We began a new session at the studio this week. Colin’s theme in his Level 1 and 2 class was Shakti energy. He spoke of Patangali’s yogic philosophy which was based on stilling mind and thoughts. Hatha Yoga (and I hope this is an accurate paraphrase) is not about stopping thoughts; it’s about being aware of the thoughts and the stillness, learning to enjoy both. The You that is our core is the space between those gaps.
Traditionally, Shiva and Shakti are partners. Shiva is often associated with knowledge and concentration. Shakti is linked to creativity and intuition. Shiva is male force, Shakti, female. (This description is not even close to accurate; click on their names if you want just a hint of how complex the concepts of Shiva and Shakti become.) Knowledge requires creativity-even the most logic-based ideas need a spark of intuition to fuel them. Intuition is heart or core-based knowledge, that moment when we “know” something. To hear intuition speak, we require concentration. None of these things are restricted to either sex. Shiva and Shakti can stand alone, but are at their best when one is in balance with the other.
Back home, I spent some time thinking of Colin’s words, wondering how they translated into practice, including fibre practice and my life. That evening, while picking over a pile of hand spun yarn experiments, deciding which ones to use and which to toss, “it” came to me.
This is Aria 51, knitted from 2 yarns, an art yarn sample made for my Spinning Designer Yarn class and a Plain Jane 2 ply spun from a Merino/silk blend, plied with a wool and mohair singles:
Neither yarn is remarkable. The art yarn was one of many attempts to spin stable coils. Most of the coils in the yarn stay put, but the fibre blend resisted the fulling the yarn needed to stabilize it. Repeated fulling attempts left the fine silk binder thread weak. There’s a lot of Shakti energy in this yarn-you can see it in the coils, which bring life to the skein. At the same time, I see where Shiva has wandered off-when I slipped into mindless spinning, I forgot simple spinning rules, such as “Use enough twist to hold your fibres together.”
The plain yarn is more Shiva-based. I wanted a low twist 2 ply lace yarn and that’s what I got-a rather boring, adequately spun yarn. I can tell that I didn’t follow my intuition with this yarn. For one thing, the twist is inconsistent; I knew it needed more, but I rushed the spinning. As a result, both Shiva (the “rules”) and Shakti (the “spark”) are missing in the yarn.
When I saw the yarns side by side, I knew they were what I needed for a concrete example of Shiva/Shakti energy. Knitted in garter stitch, the plainest of all stitch patterns, the yarns highlight one another. The Plain Jane yarn frames the boldness of the designer yarn. On its own, a wrap in the plain yarn would be remarkably boring, but the coils in the art yarn add life to the piece. Used alone, designer yarns tend to be too much, but here this yarn is just enough.
Another spinner may (and likely will) look at Aria and quickly spot her flaws, the hint of negligence in the yarns, the art that isn’t quite there. I see those things, too, but they don’t matter at the moment. I have the skills to improve similar yarns. The time will come when I will need to apply those skills, but something else came to play today in this scrap of knitting.
What I can’t show you is how soft and light the fabric is or how lively it feels when worn. (Our household is short on models. Neither Morris nor Mickey were willing to fill the void.) It feels good just to touch it. You can’t feel how my heart lifts, how I smile every time I touch her. I tell myself that’s because Shiva/Shakti have found balance here. And, just for a moment, I did, too.
(For Colin, who kind of asked for it.)