This morning I’m drinking tea and gathering my strength for this weekend. I’ll be marching in my hometown with the Women’s March sister-march just after noon. Then hoping in the car to drive to Chicago for one night to see a fancy Broadway show about american history. You’ll never guess which one…
But as I am getting ready I found myself checking on my Etsy shop and thinking about how my ways of thinking about my weaving have evolved over the last ten years.
When I started in college I knew that I wanted to be conscious of the ways that I was doing a traditional craft. I wanted to deal with the fact that I was coming to this art-form as something to do as a hobby, an extra, something to study and learn just because I was interested in it, not because I needed the skills to survive.
My senior project looked at various ways that loom-shaped cloth had been used in societies and places where it was important not to waste any resources. Where woven cloth was precious and treated accordingly. Cut only sparingly, using every scrap, weaving to the exact dimensions needed to prevent any waste.
What I didn’t look at was the larger, zoomed-out picture. I wasn’t interested in how the yarn was produced, just how it worked in the piece. It has taken me years to grow my understanding, to appreciate the ethics of production, the toll of using materials that are mass-produced and harmful to ecosystems and the people making them.
I am still learning, still trying to find my place in all this. Lately I have gravitated towards bamboo because it has the “green” label, but it is far from perfect. I don’t know how much water and energy it takes to turn the bamboo plant into yarn, and if the renewable-ness in any way balances out the negative effects on the planet. I know that most bamboo is grown in China and so I can’t be sure, from a human-rights view, if bamboo is ethical at all.
Wool is the only fiber I can work with straight from the source. But I can’t only weave, purchase, and wear wool from animals that I know.
I don’t have answers, but I’m doing the best I can to question, and keep questioning the choices I make as a creator.