Women Weaving the World: Text and Textile in the Kalevala and Beyond

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Appendix A: Glossary of Weaving Terminology [1]

Batten: a mechanism for tightening the weave by pushing the newest line of weft into the fell of the cloth. This can be incorporated into the mechanics of the loom as a moving part containing the reed through which the warp is threaded, or may be a separate, comb like tool. Also known as a beater.

Heddle: looped string through which the warp is passed. Threading heddles in different ways and attaching them to moving shafts or peddles can create different patterns. Also known as heald.

Knitting: interlocking of loops of yarn. Warp knitting involves a single yarn looped into itself to form a fabric whereas weft knitting is loops together multiple yarns.

Loom: the mechanism on which cloth is woven. This can be as simple as a rectangular frame on which warp strings are stretched. Many types of loom exist, developed by different cultures and producing different kinds of cloth. Types of looms referred to in this paper include the warp-weighted loom and the floor loom. In this paper, specifically, the kinds of looms referred to are the warp-weighted loom and the floor loom.

Net: a fabric of open mesh made by knotting or twisting threads. Netting is the process of knotting or entwining to produce the mesh net.

Plain weave: a basic weave of over-under. Each weft thread passes over one warp and under one warp, repeating this sequence for the length of the weave. The minimum number of threads for such a weave is two warp strands and two wefts. Also known as a basket weave or tabby weave.

Reed: a mechanism for determining the spacing of the warp threads and width of the resulting fabric. Incorporated into the beater, it ensures the weft is beat into the fabric evenly.

Shed: the opening between warp threads for the weft to pass through. In a simple weave, the warp threads would be raised and lowered in an alternating pattern.

Shuttle: a tool for carrying the weft through the shed of the warp.

Spinning: the process by which raw fiber are turned into yarn or thread.

Warp: the threads that are attached to the loom, through which the weft is interlaced.

Warping: the process of attaching the warp threads to the loom and arranging them in order, number, and/or width, according to the desired pattern.

Warp-weighted loom: a standing loom, where the warp is tied to the top of the frame, but not the bottom, allowing for free movement of the warp thread to create patterns. The warp is kept taut by the tying of weights to the bottom of the threads, in the form of rocks, weighted sacks, or measured weights.

Weft: the threads that are woven through the warp to create the textile. These are not attached to the loom, and can vary in material and color throughout the textile. There are also ways to weave with multiple weft threads at the same time to create patterns.

Yarn: or thread, is the product of spinning or twisting fibers, and is the basic component of most fabric.

Appendix B: Craft and Performance Influences

Selected artists [in addition to the Pussyhat Project (2017) and The Mending Project by Beili Liu (2011) described in Chapter Three]. For full list of important influences, see the bibliography.

(Ordered chronologically by date of the work.)

Faith Ringgold (1963-present).

Cecilia Vicuña (1966-present).

The poetry, installations, visual art, and performance-lectures of Cecilia Vicuña have provided a wealth of material for me to explore and build upon. Textiles and weaving are often elements in Vicuña’s works, and the content is often focused on women. Video of a performance piece and audio of a lecture have greatly deepened my appreciation of her work, in addition to reading her poetry and seeing images of her thread installations.

Womanhouse, organized by Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro (1972).

Featuring the work of over 26 women artists, Womanhouse was a large-scale installation that took over a deserted mansion. In collaboration, the artists filled the house with curated environments and performances that took the domestic life of the homemaker to fantastical proportions.

The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago (1979).

An installation featuring a triangular table set with 39 unique place settings, each for a famous woman from history or mythology. The floor features the names of an additional 999 women. Viewing this work in person at the Brooklyn Museum provided inspiration as to the variety of techniques that crafting encompasses and the possible scale an installation piece can occupy.

Slumber, Janine Antoni (1993).

The artist installed a loom and a bed in the gallery and slept there at night. While she slept, an electroencephalograph (EEG) recorded her rapid eye moments (REM). The next day, she would weave strips from her nightgown into the pattern of her sleep-graph.

