I was working at the Steele County Museum the other day. Balancing on a stool, engrossed in checking (and resultantly cross-eyed) for crossover between the narrow threads of my warp, I was asked why I had started to spin and weave.

Casting back through my memories, I found the reason. “Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.” I was one of those little girls who wished she had been born in a different era. I should have been a princess. “Sleeping Beauty” with its evil fairy, flames, and dragon was a bit much for me in those delicate years. But that forbidden spinning wheel with its sharp spindle enticed me as they did Aurora.

Throughout my childhood, I was captivated by fairy tales and myths. I was the fourth grader who checked out the big books of Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology. And now… I guess I’ve just continued my love for those stories that shape our lives. From fairy tales to scripture, the stories I love speak with the images of the common trades. Farmers, shepherds, spinners, weavers… their lives and their work are the setting and the props for the quest for meaning in the reality of life and death.

In my adulthood, my days have been dominated by books, lectures, papers, and computers. Hours of work and thought have created electronic documents that all too easily are erased with a crash or mis-stroke. Spinning and weaving fill a need to create something that is tangible. It begins in chaos and it ends with a creation. Not always worthy of being called “good,” but at least a time comes when it is finished.

These crafts also connect me to the past. Not simply the nostalgia of the older generation who remember a better, safer day with more hard working people. A past when survival was tied to the work of your hands. For this I thank Old World Wisconsin and those who spent their time showing wide-eyed (or highly distracted) school-children wool, spindles, and looms from which real clothes were made.

This weekend I will take up that role. The Heritage Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead is having  a “Viking Village” event. We’ll be demonstrating the process of making Viking clothes!

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