Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Tapestry Diary finished!

Last year at the beginning of Advent I started a tapestry diary, a piece in which I planned to weave a little bit every day.  I wanted to follow the liturgical calendar, using the colors for each season of the church year.  I hoped it would be a small devotional project, and a way to ensure that, whatever else might be happening in my life, each day would include at least a short session of meditative weaving.

four days into the purple season of Advent
Last Saturday I wove the last day of the liturgical year, and on Sunday a new year began with the first day of Advent.

I set out a few rules for myself when I began:

Weave every day in the color for that season.
Use scrap yarn on hand.
If away from home, leave open warps (do not weave) for that day or days.
Do not unweave.

the week of Easter Sunday; including silver as well as white
It has been such a rewarding experience, in unexpected ways.  It has also been humbling, as I have found that eventually I broke every rule I set for myself, for what seemed like good reasons at the time. (Isn't that always the way?)  I strayed from the prescribed colors, for expressive reasons.  It seemed appropriate to convey Easter joy by using silver and yellow as well as white (and more visually appealing).  I had to use brand new yarn in order to have enough of the right colors.  I did leave open warps for days away from the loom, but I also included open warp spaces purely for design reasons toward the end of the year.  And I did unweave and re-weave in a few places where I just couldn't live with my mistakes.

a couple weeks into Ordinary Time, the green season of growth following the white Easter season.
 Each day I wove a new leaf motif.
I also found that much more than a meditative practice, the diary was a great chance to practice the craft of tapestry weaving.  I improved my skills in pick-and-pick, double half-hitching, slits and dovetails.  I became much more comfortable weaving spontaneously, making up each day's shape without a plan or a cartoon, though sometimes I did ink the warp a bit.

detail of leaf shapes 

The diary was great practice in weaving with fluency, in paying attention, being present, and responding to what's happening in front of me.  I was forced to be creative every single day, to sustain interest in a project in which I was using the same color, green, for six straight months of Ordinary Time.  (I was so disappointed to be away on Pentecost Sunday, the one red day of the liturgical year.  I really wanted to weave that red bit!  That time I did not break the rule.)

You might recall that it was a summer in which news of one mass shooting or terrorist attack followed another.  I began to weave brown leaves each day there was news of an attack, whether here at home or abroad.   Orlando.  Istanbul.  Baton Rouge.  Minneapolis.  Dallas.  Nice.  Tokyo.  And so on.


An acquaintance of mine hiked the entire Appalachian Trail this year, from Georgia to Maine, from March to September, and he wrote about his adventures in the local paper.  "The Trail provides," he wrote once.  Weaving a tapestry diary is also a long journey.  Each day's time at the loom provided practice for me in moving forward in faith, despite distractions, heartache, tiredness, and uncertainty.

the brown outline of a leave was woven to commemorate 9/11
Best of all, the diary practice also generated a wealth of new ideas for new work, and this was most exciting of all.  I have two pages of ideas for next year's diary, which I will start on January 1, 2017.

It's amazing what can happen when you commit to moving forward a little bit, every single day.

tapestry diary ready for cutting off 
If you're interested in discovering your own daily practice (it doesn't have to be weaving), I'll be offering a short workshop at SEFAA in Atlanta, on January 15.  Registration will open mid-December.