My love of handwork was kindled at age seven when my grandmother taught me to crochet. A brave undertaking by any measure, made downright daunting with my Baba’s insistance on starting me off with a size 0 hook and lace cotton. Miracle of miracles, I was “hooked” and surprisingly proficient in no time. As I learned more and more stitches, I enjoyed just messing around, making crazy little doilies, knowing that if I goofed, I could just rip back and pick up.
Crochet has come in and out my life, always showing up when I needed it most, and that’s what handwork does, doesn’t it? When mood, stress, or sadness threaten, picking up your handwork is your private life raft, floating you away from your troubles.
I must confess a somewhat sharp dislike for patterns and instructions, probably due to mild dyslexia, so any craft that easily and sensibly lends itself to free-form practice and expression is my idea of a good/zen time. Teaching and exploring these forms of fiber art in my studio feels like an act of gratitude for the creative work that has for so many years kept me balanced, happy, and sane.
Spinning, weaving, and felting are about your hands and your eyes, ancient ways that feed, rather than deplete you, and their practice will feel familiar, as if these skills live deep within – I believe they do.
On a recent afternoon, I wove a scarf from some heavenly handspun alpaca, the fiber having come from a friend’s farm shop. As I prepped, I thought about this friend, an intrepid alpaca rancher; I thought about her gorgeous, sweet animals – she labels her fiber with their names – and I took the time to relish the feel of the weighty skein that was about to become a piece of wearable art. The whole process took the afternoon.
While I worked, I called my dear cousin, mapped out a piece of writing, listened to vocal parts for a piece our choral group is planning, and – the icing on the cake – finished a fabulous audiobook I’d been saving for this very project. For those hours I resided in a zen paradise, before floating through my studio door, carrying my lovely reward fresh from the loom.
The only thing that thrills me more than the practice of these arts, is being able to share their magic with you. Hope you can come spend some time with me in the studio – we’ll have so much fun.