The Penelopiad, Margaret Atwood (2005).

Atwood’s reimagining of the Odyssey in Penelope’s voice has been a very significant text for me. The hardships of Penelope and her maids, in a world of men where their voice are muted and their powers limited, are brought from background of the classical story to the forefront of this novella. In addition to the content, the theatrical structures that Atwood uses, including the use of the maids as an alternative Greek chorus in a cabaret style, has had a direct influence on how I chose to weave together the many voices in Seven Women Weave.

Antigonick, Anne Carson (2012).

Carson’s eccentric “translation” of Sophocles is inspiring in its bold reweaving of the Antigone story with modern texts and voices, visual media, and multiple readings of the events of the play.

Appendix C: Interviews

Interview with Marjatta Eilittä, mother.

October 16, 2017. Vermont, U.S.A.
M = Marjatta Eilittä, H = Hanna Psychas

M: So this happened, according to family legend, during the time of the Great Northern War, so at the beginning of the 1700s, when the Russians were in Finland travelling from place to place raiding and doing all kinds of bad things. At that time, Finland was under Swedish rule and, according to this story, the Russians had gone to the Tervola Church and had stolen all of the church gold and treasures, as well as the church bell. They had then gotten into a boat and were going to go by boat down river to the Gulf of Bothnia. But then they arrived at the Taivalkoski rapids, and they knew that they needed help to get over the rapids, or rather, through the rapids. So they came to shore and went to ask, or demand, to be led through the rapids. And, according to the legend, a young girl of the Eilittä family volunteered to lead them down the rapids. And, of course, these rapids were so big that you really had to know how to navigate them, something only locals knew. So, she left to lead them through the rapids, but only because she wanted them not to succeed in navigating, so she intentionally directed them incorrectly so that the boat drove in to the rocks and sunk. And everyone died in the shipwreck, including this Eilittä girl.

H: Who told you this story? Do you remember?

M: You know, I somehow remember that Kauko had told that Lassi had told him this story, Pappa’s brother, so that’s where it probably came from, from Lassi. But I also heard it from someone else, probably Lassi had told Pappa and Mummo sometime long ago and I heard it from them.

H: So is story something that everyone knows or has some version of or is it just you and your siblings?

M: I don’t know, I don’t think that much is known about it and I don’t know if it’s true or not. It could be that it is not true at all. One could look into it, presumably, through the church, since the church records should show it. The Great War time was not very long, I don’t remember the dates—was it 1708–23 or something like that?—so one could look, of course, whether the Eilittä family included, at that time, a young woman who was then marked as dead. It could be looked into, in that way.

H: And do you know if anyone has ever tried to find the sunken treasure?

M: Oh, no I don’t think so. And now it would be very difficult—

H: Now, because of the Taivalkoski dam.

M: Yes, now it would be very difficult to find it from there.

H: So it wasn’t something, when you were little, this idea that there was a sunken treasure out there?

M: No, not at all.

H: Shame. It could have been found.

M: Yeah, it’s a shame. It would have been nice if it had somehow been saved. The Eilittä family definitely could have used it in the following decades. But that’s how it goes.

Interview with Ritva Eilittä, relative and neighbor.

August 12, 2017. Itäkoski, Finland.
R = Ritva Eilittä, H = Hanna Psychas

(*** indicates an omission of a section of the original interview)

H: So, I just wanted to talk and ask a little about how you started weaving, especially if you didn’t do much of it before you retired, so how you started, and why, and how you see weaving—why it is something you enjoy and what does it mean to you?

R: I never really got to do it earlier when I was working and here [in the village] there was the national education organization’s weaving circle, but I figured I couldn’t really go, since you do have to go there to weave regularly, and so there was just this determination that when I retire, then I will get to participate. And I didn’t really know much about weaving, and I wanted to learn all about how to set-up loom, how the warp is set and rolled onto the loom, how it is threaded, and this was especially interesting—how to thread the warp—since this determines the pattern. I was interested in it all, I just had to learn everything about threading, and also tying the pedals.

