Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Take A Chance With Me: Moving Out of Your Comfort Zone

Although I was proud enough of my suspended shoulder stand to post a photograph of the event (and it's a rare day when I'm in any photograph), it wasn't long before I began to critique my pose.  As wonderful as it felt to go upside down, I'm no poster child for correct alignment:

You can see that I'm holding on here for dear life, after Robin helped me up.  I wasn't strong enough to get there on my own. One of the goals in this pose is to be in Tadasana (albeit upside down), with my feet level and my legs straight and strong.  I started out that way, but at this point, I'm using the wall for support, doing an unintentional back bend.  These are a few things I see; a yoga instructor would have much more to suggest about correct positioning.  Notice that I'm critiquing my pose, not criticizing it.  There's a big difference.

In some ways, the sloppiness of my pose doesn't matter.  I got up there, which is more than most people I know could or would do.  I managed to work through the rush of panic without freaking out and I stayed in the pose for a few minutes.  I had some idea of how the pose should feel and look and I did manage to take my feet away from the wall in an attempt at Tadasana.  If I never do this again, I still have a few bragging rights. 

(Incidentally, Robin was correct-when I went up, I had a very sore right shoulder, enough to wake me up at night.  "This will help," she assured me, although I couldn't see how balancing on a painful area would relieve the discomfort.  It's been two nights now, and I haven't been disturbed by shoulder pain one bit.  Go figure.)

It's not enough.  Now that I know I can do shoulder stand, I want to improve my pose. I've looked closely at the photo, asked questions about adjustments, annoyed yoga teachers about why this and that.  I'm looking to move out of my comfort zone because that's how I learn and grow.

Comfort zones are there for good reasons.  Sometimes, it's nice to play safe, to look for the soothing tones of the familiar.  Staying in the warm, fuzzy areas can keep us happy, away from risk.  Those aren't problems, unless and until we use comfort to numb our experiences and allow ourselves to shrink from challenges.  If you refuse all challenges, you'll end up as a warm puddle on your couch, afraid to interact with the world.  You literally won't know your own body or mind.

Many fibre people take up knitting or spinning or other fibre crafts for those comfort experiences.  We seek to escape the pressures of our jobs, our families, the stresses of life, our selves.  Spinning plain yarns, knitting garter stitch scarves by the truckload help us feel good.  Not only do our crafts calm us, we make something useful in the process.  Again, there is no judgment here.  I'm a big, big fan of garter stitch and plain 2 ply yarn. We are forced to deal with stress every day; we don't have to add more if we'd rather not. 

The thing is, if we're able to do something at all, why not explore our limits?  Once in a while, we need to step outside those boundaries, face our fears head on (or down, as the case may be) and go for it.  If you always knit garter stitch scarves, consider working a simple shawl, perhaps with an easy lace border.  Continue spinning those plain yarns, but throw some deliberate designer lumps and bumps into one or two skeins.

This little shawl is nothing but garter stitch and yarn overs.

Rather than adding to our stresses, challenges will actually alleviate the pressures we face.  When you are working on something new, you have to pay attention, which means you don't have the time or space to worry about the daily annoyances which build stress.  You pick your challenge, research it and do it safely, to the best of your abilities.  Then you push a little more.  (Safety is much more important with a physical challenge. Although I've seen some impressive spinning and knitting failures, apart from a rush of forceful language and some tears, fibre flaws are rarely fatal.)

It's that "pushing a little more" that will take you places and enrich your world. So, go on, take a baby step or two.  You may soon find yourself running.

As for me, I've been behaving like a little kid all week, begging people to help "Me go upside down!"  It feels good.


A bit of hand spun yarn, garter stitch, some holes and a sense of adventure can take you places.  It really is okay to colour outside the lines!

(Congratulations to DaigleD, whose name was chosen for the Blog Birthday draw.)

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Sunday, 25 March 2012

The Real Thing: On Being "Genuine"

On Friday, Colin asked us to ponder what constitutes "genuine yoga."  Now, I love to "ponder." In fact, some would call me "ponderous," so I've been thinking about this question for some time.  I've discussed what I look for in a yoga teacher (here) as well as what I think "real" yoga should be (here).

It's always easy to discover what you expect from others.  What I haven't thought about much is what I expect from myself as a student-if yoga and its teachers have duties to their pupils, do I have any responsibilities to ensure sincerity in my practice?

