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Weaver Profile: America Smith
June 12, 2016
“Uno, dos, tres, cuatro, arriba, abajo . . . “
When I took a job teaching English to 400 students whose first language was Spanish, I made a commitment to learn their language in order to communicate with their families. I packed my bags and went in search of the Spanish language, having no idea then that I would learn a great deal more.
Becari, the school I attended in Oaxaca, Mexico, offered a variety of cultural classes in addition to Spanish, including dance, cooking, and weaving. Although I tried them all, my weaving class, taught by a Zapotec master weaver, was a life-changing event. My teacher’s tools consisted of a back strap loom with the same belt and beater her grandmother had used years before. “Uno, dos, tres, cuatro, arriba, abajo” (one, two, three, four, up, down), she sang, as she taught us to weave.
Immediately upon returning home to the Seattle area, I enrolled in weaving classes at The Weaving Works. Once I realized that weaving was no passing fancy, I bought a Schacht Mighty Wolf 8-shaft loom, bench, and warping board. I was in heaven! That was 2005, and I have been weaving daily ever since. Rugs, shawls, dishcloths, table runners—I could not weave them fast enough.
While recovering from multiple surgeries on my feet, I wove belts on my Schacht inkle loom from my bed. In addition to my Mighty Wolf, I now own an 8-shaft Baby Wolf. These looms are so beautifully made, efficient, and fit my 5’2” frame so well. The smaller loom is perfect for scarves, and with two looms, I always have at least one project in the weaving stage.
My husband, an architect, designed my weaving studio. French doors open to an amazing view of the Puget Sound, where I weave to the sound of birds and ducks. It is very inspiring and I realize how fortunate I am − I love my weaving life and my beautiful looms. Nevertheless, maybe, just maybe, if my husband relocated the fireplace, there would be room for another Wolf. You never know!