* * *

H: So, did your mother, or your grandmother, weave?

R: Yes, my mother wove. My grandmother passed away when I was nine, and by then she was so old she couldn’t really do much with her hands. But my mother wove, and she was a really accomplished artisan. I always watched by her side as she did things. My mother taught my oldest sister to weave, but I left home to study and then it just kind of got left behind.

* * *

H: When you weave a rug, are they rag-rugs, or do you buy warp thread?

R: Mostly rag-rugs, yes. I have done a couple rugs with another material, store-bought, but mostly rag-rugs.

H: And do you use your own old clothes?

R: Yes, quite a lot. And sometime, if I need a lot of one color, then I’ll buy, to get enough of the same color for a rug.

H: For me, it was always exciting to go with my grandmother to look at the warp threads, or looking at the rugs, and she would tell something like “in that rug is your grandfather’s old shirt, and there is part of your mom’s old dress.” And so there was, like …

R: A kind of story.

H: Yes, it’s a kind of history.

R: Yes, I remember in my house, my mother never bought warp, at that time, surely, no one bought them, everything was from old clothes. But now, maybe its that there is more money to use, so everyone wants to buy some materials so that there is at least something store-bought, some way to make several of the same rug. Then, during my childhood, our house’s living room rugs were very long, since we had an old, large main room, and the colors were always a little bit different in different places. But it was amazing how my mother managed to always recreate the colors, over and over, and so the pattern became practically consistent, even though it was from scraps of old clothes, from us girls’ dresses, and our father’s shirts, and my mother’s clothes and all sorts of things. Actually, there was very little sheet material. Nowadays, sheets are used a lot—bed linens that is. Then, when a sheet would fray, it’s usually from the center that they run, we just cut it apart, and sewed the opposite sides together, and it would last for a long time …

H: I am interested in these kind of ideas, that, when there is this kind of culture of handicraft, like there is in Finland, where children learn crafts in school, and it is such an old tradition. At least here, on the Eilittä hill, we can probably safely assume that, for at least hundreds and hundreds of years, there have been women making these kinds of rugs and different clothes and cloths—that this is a kind of lasting art-form, and old clothing is always incorporated so there is always an element of using your own story, your own cloth.

R: Yes, there is a kind of ancestry, tradition to it. Definitely, it would seem, that most houses at least, had their own loom too, that would be assembled in the winter and put into some corner of the living room for weaving …

* * *

H: Are there always just women at the village weaving circle?

R: Mostly, yes—I don’t know of any men. Though men are allowed, too. It’s not intended only for women, men are allowed, but I’ve never heard of there ever being men—that could be nice if there were men involved.

H: How do you perceive handicraft’s place in Finnish culture? Or weaving, as it is such an ancient art that is still being practiced, at least now—we’ll see how it lasts in the future.

R: On one hand, it feels like we don’t really value the hand-made in the same way. But, as my craft teacher said, now there is, again, more appreciation for these hand-woven rugs, and she says these hallway-size rugs, like those we have here, should be priced as a euro per centimeter. So, when I had woven a four-meter rug, my teacher said it was worth four hundred euros.

H: Wow, is that what you would have expected?

R: Well, on one hand, I felt like that was pretty expensive. If I was at the store, I don’t know if I would be willing to spend that. But, on the other hand, if I had to sell, then, of course a lot of time did go into it. Considering the labor then, it isn’t that high of a price. Think about the rugs that you have woven, and how long they were, like three and half meters—that would be 350 euros for one rug. So, it seems like a lot if I were buying a rug, but then with the work I put in to it I don’t know if I’d be willing to sell.

H: Yes, it’s always hard to appraise one’s own work.

