Why We Document

Bridgette Kelly MacLean, from the Kingdom of AEthelmearc, relates a story about two weavers, a forgotten book and the importance of documentation for the future.

Lady Bridgette writes:

Teaching the Future: Why Document

Once, not so long ago, two women I know were visiting Scotland. They had just finished a lovely tour of one property but still had a long time to wait until their transportation home for the night arrived. So they asked to see some of the other buildings. The caretaker knowing their interest in weaving directed them to a small cottage near the back of the property.

This small building had once been the weaver's cottage for the property, but now, after years of neglect it was scheduled to be renovated. Upon entering the cottage they saw the dirt floor and smelled the heavy years of disuse in the dust that their presence stirred. They looked into the dim corners and crannies. One of the women spied a bump on one of the dust covered shelves. Gingerly, she ran her fingers over the ridge and discovered not the feel of wooden boards rubbed smooth with use, but instead the leather binding of a book. Carefully she slid the book to her hands and off the shelf. A small avalanche of dust followed her acquisition of the book. Curious, she moved to one of the small windows of the cottage and in the late afternoon light every so carefully opened the book's cover. There in the failing light of the summer evening was a treasure.

Her sharp intake of breath alerted her traveling companion to the exciting find and together they carefully turned over the delicate pages. What they had found was a notebook. It's pages were covered in a solid writing that captioned each page, and grids of dots, executed in black and white, filled the pages. It was a book of weaving drafts. Each pattern of the warp and weft was carefully recorded on the pages, and small notes to the side of the page told the use of each of these fabrics. Here was a bold colored twill for the Hunting Party of November, next a fine linen for the Bishop's table. Each page held a slice of history. And here in their hands, the two women, two weavers by the way, heard the voice of a master craftsman from centuries before whispering his secrets.

This is why we document, to teach the future.

Bridgette Kelly MacLean
Dominion of Myrkfaelinn
AEthelmearc

In a followup, Lady Bridgette wrote:

I need to fill in a couple of things... the book was a weavers draft from the mid 1800's so not medieval, but the point still stands I think. The ladies, friends of my Mother, received permission to copy these drafts. When they returned to North Carolina, they passed the drafts out to Handweavers of the area and each weaver recreated the piece. The finished pieces came alive in an exhibition in North Carolina in 2003, and is (I think) still traveling about the nation. The whole process is called the Kilbarchan Project. The HandWeaver's Guild of America has a link to 3 of the patterns on their web site.

The above is from memory, and so I can't swear it is all the detials are 100% correct, but the gist is. I do have *somewhere* in my home a brochure detailing more of the project.