Besides being the place where I first ate liver meat, it was in the Boujaad kitchens where I first witnessed the entire weaving process for Moroccan rugs. After going to sleep early with the girls, we woke up at the break of dawn to tend to the animals, bring in water from the well, and make the day’s supply of round bread for the family.
The family I was staying with figured out early on that I was excited about rug weaving. Once the chores of the day had subsided a bit, they eagerly sat me down, mint tea in hand, and broke it down for me.
Motioning out the door to their livestock they explained how the raw wool in their hands came straight from the shearing of their own sheep. Before I knew it, the women were teaching me how to card wool and spin it. I sat transfixed as I watched the lump of raw, unclean wool turn into a feathery, airy wave of wool only to be turned once more into a tough, sinewy fiber and rolled into a ball of yarn.
The women performed the tasks so effortlessly as they communed over mint tea, watched the infants, and simultaneously tried to teach me.
They delighted in my awkward handling of the tools, hid their grins at the uneven lumpy string that I produced, and laughed uncontrollably at my unrelenting resolve to do it better. To them, weaving was something they had always done. All the blankets and rugs we had slept on the previous night were hand-woven in that very room. To them, weaving was a way of life-- of their life, to be precise.
Behind their well-meaning grins and laughs, I could tell they were trying to figure out why I, an urban American woman visiting from the capital of Rabat, would want to learn about the ins and outs of rug-weaving from rural Moroccan women?
That day was my first experience with weaving Moroccan rugs, however it would not be the last. I was hooked.