fredag 21 augusti 2009

Gutenberg and textiles

As a weaver I check out every book that sounds as it might contain anything about textiles – and there are quite a few. This is what I've found the last two weeks.

The old log house where Margaret lived, whose roof had mossy grown,
Reposed amid its clump of trees, a queen upon her throne.
The landscape round smiled proudly and the flowers shed sweet perfume,
When Margaret plied the shuttle of the rude old-fashioned loom.

The world has grown fastidious—demands things ever new—
But we could once see beauties in the rainbow's every hue;
The bee could then find nectar in a common clover bloom,
And simple hearts hear music in the shuttle of the loom.

The picture that my memory paints is never seen to-day—
The April sun of by-gone years has lost its brightest ray:
A fancy-wrought piano in a quaint, antique old room,
But Margaret sang her sweetest to the music of the loom.

She wore a simple home-spun dress, for Margaret's taste was plain,
Yet life was like a song to her, with work a sweet refrain.
The sunshine filled her days with joy, night's shadows brought no gloom.
When Margaret plied the shuttle of the old old-fashioned loom.

Her warp of life was toiling hard, but love its beauteous woof.
The web she wove, a character beyond the world's reproof.
O girls of wealth and beauty vain, who dress in rich costume,
How sweet the shuttle's music of this rare old-fashioned loom.

The world may grow fastidious in art and nature too,
And say there is no beauty in the rainbow's every hue;
And yet the bee finds nectar in a common clover bloom,
And I still love the music of the old old-fashioned loom.

000000000000000000000 Cotton Noe

The weave as a metaphor for life is has become rather trite – and although I haven't read all of the poems in Cotton Noe's book "The Loom of Life" from 1917 - I wouldn't say that he adds anything of interest to the subject. But he is new acquaintance to me, and new – although old – authors are always interesting to explore.

"The Story of the Cotton Plant" by Frederick Wilkinson, from 1898, has some interesting illustrations as well as facts.

Fig. 3

The subject of the early myths and fables of the plant in question has been very fully treated by the late Mr. Henry Lee, F. L. S., who was for a time at the Brighton Aquarium. His book, the "Vegetable Lamb of Tartary," shows indefatigable research for a correct explanation of the myth, and after a strictly impartial inquiry he comes to the conclusion that all the various phases which these fabulous concoctions assumed, had their beginnings in nothing more or less than the simple mature pod of the Cotton plant.
It will not be necessary to consider here more than one or two of these very curious beliefs about cotton. By some it was supposed that in a country which went by the name "The Tartars of the East," there grew a wonderful tree which yielded buds still more wonderful. These, when ripe, were said to burst and expose to view tiny lambs whose fleeces gave a pure white wool which the natives made into different garments.

By and by, a delightfully curious change took place, and it is found that the fruit which was formerly said to have the little lamb within, was now changed into a live lamb attached to the top of the plant. Mr. Lee says: "The stem or stalk on which the lamb was suspended above the ground, was sufficiently flexible to allow the animal to bend downward, and browse on the herbage within its reach. When all the grass within the length of its tether had been consumed, the stem withered and the plant died. This plant lamb was reported to have bones, blood, and delicate flesh, and to be a favourite food of wolves, though no other carnivorous animal would attack it."

In Fig. 3 is shown Joannes Zahn's idea of what this wonderful "Barometz or Tartarian lamb" was like. Now, mainly through an imaginative Englishman named Sir John Mandeville, who lived in the reign of Edward III., did this latter form of the story find its way into England.

This illustrious traveller left his native country in 1322, and for over thirty years traversed the principal countries of Europe and Asia. When he came home he commenced to write a history of his remarkable travels. In these are found references to the Cotton plant, and so curious an account does he give of it, that it has been considered worth reproduction in his own words: "And there growethe a maner of Fruyt, as though it weren Gourdes: and whan ther been rype men kutten hem ato, and men fynden with inne a lyttle Best, in Flesche, in Bon and Blode, as though it were a lytylle Lomb with outen Wolle. And men eten both the Frut and the Best; and that is a great Marveylle. Of that Frute I have eaten; alle thoughe it were wondirfulle, but that I knowe well that God is Marveyllous in his Werkes."

No wonder that many accepted his account of the "Vegetable Lamb" without question. When a nobleman of the reputation of Sir J. Mandeville stated that he had actually eaten of the fruit of the Cotton, was there any need for further doubt?

But my favorite illustrations and stories did I find in "The Child's World, Third Reader by Hetty Browne, Sarah Withers, W.K. Tate. It contains short stories about both cotton and wool as well as linen and silk.

"I want a warm plaid dress," said a little girl. "The days are colder, and the frost will soon be here. But how can I get it? Mother says that she cannot buy one for me."

The old white sheep in the meadow heard her, and he bleated to the shepherd, "The little girl wants a warm plaid dress. I will give my wool. Who else will help?"

The kind shepherd said, "I will." Then he led the old white sheep to the brook and washed its wool. When it was clean and white, he said, "The little girl wants a warm plaid dress. The sheep has given his wool, and I have washed it clean and white. Who else will help?"

"We will," said the shearers. "We will bring our shears and cut off the wool."

The shearers cut the soft wool from the old sheep, and then they called, "The little girl wants a new dress. The sheep has given his wool. The shepherd has washed it; and we have sheared it. Who else will help?"

"We will," cried the carders. "We will comb it out straight and smooth."

Soon they held up the wool, carded straight and smooth, and they cried, "The little girl wants a new dress. The sheep has given his wool. The shepherd has washed the wool. The shearers have cut it, and we have carded it. Who else will help?"

"We will," said the spinners. "We will spin it into thread."

"Whirr, whirr!" How fast the spinning wheels turned, singing all the time.

Soon the spinners said, "The little girl wants a new dress. The sheep has given his wool. The shepherd has washed the wool. The shearers have cut it. The carders have carded it, and we have spun it into thread. Who else will help?"

"We will," said the dyers. "We will dye it with beautiful colors."

Then they dipped the woven threads into bright dye, red and blue and green and brown.

As they spread the wool out to dry, the dyers called: "The little girl wants a new dress. The sheep has given his wool. The shepherd has washed the wool. The shearers have cut it. The carders have carded it. The spinners have spun it, and we have dyed it with bright beautiful colors. Who else will help?"

"We will," said the weavers. "We will make it into cloth."

"Clickety-clack! clickety-clack!" went the loom, as the colored thread was woven over and under over and under. Before long it was made into beautiful plaid cloth.

Then the little girl's mother cut and made the dress. It was a beautiful plaid dress, and the little girl loved to wear it. Every time she put it on, she thought of her friends who had helped her,— the sheep, the shearers, the carders, the spinners, the dyers, the weavers, and her own dear mother.

2 kommentarer:

  1. I agree that the poem is rather banal but I love the story of the plaid dress. I can imagine young children joining in the repetitive parts. I will try to find a copy to keep on my "grandma's bookshelf."

    The word verification is pieness, which makes me want to bake!

  2. Maureen,
    I forgot to add some links in my post - I'll do that later when my darling has woken up after a nap on my right arm where he has draped himself now. Perhaps did you find the books by yourself.
    Are you heading over with your pie or shall I hurry over to your place?