The answer is, as always, "It depends."  If I'm following something for simple enjoyment and interest, then I may not feel the need for in depth study, or even to take that topic very seriously.  Long ago, I may have been content to go to a yoga class and simply practice asanas.  Moving my body, stretching and making the effort to stay healthy are fine things just on their own. As I've continued to practice, I've discovered that I'm hoping to accomplish something more with my yoga/meditation and fibre arts.  If I want to incorporate something as a life practice, or spiritual pursuit, then it's reasonable to expect that my efforts will go a little deeper. 

With that in mind, I'd like to offer some ideas on what a student should bring to her studies.  (Note to my students: Do not be afraid.  I do not have these expectations for anyone else.  I'm grateful just to have you attend classes!)

  • A serious student owes it to herself and her teacher to take responsibility for the choices she makes.  Before I jump into something, I might do some preliminary research on my subject and its instructors.  Do these courses and their teachers seem to fit my interests and learning style?  Will they do me more harm than good?  This is a very practical consideration: I can get physically, or less commonly, mentally or emotionally hurt in a yoga class if the teacher doesn't consider individual capabilities, pushes too hard or doesn't listen, but the same thing can happen if I don't listen to my body, know my strengths and weaknesses and pay attention.  Teachers are not mind readers. I need to tell them what they need to know. Physical limits are not as serious in a fibre class, but they are there.  If a particular spinning technique hurts, then I need to let that be known.  A good teacher will find a modification, but I need to tell her that modifications are necessary. I also need to remember that one teacher does not fit all.  Sometimes, I'm the wrong student for a particular instructor; sometimes, I will have to move on.
  • Conversely, I don't need to cover all bases before taking a chance.  Once in a while,it's good just to grab that lifeline and jump.  If something crosses my path, I tend to take that as a sign to go for it.  As a student, I need to have some sense of adventure.
  • As a serious student, I should be open to the possibility that I have much to learn.  This is a particular problem if I've been studying something for any length of time: I may not recognize just how little I know.  Sometimes, I do know more than my teacher, but that doesn't mean she doesn't have something to teach me.  I thought I knew something about yoga; taking this university class taught me how little I do know, which is the most valuable lesson I've taken from the class (and there are many lessons I took from the class).  If I thought I knew everything there is to know about spinning or knitting, I'd never be able to take another fibre class.  Where's the fun in that?
  • Along with admitting my lack of knowledge, I need to listen.  I have a problem with listening well-I tend to anticipate answers; I want to let people know what I know about a topic and I fail to hear what others say.  If I don't practice listening attention, I miss out on what others have to offer.
  • Most importantly, if I want to develop a genuine practice, I need to do the work. No excuses.  Yes, life gets in the way of my goals sometimes. When it does, I have to find a way around or through the obstacles.  If I want to go below the surface of a subject, I must do what is asked of me, as best I can.  I need to work to my capacity or safely beyond it. So, I do that reading, those papers, that particular knitting technique or drafting style.  Then, I do more.  Being a serious student doesn't just mean doing the work asked.  It means I must do that work and then whatever else I need to do to satisfy my curiosity.  If I'm lucky, I'll never solve all the mysteries or find all the answers to my questions.
If I want to find "genuine" yoga/meditation/fibre arts, I have no further to look than within myself.  I'm a true believer in the old idea that, "When you are ready, the teacher will appear."  It wasn't until I decided that my attitude towards a subject, any subject, was the key to discovering what I needed to learn that possibilities began to appear everywhere. 

Openheartedness is the sprouting seed.  Once we open our hearts, we allow roots to grow, nourishing our interests and providing multiple branches to support those interests. If we do that, our practice will be strong, sincere and genuine.


Thursday, 22 March 2012


March 27, 2012 will mark the first anniversary of this blog.  Writing posts on a regular basis has helped me to sharpen my thoughts on my meditation, yoga and fibre practices.

I enjoy writing and appreciate the opportunity to reach anyone interested in these subjects.  As a "thank you" to my readers and in celebration of the past year, I'd like to offer a small gift to a reader:

"Heart Like a Wheel" is my guide to beginning a spinning meditation practice.  It's a 40 page manual (plastic cover, spiral bound, black and white photos) of spinning and meditation exercises and resources, including three simple knitting patterns to help you along your way.  (One of the patterns is not included in my blog patterns.)  If you take my "Heart Like a Wheel" workshop at Olds Fibre Week 2012, you'll be given a copy of the manual; otherwise, I'll be selling copies privately.  Click on the links for more information about Fibre Week 2012 and my workshop.

