in the bright light of midsummer

It is good to stop for a minute before and after the solstice, and see if anything feels different. The season of sowing has come to an end, and it is now time to turn the thought towards ripening and eventually reaping. The first fruits are coming into season, and the days of thin, crisp asparagus shoots are coming to an end. This is midsummer.

My relationship with Buttonwood seems to be following a similar path. Today, most of the moving cartons left with a couple I met on Saturday. They will be moving south in the autumn, and their summer harvest will be stacks of neatly piled cartons. I still have lots of boxes, but they aren’t yet empty.

Take all the time you need. I must repeat this as a mantra and heed it like good advice. All the sowing is done. Everything else will follow in its own time.

Things are moving slowly with setting up the countermarch on the Glimakra. It’s OK. Take all the time that you need, right?

Instead, I felt like weaving this kitchen chair seat.

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And I have three more to weave for the dining room. I love each of these chairs as individuals, and love the way they come together as a friendly but unmatched set.

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Black and tan woven seats will give them a common identity while still preserving their individuality. It’s been too long since I assembled an whimsical assortment of dining chairs and I still need a few more to fill the table.

when home finally has a name

I have been listening quietly to the voice of my home, getting to know its needs and silently waiting for it to tell me its name.

For a long time, I had assumed that the name of the studio would become the name of the house, but it is not so. It’s not Indigo Spiral Lodge or any such thing. It is simply called Buttonwood. Now I know.

eighty four pounds of cloth per year?

The social and health costs of fashion is a growing field of curatorial interest, also evident in the 2009 exhibit Eco Fashion: Going Green, at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, examining “fast fashion.” It revealed the United States consumes some 84 lb. of textiles per person per year, that the average garment purchased in the U.S. is worn only six times before being discarded, and that textile making uses more than 8,000 chemicals, many of them irreversibly damaging to people and the planet.”

Deadly Victorian fashions

Eighty four pounds of textiles per person? It boggles the mind. I sometimes bring myself to task for my own excesses of replacing three or four pieces of clothing each year. I pride myself that my respectable winter coat is over 15 years old, and is still looking quite respectable.  I haven’t even needed to replace the pockets yet.

I did buy a linen tunic this week, from Flax. Their clothing is durable and should last for years. I am tempted to draft a similar pattern and use up some of the linen in my sewing supply. It replaces a white linen shirt that is a bit too shabby after sixteen years of use. I’ll find a use for the old shirt, maybe as the foundation for a boro garment, or the patches for another. Much of the linen is still good.

As someone who makes cloth, I am drawn to buying things made from good cloth, things that will last for a decade or more. Why should the clothes I buy be any lesser than those I make?

revenons à nos moutons

Thank you for permitting me to get off topic yesterday. It is an issue that has the potential to affect us all.

Back in the studio, I am slowly working my way through hundreds of Texsolv cords needed for the countermarch on my Glimakra Standard. Although the cords come in a package of pre-cut lengths, the ends are but lightly sealed by the hot knife used to cut them. I am taking each cord, heating each end at a candle flame to soften it, and then rolling it to a point. I have a bowl of ice water at hand to protect my fingers, but it is still something that I can only do for a while, maybe thirty ends in one sitting. It’s time well spent, because the Texsolv cords will not fray and will be much easier to use in the tie up.

I am also marking up each cord used to tie the lamms to the treadles, according the Vavstuga tie up system. These reference marks make the actual tie up quick and painless compared to counting holes in the cord or tying up by guesswork.

 

There is something very grounding and loving about sitting inside my loom, connecting up the cords. I feel encircled and embraced by the loom. It reminds me of the many joyful hours spent sitting on the floor beside my mother’s chair, as we chatted and stitched. I would begin sitting on a chair, but would invariably slip to the floor because it was more comfortable. It becomes a meditation, time spent being present in the moment, thoughts stilled by the task in hand. The loom slips easily between reality and metaphor.

“I am the Goddess. My feet are rooted deep within the earth… My arms are open wide to hold eternity…”

-Lyrics from “I am the Goddess” by P. J. Seale

 

None of this is weaving. All of this is weaving.

