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slow fashion weaving a scarf in Guatemala

Wisdom from a Backstrap Weaving Lesson

There are several lessons advertised at the Trama Textiles weaving school. I picked the 10-hour one during which you learn to make a scarf and, of course, you get to keep it. I needed a warm scarf. 

My teachers are Amparo, President of the Cooperative and Oralia, Vice-President. That day was my first day as a volunteer with Trama. In the morning I had made the decision to start the lesson that afternoon. Some of the reasons, besides making my own scarf, were to get to know Amparo and Oralia from the get-go, to understand how they teach, to find out what is important to them, all reasons, I thought, noble, as learning quick about them two would truly help me be a better volunteer.  

Then, as it often happens, when you learn something new you don’t only pick up the skill – you also learn about yourself. Below is my awkward attempt to share glimpses of awareness I experienced during the weaving lessons: 

  1. Trust the process – this is a phrase I read a lot,I hear a lot, and, sometimes, even say a lot myself. Yet difficult to actually do at times, and, I believe, it is because trust is involved.   

The lesson started with me having to choose three colours for my scarf. After I prepared enough quantity of double thread for each of the three colours, Amparo brought over this upside-down table with many legs through which I started preparing the yarn. This was the most difficult part for me because having never seen this process before, I could not picture how wrapping colourful threads around the legs of the upside-down table would turn into a scarf.  

Has this ever happened to you – in your process of growth, to stumble upon by-products of your efforts and actions that in your perception have no resemblance or connection to the final outcome? It has happened to me to dismiss some of them because I did not find them helpful or good enough for my growth. That day, during the weaving lesson, I reminded myself that small outcomes count, even when they don’t look like they do – they are stepping stones of progress.  

 

 

 

  1. Weaving is a meditative action and, just like meditation, you’ll need to allow it to be meditative. 

As modern humans living in the 21st century, our mind is constantly active and occupied. Because of this overload that many point out is leading us to self-destruction, we are encouraged to create space in our mind. I choose to practice yoga and meditate in order to create this space and that’s because I’ve never really liked to cook nor have I been an arts-and-crafts person. It was quite nice for me to experience that when you make something with your hands, you get out of your head.  

had stepped into day two of my lesson with a cluttered mind. That day I got to actually weave, so paying attention was crucial. Oralia caught me on the fact that my mind was not there. She urged me to pay attention, because “it’s not hard”. “Look girl” she said, “you pass this over and under like this and when you reach seven you take the stick out and put it on top of what you have weaved. Like this. It’s easy, girl”. Yes, I had got the message, “Be here, now” she was saying and I listened, also because I did not like to be told off.  

 

 

  1. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step (saying that originated from a Chinese proverb).  

After what felt already like hours, I had weaved enough to have to roll the first bit of fabric to ensure tension in the loom. Oralia came over and showed me how to roll the fabric and reattach the backstrap. And just like that, what I had weaved got hidden away and all I could see was the long yarn I had to work through.

This reminded me of the above-mentioned Chinese proverb and I decided to look less at what was still left of the journey and find enjoyment in the task at hand – the actual weaving. When I had found a rhythm, I noticed how pleasurable it was and I was even able to converse with Amparo and Oralia and connect with them and Trama, just like I had wanted in the first place.

  

Written by Corina Dumont.

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