Friday, August 22, 2014

Wheat Weaving

Braided Straw with
Wheat Seed Head
and dried flowers
Folklore has it that, “Good Luck, Happiness, and Prosperity will come to anyone with Wheat Weaving in his home.”

A common Heart design is named “Mordiford”. It’s named for a village in England known for creating heart shaped wheat weavings.

America the Beautiful tells of “Spacious skies and amber waves of grain”. For anyone who has seen wheat fields blowing in the wind, they know exactly what that song is talking about.  It’s a gorgeous sight and one that I will never get tired of gazing upon.  On my way home each evening, I round a bend on a ridge that overlooks several crop fields. One of those is always growing grains of some sort or another.  Mid- summer when the air blows its hot breath and the fields are so tall, it’s relaxing to slow down and just “see” the wind as it blows across those fields and sends the grasses swaying. The grasses shimmer with both silver and green as you catch a glimpse at the underside of the long leaves.

Early attempt at braiding Wheat
a type of Accordion stitch

As a young teen overseas, when we studied America (I was the only American in a middle school class of British students) I loved hearing about OUR “Grain Belt” and the importance of crop rotation. The visual I got then of the grains growing to feed our country and the world has forever stayed with me.  Did you know that from a stalk of wheat, we use the seed head to make the grains, flour, etc, and the rest of the stalk is straw for animal bedding? I have found that people who don’t handle types of hay and straw don’t really know those facts nor can tell them apart. At one time, I didn’t either. I hadn’t seen wheat in its raw state until I was much older.

A Flat Braid with 3 Stalks of wheat
 Decades ago as an adult visiting in both Austria and Germany, I picked up several wheat ornaments for the Christmas tree. Our angel on top of the tree is even made of wheat.  I was intrigued by the whole custom and craft of weaving this grain stalk and coming to know the motif that I had loved for all those years.

Several years later at EPCOT Center in Florida, I picked up some more wheat ornaments from Denmark’s Village. (Touristy, I know!)  But, I loved them and wished that I could have done a whole tree in just wheat!
Then, several years ago, I happened upon a book at the Library by Linda D. Beiler.  It was titled, Wheat Weaving & Straw Art.  It is part of the Heritage Crafts Today series.  I found a quiet corner to myself and began reading.  I scrutinized every page, every picture.  I loved the book!  Needless to say I now have my own copy!
A Love Knot's double ring design

With all the things that I had going on, I never started the wheat weaving.  I kept the book handy and frequently looked at it, but I let time pass.  Then, two years ago, in an un-mowed part of a field, I found some wheat heads and pulled them up. I didn’t soak them or even handle them very carefully, but I wanted to see if I could braid (plait) the stalks.  I could! I was so excited!  I held my creation and hurried back to the house and hung it to dry.  It wasn’t anything special; not even very big, but it was a start!

First attempt at a Treble Clef for my
musically inclined daughter
Last next spring, I mentioned growing wheat to a dear nearby farmer friend and he told me not to worry about growing it on my farm. He said he grows 20 acres of wheat and I could pick as much as I wanted! So, in early June, I drove my truck to the field where all that wheat was. Those Amber Waves of grain were singing! There was wheat as far as I could see! It was waist high and absolutely beautiful. Sometimes, I get chocked up easily, and that had been one of those moments.  It brought my fast paced day screeching to a halt. I felt connected with the Earth in a way that made me wonder why we grasp so longingly for things which have no impact to our existence. When it comes right down to it, grain is at the very root for our survival.  I remember just standing there in awe for quite a while.  Then, all I took was about a 2’ x 3’ square, and that was a lot!

20 Acres of gorgeous wheat!
(Those are not MY tire tracks)

I drove my treasure home and began learning the craft that I’d found so intriguing all those years ago.

Next year, I am setting aside a tiny plot of land to experiment with different types of wheat on MY farm! 

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