Loom gods and safe spaces…

I truly love my weaving studio, both of my studios actually, but the garage converted weaving studio is my beloved safe space, where nothing can intrude on my life and my looms know me and we have fun together. There is infinite creativity here, and I’m so very blessed to have this space in my life.

But first, the back story… Because you know there is always a back story. I’m a story teller…

When my late husband was still alive, he traveled the globe as a telecommunications consultant. When he wasn’t traveling, he worked mostly from home, in an office in a large bedroom space we strategically divided in half. I worked down the hall in this old house, in my weaving studio, which was created back in the 1980’s increasing an existing bedroom out 15 feet. It worked for me for most of my career.

I will admit that the computer gods and I weren’t friends. Back in the day, I always felt frightened of them, and found them to be rather hostile. My late husband on the other hand, had an intimate relationship with those computer gods, and I knew they loved him and behaved whenever he was around. I had that relationship with the sewing machine gods, just ask any student in a class with me who had a sewing machine issue. But not the computer gods…

It became a joke in our house, that I’d be working on something in the studio, which also contained my office, and something would go very very wrong. I’d text my husband down the hall, and ask him to come to the studio and just stand in the doorway. 30 seconds later, all 6’3″ of himself would appear and he would just stand there. And I swear, whatever was causing me grief on my computer system would instantly start working again. It really became a joke in our house because it happened so often. He wouldn’t even have to enter the room. It was as if they saw him coming and said, “Never mind…”

I even bought this hilarious creation at a craft fair for his desk. It now sits on mine. The computer gods and I have formed a truce. They miss him obviously, we all do, but we are OK together.

So in my weaving studio, whether you think there is any truth to inanimate things having some sort of soul, I can say with complete certainty, that looms, which were once part of living trees, (except the little metal Structos) and all the yarn in my studio, which came from living things, plants and/or animals, that there is a collective energy that makes its presence known. There are days they aren’t happy, and I feel it.

So in the morning, I turn on the lights, and have my smart speaker play some type of classical music, usually WQXR, NY classical radio, or if I don’t like what they are playing, Sirius XM channel 76, which is also classical. I have a few alternatives, like my Pandora account, in case I don’t like either of those choices, but I usually find something that soothes the soul, all of the collective souls, and I get to work. It has become a routine now, that I turn on the lights, and say good morning to all the looms, all 42, and then go about my day. The other morning, I said, “Good morning” and then had a thought, that the collective energy in the room should decide what music to play on the smart speaker. So I asked them. And I instantly got this blast of a voice in my head, “Strings”. Which surprised me, since Sirius XM just started a new station available on the app, called “Strings”, which I only discovered my smart speaker could play last week. So I thought, cool, “Strings” it is. I asked my smart speaker to play “Strings”, which is all violin/cello music, anything of any genre involving a stringed instrument. I started winding a warp for another Structo adventure, using my AVL warping wheel to load another set of spools, and as I’m winding this 20/2 warp I suddenly realized the irony of a group of looms asking for a station called “Strings”. And I started laughing.

I’m sure you are all thinking at this point that I’m completely losing it. Maybe I am. My daughter thinks I need to get out more. But I’m so happy in my garage/studio space, we all get along, and there is always something cool to create, some yarn to play with, some structure to explore. I’m making progress on entering my vast library into LibraryThing.com, and I’m up to 645 books. I’ve just started in on the weaving books. So much to study, explore, I really need 5 lifetimes to make a dent.

So my buddies in the weaving studio, the loom gods, keep me good company, and we collectively finished the first mohair blanket which I just had to cut off the loom. Because I wanted to see one completely finished, and secretly because I needed to resley half the warp because I put two mohair ends in the same dent. No one will know, but I didn’t want to weave the rest with that issue.

I am just so in love. This is what I remembered weaving 40 years ago, and I never had one of my own to curl up in. This one is mine. I can’t wait for winter. Meanwhile there is plenty of warp and plenty more weft in different colorways.

I have a student coming next week, for a week, for a private class in my weaving studio, and I needed to clear the loom I’ll be putting her on. I started this yardage last fall, from a weaver’s estate sale/donation, from some handpainted wool for the warp, along with some alpaca and merino, and the weft is merino for the ground and some 4 ply baby llama I bought from a knitting store. I put on 6 yards of warp, and thought I’d have enough of the llama for the weft. I’m less than a yard from the end, and have run out. So I found a couple balls of a similar weight 4 ply alpaca in a darker brown, and I’ll finish the yardage out of that. Don’t ask what I’m going to make. I never have any idea. (Except for the mohair blankets). I weave because I like to weave.

And I’m making progress on warping up many of my little Structos. These are such fun to work in miniature, and every time I set one up, I hear a small cheering squad in the background. My daughter named all the looms in the studio, and she gave all 19 Structos names of characters in Star Trek. They seem to love having personal identities. It seems to give them a soul, or at least a cooperative energy.

