Saturday, September 23, 2006

Amazingly Simple Pleasures

dyeing2 Sept 2006

Sometimes I just have to sit back and be grateful for the pleasures of spinning, dyeing, knitting and weaving. These activities are calming and centering, even while they are engrossing and all-consuming of time, money and thought.

Coming home from a trip, the first thing I want to do is spin. I can sit and plan, recover and ruminate, and bring the tempo of my life back to the present from the far flung.

My life here is of a different pace than the world seems to be. Slower yes, but also more deliberate, less distracted. There are not constant sounds, lights and movement at home. While on the road, or even in my little local town, away from home, the busy-ness of the world can overwhelm. Multi-tasking has a place in the world, and I am capable of ramping up the energy to participate in it. But I prefer the slow, quiet, deliberate rate of activity of my own world, even if only for a small part of each day.

The time frame of accomplishment in spinning, knitting and weaving is measured in small increments, in baby steps. This is very likely part of the attraction that knitting has had in recent years: an antidote to the scurrying rate of the modern world. We hear of high touch versus high tech, and that may indeed be a part of it, but how much is related to actual heart rate, and the idea that we can work at a pace that is in tune with our own breath.

Spinning is the obvious anti-modern-speed component of my activities. It is a process oriented craft: if the process is not one that appeals, the time spent is just another irritant in the world. But when the process is the pleasure, the yarn piles up, almost unbidden.

I have stepped down the pace of my weaving over the last few years, working less at the floor loom banging out fabric, and more at the upright loom, spending hour after hour tying knot after knot. I have always enjoyed the warping process, the step by step threading of reed and heddles, and now, the effort of winding a circuitous and continuous warp on the upright loom, tying the threads one by one to the heddle string, and stretching each strand across the warp as I tighten the tension.

A well-warped loom is a pleasure to look at, satisfaction and anticipation all rolled into one. It seems like the first step, but many decisions have narrowed the choices to a set of threads, a series of threaded heddles, prior to the actual winding of the warp.

warp Sept 2006

I set up three warps this week, each on a different scale; curtains in cotton threads on the floor loom, knotted pile in wool, and a handspun silk ribbon on the inkle loom. As I finished preparing each warp, I have moved on to the next, wanting to get all of the projects underway on their respective looms, their plans and thoughts out of my head and into the world. The weaving will be starting soon too, each at its own pace: the floor loom for energetic activity, the knotted pile for more contemplative work, and the silk ribbon for tactile pleasure and rhythm. Evenings are for knitting, sometimes just a row or two when, as now, the rows are long or need focus. In my usual schedule, dyeing runs in spurts, and right now I am dyeing every day.

Whether through grace or good fortune, or as the result of hard work and effort, spinning, dyeing, knitting and weaving fill my days at home. I can focus on the task at hand, the pace is my own, the work is a pleasure. There is no need to call on patience, no virtue of mine anyway, because this is what I want to be doing.


Blogger Marlene said...

Well said. My feelings almost to a tee.

12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting to read your thoughts. I pursue different pursuits for different reasons. Knitting to be creative, weaving to be challenged in my thinking (and in my patience), and spinning for relaxation and pondering. All very satisfying indeed...

1:23 PM  
Blogger cindy said...

I want to weave a silk ribbon on my inkle loom. I would love to know about how you plan to do it. Are you spinning a silk from a mawata silk cap?

7:00 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

Me too - I just want to stay home and pay slow attention to spinning and crocheting.

8:21 AM  
Blogger Beryl Moody said...

You make it all sound so idyllic -- and, of course, in your case it is:-) I, on the other hand, have spent my recent days cursing loom problems and floats that appeared too far down the piece to correct. But I persist in spite of crappy results. Ah, for the peace and satisfaction you talk about.

8:57 AM  

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