Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Adaptation and Adjustment

I am good at adapting to my surroundings. In general, I believe this is a good thing, but there are times when adapting may not be to my benefit. For instance, my "new/used" LeClerc jackloom has developed a glitch in its ratchet system. Every so often, it releases and will not grab back. I examined the device, but haven't been able to understand what is making it misfire. So, I have adapted to the problem. When it occurs, I simply lean over and roll the back beam back until it's firm. This is not a comfortable action.

I've also become aware that when driving I adapt/adjust my speed to the car ahead of me even when the person is traveling several miles below the speed limit. It takes me a long time to realize I'm doing this and decide whether to pass, or merely wait until I get to my turn.

My youngest son is very aware of this trait in his mother. When he was helping me warp one time, he said, "Mom, if there was suddenly no electricity, I know you would figure out how to live without it." "Yes," I said. "While I," he said, "would figure out how to make my own."

Which attitude is the most creative? Both contribute to human survival. It's widely accepted that when change comes about in a human environment -- when people experience of lack of food, climate change, destruction of shelter, war -- humans either adapt, move on or die. But according to my son, changing the environment is also an option. Is this merely another form of adaption/adjustment? Or is it something more creative, actions that are made possible through education and a mechanical mindset and that elusive thing we call "hope".

Today I'm going to ask for help. I want to fix my loom so my weaving time will continue to be comfortable and prolific.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Festive Bread Cloths

Hot off the loom: Festive all cotton breadcloths/tea towels. I use them to wrap a loaf of freshly baked bread as a gift or to cover the bowl the bread rises in. They're also handy for drying crystal glassware. Some people use them under a centerpiece on a holiday table. They are completely machine washable and dryable. They've already been washed once to relax and soften the fibers.

I enjoy making these simple utilitarian household products. I believe that even a humble dishtowel can be special, a work of art. Every one of these towels is unique. I rarely, if ever, make any two items exactly alike. We live in a world of replication, of machine-made copies of copies from mountains identical paper forms to mounds of idential T-shirts. I take pleasure in knowing that I own handwoven fabrics exactly like no others in the entire world.

Stay tuned for my experiments in black.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

This is a photo of one of my favorite handwoven shawls. I no longer own it, but recently came across it draped over a chair at a friend's house. It felt good meeting up with an old friend, and I was glad the shawl had found an appreciative home.
And familiar textiles do indeed become friends; they enrich our lives in many ways. I'd bet most of us have a favorite towel, blanket, or wrap. Babies become attached to the comfort their "blankies" provide. When we come across a swatch of fabric from a forgotten dress or shirt, we are flooded with memories of ancient family picnics, days on the beach with beloved friends, berry picking in the Cascades, our grandmother's capable hands tying colorful apron strings as she prepares the Thanksgiving turkey for the last time. . .
Late last night I finished warping one of my looms with a gold rayon yarn that I will cover completely with intense, jewel-colored chenille yarns that arrived UPS this week: ruby, earthy sapphire, shale, emerald, amethyst. . .
These cones and others are sitting about my living room in groups. Before beginning a weaving project, I spend several days admiring yarns' colors and textures, moving the cones about to discover the most pleasing combinations. I'm often surprised at what "works" and what doesn't. Unlike a painter's palette, unless I dye my own yarns (which I do with my handspun wools), I must work with the colors as they come to me, and it should come as no surprise to other artists that I enjoy the creativity this limitation provides.
So, for the next couple of weeks, I will be weaving luxurious textiles, and I will become attached to each, and with luck, I'll find good homes for them.