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Welcome to Musings – The Loom Room Blog

31 March, 2010

How these two little words can undermine your world!

Filed under: Art,Education,Life,Philosophy,Psychology,Teaching,Weaving — Tags: , , — admin @ 7:47 am

I went to a wonderful lunch party yesterday with one of my students, her husband, sister and friends.  It was an amazing collection of people.  After a delicious lunch with home-grown soup and salad (try growing a soup and see how that goes for you!!! <G>)   we all indulged in a little show and tell.  As the first person started to speak, I noticed that two four-letter words were already creeping insidiously into the conversation. 

These two quite often do.  They are pernicious wolves masquerading as lambs.  They subversively undermine the words that follow them.  They negate skill and creativity.  They are words we use subconsciously, self-deprecatingly, almost false modestly, which don’t help us in the slightest.  Neither word is inherently bad.  Both have other meanings which have positive meanings.  But in this context, those two words are poison!! 

The first word is ‘just’. 

The positive take on ‘just’ is “imminently, directly” and as such is very positive – you’re going to take action in the immediate future….  That’s great! 

However, in everyday parlance, especially amongst women (and Brits tend to be realllllly good at this!!), I’ve noticed, ‘just’ denigrates every achievement that it is used in conjunction with. (Ooch – ouch!  Terrible grammar – sorry!!) 

“This is just something I made” meaning ‘this took me hours and hours of painstaking work” translates into reality as “this isn’t worth your notice, I’m not a serious artist, I play at this, it’s a hobby, don’t take it seriously”. 

And we use it unconsciously all the time!  Having heard it used a couple of times in connection with some exquisite machine embroidery, I had to stop the proceedings and ask for the two words to be removed from our vocabularies for the duration of the show and tell.  From that point on, we were all consciously aware of when it was used, how often it was used, and how it affected not only the person saying it, but those listening as well. 

The other word that has a similar effect is ‘only’. 

“It’s only a small piece”, could mean “I’ve got larger pieces at home, but this is all I could carry”, but it often translates as “I can’t do anything larger/more intricate/ more polished”.  ‘Only’ can be a call-to-action word when it is used to imply scarcity – “There are only 3 more places left on this seminar” or “Only 5 more hours to get your order in before the sale ends”…..  You get the idea.  Let’s leave ‘only’ as a call-to-action, and not as a negative, somewhat pathetic word implying lack of skill, willpower, talent, creativity.

I’m on a crusade!!  Will you join me in doing what we can to eliminate these two words from their negative connotations?  Will you be aware of how often you use these words in the course of your conversation?  Will you see if you can find alternative, more accurate ways to describe what you do?  What we mean when we use these words is quite often so different to how they are interpreted.  Surely we owe it to ourselves to ensure that our audience, whether it is one person, or a conference, understands what we are saying without the gnawing effects of those two gremlins.

How about saying, “There are …. stages I go through to create this work”, rather than “I just do this, and then this, and then this”. 

Can we re-frame our language to eradicate ‘just’ and ‘only’ used in these contexts?  Yes, I think so. 

I have largely managed it.  And one thing I have noticed from doing it – my self-confidence has grown, and I’m prouder of my achievements in my weaving.  I am no longer apologising without knowing it.  I am no longer denigrating myself and my accomplishments in front of others.  If they don’t like what I do, fair enough.  If they don’t appreciate what efforts go into the work, that’s up to me to educate, entertain and encourage their interest. 

I am no longer going to sabotage – yes, sabotage! – my own talents and skills.  There are enough people out there waiting to knock down people who want to succeed.  Don’t let you be your own worst enemy!!

28 March, 2010

Re-programming limiting thoughts

Filed under: Life,Psychology — Tags: , , — admin @ 2:20 pm

I’ve recently been thinking a lot about how our own thoughts can help to sabotage things we’d like to do.  For me, as anyone following this blog knows by now, time is an issue.  I try to squeeze as much as possible out of one day and that in itself can be a limiting programme.  It’s something I learnt as a child – I couldn’t sit and read until all my chores were done – and I still am aware that this programme runs through my mind even today.  I’m reading a Kathy Reichs book and this morning fancied sitting down for an hour or so and immersing myself in my book.  (And yet I’ll sit and waste time watching TV!!!)  But I talked myself out of it, instead going to do the ironing.  OK, so the ironing needed doing, and I’m glad I’ve got it out of the way, but was it really better to do that rather than to indulge myself and read for an hour?  It’s a huge mind-block that I have to overcome whenever I want to read!!

