Weaving Desires, Creativity and Self-Expression

Winter is definitely over now, with warm spring winds and longer days drying things out even more on this already parched land. We are in extreme drought; I had only about an inch of rain this winter—no native spring-rain flowers, herbs or grasses even came up, and the only cliff roses that bloomed were the ones in my garden and swale areas, where more moisture was available—a good testament to creating swales! I imagine the bees were grateful for those. I intend to plant more of these hardy flowering perennials to provide early-spring food for the hungry pollinators–especially since rains are becoming more unpredictable and scarce.

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But this article is not about gardening, although that is another of my keen interests; rather, it is about what I did to exercise desire, creativity and self-expression during the cold winter months—weaving.

I only brought this weaving desire to life four years ago, but I have always loved creating things with my hands, beautiful artwork, and unique fabrics. When I shop for clothes, I look first at the cloth and don’t even consider buying clothing made of the all-too-common, cheap, petroleum-based cloth like polyester or acrylic. Besides not wanting to support the oil industry,  I don’t like how it looks or feels. On the other hand, I get excited to think of the unique fabrics I can create on my loom with natural yarns, fabric strips (great for rugs) and fine threads of hemp, cotton, and bamboo.

Creativity and desire feel closely connected, both eliciting emotions of longing, wonder, curiosity, and joy—especially when (amazingly enough) they are satisfied.  Desire for something useful and beautiful often inspires me to wonder how I can create it or even improve upon it. And when I succeed with a creation, the desire grows even stronger—even if it took me ten times to get it right! Jesus and Mary have spoken quite a lot about desire and how essential it is to our development in love, and thus our happiness. As we engage loving desires, we stretch and grow our souls in love, discover our unique soul-qualities, experience a fulfilling life, and attract new opportunities and people into our lives. Bonding with our soul-mate (whether we have them in our lives already or not), for example, is greatly assisted by following our desires. And developing the most important relationship we can ever have—with God—is all about desire.

Apparently, our Father—The Ultimate Creator—delights when His children engage in desires that involve creativity, especially when the process and results align with God’s view of what is loving. Perhaps because we are God’s children, creativity feels like food for the soul. When we create things that benefit and bring joy to ourselves and others, are supportive to life in general, efficient with resources, beautiful, have multiple functions, and satisfy that precious “I made that” feeling, it feels fantastic!

Weaving, for me is also about self-expression, another cousin to creativity and desire. I am aware that over my life-time, I have been quite repressed in honest self-expression. Jesus, Mary and others have pointed out to me (and now I can feel) that I hide myself behind a well-built facade, which is the protection I create to avoid the fear of attack associated with being real. The feeling I have in my soul is that the world is unsafe for me to genuinely express my thoughts and feelings—any unique expression of my soul, for that matter. Interestingly, I have had issues with my throat chakra, the center of self-expression, my whole life. As young as four years old, I had to have a tumor removed from my neck; my teeth have always been discolored and crooked; my tonsils are always swollen; I used to get hoarse and unable to speak frequently as a child; I clench my jaw at night; I love to sing, but my singing voice is totally erratic and untrustworthy; and I have constant pain in the muscles and tendons of my neck. Our bodies don’t lie, even if we do.

I think we are hard-wired to create and to express ourselves. And when we don’t feel safe to express in ways that will rock the boat or bring attack, we will find other ways to satisfy that compulsion in our souls. I notice that, while some forms of self-expression are very challenging and scary for me, weaving is safe. I think art, in general, is a safe mode of self-expression. No one is going to get angry at me because I didn’t follow the rules of weaving! I think it would be a curious study to look at artists and see if there is a common theme of fear of attack in their soul, which might have spurred them into a safe form of self-expression.

Writing these blog posts is a form of expression that doesn’t always feel safe, even bringing up the fear of attack for me sometimes; but I think it is a good exercise in revealing more of my real self, although the facade will continue to influence me until I work through all the fears associated with it.

I suspect that fear of honest expression is somewhat universal. Are there any cultures on this planet that don’t oppress and control their children in some way? Even the mere threat of  anger, disapproval, condescension and judgement is enough to shut down a child. Like me, most people loose touch with who they really are because of early influences in our environment to shut down our souls and abide by other’s expectations. Breaking out of that is not easy.

How do you express your soul? Do you pick comfortable, safe ways to do it? Or are you one of those rare individuals who don’t give a hoot what others think? Do you have any idea who you really are or what unique qualities God put in your soul? Or do you walk around in your facade like I do—afraid of feeling the real me—hoping to get pleasant responses from the world around you? What action could you take in your life to support the real you? How could you exercise your creativity and honest self-expression?

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Now on a lighter note, here’s a peak into one of my safe yet thoroughly enjoyable means of creativity and self-expression. This winter I was determined to spend some of my indoor time weaving, which I  haven’t done since the big move to Arizona.

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My loom set up in the atrium.

It felt great to set up my loom in the sunny atrium, but I felt anxious and awkward about getting started, having to refer to my library of videos and books to get me back on track, but once I found my groove it was wonderful! I absolutely love the creativity, colors and textures of weaving my own cloth.  And the winds of fortune—bolstered by the mysterious power of desire—gifted me with several large boxes of fine yarns from a gentleman who’s wife, a weaver, died. Thank you! So I have a nice collection of supplies to choose from and be creative with.

