Arriving at my first local weavers’ guild -meeting in Edmonds, Washington, in February 2009, I found the tables in the workroom piled with raw fiber, roving, spun yarn, spools of warp fiber, prepared warps, cloth samples—and a bag containing a bobbin-lace sample book and a roll of additional lace samples. All this had been the fiber stash of Seaview Weavers member Jane Garrett, who had died the previous month. Jane’s daughter, Sally Sutherland, had kept her mother’s loom but felt that her mother would have wanted her fellow guild -members to have her stash. I took the beautiful -little book and the bag of bobbin-lace samples even though I did not then know anything about bobbin lace.
Jane Garrett was a skilled lacemaker, spinner, weaver, and knitter, whose weaving, according to Seaview -Weavers member Kathleen Hawn, “was some of the very best I have ever seen. She had a detailed knowledge and knack with fine threads.” Another friend says, “She was a delightful lady, with a warm and ready smile. She always had a youthful twinkle in her eye that certainly didn't match her age.” Jane learned spinning from her mother, who passed her large walking wheel on to her daughter along with a love for fine threads. Sally Sutherland writes more about her mother’s life in the sidebar below.
Jane’s bobbin-lace samples are mounted in a twenty-page black photograph album. Scotch-taped or glued to the pages are six small prickings; three typed pages of instructions, one with hand-drawn illustrations of bobbin configurations; and twenty-nine lace samples. The four pieces of bobbin lace that were in the bag range in length from 16½ inches (41.9 cm) to 29 inches (73.7 cm) and in width from about 1 inch (2 cm) to 1⅜ inches (3 cm).
I treasure Jane’s bobbin lace samples and her skill as a lacemaker. I regret not having known her, but I am very pleased to have acquired her samples.
Rae Deane Leatham’s mother taught her to knit booties for family babies at an early age, and she has been an avid knitter since. Following her retirement in 2007 as assistant director of information technology at a local community college, she is improving her spinning skills and returning to her four-shaft loom.
On Jane Garrett
My mother, Jane Marie Hawkins, was born in 1919, probably holding crochet hooks or a shuttle. She had many hobbies, but fiber crafts were always her favorite. As a young woman working in New York City, she crocheted a bedspread while riding the subway back and forth to work. In 1948, she attended the Universal School of Handicrafts in New York; I still have her course book with notes and samples and a photograph of her instructor.
Mom married my father, Thomas Garrett, in 1955. Luckily for Mom, Dad loved woodworking, and he was always making her looms, shuttles, warping frames, and bobbins, all of which surrounded me as I was growing up. Both Mom and Dad would enter fairs, Mom with her fiber work and Dad with his woodwork. As they got older, Mom and Dad would travel to Arizona for the winter in their recreational vehicle, and she would sit next to it and spin or weave in the sun.
Mom loved to share her knowledge of her craft and has left a legacy for younger fiber artists. She tripped and fell (ironically, over her spinning wheel) in December 2008 and died in January 2009.
This article was published in the July/August 2010 issue of PieceWork.