouse-cozy AND she can exactly match any colours of a room. This one’s in my kitchen – but again, just for ‘good’, as it gets too filthy if I keep it down all the time. I love the pattern in this one, it’s one of her more common ones now:
Of course, our kitchen colours are blue and burgundy, with a ‘pop’ of yellow here and there, so where else could you ever find a rug so perfect in size AND colours?
Over the years Mom has woven a lot of rugs, placemats and table-runners as well as blankets/shawls for family, friends and even a few custom orders from strangers. She has an over-stuffed scrapbook of every item, but here are a few of my favourites. (The bottom one is a common-design as she weaves from strips of blue jean material! Both my sister and I have had several of these latter, because they do tend to wear out quickly due to over-use!)
Of course, she has also made a copious amount of lap blankets which can also be used as shawls. She has several of these upstairs, and both my sister and I have a few of these in various rooms, too. Below is Mom/Joy with our friend Jane at my pioneer show in Ontario a few years ago. Jane is modelling one of Mom’s handmade works:
You’ve seen photos of last year’s amazing projects – two BRAIDED rugs, one each for my sister and me. These were in the shapes and colours we each requested as well, and made from 2nd-hand scraps. On the lounge (which I keep on top of my own braided rug to prevent excess wear and tear from dirty socked feet!) you will see another of Mom’s woven blankets and a cushion her aunt (who taught her to spin and weave!) dyed, spun and wove many years ago:
Another friend, Anne, may also notice her heirloom bedspread which I also use to cozy-up with on cold nights when I need ALL of me covered up! Nothing is unused or wasted in this household! Here’s Mom (NOT intentionally dressed to match the rug!) with my sister Jennifer’s custom braided one for their summer house – an old farmhouse that’s been in her hubby’s family for several generations, on the west coast of Newfoundland. It will look well there, and help to brighten the place up, as these pieces made from scraps have been doing for centuries! Mom is so talented – and PATIENT!
Mom’s favourite spinning wheel is called the ‘Wee Peggy’. She modeled as a pioneer for publicity for my pioneer arts and crafts show in Ontario with that little wheel. Note the ‘cotton’-like fuzz in her lap, which she is spinning into wool (manned by the pedal her foot is on).
The hardest part about spinning is trying to get a consistent thickness throughout. It’s tricky, because it tends to be thick and ‘open’ in places, and tight and thinner in others. I know, because (also for publicity for my show, which had up to 40 completely different environmental/all-natural and/or pioneer-based artisans and ran 3 different years in Ontario) I’ve TRIED! It’s very tricky:
The parts of the more common type of spinning wheel are below. This is where you’ll see the amusing “mother of all” part!
Mom hasn’t ever actually spun on her big wheel, below, which Richard and I gave her a few Christmases ago, though it IS the more traditional type. We didn’t really expect her to, as she prefers her Wee Peggy and doesn’t do that much spinning any more. However, it is a lovely antique that many who appreciate our history just enjoy having as a show piece. And in Mom’s Loom Room, it certainly is THAT!
Mom also posed for the pioneer show with her big loom, and did great demonstrations most of both days each year explaining the entire process from sheep (or alpaca, dog, etc!) to finished product. Hanging from the front of her loom (below) is one of my favourite pieces – a wall-hung ‘pocket’ with my name threaded in, used for sticking all manner of items you want handy, but hidden!
Here are the parts of a loom like Mom/Joy’s, just to show you how involved the process of weaving actually is!
Thus is the end of the winter blog postings, and definitely late, I admit! But prepare to be inundated with all manner of outdoor topics now, starting hopefully next week, and hopefully on a more regular basis (shooting for at least every two weeks this year!) Cammie’s kids are due soon, Richard’s using Chevy more in the woods now because the winter was just too hard even for the ‘pros’ to get their horses in and out, our basement grow-op did much better this year compared to last so I’ll be sharing some tips I discovered on that, AND the new composting system we’re working on as Richard went and took a course! We have some visitors coming mid-June who’ll be helping ’round the farm, the chickens are over-due, but Richard’s finished the coop and they should be coming soon, and we’ve done a lot of work on both the cross-country course for me to offer schooling sessions to eventers and the wedding site for Richard’s niece Carriann to marry her “Beast” Matt at the end of July – Rural Revivals bridal decor I’ve been updating with a lick of paint and a touch of new colour!
But to end the spinning/weaving theme about Mom/Joy, enjoy the following poem I wrote about her for a magazine article about Fibre Artists in New Brunswick. Though they said poetry was accepted, I’ve yet to SEE a poem in their hard copy of the mag, and whilst the editor told me my work would appear in the online version (with a variety of photos of Mom at work on her lovely pieces) it has been over a year, and no online versions have appeared, so I’m goin’ public with this now. Sorry about the formatting, it was obviously done for submission.
The Joyful Spinster
A fibre artist who learned all
From an aunt whom she admired
(And it was from this aunt
That her talents were acquired,
For she always modestly proclaims
She really has no skill or art
Certainly none “come naturally”;
Though she’s dedicated in her heart!)
While many say to sell her work,
This artist, Joy, gives it away
Though she’s a widow in north N.B.
A “Joyful Spinster”s what we say
When we describe her fibre work
From wool her aunt helped dye
From natural things like nuts and veg
Right from the sheep, they’d try!
She’s often game to play dress-up
For shows, in full costume
And demonstrates her craft
Both on her wheel and on her loom.
And though her aunt has passed on now,
Joy keeps her practice going
And especially likes to get involved
When New Brunswick skies are snowing!
Because she’s moved here just this year,
From Ontario, green and milder
The winters offer time for art
(And pursuits a wee bit wilder!)
From giving time to Africans
Where some orphans she has taught,
Joy now weaves for refugees.
Much warmth those Syrians sought!
She made them shawls and blankets
Weaving daily on her loom
Despite having just had surgery
She toiled in her “Loom Room”
She wove them many blankets
Like the two that you see here
She hopes they’ll keep them cozy
All throughout the seasons’ year.
She also weaves so many rugs
But just for fam-i-ly and friends
Some are patterned out of wool
The others – blue jean ends!
When asked at some occasional shows,
Joy HAS done custom work
But never charges near enough
For her, it’s just a perk
When someone well-appreciates
The time a weaver spends
Making such lovely items
For her fam-i-ly and friends!
Joy’s loom has been to many shows-
But she’s just there to ‘demonstrate’
“I don’t like to sell my work;
I’m not good enough!” she’ll state.
But whether she’s inside a tent
Or as a pioneer in village halls
The Joyful Spinster weaves away
Wherever her heart calls.
She makes displays for children
To show them ‘the old ways’
And brightens up her loom
With signs ‘bout ‘olden days’.
With dedication foremost,
Joy will even weave in LOFTS
Because, she says, her ancestors
Came from lowly Scottish crofts:
And now, the Joyful Spinster
Tries her hand at rugs of braid
To recycle scraps and remnants
From clothing others made!
To pass those long cold winters
In New Brunswick’s mountain range
Joy’s adapting well to this,
As she adjusts to ‘winds of change’.
For here, at Blue Bell Corner
With views that go for miles
Whatever crafting Joy will do
Will be met with happy smiles!