I've been preparing for a project I'm starting next week at Prairie Sky School, a Waldorf-inspired school for grades K to Five. The school received a Saskatchewan Arts Board Grant to fund a curated project with assistance from a spoken word artist, a photographer and a fibre artist. The director hired me to organize and weave tapestry, which will be displayed in a grand finale Showcase in mid-June. There are 18 children who will be working on this project, ranging in ages from 6 to 12, so it will be challenging and exciting.
The students know how to spin; volunteer Mar Craig has had them working with spindles for quite some time, so in addition to the yarns I'm providing, we hope that everyone will be able to use her/his hand spun yarns in the projects.
These are some of the samples I'm taking with me:
The little bag in the lower right hand corner is the first project. It's woven on a cardboard loom, in the round, so it comes off the loom finished, with only a few ends to weave into the bag. This one is woven from hand spun, natural dyed wools.
After that, the plans are fluid: I hope to have the students design the main project. Their theme is "Spirals in Nature," so we'll work with that. The goal is to have at least one of the larger looms woven in time for the showcase.
Tapestry weaving is simple. It's plain weave, over and under, in and out, back and forth. The warp, consisting of those white cotton strings you see in the photographs, is completely covered by the weft, the coloured yarns in the box. Because of this, the simple weaving is exceedingly slow. It will be a challenge to finish these small pieces in a time frame of 20 hours over 10 weeks, even if students weave in their spare time. We shall see what becomes of this.
As I was warping the last frame loom this morning, I was reminded of how much I miss tapestry weaving. It's been a while since I've worked on my last project, which hasn't quite reached the half-way mark. I was hit with a major life crisis as I was weaving that piece and I seem to be blocked from taking it up again. It sits there and calls to me, more strongly as time passes, so perhaps this will be the incentive I need to resume my work. Tapestry (or other fibre work) doesn't spoil. You don't lose what you've made when you leave off working. You may not remember where you were, but taking it up again will trigger your mind and body. The knowledge is there and it will return.
If this sounds familiar, you may have made the connection between tapestry weaving and meditation. Perhaps that is why I loved weaving tapestry so much-the slow, steady pace helps me focus and brings me into the present. Tapestry weaving is a concentration tool for mindfulness, just as effective as gazing into a candle or counting the breath can be in meditation practice.
I've been asked to team teach the Breath and Meditation class at the yoga studio tonight. I consider this an honour and a challenge: Heather is an amazing teacher, the "real deal" when it comes to living her practice. I don't know how else to explain this-she just gives off an aura of "Being Present." (I can hear her chuckling at the New Age-iness of that statement, because she's very funny, very down to earth and doesn't take herself too seriously, but there you have it.) My co-teacher will be Donna, another teacher trainee, my yoga buddy in classes. Donna is grounded, able to cope with my airy, sometimes out-of-focus reality. We seem to work well together and, although I'm not sure that the two of us will in any way equal one Heather, we'll do our best. Our practice is there. What we know will come to us, as we weave through the challenge of teaching a meditation practice, back and forth, in and out, over and under, breath by breath.