 

(about today’s title: If your French language lessons never took you past looking for your aunt’s pen, you may not know that “Let’s return to our sheep” is an old idiom for returning to the subject at hand. Magique, my little Francophone cat, just murmured a sleepy and surprised comment that her aunt always knew where to find the feather stick. I love the way that cats look at language…)

preserving all that is quirky and beautiful about the internet.

Like many artisans, my path through life has taken me far from the mainstream in art, culture and society. I have chosen handmade over mass-produced, linen over synthetic, kirtan over pop, durable over disposable, and the values of the 99% over the corporate world. I know the internet has made it possible to find kindred spirits and artisan-made products. In particular, Net Neutrality has made it possible to find and interact with all that is quirky, beautiful and breathtakingly individual.

Now, living on a rural mountaintop as I do, my internet experience is more quirky than beautiful. My DSL pauses and stutters. Downloading a video can be an all-night process. It’s the price I pay for living in the middle of nowhere. I may be a recluse, but I still have some connection to the parts of the world I chose to experience.

Without Net Neutrality, I might not be able to find or receive the content that I value. Imagine the internet where priority and bandwidth are sold to the highest bidder. Where will the small blogs go? Where will the artisans be? Where will new political movements be heard? What about freedom of speech? What about the little things, like finding looms, thread and books?

I’ve seen this happen in other media. Once a medium becomes influential, it is taken over by corporate interests and used to promote their agendas at the exclusion of all others. Other voices become marginalized. Once again, we will flee to the next new thing, whatever it may be, to be heard and to rediscover our compatriots. But I’m getting tired of being uprooted, of having to reestablish the thin lines that connect us. I’m here to weave and to simplify my life, but I keep being nudged back into activism, because the line between complacency and complicity is ever so thin. I will not be complicit, and I will not be silenced. Mostly, I will carry on with warp and weft, and keep writing about my inner and outer journey as a weaver. Because I have that freedom, and because it’s important that I have it. Because I want you to have it, too.

Please contact the FCC and let them know that Net Neutrality is critically important to preserve freedom of speech on the internet. http://www.fcc.gov/comments Let’s preserve all that is quirky, beautiful and breathtakingly individual.

spin, spin

20140606-114808-42488826.jpgI just realized that Edelweiss kitty and I have something in common when it comes to doing something that we really don’t want to do. Having some companions helps us get through it.

For Edelweiss, she was reluctant to nurse her kittens unless someone kept her company. For me, it’s spinning. I am primarily a social spinner.

I haven’t made any progress on my hand spun since I last wrote about it. I know if I can just convince myself to sit down at the wheel, I will have a bobbin full of yarn in no time. I’ll love the yarn and be proud of it, but I just struggle to set aside the time to do it.  I missed spinning guild this week due to the weather and the arrival of some much anticipated loom parts. Without the companionship of the guild, I didn’t feel much like sitting at my wheel.

Maybe Edelweiss will sit with me while I spin?

rhythm of the days

My days have taken on a gentle rhythm. Mornings are cat time, and the Birmans are content to purr and snuggle a bit until the day summons us forth, to the kitchen, where they enjoy their breakfast while I make mine.

I think about weaving a lot during the day, and make plans that are often written on the gossamer threads of imagination. I seem to have all the plans and all the answers until I arrive at home and step into the studio.

The studio is not quite the peaceful sanctuary it is destined to become. There are still a few too many boxes underfoot. The windows need to be washed. But sanctuary is relative in a place that is already a secluded retreat from all that holds no meaning for me. The sun sets behind the mountaintops and I am learning the topography of the space between my mountaintop and the ones to the west. I am learning which doors and windows can be open when the rain pours down. I have regained my ability to sleep and dream.

I am gently melting into the bliss of being home, of no longer having to hold on to every tattered shred of my identity in a world that was intent upon tearing it from my grasp. I have slipped quietly into a community that shares my values. I don’t have to create it or defend it.

I know that the studio space will evolve and the boxes will be dealt with. Doing this with full mindfulness takes time. I am still casting away stones, looking to release what no longer serves me. I can do that now that I am home.