No Flowers on this Tapestry, Just Ticks

When I was a girl, growing up on a farm in Bygland Township in northwestern Minnesota, wood ticks were so annoying. After roaming the woods on summer days, my sister Terry and I were subjected to wood tick checks, as our mother ran her hands through our hair. Big blood-filled orange ticks on my cousin’s dog were scary and gross; we only looked at them from a distance.

My embroidered handwriting may be a little hard to read: “Reported lyme disease cases 2017: 1408 1992: 252 1980: What’s lyme disease?” The statistics are for Minnesota.

But today ticks really are scary. Deer ticks, now called blacklegged ticks, hard to spot because they may be as small as a speck of dirt or a freckle, can cause long-term debilitating illness. Tick bite prevention and body checking make a summer stroll in the woods less inviting. This small tapestry, showing relative sizes of the wood tick and backlegged tick, is part of a series I have planned, about the constantly emerging environmental issues during my long career at the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library. I tracked environmental and agricultural policy and it felt never-ending, the constant new threats.

I put this small weaving (3.5″ x 8″) on my portable loom to have something to demonstrate at the Weavers Guild of Minnesota Fiber Fair. People were interested.  One person said, “Oh! I don’t know. I think I will stick to flowers.” Some had ideas for other invasive species for the series. Minnesota State Representative Diane Loeffler suggested a horrible scourge in her district, the emerald ash borer. (Does anyone have any bits of shiny green yarn for me?) Rosemary McFarlane suggested earthworms, which were on my list. She is going to send me images of fern species that are particularly endangered because the earthworms are destroying the duff of the forest floor where they live.

Often I weave pieces that are more related to traditional Norwegian billedvev.  There is nothing Norwegian about this piece, except…. I was reaching for a needle and noticed that a small box painted by my mother had exactly the same palette–was I channeling Norwegian rosemaling colors as I chose yarn from my bag?


  1. Hi Robbie, You are so talented, and not just with weaving. I really enjoy your stories. I tried to put this on a reply on your site, but I don’t have the right name to type in.


  2. I love this idea for a series! Earthworms are good creatures, though. They may cause some damage but they till and fertilize the earth and feed the birds. I encourage them in my garden. I guess there are good and bad aspects of all species but I can’t think of a good reason for ticks, other than for opossum food. I have been lurking but I enjoy your Norwegian style and learning more about it.