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What are the chances?

wave weave

Weaving waves

Chance. How we doubt its authority. It really is about how to choose.  This Aeon essay portrays choosing as a way of moving forward and as humans do, we crave validation that we are going in the right direction. The Kantu’ of Borneo use a bird to determine the new season’s optimum planting ground in poor soils but as the anthropologist Michael Dove discovered, the authority given to the bird made more sense than his determination to scientifically determine the bird’s methods.

The essayist Michael Schulston points out that a method of choosing using a trusted tailsman has the bonus of taking away blame and giving reasons for the choice. The bird chose – the decision is made.

I think we can learn alot from this approach as we are more inclined to mistrust our intuition or tailsmans. We need solid proven, logical,  scientific and mob approved reasoning for everything. And if we get it wrong we FAIL, FAil, FaiL, fail.

And so in any undertaking including the arts, we can be crippled by this fear of a failure or some time spent in a perceived useless task. It stops us from choosing and confidently going with our decision. Not everyone is like this, of course, and I am speaking from my own experience.


just weave

Weaving enthralls the mind filling it with choice. Which pattern, which sett, which yarn, where do I start. Of course these things can be a delightful stepping stone to the the final cloth. A process of absolute wonder. And this is what Saori inspired weaving does for a weaver. Imagine a bird or something, selecting and choosing for you. You must go this way or that…because. Make a decision quickly and don’t overthink it. At least give this method a go; I’m always reciting to myself.

weaving on a piccolo

Abandoning thinking

Initially it doesn’t matter at all what you start with because you work with what you have and just keep going. Keep weaving and weaving. Attend to what you are doing and it will come together. Taking a chance can be just as effective as all the possible planning you could muster.

It seems terribly irresponsible of me to advocate ‘abandon thinking’. Of course that’s not going to happen. But we can distract ourselves so the choices in our cloth aren’t really a planned choice.  The best way, I’ve found, to do this is when I’m weaving a demo for studio weavers. I just grab yarns and colours with little thought and the work melds into something I wouldn’t have selected if I’d thought about it. But generally it’s a nice surprise and can work.  It starts to get a little closer to the idea that Misao Jo has for weavers.  You weave a part of yourself –  without knowing it.


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