Saturday, January 22, 2011


There are two times I can remember that I got tears in my eyes at the sight of fiber creations. The first one, the day I saw pictures online of Shetland Shawls, I could not believe what I was seeing. It was a dream come true, never seen one before, I guess somehow I had envisioned one.

The second time, was in Salt Lake City, I am unsure of the date, maybe 2006 at the Great Basin Fiber Fair. They had announced a Waulking demonstration, I had no clue of what that was, but someone told me it was a process for felting cloth. I stuck around and watched all the set up. This lovely woman, Anne Carroll Gilmour was in charge of it all. I knew about her because I had seen some of her designs at the Black Sheep Wool Co. and from Spinderella.

As she set everything up, people started coming around and invited to participate. I did not participate because my arms hurt on a regular basis and I avoid any additional strain on them. When Anne started signing to instruct the participants, I got the first set of goose bumps. It was just Row Row Your Boat, but Anne's voice carried through in a lovely manner.
The process is for fulling, not really felting woven cloth. The method comes from the Scottish Gaidhealtachd, the Hebrids to be more exact. A large piece of woven cloth is soaked in soapy water and moved around a table while pounding it at the same time. The video shows it a lot better than I could ever describe it.

The resulting cloth is fulled, and used for outerwear garments such as jackets, coats, hats. I would imagine it is also used for blankets or bed covers.

The process, the singing, the community effort towards usable cloth, the joy that everyone feels, is like magic. I still get goose bumps when I watch the video.
If you ever get a chance to see one life, don't hesitate. There are no words to describe the beauty of it all.


fleegle said...

Reminds me of the Japanese New Yea's rice pounding fest. Thanks for the video!

Cheryl S. said...

How fun! Margene told me about that, but it's great to see a video. (And some familiar heads.)