Much of my fiber work is re-work. Repurposing worn out objects, remaking things from estate sales, using up yarns that were intended for another purpose. At sixty-one I find myself surprised at how many pieces of my work are memorial pieces. Memorial because the person just died and I need to do something in their memory. Memorial because I keep their work alive by using their old yarn or equipment.
Jodie was a remarkable member of the Golden Gate Weavers who fought against cancer for many years. When there were no more ways to conquer the cancer, she just kept on with her life. She continued weaving. She produced pieces for a guild show. Weeks before her death she joined us at CNCH 2013 in the Sierra Mountains that she loved. And then she was gone.
When her family gave away her belongings, a student of mine purchased her loom and I was able to help install it in a new home and help my student warp it. I took a selection of her old wool yarns without a clear idea what I would do with them. Some have gone to my students for their first samplers, but the white and brown yarns asked to be turned into something special. The white mill ends ended up in an indigo dye pot last year. Now a beautiful blue, they coordinate with the heathered brown yarn. For years I had been planning to make a yoga bag for myself and I thought Jodie would approve. I found a gorgeous undulating twill and with the brown warp and blue weft quickly wove up pieces of the bag.
Unfortunately, my enthusiasm outweighed my sewing skills. I had no idea how to actually make pockets for my yoga blocks. The newspaper mock-up I’d earnestly made did not prepare me for the problems of making mitered corners on handwoven sewn onto mitered corners of cotton lining. My inexpensive sewing machine actually broke when I tried to sew velcro onto this heavy handwoven.
The strap was my first attempt at backstrap weaving.
Still, I struggled along sewing by hand until I had a product I could trial. It was fun to load my blocks and mat and strap and socks and eye-pillow and shawl into the pockets of my misshapen bag and go off to class.
Now to test the true brilliance of my design: The bag could be completely opened and refolded into a pad to sit on or kneel on. And that part worked beautifully. But it hadn’t occurred to me that this would mean unloading all the things I had carefully packed into the pockets. Somehow the serenity of my space in yoga class felt disrupted when I had “stuff” lying all around me. Back to the drawing board.
I rewarped and created a separate bag for my eye pillow, wool socks, yoga strap and all the accouterments of a luxurious yoga class.
Now after nearly two years of work and multiple tweaks, “Jodie’s bag” is fully functioning, week after week at yoga class. The use of her yarns, my persistence and energetic pursuit of creative pursuits, these are my tribute to Jodie.