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Friday, August 9, 2013

One man’s trash


In the olden days, when Jan and I were weavers, we used several kinds of textile mill ends in what we wove.  Most of the thread we wove with was a textile mill end, left over from the mill’s weaving or knitting operation.  Think cotton sweaters, for instance.

These rugs were woven from the mill ends of a North Carolina sock factory; the clip from the toe seam of a sock is a waste product to the factory, but the beginning of a new product to a hand weaver.



Because these mill ends were scrap at the factory, and because we bought them sight unseen, we frequently found more than we expected.  Crumpled lunch bags.  Snack wrappers, gum wrappers.  Industrial spools of thread that annoyed some machine operator. Trash.

Last month I took a day trip with my friend Linda, who remains an active weaver.  We went to a large weaving supply business where weavers purchase rug warp and other weaving supplies.  I was not happy with any of the pictures I took, put them in the trash can, and since I cannot find them there without restoring everything in the trash can, we can all smile at the double irony of this post.

Linda weaves her rugs from woolen mill ends (think Pendleton) and upholstery factory mill ends.  The outlet we visited specializes in upholstery mill ends, and Linda poked and poked in bales and bales of the stuff until she had accumulated six or seven hundred perfect pounds.



Good friend that I am, I poked, too, and located ten or twenty of those pounds.  Mostly I sat on a high weaving stool and encouraged her.  But in my poking I smiled several times at finding the old lunch bags and spools of industrial thread.  On the job disposal of one man’s trash at the factory.

This afternoon I saw the epitome of one man’s trash.  Driving the teenagers to Summa, we go through major construction on one city street.  New pipes of all kind being laid.  Coming back without them I stopped at a light and watched one crew just finishing up lunch, about to return to the job.  One after another they leaned over and put water bottles, soft drink bottles, lunch wrappers into the open trenches.

All the years of finding other folk’s trash in stuff flashed through my head.  I grabbed the console pen and wrote “trash” on my hand, not to forget I had another story to tell.  On the way home tonight I had Emily get some car pictures, but the trenches are filled. I am so sorry not to have been able to capture the picture at noon, threading my way bumper to bumper down a narrow traffic lane.  If that pipe is not replaced for another hundred years, an interesting find for the next crew.

But, here’s an internet trench.



And here’s our trench, filled in.




18 comments:

  1. They are replacing a long stretch to sewer pipes in my neighborhood. The old ones were a century old and in bad shape. It seems that many times diggers will find old historical or archeological sites. It makes you wonder what junk we are leaving for future diggers to find.

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  2. And some trash is just that.
    I love it when people not only use but create beauty from other people's discards. Some of which, like your friend Linda's work is stunning.

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  3. Beautiful rugs. One man's trash is another man's treasure.

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  4. I've found trash left by the house builders buried in my yard.

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  5. Not too long ago the Chicago Tribune ran an article about a guy that digs out old outhouse sites. I suppose after many years the nasty stuff has dissolved and it not a problem. He finds many old household items that were tossed into the hole.
    You have me wondering about these mill ends. Are they cut off and already woven threads? How long are they?

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Thread: whole cones of unused thread when a run of sweaters or such is done.
      Selvage, like the rug: in modern mills the air shuttles send one shot across, another shuttle comes back. When the fabric is woven the long (hundreds of yards) of selvage edge is cut away, leaving the upholstery fabric in the middle. These ends are multi colored from the many threads involved in the pattern of the fabric, and can be wound on a rug shuttle and woven into a rug like the yellow and red rug.

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  6. Too many people embrace the disposable culture even still. Not that long ago what you weavers are doing would not have been so unusual I think. I think so much has been lost in terms of creativity by modern life.

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    1. Sadly, there are almost no American mills left. One impetus to retiring our weaving business was one of our major spinning mills going bankrupt and closing. There are no sock mills left in America. All Fruit of the Loom spinning is done in India or China. We bought mill ends from Fruit of the Loom.
      And on and on and on.
      It's just a new world.

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  7. I sometimes wonder what the archaeologists of the future will think, if there are any. That is a beautiful knobbly bit of weaving in the top picture.

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  8. Will future generations think us so primitive that we held burial rituals for cans and bottles?
    Jane x

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  9. You've reminded me that I want to be in the city taking photos of some renovations going on. I'll pencil that for asap.
    The rugs are lovely.

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  10. I read the comments on the previous post and googled for images of katydids, because I've never seen any. The green katydids I saw there look just like the one eating your rose.

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  11. Hari Om
    what a wonderfully reflective post - love anything to do with textiles - not so sure about the wrappers and cans... Wonder what future archaeolgists will make up about the society around this trench?! Though they may rely more on the internet remains.

    ...does make one think about the legacy of this form of 'burial'! YAM xx

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  12. Great trashy post! :) WE have a couple of very interesting trash piles on our farm. One is deep in the woodlot. The other has been buried by a backhoe. Every so often, something floats to the surface. And we inherited about 150 Gilbey's gin bottles when we bought this farm. Somebody liked his gin. A LOT.

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  13. Construction crews do leave behind interesting debris. Their using their sewer trench for a landfill is a good story.

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  14. We live in a disposable society. Despite the fact that I have recycle bins for cans all over the park, I still find them in the dumpster and firepits and lots of interesting places. I love to repurpose things that would otherwise be thrown away.

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