Things I’d Like to Tie Me Down

yarn texturesI have plans. Seeing Oman (again), visiting Aden, Monrovia, Petra and Anthens (for the first time). I enjoy stretching my conceptions of what it means to be alive; traveling is a short-cut in that mental journey.

I also love the feeling of knots I’ve tied rolling up to and through the beater, then past the heddles after I finish a weaving.

Weaving is my best metaphor for life–how else can I be dyed in the wool, tightly wound, shuttling place to place, cracked up, and tied in knots?

To me, a weaving is like a life.

Threads, once spun, are often tightly wound into balls and cones. The weaver unwinds them onto a large warping board when she finds a way to include them in a larger weaving. She takes a single tail-end, and begins looping sweeps of her arm, smoothly wrapping it around the warping-board.

Weaving doesn't require a voice...

Middles of the thread are laid out beside threads they’ve never touched. Sometimes they form odd patterns; stripes; clashing colors. These are similiar too, but completely different from, the patterns they will find on the loom.

In a week or in a year, when she finds time and space and need, the weaver will take this new warp, bound into its temporary order with quick, sure knots, and tie-on to a loom. She’ll cut the largest loop, lay the threads bare, and begin making small, simple knots. One looped thread to the thread cut thread which held its place before.

This tying-on always feels ten times the time it takes; with a book read aloud from a radio in the corner, it flows with practice.

Then, sudden change of context–50% of the required thread had been missing until now; delivered.

Fabulous Student Art Yarns - Insubordiknit Workshop

The weft comes in, so distinct and necessary to the weaving. Instead of being unwound into loping loops, it was wound from balls onto tighter bobbins the length of the woman’s palm, on a gently whirring winder.

Ready to weave now. Her feet press peddles; her hands thrust the shuttle through and tap down the beater after each stroke. She may crank the warp tight, yank the weft, or slam the beater in frustration. She may do all these so gently her cloth is nearly a net, with daylight shining through. Weavings hold emotions more truly than do photographs.

Depending on the woman’s pattern and style, her feet may plod out a tabby (A-B-A-B: outside-left, outside-right) or dance a design (1-A-3-B-2-A: first-inside-left, outside-left, second-inside-right, outside-right, second-inside-left, first-inside-left).


She cuts the threads she looped and tied and wound and through which she wove. She ties their tails in unsagging square-knots, with 8-12 inches extra on a warp for just this purpose.

Blue woven wrap 2970

Then, knowing she has a several dozen fringe-knots to tie, but uncarring, she unhooks the winding gear and pulls out her work. The gear whirrs faster, clicking and smacking dangerously.

The cloth lays in her arms like a child down for the day, or a crying friends’ head. Stiff or dripping, edges jagged or straight, all demonstrate her absolute control and responsibility and pride.

There is a feeling of joy in complete creation.

And though there are still knots to be tied, and the next warp to wind, she is complete because she has a thing which she made.

I miss this, and perhaps will one day give up my trips to Muscat and Fez and Johannesburg to have it.

But while I can hold myself away from the magnetic force of pure creation’s potential, I will.

I’ll travel; then I’ll come home to my loom.

Inspirational Quote:

“If I were to begin life again, I would devote it to music.  It is the only cheap and unpunished rapture upon earth.”–Sydney Smith

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