R: Yes, it’s hard with one’s own work. But there are many who do really value handiwork, and also others who don’t understand, who say “make one like that for me too,” who don’t understand the time that goes into it.

H: These old-fashioned arts and crafts—the new generation, do you think they are interested in them?

R: Surely there are some who are, but probably not many. And nowadays the young are always so busy with work and everything, it feels like they don’t have the time. Most of these weaving circles and such, are just retirees … Before, children would be around in the same space as the mother wove, it was part of family home-life. Maybe if you have a loom at home, but of course very few young people have them, at least that I know of …

* * *

R: One definitely always wonders how it will turn out in the end, as you add, and often, undo, because something’s not quite right, so you change it a bit—to me that is really interesting. It can be nice, to weave with company around, but on the other hand sometimes you just want to do it alone, in peace. Sometimes you just need to do be able to work in peace and put yourself in to the weaving.

* * *

R: Something that has come from that old tradition, from when everything was hand-made, but now we still have something of that old inheritance—here in the country people really like to make things themselves for their house. In every house there is something different, no one has quite the same taste to have the same things, and everyone has their own crafts that they do.

Appendix D: Devising Material

Charm; paper and ink (Nov. 2017).

This was an experiment in weaving two texts together through physically cutting apart lines of the text and performing a simple weave of two pieces of paper. In one direction is an early draft of “The Mothering Song” and in the other is a preliminary list of characters and their epithets.

Meditating on text/iles, the domestic object, and the charm that Lemminkäinen forgot to get from his mother, I imaged a charm that is like a secret note or keepsake. Foldable, stained, and surprisingly durable, despite being made of the most quotidian of materials.

psychas-fig2  psychas-fig3


The Inheritance Workshop; clothing, clothes pins, rope, thread, loom (Nov. 2017).

This was an in-progress performance presentation in which I invited my colleagues to interact with a scenario and environment that I devised. They were met at the studio door with a sign (see below) and upon entering found me at work at the loom, surrounded by ropes, clothing, and strips of text. Instructions (see below) on the work tables invited them to interact with clothing piled on the floor. My actions of operating the pulley to get more thread, as well as handing an audience member of strip of fabric to weave into the hanging clothing initiated this “weaving machine” set-up, inviting their interaction. Quickly they began to rip the clothes, operate the pulley, interact with the text strips, and ask questions about the working of the loom. It was a very helpful experience for me, as a performer and a curator, to understand how a non-theater group of participants approaches what seems, at first, to be an installation piece. Though the performance side may not have achieved what I was hoping for, I received positive feedback on the visual elements that shaped my further work with stripping clothing and helped me to understand what visual aspects of weaving resonate with non-weavers.

psychas-fig5  psychas-fig6


Photographs of installation (top left and top right) and of the two signs: the CAUTION sign on the door (left) and the instructions on the tables, along with scissors and markers (above; see top left photo for sign placement on table)

Storytelling; clothing, clothes line and pins, loom, thread (December 2017).

My most recent installation did not involve me as an active performer. From a clothes line hung ceiling-high between two pillars in a small room in the Carpenter Center, strips of fabric formed a large web that took over most of the space. The crisscrossing threads and fabrics all connected to the small loom (the same loom used in The Inheritance Workshop, above) on which the beginning of a textile has been woven. The piece is almost two-dimensional in its narrowness, and yet it creates a sense of expansive potential. The horizontal effect is striking, with the hanging clothes nearly touching the ceiling and the web stretching a long distance between the pillars, compared to the almost absurdly small loom, the lone object on the floor. One audience member, upon entering the space, simply exclaimed “spider!” As I meditated on the set design for Seven Women Weave and the stories of Arachne and the Navajo Spider Woman, a web was the dominant image in my mind. I see this piece as representing the passage of time in the vertical process displayed: the deconstruction of the clothing into threads and then into a new textile. The title highlights the horizontal space the piece occupies, and the breadth of material and labor that is being integrated into what could become an object-product, the textile on the loom.


