I have spoken before of family goals and directions. Mostly we are a household of dreamers. We find lately, merely dreaming is rather unsatisfactory; we long to do.
We are drawn to old things; old skills. When my husband writes, he does so with pen and paper…long hand. Filling smooth pages of black books. When I am most inspired it is most often by useful objects made by human hands using skills we have used for generations.
I am drawn to the loom for the skill I will need to make things in ways they have been made for centuries. Not for a nostalgia of wanting to go back, but because being makers, and making the things humans need to live, is important to who we are.
As a family, we are advancing our skills to grow things. Grow food. Our food, in the old ways, when a farm had to produce everything a family needed or at least the extra to trade for what they couldn’t buy or make themselves. We are drawn to these skills. This work.
We have a lot to be excited about for this coming year. Our family’s dreams and ideas are starting to come together in a cohesive vision that will, I think, give us the focus we have lacked in the past. All the wandering of the previous years have been essential to get us to this particular point today. Almost as if by trying on different things helps pull you back to your original self; a self hopefully mature enough to take action and live the life you are mean to live.
We have broken up these long term plans and goals into projects for this year. The projects range through all areas of our family life and the ways the different goals of individual members of our family interweave with the collective goals. On the top of our list is to go through and recreate our spaces in our home. One of the first of these is to create a weaving studio. There have been many amazing and exciting additions to my studio. I look forward to sharing them with you as things get put together. Another part will be to carve out time on a weekly basis to make some progress on weaving. It seems a long time that my attention has been pulled elsewhere. I am beginning to be okay with that; to take more solace in the seasonal nature of the year. There are months, even strings of them, that do not offer much time for sitting peacefully at the loom…at least for now. Who knows what the future holds.
I wish for you excitement for your future and clarity of vision.
Just something I like from my notebook. It will one day make it’s way to cloth.
I have a few goals for my weaving this year. Three of them are split into projects. The other two are habits I must work on.
1. Project Labels: In order to sell my textiles to the general public, legally, I need to have them labeled with my brand information as well as specific product info such as fiber content, country of origin etc. For items that are designed to take a lot of use and washing, I plan to have woven labels made anticipating they will be able to handle the use. Woven labels are a rather major (up front) cost of doing business so I am making the purchase a major goal for the next 6 months. If any of you have experience working with different sources for labels, I would love your input.
2. Product Development: I continue to make strides in perfecting my towel offerings, but have many more ideas for a broader range of products. I am planning for this year to bring more and better patterns, colors, designs and products to share with all of you.
3. Education: I need to seek more weaving education. Perhaps an apprenticeship or a few workshops.
Habit 1: Keep Records
Habit 2: Through practice and repetition: work faster.
After weeks of being behind in everything I am finally feeling caught up. Not ahead, I am not sure that is an attainable goal, but caught up so I can continue to move forward. It seems life always has a way of taking our most basic and promising plans and intentions and testing your resolve. . . as if taunting . . . “Do you really mean it?”
Well, yes I do.
It is funny how it doesn’t really need to be anything truly bad that happens. In my case I had a virus that left me exhausted for 2 weeks. I have been better for some time now, but the things that were left undone during that time continued to plague me. I found my goals and habits tested. Usually this would have been enough excuse to quit the whole thing. . but not this time. This time my clarity of mission gives me grit.
In the process; however, I learned a few very important lessons.
1. Sometimes you just have to let go and do “nothing” in order to find your strength and footing again. For me I took one of my mornings off and danced to African music. My kitchen floor was my drum and for an hour nothing else needed my attention. Sometimes I paint, not for the brilliant results but the act of painting. Putting down a mark, choosing color and having the confidence to go with it are all soothing to me. But dancing is so physical, and for me private. The act is refreshing. Since then I have been able to take steps forward in catching up.
2. This year I purposely took 2 days off work a week to focus on my “school work”. I really need to map this time out better in order to truly be making progress. I have made too many exceptions in allowing myself to take this time to do errands, even shopping for myself steals time.
3. When the rest of my life feels behind, I really cannot be productive in learning design and weaving. It is necessary to continue to make inroads in keeping up with our daily living so that our whole family is free to do the work to reach our goals. This is my strategy and I need to be 100% commited to it. Sometimes that may mean taking a day to intensively focus on areas that can become distractions if not attended to in a timely manner.
In other words, sometimes in order to reach your goals you have to allow yourself to put them aside for a while and then pick them up again.
More good news:
This week I wove 5 towels and got together with some lovely friends to dip yarn in a vat of indigo dye. I am so happy with the results. Really, I am happy with anything that is blue.
One skein of Indigo dyed cotton/linen.
My weaving goal for this year is to work on my basic weaving skills; to put in the hours in order to make the processes second nature. At this point in my life as a weaver the beginner awe has worn off to reveal just how far I need to go in even basic skills. I make way too many silly mistakes. While mistakes are part of the process and I should, if I am growing, continue to make them; I need to master the fundamentals in order to build a great foundation for future work. I want my mistakes to be learning experiences not silly oversight.
To that end, this year I intend to work hard on my essential beginning weaving skills. In order to do this I will weave daily. Initially, starting small to build the habit, I will weave a minimum of a bobbin per day.
When I weave on the loom, I use a boat shuttle to help pass the weft (threads that are woven into the warp) yarn through the warp threads (stationary threads attached to the loom) from one side of the loom to the other. The boat shuttle helps keep the weft yarn in order and at a consistent tension as opposed to working with a very long section of tangled string. I start by winding my weft yarn onto a bobbin which is then inserted into the boat shuttle to begin weaving. When the yarn on the bobbin is used up you switch the empty for a full one and proceed with weaving. On my current project I can empty a bobbin in 15 to 20 minutes.
I believe weaving at least a bobbin a day will be enough to make weaving daily a habit. I can then increase my goal as time and skill allow.
Interestingly enough, figuring out what my areas of focus are was only the very beginning of the process.
Again, I found myself overwhelmed with directions to take my passions. I decided to start by compiling a list of skills I would like to acquire and the work I would like to be doing in the next 8 to 10 yrs. Zooming out to this larger picture made it possible for me to zoom into this year and figure out what I needed to start to accomplish in order to reach my 10 yr goals. Here is a list of my more professional 10 year goals.
- Begin traveling to teach weaving with development projects such as Weave a Real Peace.
- Own a warehouse type building with studio space for various artists; or, have a weaving and design studio in my home.
- Be able to lend experience to various environmental design challenges through graphics, weaving and service/experience design.
- Be a contributor; confident, intelligent, courageous and independent
- Be an established contributor to our community
- Be lean, strong and fit.
- Be fluent in Spanish
- Be an established Art weaver and teacher
How do you take such vague goals and boil them down into reasonable steps? Initially not so easily. I believe I stashed the notebook away for some months out of frustration. The day I opened it up again . . . it all flowed. . . I have a plan. Much to my surprise, it might actually be a feasible one. Oh yeah, there is just one thing of course, I have to do the work.