Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Be Flexible

snow2 Feb 08

There are still parts of the world where creating textiles for daily use is a way of life. Few, but they are still there. I often wonder what it is like for a village weaver, in remote Central Asia, to run out of yarn. Would she? Perhaps not, but she just might run out of a particular yarn, say the red she is using in her carpet.

So, she will use something else.

The textile can't wait until next shearing, the next dye day, for new yarn to be made or, *gasp*, purchased. The weaving may be pegged out on the ground, or on an upright loom braced in the corner of the one room. It doesn't sit there, in a neat little out-of-the-way studio, waiting. Someone needs that rebozo this winter. Someone needs a carpet to sleep on, to keep old bones off the cold ground.

The textiles show this. One color runs out, another begins. The warp ends hanging out of the end of the rug are mostly white, but there are some grey at the edge. The dyelot changes here and there, the value of the color is different, there may even be an entirely different fiber: mohair where once was wool.

I find these spots charming, evidence of the hand of the weaver. Machine made textiles lack variation, but it shows up in handmade textiles, and mostly those for use by the maker and her family. It is evidence of human endeavor, the hand of the maker, once thought of as *loving hands at home* now rare, time-consuming and requiring skill. Handwork.

We try to avoid variation: buying all of one dyelot for a project, spinning up *enough* yarn to finish, carefully dyeing colors to match. What I find charming in another's work, I try to avoid in mine. Yet I still run into this issue, despite the best laid plans. Yarns are discontinued, so I can't buy more. Wool from a particular sheep changes year to year, so it will never be quite the same *dyelot*.

flamingo snow2

This past week, I have had to think more like a village weaver. Make do, change plans, use what I have, use it up. We have had a few snowstorms, about a foot total of snow, over several days. Then, as it melts, there is ice. I live at the top of a ridge, and there are a few steep hills to negotiate in and out. Icy hills on curvy roads make for treacherous travel. So I have been home.

Internet shopping is fun, of course, and delivery usually speedy. But not when the UPS truck cannot get up the road, whoops. So plans change, outings are canceled, we eat what we have on hand and hope (this time with success) that the power stays.

I have resources here, I have lots to work with. I just have to be flexible, change plans, and use something else, perhaps. It works well with the random knitting:

random knitting small

There are some surprises: the creativity restriction engenders can make for choices that are off the beaten path, sometimes with unexpectedly successful results. I should try it more often.

It is a fun dance, flexibility. We fight it with planning and calculating. I am accustomed to my calculations being wrong (literally) which, with the textiles I create, is not a real concern. Plain weave is plain weave is plain weave. Whether it is 15" wide or 14.9" wide is rarely an issue. I'm not working on one of those quasi-industrial handlooms making complex inter-laced patterns that require math and concentration.

I work on simple looms, weave simple fabric, spin every-day yarns, and knit catch-as-catch can. Tool breaks? Make another. Warp needs adjustment? Use a shim. Color runs out? Change plans. On a snowy winter morning, with the sun finally shining, and a cup of tea, the simple process of making brings pleasure and comfort, and a connection with village weavers all over the world.

rain chain Feb 08 small

Many thanks to Abby and Phreadde for their blog-awards! I have connected with many people, and many people's work, through blogs. I have an eclectic list of blogs that I read, many from friends, and some of people I have never met. The list changes, blogs come and go, depending on my interest, and their activity. I have learned a lot, gotten lots of chuckles, and begun to follow some stories as people write about their paths, whether it's textiles or some other road.

Last, during a snow storm, you are my community. I cannot wish for more. Thank you.


Blogger Peg in South Carolina said...

I very much enjoyed your post and agree very much about the need for flexibility and the grace of restrictions to enhance creativity.

9:48 AM  
Blogger Purple Fuzzy Mittens said...

I think the best projects are a bit like the best travel: Some gentle pre-planning combined with a sense of adventure and a willingness to leave the beaten track can take you amazing places.

10:16 AM  
Blogger Patricia said...

Well now, that was worth waiting for!
Stay warm.

11:04 AM  
Blogger Valerie said...

Lovely contemplation. Thanks for taking the time to share the text and photo's.

11:58 AM  
Blogger Ann said...

I think you are my new hero. I loved the silk spinning class I took with you a couple of weekends ago in SF. "Just spin what comes natural", you said. Now, you say, just use what you have. Don't stress the dye lots and fiber. You've taken a lot of stress out of my fiber activities. Just let it happen.

Thank you!

12:51 PM  
Blogger Dorothy said...

I enjoyed reading this post, and the snow & ice photos are beautiful.

Your comments about the things that make someone else's work charming are one of those timeless truths that so many artists and crafts people recognise. Absolute perfection lacks charm, but there is some sort of harmonious state where the accidents are happy ones.

1:27 PM  
Blogger Charleen said...

Very nice post, Sara. The dichotomy between what we expect from ourselves and what we admire in others is very interesting, isn't it?

4:50 PM  
Blogger DEEP END OF THE LOOM said...

Very nice post, life is an ebb and flow process, and I agree sometimes we sweat the small stuff and don't really enjoy the serendipity that is afforded by a miscalculation or deviation in one's plans.

8:09 AM  
Blogger Angi said...

Such a beautiful post!

10:09 PM  
Blogger LauraJ said...

Hey, Hless, I found a book you need --

I like to try to do unto to you as you have to me, but I'll never catch up.

Much love, Laura

5:08 AM  

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