Friday, January 11, 2008

Weaving for a Living...........or Not

This Christmas our children gifted me with an MP3 player. One of the great pleasures of this gift is that I can now listen to episodes of WeaveCast without being tethered to the computer. I have subscribed to this podcast and synched it to my MP3 player. Now I can walk or ride my stationary bike and listen.

Yesterday I listened to episode 12, called "Weaving Resolutions." It was produced in January of 2007 and was as fresh today as it would have been a year ago. And while resolutions take up a small part of the episode, its heart is a wonderful interview with weaver and fiber artist Anita Luvera Mayer.

I responded to many things things in the interview, including the fact that she is in her 70's, still incredibly active and enthusiastic about her work. But I especially appreciated her explanation of how she organizes her work.

At any given time she has only three projects going. Each project is at a different stage. She has one project which she is finishing up. One project which she is actively engaged with. And then there is one project waiting in the wings.

I was so surprised (and delighted!) to hear this, for that is just how I organize my weaving life. I had stumbled upon this way of organizing my efforts because my body simply will not let me do one thing continuously for any period of time. Having things organized this way gives me the variety in my day that my body needs. But perhaps it gives me mental variety as well and allows creative seepage among the projects. I had not thought of these possibilities.

One other thing in particular that I appreciated was her response to the frequently asked question: could she support herself with her weaving. The answer was a definite no. The money she earns from things like workshops is merely a nice addition. She explained that she is lucky that she has an "angel"---a supportive husband. So it doesn't matter to her how long it takes her to finish any given project. It can take as long as three years. She does not sell her items. She makes them for herself or for good friends or to show. What I really liked is that she expressed her gratitude for being so privileged but never apologized for it. I too am privileged, but I always feel like apologizing for it.

In reality, there is no need to apologize. It is a privilege, too, to be able to weave to support oneself. It is very difficult to do that and those who do it have enormous strengths and abilities as well as the creative ability to handle all of this that I do not come near to possessing. They too are gifted. They may well wish for more chances to slow down. I sometimes daydream about would it might have been like to try to support myself by my weaving. But I know that I do not have within me what doing that would have demanded.

I am happy where I am. I shall be grateful. And, thanks to Anita Luvera Mayer, I shall not apologize.


Dorothy said...

Hmm. I think I manage two weaving projects at a time. One on the loom, one I'm designing, or finishing off. But really, I prefer one at a time. I was thinking the other day that if I had more than one loom I'd have more than one project, and I'd like one better, or just find it more interesting, and then the other wouldn't happen.

So, if you have three projects, how do you organise them? What happens if one is a big favourite, do you still keep a couple of others moving along?

Leigh said...

Interesting post. My problem with organization of projects is that I have to include spinning and knitting! So no matter how organized I am, I still feel disorganized.

I think the key to true gratitude is the humility that fuels it. Not the wallowing kind, but the confident kind, that recognizes one's privileges as gifts rather than self-accomplishments, and is genuinely thankful for them. I like those kind of folks, and you're right, no apology is necessary there.

bspinner said...

I like having two projects on my looms. A fine threading for over shot, huck lace and etc. Something I have to concentrate on and is challenging. Another with a bulker yarn for scarves, shawls or blankets that's easy to weave and doesn't require much thought. I do the same for my knitting projects. Either way I always have something to weave or knit depending on my mood or energy level that day.