Once a piece of weaving has been fulled, washed gently to open the fibers and make it come together as a unified form, it becomes cloth. Today was such a beautiful day that I simply had to finish this transitional piece of cloth to make room for what comes next in my life.
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Today, I am Just Weaving, letting the shuttle mesmerize me, letting go of everything. It’s warm and sunny in the Aerie, my studio in the trees. My Birmans, Edelweiss and newly-arrived Magic, are getting along like they have lived together forever, not just for one scant week. Even the Red-breasted Nuthatch is back at the feeders, after several weeks absence.
Exhale slowly and breathe in. Let the shuttle fly back and forth. This is all that there is.
I couldn’t end the day under the weight of just plain words. Instead, have a breeze. A zephyr. A bit of lightly woven fabric to float past your eyes, tickle your nose, and flow into your heart.
And so, I began to fill in the weft. Dreaming Myself Awake has been a basket full of yarn for a long time, since a hot summer day in 2011 when I realized that a half dozen balls and skeins of leftover yarn had a purpose and a name. I know I gave away a year along the way, in service to Occupy Wall St. and in Being There for two beloved cats. It doesn’t matter, this is the Now where the fabric takes shape.
It’s going to be an unruly fabric to photograph as a work in progress. I am weaving a slightly gauzy fabric at 10 ends per inch, with the warp being beat according to my mood and the needs of the thread that is in hand. The colors are nuanced, and the camera wants to make them garish and strange, with a honeyed undertone from the old maple loom.
It looks like this, kind of. Let’s say it feels like this.
Well, almost like this. The threading error down the middle has been painstakingly fixed. Usually I leave such things in place, as part of the whim of freestyle weaving. Sometimes I create dense stripes on purpose, by doubling the sett for just a little area. Or gauzy stripes by spreading the warp further apart. I don’t know. This looked too centered. It interfered with the lively purple stripe, and dragged it down into an unhealthy stasis. It had to go.
Don’t you love the heathery blue/purple/burgundy section? It’s a balanced single that I spun from a Loop Spontaneous Spinning Cloud. These clouds spin like an absolute dream, especially because I would rather spin woolen than worsted, and create a fine, lofty yarn rather than a ‘stainless steel wire’, as Judith Mackenzie describes worsted spun yarn.
I am giddy with the joy of creating new fabric. I am keeping mum about what the finished garment will look like. Let’s just say that you could call it a tunic or a jumper (American usage, not British), and that it will look stunning over a turtleneck and leggings.
I am ready to throw the shuttle…after a peace-filled day of winding the last chain of warp and finally Knowing how it is supposed to go.
40 ends of purple were supposed to come together with 160 ends of black, but I wasn’t sure how.
Sometimes I’ve rolled dice to tell me how many ends of each color make up a stripe. Other times I’ve used a a progression that evenly faded one color into the next. Today, I tried something new. This is a gradual fade, based on the Fibonacci series. It’s actually two Fibonacci series going in opposite directions.
Life is like that sometimes, going in opposite directions at the same time. Meditation is like that, too, especially the part about where the colors merge into a natural and wonderful progression. Wonderful moment, this present moment.
Sleying, threading the heddles and beaming on went very quickly. Isn’t that the way it is–Knowing how to go can be more difficult than just going.
Remember, weaving cloth does not begin with the first throw of the shuttle. It begins with the first glimmer of an idea. I collect a laundry basket full of yarn. Bits and bobs. This and that. If it looks like part of the story, I throw it in.
From time to time, I dump out the basket to see what I have. How has the story grown? Some colors have shown up because they have much to say. Others scuttle through, muttering to themselves.
It’s time. The story is ready to tell itself. I am winding the last of the warp. It’s mostly black, with a purple stripe. The black yarn ran out in a fortuitous way. Would I have considered a single stripe otherwise?
It is meant to be.
I’m still spinning thick and thin yarn out of muddy colors, and I have no idea what I will do with it. My original idea was that it would become part of Dreaming Myself Awake, restful colors between brighter dreams. I don’t think so. These are not meant to be lucid dreams, set against the background of a greyish-green winter. These are dreams so vivid and self-contained that they linger into wakefulness, that they become real.
That’s the way I see it today. Tomorrow may be different, because I am changeable like that. Until I sit down at the loom and commit the threads into cloth, everything is subject to change. The muddy thick and thin may speak to me, may have a reason to return.
I just bought two pounds of black walnut dye, and I don’t even like the color brown. I am hoping to figure out how to dye fabric in a splotchy, streaky way, maybe sponging the dye on, or cramming too much fabric into a pot and pouring on the dye. I don’t know where this is headed, but I feel the need to follow it and explore it.
Some mornings, I dump my spent tea leaves on a piece of cloth and let them dry together.
Since I steep my leaves twice, there’s not much dye left in them.
Over time, the cloth takes on a soft and subtle color.
This morning, I sprinkled some of the ground black walnut hulls next to the tea. Hmmm…
If I were home now, I would have bags full of all sorts of weeds and leaves thatI I could use to make color on fabric.
I am also thinking about rust again…
Depending on the direction that Dreaming Myself Awake takes (that’s the project that’s slowly gathering in my planning basket), I might be able to use the Gypsy Cloth as part of it.
By the way, that’s Indigo Sapphire, my adorable Birman kitten. She and Amber get along very well, and I am hoping that Amber will explain to her that “Weaver ALWAYS does that fabric thing and there’s no reason to get so excited about it.” Until then, life moves at kitten speed, with lots of movement and excitement. Everything is a cat toy, including me.