Threads of Words and Yarn
Writing and weaving to survive grief-filled times.
You may have noticed that I haven’t been writing much here on my Substack over the past year. But, in fact, I continue to write for myself and, in addition, have many half-finished pieces on my computer, including some about school-free learning, which is how this newsletter began. I now want to tie up those loose threads and start sharing some of that writing.
Weaving words together is something I have always done. I wrote little stories as a young child, poured my teenage angst into poems and journal entries – the journals not far from hand throughout the rest of my years – and produced 13 books and many hundreds of articles during my 45+ year career as a journalist, author, and professional writer.
Coincidentally, I’ve also long loved working with fibre. I think the seed was sewn 52 years ago when I was pregnant with my first child. Then, I was creating large, sculptural macrame installations suspended from the ceiling in our tiny apartment.
Fast forward many years and I discovered weaving and took inspiration from living near the ocean. I produced seascapes and landscapes inspired by the waves, sand, rocks, and changing tides. That work made me just as happy as writing does. But life intervened late last year and insisted that I take a year’s respite from weaving and writing. Now, I find a need to come to terms with these tumultuous times and with being well into the eighth decade of my life. So I’m back in front of the loom as well as the keyboard.
When I began my latest piece of weaving, there was no particular inspiration. I needed to brush up on my skills and was simply feeling the need to weave myself and an unraveling world back together, to ground myself in working with my hands along with my brain, to find some joy so I can remain functional in the midst of all the troubling news. Since we moved a few months ago to a new location a bit more distant from the sea, I thought that since both fibre arts and writing tell stories, I’d try to combine them and create a different sort of tapestry than my previous ones.
I was also motivated to weave a web of connections because we’ve become so disconnected over the past three or so years, divided into silos of belief and opinion, black and white rhetoric. After all, one of the underlying principles of my writing career has been that words can help us weave our social fabric back together in new ways. However, there is nothing new about my flash of inspiration to combine words and yarn in a tapestry, as I’ve recently discovered. In fact, the words “text” and “textile” have the same root in the Latin word “texere,” which apparently means “to weave.”
At any rate, what resulted was a little story, pictured here almost ready to be cut off the loom, about how I’m feeling. I tried to infuse new meaning into a few of my well-worn themes, experiences, and concerns. I wish I’d used my larger loom so I could have explored using more words to tell a better, less obscure story. So, this may be the first of a series.
If you’re also grappling with how to get through these grief-filled times, I highly recommend a ritual like this. You don’t have to feel that you’re talented at writing or weaving or whatever other art form you choose. In fact, if you can suspend judgment about your abilities and the final product, you may find that becoming absorbed in moments of creativity can help you settle, feel comforted, and be into your soul and out of your head for just a little while.
I’d love to know what means you are using to cope with the changes life is offering!
Thanks for reading Challenging Assumptions! If you’re not already a subscriber, you can subscribe for free to receive new posts via email and to support my work.