Saturday, May 19, 2007

More Than Mere Money

I'm home.

We have traveled. We have seen the sights, stared at vistas, listened to discourses, watched butterflies flit, eaten at restaurants and al fresco, while sitting on benches, and sitting on rock walls. Traveling; always interesting, usually entertaining, sometimes inspiring, and good to get home.

I have some pictures, but in my usual Luddite fashion, forgot the digital camera, and had to buy a disposable job. It will be a few days before the prints are ready, sigh.

My husband says we cannot call ourselves Luddites, because there is no philosophy behind our technological dysfunction. It is simply lack of custom, lack of association, lack of habit. I even (get this) packed my cellphone in my luggage on the way home, because I couldn't think of a reason to need it. Until I sat for an hour in the Denver airport, a few minutes away from my son, and could not call him (don't know the number, it's programmed into the phone).

Musing on the events just passed, one memory is of a man, a stranger, never to be in my presence again, one hopes, who insisted that I could not be a weaver, because I don't make my *living* at it.

Humph. This discussion comes up regularly among those of us who work, play and study weaving, spinning, knitting, raising fiber animals. It may not be as remunerative an occupation as some, but it is rewarding. It brings focus to the days, friends, companions, a constant source of interest, amusement and activity. It is a source of economic uncertainty though, as more money goes out than comes in, over time, if not year by year. Equipment, materials (heh), storage and workspace, heating and cooling of said space, travel, time. Money.

What we do is most likely deemed a *hobby* by those who look in from the outside. But is hobby usually the defining factor in one's life? Or is it a diversion from one's daily life?

Is money the only gauge? It is the most common gauge we have, now days, it is how we decide how to label ourselves. We are a doctor, a lawyer, a crane operator, a teacher, a railroad worker, a nurse. Is Weaver what I put down on my tax forms as Occupation? No.

But I am a weaver.

Hard to explain, easy to dismiss. I met someone this past week who has been in the yarn business for over thirteen years, and has not made a profit yet. Does that mean she is not a vendor? Not a yarn merchant? No.

We have many fiber vendors who are struggling to make it all work, and for all of them, I am grateful. They bring books, patterns, potential. They bring me products, tools, materials and ideas each time I see them. They try direct sales, internet sales, they advertise in fiber magazines and keep them going for the rest of us (subscriptions alone certainly would not bring us the quality magazines we receive now), they rent booth space at conferences and keep them going, and bring us new, colorful, delightful fibers to tempt us with dreams of future projects.

In the larger culture, we are largely unseen, a blip, a dram, not even registered on any scales.

We are a an economic force to be reckoned with, however, and the yarn and book world probably know it. How many new knitting books have appeared in the past two years? We know knitting blogs are untold numbers, weaving blogs fewer. There are 66 weaving blogs on the WeaveRing now, and that is 66 opportunities to be inspired, to learn about methods and materials of a perhaps anachronistic hobby that keeps me so entertained, enriched and alive.

So weavers: start a blog. Tell us what you are doing. Let the world know, if only by chance, that we are here. Some keyword search will bring them to your blog, a photo will guide them to you when they do a graphic image search. We are not commonplace, but we can be a cultural factor into the next generations, if they know we are out here. If they know what a loom looks like, if they know the words and jargon, and begin to find the resources for equipment and materials, and the people who will teach them to be new weavers.

Add your voice to the growing dialog, let people know how you do things, perhaps differently than how I do them. Maybe we could have photos of say, a drawloom (very subtle hint, eh retired Lois?).

We may not be as ubiquitous as golfers, but we are here, quietly weaving away (sometimes less quietly), under cover of some other occupational designation. Humph.


Blogger beadlizard said...

Isn't being a weaver similar to being a soprano? To me there is no choice; it's organic, pre-destined. --syl

9:33 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Beautifully, said! I have not woven an inch in almost eighteen years, yet I am, and always will be, a weaver. I knit and spin now, but those years devoted to warp and weft still define me, if only to myself.

9:42 AM  
Blogger dragon knitter said...

as to the gentleman who says you're not a weaver because you don't make money at it, he obviously is clueless. just because i don't make a ton of money at it, doesn't make me any less a knitter or spinner. and yet, it is an obsession that i do not want to be released from. at least i'm not contaminating the environment or my body. and i help clothe the world!

i just sent the link for your blog to a friend who recently got a rigid heddle loom (i hope that's what it was, lol). she's having fun with it already! (i also gave her a boxful of weaving yarns my sons' school gave me because they were too thin for the knitting class to work with)

9:52 AM  
Blogger claudia said...

Starting a weaving revolution, one blog at a time. YEAH!

10:12 AM  
Blogger Leigh said...

The Airport Gentleman was under the common misconception that only money can validate a human being. It is probably a more accurate description of himself, i.e. the only thing in his life worth living for is money. Sad. Reminds me of the time, when my children were toddlers, and I attended an office Christmas party with my ex. I was asked what I 'did' and when I replied, 'Homemaker,' I was treated like an invisible object for the rest of the evening!

