During the two months I have been at Fort Frederica National Monument, Ranger Jamieson has been learning to weave. Ranger Jamieson is a young ranger who is trained as an archaeologist. She was hired at Fort Frederica to work with the archaeology program. But she really enjoys the living history program as well and has been learning as much as she can. She started with candle making last year as a volunteer. This year she and I have been alternating cooking and everything she makes is delicious.
But I noticed that she was eyeing the loom with a special interest whenever I was weaving. The third day I brought it out, I asked her if she wanted to learn how to weave. “Yes, please!” Since then, it has been hard to get any loom time myself! We weave kitchen towels that we sell in the park gift shop. Last year I only made a dozen towels the entire time I was here. This year, with Ranger Jamieson’s help, we are on our third dozen towels. I expect we will complete at least two dozen more before I take my loom and return to Ohio.
Ranger Jamieson is a very eager weaver. She is already faster than I am at weaving and likes to experiment with colors and treadling patterns. Anytime she has an hour free, she pulls out the loom. The first dozen towels were a basic striped towel with colonial red and blue stripes. One day when I was busy with other things, Ranger Jamieson started weaving in a complicated pattern that required three shuttles and hours of time. Although the towel looked really interesting when she finished, we agreed that would be her towel and she wouldn’t do that again.
On our second batch of towels, I threaded it in a Rosepath pattern, which gave us some fancier treadling options. Again, Ranger Jamieson went to town experimenting with color changes and treadling patterns. The towels are selling like crazy in the bookstore, especially on days when we are out weaving. One Saturday, all I did was wind the warp on the warping board, and we sold six towels. One Tuesday we were threading the heddles and we sold four towels. So, even when we aren’t weaving, the towels are flying off the shelves. People are fascinated by the process and eager to purchase a handwoven towel.
I let Ranger Jamieson pick the colors for the next set of towels, and she selected Kiwi and Lilac. We are calling them our “Easter Egg” towels because the colors look like Easter egg colors. Ellen, the manager of the gift shop, asked for towels that looked a little more colonial, so I had to rein in Ranger Jamieson’s experimental enthusiasm just a bit. I already ordered our next colors, plum and gold. We will start measuring out the warp while the current towels are on the loom. It will be ready to put on the loom as soon as the current towels are finished.
Teaching Ranger Jamieson how to weave has revved up the weaving program at Fort Frederica. She is a quick learner and I am pretty sure she could warp the loom and design her own weaving from this point on. I enjoy trying to keep up with her.