Two views of the installation: left, the miniature loom on the floor with threads extending from the clothes line high above; right, a closer view of the deconstruction of the clothes into strands in the web.

Appendix E: Scenic Design

Below are still captures of an original 3-D rendering created with SketchUp software. The rendering serves to capture the two large set elements: the stage-loom and the net, connected by warp threads that pass through the audience. Devoid of audience seating or actors on stage, this model does not capture the full experience of the set. Coloring is minimal in the model; the actualized set would include warp threads of many different colors and textures which the software cannot capture. The wood coloring of the loom approximates the coloring of many Scandinavian floor looms. Model walls are white or removed to allow for better visibility of the model.

Long-shot without walls to capture size of net and loom:


View from upstage right, loom, net, and audience risers:

Aerial view of stage-loom and the warp threads running up the audience risers:

Two close shots of the stage-loom, showing the rolling beater and the pulley mechanism that raises and lowers the beams and heddles, creating the shed opening for the weft:

Appendix F: Costume Design [3]

The costumes draw on classical Greek and traditional Finnish designs. The fabrics are all shades of white in linen, muslin, and soft cotton weaves. These three samples reflect three generations (young at left, middle at lower left, old at right). Each dress has been ripped and reconstructed in a different direction.

On the left, a side-swept skirt is clasped with a pin at the waist. The seams run the length of the skirt, allowing for multiple strips, ripped by the actress herself.

Below this, the middle age costume is similar, in silhouette, but the skirt has a single seam running in a spiral up the skirt. Consequently, the skirt can be ripped into a single strand, especially if pulled by another actress.

On the right, the costume is directly inspired by depictions of Lemminkäinen’s mother, with a plain, long skirt and a a headscarf. Here, it is the shawl that can be shredded, providing flexibility in how this occurs and allowing for the item to be removed first. The Shawl is pinned together with a fishbone, a nod to the Kalevala.


Appendix G: Characters


In Seven Women Weave, Aino begins the play, and it is her story of sacrifice that is the longest and most dramatic scene. She is strong and stoic, wise beyond her years, full of knowledge of and passion for life and creating.


Arachne, in Greek mythology, is a mortal woman who is a prolific weaver. Arachne is heralded as the best weaver in existence, drawing the goddess Athena’s envy. Athena, disguised as an old woman, challenges Arachne to a weaving contest. Athena weaves typical depictions of the gods triumphing over man, whereas Arachne weaves images of man’s accomplishments. Arachne’s textile is deemed the winner and Athena, enraged and jealous, turns Arachne into spider, to weave webs for eternity.

The character Arachne tells of the girl-child’s inheritance of craft. Both good and bad, this is an inheritance of tradition, community, and beauty, as well as labor. Arachne is defiant and proud, but wary of the implications of her pride.


Clotho is one of the Moirai, the three sisters known in English as the Fates. Clotho is the sister that spins the thread of life; Lachesis, the allotter, measures the thread; and Atropos, the un-turnable or irreversible, brings death by cutting the thread. The Fates are somewhat independent from the gods, controlling the irreversible course of someone’s destiny.

The character Clotho sings of her eternal task of spinning, which has put her on edge. The endless repetition of her task and the ceaseless cycles of human life are wearing her down. She is weary and slightly crazed.


Ilmatar, meaning air-daughter, is the goddess of creation in the Kalevala. She shapes the world with her body and gives birth to the first man.

Ilmatar in Seven Women Weave is inquisitive and in awe of the world. She holds the world at once at a distance and close to her heart, seeing everything through the eyes of both a doting mother/creator and the curious experimenter. Her monologue captures her thrill at the serendipity and beauty of the universe.


Kaari means bow or arch, and is the second part of the compound sateenkaari, or “rainbow.” Kaari is the word used in Runo 8 of the Kalevala when Väinämöinen comes across the daughter of the North sitting, weaving upon a rainbow. I choose Kaarina, a Finnish women’s name, to be the proxy for both myself and the audience.

