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.