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.