At Swans Island we believe in creating items thoughtfully and responsibly. We craft items that are meant to last and be passed on from one generation to another. Today we’d like to introduce you to one of our weavers in this artisan spotlight. Alessandra hand weaves blankets and wraps here at Swans Island.
What inspired you to become a weaver?
The first time I visited Swans Island I brought my kids and we toured the workshop. The sales person gave my kids raw fleece which they played with while we watched the weavers ply their trade. I knew then, in the back of my mind, that I would come to work here some day. The fact that weaving is a traditional woman’s trade really inspired me.
What part of you is most engaged by weaving?
My timing comes through my feet. My feet need to be in rhythm with the loom in order to engage the shed pedal. My non-work life is very busy and involved in a multitude of daily tasks. My work at Swans allows me to be in the now, focused on the task of building this blanket. I’m able to get lost in the concentration.
Do you have a particular process when you weave? For example, do you listen to certain music, do you have any tricks to throwing the shuttle? Is there a certain way you manage the warp? What’s special about how you weave that differs from any other weaver?
When I get to my loom I like to do a thorough check of the loom. I pay particular attention to the pedal position. I like to listen to classic rock because I know all the words and love the uptempo beat.
Each of us have items that are special to us–legacy items that are passed down from one generation to another, could you tell us about something that’s special to you?
My Granddad retired the year I was born. He became my primary babysitter. I’d spend the summers with him on Sanibel Island in Florida and he’d take me fishing, shelling, and woodworking in his workshop. Each day we’d spend hours on the beach watching sand pipers weaving in and out of the waves. From an early age, I brought him his tools as he worked on various woodworking projects. Eventually, I was allowed to help finish sand the pieces. Granddad made many carvings of sand pipers, and I have one that I actually sanded. It lives in my kitchen next to my cookbooks.
My own children knew my grandfather when he was alive and love to hear stories about my early childhood with him. They are captivated by the carved sand piper. It’s a piece of him that is also a part of our household and reminds me of those warm summer days spent with Granddad.