This year at Fort Frederica National Monument was the year of the colonial towels. Last year the bookstore manager, Ellen Provenzano, started selling some of the towels that I wove while I was demonstrating living history. I only gave her ten towels, but they sold so well that she let me know, before I even arrived, that she wanted more. She was also going to increase the price so the park could get more profit.
It costs me about $10 to make a towel in terms of materials. I am a volunteer at the monument and spend time demonstrating living history anyway. If Ellen reimburses me the cost of the materials, I am happy to give her the finished towels to sell. I figured I would do one or two batches of towels, Ellen would be happy and the park would get some benefit.
What I didn’t count on was Ranger Jamieson. Ranger Jamieson wanted to weave from the day she volunteered with me last year. She was looking forward to me arriving so she could really learn to weave. Ranger Jamieson started weaving the first day we did living history this year. She wove Saturday and Sunday under my supervision. I had that Monday off, but I walked over the Visitors Center, only to find Ranger Jamieson weaving! She looked a little guilty about doing it without asking first, but when she found out it was okay, she started weaving whenever she had any free time.
With both of us weaving, it didn’t take long to get through a batch of towels. Each warp makes 12 towels. We ended up doing five warps, which is 60 colonial towels! Best of all, Ranger Jamieson hemmed half of the towels.
Ranger Jamieson loves to play with colors and treadling, so I eventually had to reel her in a little bit. I wanted us to weave interchangeably and she was working on some fancy patterns. I convinced her the towels would sell better if we weren’t experimenting with every warp. Because the bookstore was paying for the materials, I wanted them to be able to sell what we made. Ellen did have one request: that the colonial towels be in colonial colors. I asked her what she considered colonial colors and she didn’t really have an answer. I figured if I knew how to dye the color using dyes they had in colonial times, then they were colonial colors.
Ranger Jamieson moved on to another job, which meant that I did more weaving the last two weeks with her gone. But Intern Sierra finally got a chance to try weaving. After weaving two towels, Sierra decided to stick with her spinning, which she is doing very well.
And even though Ranger Jamieson moved on, she is still weaving. We found a used loom online for her and she went to Tampa, Florida to buy it. It is a gorgeous, eight harness Schacht Baby Wolf loom that was half the price of buying it new. Still portable but twice as big as the one I carry around. It came with a bunch of reeds and most of the stuff she needs to weave. I have been getting periodic pictures from Jamieson as she figured out how to set it up in her new location and started weaving. She is fearless as a weaver and will be making some gorgeous things in the future.
I took the last warp for the park off the loom late Sunday afternoon. Sierra is going to hem the ten towels so they can be sold in the bookstore even after I have returned to Ohio.