If you would like to win a copy of the guide, send me a message here telling me which of my posts most caught your attention and why-good or bad, either way is fine.  I would also like to know your favourite colour. Just because.

If the winner is in North America, she'll receive a hardbound copy of the manual.  An international winner will get a PDF copy of the guide, because Canadian postage rates are, well, brutally high. 

The winner will be chosen randomly, by me.  You have until March 27th to enter.  I'll announce the winner on the blog and ask you to send me a land address or email addy privately. 

Thanks, everyone, and Namaste!

Monday, 19 March 2012

Happy Feet: How to Put Our Best Foot Forward

When Sarah talks about the "intelligence of our feet," she always gets a few puzzled looks.  How are feet intelligent?  For most of us, feet are just "there."  We pay little or no attention to them until they hurt.  If your feet hurt, everything hurts.  Hobbling around on sore feet makes daily life a chore.

For most of us, our feet keep us stable and mobile.  Feet are the furthest point from the brain and yet they manage to receive and transmit signals which balance the body and move it when necessary.  If you lose the use of your hands, especially when you're young, your feet can become marvellously dexterous, with your toes doing the sensitive work of fingers.

Do we thank our feet for the work they do?  Not likely-instead, we cram them into pointy-toed shoes, neglecting their care until we develop problems.  Then we curse our feet as if "we" had nothing to do with their condition. 

Wheel spinners sit for long hours treadling, so it's wise to pay some attention to those hard-working feet and toes.  Start with a bit of pampering-a basic soak and scrub pedicure if your feet are in good condition, a visit to a foot care specialist if you have problems.  Make a point of doing a few simple foot exercises every day.  The exercises listed here will help balance and strengthen your toes and feet, which may prevent the sore ankles and feet common to spinners. 

The first set of exercises can be done any time you are lying down, on the floor, on the couch, in a chair with your feet up or even in bed.  Move slowly and mindfully, stretching to your capacity.  Think of these poses as "meditation for the sole." (Ouch.)

None of these exercises should cause harm, but as always, it's wise to check with your health practitioner:

  • Stretch your legs out, bringing some energy into your legs and feet.  Spread your toes as widely as you can, so that you can see some space between each toe.  (Do the best you can.  If you can't get space between your toes, think about doing so.)  Hold for a moment, then think of curling each toe individually towards the foot, starting with the big toe.  If you can't work each toe on its own, curl the toes all at once, but work at moving each toe separately.  Hold those scrunched up toes with some tension for a few moments.  Do not hold the pose so tightly that you give yourself cramps.
  • Relax your legs.  Bend and flex your feet.  Point your toes away from your body as fully as you can, then flex them as much as you can towards your body.  Repeat this movement a few times-10 is a good place to start.
  • Raise your heels a bit and rotate your ankles in both directions.  All the movement comes from the ankles, not the feet or the legs.  If you can't do both ankles at once, do each one on its own.  Start with 5 rotations in each direction and work up to 10.
  • Sit in Dandasana (Staff Pose), lie back and balance yourself with your forearms or lie flat on your back with your legs outstretched.  Bring your right leg over your left leg and place your right heel into the base of the toes of your left foot.  The toes on your right foot are flexed, and the feet are now stacked.  Hold this pose as long as you can before switching foot positions.  This is an excellent pose for stretching the toes, the arches and the soles of your feet, as well as the muscles and tendons up the back of the legs.  You may experience some discomfort when first doing the pose.  Remember: stretching is good.  Pain is not.
This is the "stacked toes" position.  Remember to bring some energy into the feet. My feet are away from the wall here, but if you need support, you can place your bottom foot on the wall. 

Doing these simple poses 10 minutes daily will help relieve and strengthen sore feet. When you develop awareness of your feet, you'll learn to appreciate them and they'll return the favour by keeping you strong, balanced and mobile.

