slow cloth

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I just finished the fourth tea towel on this warp, and it looks like I might be able to eke out a fifth towel at the end of the warp. At first, I was a bit dismayed. I thought this project was done, and I felt a tug of frustration when I realized it wasn’t. There’s no possibility of cutting the fabric now, and discarding the remaining warp. That would be wasteful.  I shall weave on.

Slow cloth becomes slower. As I breathe deeply and release my expectations, I am able to focus on the benefits of this. An extra towel is always welcome. An opportunity to practice being in the moment of this project for a bit longer is even more welcome.

Part of the joy of living in this quiet place is that broad swaths of each day are made up of unstructured time. Once the cats are given their hugs and their dinner, the evening can go wherever it meanders. Usually, it is a blend of learning, weaving and just being, punctuated at intervals by the quiet “M’rraou?” of one of the cats. They are my mindfulness bells, calling me back into the moment to listen patiently to their needs and share hugs and purrs.

pausing to…pause

Status

Even with boxes everywhere, I find that I can finally pause and be present in my surroundings.

I have taken time to weave the third of the four tea towels. I have taken long, admiring looks at the yet unnamed Glimakra, and woven a few picks on the monks’ belt placemats.

At night, I’ve turned off all the lights and been amazed at the carpet of stars visible from the studio windows.

At the end of a hatha yoga practice, lying in savasana and melting into the support of the floor beneath me, I acknowledge that all striving is done. There is nothing to do but absorb the wisdom of the practice.

Yoga permeates all life, not just the hours spent on the mat. As these periods of striving have ended, both the immediate one of moving to this house, and the overarching one of returning home, I am taking the time to absorb the wisdom of these as practice.

I can’t help but see the frenzy slipping away from my work. The weaving need not shout to be heard. It can speak in sighs of relief and murmurs of pleasure, and in the deep silence that comes with being completely at ease.

It is surprising how much gets done in this mindful reverie. When there’s no internal conflict, no energy spent building walls and holding them up, no time spent deciding what is and what is not, things just work. Like the swan gliding along the canal, there’s plenty happening under the placid water, but it’s all about gliding forward, not about flapping wildly and splashing water everywhere.

When the bench is properly adjusted, and my focus is on moving smoothly and purposefully, the tea towels seem to weave themselves.

I make only vague promises for what comes next. The gardens will bloom as they always have, and I will observe. The looms will be filled with useful cloth and I will weave in the studio that is the heart-center of this home.

Breathing in, I am aware of the newness of the day

As I unpack my studio, I am aware that too much of the past can be an unintended anchor, an obstacle to enjoying the present.

I am going to find a new home for a huge box of velvet, velveteen and trim. There was a time that these things were my stock in trade. My mother and I owned a small historical costume shop called Elizabethan Arts. Although I have the space and presumably still have the talent to revive the business, I don’t have an interest in it. I’d rather weave, and at the moment I am content to occupy the present century. Any excursions into costumed recreation are likely to involve something simpler and far more authentic. I’d rather dress as a sixteenth-century cottager than as a lady of the royal court.

My mother would never have dreamed of getting rid of velvet (or silk, linen and wool). She endured rationing during WWII, and the rise in production of shoddy, synthetic fabrics after the war. I inherited her fears as a manifesto, and have dutifully moved this box of fabric from here to there, beyond and back again. I don’t even like velvet.

On this spring morning, the possibilities seem endless. I wove half a tea-towel yesterday, and figured out how the monks’ belt place mats should go.

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Just because I can

I am living in a house full of unpacked boxes, but all I feel like doing is exploring my Glimakra loom. It’s only natural, after seven weeks of extreme discipline, to be a little bit naughty. I’m not on a deadline now. I am home and will be in this house for years to come. There’s nothing to do but breathe it all in and experience every moment.

So I am playing with the loom while I wait for a small order of parts from Glimakra USA. There’s a bit of coarse white linen warp on the loom, a slubby single that reminds me more of knitting yarn than weaving yarn. Euroflax? Perhaps.

I might be able to eke a placemat out of it, using a coarse unbleached two-ply linen weft, in a humorous reversal of the usual yarn choices for weaving. Oh, let’s make it monks’ belt, just to give it some color and character. I don’t know yet what the pattern yarn will be.

It’s all an experiment, one of these ideas that starts up and keeps going in its own direction. All I can do is grab my shuttle and follow.

When a loom falls from the sky

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When you want something long enough and hard enough, it eventually falls from the sky.  This is one of the essential truths in my life.

A few years ago, I became aware of these large, traditional looms that break down into a pile of sticks and strings when they are disassembled. I learned that the design of looms in Scandinavia had survived relatively unscathed by the influence of the industrial revolution. I was fascinated by the idea that you began with a basic, sturdy frame, and added only the parts that the current weaving project required. It seemed so pure and focused. I wanted a loom like this.

Which led to the selection of the right house and studio…

Which led to a week-long Basics class at Vävstuga…

Which led to me haunting Craigslist for almost a year…

Everything came together at once, knocking me out of my careful plan into a madcap scramble to get everything done.  Basics class fell in the middle of renovations. The beautiful Glimåkra Standard materialized the DAY BEFORE I was scheduled to move.

I love the way the pine loom fades into the pine wall beyond it. Who would think such a big loom could relax so subtly into my studio? This is what it means to be home.

What it means for me as a weaver is interesting. I am eager to begin weaving for the house: rugs, pillows and blankets. Most of my work up to this point had focused on weaving me home, magical cloth that made my dreams a reality. The work I did at Sparrow Hill was transitional, opening my senses to a quieter and calmer way of weaving as the tension finally drained out of the fiber of my being.

Now here, in the yet-unnamed studio, on a yet-unnamed loom, all I can think of are long warps and simple weaves–stripes, rosepath, and monks’ belt.