So Your Dog Can Wear Boots And Sweaters But Can’t Ask Me Any Polite Follow-Up Questions About My Hand Loom?

By Tabitha Chandry

Colder weather brings many wonderful things with it: hot cocoa, holiday cheer, an increase in furnace theft. But it brings something else, too, something troubling. Small dogs of the apartment variety turn out dressed in sweaters, coats, and little boots to keep out the cold. Yet, strangely, none of them can match me in conversation about my hand-looming.

And it’s not like I’m opposed to dogs dressing like people, even in my own neighborhood. No, it’s the casual disdain with which they assume some humanic conventions while tossing aside others like dirty laundry. It’s just an interesting double standard, Beth, that your dog can wear a sweater on its chest and four boots on its hooves but can’t ask me any polite follow-up questions about my hand-looming practice.

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Hand-looming, a subsection of the greater loom community, involves a simpler, smaller loom than most, generally vertically-shafted. It was invented in the 13th century, so naturally I was drawn to it immediately. Many would stick with the safe, sedentary flying shuttle loom, or the showy pegged loom. But the handloom put its cold little hand on my cheek, breaking my fever and calling me to my true purpose. So now I make placemats and, sometimes, scarves.

I’m a generous soul, as all my bipedal friends will tell you. I won’t begrudge a boot or two to anyone. We all deserve swaddling come the dark months. However, when a dog wears a handcrafted article of person clothing, they initiate a sacred interspecies contract. There are certain breaches of etiquette that, allowable in a nude or collared dog, can no longer be ignored in a dog of the cloth. When I begin a conversation with Pippa, the freshly-clothed whippet who lives under your roof, I expect nods, pursed lips, and detailed responses. It’s just a matter of basic decency.

My world has expanded in leaps and bounds from those first heady days in the textile mill. I pass my warp threads expertly through both heddle and shed, turning a simple machine into a pure distillation of the artistry in my heart. It’s a calling, a devotion. I’ve made up to two small wall hangings. For Pippa to barely respond to me when I speak to the truth of this pastime is callous. I’d expect it of you, Beth, with your soft hands and city mouse ways. But for Pippa not to show an iota of respect is, frankly, a blow.

When I leave my garden apartment in the morning, unpeeling from my cot and adjusting to the new day, I need affirmation. Affirmation, not ridicule.

You shroud this mockery of the human form in swaths of wool and rubber, a vain attempt to shield her from the world. But you cannot hide the hole in her heart, or in yours. Let your dog face the barrage of petty despairs and humiliations the world offers on her own, and see how she fares. She wants to wear boots? Put her on the Forever 21 escalator that goes between the first floor (ladies) and the second floor (lotion) and see if she could last a second. Tell her to call People’s Gas and see if her mind can even grasp the concept of warmth. Or, tell her to show some respect. Tell her, please, to listen.

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