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.