Friday, October 19, 2012

Patterns have something to teach us

Woven houndstooth scarf by Mimma Draga. Woven on her newly acquired Ashford Knitters Loom.
Each weaving class particpant, with the struggles and challenges they face, inpsires me to write this blog. In each of their small steps forward and occasional impasses, I see my own experiences mirrored. Through their fears, uncertainties, lack of confidence in one's abilitites, self criticalness, they teach me to be more comfortable with these visitors when they enter into my own thoughts. Because I witness your journey, I am able to have more understanding as you wrestle with your weaving demons, trials and tribulations.

Over the last few years I have been working steadily and in a  disciplined and focused way. Bit by bit, because of this rigourous schedule that I have maintained, I began losing touch with the joy that I once had in being a textile designer, weaver and fibre artist. It was becoming more and more of a task, items checked off a to do list - until somehow all my enthusiasm and joy got buried beneath this over controlling critical task master inside my head, all while I was nurturing the joy and enthusiasm of others. From this period of maintaining a rigid practice emerged a critical and harsh voice - in regarding my work, divorcing me more and more from the joy and pleasure the weaving activity once provided me, until I found myself in somewhat of a rut. Students sharing their own frustrations with me helped me to work this through, and made me revisit these smothering, diabolical  patterns of thoughts and beliefs that reside mostly inside our heads and are for the most part, completely untrue and unfounded. In my own practice, I felt I came to a complete standstill and needed to break my very structured routine.

Marion Kirkwood and Louise her sister visiting from B.C are modelling two 'ruanas' or capes handwoven by Marion a number of years ago. I was glad to see in my wandering through the mall that the handwoven look is back in style and so are poncho and capes.

I decided to go to the mall and visit clothing stores, so completely not what I would venture to do. After about an hour of looking and being unmoved by what I saw, things took a turn. Suddenly there appeared a fabulous coat that looked jacquard woven. Like a gyser, my enthusiasm returned full force and as I stood dead in my tracks, mesmerized by the fabric of this coat, I once again reconnected with the power and effect that textiles and fibres have upon our senses, how we are irresistably drawn to them, the range of emotions that they can arouse in us, somehow such a deep part of our psyche, our collective conscious. It was wonderful to feel that thrill again. The thrill that I get from textiles. It reminded of the first time a piece of fabric really mesmerized me. I remember where I was. How old I was. Who was wearing it, and that it was a Coco Channel type suit. I realized that our love for textiles is passed down through the generations, as Neil Brochu also shared with me how his own love of linen was hatched.

Neil Brochu wove this 9 foot linen tablecloth with a 20/2 linen. He took the pattern from Dorothy Burnham's book Keep me Warm One Night, a well regarded publication on woven textiles in Ontario. The picture does it no justice. The feel is wonderful, the pattern mesmerizing.

If you are feeling unhappy about your weaving practice, make an effort to (re)connect with the joy and pleasure you feel in touching the fibres, in preparing them for your project, in weaving them, the textures, the colours, shapes, patterns, in looking at them,  and if that self critical voice is stealing your joy, tell it to go away. Susan Abrams reminded this week of what Gayle Sheldon, a former tapestry weaving student said: " I'm working on having a better relationship with myself". If you are kinder in your beliefs about yourself, you'll enjoy the process much more and you will be far more creative and productive.

Write me your stories about the first textile that had an impact on you if you'd like me to share them with others on this blog.

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