I have various programmes that run silently in the background telling me that I can’t do certain things.  Mostly I don’t notice them, until I’m about to do something that is contrary to my programming.  Take drawing for instance.  Since being told at school – as so many of us have been – that I can’t draw, I now believe that I can’t draw!  OK, so when I try it, it doesn’t look much like what I am looking at.  But the funny thing is that when I draw without moving the pen, or looking at what I’m doing – for instance, looking out of the window at the fence and trees and drawing them without looking down on my page – I produced a fairly reasonable sketch.  So the whole ‘I can’t draw’ thing is a load of baloney!  I don’t think I can draw, ergo I can’t draw, but once my brain is out of the way, I can indeed draw!!!! 

Just realising that those programmes exist can help to eliminate them.  I also realised that I have a programme that tells me Photoshop is hard.  OK, so it might be, but I’ve now told myself that I don’t care – I’m going to try and learn it anyway!  Other people can and I’m not stupid, so I can too!  This is one of those occasions when comparisons with other people can help and not paralyse! 

I have decided to look out for limiting programmes from my past that are no longer useful to me, and eliminate or transform them to positive programmes which will help me persist and stay focussed on my goals.  Nature is sprouting new shoots everywhere and so will I!!    What programmes are limiting you?

21 March, 2010

Update to Publishing blog

Filed under: Life — admin @ 12:05 pm

I was far too quick with the ‘publish’ button on my blog writer – must have publishing on the brain!! <G> – that I forgot to put in the links!

So here they are : 

Hattie – Youtube video both on my homepage and on YouTube


Derby Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers

Texture in Textiles booklet

Alice Schlein

Sorry about that, folks.

It’s been an interesting March so far.  Firstly there was Hattie on YouTube, which as I write has had over 1300 visits (and certainly not all by me!!) 

Secondly I have been writing a booklet to accompany a workshop I give on Texture in Textiles.  It’s the first in a series of three called The Pocket Workshop Series.  The other two are going to be on colour and design.  These three workshops I deliver to textiles groups and are not exclusively about weaving, but include felting, knitting, sewing and embroidery, and a little printing.  These workshops are very popular, and I had been asked so many times for a booklet to accompany them, so I decided to get down and do it. 

New challenges are always huge until you’ve completed it, and then they seem so much easier, don’t you find?!  This is not an in-depth book, but a booklet introducing ideas and making connections between the different textile disciplines that anyone can use to incorporate different ways of working into their artwork.  It’s 38 pages long, and has a useful bibliography to encourage further in-depth research for those interested in learning further. 

I gave a texture workshop at the Derby Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers (a very friendly group!), and got 15 orders for the booklets which hadn’t even arrived at my home yet!  So that was a great start! 

The actual writing was mostly developed from my course notes.  The most intimidating aspect was trying to save it as a pdf which would be accepted by Lulu when I uploaded it.  Lulu is a website for printing your own books.  A number of craft workers are going down this route rather than having to surrender their editorial rights and preferences for laying out their book to a mainstream publisher.  A few frustrating days followed until I eradicated the pdf writer already on my computer, and two more were downloaded, and suddenly I found the format that worked for Lulu!  I designed my front cover myself, and suddenly my first booklet was in print! 

What a wonderful feeling!  My only complaint is the huge amount of postage paid for a small package that came in the mail! It virtually doubled what I paid for the first few copies! That’s the way they can keep the publishing costs down and increase their profits, I guess!!  Lulu has a marketplace where you can buy books they’ve published, and I know Alice Schlein has at least one of her books in the marketplace.  However, I have decided to keep mine purely on my website for now, at least until I have published the other two in the series, so you can only get it by ordering directly from me.  (As an introductory offer, they are £5 (cover price £7.50).  Further details on my website. )

So now I am in print.  Not a big deal by many people’s standards, I know, but for me a major milestone.  Now I feel confident that I can write something more in-depth and meaty and know that I can publish it on my own.  That confidence is tremendous.  Now all I’ve got to do is get cracking!

