Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Everything: Going Away and Starting Anew

The boys are out at the farm. I'm at home with Mickey, enjoying the sunshine, the sounds of birds chirping, children playing outside, the stillness of my fibre room.

Olds Fibre Week always makes me reflect on where I am and the direction I would like to go.  One thing which called to me at Olds was weaving.  I've been away from my looms for over two years now.  I had been working on a tapestry when I was hit with a major life crisis and I didn't have the heart to pick up where I left off after life settled.

Until now.  A few weeks ago, my cobbled together Navaho-style loom came home, after spending several years in a dark basement.  It sat on my front step for another two weeks, while the sun, wind and rain cleaned away the inevitable grime that results from storage.  Once it was inside, I had choices to make: should I cut off the work that I had left behind or should I finish what I'd started?

I knew that, if I discarded the weaving, the loom would go with it.  Perhaps I'd never return to the tapestry weaving I'd once found so calming.  I'd warped the piece as a study of stripes.  There was no plan to the weaving, colour placement or design-stripes are difficult to weave consistently and I had needed the practice. Before I tossed the lot, I had to know if I could still find peace in the steady beat of comb against weft, packing into warp.

I began again:

The weaving had stopped at the second to last (from the top) deep blue stripe.  You can see that the stripes aren't level.  There are broken warp threads pinned back in place.  That random rectangle in the middle is woven in double weft interlock, because I forgot how to weave single interlock.  What began as a 9.5 inch wide sampler narrowed to 9 inches, then 8.75.  (Note to non-tapestry weavers: this is disgraceful.  The goal is to maintain your weaving width.  Narrowing one quarter inch over the length of this piece might be considered acceptable.  Narrowing 3/4 of an inch is not.) You can see the inconsistencies clearly in black and white:

It didn't matter.  Once I re-established my rhythm, once the comb was in my hand and I remembered Terri's advice never to put it down, sitting at the loom began to feel "right."  I felt James K.'s watchful eye over my shoulder, as he whispered encouragement from wherever he may be, now that he's left the planet. As I sat, working out solutions for uneven tension, fuzzy warp thread and an unsteady beat, Mickey kept watch over it all:

After finishing one pot of green tea 

and one Ben Howard cd later (Every Kingdom.  Go buy it.), I was here:

There are still many flaws that even washing and a severe blocking won't cure.  

No matter.  I'm home.



  1. Lovely post.

    I too hear James K.'s voice whenever I tie-on a warp: His exactness in lining up the outside thread at the edge of the warp, and the precision of the tension of all threads.
    He promised that once you were his student, you would be his student for life. That promise is kept, tho' not in the way he intended.

    Welcome home.

    1. Thank you. James and I met only the once, in Red Deer at the ANWG Conference, where I took his 5 day workshop. We spent the week together; he taught, I wove, and we bonded. At the Calgary airport, on the way to catch our flights home, he gave me a hug and said, "Come to Santa Fe." I promised that I would. I didn't keep that promise. It's another lesson on how the only things we regret are the things we don't do. What remained behind were the wonderful lessons he taught. I'll always be grateful for those.

  2. Aw, good for you. I think it looks lovely. There are no weaving police, you know (I'm paraphrasing your own words about spinning). Weave and enjoy.

    1. There are weaving and spinning police out there. I've met some. I take great joy in flaunting those laws whenever possible!

      I saw your gorgeous blanket post on your blog. Beautiful work!

  3. Very nice post Deb. glad to hear you are finally home at your loom again. Sometimes you just have to trust your internal GPS and see where it takes you ...

  4. I try to remember that "done is better than perfect." I can become paralyzed by the things that are wrong with a project, but I'll learn more by finishing it, and I'll have the project itself whether or not it's all I wanted it to be. The quilt I brought to yoga at Olds is offgrain and wonky-but it's a great yoga blanket, and I love it, and the next time I make a quilt it will be better.

    We all need to be better at being gentle with ourselves.

    1. We notice the flaws in the things we make much more than other people do. Your quilt was beautiful, perfectly suited to its purpose.