Weaving Toward Enlightenment
I recently read that the Buddhist mantra Om Mani Padme Hum can be simply (and probably loosely) translated to mean: “There is enlightenment in all things.” Now, without getting into the finer points of religion or translation, I would like to say that I find this to be a wonderful concept for weaving.
My block weave project in turned twill
requires a mindful beat. (Also note that I
have not yet attained the serenity to move
the temple every inch of weaving.)
As I understand it, enlightenment is the state of being present, of perceiving what is here in this moment, free from the filters of desire, fear, or guilt, and I am enchanted with the prospect of enlightened weaving. Let me give you an example (or a confession): I am probably the last member of the Weaving Today community to finish my Weave-Along project, and I have been having a very unenlightened level of guilt about that. Yes, there are good reasons: family obligations, travel, and the two or three busy jobs I have at Interweave. (In addition to writing for Weaving Today, I am an e-media project manager, and I produce our weaving videos). Reasons aside, I had every good intention of finishing the Weave-Along project on time, just as I have every good intention of finishing the three projects in process on my other looms.
This lovely Louet Gems yarn is teaching me
the importance of gentleness and a
patient attitude toward warp repair.
But, armed with the concept that there is enlightenment in ALL things, both finished and unfinished, both perfect and imperfect, I am dispensing with the guilt and getting on with the learning. So, from my Weave-Along project I have learned that Louet Gems yarn (a new find) is soft, bright, and luscious, and that it requires a gentler hand and kinder treatment than I am accustomed to giving to my typical cotton or linen warps. (This has led to the spiritual practice of warp repairs.) I have also learned that I have to be more mindful of the beat if I want my block weaves to be symmetrical, and that next time I will sett this yarn a little more closely than the charts would indicate.
Sometimes I wish I could devote myself to a life of weaving and contemplation, but, like many others, I am pulled away by the demands of everyday life. Fortunately, my guild, my fellow weavers, and our Weaving Today community are always there to challenge me, giving me a chance to rejoice in the creativity of others and an incentive to keep learning, even when it’s from my own imperfections. Over the busy years of working and raising a family, I wove a little and looked forward to every issue of Handwoven a lot. I challenged myself to take projects with unfamiliar weave structures, to read the articles carefully and study the drafts, and see how the threads interlaced and the colors interacted to create just that cloth. Topics like the block weaves articles by Madelyn and Tien Chiu in the latest issue expanded my understanding. Day by day, I learned, even when I didn’t have time to pick up a shuttle.
So if you’re a time-challenged weaver like me, I invite you to throw over guilt and rigid expectations and consider living in the journey. Read a weaving book or a good article, visit a weaving exhibit at a museum or gallery, hang out with your guild or study group, in person or online. Wind a warp and pick up a shuttle when you can. Use the time you have to do what inspires you and gives you joy. Heaven knows there’s more than one path to happiness and enlightenment.