Kaarina is the modern woman, inheritor of the women’s world that the other characters have contributed to. Kaarina’s monologue expresses her excitement in discovering this inheritance, as well as the burden of the generations of women’s work that burden the world around her.


I draw on the name Lemminkäinen to come up with a fictional name for his unnamed mother in the Kalevala. Lemminkainen’s epithet is often lieto, meaning soft or nice. Lemmikki is the Finnish word for both “pet” and the “forget-me-not” flower, and originates from lempi or “love.” This seemed an appropriate name for Lemminkäinen’s mother, who not only follows her son’s wandering ways with pet-like loyalty but also treats Lemminkäinen like a pet, as in favorite, child. She is full of love, so much so that she can obtain extraordinary magic powers. Even if her son is dismissive of her and forgets her advice, she is ever-faithful.

The character is like this as well, doting and loyal. Her song is an ode to the pain of motherhood, of having to let go of one’s children. It is a melancholy reliving of all the pain and joy her wayward son (“Far-mind” is another epithet for Lemminkäinen) has caused her in his constant departure and return.


Penelope, wife of Odysseus, mother to Telemachus, and Queen of Ithaca, is loyal, hopeful, and strong woman who withstands, despite mounting pressure against her authority and safety, the twenty years of Odysseus’s absence. Thanks to her, Ithaca is waiting when the King returns, and her clever ploy of unweaving her day’s work at night allows her to stall and buy time for her husband’s return. Though there are various ways to read Penelope’s character, I find her to be extremely powerful.

The character Penelope is full of strength and doubt at the same time. She is torn between her loyalty to her husband and her sense of self, her principles and her desire for freedom from waiting.

Appendix H: Script

SEVEN WOMEN WEAVE: A New Play by Hanna Eilittä Psychas


Known, as a group, as the WEAVERS.  

VOICE is any single WEAVER, speaking alone.
LOOM, a stage-loom of a working warp pattern that extends from the back of the stage to the audience, and up into the NET. Pulleys and a batten provide mechanisms for the WEAVERS to use the LOOM.
NET, the extension of the warp threads above the audience and stage space. Also connected to pulleys, it can be raised and lowered—a breathing, porous textile ceiling.


This script includes excerpts from the poetry of Cecilia Vicuña and Lucy Lacrom, from the writing of Olive Schreiner, and from the words of an anonymous, eloquent scientist. Direct quotes are placed in quotation marks, both quotations and adapted text are footnoted.

Scene: An Incantation Charm

Scene: The Spider Song

ARACHNE enters and takes the ball of string from AINO. She begins to tie the knots for the LOOM.

Spinner of webs, defier of gods, weaver of destiny.

Scene: A Physics Recitation

Scene: The Spinning Song

The WEAVERS’ activity slows. WEAVERS. CLOTHO has a large ball, or many small balls, of thread that she is distributing and unravelling. What begins as methodical, deliberate placement quickly devolves into a frenzied flinging and rolling of balls of thread.

Spinner of time, weaver of life, maker of strife.

CLOTHO, both powerful and almost broken.
Spinner of lives
Spinning the thread
For my sister to measure
For my sister to measure and the other to cut
For my sisters to measure and cut
Power in my wheel
In my wheel and in my hand
I feed the endless supply into my spindle
Chained to my task
For life, for love, for humanity
I create and I make and I make eternity
Three sisters, we
Spin with a voracity, vivacity
High on our power to decide
Depressed by our need to decide
Tired with our endless need to decide
I spin, spin faster
Faster than they can measure
Faster than they can measure or cut
I spin, spin too fast
I spin more life than they can handle
More life than this world can take
Extra life clutters the floor
Piles of thread and bits of life
Unused, unbruised
Too much
To burn to sink to float forever
Too much silk
Too much strife
Too much, too much of this thread of life.