7 March, 2010

Dictaphone bliss and YouTube heaven!

Filed under: Weaving — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 12:08 pm

One of my birthday presents this year was a dictaphone that I can put on a cord round my neck and take with me everywhere I go.  What a brilliant present!! Thanks, Chris!  I now have a way to save my thoughts as and when I think them, especially when out walking with Charlie.  So often I have had thoughts and not had anything to write them down on and been wearing gloves and it was way too cold to take the gloves off!  Now I can capture those fleeting thoughts wherever and whenever they flit into my head, before they float right on out again!!

It’s proved invaluable over the last couple of days.  I was honoured to be asked to be the juror for Handweavers’ Guild of America’s yardage exhibition – an exhibit that is fought over, and the standard is incredibly high.  This week the sample pieces arrived, and I have spent several hours at different times studying the samples, looking through them (holding them against the light), and studying them closely under a linen tester or miniature magnifying glass.  That little dictaphone has been my constant support, there whenever I get a thought that I’d like to record so that I can give construtive critiques to each applicant and each entry.  It’s one heck of a responsiility and I want to do the best job I possibly can.  To me, whenever I enter a juried show, it’s important to know why something was accepted or rejected, so that I can take on board constructive comments and use them in the future to improve my presentation or weaving.  I hope that the recipient  will take them in the same way…. but who knows? 

Also this week, I launched my first video on YouTube!  I’m really proud of myself – the learning curve was extremely steep – but gratifyingly the video has attracted over 750 viewings in just 4 days!  In case you haven’t seen it, here’s the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1Zzj9ZBYmQ

I shall be doing some more but first, I’d better get my head down and get back to juding, right after I’ve analysed some Mini car interiors fabric!!

2 March, 2010

Staffordshire Hoard

Today I gave myself a birthday treat – I went to view the Staffordshire Hoard - a treasure trove of Anglo-Saxon gold weaponry that was unearthed in a farmer’s field in Staffordshire during last summer.  It’s absolutely amazing!  The size of the hoard is the largest ever found in the UK, and the intricacy of the workmanship and the artistry on the weaponry is staggering.  I queued for 4 1/2 hours which perhaps is a little crazy, but having made the effort to go, I thought it would be daft to waste that time and just come home again, only to repeat the exercise tomorrow.  But of course I managed to attend on the same day that the majority of visitors to the exhibition also decided to attend! 

It has been incredibly popular in Stoke-on-Trent, and has been on for just 3 weeks at the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery.  It’s not the whole hoard by any means, but the pieces we saw were so inspirational.  They are small and exquisite.  No wonder the art-historians and social historians are going to have to re-define their thoughts on the Dark Ages.  The Sutton Hoo burial find from the late 1930s was a really important discovery in furthering our understanding of Anglo-Saxon times, but this one, the experts reckon, will be even more revealing.  No-one knows yet (if they ever will) why these weapons and accoutrements of war were buried in the first place, but there they are.  No feminine items have been found, so it points to a plundering of the dead after a battle.  However, time and further restoration will perhaps reveal further clues as to why this treasure lay buried unclaimed in a farmer’s field for over 1300 years!!

A glimpse into the past is obviously fascinating, as is the possibilitiy of buried treasure.  There’s something in the human psyche that loves these things, and already thousands of people have queued for hours to see these shards of embossed gold, hilt heads, helmet fragments, and war regalia from so long ago.  To touch (albeit metaphorically) the world of our ancestors is something wonderful. 

The British Museum has given its support to a consortium of Midlands Museums to keep the hoard in the Midlands.  To that end, The Art Fund is trying to raise enough money to restore, conserve and exhibit this collection in the Midlands – the area in which it was found.  Do follow the link if you would like to know more.