Weaving

Once there was a young wombat named Benson, who lived in a very nice wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

Aunt Moss had a friend called Shelley, who was a weaver. She made blankets and scarves and tea-towels on a loom. Aunt Moss was going to spend the day with her, and she wanted Aunt Lillibet to go with her.

“Come with me, Lillibet, you’ll love it,” she said.

Aunt Lillibet shook her head very firmly. “No, thank you. Piles of wool all tangled up together, baskets overflowing everywhere, fluff and mess, no thank you. Benson and I are going to read a very interesting book on exotic weeds and play I Spy.”

Benson’s mother had gone fishing with a friend, and Lillibet was looking after him. Benson would much rather have gone fishing.

Aunt Moss left by herself, and Aunt Lillibet got out the book about weeds. Benson said, “Look, Aunt Moss left her bag behind.”

“It’s probably full of useless things she won’t need anyway,” Lillibet said. “’Chapter One. Bindweed and asparagus fern.’”

Benson said, “She’s left her hat behind.” The hat was lying on top of the bag.

Lillibet said, “She probably won’t need it. It looks like rain.”

Benson could see Aunt Moss’s umbrella poking out of her bag. “She’s left her umbrella behind too.”

“Stop interrupting, Benson! Now, there’s something very interesting here about propagation and natural methods of controlling weeds.”

“She’s left behind that book she was going to lend to Shelley, ‘Captain Cauliflower and the Wily Fungus Gang’,” Benson said. It sounded way more interesting than bindweed. “And her glasses.”

Aunt Lillibet snapped her book shut. “Very well, then. You’d better go after her and take her bag.”

“Umm,” Benson said. He had been to Shelley’s place before, and he remembered that there was a particularly nasty goose in the front yard. It needed someone as brave as Captain Cauliflower to fend it off. “There’s a lot to carry, the bag, and her hat, and the umbrella, and the book and her glasses.”

Aunt Lillibet grumbled, but she picked up the bag and the umbrella, and Benson collected up the rest of the things, and they went over to Shelley’s. The goose came squawking at them but Aunt Lillibet was ready for it with the umbrella, and they got inside safely.

Aunt Moss was very happy. “Lillibet, you came!”

“We only came because you left so many things behind,” Aunt Lillibet said. “We’re going straight home now.”

Aunt Moss said, “Oh well, while you’re here, why don’t you come in and see what Shelley is doing?”

In a room at the very back, Shelley was sitting in front of a big wooden contraption with levers and pedals, covered with long strands of wool in different coloured stripes. Shelley had a shuttle, a piece of wood with more wool wrapped around it, and she was sliding the shuttle back and forth between the stripes while she stepped on the pedals and flipped the levers.

Benson had been there with Aunt Moss, and he’d been allowed to throw the shuttle back and forth a few times, but this time there was a table with cranberry cookies and coconut milk that looked more interesting.

Aunt Lillibet looked at the loom. She looked at the shelves at the end of the room with tidy baskets of different coloured wool. She looked at the piece of fabric half-made on the loom, with a diamond curlicue pattern in red wool and green and gold silk. Shelley smiled, and said, “Would you like to have a try?”

Lillibet slid onto the weaver’s seat and took the shuttle and threw it across between the rows of thread stretched out in front of her. She swung the beater, and like magic another row of pattern appeared on the piece of fabric. Shelley smiled again, and told her what to do next. “Press this pedal, and now use this shuttle, the green one…” Lillibet pressed and pushed and threw and beat as if there was nothing else in the world she would rather do. She forgot there was anyone else in the room, except Shelley telling her what to do next.

Aunt Moss watched Aunt Lillibet weaving and smiled. She said, “Benson, would you pour me some milk and pass me a cookie, please?”

She got the book Benson had brought, and she and Benson settled down to read together, with the plate of cookies. “’Captain Cauliflower was strong, brave and clever, and his sworn mission was to defend the castle of the White King against all enemies, but especially against the Wily Fungus gang.’”

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