EDIT: This week’s winner is Stillparenting from Instagram!
Hello friends, and welcome to another Tasha Tuesday! This week we continue to celebrate the beloved author, illustrator and lifestyle icon in the month that she would have turned 105 years old.
Each Tuesday this month, I will have a new Tasha Tuesday post, chatting about something Tasha Tudor related, and also a little bonus treat– I will be giving away a Tasha Tudor related prize each week as well. To enter to win the prize, you just leave a comment here on my blog, and/or on the corresponding instagram post on my instagram feed! You are welcome to comment in both places to increase your odds of winning. I am also so so thrilled to announce that I have a wonderful partner in these giveaways– Anokhi— who make gorgeous authentic Indian block printed scarves like the ones Tasha was famous for wearing. Anokhi is also a small, family run business that is now in it’s second generation. I know you will love them, I have several, and they are all beautiful!
Read through to the end to see what this week’s prize is, and a special thanks to Anokhi for being a part of Tasha Tuesday!
Tasha Tudor- A Passion for Weaving
Of all the talents and interests that Tasha Tudor is know for— painting, gardening, corgis, old fashioned dress– one of her lifelong passions usually gets forgotten; weaving. But not only did Tasha weave rugs for her large drafty kitchen as a young mother, she also learned to weave her own cloth— from, in many cases, fibers she grew, dyed and spun herself. As we spoke about last week, Tasha was a pioneer of incorporating historical dress into every day life, and many of those pieces were woven at her own loom.
What is fascinating about Tasha’s weaving endeavors is that she came by most of her knowledge in a completely self-taught manner. When her interest in the craft began in the 1930s and 1940s, the art of loom weaving had become fairly obscure. Many a New England loom that had worked for generations were relegated to the barn yard and made into chicken coops, if they weren’t smashed up for firewood before that. To teach herself to weave, Tasha found very old books on the subject and slowly started to amass her loom collection.
Tasha’s daughter Bethany remembered, “at one time the big old loom stood in a corner of the kitchen. It was a very pleasant place for my mother to sit and weave, when she was not busy with housework. Underneath the loom several striped kittens usually played. The place was irresistible to them, and there were many baskets filled with spools, shuttles and cloth strips to be woven.” (Drawn From New England by Bethany Tudor, pg. 76)
Tasha’s interest in weaving seems to have been driven by the love of the process of making cloth from start to finish. According to author Tovah Martin, “Tasha says that she once grew a shirt from seed, and that’s not far from the truth. One year she decided to plant flax, which she then harvested, spun, dyed, wove and sewed into a checked shirt for her brother. The process took three years from seed to shirt, and it required quite a bit of obscure equipment and a good deal of research.” (Tasha Tudor’s Heirloom Crafts by Tovah Martin, pg. 51-52)
As the years passed, there was a resurgence of interest in American homespun crafts, especially as the bicentennial approached. In her later years, Tasha become close friends with many like-minded artisans who were passionate about preserving ‘the old ways’ and she maintained long lasting and fruitful friendships with creators all over the country. One of these friends was celebrated weaver Kate Smith, who founded Eaton Hill Textile Works in Marshfield, VT. With Kate, Tasha would dye her yarns (especially cochineal red for her red petticoats!) and also weave. Tasha kept several of her own looms in her home and barn at Corgi Cottage, and also let some of her closest weaving friends store their looms there. If Tasha was out of town, she would call on Kate to house-sit, and was always delighted to find several yards of expertly woven cloth on a loom when she returned.
Tasha often spoke fondly of the early 20th century, saying “I’m drawn to the old ways, convinced that I lived before, in the 1830’s. Everything comes so easily to me from that period, of that time: threading a loom, growing flax, spinning, milking a cow. Einstein said that time is live a river, it flows in bends. If we could only step back around the turns, we could travel in either direction. I’m sure it’s possible. When I die, I’m going right back to 1830.” ( The Private World of Tasha Tudor by Richard Brown, pg. 13)
Several years ago I was lucky enough to tour Tasha’s home and see several of her looms as she left them. I was also able to see one of her looms set up in Brattleboro when there was a Tasha Tudor Museum there, along with the last bit of cloth she was working on before her death. It seems that up until the end, Tasha was still weaving— still creating— still making her love for the past become present.
If you’d like to see an antique loom in action, and hear from a weaver who is passionate about maintaining the textile skills of the path, I highly suggest this short video featuring Tasha’s talented weaving friend– Kate Smith.
To enter to win, just leave a comment on this blog post! You may also enter on instagram on the corresponding IG post. Winner will be chosen on Friday. Good luck! And, of course,