It’s been a while since I last sat down at my AVL to weave serious amounts. In fact, I warped 12 metres on back in February, and threaded up for the Complex Weavers study group samples for Collapse, Pleat & Bump. Those samples were finally woven in May after my return from New Zealand, and then the warp was left ready for another Growth Form on my return from Washington.
With one thing and another, it has taken me until this week actually to sit at the loom to start weaving. Having created a new liftplan and decided to change the amount of plain weave in my overshot tie-up, I started work.
Everything started badly. The paper weft had been left on the bobbin, wound since May. It doesn’t like to do that! The yarn had set itself into its tightly wound spirals and did not want to behave. Rather belatedly, I remembered that I should always wind it off the bobbin once I have finished my weaving if it is to sit more than a night or so before being used again.
Shafts began to play up and not lift when they were supposed to – rather a problem when they cross layers and you are attempting to weave a tube! I was getting quite frustrated.
Then I realised…..I was trying to weave too fast.
My thinking was all skewed. I needed to allow myself to slow down, breathe deeply and focus just on the moment, not on how much I had to do and how little time I had to do it. Get back to basics. I had to do what I advise my beginning students to do – enjoy the moment and be aware of everything that is happening. I started to pay attention to the shafts and not expecting the loom to do it correctly every time. I allowed myself to smile when one of the shafts misbehaved, and to congratulate myself for having noticed the miscreant! I decided I would weave a certain amount of picks, and not to worry if it took a long time.
Three hours flew by and 1008 picks (the pattern repeat) looked good.
The next day, I set myself the same 1008 pattern picks to weave. This time, I thought I was already mentally in the right place, but I wasn’t. My mind was zooming all over the place and I found myself having conversations aloud with myself! Two hours dragged, and I wasn’t getting anywhere very fast. So I stopped for a little while and thought about why this was happening. OK, so we have a lot going on in our lives at the moment…. Who doesn’t??! So what could I do to quieten my thoughts and focus on the moment?
Weave 12 picks at a time! One short burst of concentration. Followed by another. And another. Before I knew where I was, I had woven my complete 1008 picks in a fraction of the time it had taken to weave the first 400 or so!
I now have two intense weeks of teaching ahead of me, and when I tell my students to slow down and savour the moment, I shall smile to myself and remind myself that I still need to learn that lesson myself!
Make haste slowly!
This is near and dear to my heart.
This past year when I wove hour after hour, day after day, for months at a time…i found myself rushing through the picks…trying to get to the magic, “wow! I am a fast weaver number!”
or looking for that feeling of legitimacy because I had made “enough” or “a lot”. Or staying up as late as possible to make something better and declaring that I would just get up earlier the next day..to be better, make more…etc.
I remember thinking to myself one day, “why are you being so mean to that nice girl who is working so hard to please you…and all you can think is that she is not working hard enough, or fast enough or perfect enough…..you should just try to be nicer and more accepting!
You need to be a better friend to yourself and stop wishing your present away chasing after…what?”
This lead me to examine why I was hand weaving, when I know I could weave using other tools. I mean really examine…not just defensively declare that handwork is better.
The picks I raced through were moments, thoughts, breaths, and heartbeats, motions and decisions…this was what I wanted my work to include. This is the spirit of the cloth, this is what gets me emotional when I look at work made this way.
All of the steps, the winding of the warp, threading, denting, the winding of bobbins, the insertion of supplementary wefts are mindful acts, even sewing in those endless ends…all are worthy of my attention and time. I could sink in to the moment and just be, I could watch my fingers, watch the shuttle, press my hand against the bunch of shuttles and feel the wood and hear the sounds they make chunking together…
I could keep the “nice girl” company instead of racing out of the room as soon as possible onto the next task (metaphorically of course) and we could work hand in hand together- meaning- the critical observer me and the worker me- in harmony- without the constant the harassment.
I am still working on the mean criticism, and staying present, but the worker girl feels so much more supported and the critical observer begrudgingly is admitting that I am doing okay.
It isn’t easy being present all the time…just as you described.
Thank you for the post!
Ah, I enjoyed reading this post very much! I too have had to congratulate myself for having noticing a miscreant shaft this past week! Nothing else one can do but be pragmatic….