Ritual is at the heart of weaving: the tug of the yarn as the shuttle brings it back and forth; the rhythm of the pedals that lift the harness up and down. Every movement must be precise and repeatable, yet imbued with an artistic spirit that drives the craft.
Jessica Green is a hand weaver whose work is ever evolving. Her studio, A Little Weather, creates everything from small handkerchiefs to queen-sized coverlets and fine-art wall hangings.
Her work has a sense of reverence for both the methodical and the meditative. Simply walking from the house on her working farm in Sandy Mush to the small barn that serves as her studio reminds her of this balance daily.
“Every morning, at the same time, I’m walking down through this field and every morning is a different day,” she says. “My life and my work allows me to have this very profound moment of mindfulness at the very beginning of my day where I can notice things.”
In the warmer months, Queen Anne’s lace might greet her at the door; other days, chicory dots the path. These and other botanicals give her hand-dyed weaving a lush vibrancy. This time of year, she notices the bright-red cardinals defending their territory among the bare winter branches, and also offers this memorable image: “I see my sweet chickens riding on the back of the sheep, warming their frozen feet in the fleece.”
And it’s those sheep that are the source of each piece she makes.
Caring for these ten animals, each with whimsical names like Holly and Hock, keeps Green grounded. After months of her tender treatment, each sheep is sheared for its wool that in turn is spun into yarn at Echoview Fiber Mill or hand spun by Green.
The creative process expands from there, guided by natural dyes that she grows or forages on her property. Everything from rhubarb to indigo finds its way into her craft and is carefully woven into the fabric of A Little Weather.
The studio’s name refers to life’s smaller moments. “I love the phrase ‘a bit of weather we’re having’ and how small talk can be about our actual reality,” she explains. “That feels like such a gentle but firm commitment. That whatever the weather is, I’ll be committed to this project.”
Green’s journey to weaving was a departure from her early academic background in anthropology and performance art. “I had a very non sequitur, circuitous route,” she says with a shy smile.
She spent two years after college attending a Tibetan lama based in Southern Colorado, following this “high teacher” and acting as her liaison with the rest of the world, booking her travels and cooking her meals, thinking this kind of ritual would fulfill her. Yet she felt the pull of a more tangible way to explore the value of repetition.
It all clicked the first time she sat down at a loom at Penland School of Crafts. “It gave me a super profound sense of homecoming,” she says as she describes that first spark that continues to guide her.
The experience propelled her to reexamine her academic background and find a way to tie her knowledge of traditional American weaving into a physical act that could sustain her.
“The weaving history in America is so strong and really profound,” she says, before delving into a subject that continues to drive her work.
She notes that cloth was scarce during the Revolutionary War, due in part to Great Britain’s restrictions on the import and export of wool. This promoted a movement of home spinners and weavers who asserted their independence through cloth.
“Folks started weaving in their homes — kind of as a revolutionary protest — so they could provide their own families with linens for their bed and clothing for themselves and their children.”
Early Colonial American weaving was documented and disseminated on tiny scraps of paper. Known as “recipes,” these simple patterns conserved valuable paper and also left room for experimentation.
“There’s so much room for error and for reinterpretation,” she says. “From hand to hand and weaver to weaver, the patterns would change.”
Green continues to use these recipes in her own work, noting the prevalence of Estonian, Swedish, and Turkish references that reflect the tapestry of immigration that influenced early American culture. She sells online and does commission work with designers and individuals, plus home boutiques including Michele Varian and ABC Carpet and Home (both in New York City) and By George (Austin, Texas).
An alchemy of fierce independence and respect for heritage energizes her work at A Little Weather. Green takes on an apprentice each year and hires “a few contract weavers on a very casual basis,” as she explains. But raising her own sheep, dying her own wool, crafting each pattern, and weaving by hand gives her the freedom to explore new ways to communicate through cloth.
“I want to be the farmer. I want to be the dyer. I want to be the spinner,” she declares. “It’s not just the weaving that’s interesting to me, it’s the source.”
To learn more about A Little Weather, go to www.alittleweather.com.