In July 2009, I organized a green tour for the Family Nature Summits in Glen Falls, New York. It was the first time I organized such a tour, and I spent hours researching the places we would visit. One spot that I was looking forward to seeing was the Crazy as a Loom Weaving Studio, run by Hilary Cooper-Kenny.
Hilary described how she used to be a nurse in a maximum security prison. Each day, she would drive past this old house (built in the 1790s) and wish she could own it. One day, there was a for sale sign. She bought the house and set it up as a weaving studio after retiring.
She loves to use recycled fibers. One large source of recycled fiber is a local sock factory where she gets irregular socks. She hires local women to cut the socks into loops and then loop the loops together. She then weaves these long chains into very colorful and thick rugs.
I loved every minute in the studio. I loved looking at the many looms with their many colorful warps in each room. I sat under the looms looking up. I loved Hilary’s energy for her work. I loved her piles of recycled fabric waiting for transformation.
Why did this visit have such an impact on me?
Hilary took a risk when she created this studio. The house was run-down, and people generally do not want to pay a lot for handmade textiles. But she made this beautiful haven, filled with color and looms. The wooden floors and sun-filled rooms felt perfect to me. On the walls were messages about following your dreams.
Hilary worked in a prison for about twenty years. She paid for her children to go to college. She held back from learning to weave for many years. Her story resonated with me because it was about choosing to do what your heart knows it should do. It’s a standard that keeps drawing me back to memories of our visit. When I’m trying to decide what to do next, I look at the photo at the top of this blog, and I think, “would I feel as happy as I felt in this photo?”