WIP WEDNESDAY: Weaving and Depression

Depression man. It’s something that I don’t actually talk about as much as I probably could. It’s definitely gone unwritten in most of my posts, but without looking for it it could easily be forgotten about. I don’t really have anything new or insightful to say on the subject but man am I feeling it. I’ve been listening to a few podcasts that talk about depression and they were helping me, until they weren’t.

There are certain things I know make it worse and there are certain things I could do to make it seem less big. Those usually involve conscious decisions which are difficult to make in the throws of it.

I’m currently in a depressive episode – maybe, hopefully, on the tail end of it. It rained for two straight days. Dishes piled up as I refused K’s help with them and beat myself up over not being able to do them. Yesterday may have been the worst of it when I decided I just didn’t even want to be awake and crawled into bed in the middle of doing laundry.

932a9d45-7b73-432c-9bc2-2a83b451211dI did finally grab my tiny loom from my parent’s basement. It was already warped from a project I barely started so I decided to just play around to get a feel for how this loom weaves. I’ve used a handful of different looms over the years and I’ve noticed that they all have a kind of personality. Maybe each loom takes on a bit of every person who uses them over the years, or a bit of every project. My floor loom, which is still in my parent’s basement, is a cranky old bear of a loom. My school sold it to me at a very low price because no one liked to use it. In my first weaving class I started on a dainty 4 harness Schact loom. Every time I beat the weft the whole things scooted a little closer to the wall until I had backed myself into the corner. It was a beautiful loom, but not the right loom for me. We did a round robin type thing for one project where everyone threaded a warp and we all took turns weaving a bit on each loom. This is where I fell in love with my loom. It’s giant, it’s loud, it’s stubborn, but there was just something about it that I really liked. Long story short, I’ve hauled this thing around for a few years but it just doesn’t fit in my house right now and I’m starting to miss it.

Anyways this little loom was given to me buy a woman who was running a gallery I showed some work at. It was just sitting in a pile of junk and probably had been for a few decades. If it was in better shape I would call it an antique, but it’s kind of just old. It was probably a children’s toy originally, but it still functions as a basic loom. When I got it most of the parts needed replacing, which I did as best I could. The heddles were made of cotton string and were pretty much disintegrated. I made new ones similar to the original – they’re functional but not exactly to my liking. I put in new lead sticks, but they might need to be readjusted. They reed is currently being held on by one random nail and a bobby pin, so that’ll need to be fixed. The whole thing could use a good sanding and some wax but for now it’ll get the job done.

I made a little weaving last night. Nothing special. I was just playing around with the warp that was already there and some wool that was already on a bobbin from a previous project. I don’t see a usefulness for this little weaving, aside from play and familiarizing myself with the process again. I’m trying to find the brain space that thinks play is use enough. I’m not really sure what I want make with this loom. I’m so used to doing giant projects that I feel pretty restricted by it’s size. It also only has two harnesses so plain-weave is all it can do unless I want to hand pick everything. My instinct for play and experimentation is out of practice, but I’m having trouble envisioning a useful object coming off this loom. Only time will tell.

 

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Life Long Maker

Knitting Blog Challenge Day 28

Do you do any other crafts besides knitting? What are they, and did learning to knit come before or after learning these other crafts?

These kinds of prompts are fun for me because I get to spend half an hour digging through all the photos on my computer (wishing they were actually organized..) and relive a bunch of memories and shitty hair cuts.

I have been creative from very early on in life. I spent a lot of time playing with Lincoln Logs and Legos and was lucky enough to get piles of art kits as gifts for most of my life. I was also fortunate enough to go to a Montessori school where my creativity was not only encouraged but fed with new skills. We were taught to make crochet chains with our fingers by age three (what an excellent way to build fine motor skills while also keeping a group of preschoolers quiet), we also learned to do basic running stitch embroidery by age 4. From there I hit the ground running. IMG_0061My mom tells this story of me around age 4 that I vaguely remember; she walked into the kitchen to find me sitting at the table where I had traced, cut and was now sewing an entire outfit for my doll by hand without help. I remember not being able to get the shirt over her giant doll head so I cut up the back of the shirt and used yarn to lace it back up for an edgy and decorative and reusable closure. Textile things have always come easy to me, and I’ve always enjoyed them. Lanyard keychains and friendship bracelets were basically my shit in the late 90’s.

10391654_1190185527029_8038564_nI majored in art in high school, mainly paintings and print making but I did crochet myself a full human spine out of plastic bags which was pretty cool. From there I went to art school and fully developed my love (obsession) with all things fibers and textiles. The main philosophy of the school was to teach you from the ground up. So for textiles we learned to dye our own yarn and fabric, we learned to make our own yarn and fabric and from there we basically could do anything we wanted. I really really liked weaving. The meticulous threading process, spending hours hunched over the back of the loom threading hundreds of threads through the reed and heddles. During my weaving course I taught myself how to knit (we didn’t really have a knitting course at that time, and by the time they added one I far surpassed the knowledge range of the teacher on that particular subject). I also learned to quilt at the end of my senior year. This class was only offered once a year and each year I never seemed to have time for it in my schedule. I’m so grateful I was able to fit it in, but I wish I could have learned sooner, if I had my trajectory might have been very different. These are some of my favorite pieces from the end of art school. The top two are from my senior show in which my partner and I studied the duality and dichotomy of silk moths and wool eating moths. One moth is lauded for created fiber and one moth is loathed for consuming it. (Top Image is a silk grid on a silk screen with a projection of silk moths spinning cocoons, middle image is a woven wool screen with handspun wool grid covered in different food stuffs used to encourage different larva to eat the screen – we were NOT ALLOWED to bring wool moths into a fiber department for obvious and disappointing reasons).

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This image is of a very large quilt I made and cherish. It’s a lone star quilt with a hand dyed gradient and hand quilting with hand dyed matching thread. My sister still has the actual  images she took for me but I’ve never seen them.

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Since then space has been a little limited, so its hard to produce large works and life gets in the way of spending 200 hours laboring over one project. IMG_1275I’ve made some smaller wall quilts and other little things, but mostly focused on knitting. My new house has a tiny extra bedroom that I’m using as a sewing/craft room but my loom is definitely not going to get in there. We have a mud room with great light that I might end up using once we get the giant couch out of there. I would love to be able to weave again. I do have some quilting and sewing projects lined up in the mean-time.

Knitting Inspiration: Gunta Stölzl

Knitting Blog Challenge Day 11

Do you have a “Knitter Hero” or someone that is just way too awesome for their own good? Do share!

Since knitting and other ‘domestic arts’ have long been seen as ‘less than’ within the arts communities and therefor poorly documented throughout history I’ve chosen one of my favorite textile artists from history. There’s more to this rant and maybe someday I’ll really get into it. But for today I just have some of my favorite images of Bauhaus Weaving Master Gunta Stölzl’s work.

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