Thoughts on textiles

The history of women in my family is the history of textiles in my family. We do not have battles and degrees, as a general rule. We have nights at home, we have children, we have letters abroad, we have phone calls, we have dish towels, baby bath towels, bedsheets to fold, diapers, dresses hanging up, pants being ironed. We are surrounded by textiles. How much of the work of the home is spent tending to something made of cloth?

Make the bed, fold the laundry, dress for work, wash a blood stain out of your underwear, dry the dishes, dry your tears, scrub the counter, dust mop, take down cobwebs with a towel on a broom, stretch a stocking up your leg, find your jeans in the pile, put a sweater on, pull the blanket up over your shoulders, it’s cold.

There is something about string crossed with other string that contains magic. The common magic that is holding the house together. We pass cloth down and across generations, like the warp and weft itself. We pass it as gifts, bandages, dreams, swaddling, comfort, love. Like the other tools of life, furniture, dishes, and the like – this is how we tell each other we love. That we were here. That we had dreams, and hopefully, fulfilled them. And all these spells are held between lengths of string, worked and worked until they contain the voices of the women who made them, used them, and shared them.

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To make anything is a feminist act. This is a resistant act. The small arts, the portable arts, the practical arts – these have always been womens’ domain. Yes, there have been, are now, and will be male artists and designers. But when you sit at a loom, when you pick up needles or hooks, when you wrap your fingers around a spindle or set yourself up at a wheel you are in direct conversation with Women.

Textile art is a witch’s space. It is a feminist space. It is, despite tradition, a queer space. Anyone on the outside is more familiar with trying to add at least a small bit of beauty and right to the world with what they have on hand. There are very few barriers to entry – ultimately you can use trash to do this. You can get yarn on sale (though not the prized organic fiber!), or even free if you know people destashing. Much of fiber arts began in our distant past, nearly Paleolithic. You do not need fancy equipment for this. It boils down to sticks. You can literally use windfallen twigs for looms, as long as they’re strong enough to hold the yarn. Sticks, fur, hair, scraps – this is the art of thrift and cleverness.

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Magpie Yarn

illum_the other day I stumbled onto Stacey Budge-Kamison’s work at Urbangypz.com and I was inspired!  My first project on my finished loom was getting irredeemably frogged, so I busted it down and rewarped with colors – fresh from watching Stacey’s work.

Watching art yarn go from scraps of fibers up to a finished piece was so exciting.  But I don’t have a massive fancy fiber stash.  What I have is a moderate stash of really nice acrylics and blends, as well as a lot of Lily cotton, with some miscellaneous fibers in there (wool, cellulose, and silk).  One thing I learned from watching Stacey’s videos was that one doesn’t need super expensive fibers to make exciting yarn.  A great big old duh moment for me! Continue reading “Magpie Yarn”

Loom update

So the magnets didn’t work as well as I hoped.  So we went to Home Depot and bought these little brackets, which worked a treat.  Here are the two side bars done!  Now all I need to do is finish the warping nails.

So I’m doing this thing…..

I have a mighty need to make larger objects than my Whoopsitsaloom allows.   For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, this is my Whoopsitsaloom:

It’s a 16×20″ poster frame.  I got rid of the “glass” front ages ago and lost the side pieces that hold stuff in.  Instead of trashing it, I thought I’d do an experiment and whoops – ’twas a loom!  As you can see from the photo on the right, I carved little grooves into the top and bottom to warp on, about a half inch apart.  This does limit my warping possibilities, but this is an experiment.  I have it warped with one continuous piece of yarn.  From here on out, I will probably not be using yarn, or at least one of my budget ones.  The fluff really comes up when you’re manipulating this stuff. Continue reading “So I’m doing this thing…..”

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