Friday, January 21, 2011

Indigo Dyed Wabi Sabi Coat

A new piece for my Etsy shop: I call it "Wabi Sabi" because it has a worn, aged appearance -- which I like very much. I started by dyeing with onion skins, which gave the fabric (a silk/linen blend) a khaki/gold color -- and then I dipped the fabric in indigo a number of times. The uneven look of the dye is what I especially care for.

But then there's the question of "wabi sabi" itself: What does it really mean? It's a spiritual and artistic idea, according to Wikipedia, having to do with the idea that nothing lasts, nothing is finished, nothing is perfect -- more a sense of the transcience of things that can be conveyed through aged and worn objects. I do love the idea and hope that the fabric gives a feeling of wear rather than "newness."

Here is my friend, Dana Connell, modeling the coat. It has a loose, unstructured, kimono feel.

This Winter: As Usual, Shakespeare Had It Right

When icicles hang by the wall

And Dick the shepherd blows his nail

And Tom bears logs into the hall

And milk comes frozen home in pail,

When blood is nipp'd and ways be foul,
When nightly sings the staring owl, Tu-whit;
Tu-who, a merry note,

While greasy Joan doth keel the pot,
When all aloud the wind doth blow
And coughing drowns the parson's saw
And birds sit brooding in the snow
And Marian's nose looks red and raw,
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,
When nightly sings the staring owl, Tu-whit;
Tu-who, a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

From Love's Labours Lost

Note: All right, the bird is a chickadee, not an owl, and it's a bad photo. But you get the idea.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mary, Untier of Knots: The Sacred Business of Unravelling Yarn

Many times, when I was slowly and frustratingly trying to unwind a skein, working to untie knots that some creature (usually my boxer, Bruno) had playfully created, or just unworking some twists that mysteriously appeared as I dragged some yarn around -- I often thought of this metaphor: that untying knots has something to do with the larger issue of unraveling problems. 

You move slowly, you open the fibers, you don't pull things tighter, you don't yank on the threads in hopes that they will behave -- you kind of find out how they need to work to untangle themselves. And then, one day, I came upon this painting of Saint Mary, Untier of Knots! It was painted around 1700 by Johann Georg Melchior Schmidtner. 

I realized that this endeavor was, in some way, a spiritual activity. I love this painting, because I think that so many of us fiber lovers have spent an inordinate amount of time untangling skeins, wondering why we are so crazy to waste so much time trying to save our precious yarn. So here she is, pursuing a hallowed activity.

Join Me for a 'Thread Talk' on October 5

 Above is my most recent post on Facebook, promoting a 10-minute "Thread Talk" I'll be giving during Spinning and Weaving Week...