Monday, 30 July 2012

180 degrees

This has been a long summer.

During the summer here the majority of the student body goes off to work or stay with parents or to placements or on holiday. I have become rather attached to my house and wanted to work to gain experience so I decided to spend the summer.

For two months so far, and one yet to come I am working two jobs.

In the first instance, I have been employed as a wandering dogsbody-type in a large mill in Peebles known as Robert Nobles, the RN is actually the name of the apparel fabric brand, and when working for the design team I have been working entirely with the Replin team, who are responsible for high performance upholstery fabric for rail and air. When I'm not working with them, I'm usually in the lab helping out with fabric analysis, counting ends per inch, measuring yarns and so on. It's more interesting than it sounds ;)

In the second instance I have been working for the college repairing the handlooms in the weave shed on the remaining two days of the week. Which is a MASSIVE job. Changes have been afoot in the college for some time, largely due to the current government's ongoing crusade to demolish all public institutions and replace them with fast food chains staffed by unpaid volunteers. Not all changes are bad though, and this summer, thanks largely to the pestering efforts of the previous years 4th year group and ourselves as well, I am now doing the first serious maintenance and repair effort in about 30 years. To say that the place had been neglected would be an understatement. Anyway, that's all in hand.

And it's not what I wish to talk about anyway.

Here's the thing. At some point in the last five years, I stopped singing. Which is at once a metaphor and a simple statement of fact.

It's funny, that sometimes you can be quite contentedly working away. In my case, basically, working, cleaning, cooking and sleeping without end. Then something can come along, just a little thing, that shows you another option or a different way of living and all of a sudden your entire existence is cast in a different light. As if I was walking along with a half-empty stomach and rags on my back, unaware there was a different way, only to wander into the middle of a shopping mall where well fed and well dressed people are drinking and eating. In short, the terrible social and spiritual poverty of my life was laid before me by the universe.

What happened is I visited my brother in Greece. I had already been occasionally assailed by daily bouts of depression in the evening of a nature to which I was unaccustomed. A week or two previously I had a conversation with an associate at the college who raised the possibility that I may continue my study sometime in Orkney, which is a far more attractive place to be than Galashiels. I ascribe these waves of depression to being offered two choices, one of which is more attractive than the other, but when looked at alone is not in any way attractive as a social prospect. Anyway, I spent a week in Greece.

It's a beautiful country. Everything is different. In my whole life I have never been free of the fear of cold. It has been my constant companion, the driving force behind my habitation in a stone box, which I consider to be akin to an expensive prison cell. In greece, certainly in the summer, there is no danger at any point at all, of ever being cold. You can soak yourself while fully clothed and within hours you will be dry. It is simply amazing.

And the most amazing thing is: the heat didn't bother me. I have a stoic attitude to that I can't change, and the thing about the heat is that there's nothing you can do about it. And anyway, it causes no harm, so why would you?

So it was laid before me, by the universe and certain individuals. I have a choice. Between a life where I will be tied like a prisoner to a job and a house and a town I have no feeling for, by the fear of the cold. Or I can go to Greece, to be a free weaver. To make beautiful things, to sell them on the islands, and to weave strip cloth on a portable loom in the shade of a tree.

I won't need a house, or a car. At least for a while, I can tour the islands, doing my thing, with my loom tied in a roll to my pack, with my bag packed with trade goods, yarns and tools. It can be a good life, I can live for beauty and truth and freedom, I can reconnect with my international tribe and live the life of a free nomad. I can rebuild my life on this basis.

And I will sing again.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Kumihimo And Shaggy Rugs

I've been working like a MotherTrucker recently (got that off a mate one facebook, it's pure gold isn't it?) and not been having much time to think about college work or that. I have however been keeping myself active at the weekends (if I allow myself to get into a low energy condition it's difficult to get back up and leads to unpleasant mondays) by making kumihimo braids. It's kinda fun and it makes lots of useful stuff. Very good for getting rid of small amounts of posh yarn as well. Kinda time consuming, but it's not like i've got anything else to do at the weekend except cleaning and reading, so it's nice. Good for the hands.

You'll notice a shaggy rug as well. I'm keeping quiet on what I'm making this with for the time being as they're potentially an economically sensible product as the materials are cheap and they don't take long to weave. They're also much nicer than any rag-rugs I've ever made. I just need to refine the finishing process. Once I'm ready to fly with it then I'll spill the beans, but not until then.

Anyhoodle, I'm away to Greece to visit my brother tomorrow. I'm making a hatband for the cheap hat I bought from Tesco. That's the first picture up there, trufax like. Hoping I can collect some inspiration for next year when I'm away. I'm planning a sort of unified concept for a living room. Has to be good, because I need to be enthusiastic about it. If I'm not into what i'm doing my tutors can always tell and I get marked down for it.