A study in winter’s peace

Most years, I choose a very specific study project for the month of January. This year, I couldn’t come up with one structured thing that I was intent upon learning. I thought I might do a design project, from inspiration to finished project, but most of my drawing supplies are still waiting to be unpacked and it turned out that I wasn’t really in the mood to do anything very structured at all.

What I wanted to do more than anything was work on making my studio the most comfortable and inviting place to work, and also put projects on all the looms. The studio has been functional, mostly unpacked, but not really efficient or cozy. It needs more shelving space, and I need to unpack a few more boxes and banish others to the places where they belong. Making it cozy could be as simple as adding a tiny table next to the hemming chair, so that I can enjoy my tea while I hem.

Making it efficient means getting the warping mill and the winding station in the same general area, and finding a place to store the excessive amount of spinning fiber that I bought a few years ago.

I am going to cheat a bit and put a few of the small but difficult boxes under the bed for now. They’re difficult because they don’t contain any one thing, and what the contain needs to be gone through paper by paper, sorted, tied with pretty ribbons (or handwoven bands?), and labeled. These boxes don’t belong in the studio, but when I lived in The Aerie, the storage for bedroom and studio was combined, and so I have studio things mixed into the ephemera of my life. I bought a stack of three pretty cardboard ‘suitcases’ to use as a side table next to my bedroom chair, and ultimately the things worth keeping will go there.

In the snow-filled peace of winter, I’ve been able to figure out why these boxes have lingered for months past my arrival at Buttonwood, and now I have a rough idea how I can deal with them. That may be more valuable to me right now than any study project.

thinking about the past year

Aside

It’s inevitable, isn’t it? A line was drawn across the face of time, and we invariably look back after crossing it.

So, I am going to indulge in a bit of a look backwards. It’s been a unique and memorable year, with the new studio and new looms. On a more subtle level, i feel there’s a newer, more confidant Weaver, too.

Getting back to Basics at Vävstuga was important in shaping my newfound confidence. I know I used to dread winding a warp and putting it on the loom. It seemed like it took forever and it wasn’t pleasurable. Oh, how that has changed!

Having a warping mill has been a great time-saver. Even though my shoulder and arm have grown so much stronger that I can almost forget that they were ever injured, warping wasn’t really painless or quick until I started using the mill.

When I used to warp from front-to-back, I spent a lot of time dealing with tangles in the warp. Now that I use weights to keep the warp under even tension, I don’t get the tangles that I used to. I warp back to front, and I find the process easy and intuitive. It even works on Honey, my dear old jack loom.

Having the right looms makes a difference. I love my Glimåkras, and I am still in love with my Schacht.

Who knew that everything would come together for me last year? I thought it would have happened the previous year, when I took my retreat year at Sparrow Hill. No, it took me another year; I had to get beyond the reality that Sparrow Hill was just another way station.

I had to find a place called home. Then, anything was possible.

Deep in the spiral of midwinter, wrapped in The Lady’s warm cloak, I see the essential truth in this as a precious gift. Art can grow out of tension and desperation, but is this the kind of art that inspires or sustains you? Out of peace and contentment, a different kind of art emerges. This is the art that feeds your soul and quiets your mind.

Ive spent many days in the past few weeks at the loom, just weaving, just meditating on the breath. It’s basic and fundamental. It’s what makes me whole.