Scene: The Unweaving Song

As Penelope sings, two of the WEAVERS pull a heavy board through the stage-loom, from the back of the stage downstage in a strong sweep, bouncing back and hitting softer, and softer, and softer. Then they pull back upstage, and repeat. This is the rhythm of the loom, and PENELOPE’s song follows with it, especially the first, third, and fifth verses: Zip. BA-BOOM, Boom, Boom. Pause. Zip. BA-BOOM, Boom, boom. PENELOPE stands among the weave, jumping and dodging to avoid the sliding heddle, and scrambling to loosen the newly-tightened weave between passes by the WEAVERS.

Penelope, the un-weaver, teller of tales, wife to war, hand of time.

PENELOPE leads, the WEAVERS respond in vicious whispers.
Un-weave, weave, weave.
Stay quiet, quiet, quiet.
But cower, cower, cower.

A slave and the overseer,
A prisoner and a puppeteer
Do I weave my husband away
By keeping the suitors at bay?

Stay true, true, true.
To save, save, save.
Play dumb, dumb, dumb.

Chained, by his absence,
To this room, to this loom.
Destined, by his wandering,
To remain, to go nowhere.

Stay still, still, still.
No end, end, end.
Don’t know, know, know.
Un-weave, weave, weave.

Scene: The Mothering Song

MOTHER, alone. The WEAVERS watch. She is reliving through telling, and rediscovering as she does so. It is tender and melancholy.

Mother, weaver, healer, re-weaver of life and bodies.

And where she turned her hand, he sprung.
From her womb, by her hand, with her love.
By her words he lived, from her breast fed.
And where she turned her hand, he was led.
He was clothed, sheltered, cleansed by her.
He left, but could never leave for long.
He came back, but never stayed for long.
At home she sang, for herself a song.
She longed for time to unravel itself.
And where she turned her hand, it did.
Her shuttles ran in reverse, backwards.
Her cloth disappeared, leaving but shreds.
Yarn, thread, raw materials to work.
And where she turned her hand, work was done.
A beautiful cloth, always started, never done.
A map of the path home for her wayward son.
A story of pain, of love for her only one.

Scene: A Song of Sacrifice

AINO, with thread tied around her ankle and her waist, is in the LOOM. She dances through the warp threads, weaving and unweaving with her body. At times, she unravels the thread around her body and weaves it into the stage. At other times, she becomes entangled in the LOOM. Other WEAVERS dance with her, sometimes helping, sometimes pulling her back. AINO is battling through the river and fighting against the enemy. The LOOM is her boat, is the water, is her salvation, is the invasion.

Weaver of legacy, defender of identity, creator of her own destiny.

WEAVERS, many voices for the italicized verses, fewer voices for the others.
The invaders are coming
Approaching fast,
Ransacking, raping, reaping
Stealing our past.
Locked inside, we are waiting
Waiting in fear,
The enemy come closer
Coming so near.

At the town they raid the Church
All the gold, silver, even the bell.
Stealing the towns wealth and holy history
The townspeople wish them hell.

The heavy gold is too much to carry,
Too slow to risk a by-land getaway.
To the river and a boat they stole,
To move their wares the watery way.

The invaders are coming
Coming soon,
Speeding, floating, and flying
By light of the moon.
Imprisoning our treasures
On their bloody boat,
We wish, oh how we do wish
It would not float!

They come upon the Sky Falls,
Great rapids of such strength and size
To eat a boat and all of its men
Without the direction of one more wise.

Quickly to the eastern bank they turn,
Away from the river’s hungry side,
To find a farmer of this land,
To steer the boat and be their guide.

The invaders are coming
Coming here,
Marching, striding, now running
Drawing so near.
The invaders are knocking
At our door,
They cannot be kept waiting
We must cross the floor.

Invaders breach the threshold
To be met with hateful eyes,
Eyes that blame them for the pain
For the war and death they symbolize.

Roughly they demand a guide
Demanding help from the helpless,
Their weapons mock their victims,
But to help would not be blameless.

