When first open to the public, in 1995 or 96 at the old shop, Weavers’ Corner, one of my stand-out memories involved Swahili. I was weaving alone one afternoon when suddenly the shop was filled with the most beautiful black women speaking Swahili and snapping photographs. I don’t speak Swahili but a childhood friend whose parents were medical missionaries in Kenya had taught me to count to ten and say hello so I recognized it and said “Jambo!” It turned out that they were the sisters of a nurse who is a friend of one of my walking buddies, our local health nurse. They laughed and talked in Swahili to each other and English to me and were filled with enthusiasm and curiosity about the looms. They were trying to describe the looms in Kenya and told me that people wove with wool which surprised me. I imagined only cotton for such a hot country. That is true as well but they told me it could also be very cold, especially on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
A pair of elderly nuns were also visitors from Kenya. They described setting up a village cooperative raising angora goats. The mohair was spun by hand and woven on simple looms into blankets and wall hangings. There was also a sewing component that created school uniforms. They were fascinated with the treadle looms and took many pictures to try and help them take the next step in technology!