Under the category of “Ways to Keep an Expat Spouse Busy” you will often find something dealing with textiles. Whether it’s buying them, dyeing them, quilting, sewing, studying or weaving them, textiles tend to be an item of interest regardless of what country you’re in. So, not one to mess with tradition, and always looking for my next temporary craft diversion, when I was asked if I wanted to take a weaving class here in Kuwait, I said yes.
A month later, seven of us expat women (six Americans and one Aussie) gathered at Terry’s house where we met Hussain, who would be our weaving instructor for the next two months. There were actually only four classes, but he gave us a month between the third and fourth to actually finish our rug. And when I say rug, please don’t envision anything actually large enough to put on the floor; think more like a large mousepad.
But even at its mere 12x12”, it still took us all the full two months to complete. Hussain was a great teacher, and very patient with all of us. He has an amazing story of escaping Afghanistan as a child with his family, and heading into Iran. There, he learned the art of carpet weaving and from the time he was twelve or so, he worked as a weaver. Eventually, he made his way to Kuwait, where he now lives with his own family and he and his brother run their own rug shop in the Heritage Souk. He’s definitely not in love with Kuwait, but speaks with great fondness of Iran, which frankly, in our social circles, is something I hadn’t heard. So it was interesting.
Despite Hussain’s great skill as a weaver and a teacher, I don’t think he was able to spark a new found love of weaving in any of us students; however, he did foster in us enormous appreciation and awe for the hand-woven rugs we see everywhere. He showed us some breathtaking rugs from Iran, with over one million stitches in them. They were like nothing I’d ever seen before. It was mesmerizing, like fluid stained glass. When we learned that it can take one weaver (typically a woman, but not always) a year to finish a floor-sized rug (or one like the million-stitch one, which you’d only hang on the wall in a museum), I could instantly believe it. And with a good weaver (not like us), she will still throw away five times the weight of the rug in wasted wool/yarn before she’s finished. I think Hussain said we were averaging about ten times wastage, which I’m assuming he figured into the cost of the classes.
So, although I have no desire to weave another rug, I am darn proud of my little paisley masterpiece and will keep it locked tightly in its loom for fear that someone may not realize its infinite value and may use it for a trivet under Tuesday’s chili.