About 20 years ago, I studied yoga on a regular basis. I was able to do a headstand effortlessly. I did yoga through the pregnancy and birth of my first child, and after the birth of my second child, life seemed to take a detour, and that extra night out of the week to attend a yoga class, just stopped happening. Years went by. I attempted to return to yoga about 5 years ago, after my body had been ravaged by a mastectomy and chemotherapy. I was weak, no muscle tone, 30 pounds heavier, and a lot older. I found a couple of different teachers, and slowly struggled to get back some of the muscle tone and stamina I had before the cancer. And last week, in my yoga class, I did for the first time in about 15 years, a headstand. It was the most wonderful feeling to have conquered the years of distress my body suffered from age, cancer, raising children, and I felt like I could climb a mountain. Actually I felt like I had climbed a mountain. Those little personal triumphs are what make us want to wake up each morning and dive into the day.
Weaving is like that. That’s why I love show and tell at a guild meeting. Each time a member shows something they have done, it is like they climbed their own personal mountain. Weaving is a challenging lifelong commitment to learning, struggling, working through, and ultimately having those incredibly personal triumphs that no one else can understand, and no one else needs to. Because you have done something that you never thought you could do.
Around this time last year, I was knee deep in panic mode. I had been asked to be part of the Runway Challenge project for the HGA Convergence Fashion Show in Tampa, which took place last June. The project involved three pairs of designers, each consisted of a weaver, and someone from the sewing/surface design field. We were given yarn, dyed in the carnival like Florida colors, and we had one year to work with our partner, on a collaborative ensemble for the runway. Each team would produce a “look”, and the garments would be modeled as the highlight of the Tampa fashion show.
My partner, Loretta Dian Phipps, was an energetic surface designer, beader, and felter from Texas, whom I’d never met. We embarked on something that I still can’t believe we actually pulled off. It was probably the highlight of my textile career to date. I’ve never worked so hard, or stretched so much, or reached beyond what I ever thought was possible.
We had to keep an extensive journal, and I just spent the last couple months, creating a digital slide presentation on the entire year long process. It was a long beautiful journey, and never having worked on a collaborative project before I found it frustrating, wonderful, scary, nail biting, glorious, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
I sat down to create the presentation of the year long project, partly because my guild asked me to, and partly because I wanted to remember it in a cohesive succinct way, and pull all the piece parts together, so I could sort of “scrapbook” the whole process. So, 81 slides later, I’m just doing the final text edits, and spell checks, and text formatting, but the presentation is done. So I spent the last couple of months reliving the whole year, and enjoying every minute of my very personal mountain climb.
I’d love to be able to offer the presention CD, for a modest price, to guilds, for them to walk through and learn from our journey. First I have to clear this with the HGA, after all it was their idea, and then see how it reads with my guild. I’ve never offered one of my lectures without me before, just the slide presentation, and this would be the project to do it with. Stay tuned…
So this brings us to Project Six. Was anyone who has followed this blog since the beginning counting? Were you wondering where project six was? Well, Project six is what to do with the leftover fabric from the coat, I have a good hunk left, and I’d love to be able to wear it and remember my struggle and triumph, and I know I’d get to relive it all again as I sewed this into something wonderful.
Loved your paragraph starting “Weaving is like that.” You have surely climbed high mountains. Great stuff.
Congratulations on your handstand and all it represents!
You are truly an inspiration on so many levels.
[…] Convergence, sponsored by the Handweavers Guild of America, in June of 2008. One of my previous blogs, I talked about the challenge project I was involved in for this show, and the presentation I put […]
[…] the Handweavers Guild of America, Inc. telling me that they have approved my presentation for the Challenge Project I did last year for them, and I’m OK to market the presentation on a CD, to any guild that […]
[…] may recall I had pulled out the leftover handwoven Splash fabric from the Design Challenge Project I worked on all last year for the HGA Tampa Bay […]
[…] The colors really look like a summer splash, and I’m glad I have something to remember the whole Challenge project, that I own, because the original ensemble will travel with the HGA until 2010, when the next group of designers will present their work, and Loretta and I will get the coat/dress back, but I told Loretta she could have the coat, I have so many handwoven coats in my wardrobe, and it isn’t one that’s particularly wearable, it was really more of a runway piece, and Loretta has more opportunity to show the coat than I do. By… Read more »
[…] garments from this handwoven collaboration between me and Loretta Dian Phipps of Texas, click here. This was another combination twill weave, 8 shafts, in silk, cotton, rayon, and some knitting […]
[…] actual band is gorgeous. I used some of the leftover spools of warp from the Design Challenge Project I’ve talked about ad […]