The invaders are right here
Here in our house,
In our own house demanding,
Our house, silent as a mouse.
In a language not our own
They demand a guide,
To not comply is to die,
But who will sacrifice their pride?

Down their gun barrels they stare
But the mother will not desert her children,
With their weapons they signal
But the father will not help the enemy win.

Not the sons, not the uncle
Not the farmhand nor the brothers,
No man answers the invaders’ call
None will risk all to save the others.

The invaders are still here,
In our own home we are prisoner,
If we do not give a guide,
Will we die? Will they just find another?
We must decide, must decide
Who will break this silence
Who will be the guide?

From the corner by the loom,
A single voice answered
A lone figure stepped forward,
The daughter herself offered.

With strength she broke the silence:

“I will go to be your guide
To lead you down the rapids
I will sacrifice my pride.”

The invaders in our home
And a traitor among our own,
Why does she offer her help
She, who is not yet grown?
Among these invading men
She will have to stay
They will never let her go,
She will never get away.
She will never get away.

And so the daughter led them
Away from her family
To the stolen bloody boat
Away to help the enemy.

With the daughter at the helm
And the treasure all aboard
They faced the hungry rapids
And the enemy felt assured.

The invaders are leaving
In a stolen boat
With our daughter at the helm
They are sure to float.
The invaders are leaving,
Off to lands unknown,
And we must patiently wait
For the return of our own.

The stolen boat moved smoothly
Into the white waters,
Navigating rocky waves
The daughter never falters.

Through twists and bends she leads them,
Through the waters of her clan,
Until they are nearly there
And she carries out her plan.

The invaders are sinking
With the stolen boat,
They have crashed upon a rock
They can no longer float.
The invaders are drowning
With our ancient holy gold,
Did our daughter miss a turn,
Or did she forfeit growing old?

The invaders sink quickly
Taken by the swirling wave,
Weighed down by golden treasure
Not one will the river save.

But the daughter she has jumped
Before the rocky brink,
Knowing death was up ahead
She let the enemy sink.

The invaders are all gone
Slung and sunk by the river,
Has our daughter saved herself,
Was this all a plan to deliver
The enemy to their death?
To deny them their bounty,
Their victory and their breath?

The invaders are all gone
But our daughter is not found,
She jumped but could not make it,
Could not reach solid ground
Or perhaps she never jumped
But kept to her role as guide
To sink with boat and bounty,
To save her family’s pride.

The invaders reach the sea
Without bounty, boat, or breath,
Sacrificed to the river
By a vengeful daughter.

As is the way legends go
We know not truth from story,
But our daughter of the past
We will remember in glory.
We remember you in glory.

Scene: In the Hum of the World

Scene: The Weaving Song




[ back ] 1. Adapted from Martin Hardingham, “Glossary,” The Worshipful Company of Weavers, 2017. See this online reference for a full glossary of weaving and textile vocabulary.

[ back ] 2. Bryan-Wilson, Fray, 16.

[ back ] 3. Original design by author, drawings by Gal Wachtel.

[ back ] 4. Ivar Ivask, “Space enough and Time: The Finnish Formula,” World Literature Today 54, no. 1, The Two Literatures of Finland (Winter, 1980): 6.

[ back ] 5. See Appendix E.1: Interviews.

[ back ] 6. “The Weaving of Words,” QUIPoem, 133.

[ back ] 7. Adapted from Vicuña, QUIPoem.

[ back ] 8. Cecilia Vicuña, “Er,” Cloud-Net, trans. Rosa Alcalá (Buffalo, NY: Art in General, 1999), 34.

[ back ] 9. Cecilia Vicuña, text accompanying a picture from “Guante/Glove” performance photo, Cecilia Vicuna Official Website.

[ back ] 10. Adapted from a comment by an unidentified audience member in Cecilia Vicuña, “Word and Thread.”

[ back ] 11. This paragraph is from Olive Schreiner, From Man to Man.