Aneesa Lee and the Weaver’s Gift

Aneesa Lee and the Weaver's GiftI’ve been work­ing in tex­tiles since my late teens. First, it was sewing, then cro­chet­ing, then on to knit­ting. Along the way, I’ve made bead­ed jew­el­ry, done pey­ote bead­ing, made hand­made books and jour­nals, dec­o­rat­ed wood­en box­es, and col­laged hand­made cards. I con­tin­ue to make cards, pads, and jour­nals, and knit now and then. But I’ve nev­er tried my hand at weav­ing, though I find this skill par­tic­u­lar­ly fascinating.

One of my best friends is a con­sum­mate weaver, and I’ve had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to watch her work: hand-dying her own yarn, dress­ing her loom, and pro­duc­ing a rain­bow of cloth from which she’s gone on to design jack­ets, vests, scarves, and more.

One thing I’ve dis­cov­ered by attend­ing to the lengthy process of weav­ing is that, unlike oth­er forms of tex­tile art, it requires a high lev­el of math­e­mat­ic acu­men. (I’m no math whiz, so I trou­bled my friend to explain it all to me, more than once. Clear­ly, my deci­sion to leave the art of weav­ing to some­one else was a smart idea!) The more I learned about the process of weav­ing, the more I want­ed to write about it. Aneesa Lee and the Weaver’s Gift was the result.

Nikki Grimes and Ashley Bryan
Ash­ley Bryan and me at a conference

Aneesa Lee is a young girl who is born into a fam­i­ly of weavers. She is just begin­ning to dis­cov­er the joy of weav­ing for her­self. Along the way, she not only devel­ops the skills required, but also learns that the loom can be a place where she can give vent to her emo­tions. In so doing, she trans­forms even dark thoughts into bril­liant­ly col­ored cloth, with intri­cate patterning.

One of the chal­lenges in writ­ing this book was fig­ur­ing out a way to best describe the process of spin­ning yarn. Not every weaver spins, mind you, but many do. I called a friend who spins and asked if I could come by and watch her work. She oblig­ed, and demon­strat­ed spin­ning using a hand-held tool, and then sit­ting at a spin­ning wheel. It was her time on the wheel that, ulti­mate­ly, gave me the poem “Aneesa at the Wheel.” The rhythm of her move­ments at the wheel remind­ed me of dance. Once I real­ized that, I was off and running.

Aneesa Lee
This love­ly paint­ing now hangs on my wall.

Artist Ash­ley Bryan brought the jour­ney of Aneesa Lee to life, both for me, and for the read­ers. Who bet­ter for the job? One of the love­ly paint­ings form the book hangs on my wall, and it always makes me smile.

Aside from “Aneesa at the Wheel,” one of my favorite poems in this book is “Sun­set.”

Thoughts of Grand­ma make Aneesa smile.
 But sor­row’s shad­ow hangs there all the while.
Aneesa weaves her sad and sweet remem­ber­ing. 

Through hed­dles, shed, and reed,
Joy and sad­ness blend.
The beat­er press­es them together,
End to end.

Aneesa leaves her sor­row in the cloth
And, when her evening hand­i­work is done,
Glow­ing pin and coral from the loom,
Appears a woven square of set­ting sun.

I hope you’ll dis­cov­er, or redis­cov­er this book. Like most of my oth­er titles, you’ll find a teach­ers guide for it on my website.


One Response

  1. Thank you, Nik­ki Grimes & Ash­ley Bryan, for Aneesa Lee and the Weaver’s Gift! I have had the priv­i­lege of weav­ing Scot­tish plaid and it is indeed joyful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.