Here is Riker with a four shaft overshot gamp, by Robyn Spady, from a draft in the May/June 2014 issue of Handwoven. 20/2 cotton ground sett at 30epi. Pattern is 10/2 perle.

And here is Kira, with a Krokbragd warp, 8/4 carpet warp, sett at 15epi, from a project in the latest Handwoven magazine, May/June 2022.

It took a bit for me to get the courage to write this blog, because though I’m really loving my happy place, the world right now seems very cruel, uncivil, and just downright scary. I use social media when I have to, I have 2800 friends on facebook, and many, or rather most of them, I don’t actually know. Most are from the fiber community, and I love seeing what everyone else is working on, inspiration comes from many places, and no, you can’t create in a vacuum. But along with that, I have breaking news feeds from about 10 different news sources, some liberal, some conservative, some right in the middle. And the news this past week was about as unsettling as I’ve ever experienced. I’ve tried incredibly hard to keep my personal beliefs and politics to myself, because it isn’t anyone’s business, and I have a lot of students, friends, acquaintances around the world, and even family members who are passionate about what they believe and I have to respect that. As a trained artist, I’m taught to see all sides and perspectives of something, to extract out my vision, and act on it. But so much of life depends on so many factors, where were you raised, under what conditions, and in what generation. Do you have children and how old are they? My perspective has expanded having two children on either side of 30. And one is a staff sergeant in the military. He definitely has an opinion. The other is a member of a couple of marginalized groups, and so definitely has an opinion. Respect, and civility have always been my method for approaching life, pretty critical when you traveled and taught for a living. I tried hard to keep politics out of my classroom.

So this week, the US Supreme Court handed down a number of decisions that were really unsettling. Facebook exploded, and lines were drawn in the sand. And there I stood in the middle, not sure how to respond to any of it, because, though I knew how I felt about gun issues, and abortion issues, many of the people I love and respect, feel very very differently. (On the gun issue, NY and NJ have some of the toughest gun laws in the nation. NJ is the most densely populated state in the country. The Supreme Court ruling knocking down NY’s Concealed Weapon law was at first glance disheartening.) So I spent the last few days, talking to many people who pay attention but feel differently than I do. Creating a dialogue. Because that’s what we are missing in the world today. I did not take to facebook to scream vitriol, I reached out to those I respect who see life differently. I read as much as I could from different sources, keeping in mind which sources slanted liberal, and which slanted conservative. I NEVER watch cable news. Cable news is designed to scare you, get you angry and keep you coming back for more. I read. And talk to people who don’t see life the way I do. It is enough.

I will say, that in 1974, the end of my first year in college, when I ended up with a nervous breakdown, desperately trying to extricate myself from a relationship that was abusive and controlling, spending a week in the infirmary trying to heal physically, and mentally, and just get through my first year of college, that I found myself in a situation where I thought, after everything I’d been through, that I was pregnant. I have never been more frightened and alone in my life. Roe V Wade was newly passed, and I made my way to the nearest Planned Parenthood, and I’ve never been more grateful for anything in my life. Turns out I wasn’t pregnant, just really really messed up, and I began the slow process of healing. I told my mom years later, no one really knew what I went through, but to think that someone wouldn’t have that option, should they find themselves in a situation that there doesn’t seem to be any viable solution to, I’d want them to have that same set of choices. And my heart grieves that in some areas of the country, those options no longer exist.

Maybe we as a country can work together to find solutions that aren’t so black and white, because nothing is black and white in this world. Meanwhile I’ll scroll on past the vitriol on Facebook, look for the really pretty creative stuff, and keep reading and asking and having meaningful dialogue that can lead to some kind of middle ground. One can only hope. Meanwhile, “Strings” from Sirius XM is playing for my looms, and they are happy, and there is life and soul and positive energy in my happy safe space.

Stay tuned…

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22 Comments
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Robin
Robin
June 27, 2022 9:38 pm

So glad That you share. Wish I could

JoAnne Tuffnell
JoAnne Tuffnell
June 28, 2022 5:34 am

Daryl, this is your best yet, combining your love of and passion for weaving, incorporating the power and beauty of music, your sense of humor, and your balance in world views with your love of family. Thank you.

Laurice
Laurice
June 28, 2022 6:59 am

Your posting is so timely for me as I am a beginner on weaving Krokbragd. In my searches I had not yet seen the new Handwoven article and was so pleased to see her Tips sidebar. Understanding how to handle selvages without a video has been frustrating. This seems to be written very clearly. I know I can lick this and mug rugs are perfect for the learning curve. Thank you for taking us on all your journey’s.

Karen A
Karen A
June 28, 2022 7:25 am

Thank you for a thoughtful, well written post addressing multiple topics! I’ve written before that your generosity is amazing – both with sharing your knowledge and addressing/acknowledging a variety of viewpoints. Really challenging right now when it feels like someone is, or must be, benefitting from having us all at each other’s throats. Here’s to all of us creating beautiful, glorious things to treasure and share!

