It's been an exciting week: my daughter Katie's book arrived in the mail (ALEUT IDENTITIES by Katherine Reedy-Maschner). The Preface is a fun read, has lots of our Croner family lore regarding her grandfather's (my father's) sailing escapades in Alaska and other Pacific Rim locations.
I also received a great picture book, photos of International/Historical textiles. The book documents beautiful blankets, clothing, headdresses, shoes, decorative tent bags from a variety of cultures around the world.
And second best to Katie's book, a huge box of yarn arrived, a grab bag of textures in reds, pinks and purples. I immediately measured a warp to weave a cocoon, a comfortable jacket/shawl fashioned from rectangles. I'll be putting the warp on the loom this afternoon, after visiting with a financial advisor to further see how this retirement business is going to work out.
My other loom is warped in 5 shades of green and I'm weaving another batch of tea towels/bread cloths. A cone of variegated, slub, cotton yarn arrived just in time for experimentation. The plethora of colors blend quite well over the random greens. I think I'll weave several of them as well as use the green yarns to create irregular plaid, Irish-green effects.
A recent NPR program discussed depression; a writer/guest described a peculiar ceremony he took part in in Kenya that was designed to cure depression. The ceremony required being stripped naked and being covered in mud; there was western music and African drumming, and eventually he was wrapped in the intestines of a sacrificial animal which he and the supportive crowd roasted and consumed together. And what amazed him is that he felt better when it was all over having been shaken from the trap in which he'd allowed his mind and western culture to envelop him.
Years ago, I read somewhere, one of those tidbits that lingers in the mind, that Jewish Rabbis are required to take up some kind of craft in which they must use their hands, things like woodworking, gardening, playing a musical instrument, etc., in order to keep them grounded in reality so that inquisitive minds don't run amok into the abstract. At least that's how I interpreted the demand. It makes sense to me. I find I'm most content when I'm involved in hands-on projects. There's much talk about eye/hand coordination, but there is also an important body/mind connection that much of our post-industrial lifestyle has erased. Perhaps too many things are done for us, and as a result, we fail to reap satisfaction from the simple tasks of yore like chopping wood, growing our own food, baking bread and even grinding our own grains. Spinning and weaving clothing and useful household textiles easily fits into this scenario.
As a child I read about Bedouin women spinning and weaving the tents they lived in, weaving the blankets they slept under, the rugs they slept on, the bags they stored their things in, making each item both for the sake of utility and beauty. Making things is a significant element of human nature; it's not by accident that engaging in crafts is relevant therapy in our culture's many mental health facilities . . .