• Julia Blake

Gosh darn it, USE ME!

Weaving is making a huge comeback thanks to the rustic scandi boho chic decor craze that seems to be all over Pinterest lately. I won't lie... I'm a fan, and yes, I do occasionally weave a wall hanging.

I learned to weave back in 2008-ish when weaving was not what the cool kids were into. It was not love at first shot (weaving pun), but what started as general disinterest has grown into an obsession bordering on the unhealthy - I literally dream about yarn colors and weave structures.

Towels in progress

I seriously LOVE to weave. My husband and I are what I like to describe as minimal-ISH. We have stuff (like, a lot of stuff), but we tend to keep our space curated. We don't keep a lot of "extras" or "just in case" objects. This poses a bit of a problem for me, as I tend to crank out more handwovens than we have the use for, but I cannot stop making things. I also have an annoying penchant for only wanting to make useful things. There is an obvious solution: give them away. And I do! But my problem isn't finding a home for my many many functional textiles, it's the fact that people refuse to use them.

I noticed this baffling phenomenon right after I brought my first freshly woven, hemmed, laundered dish-drying mat (I really meant it about the "useful" thing) up to our kitchen and placed it on the counter by the sink.

One at a time, air drying dishes showed up all over the countertop... everywhere BUT on top of my drying mat!

Attempting to understand why my wonderful dish-washing husband would elect to condemn our counters to an afternoon of drippy clutter, I thought about something else. The very first handwoven item I made for the house: a hand towel (naturally). It was never used, granted, it had been banished to the basement washroom, which is a cold and frankly uncomfortable place to go if you were looking for somewhere to do your business. I'd chalked the towel's disuse up to it's unfortunate living situation, but now I had a hunch there was more to it than cold toilet avoidance.

I'd like to think that the words "Why aren't you using my weaving?" came out of my mouth in a calm, curious manner, but I'm pretty sure I shouted them quite dramatically at my unsuspecting spouse. He sheepishly informed me that yes, he had been avoiding my USEFUL handwovens on purpose, and no it wasn't because he hated them. "They're too nice to use."


Okay, people... you have to understand something. My mom used to keep these dumb lacey seafoam green hand towels with horrible machine embroidered roses in the bathroom by the sink. These were the "nice" towels... special, for when guests were coming over (which was literally always) and we were never EVER supposed to use them. These moronic towels were placed ON TOP of the regular (but also seafoam green) towel that we were supposed to use.

I love my mom. SO. MUCH. but the absurdity of a towel that was not meant to dry things clearly left an impression, because when my loving, supportive husband uttered the words "too nice to use" I had a full on PTSD-induced conniption fit.

I am exaggerating. But only a little bit.

Weaving takes a LOT of time, money, effort, stress, and math (perhaps the cause of most of the stress), and people often feel disinclined to use something that valuable when ruining it is a possibility. I don't feel that way. I took the time and effort to make something that I want you to cherish by USING. And if you don't, and I find out... I'm going to be insulted and vow a secret oath to ban you from any of my future handwoven goods.

So I brought this up last Thursday at my local weaving guild meeting (yes, guild... I'm that deep into the weaving thing). It was a near 50/50 split. To use, or not to use? We didn't come up with a definitive answer, because duh... it's a personal preference thing. I am happy to report, however, that after a few months of less-than-gentle persuasion, involving some very overt throat clearing, I now have a husband who uses the drying mat AND the new kitchen towels for actual wet stuff. And I have the wine stains to prove it.

I am so proud.

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