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 …

 

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Kent State Museum and Ohio Food Finds

I feel like it took me a while to figure out that if I saw, for example, a cool exhibit was happening at a museum somewhere, especially in the Midwest, chances are we could go there at some point during the year. That’s how we ended up at the Kent State Museum. What I didn’t realize was that in addition to the resist dye exhibit I read about, the whole museum (ok it’s small, but still) is costume and textiles, and they have a permanent hall of historical fashion!! For any of you who don’t already know, I’ve been obsessed with historical clothing for the longest time.

Everything is presented in the best possible way for close-up viewing, with no glass between you and the textiles. My feet were demurely (ok barely) outside the barriers, but my head was basically in the exhibits, soaking up tiny hand stitching. Things made before the sewing machine I find extra fascinating, I’m always wondering how my stitching would stack up in those days. And how did they make those tiny perfect gathers?

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As you may have guessed from the lack of detailed images of all this amazing clothing so far, this museum has a strict no photography policy. And I have a “do unto others” policy when it comes to photos and copyright. And any iPhone photos I could have snuck in on the sly would in no way capture the level of detail that you can really see. If we’re going to the area next year I may try to get advance permission to take some photos, or bring a sketchbook. But really, the only way to see this is for yourself.

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We stumbled on a couple of notable food finds in Ohio as well, namely Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. Splendid is the right word! We tried four flavors, all of which were spectacular – tart cherry sorbet made with lambic, pear sorbet with Riesling, blackberry and sweet corn, and brown butter almond brittle, and there were about 50 more that looked amazing. Well worth going out of your way for, in Columbus, Cleveland and Nashville TN, plus available in groceries around the area.

That’s actually how we found out about it, while shopping for bread and cheese to go with a free tomato. One of my goals for this trip was to snag some maple syrup local to somewhere we passed through, since we’re all out at home. On a byroad we passed a maple syrup sign at a place that mostly sells small storage buildings (I am not making this up) and stopped to get some. The man working there kindly also gave us a large tomato. So anyway, as we were picking out cognac fig goat cheese (from Mackenzie Creamery) Bryan spotted a sign, “Did you know that cognac fig is also a flavor of Jeni’s Ice Cream?”

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This picnic will make you feel decadent, even at a highway rest area. Just as good with apple as with the tomato the night before!

Enjoy your travels this week, wherever they take you.

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