Monday, August 27, 2007

Slow Weaving

I'm pretty sure that I have mentioned that I am a slow weaver. If I haven't said so, it's probably easy to figure out. I weave with fine threads. I weave with multiple shuttles. I dye my own yarns. And the progress on my crackle jacket may seem agonizingly slow to some. Sometimes even to me.

I have discovered that there is actually an entire movement about slow living. It appears to be a small but vibrant movement. Within this movement there are things like slow eating, slow homes and even slow leadership. It was the last which caught my eye as I was reading an essay on slow leadership by The Rev. Ann Fontaine.

The Rev. Fontaine lists 8 principles of slow leadership. I found these principles so applicable to my weaving life that I want to list them here:

1. Right Tempo
2. Right Attention
3. Right Balance
4. Right Perspective
5. Right Direction
6. Right Relationships
7. Right Enjoyment
8. Right Gratitude

I wondered why these principles seemed so applicable to my weaving life. And then I realized this this is one kind of leadership, a leadership of oneself through a maze of possibilities. And I realized as well that when I say I am a slow weaver, I mean much more than throwing the shuttle slowly. I mean that the whole process of weaving, from design inception to finished article is a slow process. When I try to rush any part of it, I become out of kilter, for that is the wrong tempo. When I try to procrastinate, that too is uncomfortable, for it is the wrong tempo.

Right attention for me means focus on what I am doing and not trying to do two (or more!) things at once. Right balance means that my weaving life is balanced with my entire life. I am not only a weaver, something I am sometimes in danger of forgetting. That is when I become out of balance. But if I neglect my weaving for other things in my life, I become out of balance as well. There are times, of course, when I have no real choice but to be out of balance one way or the other. But I try to return to balance as soon as possible.

Right perspective for me is the realization that I will never be "great," whatever "great" may mean , but that I will move quietly at my own pace and do my best work. The desire to be regarded by others as a "great" weaver is a terrible temptation. I resist show-and-tells. I resist sending my work to shows. I have done both. And I do enjoy the praise and the occasional award. But these have a subtle negative effect on me as well. Sometimes they make me want to go out and do more and better in a terrible rush of energy, almost in a sense of desperation. Sometimes, on the other hand, they just somehow kind of sap my energy. In either case, I have to recover my sense of perspective.

Right direction means that the paths I choose, will be of my choosing and come out of my past work. Of course I have been influenced and continue to be influenced in the choice of these paths. But hopefully I have absorbed and internalized these influences so that I have adjusted them to who I am.

Relationships, enjoyment, and gratitude are all important as well. But for now, at least, I think I have said enough.

For an excellent read on the topic check out Karren Brito's blog, Entwinements. You will find it here. Her creative and professional life now focusses on dyeing, but she is also a weaver. And while you are there, check out her most recent post called "Thanks." There she poses some interesting questions as part of a conversation she would like to generate.

Finally, for an interesting piece on the slow living philosophy, check out this essay: "Slow Down, You Move Too Fast."


Alice said...

I completely agree. Thank you for the links to the essays!

Ann said...

What a great application of "slow" - thanks for the link to my essay on Episcopal Cafe..