I'm spinning this wool top worsted for a sock yarn.  Your feet deserve pampering!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

It's a Wonderful World: Saving Our Food, Saving the Planet

Watch this:

Or really, watch any video featuring this woman.  She has many important things to tell us.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Walk This Way

Sarah gave us a lesson in walking this week. "Bodhi Tree Finishing School," she calls it.  We positioned ourselves in Tadasana, then walked while learning to place our feet properly (heel to toe action, not up and down bouncing).  We swung our hips while pushing off from the back foot.  Then, we attempted all this while carrying 15 pound sandbags on our heads.  It was no small feat, I'll tell you.  (Yes, that horrid pun was intended.)

Sarah recommends wearing flat soled shoes, shoes that allow you to feel the ground under you, that don't restrict your feet, especially your toes.  Ideally, we would walk on grass and walk barefoot. This isn't always practical, but we can start by going barefoot in the house.

These puppies need a little work: try opening your toes so that you can see between each toe.  My weight isn't balanced; I shift over on my ankles which causes my knees to ache.  I also need to work at lifting my arches.

What on earth does this have to do with spinning?  A lot, actually.  The next time you sit at your wheel, pay attention to the way you move at your wheel.  Go barefoot or wear socks.  Stand in Tadasana before you sit; keep your back straight, but relaxed, with elbows in and shoulders down and relaxed.  Your chair should be firm, but comfortable, not so low that you are reaching up to the orifice, nor so high that your feet can't touch the ground without effort.

Check your alignment. Are your ankles stacked directly under your knees? If not, adjust your chair or wheel.

Place both feet evenly on the treadles.  (I'll assume double treadle here.  Use both feet on a single treadle wheel.)  Don't lift your feet up as you treadle, but think of treadling heel to toe, in a rocking motion.  I know a number of spinners who treadle with the outside edges of their feet or who shift their weight inwards on their ankles.  Keep your feet flat as you treadle and be aware of the weight distribution on them.  Do you feel balanced? You can treadle as quickly as you wish, but don't bounce and be aware of any discomfort in the ankles or the knees.  Take frequent breaks. 

If you're like me and get lost in the spinning, try setting a timer.  I have a meditation bell app that I can set to ring at intervals. That bell helps me to check in, to my posture and to my spinning.  Have I shifted from mindful spinning to habitual spinning?  Is my body still comfortable, but aligned?

Checking your posture as you spin will not only help you spin comfortably for longer sessions, it will turn your spinning activities into mindful awareness.  If you're paying attention, you'll spin more consistently, you'll catch problems early on and your yarn will improve.

The next time you sit at your wheel, take some time to sit before you spin.  Your body and your yarn will thank you.

And, thank you, Sarah!


It's time to switch to light weight socks.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!  (In memory of my Dad.)

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Lifelines: Learning to Recognize Opportunities

Sometimes, it's a good thing to be strung along!

Lace knitters are familiar with lifelines, those bits of contrasting yarn we thread through our knitting to track patterns.  They mark a point in our knitting where we know our pattern and stitch count were correct, so that when mistakes happen, we can frog back to the lifeline, pick up the stitches and get knitting again.  You ignore a lifeline at your peril-refusing to use them may mean that an error in a project requires completely reknitting the project.  At the very least, it can mean you have some slow, laborious tinking (knitting back) to do.

There are lifelines in other events, too, although they may not be so obvious and may have a different purpose.  In times of crisis, when you're at a crossroad and unsure of the next step, lifelines are there to guide you, if you're ready to pay attention.

When I talk about lifelines, people often think that I'm going all "mystical moments" and "New Age-y," but lifelines are practical and usually come from very grounded sources. Friends and strangers  will reach out with opportunities for healing; you have only to accept their offerings. Lifelines differ from advice; people don't tell you what to do.  Rather, they will tell a story, perhaps without knowing that you are facing challenges, and you'll recognize yourself or your problem in the story.  They'll hand you a card to a place or an event which helped them or they'll speak of others who have successfully manoeuvred similar issues.  Sometimes, the lifeline is indirect, in the form of a poster you see on the street or an invitation on Facebook. 

I have to wait a while before I can take formal yoga teacher training, which left me wondering what to do in order to get a head start on the programme.  I'm taking several yoga classes, studying anatomy for hatha yoga, volunteer teaching on occasion, but I wasn't satisfied that I was on the right path.  Then the yoga studio posted an invitation to Colin's university class on yoga texts, teachers, and techniques.  There you have it-a lifeline.

