Sometime during this lockdown, my 3-year-old son developed a new obsession. He, like many of us in the weaving community, is now transfixed by Tom Knisely. Through the last year or so, he’s gone through a lot of the normal 3-year-old obsessions: firefighters, construction equipment, dinosaurs, and Frozen. Then, suddenly, he wanted to know all about Tom.
I’ll admit this didn’t quite come out of nowhere. H loves Tom’s book The Weaver’s Surprise, and it’s in frequent rotation for nap and bedtime reading. He calls it the “Mousie Book,” and it always makes him laugh. As we read it together, we talk about looms and weaving and point out the different parts of the loom and tools weavers use to make cloth. It’s been a wonderful experience to read it with him and to see him gain a love of looms even before he’s placed his first pick of weft.
In the past few months, H has become more interested in people. Back when we could go out, it was important that he know the names of anyone I talked to or he made eye contact with. “Mama, was ‘is NAME?” was a refrain I heard constantly. So naturally, one day after we read the book, he asked me about the picture of the “real” man in the book, that man of course being the author, Tom Knisely. I told him about how Tom wrote the book and wove H his favorite blanket—something he technically knew but hadn’t really processed until that moment. “Is Tom a good guy?” he asked me. “Oh yes, baby. Tom is very much a good guy. He’s Mommy’s friend and very nice!”
H thought about that for a few minutes as he looked at the picture of Tom in the book and at his blanket. I laid him down in his bed and asked him what stories he wanted because after books he gets to request stories that can either be familiar tales (The Three Little Pigs is a favorite) or ones I make up using topics H gives me. That night H wanted original stories—all about Tom. “Mama, I wanna story about Tom sleepin’ in his bed” was the first request. So I thought fast and told a story similar to the old one about the cobbler and the elves—except this one was about Tom and his mice. The story delighted H, and since then there have been more requests for Tom bedtime stories. Now when he plays at my unwarped loom, he likes to declare, “Lookit me, Mama! I Tom! I a weaver! I make a rug.” Truth be told, I’m so glad that we have such a wonderful weaving role model in Tom Knisely. When my son thinks of weavers and weaving, he doesn’t see a craft exclusively for women; instead he sees Tom, and in Tom, he sees himself.
I love to see how excited my child gets about weaving and how much he wants to use my loom. In fact, this weekend I’m going to warp him up my rigid heddle so he can play to his heart’s content at weaving. I don’t know that he’ll weave that rug on his first try (or even a mug rug), but I know he’ll have fun.
So, thank you Tom, for being there for all of us in the weaving community, young and old.