The Comfort of Washing a Rug

And of making a rug, especially with friends.


sw rug hanging up


I can’t pretend I’ve been unaffected by the news the past few weeks. It could easily start to feel like the world is crumbling around us. It may seem trivial at first to post about anything I usually talk about here. But I believe it’s not. Actually, I believe that we need our creative pursuits, the things that give us comfort and fulfillment, more than ever when times get rough. Even more than that, I believe that by making something with our hands, by sharing it with friends, by just cooking dinner and eating it with people and having a face-to-face, honest conversation, we are making a difference. Taking a small step towards the world we hope for,”being the change,” as Gandhi said.

Last week, during a dry spell in our monsoons, I decided it was time to wash the kitchen rugs. I wove the one shown here two years ago, at my friend Lauren’s house (but never posted these photos). It occurred to me while I was cleaning it that this rug is actually a pretty good metaphor for the value of craft in our lives. All the yarns I put in it are ones I saved from my grandma’s stash after she passed away—a reminder of our connection, the passing of knowledge between generations, and the “waste not, want not” I try to put into practice.


sw rug weighing yarn

Weighing yarn and winding into balls, making a plan for the rug.


Lauren did the math, wound the warp (for several rugs, not just mine), and put it on the loom, so all I had to do was show up and weave, which was wonderful. We spent time together weaving and listening to music. We lit a fire. I remember other friends were there at least one day while I worked on the rug, doing what women have been doing for millennia: talking, eating, and making things together in community.


sw rug on loom

My rug on the loom.


The act of weaving brings up all kinds of good memories for me too, of learning to weave with my family and working on my grandma’s big loom. Like most textile crafts, the rhythm of the work is meditative. It calms my mind so that sometimes creative ideas bubble up, and other times I can think less, and just be. I’m coming to believe that just being is an important part of my growth as a human, something I need to carve out distraction-free time for, and practicing in fiber arts definitely helps me do that.


sw rug through warp

Looking through the warp at the rug in progress.


This week, it rained. The rain falling onto my high-desert home is a miracle of relief. Knowing that the forest will be sustained for a little while longer makes me feel better about everything—even politics, even tragedy. As long as we have the solace of nature, and a way to nurture our creativity, I think we’ll be alright. In fact, more than alright—I believe if we can keep those two things near the top of our collective priorities, we’re still working towards a better world.

Here’s to better weeks ahead!


sw rug on floor

The finished rug in the kitchen.


PS Karen wrote on a similar theme this week, and I found the comments on her post heartening. It involves seeking peace in the beauty of landscape and sheep …


A Touch of Comfort, Weird or Ordinary


blue painted toenails


Much of our time on the road is just slightly anxious for me.  There are a lot of unknowns that hover around the edges of my consciousness; where we will sleep, when will eat, can we park the truck here?   Plus of course I miss my people and my places.  Most of the time these little worries are barely visible on my conscious radar.  Then I’ll catch a glimpse or a touch of something that comforts me, and only as the feeling grips me, like the warm hand of a friend on my shoulder, do I realize that I could use reassuring.

Often times the things that comfort me are what you might expect; objects I’ve made that remind me of the skills I have to fall back on, and of home.  Seeing, using, brushing, (and occasionally burying my face in) the garment bags I made before we left this spring has been great all this summer.

Sometimes though, it’s something silly or just plain weird that gives me little bursts of happiness.  Right now for instance, I get happier every time I see my blue-painted toenails.  To clarify, I paint my toenails maybe once every five years.  Most of the time, I prefer their natural state.  But for a Caribbean beach wedding in the company of close friends and their kids, it seemed appropriate.  A dear 9-year-old friend painted one foot, and I did the other.  (If you can’t tell, I’m not telling, which is which.)

All the way back home, I’ve been vaguely wondering how other people interpret my slightly sloppy blue toes.  But I don’t really care, since every time I see them, I’m reminded of great friends and good times.

Whatever you’re up to, I hope you have some weird (or not so weird) little things to give you a touch of comfort when you need it!