May 23, 2010
If nominations were submitted for the dubious honor of “The Original Curmudgeon,” it is entirely possible that, in his time, William Henry Harrison Rose (1839 – 1913), would have been in the running.
Weaver Rose, sometimes called Quaker Rose, along with a sister named Elsie, carried on the family weaving tradition. Although he was born well into the machine age, he and his sister chose not to be a part of that era; and it has been said that, for this, all handweavers must be grateful.
The Roses lived a life that some would call simple. Their neighbors thought them eccentric. Weaver Rose worked as a lone craftsman, taking orders from samples, ordered the yarns, and wove the finished products. Brother and sister tended their farm, fields and animals, and grew crops which sustained them year around. However, he was far from a simple man in that he chose to pursue and preserve a former way of life, personifying the tradition of the solitary American weaver by honoring and using that which had gone before: the vocabulary, tools and collection of weaving drafts, some of which date back to the 1700’s.
We have a book in our library entitled The Weaving Roses of Rhode Island, which tells the story, in words, photographs, and drafts of this remarkable man. I will bring it along with me to the meeting this week.