Back in the early 19th century, the Bristol Road, from Damariscotta to Bristol Mills, was a dirt lane rutted by wagon wheels. The early settlers who owned a stately 1807 farmhouse would have welcomed the Lecks, who today live here humbly and work hard. When you see Phyllis Leck sitting at her four-harness, 60-inch floor loom, it’s not hard to envision what life was like 200 years ago.
This energetic lady learned to weave when her children were young—she wanted to work at home. She studied books and mastered her new equipment. And she rode the tide of the 1970s revival in weaving. Her husband, Andrew Leck, left king-crab trawling off Orcas Island, Washington, and the family moved to Maine, home of their ancestors, where Andrew began working with metal and stone. The creative couple named their businesses the Village Weaver and Scottish Lion Wrought Iron.
Phyllis uses local sheep’s wool. Visitors show up at the studio to see how things are made; “it’s entertainment, too,” Phyllis says. “People bring me their textile ideas, and I’ll custom weave rugs, upholstery fabric, and bedspreads. I can match colors. Hand-woven textiles have a unique feeling; they’re softer and wear well over time. Machine-made fabrics are stiff and unappealing.”
Phyllis home-dyes yarn using plants including milkweed, knotweed, jewelweed, and goldenrod to produce beautiful brown, green-grey, and yellow-green colors. “I just collect plants from fields and the side of the road.
“Weaving takes me back, it’s a connection to the past; it’s rhythmic and meditative. It’s satisfying using local materials.”