Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Winter Count: A Meditation in Tapestry

Late last year, Coleen, my fibre arts compadre, and I made a pact to weave in the New Year this winter. Coleen recently studied with Sara Lamb and has decided to weave cut pile bags from her hand spun silk.  I have studied with different tapestry weavers, most notably James Koehler,  a remarkable weaver who left the planet a few years ago, and Terri Carefoot, who sparked my curiosity about Navajo weaving.  Coleen is beginning her weaving adventure; I have been neglecting my passion for the past few years, but whenever I need to lift my spirit, I return to my first love, weaving.  We both thought that weaving together would keep us walking the weaver's path and entertain us through this long cold winter. We have a weaving play date for tomorrow, so this morning, I dusted off one of my looms, a small, sturdy pipe loom given to me by another friend, Roberta, who has left fibre arts behind in order to devote her time to her photography.  Along with the loom, I hauled out warp yarns and a bag of hand spun wool yarns in natural colours and began to play.

In honour of those who drew me to weaving, I began a Winter Count. I weave my winter count tapestries on narrow warps, with no plan other than to mark the days, beginning in January. The goal is to weave daily; some weavers leave blank warp threads to mark the days they miss. I will be happy just to weave at all.  Weaving is part of my plan for post-surgical rehabilitation; I have to find a balance between strengthening injured body parts and avoiding excess wear and tear, so whatever happens will depend on how my body reacts to what I practised the day before. Self control is not my forte, but it seems I will be exercising that a lot over the next while.

I had quite a bit of help at the loom.  Although Mick sleeps in my fibre room, he seldom shows any interest in what I'm doing with all that fluff, unless it happens to be alpaca or weaving. Given the chance, he'll eat bags of alpaca fibre (not a good thing).  If I sit down at a tapestry loom, he's right there, sticking his head through my warp threads, marking his approval of the loom or batting at my shed sticks.  A true Weaver's Cat, he settles by the loom until I finish working:

Here is today's count.  There's no plan, no cartoon to follow, just some string, wool butterflies and a weaving fork.  That purple linen thread twined around the warps at the beginning of the piece is my signature.  Then the fun begins-there is plain weave, soumak, knotted pile, whatever came to me in the moment:

The weaving is a meditation record of sorts.  It's marked with quiet moments of simple under one warp/over the next, knots which require attention, inconsistencies and some fuzzy bits, all of which come together to cover the skeleton of warp threads with a textured cloth that at some unknown moment will become a complete story.  Right now, what that story is and how it will end is a mystery of endless possibilities.


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