Eventually I want to offer my weavings to the world, perhaps through a website like www.Etsy.com (a popular marketing site for folks offering hand-made creations). But I won’t be doing it like a regular marketplace with a set price for each item. Jesus has explained that our current economic system, where we do have required prices, is actually against God’s laws of love. God wants every action we take to be one of desire, not obligation. Our normal transactions that require a certain amount of money for a product or service turns the exchange into an obligation, a demand, on the consumer. Can you imagine a world where the pressure of survival was lifted because all our basic need for life were met, and we felt the freedom to gift our creations and resources based on desire? If people were loving, we would have that world. To get there, we will need to heal our attitudes and emotions about self-responsibility, scarcity and lack, wanting things for free, not wanting to give, valuing useless and destructive things, not valuing loving things, self-worth issues, fear of being taken advantage of, laziness, etc. I don’t think society has the desire for that kind of change—yet. But, I will do what I can to introduce such “crazy” ideas where I can, and start working on the pile of erroneous emotions that I , too, have in these areas.

When I have a good assortment of weavings to share, I will set up my store-front to demonstrate a gifting economy—the only system of exchange, according to Jesus, that aligns with God’s Laws—and where I will give my creations away as gifts. People are welcome to donate if they wish to do so, and I can let them know how much time and money I put into each creation, but the idea is to share goods, services and money based on desire rather than expectation and demand. God’s perfect laws interacting with my soul condition will determine what happens every step of the way. If I need to release emotions of not feeling valued, for example, then I will attract people who will not value what I am giving. That is when I need to have faith that the emotion arising and its release are far more important to my well-being and education in love than the sum of donations I receive. I may need to remind myself that life comes from God, not dollars.

So I launched my return to weaving this winter with some simpler projects: shawls, placemats and dish towels, but I am also really keen on weaving rugs as well as clothing. I have collected an assortment of recycled cotton fabrics (mostly old sheets, jeans and T-shirts), and really look forward to weaving them into rugs.

In 2015, when I lived at Isis Oasis in Geyserville, California, I designed and wove my first rugs in an Egyptian theme using old purple sheets for the “weft” (the side-to-side thread or strips of cloth I add as I weave). These two rugs were woven on the same “warp” (the long threads that get wound on the loom), with the pattern variation done by changing the “treadling” (the foot-powered peddles on the loom that determine the order of threads). OK, so I wouldn’t have chosen purple for myself, but it certainly fit their decor, and I love how they came out:

After making the rugs for Isis Oasis, I sold that loom and bought another which came with me to Arizona but sat in storage until this year. The loom I acquired is a Gilmore, 40 inch weaving width, with 8 shafts and 12 treadles—all I would need for most of my lighter-weight weaving desires. It was built in the early 60’s—older than I am—but has many good years left (hopefully I do too).

When I bought this loom, it already had a warp of fine white cotton threads on it, so that is what I started with. For the weft, I chose a contrasting smoky blue from one of the boxes given to me (a beautiful alpaca wool), picked a unique wavy “progressing twill” pattern which would give me the “drape” I wanted, and created the following:

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I loved the pattern! I had plenty of warp for another project, so I changed the weft color and made this one:

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And there was still plenty of warp left, so I decided to make some colorful placemats for my table, as mine were old and dull. These are all on the same white background warp, but with two different weft colors alternated between passes—one a unique base color for each placemat (dark blue, white, pink, and medium blue), the other some short segments of various colored cotton embroidery threads that I had acquired from another artist who passed to the spirit world. I had a blast creating these because they were spontaneous, on-the-fly creations, and I love how they came out.

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Hard to believe this is not only the same warp, but also the same weaving pattern used in the scarves! What a difference colors make.

I had also collected a few dish towel “kits” in the previous two years that I was eager to weave. I had bought these because my own dish towels were stained, becoming thread bare, and needed replacement. These kit towels looked really nice, and they taught me how to do patterns and textures that were new to me. Kits, although they take some of the creativity and self-expression out of a project, are great for starting back into weaving, because all the threads and instructions are there to jump right in.

First, my earthy colored dish towels:

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Then the bright colors…

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The multi-colored one on top—where I went beyond the limitation of the kit instruction—is my favorite.

Then I found something on line that I really liked made by the barefoot weaver that inspired me:

Short Ruana draping jacket

It is a short version of a South American style ruana or pashmina, and I wanted one! This project would definitely involve more creativity and self-expression as well as challenge! I decided to make it using a “double-weave” technique, something I had never done before, where the cloth is woven in two layers at the same time, with a fold on one side, so when you take it off the loom, it opens out into a cloth that is twice the width as it was woven. This eliminates the need for a stitched or sewn seam up the back of the piece. How cool is that?

I opened up my boxes of yarns and picked out all the colorful ones I had. I wanted lots of colors—blue, yellow, red—some of which I didn’t have in my stash, so I complemented the ones I had with yarns and cotton embroidery floss from Walmart (the only store with yarn in this area). Unfortunately all the yarns at Walmart are acrylic. If I was to do it over again, I would have taken the time to order the needed colorful yarns in natural fibers, but I was impatient and didn’t want to spend  lots of money on good yarn when I had no idea if I could pull off this stretch of my abilities.

I made snippets of all the different threads I wanted to include, and played around with them until I had a pattern of colors I liked. Here are all the beautiful warp-threads on the loom with the beginnings of a “Rose-path” weft pattern in medium blue that let the warp colors shine through:

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I can see why they consider double-weave to be a more advanced technique. I had to refer back to my books and on-line sources several times before I felt confident enough to go for it. I only had a few places where I had to unweave a portion of it to correct an error—not bad for a beginner! Of course, now it is 80°F (27°C) outside, so I won’t be wearing it much until the fall, but when I do, I will enjoy it. Here is my colorful, waist-length ruana:

My Short Ruana

There are a few things I would do differently on the next one. For example, I think bamboo yarns would create a nicer flowing drape. I look forward to experimenting with this and other weaving creations next winter.