Years and years ago I was browsing in the public library and the name of an author on a series of books caught my eye. It was the name Anais Nin. I felt unusually drawn to the books even though I had no idea what they were so I picked out one of them based only on the name of the author and that strange interest I felt; I had never heard of her before that time. I found her novels difficult to understand but I persisted and learned later that a seven volume set of her many, many diaries was published and I bought the books and read them. It was one of the most positive watershed life-altering things that I have done for myself, for as a result of reading and studying her collection I began my own process of journal writing. Nin believed you could create a life through one’s journal. I just kept a journal. At times I kept several kinds of journals.
Not only did this result in my learning more about myself, it simultaneously enabled me to develop my own style of writing, it helped me bring out my creative qualities, and at times served as deep self therapy. No one else ever saw the journals. I still write in a journal although not as often.
Later in life I discovered the “Magic Book” technique, a type of image journaling that pulls from the subconscious, and it also had a magic, life-enriching effect and showed me that often my subconscious mind knew the directions I was heading long before my conscious mind knew. Briefly, although there are other aspects to it, in the Magic Book technique one just collects many, many images from many sources, just because they catch ones attention or one feels drawn to the image or one just likes the image, and they are tossed in a box for later use. After a series of exercises that taught me the technique, I began to create pages by adding the images to the pages of blank books just as I felt like doing it, sometimes adding words or phrases or watercolor or other media to enhance or further decorate the pages. I seldom had a reason or a plan, I just did it, and it was amazing to see themes develop over time, to see repeating images appear, all leading to contemplation of why this was happening and what they might mean. Some of the pages I react to with a strong positive feeling each time I view them, although I honestly do not know what they portray or why I feel so drawn to that particular page. I always feel strengthened after viewing those enigmatic pages. One image that I cut out of a magazine and eventually featured in a prominent way on a page in my Magic Book was a tree that had lots of computers on its branches like hanging fruit. This was about two years before I gave any thought to working on a computer, much less learning to paint digitally or to have a web site, etc. There were other “magic moments” that I can trace in my Magic Books that in retrospect, gave a hint or forecast of directions in which I would eventually go. The Magic Book helped me discover symbols that are personal and meaningful to me.
In a slightly different way, recently I have felt that same strange inner pull to something and I am curious whether it will prove to be a new source of enrichment for me. Without having heard of card or tablet weaving, I ran across something about it while researching Inkle looms and Inkle weaving. I felt a strong inner pull to learn more about card weaving even before I knew what it is. At present I am learning to do Inkle weaving, but I have not felt that inner pull, or inner recognition about Inkle weaving. I was researching Inkle weaving because someone gave me an Inkle Loom. Recognizing that intuitive interest or inner pull, I ordered a DVD about Card Weaving and immediately felt an inner excitement as I viewed the DVD so I ordered a book about it and my interest increased as I read the history of card weaving. Because my friend had given me the Inkle loom, I began trying to learn to warp and weave on that loom and set aside the idea of card weaving.
Now I have temporarily set aside the Inkle loom and I just received my order of card sets for card weaving and I have turned again to reading the card weaving book and will review the DVD. It looks much more complicated than Inkle weaving so I do not understand why I feel this interior pull toward tablet/card weaving. It will be interesting to see whether I can learn it, whether I will like it, and whether I will prefer it to Inkle weaving. My past experience tells me that the intuitive attraction has purpose so some time in the next few weeks I am going to start trying to learn card weaving. I am just getting into learning to use my rigid heddle loom, and do not want to add anything new right now, but card weaving is rather ancillary to weaving on the loom, so I may add it before too long. Life is such a grand adventure, with so many directions from which to choose!
Not having a fellow weaver or a weaving teacher in this area, I am having to learn all this through books, DVDs, occasional help from cyber friends or my cousin and sister via long distance phone calls, and by trial and error. I had never seen a table loom and wanted to see one. I don’t even have a good yarn store within a hundred miles. A few weeks ago, though, I sent a letter to the Austin Spinning and Weaving Guild and asked them if there is a store in the area that sells looms and weaving supplies. I got a very prompt reply from a very helpful person who pointed me to the nearest well-supplied weaving store that is located between Dripping Springs and Wimberley, Texas. It is Old Oaks Ranch. Farris and I don’t travel much anymore and I debated whether I wanted to make a 200 mile round trip just to see a table loom that I was not ready to buy because I am still learning to weave on a rigid heddle loom.
One lovely day a week or so ago we did drive down to Old Oaks Ranch. It is a lovely place with spreading oak trees and a sculpture garden and picnic tables in the shade of the trees and patio tables and chairs in the shade in front of the store. A great bonus is that it is also an Alpaca farm. The animals are ready for shearing that is scheduled for April so they were in full coat and looked so cuddly that I would love to have hugged one. I doubt the alpacas would have appreciated it. We could not enter the pastures but I saw a beautiful cinnamon colored one, and white ones, and brown and a huge sheep dog, and there is even an Angora rabbit there although it was hiding from the wind in its hutch so I did not get to see it. I had taken sandwiches and we enjoyed a cool lunch under the trees while watching the Alpacas roaming about.
All the above is lovely, but the magic is in the store. It is absolutely full of gorgeous colorful yarns and samples and the inventory is huge for this part of the country and well worth the trip down there. Sue Ellen, who owns the shop, spent at least two hours with me helping me choose warp and weft yarns, and explained the shaft looms to me. Her friendly helpfulness and generosity is a large part of the warm welcome one feels when one enters that beautiful shop. There was a class in progress when I first got there. Other people who worked there were friendly and helpful and I felt a pang of sorrow that I was so far away from such a wonderful resource. Sue Ellen said if I have a project, I could let her know the colors I want and she would snip sample threads and send them to me so I can choose the yarns I want. She also remarked that if I ever want a specific color of alpaca I can specify the animal, such as that cinnamon color I liked. They sell alpaca batts and top and had some “raw’ fleece I wanted to sink my hand into. I could have spent the entire day there just going from one part of the store to another to look at the beautiful yarns and other supplies. Sue Ellen had just bought a large inventory of silk blends that I wanted to take right out to my car, but I had to resist because I am still building my stash of warp yarns. My sister is planning to visit next week and we have plans to go back to Old Oak Ranch.
It was worth the trip in another way for me because after seeing a table loom I discovered that getting one would present problems to me because I do not have a table that would put the loom at a good height. After returning home I discussed this with my cousin Joyce and I have decided that if I do want to go on to a shaft loom I will purchase a four-shaft Wolf Pup floor loom. I don’t want eight shafts, and the Pup will be faster than a table loom and will enable me to create many patterns and use varied techniques. Joyce has a Pup among her collection and is very pleased with it. It is nice to have that settled. I have been learning hand manipulated techniques on the Beka loom this week and have enjoyed it. With persistence, I may yet learn to be a weaver!
I have been organizing my spinning and I spun and plied several ounces of Himalayan cat hair this week for the cyber friend who sent me the cat hair. One of her beloved cats had to be put down recently so I got busy and spun the rest of the hair and made a keepsake scarf for her. I hope it will bring her some comfort. I tried to add a picture but I kept ending up on a page with just the picture so I will have to study how to do that successfully some other time. Next I am turning my attention to spinning some of wools that I have waiting. Spinning soothes me so I look forward to a serene week ahead.