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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Wishes for our weavers

I've been thinking about our weavers lately. We have weavers from Burma--Karen, Chin, and Karenni--and also ethnic Nepalese from Bhutan. the weavers want to weave, but we seem to keep running into roadblocks when it comes to getting them set up.

Finding the right fiber is proving to be tricky. Should we just import it ourselves from Thailand? The weavers don't have the English words to tell us what we should be asking for, and it seems that even having some of their fiber in hand isn't enough for someone to tell us what it is. Oh, how I wish I had tried harder and learned more when I took that weaving course in college. Truth be told, weaving is incredibly difficult and it requires math (the death knell for my weaving aspirations).

We keep hoping to get the weavers together for a field trip to the fiber store, but for a variety of reasons, it just never happens. We have a woodworker lined up and ready to get to work on the backstrap loom components for the women, but we need the weavers to tell us and the woodworker where to start. Are we losing credibility with our fiber artists? They are amazingly patient, but then, that's probably an inherent part of being a weaver.

The weavers of A Little Something truly are artists. They work in cotton and wool, they embroider over their weaving, and they create intricate patterns in their finished work--all with backstrap looms. Our Sudanese weaver makes tapestries, and two of the Bhutanese women have tried to describe a type of tabletop loom that they use, although so far we're unfamiliar with it. The woven items they have, however, are simply beautiful.

The weavers in this group have a gift, a joyous gift, that should be shared with the world. The quiet contemplation that comes with crafting--be it weaving, jewelry making, knitting, crochet, or sewing--can bring a creative soul to a place of calm and strength. The beauty of the finished results is a source of joy for the creator and those who are fortunate enough to own these treasures.

Perhaps 2010 will be our year, the year when we really connect with the local weaving guilds, when we figure out how and where to buy the right fiber, and every weaver who needs a loom gets one.

And then, we'll try to figure out how you tie on a backstrap loom in a modern American apartment that does not, unfortunately, have exposed bamboo beams in the walls. Hmmmm.

We have some figuring out to do!


Jessica said...

Here in Grand Rapids, we have many weavers from Bhutan. One of the church volunteers has built a couple of backstrap looms (inluding a frame) from wood. I can snap a picture next time I go over there. One couple used some volleyball net posts at a church (The kind with really heavy bases) for a weaving demonstration. They have also attached the backstrap loom to the side of their cambridge loom for resistance. I hope this maybe helps. We are trying to start a project like yours and are having our first sale in March. Good luck with what you're doing, we have to stick together!

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