Monthly Archives: October 2011

The loom lady: a love affair with walnut and wool

I love walnut and wool.

She says it in passing, almost as a whisper, but with a real sense of conviction.

If there is a nook or a cranny anywhere in Lucille VanSickle’s Clearmont home, it is filled with walnut and wool. Something she has created. Or rather, woven.

Projects finished. And projects just begun.

And looms, looms everywhere.

Warmth radiates from her weavings throughout her home, a reflection of the 90-year-old VanSickle, who believes having an interest in things has kept her young.

VanSickle grew up in Elmo and has lived most of her life in Nodaway County. She moved to Clearmont in 1967 with her late husband, Andy.

Her love for walnut and wool began a few years later, in the early 1970s, with an art class in Maryville.

fascinated by it

She had previously taken some adult art classes that hadn’t interested her much until a lady from Columbia came up to do a night class in weaving.

“I was fascinated with it,” she said.

The instructor let her take a loom home, so she did, and she was hooked.

“Some of those women bought looms and then put them in the attic. I never let mine rest,” she said. “It’s just been a real joy.”

Her adventures in weaving began with a big rug loom, making over 100 rugs for a church near Skidmore to sell at their bazaar.

“Then I got interested in lots of other kinds of weaving,” she said.

And her initial fascination transformed into a way of life.

In addition to the rugs, she has woven bags, belts, scarves, coverlets, pillows, baskets and wall hangings. She even tried her hand at Kumihimo, a method of braiding silk threads originally used by Japanese warriors hundreds of years ago, where they wove secret patterns around their sword handles.

“If you study the history of it, man has been weaving since our earliest history,” VanSickle said. “Every country has their own style of weaving. And that’s been fun to study.”

captivated by it
Her love of weaving has gone beyond just the art and the learning. She has been captivated by the looms themselves.

She has three big workable floor looms, two table looms and countless little box and cardboard looms. She has also had great big barn looms, measuring six to seven feet tall, and she even made a loom out of a gas pipe.

“There’s no way to count them all,” she said. “I enjoy making the looms and restoring old ones.”

Some of her greatest joys have been in finding an old loom, repairing it and getting it to “come alive again,” she said, like her first big barn loom.

She went to an auction where she was told there were big loom parts at an antique store in Cameron.

“I had a big old yellow Plymouth station wagon,” she recalled. “As soon as I could, I just drove clear to Cameron.”

When she arrived, the owner told her that there were indeed pieces of a loom out on the back porch.

“There was this whole pile of walnut lumber,” she said. “We loaded that walnut loom in the back of that Plymouth and it just went way down low in the back, so I had to drive home very slowly.”

And on the way home, she wondered what her husband would say about all that wood.

“I got it home, took it all out and got it cleaned up. And when my husband came home, he seemed delighted that I had made a good purchase,” she laughed, remembering that old loom. “I learned from that one. They’re each a little different and you learn from every one.”

animated by it

VanSickle lights up when she talks about sharing what she loves and what she’s learned over the years with others.

She becomes animated as she talks about teaching children to weave, about seeing the excitement in their eyes, about being a part of a local weaving group and also about attending the Midwest Weavers Conferences, where there are hundreds of people who, like her, are all excited about their art.

“One of the things I like the best is the friends you meet, other weavers, and sharing what I love,” she said. “Turning thread into something beautiful, making something useful and learning new techniques is fun. But then being able to share that learning with other people is a joy, too.”

Today, she continues on with her craft, just as excited as ever. Next on her list to tackle is learning how to weave clothing.

And it’s not surprising that she’s up for a new challenge.

Continuing her love affair with walnut and wool keeps her busy. And keeps her young.

“There’s food for your mind, food for your body and food for your spirit,” she said. “(Weaving) feeds my spirit.”

‘Modesty in appearance is always in fashion’

“That they might have joy” column by Jacki Wood

In olden days a glimpse of stocking

Was looked on as something shocking,

But now, God knows,

Anything goes.

(Cole Porter, 1934)



Do people even know what that word means today?

When I look around, it doesn’t seem like it.

Modesty is defined as a regard for the decencies of or an attitude of humility and decency in behavior, speech, dress, grooming, etc.

It’s the “dress” part that I’ve been contemplating lately. As I walk across campus or patronize a local store or visit area high schools, quite frankly, I’m amazed at what I see.

Most of it comes from young women, or even young girls, but some young men could also use a lesson in modesty as well. And it’s not just youth, there are plenty of adults out there doing the same.

It generally takes a lot to offend me. But I have no desire whatsoever to see body parts or underwear hanging out where I believe clothing should be covering them up.

Did you know in Albany, GA, you can be fined for wearing pants or skirts more than three inches below the top of your hips which exposes your skin or underwear? Fines range from $25 to $200. Similar ordinances have been passed in Delcambre, LA, and Collinsville, IL.

Now I’m not necessarily advocating government to jump in on the modesty issue. But it’s obviously a concern for many people.

For me, modesty is an outward reflection of my beliefs that my body is a gift from God.

I understand that those are my beliefs. I can and do respect others that are different. I certainly don’t think that everyone out there agrees with me on this. And that’s fine. At issue, for me though, is that a lot of people feel they must look or dress a certain way to “fit in,” even when perhaps they are not comfortable in doing so.

Clothing expresses who we are and sends messages about ourselves to others.

On most days, I’m a polo and jeans or T-shirt and sweats kind of girl. I’m sending a “I like to be comfortable, relaxed, remembering my youthful tomboyishness” message. On other days, when I have to dress up a bit more, I’m sending a “I’m dressed up because I’m going to church or work” message.

