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Friday, July 5, 2013

A good bed can win a war


Early on in our weaving career Jan and I tried different venues, experimenting on a fit in the fair world. Some of the shows were short on cash but long on stories.

One such show, the name I do not recall, was held in the Carillon Historical Park in Dayton, Ohio.  It was an outdoor show of no great renown, themed generally around a reenactment outfit that hosted a trading post.  I recall we were approached to exhibit because we often demonstrated spinning and offered some handspun, hand knit sweaters and hats and mittens.

The reenactors were American and British Revolutionary War soldiers.  And camp followers.  I remember little about the battles, which were held at regularly scheduled times.  A cannon was fired frequently.  The people who came to see battles reenacted were not much interested in a fair, and there was sparse traffic through the show.

For this post I did some research to find Ohio reenactor groups and some Revolutionary War moment that could realistically be staged in Dayton, Ohio.   As we all know, that war was conducted east of the Appalachians, although there were lots of British militia about in that whole lead up, the French and Indian War. My cursory research turned up little, so I have nothing of interest to add about the history reenacted.

It was a mighty cold weekend and although regular patrons were few, we did business with reenactors with cold children.  Our stock of children’s sweaters and mittens was wiped out by Saturday afternoon.  Before the show closed that night one young reenactor came in carrying a minute toddler, Willow, about eighteen months old. 

The sweaters all were sold and there seemed to be nothing suitable to keep the baby warmer.  Then Willow’s mother spotted the dish towels and bought a dogwood flower overshot towel as an extra blanket overnight for the baby.

Sunday morning was too cold to be outdoors, unless there was a booth to open or a battle to reenact.  We wandered over to the encampment early, to check up on Willow.  We met a British officer and his wife emerging from their tent, and, of course, remarked we were grateful for the real, warm beds we’d enjoyed overnight. 

The officer and his lady exchanged glances, then invited us into their tent. A canvass wall divided the front and back of the interior.  The officer drew the wall apart and showed us their primitive bed, with rope underpinnings, and an obviously modern box spring and mattress under the coverlet.  The secret to their success.

We found Willow, warm and toasty, and wearing her new towel as a cape.  We've seen Willow and her mother several times over the years, and at last meeting Willow still had her dogwood towel.  Not surprising, the towels in our kitchen drawer are upwards of thirty years old.



Overshot, dogwood pattern


24 comments:

  1. Made to last!
    I really enjoyed this story, thanks Joanne!
    Jane x

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  2. The dogwood towel is beautiful. An heirloom in the making. Lovely story - thank you.
    (And I love the cheat bed. Very, very sensible.)

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  3. The towels are beautiful. Near where my parents live is a museum that displays traditional skills such as knitting and weaving. They have several looms and you can ask questions to the people using them. What they make is sold in a shop next door. There are towels very much like yours. I have several linen ones I got there. You are right, they last a very long time. The simple patterns and colors are beautiful.

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  4. Years ago I was given a book of American weaving patterns by a New Zealand lady who was giving up weaving due to bad eyesight...I enjoyed working with it and it is one of the books I brought over with me as it takes me back to the enjoyment weaving those patterns gave me.

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    1. I'll bet it's Marguerite Davidson. I sold every loom, every shuttle, every cone of thread, but I still have my Marguerite Davidson.

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  5. Love the towels... heirlooms? Yes! Is huckweaving the same as Swedish weaving? (you've probably covered this before, but I'm kinda slow).... Speaking of such... too cold at the re-enactment? - I'd give my eye teeth to be too cold right now!

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    1. Yes, Swedish and huck are the same as far as I know. Huck is the name of the fabric, characterized by a pattern of two raised threads. Swedish weaving is the embroidering of a pattern over the face of the huck cloth by sliding a needle with colored thread under the two raised threads of huck cloth. The words are used interchangeably.

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  6. I have a few towels that I got as wedding presents back in 1958 but they're in pretty bad shape.

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  7. Lovely pattern, Joanne! It has been so humid here in Montreal I would welcome some cooler temperatures!

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  8. Wonderful stories - and beautiful towels.

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  9. What a lovely story & nice that you've seen Willow since.

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  10. I have to admit, I am still holding onto towels that are older than 30 years. They were given to me as a wedding present (remember when wedding presents were not checks), and they were embroidered by loving hands.

    How lovely that Willow still has her towel from that cold night when it helped keep her warm.

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  11. hehe great story ... do you still weave Joanne?

    ... 'Willow' is such a beautiful name for a girl ... unheard of where I lice ...

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    1. Willow is a lovely name and not common here, but I do know one other Willow, also a young woman now.

      I borrowed a loom and wove a little several years ago. No matter what the loom, they take up space and my house is too small, especially with three grandchildren living here now. So, no more.

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  12. Stuff has to be total rags before I throw it out. And, yes, another great story.

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  13. So true! A good night's sleep in a warm dry bed can make a survivor out of almost anyone. Hubby and I have been in some out of the way places and survived just fine as long as we had our tent, cots and comfy bedding.

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  14. Realism and re-enactments can only go so far.

    My mother's dish towels were literally worn with holes and see-through places. She always found a use for the REALLY worn out towels.

    What a wonderful memory.

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  15. I love the title of your post. I shall add it to my book of wise words.

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  16. That's adorable! Dear willow, wearing your weavings...

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  17. How sweet to see a baby wrapped in a dish towel to keep warm, love those towels, what material are they, cotton, I'm intrigued with the weaving you do that can last that many years. They must be wonderfully absorbent as well.

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  18. A good bed means the world, the only reason I stay home so much my bed suits me and is alway toasty warm or cool in summer, the secret a thin layer of foam, on in the winter off in the summer.
    I wish my tea towels lasted that long.
    Merle.......

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  19. What a lovely thought! And those towels are so pretty. I am not surprised her parents kept it

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  20. I have a granddaughter, Willow. She just became a yearling. I'd love to see one of those towels. Absolutely priceless!

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