RENEE ANN BERRY
RENEE ANN BERRY
June 28, 2022 7:32 am

I feel you. We hear so much about the negative and the anger and so little about the daily little positives in life. I wonder sometimes what happened to courtesy and respect for others.

Martha C Cronkhite
Martha C Cronkhite
June 28, 2022 8:07 am

Oh, how I needed this right now. From deciding to use a newly created space above my husband’s new workshop as my own crafting space, to your (looms’) choice of music ??, to hearing your soothing thoughts on the world around us right now, you have calmed me. Thank you!

Martha C Cronkhite
Martha C Cronkhite
June 28, 2022 8:07 am

Oh, how I needed this right now. From deciding to use a newly created space above my husband’s new workshop as my own crafting space, to your (looms’) choice of music, to hearing your soothing thoughts on the world around us right now, you have calmed me. Thank you!

Linda Wilder
Linda Wilder
June 28, 2022 8:19 am

My day . . . which looked bleak . . . is not uplifted . . . may the gods be with us all.

Linda Wilder
Linda Wilder
June 28, 2022 8:26 am

Well . . . the computer gods got me . . . I cannot edit . . . but my day is NOW uplifted . .

Judi
Judi
June 28, 2022 8:43 am

Sending love to you. A strong caring women. Thanks for sharing. Hugs

Judi Leatherberry
Judi Leatherberry
June 28, 2022 9:01 am

I love reading your blog, and this one was especially good! Thanks for sharing!!

Esther Budd
Esther Budd
June 28, 2022 9:42 am

I’d love to know more info about the mohair blanket. I’ve been thinking I’d love to make one with some of the Sundara silk/mohair I have. It’s time to get moving on those treasures in my stash. Sett? Tips? Any help would be appreciated.

Loved your post.

Pat Sole
Pat Sole
June 28, 2022 11:32 am

I find I feel as you do about news, politics and changes. I am sad that things I fought for in the past have changed…but in order to have peace now in my seventies, I need to ignore what angored me when I was in my earlier years. It is the younger folks world now…they need to learn to fight for themselves. Peace.

LeAnn Bjelle
LeAnn Bjelle
June 28, 2022 11:56 am

Thank you Daryl for sharing your response to the supreme court decisions. They are difficult for many of us. Talking to people you respect who have a different outlook is marvelous. I plan to do so also.

Jean Bartos
Jean Bartos
June 28, 2022 12:04 pm

The Computer Gods

Jean Bartos
Jean Bartos
June 28, 2022 12:13 pm

Ah, the Computer Gods! In my house, the roles were reversed. My husband, a hydrologist, would enter something and the computer wouldn’t like it. I, the computer tech, would enter the room and he would successfully complete what he wanted! Don’t tell me those machines don’t have a twisted sense of humor!

Jane
Jane
June 28, 2022 1:46 pm

I laughed out loud at your computer stories (and read the post to my husband) – it is exactly the same in our house. I am grateful every day that he is still around to “rescue” me from angry computer gods. I’m grateful for your generosity of spirit as well as your contributions on YouTube and your patterns. They have increased my understanding and skill. You are a treasure.

Dayamitra
Dayamitra
June 28, 2022 4:55 pm

Love the computer God sculpture!!!
I admire you for being able to listen to another’s point of view. These days it seems everyone has an opinion and it can be hard if your opinion is different from the popular view of the day. It can be such a relief to talk with people who can be inclusive.

Gisela
June 29, 2022 12:01 am

Thank you — so comforting to read your calm and reasonable words. I’m in my 60s and find it hard to be calm and reasonable these days. I’m glad I’m not young and so grateful for spinning wheels, looms and fiber to soothe my heart and mind…

Peggy Bowman
Peggy Bowman
June 29, 2022 5:28 am

Ah, Daryl, your posts always leave me inspired and uplifted. But this one moved me greatly. Thank you for sharing your approach to understanding and respecting opposing (Or should I say different?) views. It’s all so easy to close our minds to others’ opinions and not take the time and effort to listen/read about them. You’ve given me a lot to think about in my own life, and about my own opinions/beliefs.
Love the relationship you’ve created with your “Gods!” And, Strings is ironic, and sounds divine.

Meg Wilson
June 29, 2022 8:22 pm

In our house, we say that computers and printers have critical need detectors: the more you need them the more they resist! They play nice when all is calm! So, yes, there are machine gods, weaving gods, sewing gods (Fred is the only one who can sew on the Elna!). Your description of navigating between political poles is what we should all be doing! Nothing is black or white in the world and there are many sides to everyissue, if we would all just take the time to find out about the ones we care about the most. When we… Read more »

Maggie Davidson
Maggie Davidson
June 30, 2022 8:53 am

I’m going to try Strings, and let me recommend Classical KUAT, the classical station from the University of Arizona. When WQXR gets too classical’s greatest hits, I switch to it.

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