Weaving is a great metaphor for life. Like life, weaving is a process full of complexities, interconnectedness and multiple choices. In weaving it’s about yarn. In life it’s about our path.
When we’re young our ideas spring from the thoughts of our parents. But as we age, ideas become our own, initially grounded in the beliefs of our teachers. Sometimes ideas are vague and swirl in our heads with no concrete visions or ways to accomplish them. Often these ideas stay in our heads, fear of failure or confusion about enacting the idea never allowing this idea to come to fruition.
Some ideas can be intricate, full of detail and complexity with a clear path to completion. These ideas are easier to implement, the outcome safe and known. We rest in the knowledge that this path will get us the desired outcome, not understanding that sometimes emotional choice is not our choosing.
And some ideas feel concrete but their path is full of question, fear and unknowing.
All these types of ideas drive our motivation. It’s our belief in the idea that makes us move forward, no matter how much fear or unknowing we have. Life, like weaving, starts with an idea. It’s our decisions and willingness to falter that drives the culmination of the process.
My weaving starts out as a thought, an idea. I play with the thought, lay it out and get it organized in my head and sometimes on a computer. I make a decision based on my current knowledge, I wind my warp, set it up on the loom and then quite often, the plan goes to hell.
This is where creativity happens.
Sometimes the plan doesn’t come out as I planned. Sometimes it comes out better. Sometimes, well you know where this is going…
Whatever the initial outcome is, I go with it for a little while. I don’t attach to what I thought was going to happen. I see where the path of the design is going. If it continues to displease me, I change it up. I plan, then I may change the plan. On my loom, maybe I change the tie-up, maybe I change the setting in the reed. I play with treadling and color. A simple change in the weft, or intertwining of life can make all the difference to the cloth, or fabric.
Changing direction in life is like changing direction in weaving. Often the change isn’t of my choosing, it’s a decision made for or by me. When the plan changes I have the choice to fight it and keep going, often getting caught up in an ugly outcome. Changing direction affords me a new opportunity, a fresh start.
Sometimes plans work out the way we envisioned. Sometimes they are a complete failure but whatever the outcome is, it’s not a loss or a regret. It’s a lesson. We do what we do at the time we do it with the knowledge we have at the time we have it.
I remember the first scarf I made for my Father-in law. I had some beautiful mohair. As I began to weave and beat the mohair into the warp the fabric began to stiffen. I had no idea why so I kept going. As any weaver knows, that scarf took me ages to finish and when it was done, I had a beautiful fuzzy board.
My Father-in-law laughed and took the gift kindly but he could never wear it, it didn’t bend!
This was before Google and YouTube gave me the ability to ask how to fix my mistake so I had to keep practicing, not understanding sett and the interplay of warp and weft. Weaving didn’t seem that complicated to me. Wasn’t fabric just fabric? Did the interplay of choice, action and decision matter so much in the end?
Years later and after many more mistakes, I understand sett, sometimes. I still experiment and learn from what I did and do wrong. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes the lesson lays heavy and immobile in my body, never allowing me to forget what I did wrong eliminating the possibility of making the same mistake.
But the wisdom of a long life has taught me that when I fall I can stay down, or I can choose to get up and kick the mistake in the ass. It isn’t always easy. Sometimes fear keeps me down for a while. But eventually facing the fear and asking why it’s here breaks the fear into small pieces I can slowly dispose of, creating new paths to forge my plan. If I am unwilling to get back up, the mistakes win and life becomes rote, boring and stagnate.
My mistakes on the loom and in life have made me open minded and optimistic, knowing that any mistake doesn’t close the door to opportunity. Quite the opposite, mistakes have taught me to throw caution to the wind, leading me down the path of my choosing into a world of exploration and confidence. The more mistakes I make, the more often I am forced to change my path and learn something new.
What are some mistakes you’ve learned from?