Ordinary / Not Ordinary

The calendar tells me that it’s Ordinary Time.  The green of my garden glimpsed through the blinds of my studio window, and my weaving confirm this.  But the time does not feel ordinary.

The news tells us that these times are anything but ordinary.  It tells us that this week, things were said that should not have been - should never be - said.  This is not normal, we are told.  And that is true. But I am determined not to be discouraged.  

So I go to the loom. I put on some vintage Peter, Paul and Mary to weave to.  “No Easy Walk to Freedom,” they sing. Oh so true!

“Keep on walkin' and we shall be free
That's how we're gonna make history”

But then, beautiful voice of Peter Yarrow sadly sings:

“If we don't stop there'll come a time when women
With barren wombs will bitterly rejoice,
With breasts that dry and never fill with promise,
Gladly they'll not suckle one more life.” *

“If we do these things in the greenwood,
What will happen in the dry?”

By coincidence (if you believe in that sort of thing), this was part of the text of my Bible study last Monday night.  This is Jesus’ last prophecy - spoken literally on the way to his death, to the cross.**

It is not hard to imagine what happens in the dry - not when you live in California.  Nor is it hard for a student of history to remember some of the many times in the last 2000 years or so, when things were so bad that childless women were relieved that they had no children to suffer. Starting with the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, right up to, well, some places in the world today.  In this way, perhaps, these times are all too ordinary.  

Ordinary / Part II

The iPod moves seamlessly from one album to another.  And the beautiful, hopeful voice of Noel Paul Stokey sings:

“But for the love of it all
I would go anywhere.
To the ends of the earth,
What is it worth if Love would be there?
Walking the thin line between fear and the call
One learns to bend and finally depend
On the Love of it all”

So perhaps the lesson is this: the most ordinary of times are the ones where hope and despair live side by side, moment by moment.  

“For the love of it all
We are gathered by grace.
We have followed our hearts
To take up our parts
In this time and place.
Hands for the harvest,
Hear the centuries call:
It is still not to late to come celebrate
The Love of it all.”


* ”Greenwood” Peter Yarrow, 1972
** Luke 23:28-30
*** ”For the Love of It All” Noel Paul Stookey, 1991

First World Weaving Problems

I've been away from my own looms for a couple of months, while completing some spinning and weaving projects for others.  Last Saturday, I finally had time to sit down and start weaving on a warp that had been on my AVL Little Weaver for a while.  Before I did that, I knew I needed to download some software and firmware upgrades for the loom.

(What our heroine did not know is that, with the latest OS upgrade, Apple changed the protocol for connecting her Mac to a peripheral like her loom.)  I downloaded the three upgrades I needed from the AVL website, connected the loom and - nothing.  I went through the usual steps - reboot the computer, reboot the loom, download the software again, test the USB port with a flash drive, check the settings on the Mac, repeat all of the above (just because) - still nothing.

Finally I went back to the AVL website and looked at the trouble-shooting FAQ's. There it was - the answer to my problem, and another little download script to fix it.  It worked.  Ok, I had to reboot the router to get the loom working wirelessly, but that's just part of life in the wireless lane. 

First world weaving in process

First world weaving in process


After a couple of frustrating hours, I finally was ready to start weaving.  This never happens on my regular looms!  But here's the thing - it does.

Last May I had the opportunity to take a week long Navajo rug weaving class from weavers Linda Teller Pete and Bobbi Teller Ornelas.  I've wanted to learn to weave this way for as long as I can remember.  The class was amazing and if you have a chance to take a class from these ladies, you definitely should.  

Now, a Navajo loom has a pretty simple design.  Even so, there are a fair number of parts and tools.  Even more important are the steps.  In the warping portion of the class, it was really important to follow all of the steps carefully.  I'm a pretty experienced weaver, and have warped a lot of different looms, but I still made some pretty bone-headed mistakes.


Weaving on a Navajo loom

Weaving on a Navajo loom

After giving it some thought, I realize that all weaving - whether on an inscrutably complex computer controlled loom or a deceptively simple frame loom - is a miracle of human ingenuity.  It was, I think, our first technology - older and more ubiquitous even than the wheel.  And yet the final result is still all about and as simple as back and forth, over and under.  

Weaving weekend

Last Saturday I participated in a fantastic workshop sponsored by the Ventura County Handweavers & Spinners Guild led by super-weaver Jannie Taylor.  There were ten of us in the workshop and each of us brought a loom warped with a different shadow weave pattern.    Then, in a round-robin we each wove a sample on each other's looms.    

This was the first road trip for my AVL Little Weaver, and it performed like a champ.  I warped it up with a 12-shaft pattern provided by Jannie before the workshop.  Most of the people in the workshop had never woven on a computer-interfaced loom before.  Some took to it right away, others were a bit intimidated by it.  

I put on plenty of warp, and I've been working this week on weaving it off.  Not sure what I'll use the fabric for.