Sunday, May 30, 2010

Inter-Weaving ~ Heart & Hands & Life & Art ~ Returning To The Studio...

"Weaving to Winnie Henry--a handsome, wise and determined Navajo woman--is to weave together the pieces of your own life.
Every portion of weaving is a representation of Life.
The whole part of setting up the loom is the Universe.
What's in the Universe?
What makes Life?
How does Life live?
Every living plant on Earth lives for a reason.
Forward, backward living is Future.
What's in Life is all up to you, once you learn your Right and Wrong."

From "Weaving Life in the Dine World: an
Interview with Navajo Weaver Winnie Henry"

One of the great teachings of my life... weaving
"Ariadne's Thread."

Some of the greatest teachings of my life have come from my study of Navajo weaving and the culture of Navajo women weavers. When in the Southwest I longed to stay and study with real Navajo weavers, but alas I have had to study reading many books, watching videos, doing endless research, and by trial and error. What I have done is not Navajo weaving, but it is imbued with the spiritual aspects of
DinĂ© weaving, best expressed in my favorite book on the subject, Navajo Weaving Way, by Noel Bennett and Tiana Bighorse. (I would also like to say that I receive no remuneration from any of the links in my posts. I simply add them so that you may find them if you are so inclined.) There is also a lovely website on DinĂ© women weavers  which you may visit by clicking the above link.

What I carry with me, from these teachings, and the myth of Grandmother Spider who wove the web of the world, is about the interconnectedness of all things. Human and animal, plants, the earth, the sky, the wind, the rain, everything above us, below us, and in every direction. All elements depend on one another to be all of a piece. It is just this that I have been striving to learn these last years, and finally, I realize that my work and life have both been disjointed because I was trying to separate them into neat little cubbyholes. This cannot be done without also tearing apart the tapestry of our lives. I am a woman, a writer, a fiber artist, a spiritual teacher and healer, a woman who tends animals and gardens, children and grandchildren, friends, students, and the food that I put into my body. They are not separate entities, and as I finally come to realize this, my work and my life are beginning to flourish.

As I have written, two weeks ago today I took a bad fall and cut my hand up pretty badly. Fortunately it is healing very well, the stitches are now out and while it will be quite awhile before the hand is back to normal, and it is very tender, I can, carefully, use it a little, with my left hand still carrying the bulk of the weight of the work at hand. And wanting badly to get my etsy store re-opened in early June, even though I will miss my June 1 deadline, I went into my studio on Friday and started pulling out fibers of all sorts and the many and varied elements that I use in making my batts. (For those of you who are not fiber-inclined, batts are used by spinners to spin into yarn. While this is not necessary and yarn can be spun simply using fiber itself, batting creates lofty fibers much easier to spin, and adding many varying elements creates beautiful effects one doesn't get using just plain fiber.)

The first batt that I made I made for my dear friend to use in a project she is working on. It was a good way to "get my feet wet" and regain my confidence, not to mention overcoming my fear about using my right hand at all. Once into it I was swooning with the over-the-moon love I have with making batts and simply working with fiber at all. Here is a picture of the batt I made on Friday...

First batt made for a friend on Friday...

Having gained confidence making this first batt, I went into my studio yesterday, as I am about to do today, and made the first of many "Pug Love Batts" (20% of my Pug Love Yarn and Pug Love Batts goes directly to Mid-Atlantic Pug Rescue.) I really wanted to start on the items that will help support the rescue and go from there. The batts are far easier for me to do than spinning yarn because of my right hand, so I am starting where I can and hope to have a dozen or so batts ready when I open my shop.

I thought I would share with you the process of making my first batt for the shop yesterday, a batt I call, "Falling Into Pug Love." It was a great joy to make and I can't wait to get back into the studio today.

First of all, my pug helpers, Harvey and Sampson, help pick out the fibers...

They don't always choose the ones I'd perhaps have chosen, but it all comes out in the wash, so to speak, and they seem to know very well what they want in the batts bearing their name!

Having chosen a pile of fibers and other elements I begin working on the Drum Carder...

Once finished the fiber is removed from the carder and laid out flat looks like this (The two sides have different colorways.)

Top Side...


Rolled Batt, First Side:

Second Side:

From the top:

It is actually very sparkly which doesn't show up in this picture but will be re-photographed for the store. The "ingredients" in this batt are many:

#1. Falling Into Pug Love
* Corriedale, Cotswold, Targhee, Coopworth, Rambouillet, and Romney
* Silk Noil
* Angelina and Flash in 4 different colors spread throughout the layers of the fibers. These give the batts incredible sparkle and iridescence

My batts are always extra large and extremely lofty and soft. It feels so good to the touch I was sucked into the fiber vortex once more and it sure feels good to be home! I feel like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz clicking her ruby slippers repeating "There's no place like home, there's no place like home..." Sadly, the closest I come to ruby slippers are Red Crocs, but that's okay. One doesn't want to step in dog poop in the yard in ruby slippers after all. Dorothy only had Toto. I have an army!

Circling back to the beginning of this peace what I wanted to say is that the elements of my life are falling into place in an integrated way, where one aspect feeds the others and vice versa. When I'm working with the fiber ideas pop up for the writing. When I am walking the dogs new colorways and fiber combinations drift into my brain so that when I'm at the carder or able to spin, I have ideas aplenty. And I am already working on other small items for the shop. 

Since falling and hurting my hand, my whole life coming to a screeching halt gave me time to think about how often I have tried to compartmentalize to the detriment of the whole of my life. I see my life now as a house with many rooms. the doors open between each room. so there is a special space for each element of my life, but the doors are always open to flow from one to the other.

In closing I would like to leave you with one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite writers, Rumer Godden. This quote is from her autobiography, A House With Four Rooms...

"There is an Indian proverb that says that everyone is a house with four rooms, a physical, a mental, an emotional, and a spiritual . Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time but unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person." 
I am getting my life in order, and it feels good.
Blessings and Love to one and all,


Laane said...

I'm so happy you're feeling better and your hand is healing.

What a lovely colours. I can see the sparkling, it's wonderful.

Please pray for our family, especially tuesday. That those who come to review our case, as it's said, will see with warmth in their hearts and an open soul and mind.

Thanks for your wonderful post.

Jean said...

Great news that you have started to work again. What an interesting process. I also can see the sparkling. Love the quote!

On the right of my screen an object randomly appears. It is black and it looks like legs of an insect or maybe a spider. Is this part of your site or am I seeing things???

Mas-Raden said...

hi thats good article, i like it. .

hi from mas radent

RennyBA's Terella said...

You're post, the poem and pics as well as the story, is all a great piece of art - thanks for sharing!

Tomas said...

Dear Maitri,
your hearty post are the seeders of the peace. Thank you for the warmth that always fills my heart as I see your works and hear so calm yet inspiring greatly words.

Jodi said...

That is great Maitri that your doing better. I hope your able to use your hand much better. I will still pray for you to heal. I don't like to hear when such wonderful friends of mine are sick or just not themselves.

I wanted to also ask you did you do the project that is pictured here? Because I absolutely love that, it is so pretty. You are sooooo talented Maitri, you really are. I will pray that you will be able to get your esty shop up soon.

And I see Samson and Harvey love to help you out. When I see them it makes me miss my Digit so much. She was such a good Pug, they are so loveable you know? I miss her so.

Well I hope you have a blessed Sunday and give them Puggies a big hug for me, lol!

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