12:58 PM  
Blogger judy said...

I am happy to have you home. Welcome back form your travels.
You are certainly a weaver.. and a dyer, knitter, thinker, and....
How sad for your gentleman that his world is so narrow.

6:02 PM  
Blogger Caroline M said...

Money provides an easy way to keep score but it's not the only way, for example scientists put more importance on publication than cash.

Just because we are in the fortunate position of not having to support a family from our hand work should not invalidate that work. By his standards it would be easier to be called a knitter by churning out
muppet pelt scarves than by the creation of heirloom lace. The title has to flow from mastery of your craft rather than simply from what you earn from it. It's about having the skill set, not necessarily using it to generate an income. Many now famous artists died penniless because they were
good, but not popular in their lifetime.

2:29 AM  
Blogger LauraJ said...

There is in the archaeological community something called an 'avocational archaeologist,' I think because calling some of these people amateurs would imply their work was 'unprofessional.' We are damned careful and regularly criticize people who DO make their living digging and publishing for 'unprofessional' behavior.

Musicians and actors have a tradition known as the 'day job.' Archaeologists understand the phrase and I think most other people could too. Your man was what we would call a Philistine (although not if we were archaeologists, who know the real Philistines were just good old sea-borne raiders, like Vikings before the fact).

I, personally, am a dilettante, with enabler tendencies.

6:23 AM  
Blogger Sharon said...

When I'm not at work, I chose to use my time to explore the fiber arts. It's part of how I express myself. I don't want it to become my job - I don't want to be forced to crank out product to pay bills. I wonder how much of that man's personal self-expression time is spent in front of the TV.....

11:23 AM  
Blogger Deanna said...

Beingness is better revealed by how we choose to spend our money and our time, than by how we choose to earn a living.

1:06 PM  
Blogger Angi said...

I agree with Sylvia. I believe being a weaver was programmed into our DNA along with our eye color.

While it is not the only thing to define you (You, Dear Sara, could also be defined by words such as inspiration, teacher, and artist)"Weaver" is who you are in the middle of you.

The clueless little man deserves his little world with small thoughts devoid of dreams. He'll never know the amazement of watching, as a project takes on its own life, and the joy of having the hands and mind of a Weaver.

2:43 PM  
Blogger cindy said...

Never let money be a gauge for what you do. Bravely we create because we or not!

2:57 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth Metz said...

What we ARE is not necessarily what we do for money. Our avocations define us as much as our vocations do.

Fabulous post.

8:53 AM  
Blogger Purple Fuzzy Mittens said...

I think it is about sustenance. I go to work to acquire money the provides physical sustanance. I create with fibers to provide sustenance of the mind and soul. Both are required for my personal well-being.

9:37 AM  
Blogger Abby Franquemont said...

Some years ago when I first met her, Martha Stanley asked me if I would say I was a weaver. "Of course," I told her immediately, with -- I now realize -- a look on my face of utter horror and shock, thinking, what would the alternative be, NOT being a weaver? She laughed, and the way that she laughed made it very clear to me that she recognized the look on my face. She had planned, she said, to argue with me if I said I didn't think of myself as a weaver.

After that, a whole discussion ensued about "So what the heck is a weaver, anyway?" After all, you know you recognize another one when you meet one. Sometimes it's realizing he's staring at your chest -- because of the fabric in your jacket. Sometimes it's because she looks with her hands, turning a tablecloth over to analyze something structural from the wrong side. Sometimes she's in a gallery or museum, sidling up to a wall at a funny angle to see if she can catch a decent view of an edge; because he's the constant untangler of all snarls; you never know. But you recognize, and you relate, and you don't have to speak to do either -- it's just there, the weaver's mind.

Every fibery thing I do or have ever done is all because I'm a weaver bred, born and raised. So many non-fibery things are too. I'm not so sure it's a career, a hobby, a pastime, a lifestyle... I think it might be an identity. Certainly for me it is.

12:15 PM  
Blogger Birdsong said...

As others have already said, it is unfortunate when people use money as the only measure of what defines us... that is why being a mother gets so little respect in this culture (but that is another discussion). Passion and persistence should be what defines us, as well as the drive to create... perhaps he just had suppressed that drive in order to "succeed" and couldn't recognize it any longer. Glad you had a good time... I finally convinced my Luddite hubby to take his phone last week, only to have him call from the airport saying he had just learned his cell service wouldn't work in Japan, where he was headed. Oh well. Hope I see you at the parking lot sale tomorrow.

5:57 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Define? Those of us who were "products of the '60s" as my daughter gently reminds me, have been the creators of the definitions, not defined by them.

I have raised dairy goats for 21 years. Do I make a living at it? No I work as a vet. tech to support my goats.

Because of this am I less of a goatherd, less of a cheese creator then those who are commercial and making a living doing this? Do I value my stock less then they? I think not!

I spin,knit and weave on a very sporadic basis. But the fiber as my goats are born from a passion deep within me.

And so is my nursing at work. Passion is what defines us, makes us tick. With money we can survive but with passion we live.

7:49 PM  

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