Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Weaving with Cousin Sam

The General Sam Houston Folk Festival has come and gone.  This is the first time I've done a major demonstration without George.  He was in SQL class at RackSpace and couldn't come until Friday night. My parents bravely stepped up to the plate and accompanied me for the first part of the fair. We drove out to Huntsville on Thursday, got all set up, and then faced School Day on Friday!  My mom tried valiently to help me demonstrate, but there's quite a bit of technical knowledge needed that she just didn't have. It went suprisingly well, though.  I found my groove - found what information I wanted to impart to the kids, and stayed with it.  Sadly, with so many kids I couldn't give them any real hands-on experience.

By the time the fair ended on Friday, I was so exhausted and dehydrated that I was having trouble getting the tent closed up.  But I managed it and made it back to the hotel with Mom to find that George had arrived. 

We went out to the most wonderful place for supper - The Homestead on 19th.  The restaurant is housed in two old cabins that have been moved to their current location across 19th street from the Sam Houston Museum.  The food is simple and perfectly prepared, the service is wonderful and the setting is awesome! That was one of the many high points in the weekend.

Saturday and Sunday were more normal demonstration days. Although we were told the gate count was off, we'd have never known it. We were swamped! We didn't get to see much of the rest of the fair, but what we saw was so interesting! They have so many craftspeople and reenactors there. I even got used to cannon and muskets going off at regular intervals. Okay, a few times they must have put a double charge in the cannon 'cause I felt the loom shake, but overall, it was good.

We had more than our share of wonderful moments this time.  There was a blind girl and her friend who came by on Friday. I took the blind girl's hand and guided it all across the loom so she could "see" what was going on. There was the elderly black woman who, after 76 years spun her own yarn.  She was dancing all over the fair afterwards, so happy with what she'd accomplished. There was the five-year-old girl who dragged Daddy back to the fair on Sunday after coming to see us on Saturday. She was okay doing the drop spinning again and working with the small frame loom, but she really wanted to "do EVERYTHING!" I lifted her onto my lap and showed her how to spin on the wheel. Then we went over to the loom and I did the same. She was barely able to reach the beater, even on the small loom and sitting on my lap, but she was game and she gave it her best.

Needless to say, I didn't take out either the yarn she spun or the shots she wove.

And then there was Sunday morning. I misread the fair schedule and got us to the fair early.  Way early as I thought the fair opened at 9 and it actually opened at noon!  George had fun exploring and talking to the early fair folk while I sat in the cool morning air, under those beautiful big East Texas trees and spun.  I must have spun for hours. I still wonder if any of my ancestors found a quiet morning and took her spinning wheel out on the porch to enjoy the beauty of the day.  I like to think so.

The Runner
I finished the overshot runner today. I was afraid I'd weave it off well before the end of the fair, but had no problem. I dearly love this draft - Snowballs in A Handweaver's Pattern Book by Marguerite Porter Davison. Both treadlings are beautiful, but this is my favorite. The natural cotton-linen blend in the warp and tabby weft and the rustic Evilla Artyarn in the pattern weft combined to give a very earthy, rustic feel to the piece. I like to think Cousin Sam (Houston) would approve!