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Jane – On Creativity

I thought I would write about my most requested seminar topic.  Some of you have heard me drone on and on about this topic, but some of you may not, so I’m writing this for you. It starts with a question I am often asked “How do you get it all done, you seem to do so much!” I smile, because I don’t get it “all done”.  There are a million things I haven’t gotten done but I do seem to keep my nose to the grind stone and keep plodding along.

Over the years I have read every self help book known to woman or man.  Books like, “Helping Your Child Sleep Through the Night”, “Siblings Without Rivalry”, “How to Deal with your acting up Teenager”, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” and I have always planned to write the best seller “You don’t always have to be an Outlaw with your Inlaws”.   Now I’m reading “Understanding Menopause” and “The Silent Passage” only I’m not being too silent about it.

Of all the self help books I’ve read, one of the best is called “The Creative Habit: Learn it and use it for life” by Twyla Tharp.  Found within is a recipe for understanding creativity.  I have never really had trouble being creative, my efforts mind you were not always successful, but I always kept going.  When I first read “Developing a creative habit” I found out why.  It is because I have Discipline which has given me the ability to Focus, they have become a regular Routine and thus have led to Productivity. These are some of main concepts that Twyla Tharp writes about in her book: DISCIPLINE  FOCUS  HABIT  PRODUCTIVITY

I was raised by a mother who was 41 years older than me (my whole life).  She was a woman who had lived through hard times and she was disciplined and had disciplined habits that she drilled into her children.  So, the idea of working hard has never been foreign to me.  Hard work, seems to be one answer.  I have worked hard to be a weaver for over 30 years.  I did not learn what I know overnight.  I have made every mistake known to a weaver.  I have made more ugly cloth than you can imagine (it is hidden away).  But every mistake and every piece of ugly cloth has given me an opportunity to solve a problem or to weave it again, only better.  I have woven things over and over and over and each time the cloth, the design, the hand, the drape, gets better.  I have focused on one thing until I get it right and then I move on to a new problem. The thing about focusing on one thing: be it weaving mohair blankets for 20 years, or weaving 100’s of scarves or tea towels in just one structure is that you have the opportunity to interpret with colour or a type of yarn over and over again.

This way of creating has allowed me to push the lid off the box, so to speak, on many different aspects of weaving. Many weavers have asked me if I ever get tired of weaving mohair blankets and my answer is always “how could I, I have 50 colours of mohair and in my garden a million different sources of inspiring colour, all of which I create with on the same canvas.  That canvas never changes but the colours do.   A painters canvas may not change but their colours do. At last count I have woven almost 1000 blankets with almost 300 different graphic designs all in plain weave.  1000 blankie’s to keep people warm and bring comfort.  I will always weave mohair blankies.

Over the years I have focused on many different weave structures.  I think I spent 1 entire year drafting overshot name drafts and weaving them in many different yarn combinations.  I have spent several years drafting Bronson Lace starting on 4 shafts, then working on 8 and and then 12 and then 16 etc. and now I sometimes wish I had more than 32. So my message for the day is Don’t be afraid to weave the same thing over and over.  Try to change one element each time and you will learn more than you can imagine.  When it is time and you will know, you can move on to another canvas or weave structure and push it until you really understand it.

Through repetition we learn so much.  Another analogy would be with cooking.  When we learn a new recipe, we often have to refer to the cookbook many times.  The second time we make that recipe, we proceed with a little more self assurance.  The third time we make it we find that we are making subtle changes to the spices and baking times.  It is becoming more familiar and more “ours”.  After a few more times you have completely re-invented it and you understand it at a whole new level.  It works in the weaving world as well.  If you need a good self-help book, check out Twyla’s.  It was great to have a little more understanding as to why I appear to get so much done.