Weaving as Meditation

Sometimes, the weaving process can be very stressful. It will make me frustrated and angry, and doubt myself as a designer and craftsperson. Part of this stems from my anxiety disorder- but a lot of it comes from me wanting to improve and make great product that people will want to have in their lives.

Other times, I have woven things that have just helped me unwind after a stressful day. These are the times I focus on my breathing, my rhythm and the advancement of the woven web. These are the times of my meditation. Many people will state that weaving is a very conscious act. You have to be focus on every pick and beat to make sure that it is even and consistent. When you learn your loom however, you know all the sounds it makes, and the exact product you have made 100 times before- you can get yourself into a wonderful headspace where you can just feel the movement.

A cat peaking his head through the loom
Many people find that having "helpers" with their weaving stressful. My cats help me realize that weaving is a fun act of exploration and that can help me find my quiet space. If they get too "explorative" or "helpful" I tend to give them the boot. But, having them in the studio with me helps me enjoy what I am doing.

My weaving meditations usually come in the middle of a long warp. I know what things to expect from the particular material, and I have developed a solid muscle memory in the pattern at the treadles. These moments I am completely immersed in how my hands grasp the beater, how the yarn sounds sliding through the reed, and how my body is impacted by each beat. Weaving is very physical, and if you are not listening to your body, you can hurt yourself (not immediately, but over the long term). This is the reason why I weave barefoot and wearing clothes I can slide around the bench in when I weave. I want to feel unrestricted as I move. It helps me to maneuver around my equipment (my looms are very large so I usually have to get in and out of the loom, and my everyday wear doesn't always facilitate this).

At the loom in my comfy weaving clothes.
In my comfy weaving clothes. I tend to wear leggings or joggers on the bottom with a warm loose top or a tank top depending on the weather. My studio is not insulated so my wardrobe at the loom tends to be directly correlated to the time of year.

My weaving meditations are usually the time when my anxiety stops- at least for a few hours. I am not wrapped up inside my own head, but I am listening to my body move, the loom settling into the rhythm and my breath. As with exercising, yoga, and meditation, breath is very important. If you find yourself holding tension while you are weaving, you are not going to feel the connection. I tend to inhale during certain portions of the pattern, and exhale during others, much like how a weight lifter exhales at the exertion of the lift and the inhale at the point of relaxation. When I get in this type of mediation, my weaving improves, because my body knows how to maintain the correct weight on the beat, and the sounds of the cloth as it is being created.

Tying knots.
Tying knots tend to fall under this quiet headspace, especially when I am tying many knots over and over again.

I will be very excited for when I reach this point on the AVL loom. I am still learning what the sounds are. I am still learning what to feel in my body if something is wrong, or if something is falling into place. This was not an intuitive thing when I started weaving. Every warp that went on to the loom was a challenge. It wasn't until I was working on my Kyra loom all the time and making the same product over and over again was when I was able to find that silent space in my head where I can feel and hear is my loom, my breath and my cloth.

Tegan wearing a bunch of blankets.
I like to have fun when I weave- because if I don't, I think I would go mad.

This was a bit of a philosophical post, but it is something that reminds me why I love weaving, the connection between my body and the product that I create. These moments are what keep me motivated when I am feeling frustrated with my work, I know at some point in the cloth I will feel this calming sensation come over me, and it will create the emotional and physical bond with my work.

  1. Cheryl wurtenberger
    I love your connection to meditation. I have felt this way for a very long time. Weaving over 30 years, wow time does move forward doesn't it. I have very old looms, I work mostly on 4 harnesses. I have helpers too, they keep me humble and I love the art and craft movement. 1900's Especially the head ,heart and hand connection. No computer for me, simple graph paper and my trusty calculator. Thanks for sharing it's nice to know I'm not alone.