The ancient art of weaving is alive and well at the Easton Senior Center thanks to Barbara Hurly. Hurly teaches traditional loom weaving, a practice that has hardly evolved since its invention thousands of years ago.
"I started weaving when my children were young," Hurly said as she offered hints and suggestions to her students in Friday's class. "I had all this sheep's wool so I decided to learn how to spin. ... I had all of this yarn that was more than I could use to knit with, so the obvious thing to do was to weave."
Her dedication speaks for itself. She showed up to the center Friday in a wheelchair, with her husband, John, pushing her as she carried a pair of crutches. She recently had surgery on her ankle, which was recovering.
"She's a wonderful teacher, very patient," said Alka Sood, who has been weaving with Hurly for the past two years. "She's so cool about it. She doesn't make decisions for you you have to figure it out yourself."
It can take months to complete a project, mostly because the classes are only once a week. It can take 20 or more hours to set the loom with the thread, Hurly said.
"Most everything we make are gifts," she added. Her students represent a variety of ages her eldest weaver is 90.
One thing that has changed over time is the variety of yarn materials available. The ladies have used silk, rayon, cotton, wool and bamboo. There's even a fabric called Chitosan, engineered from the shells of shrimp and other crustaceans, that's available.
The weaving class is self-sufficiently funded and receives no money from the town, Hurly added. It is also the only weaving facility in the state that exists in a senior center.
"It's amazing how these women have always been handy," Hurly said. "As they age, it's interesting to me that they start a new thing. But the skills with their hands just never go away."
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