Sneaking Into The Weaver’s Life

Adele Harvey demonstrating how to weave at the Fryeburg Fair Provided

BETHEL – Walking through Adele Harvey’s studio, nine weaving machines are set up. Sitting at the first, she weaves a brown thread while simultaneously pressing the different pedals. It’s almost like she’s playing an instrument, an organ of sorts.

Harvey has mastered his art of weaving for 50 years. The first time the idea intrigued her was when she was in college reading The Odyssey. While Homer is away, many suitors try to marry his “widow,” Penelope. She tells them that she’s weaving a quilt for her stepfather, and when she’s done, she’ll choose the next man she’ll marry. However, every night she removes the seams so that they always stay undone.

This anecdote always delighted Adele and became one of the reasons she decided to continue weaving. As a young girl, she also wove her own clothes for school. With these two magical combinations, she embarks on the study of weaving. She learned to weave on her own and found she had the gift.

Only life arrived, as it does, and upon graduation from college, she and her then-husband moved from Chicago to the Detroit area and continued to move through the America. They also had two children. When they moved to Lincoln, Massachusetts, she became a member of the Weavers Guild, where she eventually sat down and started to really weave… compulsively. She attended many courses there and met her circle of weaving friends. When she arrived at Bethel, she continued to weave, setting up her own workshop, using threads she had collected over the 50 years she was weaving.

She has a library filled with thousands of models (which really sound like music when she reads them aloud), she compares them to recipes.

“Moving on to cooking, you can change the recipe – a recipe has the ingredients, the thread; the recipe has the measurements; how you put it on, then you can boil it, roast it, sauté it, so you can make adjustments as you go. It can be unique to the person, ”says Harvey.

She makes the models mainly for herself and her family; however, she sets up a loom for the Bethel Historical Society.

“The basis of weaving is to put one set of threads under tension and allow it to put on another set of threads,” says Harvey. “Well, it’s kinda energized because if it wasn’t you’d have big curls all over the place. “

While Harvey sits at each loom, she works carefully and with great attention to each thread. She’s so immersed, it’s like she’s found her own secret world and Bethel seems to be melting away from her. Then she stands up, adjusting her glasses, passionately explaining how the wire connects to the pedals, and the world of Bethel returns.

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