Posted by: Janet | August 16, 2007

Weaving the strands, Part 1

In my unpublished “autobiography” written almost 10 years ago and titled 8 countries, 62 years (hence the title of this blog), I have a chapter called Weaving the Strands.  Looking at what I wrote then, I think it might prove a good basis for an early entry for this blog.   So here goes – with editing and alterations where appropriate from the further perspective of almost another 10 years.


                I came across a quotation attributed to Goethe “ Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it………”.  This quotation could certainly be applied to my approach to handcraft projects where from an early age I was always beginning something – and not always finishing it.  Yet many of my projects I have finished and the process of creating something with my hands has been very important to me in the course of my life.  Without some form of handcraft project, life can feel quite blank.      In Anne Chisholm’s biography of Rumer Godden she notes how important writing was to Rumer and how important it was to her to have a good place/space in which to write and how miserable she was when she was not able to write.   The same would apply to how I feel when my loom is either not set up or is set up in an uninviting space.  

 The early ’70’s found us in St. Lucia in the Caribbean.  Of course I was very busy with the 3 sons, age 3, 2, and 4 months.  Not much time for handcraft you might think – but I needed something appropriate to the situation.  In St. Lucia I bought a sewing machine and my sewing projects kept me happy and feeling purposeful for a long time.  I tried doing some hooking of yarn on hessian but did not know enough about the process to realise that my yarn was too thin and my hessian not taut and that I didn’t have a pattern or design in mind.  But I was interested in learning to weave and had been for a long time.  I did photocopy one article on rug weaving – am not sure how I found that in St. Lucia.  And I did buy a book on embroidery and did a big embroidery of a sweety sweety picture of children and a girl on a swing.  Craftwork made me feel purposeful and I loved it.  Learning how to sew and making clothes for the boys was so interesting.  And a friendly neighbour, Mary Moore, was so helpful in my struggles with my sewing machine.  When we got back to Dublin I spotted a small child’s loom made by Spears and for sale in Nimble Fingers for £8.  This was my first loom and I took it to Fiji.  How fortunate I was to have that little headstart for in Fiji I made contact with a New Zealander who was interested in weaving and eventually I got in contact with Squirrel Looms and a man who made looms in New Zealand.  In due course I ordered a table loom from him and this gave me much pleasure.  From that loom I moved on to a Squirrel floor loom.  And I began producing my first floor rugs.  These were very popular at the Fiji Arts Club Exhibition.  The formation of the Fiji Crafts Association and making friends through the Arts Club was such an important part of my life.  I really enjoyed the Tuesday morning outdoor painting group.  I also had an introduction to pottery and other crafts, new to me.   I made so many friends through these contacts.    And Ian got down to painting also and that was wonderful.  I loved the success of his paintings at the Arts Club Exhibitions.  How I would love to repeat that experience.      

                My loom was in a great position in our living room in Fiji.  Then when we returned to Dublin our belongings kept going round the world and didn’t finally get unloaded in Dublin for about 8 or 9 months.  And when we assembled my loom here in the garage, the garage/carport just wasn’t big enough or bright enough. ……….. to be continued


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