Adele Harvey demonstrating how to weave at Fryeburg Fair Supplied

BETHEL — Walking through Adele Harvey’s studio, there are nine loom machines set up. As she sits down at the first one, she weaves a maroon thread through while simultaneously pressing the different pedals. It’s almost as if she’s playing an instrument, an organ of some sort.

Harvey has been mastering her craft of weaving for the past 50 years. The first time the idea intrigued her was when she was in college and reading the Odyssey. While Homer is away, many suitors are trying to marry his “widow,” Penelope. She tells them she is weaving a quilt for her father-in-law, and when she is finished, she will choose the man she will marry next. However, each night, she takes the stitching out so it always remains undone.

This anecdote always thrilled Adele, and became one of the reasons she decided to pursue weaving. As a young girl, she would also weave together her own clothes for school. With these two magical combinations, she set off to study weaving. She taught herself how to weave, and found she had a knack at it.

Only, life happened, as it does, and at the end college, she and her then-husband moved from Chicago to the Detroit area and kept on moving all across America. They also had two children. When they moved to Lincoln, Massachusetts, she became a member of the weaver’s guild, where she finally sat down and began to really weave … compulsively. She took numerous classes there, and met her circle of weaving friends. When she arrived in Bethel, she continued to weave, setting up her own studio, using yarns she had collected over the 50 years she had been weaving.

She has a library filled with thousands of patterns (that really sound like music when she reads them out-loud), she compares them to recipes.

“Let’s get it to cooking, you can change the recipe – a recipe has the ingredients, the yarn; the recipe has the measurements; how you thread it, and then you can boil it, roast it, saute it, so you can make adjustments as you go. It can be unique to the person,” says Harvey.

She makes the patterns mostly for herself and family; however, she is setting up a loom for the Bethel Historical Society.

“The basis of weaving is taking one set of threads under tension and enabling it so another set of threads can be put,” says Harvey. “Well, it’s kinda under tension because if it weren’t you’d have big loops all over the place.”

As Harvey sits down at each loom in turn, she works carefully and with strong attention to each thread. She’s so immersed, it’s like she’s found her own secret world and Bethel seems to melt away from her. Then she stands up, adjusting her glasses, explaining passionately about how the yarn connects with the pedals, and the world of Bethel comes back.

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