Weaving, Cooking, and Life

  Tablet Weaving
  Tablet weaving can be used to weave
beautifully patterned bands

Throughout the history of this newsletter more than a few writers have likened weaving to cooking and baking. As a metaphor it just works so well—weaving requires specific tools, ingredients (yarn), and we often use “recipes” to create our masterpieces.

Also as with cooking things don’t always go as planned. Just as pots sometimes boil over and it turns out there are no eggs in the refrigerator, sometimes warp threads tangle and the cone of yarn we were certain was in our stash was actually used up a month ago. Sometimes these problems can be fixed–turn down the heat, untie parts of the warp and untangle—and sometimes you just need to take a breath and start over or try something new.

For me, I have found the metaphor goes even further. I find that when I discover something new in cooking I become a woman possessed. There was the month I made almost nothing but Middle Eastern dishes, and the week I used my wok to prepare every dinner. I like to learn the intricacies of the new ingredients, tools, and techniques until I can make my own recipes, or at very least have the knowledge to improvise on recipes I love.

With weaving, when I find structures I love I feel the same way. For months I wove nothing but 4-shaft twills, and later I became enamored with 8-shaft twills, and now I’m obsessed with deflected doubleweave. I’ll go through phases where I want to weave with nothing but wool followed by a strong desire to put on a warp for a dozen cotton dish towels. I love playing with new colors and fibers, seeing which ones work well together in different structures, and what combinations I should avoid.

There are also the recipes I’ve collected but never made, the recipes I want to try but for some reason I haven’t yet: French macarons, homemade chai, and (to bring this back to textiles) tablet weaving. For years I’ve looked longingly at the works of John Mullarkey and other amazing tablet weavers promising that I’d get myself a batch of cards and try it for myself “one day.” I imagine weaving bands to as a supremely elegant embellishment for hand towels or even as a trim to fancy up a plain thrift store dress.

There’s something about May and June that makes me want to learn new things. Perhaps it’s seeing the world reborn that makes me want to recreate myself. Maybe it’s caused by years of summer vacations between school years when summer was the time to have adventures. (This theory would also explain why I have a burning desire to buy crayons and folders in September.) This year I think I need to pick up John Mullarkey’s workshop videos, grab myself a bunch of weaving tablets, and try out some new recipes. In fact, I think I have a summer dress that could certainly use some new trim…


Christina Garton

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