Growing a Tree: The Act of Weaving
Over a year ago, I commissioned a big frame loom from a friend and decided to weave a tall tree on it. I gathered my materials (cotton, wool, fabric, canvas) and began warping the loom. This in itself took a long time - you'd think it would be easy, but it takes time!
Weaving something more conceptual without a real design is difficult for me. I don't like abstract designs (much), and I work best if there's a pattern or a clear idea. However, I knew I wanted to create a tree, and I thought I could create it as I went.
It turned out to be harder than I thought. I began with the roots, attempting to loosen my grip and follow the twisting path of three gnarled roots. Back and forth I went, back aching and eyes straining. Using a tiny needle instead of shuttles helped me fill in the root gaps with a white yarn and patterned cotton fabric. But working without a plan was very difficult.
The roots were eventually finished and I began weaving the trunk, with thought toward the shaping and branches at the top. Unfortunately the threads began to pull together, and I'll be honest, this discouraged me from continuing - I put the weaving down and did not continue for several months. Actually, until April of this year.
I do most of my weaving late at night, after I've done homework and the dinner dishes. Sometimes I listen to music while I weave. Sometimes I talk to God and stay silent as I weave. Sometimes I put on a movie or listen to the traffic going by outside, as the sun sets and the streetlights pop on. It's very easy for me to get lost in the process and come to my senses hours later, when my back is protesting and my eyes are heavy. If I could weave all night, I probably would.
At long last, I finished the tree. It's not perfect. I left a lot of loose ends. But I was almost sad to finish it and take it off the loom to hang - it had been a part of my studio for so long, driving me crazy with its unfinished state, and yet comforting with its ever-taunting presence. I hung it in my front room so that I can see it when I leave in the morning and come home at night.
If I could use this weaving to symbolize anything in my life, especially over the past year, maybe it would be my journey through discontentment and unmet expectations. When I began it, I had high hopes, both in real life and in this weaving. Over the next several months, those hopes were disappointed and I was angry with God. He hadn't given me what I wanted. I didn't want to be here, I wanted to leave it all behind and start somewhere else. I was tired of my job, of school, of the seeming lack of any tangible changes in my life and heart and mind. The opportunities didn't come, and I spiraled emotionally. March was one of the hardest months I've ever gone through, I think.
I picked up this weaving in April and finished it. Simultaneously, I began to listen to God more closely, and try to draw closer to Him in my struggle. In the process, I read several wonderful articles by Phylicia Masonheimer on contentment, roots, waiting, life situations, but one of them stuck out to me. Here is an excerpt or two:
This is good for me. God has me here, right now, in this moment, for a reason, and I must live by faith. He won't leave me behind, and He began a good work in me that will be finished one day, and it will be so much more beautiful than this tree - more wonderful than I can imagine.