I could have ignored the post.  I'd been away from school for decades.  The class is expensive; it involves a lot of reading, writing and learning to navigate formal education again.  Because it was offered outside of where I expected my training to occur, I could have missed the signal. Years of being open to signs and signals along my life path helped me to recognize an opportunity to grow and learn.  I grabbed the lifeline and away I went, into a class that's given me a philosophical grounding for my yoga practice and taught me just how little I actually know about yoga.

The wonderful thing about lifelines is that you don't have to do anything to find them.  You simply have to be open to possibilities in what is happening now.  We have to add lifelines to our knitting, but daily lifelines tend to be intuitive-you know them when you see them.  Once you learn to recognize them, they are everywhere.

The next time you think about ignoring a lifeline in that fancy lace shawl, think again.  Using a lifeline can't hurt and may save you from knitting calamity.  The next time an opportunity wanders across your path, wake up and pay attention.  It just might be the very thing you need to seize, the line that will guide you to the next step.


My shawl is finished: hand spun organic, natural coloured cotton in simple garter stitch with a lace edging.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Give Her a Hand: Spinning and Mudras

Shuni Mudra, said to provide patience and discernment (Public Domain Images)

Do these hand gestures look familiar?  They are yoga mudras, gestures meant to control body energy, stimulate emotions, cure disorders and delight the gods.  Mudras have been used in many cultures, but most of them are familiar to us through yoga and Indian culture.  Depending upon which tradition you consult, the number of mudras (not all are hand gestures) varies. (108 is a popular number.)  We see them on Hindu and Buddhist images. Mudras are important traits of Kathak, a traditional Indian dance form or in meditation practices.

A spinner may be reminded of something else. These mudras are similar to the hand positions we use when spinning, for drafting fibres, guiding the thread or smoothing our yarn. Whether we realize it or not, we position our hands in gestures simulating mudras every time we spin. Since many of the mudras are believed to induce calm, patience and perserverance, is it any wonder than so many spinners discover a sense of relaxation when they sit at wheels or pick up spindles?

The next time you spin, pay attention to the way your hands move as they hold the fibres.  Investigate mudras and their possible benefits.  Explore a variety of mudras while you spin.  In true yoga fashion, Be a Scientist and seek to discover a new way of looking at your craft.


Relationship of yoga palmistry, mudra and their effects on the body, health and emotion.
(Public Domain Image)

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Rest in Natural Great Peace: For Your Enjoyment

One of my yoga teachers used to play a mini-cd of this poem in our classes.  It's a wonderful recitation of a lovely poem by Nyoshul Ken Rinpoche.  Thanks, Rainie E, and thank you to Heather A, who reminded me again of its beauty.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

We Are One: Spinning to Calm the Roaring Spirit

File:Gandhi spinning 1942.jpg
Gandhi spinning on a book charkha, 1942, Wikimedia Commons public domain photograph

What is it about spinning yarn that makes it so appealing as a meditation practice?  Why are spinners, some famous like Mohandas Gandhi, others unknown, drawn to the rhythm of the wheel or spindle?

Spinning, like meditation, is about doing, not about theory (although one can certainly study both spinning and meditation).  If you want to meditate, you must meditate; if you want to spin, you must practice with spindle or wheel and fibre.  No amount of reading or mere inquiry will make you a meditator/yogi or a spinner. 

Like meditation, spinning is simple, not easily done well.  Meditation is more than sitting, more than reflection and much more than watching or controlling your thoughts.  Only a few yogis achieve emptiness, or still mind.  Only by lengthy, sustained practice will a spinner develop muscle memory, control and deep understanding to the point where she becomes one with her yarn.

If you are a karmayogi, like Gandhi, spinning can be a means of practical service.  Although we need not concern ourselves with the yarn forming when we meditate, the resulting yarn can be used to cloth ourselves and others, to provide care and comfort to people suffering.

The mechanics of spinning yarn are ideally suited to meditation, the practice of staying in the Now, being with your thoughts, yet not being your thoughts.  As Gandhi discovered, the whir and clicking of the charkha soothes the mind and brings peace to the spirit. (In his autobiography, Gandhi speaks of how the sound of ashram women spinning helped heal him from illness.)  Both spinning and meditation can calm the roaring mind; angry, upset, we sit or spin or practice both.  After a time, the anger settles, the upset decreases and we no longer feel that we are our emotions.

