I hope that you are safe and staying well. It might be a highly unusual time that we are experiencing, but we also have an amazing opportunity in the midst of this pandemic. COVID-19 is giving us a chance to stop in our tracks and think deeply about everything that we normally take for granted, and why I weave is among those thoughts for me. The opportunity to connect with the primal need to know how to make cloth is rising again. During this time of social distancing, the opportunity to learn these skills is actively possible through online courses, videos and books and it’s also leading to an outpouring of creativity from practitioners, whether you are an enthusiastic amateur (in the good sense of the word!!) or a professional.
There is a very fundamental need to know how to make yarn from fibre and how to transform that fibre into fabric. Textiles have always been at the forefront of human innovation – the need to clothe ourselves and create textiles to protect and add beauty to our surroundings has never diminished. Recent history in the developed world has been largely slanted towards high consumption without regard to origin or resources, production lines or conditions for workers, but just as previously unsung heroes such as care-workers, delivery drivers and refuse collectors are now being appreciated, so a quiet but equally important realisation is dawning on people about the origins and living/working conditions of the textile workers who make the vast majority of our ‘cheap’ clothes – ‘cheap’ only relates to money. The cost to the planet is immense!
Creating by hand is a valuable activity for mental health and general well-being and is being increasingly recognised publicly by many health professionals. Suddenly, someone knitting, crocheting, spinning, making lace, or weaving is now seen to be actively protecting their mental health and promoting self-sufficiency, things that practitioners have always known but that the wider public is now beginning to value. You can create original and personal cloth to use and treasure which is imbued for you with your own memories and emotions. I’m sure most of us have, or have had, a garment or a scarf, a cushion, blanket or some other textile which reminds us of exactly where we were and what was happening in our life at some point in our past. For me, it’s a set of curtains from my childhood that instantly evoke a very strong memory of a rainy afternoon playing hide-and-seek with my brother and the sudden realisation that they made a fabulous hiding place for secretive reading!
Creating textiles is such a fertile playground right now and here are some of the benefits to weaving:
learning a practical skill to make things for yourself; gaining confidence to trust your own decisions and abilities; gaining confidence in trusting your colour sense; opening up a whole new world of experience and perception; having the ability to create beautiful and practical things for yourself, friends and family; feeling self-sufficient; having an absorbing and fulfilling activity; calming down and channeling mental chatter; having a creative focus; and using your brain in a productive, positive and creative way.
Once the basic knowledge has been absorbed, you can play with yarns, colour, texture, sett and structure to make your own deeply personal cloth.
So here’s a question for you….
What do you do that’s creative? What are some of the reasons that you do what you do? How does it make you feel?
For me, I am finding myself increasingly energised to create more workshops, delve deeper into techniques and make them accessible to more people, to share my enthusiasm for weave more widely and help you to learn how to create fun, colourful and textural fabrics that make you feel good. I hope to be able to share some of the developments with you in a little while.
And here’s a challenge – perhaps you might be inspired by this blog to create a one-off piece of cloth that will remind you in years to come of this period of change in all our lives. Perhaps you have something on your loom or needles right now. If so, please send me a photo and I will put them all in a gallery to inspire and share with everyone. The image at the top of this blog has a 4-shaft Shadow Weave (Marian Powell, 4-29 threading in pink/black) and two Log Cabins to get us started.
By the way, this isn’t exclusively for weavers – whatever you do with textiles is just fine!!
Let’s get making textile memories.
Until next time – Happy Weaving! (Or knitting, or crochet, or lace-making, or tatting, or felting, or dyeing, or printing, or ……..)