Store Sales Associate Marthe Young’s daughter Lilah is getting married in May, and Marthe’s wedding weaving preparations are not only heroic, but poignant as well. She is weaving together three generations of handmade cloth to give her daughter a beautiful wedding gift of her talent and her love.
Marthe is know to our customers as a knowledgeable instructor for many of our rigid heddle loom classes as well as a knitter, crocheter, and expert seamstress. Her weaving education began right here at WEBS, more than 30 years ago. In 1979, the then-single Marthe took a weaving class with Barbara Elkins when WEBS was in its infancy. She loved it and bought herself a Harrisville design loom that she put together from a kit. On that loom, she wove her own wedding ensemble with yarns and fiber obtained from WEBS, using the same warp for her cocoon jacket, dress, and belt.
A 25″ Schacht Rigid Heddle Flip Loom is what Marthe used to weave her daughter’s wedding shawl. You can see the photo of this airy, delicate shawl, but what you can’t see from a picture is the intricate patterning of the tone-on-tone fibers, the tiny sequins, and the gossamer weight of this heirloom. When Barbara found out about Lilah’s engagement, she gave Marthe a cone of pearls on thread (which Marthe calls “Barbara’s Pearls of Wisdom”). Marthe plied those with her own home-spun BFL — because of course, Marthe is a spinner, as well! She used a combination of rayon chenille, silk, merino, and , because the wedding will take place on an alpaca farm, some baby alpaca as well. At the edge of the shawl woven next to the pearls is the yarn used in Marthe’s own wedding dress. Once woven, it became apparent that the shawl wasn’t quite long enough — Lilah is a tall drink of water! — so Marthe knew she’d need a border, and when looking for something to use for that border, she came across some scraps from her mother’s hand-sewn wedding dress from 1948. Obviously it was perfect, and that became the end-borders of this lovely shawl.
Marthe’s current loom, a collector’s-item cherry Norwood, is what she’s using to weave shawls for each of the bridesmaids. You can see the template she’s using, with the charcoal-colored warp of Colrain Lace, Plymouth Gold Rush, Cascade 220, a mystery rayon closeout yarn, and Valley Yarns 5/2 Bamboo. The weft is 5/2 bamboo as well, and the deep color will set off the accents of mint green that the groomsmen will be wearing in their bow ties and sneakers (!), as well as the bridesmaids’ dresses.
On her wedding day, Lilah will be wearing elements of both her mother’s and her grandmother’s history. Those legacies are woven together in each generation like the warp and weft on a loom. Like living history, all of these garments tell a story about their owner, and they give us a springboard to the future.