On our morning walk Asha runs down to a stream and I search for a stick to throw her. Instead I find small purple flowers in the grass. They look like a cluster of buds about to bloom. I spend a few minutes examining them and looking around for more. As we continue on our way, I make a mental note to walk this trail in a few days to see what they look like once they’ve opened.
Back home, I settle into the familiar process of starting a new weaving project. After a few hours of steady work, my thoughts drift back to the purple flowers.
They were an unexpected delight in their purpleness and their new-to-me-ness and I almost didn’t see them.
I take a few minutes to consult an online database of New England plants. Several clicks later I identify them as gentiana clausa, Closed Gentian or Meadow Bottle Gentian, and learn those weren’t buds about to open, but rather flowers in full bloom.
Today is the fall equinox and I am struck by the juxtaposition of flowers in bloom and the fading, falling leaves as the deciduous trees prepare for the cold winter ahead. And here I am at the beginning of a new project.
I have worked steadily for a few hours and it will be many more hours spread over several days before I have towels in my hands. Yet I will have woven many towels before we cycle through the seasons and see these blooms again.
I usually think of the weaving process as a linear sequence of steps, starting with the design and ending with woven, hemmed cloth. But these flowers on the fall equinox have me think of weaving as a cycle. Granted, a much shorter cycle than the seasons, but a cycle nonetheless. Sometimes a week, sometimes longer depending on what else is going on in my life.
I see a connection between winter and design ideas waiting in the dark, amorphous thoughts and questions waiting until the time is right to start giving them concrete form. (Interestingly, in the previous paragraph I almost skipped the design step – a more mysterious and less visible step – and wrote that the weaving process starts with making the warp.)
This is followed by the spring-like excitement – and sometimes confusion – of making color and pattern decisions and calculations, of making the warp and getting it on the loom. Then the project blooms into summer fullness as I weave and watch the cloth slowly and steadily grow. Just as fall is a time of harvest and winding down, hemming brings the towels to completion and gives me time to appreciate the cloth I’ve woven.
The questions and ideas that have emerged while weaving may be carried forward into a new cycle, into a new project.
I realize that it’s not new to think of the creative process in phases with parallels to the seasons, but I hadn’t applied this to my weaving before.
The natural world frequently inspires my color choices and is reflected in the names I give a towel collection, such as Under Clear Skies or Sunflower Happiness. Recognizing the phases within a weaving project deepens my connection with the natural world.
The steps remain, but when I think in seasons I focus on qualities rather than on individual steps. And I feel part of something bigger. My process becomes one of many cycles in life and in the natural world around me, cycles that include unexpected purple delight on the fall equinox.
Wishing you beauty in your everyday,
P.S. I’m honored that Whimsy & Tea was included in Issue 42 of UPPERCASE, a magazine for the creative and curious, especially given that this issue has themes near and dear to my heart — the marvelously mundane and the perfectly imperfect. You can read the snippet here (and click through the digital version to pages 8-9) or purchase a print copy and read the wonderful articles at your leisure.