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Life Looms Large at The Heritage Weaving Studio

Mar 24, 2016 07:51PM ● By Ryan Frisch

On the second floor of the historic Bridgewater Mill building, seven-foot-tall looms, floor-to-ceiling stacks of colorful fabric, and beautiful finished rugs fill The Heritage Weaving Studio (HWS). Run by volunteer weavers and apprentices, the Heritage Weaving Studio welcomes anyone who wants to weave or learn to weave—from novices to experienced fiber artists looking to pick up new skills.

From Rags to Riches

Operating under the auspices of the Bridgewater Sustainable Earth Foundation, the weaving studio recycles clothing from the foundation’s third-floor thrift shop, remaking garments as rugs and other useful objects. The studio is open three days a week so the public can watch, learn, and weave—or purchase rugs, table runners, and other items for sale. On most days, founder Vassie Sinopoulos sits at one of the historic looms, showing how she’s weaving tee shirts (and sometimes jeans) into rag rugs, remaking old clothing into useful textiles.

“Rag rugs are the simplest kind of weaving,” Vassie says. “At times people give us wool, so we’ll weave wool rugs or a table runner.” And every week they get loads of clean tee shirts from the Bridgewater Thrift Shop. “I like the soft fabric of tee shirts,” Vassie says. “It’s supple.”

According to Vassie, weaving is not difficult to learn, but dressing the loom (setting up the hundreds of threads on the loom) is. “People used to make everything at home,” Vassie says. “They often raised sheep so they could make blankets or more decorative items. They would make rugs out of clothing that was disintegrating.” Fabric scraps left over from sewing projects would also be put to use making a rag rug. Nothing that could be reused went to waste. These days it’s recognized as a welcome way to reduce waste, lower our (collective) footprint, and transform those materials into something beautiful.

By Meg Brazill. Photos by Lynn Bohannon. 

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