Saturday, June 28, 2008

Mama

The piece I just finished with the purple warp and burgundy weft, (photo coming soon), was courtesy of my mom, kind of. She went though a burgundy/wine/maroon phase which lasted about 55 years. A few years ago she decided this phase was over and sent me all her nice burgundy yarns, the weft cashmere/silk being one. She's been into azure and oranges, but not always together, since, and you'd have to be in the family to know what a big shift this is.

Mama is now 78. She started weaving when she was 60, and sold her first piece when she was about 76. All her life she wanted to weave, (and all my life I heard her saying that,) but she never had the time nor space until in April 1990, I got married and left home, Baby Brother started collage and wasn't home much, and Dad was elected Vice Chancellor and was busier than ever. She knitted, embroidered, and sewed all her life, but at 60, she gave away her three knitting machines, detoured to New Zealand after Dad's business trip to Australia, and bought herself an Ashford 4-shaft table loom and an Ashford wheel, and never looked back. She used to come to New Zealand once a year and buy 100 and 200kgs of fleeces and slivers, so about ten years ago Dad had the roof of the house raised by one meter so Mama had extra storage. She still comes, but now she's more interested in meeting weavers.

She's had her series of loom-reincarnations. She quickly tired of the Ashford and gave it away to a young person who couldn't afford a loom, and got herself a Japanese 6-shaft stainless sample loom, which she loves to this day. Then she ordered, from Sweden, a Glimakra 8-shaft countermarche, she hauled every piece upstairs herself, put the monster together by herself, and cheerfully wove rugs for nearly 10 years until her body gave away. She's slightly over five feet, and a big wide Swedish loom nearly did her shoulders in. So she gave that away to another young person who couldn't afford a loom but had ample space. Fear not, in the meantime, Daughter Number Two and Son left got married and left home, and she had accumulated one or two other sample loom/s and a smaller floor loom, plus a rigid heddle for her tapestry, plus a few frame looms she made herself for smaller tapestries. And two or three spinning wheels, but she gave away her first Ashford to a young spinner who couldn't afford a wheel. And when they built a new kitchen, she kept the old one as a dye room.

Her first teacher was 80 when Mama was 60. She's always gone to two different teachers because she loves her classmates, many younger and brighter and more adventurous weavers.

Mama was always athletic, and she's just that in her approach to weaving. She'd see something in Handwoven or one of the books, and warps the loom and starts weaving with little or no sampling. She doesn't mind warping, and her taste is eclectic, so she's all over the place, but that's ok because this is her long-awaited hobby and she's not aiming to be a pro.

Until I started weaving, she was exasperated with her first born who thought too much and moved too little, all too often all by herself. Weaving is the only thing the two of us have in common, and luckily, so far, Sister who is much like Mama and who gets along with her superbly, hasn't taken it up. In fact, when I was in my mid-40's, Mama said for the first time, "You're not that bad, you know," and 40-plus-years of non-approval lifted in that one moment. She's not mean or harsh, she's quite maternal, but she goes straight to the point because after The Changes she got tired of being polite all her life.

Weaving being the only non-familial connection I have with her, I wished she Mama wouldn't give things away so freely. I've always thought Sister can have all the beautiful pottery, but I get every weaving/spinning equipment, book, notes, and her stash down to the last ball of fluff, but she knows I don't need them, and it'd cost several times the value of the goods to ship them to Nelson, so she'll continue to ignore me and give things away.

About five years ago, she made a conscious decision not to go on-line. The plan was for Brother to buy her a laptop, arrange her an Internet connection, and teach her the rudimentariness of email web-browsing, and Ben and I to install a weaving and a simple photo editing softwares. But Dad was about to retire and she couldn't handle having Dad at home and a computer, so she stuck to her fax machine. I sometimes send urls to either her or Sister or Brother, and whenever she visits, they help her find what I want her to see. She made a special trip to Sister's to be at the opening of SSVE, and was impressed and inspired.

Ever the gregarious animal, she'd love all of you and the stories and pics you share if she were on-line. She feel sad about coming to the computer age a tad too late, but that's a choice she made in a life that's been largely dedicated to others.

Thank you all, from Mama to you.

Several years ago, I asked for a Japanese overall-style apron made of synthetic so I can just wash and wear, and she brought me two; Ben thought we look like mill workers in uniform. Which reminds me, the Japanese labor movement started because of the hideous working conditions of the textile mill workers - young women - but that's for another day.

9 comments:

  1. I love this post, Meg! How lucky you are to still have your mom, and such a special common interest. The photo is priceless.

    Barbara in Mass, USA

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  2. Bless you! You made me cry and that is not an easy feat. I congratulate you and your mom, it's a beautiful bond, cherish it always. Sending you both hugs

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  3. Ahhhh! In a moment our parents can wipe away 40 years of emotional baggage. Glad she did that for you.

    I hope I get to Tokyo so I can spend some quality time with Mama.

    And I should photograph my 'smock'...its a little different, but I think Mama would love one.

    thanks for the post Meg!

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  4. Thanks for sharing your mom with us, Meg. How wonderful that you have weaving in common. My mom and I used to have sewing in common, many moons ago and before she went off the rails.
    I love the photo of you two!

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  5. Barbara,I am indeed lucky.

    Oh, Deep End, didn't mean to make you cry. My mom is quite a hilarious woman. But thanks for the hug.

    Lynne, yeah, yeah, your smock. And a beret, perhaps? Mother Dear will be on good behavior for the first little while, but you can't hide true colors.

    Connie, that's not where the story ends, though. More recently she went to see a weaver and another friend of mine on the North Island, and apparently they had nice things to say about moi. Well, Dear Mama was relentless in asking me forever what reasons these women had to compliment me, how long had they known me, and if I thought they were good judges of character. Wha!!!!!!! What astonished me was, she was seriously waiting for my answers. And she wonders why I'm more than a little strange!!!

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  6. thanks for sharing your mummy with us. I always love the little stories about her you tell so it was nice to meet her properly :-).

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  7. Oh, has she appeared here before, Taueret? I can't remember to be honst, but my weaving and mum are inseparable, and we talk at least once a week about what's on our looms - she always has new things where as I... well...

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  8. just little snippets. :-)

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  9. Ooops, so everything I said that was nice is true, and everything un-nice...........

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