One of my favorite childhood memories is seeing my mom work away at her weaving, and seeing her transform along with the rags she turned into art. Her beautiful wall hangings, many of which pair with poems she’s written, line a wall of the house. She’s also woven purses, bags and more. While she’s won awards for her creations, her most cherished rewards go much deeper.
And get this. She’s agreed to donate creations for prizes for the Beauty of a Woman BlogFest VI! (If you’d like to sign up as a contributing blogger, click here.) I’m so stoked and grateful.
I asked her a few questions, so we could all learn a bit about her work.
How did you first learn about weaving?
When I was a child growing up in Assam, India. I was homeschooled, which consisted of two hours of my mom teaching me, then giving me things to do on my own, like reading and math homework. So I had a lot of free time to explore what people were doing on the compound.
I learned to weave by watching weavers, who often let me weave. I wove Saris on big bamboo floor looms. I learned back strap weaving from a tribal friend. I loved weaving so much my dad, instead of a playhouse, had a weaving house built for me with my own back strap loom.
Tell us how it ended up helping you so much emotionally—which I find so inspiring, by the way!
Weaving wove my life back together when it was unraveling. I had a bout of severe depression and refused to talk in therapy. My therapist told me to try using my weaving, to express my feelings with colors and textures. I did, and soon started opening up.
One night I dreamed of an old bag lady pushing a cart. I woke up and wrote a poem about her, expressing the similarities of our lives, pushing a cart of tied up bags of memories. The next day, I wove her out of rags like the ones she was wearing. I even wove her a cart out of wire and wheels from Great Grandma’s button tin. Bingo! It started the story of my healing.
Amazing. What do you love most about the art?
I like that I can weave pictures and wall hangings, rugs or bags or just about anything I dream up! It is different every time. I find every piece unique. I like that I can weave something small and feel the same accomplishment as when I weave something large.
I also like how inexpensive this craft is. Sometimes you can make your loom from odd boards in the garage. You can make the looms adjustable to weave any size. And of course, your supplies are from old clothing or sheets, etc, so everything is recycled. I also like that I can weave anywhere. My loom can be propped on a tree outside or any room in my house. It’s portable.
You seem to really enjoy teaching others.
I have taught small children to people in their eighties. Anyone who wants to can do this craft. I love how you teach one person and they teach another. One of my students taught a friend who had an unfinished basement and she warped her basement wall the same size of her kitchen and wove a rug to fit the entire room!
Another one of my favorite things about sharing this craft is it is keeping an old pioneer art form alive. I even had a student who did historical reenactments at Fort Snelling and wove there, and a flight attendant who planned her schedule around my class to weave a denim rug out of old jeans. It was lovely.
What advice would you give someone who’s interested in starting weaving?
When I teach weaving I tell students there are no mistakes in this kind of weaving, if you make a “mistake,” repeat it a few times and you’ve created a new pattern. I also mention this kind of weaving is meant to be a stress reliever, not a stress producer.
Most importantly, make it fun! Anyone can do this. Lap size looms can be made into huge looms. The sky is truly the limit for what you can do with this craft.
Thanks, Mom! If you have thoughts or questions for her, we’d love to hear them! Can’t wait to fest with you all.