Interview with Goose Nest Weavers

Today I have the honour of interviewing Jessie from Goose Nest Weavers. I first came across Jessie and her husband Lemuel on Instagram. I was instantly smitten with their beautiful images of old looms, stunning weaving and the fact that this husband and wife team are sharing the joy of weaving, faith and life together. 

They have inspired me in many ways and I'm sure you will find them equally fascinating.

I love that you and your husband work and weave together. Which of you started your weaving journey first, and how did it all begin?

I began weaving after I was encouraged by a dear friend to give it a try. I bought a small loom and struggled to learn pretty much on my own. After I retired from my job, my husband and I found a really super school where we could spend a week at a time and have personal instruction.  We began at the beginning and not only was I in love with the entire process my husband turned out to be a natural at it too. As a small child my Mom had a friend that was an older lady that made rugs for the community on a loom that went back in her family for several generations.  I watched her and itched to be allowed to try.  I was 10 at the time, so thank goodness she knew not to allow me any where near the loom.  Nearly 30 years later after the lady’s death I now have been able to acquire that loom and that was  our first antique loom. 

Goose Nest Weavers is a wonderful name for a business. How did your business start and what was your inspiration for the name?

Naming the business was easy.  We live in a rural area and over the years there have been small villages that have come and gone.  We have a small farm and on the property there was once a small settlement that was called Goose Nest.  It has become sort of part of our identity now too. Hence, the only proper name it seemed to us, was Goose Nest Weavers.

To be totally honest we are probably the worst business people in the world.  We do some custom work on order but as you well know the time required to begin and follow to completion a hand weaving project is time consuming to say the least.  So once you have made people aware that an overshot coverlet is not an on demand kind of thing, that there is probably a month or more involved in producing it , the folks that want to go ahead are the fuel for the creative fire. I really get a buzz from folks that see and understand and appreciate the product as well as, the process.

You and Lem weave specifically on beautiful antique looms. Was this a conscious decision for you?

 As I explained I had  acquired our first barn loom and after very carefully taking it down and numbering and labelling all her parts I quickly realized that there was very little that I could transfer from my knowledge of the modern loom I had been working on. So I set to looking for a place where I could gain the expertise that was going to be required. I guess you could say that we chose the old looms. 

We went to study at the Marshfield School of Weaving. The prime reason being that there you work on 18th century looms. It was the best thing we could have done.  The folks there walked us through a project and at the end of the week we were feeling very confident.  Kate Smith the director of the school has been a great resource for the looms. We have acquired several from her.  Most of them came from someone’s barn or attic.. They look like a pile of sticks when we first see them.  We bring them back to Lem’s workshop for some TLC and before long they are up and functioning again.  Currently we have four old looms that we are weaving with plus one new loom.  There are about 4 or 5 more that are waiting to be given a good cleaning and be put to work.

Have there been any challenges or difficulties in working with old looms?

Oh you know, these “old ladies” are quite the characters.  Sure there are tricks and tweaks that you have to acquaint yourself with each.  Because they are generally pretty old, we have several that are now more than 200 years old, they have been built with a combination of woods, each species reacts differently to temperature and humidity, the “Girls” can be temperamental.  

We do our best to keep everything environmentally on an even keel.  But, that being said there is nothing more satisfying than sitting down to spend time with  a piece of equipment that has become like an old friend and allowing her to glide through a job just as she has for the past two hundred years. You can very nearly feel all the hands that have asked her to work for them over the centuries guiding your hands. We were told early on that looms have a feminine nature.  As you move your hands and feet to get her to do your work it is very like dancing with a lovely lady. So it is imperative that you treat her as you would a “lady”. I must admit it seems to work the charm. 

Do you have any favourite fibres or threads?

We both prefer natural fibers, we use a great deal of cotton and linen in conjunction with wool in several weights.

What items do you love to weave the most? Do you have a favourite weave structure?

Lemuel enjoys weaving heavier projects. He especially enjoys making rugs, either the traditional rag rug or we have become acquainted with a Venetian pattern that dates back to a weaver in the 1700's. 
I prefer making household linens. Towelling and blankets. However, my all time favourite is Overshot and Summer & Winter coverlets.

           What did you and Lem do before your weaving business?

My goodness we have been jacks of several trades.  Lemuel worked with his family on the family farm and when his health dictated a change he had his own business as an Equine Dentist.

As the wife of a farmer I worked on the farm too, while working as a medical office receptionist and later as a letter carrier for the Postal Service on the side.

What plans do you have for the future of your business?

Go slowly.  Enjoy what we are producing.  Make sure that what we are asking the looms to produce is something that we will proud to put our names on and be associated with for many years maybe generations to come. 
We have become aware of several 18th and 19th century weavers that worked in our community. Once folks found out what we doing they have brought us their family treasures to share with us the skills of the generations of their families. We want to be producing coverlets and rugs of a quality that will allow the folks that own them to pass them down their families with pride.

Do you have some advice for those who are interested in learning to weave?

I would say don’t worry about starting a business. Allow yourself to fall in love with the craft. It requires a steady hand, the time to do a thing properly. If you will do those things you will find that there is so much that artistically you can explore.  Color, texture, fibers, more and more.
Find someone who you can depend on to mentor you. I’m old school and a real person is good for me but you younger minds can probably make the internet work for you. The craft of weaving has been around since before the pyramids and the process is essentially the same,  the only difference is that the creative spark that you have is yours alone and it can make a very big impression if you set it free. 

You can visit Goose Nest Weavers on Instagram 
                check out their Etsy shop.



Terri Bryson said...

What a wonderful interview! So wonderful that these old looms are given new life and treated with such TLC.

Eve C said...

Lovely interview. I appreciate the mindfulness the couple brings to to their work.

Kelly Casanova said...

I agree Terri, it's just wonderful to see!

Kelly Casanova said...

Eve, I like to picture myself in a similar situation in future years.

The Prayerful Weaver said...

What an interesting interview, Kelly, and a remarkable couple! I'm getting really interested in the history of weaving, so I love the fact that people are bringing them their treasures from the past, and that they have been able to trace back to weavers in past centuries. Hope you get the chance to meet up with them again for another interview! Liz. x

Kelly Casanova said...

Yes, there is so much fascinating history when you delve into weaving!

Unknown said...

Thank you Kelly for sharing this interview with us. Their love of their craft comes through very clearly and it made me look at my attempts at weaving in an entirely different light.

Kelly Casanova said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it, Brigitte!

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