Meditation helps release attachment, to habits, to emotions, to the human condition. When we practice unsupported long draw, as required when spinning cotton at the charkha, we must maintain focus and a light touch. Spinning cotton is a practical reminder that attachment brings suffering-if our attention wanders, if we clutch the fibres, our yarn becomes sloppy or breaks.

When we spin, we are connected to a larger self, the part of us that is about spirit and community.  Spinning connects us to all spinners who have gone before us, who made possible the cloth that allowed humans to move across the planet, to stay alive.  Spinning connects us to communities here,  through shared experiences with local, national or international spinning circles. Like meditation, spinning can relieve us, if only for a moment, of our sense of being alone, lost in a sea of constant changes. In this way, spinning provides us with a tool to connect with the larger self that is found in meditation, whether we see that larger self as something within us or as a link to a universal whole.

The next time you sit down at your wheel or pick up your spindle, try spinning in meditative reflection.  Stay present (i.e., don't "zone out" or concern yourself with what the yarn will become) and focus on what is happening as your hands move, the fibre changes, the yarn forms.  Pay attention, the way you would were you meditating on a candle flame, and see if the rhythm of the spinning whorl as meditation/yoga practice helps to soothe the chatter of the whirling mind.

File:Gandhi spinning.jpg
Mohandas Gandhi spinning, late 1920's, Wikimedia Commons, public domain photograph

Friday, 2 March 2012

The Circle Game Continues: More Research on Gandhi and His Spinning

Gandhi at his spinning wheel in 1929.  Public domain image.

I'm gathering information for the major research paper which is a requirement in my Yoga Studies class.  While Gandhi's reasons for choosing spinning in his political goals are reasonably well known, it's less clear why he thought cotton spinning was an excellent tool for his spiritual practice, although he states its importance often in his writing.  Since hand spinning is no longer a common activity, let alone combined with meditation and spirituality, finding written material on the subject is an adventure.

Here are a few things I've discovered about Mohandas and his spinning:
  • Early in his career, Gandhi made the common mistake of confusing "spinning" with "weaving."  ("Tantra" means "loom" in Sanskrit; "sutra" means "thread," but is also used to denote instructive ideas, as in the Yoga Sutra. Perhaps some of the confusion stemmed from this?)
  • Gandhi learned to spin later in life, sometime after 1917, when he was approaching his fifties.  By that time, spinning was little known in India and the process of finding a spinning wheel was difficult.  Gandhi was assisted in his endeavours by a widow named Gangabehn Majmundar, who after long searching, found him a wheel in Vijapur.  It was Gangabehn who helped people in the Baroda State dust off their unused wheels and begin spinning again, when one of Gandhi's followers, Umar Sobani, found a steady supply of cotton slivers to feed the wheels.
  • Gandhi promoted the use of takhlis, the small metal spindle used for fine cotton spinning, as well as the charkha. 
  • Gandhi was attracted to the spinning wheel both as spiritual symbol and as a mechanical device. "Charkha/cakra" means "wheel;" its imagery is connected to the Sun, a powerful object and symbol of worship in Hindu tradition.  As known to every spinner who has moved beyond the basics of spinning, the spinning wheel produces a rhythm and sound conducive to calming meditative states; Gandhi felt the lure of the wheel, too.
  • Gandhi is credited with modernizing the Indian charkha, but it is difficult to say how the modern book charkha came into existence.  Gandhi promoted several design contests for wheel modifications.  He made it clear that a modern wheel should be light, portable, easily made from inexpensive materials affordable to the poorest Indian, but exactly who designed the book charkha and when it came into use is unclear.  There are photographs of both Mohandas and his wife spinning; in most cases, the pictures I have seen show them spinning at a traditional wheel, although they certainly used the book charkha.
  • In the famous 1946 photograph by Margaret Bourke-White of Gandhi at his wheel, Gandhi is not, as is often thought, actually spinning.  Rather, he is reading, with the traditional charkha in front of him. Among other things, the photograph symbolizes Gandhi' s commitment to education and work.
Almost finished: my shawl spun from organic and naturally coloured cotton.

    Brass takhli spindles, a spindle bowl, my woven cotton fabric (commercial cotton warp), skeins of cotton singles and unginned cotton (my favourite cotton spinning preparation)