This has been a great weekend at La Sapiniere, north of Montreal. I’m a tag-along to my husband’s psychoanalytic study group, which translates to enjoying time on my own and having lovely meals with well-chosen wine. It’s always interesting to see how people respond when I tell them I am a weaver. Some people consider weaving anachronistic, but interesting. Sometimes people have deep and personal ties to weaving.
The mother of my friend Dominque, a psychoanalyst from Quebec, was a weaver in her home village of Sant’Agata in Calabria. Dominique remembers that she was the one who was called on to set up looms for other village weavers. He still has linens and blankets she wove in Italy, before emigrating to Quebec when Dominique was ten. In her new life she worked hard as a seamstress and in factories, and raised two successful sons. She died two years ago, but her memory remains close to her family. Her weaving too- Dominque keeps a thick rug made with rags in his car, ready for picnics.
In the Italy of Dominiques’s childhood everyone understood the creation of textiles; they saw it happen in their homes and in shops. In the next village, “Rose The Crazy One” was a carder of wool. in the warm climate of Southern Italy so much of life took place on the streets. Dominique and his friends would watch as Rose sat, clad in black, pulling woolen fleece between the metal-tined cards, straightening, scraping. “She scared us,” Dominique said. Rose stared vacantly into space as she combed, combed. Sometimes she beat her chest and exclaimed. Perhaps only a psychoanalyst would examine his childhood feelings so deeply. He said that it was frightening. The dangerous-looking metal tines pulled against one another, evoking worry and fear of castration in the small boys.
The discussion turned to mythological Penelope, who wove a shroud by day and each night unravelled her work. The unravelling has a link to analysis, of stopping to unravel and examine what has gone before in your life.
We haven’t left, and I already look forward to returning next year. I wonder if King Olav of Norway had such a great time when he was here; he stayed in the same room.