What kinds of messages are we sending or allowing our children to send?

I guess what I’d really like is for someone to stand up and say, hey, you don’t have to dress like that to be cool, hip, popular, fashionable or whatever. You’re beautiful for who you are, not how you dress.

Here are a few people who are trying to do just that…

Grammy award-winning Christian singer, Rebecca St. James, has spoken often about modesty and said she loves the “Modest is hottest” motto. She has written a book and a song about it. She believes clothing can and does influence the way you and others act.

Wendy Shalit, raised in a secular Jewish family and author of “A Return to Modesty,” argues for modesty from a feminist perspective. She believes the ‘60s women’s liberation movement actually hurt women because their goal was to be “the same” as men. But we are not the same.

Shalit believes “baring one’s belly button in public may not be as empowering as women have been led to believe” (Rachel Whitaker, “Women Under Cover”) and that modesty in dress (and other areas) is actually a way to reclaim the value of women.

She points out that “women who have rebelled against the immodest dress…have found a new self-respect they never knew was available. In addition to this, these same women have found that they are attracting the kind of men they really desire as opposed to men who approach them for their outward beauty alone” (Todd Kappelman, “A Return to Modesty”).

Christine Wanjiru Wanjala, who writes for Uganda’s The Daily Monitor, said “it is easy to blame someone’s shortcomings on decency and modesty on the way they were raised or at the very least where they were raised.”

In “Teach your child how to be modest at an early age,” Wanjiru Wanjala said with all the images bombarding children today, they can be confused about what is right and wrong. She said parents need to set a good example and teach them while they’re young.

I was raised in a home where modesty was taught at a very young age, and in turn, my husband and I have tried to teach our children about the importance of modesty and showing respect for our bodies.

I remember my daughter, Hannah, being about four or five, and we’d be out shopping. She would see someone she thought was inappropriately dressed and blurt out, “that girl doesn’t have enough clothes on.” It was usually loud enough for the person to hear. I’d smile, a bit embarrassed, and move on. But looking back, maybe it takes the honesty of a five-year-old for people to realize what they’re doing.

So does “anything” go, like Cole Porter wrote? It apparently does. But I don’t believe it has to. I believe you can dress modestly to bring out your best self, be beautiful and influence those around you.

And I have to agree with Jeffrey R. Holland who said, “Modesty in appearance is always in fashion.”

It is, at least, in my home.

Eagles soar to ninth state softball championship

The Jefferson Eagles boys softball team discovered the road to the championship this year was much easier than winning the actual title.

After beating Grundy County 15-0 and Meadville 8-0, the Eagles advanced to the state championship game for the ninth time in the last 10 years.

They entered the October 1 game at Danner Park in Chillicothe with an undefeated 10-0 record facing the Tina-Avalon Dragons who stood at 12-3.

In what proved to be a pitcher’s duel through the first four innings between Jefferson’s Clayton Schieber and Tina’s Jedd Stark, the Eagles remained confidently patient throughout the game.

Jefferson Head Coach Tyler Pedersen said both pitchers were prepared and in championship form, which required his players to remain focused.

“I felt like our boys stayed prepared and we made the plays we needed to,” he said. “It is easy to become frustrated when you are facing a pitcher as good as Jedd Stark is. He had 15 strikeouts but I felt like our guys learned from each at-bat and came up with enough hits to get the job done.”

Those needed hits didn’t come until the top of the fifth inning. Tied at zero, their bats finally came alive when Catcher Zach Jermain knocked a triple into the outfield. After an intentional walk put Schieber on first, Third Baseman Blake Meyer smacked a ground-rule double which scored Jermain to make it a 1-0 game.

Consistent pitching by both teams kept the score at 1-0 through the end of six innings.

But in the seventh, the Eagles started to heat things up once again.

Jermain got on base with a single followed by Schieber, who on an error advanced to second and Jermain to third. Meyer was walked, and with bases loaded and two outs, Tina’s Stark came up big with another strikeout, ending the inning with the score still 1-0.

The scoreless top of the inning gave the Dragons one last chance.

With two outs and runners on first and second, Jefferson’s defense came up big again when a short infield hit was thrown out at first. The Eagles celebrated the 1-0 victory and their ninth boys state softball championship.

“This one is just as special as the very first,” Pedersen said. “I tell the boys all the time to never take it for granted. I am very proud of this team, because as inexperienced as we were coming into the season, the boys worked very hard and accomplished what they set out to do.”

While the game — and the tournament — was nothing short of a solid team effort, Schieber was a monster on the mound. In his last games as an Eagle, he had three complete shut-outs, allowing no runs on one hit, two walks and a total of 38 strikeouts.

Pedersen said he feels privileged to have had the chance to coach a player like him.

“Clayton is very talented, but to go with that, he is a great competitor and his work ethic is second to none,” he said, giving credit to his training during the off-season and help from his older brother, Logan, also an all-state pitcher, his parents and his teammates.

“(He) is the pitcher he is today by no accident,” Pedersen said. “He is an athlete who started out with some natural talent but worked very hard to become the best.”

For the tournament, Schieber had five hits, one run and five RBIs; Jermain had five hits, six runs and one RBI; Charles Miller had four hits, two runs and four RBIs; Tyler Schmitz had three hits, four runs and three RBIs; Sam Kelley had three hits, three runs and two RBIs; Alex Holtman had two hits, two runs and one RBI; Meyer had one hit, two runs and one RBI; Jordan McCrary had one hit, two runs and an RBI; and Jed Galbraith scored two runs.