Against the Warp

While The Experiment still goes on, although with slightly less robust attention, I am filling the time for creating I have each day with spinning and tapestry weaving. Even though the slightly delirious tap, tap, tapping on my shoulder of weaving yards of cloth beckons me, I am fixing the blinders on to remain with the large tapestry on my Ashford Tapestry Loom until the end. Indeed I say to myself, “I am working,” and once settled into the first over/under of color in the next flower, I’m at once and truly stuck-in, absorbed in the plucking of strings and the beauty of fibers added to a long warp.

(Lovely tapestry yarns making a great beginning!)

When completed, this tapestry will be 14″ wide and 25″ high, which is to date the largest tapestry I’ve ever attempted. Before I fell down the rabbit hole in June I had only a tiny patch in the lower left corner begun with yarns I had on hand then. But once I began to feel up to sitting at the loom, late September I believe it was, I pulled it all out to begin again with actual tapestry yarns gifted to me by some wonderful friends. I have since been delightedly weaving, if ever so slowly, and am now about two-thirds of the way.

(Trying out some embroidery…the leaf veins will be changed. Ha!)

I can smell the end. I like how it is evolving. Even though it is not exactly as I had originally envisioned, it nevertheless emits joy when I walk by. As I sit spinning wool at my wheels, I mentally cycle through the possibilities of colors and textures in the floral profusion at the top of the image. I do not want to have all of this decided at the beginning of a tapestry. I really enjoy the journey of decision-making on the fly, of discovering what colors need to be where, even of un-weaving sections that just do not work. Perhaps this is an apt mirror of my life. I have no clue what choices I will need to make in the future, or even today! Could I relish this unknown aspect of living as I do in tapestry?

Whatever it is that gets placed as daily weft, it is always against a backdrop of sure and certain lines fixed in place for the unforeseeable future. I could name each warp thread, such as Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Laundry, Vacuum, Errands. Or work related to-do’s, Emails, Texts, Planning, and Teaching. They also include weightier matters of concern, Health Issues, Loved-ones Ailing, Friends’ Struggles. So many warps against which I weave daily, working around the strong threads, covering them with color and texture. I wrap the mundane and painful strands of life with soft fibers full of color and texture. It’s not a bad way to spend hours on end.

(Milo wants to weave too!:)

“Against the warp” sounds a bit combative. Shouldn’t I rather say “Around” the warp or “With”? Yes, that sounds more palatable. But much of the time it feels like “against”, as if I’m having to firmly set aside the weight of concern or the ever-present to-do list and purposefully place color where it might not seem reasonable to do so. Does this resonate with you? I recently talked with an artist who said, “We bring all of ourselves into the studio.” Oh boy do I ever. And yet, when I do, flowers come out. Bright bold colors spring off my sketchbook pages. A profusion of textured wonky flowers bursts out of a woven vase. Riotous colors are on my knitting needles, and rich woolly colors flow through my hands as I spin. Do I create against and in spite of the difficulties, sadnesses, and hum-drum of life? At the moment yes.

(There will be lots of embroidery added for leaf veins, flower centers, etc.)

It is all there. All of it. Right there in this tapestry. The viewer will not, in the end, see the warp threads- the structure that holds it all together. Even from the back of the tapestry, one doesn’t see the vertical stakes, up which the weaving grows. A tapestry does not exist unless there is a solid and tensioned warp. All of life is brought into the studio, hanging on a loom…warp and weft at play, working with and against one another to create something lovely.

I think I’ll keep coming into the sunroom studio and plucking strings, laying in color, watching an image take shape ever so slowly against the warps of life.❤️

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