The Art of the Possible

Jane Patrick at the rigid heddle loom  
Jane Patrick explores the simple joys of rigid heddle  

Otto von Bismarck said that politics is “the art of the possible.” You could take this to be very cynical or very Zen, depending on your perspective. (Bismarck also said “When a man says he approves of something in principle, it means he hasn't the slightest intention of putting it into practice,” so I guess we know which side he was on.) Personally, I'm more on the Zen side, and I believe in radical acceptance and that the art of a happy life lies in finding the possible.


Sometimes my weaving requires radical acceptance, balancing my grand visions with the other demands of my busy life. For example, I currently have two looms tied up with projects just waiting for me to finish (and, yes, dear daughter, I will finish that little log cabin project and return your rigid heddle loom). Another loom is warped for an epic krokbragd piece that has been waiting so long I’ve forgotten what I was planning. I have faith that life will eventually settle down, and I will find my notes and tackle that masterpiece-to-be. But at this moment that is not possible, and I need some quick weaving therapy.


  Jane Patrick weaves ribbon and lace on her rigid heddle loom
  For the playful weaver, plain weave need not be plain

Luckily, and in good Zen fashion, “When the student is ready, the teacher is there.” This week, I previewed the new Weaving on a Rigid Heddle Loom DVD from Jane Patrick, author of The Weaver’s Idea Book. High-def Jane reminded me that “plain weave is anything but plain,” and with her “lickity-split” warping method, there’s no reason I can’t warp up my own little rigid heddle loom and have some art therapy right this minute. She showed how I can dig into my stash for “dibby-dabs” of pretty yarn (Jane is of the Nebraska school of Zen masters), and create beauty in this moment. She demonstrated mindful practices such as hemstitching as you start your piece and handling alternating colors serenely at the selvedges. She revealed infinite possibilities for creating beautiful, simple cloth.

 

So I am resolved to take some breaks from the holiday bustle, commune with my stash, and explore how lovely plain can be. And I think I’ll give my daughter a copy of the rigid heddle video when I return her loom. She could use a little serenity in her busy college life. So thank you, Jane, for sharing your skill and your humor, and above all, your wisdom. You remind us that the greatest possibilities lie in simplicity, and that simplicity is the very soul of art.

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