When Grant and I met in 1990 he was driving around that old Dodge van, the one that belched blue exhaust and required enormous arm strength to keep straight on the road. I got used to pumping the brakes well ahead of the stop lights, and being on the receiving end of alarmed looks when we pulled up into forest service camp sites. (I was always a bit nervous about some of the characters hanging around the free camp grounds in out-of-the-way places. Then I realized that others were just as alarmed by us when they saw that old white van drive in. ) I joked, sort of, that on our trips along the Oregon Coast and into California that the emissions police would be tossing us in jail. Those days, all those years ago, were a huge adventure and we put a lot of miles on that gas guzzling beast. The van was eventually sold to a young guy, a tree planter who was headed out into the bush to make some money. I hope he got some use out of that great vehicle, so well customized with Salvation Army cupboards and home-made storage, before it expired to rust.
This old Mexican blanket lived in the van and has been hauled out and snoozed upon on a lot of places on the north american continent. Now when I look at it, I can see how it is a simple weave, but well done, compared to the cheap ones seen in the discount stores now.One can really appreciate how a textile becomes a part of one’s history. Just a plain weave cotton blanket, stained and full of dust, well used for upwards of thirty years.
I don’t know much about how these things are produced, but they are seen in every self-respecting old hippy’s camping outfit. There must be an enormous bolt of cloth from which sections are cut somewhere. Most recently this blanket has been spread under a tree on Locarno Beach, where we listen to our ipods and read, and I watch Grant wander out for a swim. The leaves are starting to drop, and the water feels just that much cooler in the past week or two.
I have some odds and ends of fibre that I spun up – this is about 60 metres of roughly three plied merino that was pretty “felty” in the package. It was likely more suited for a felting project than hand spinning but the colours drew me in. I think this will be the cuff of some mittens, just some jewel colours to brighten up a simple project. We’ll see.