Monday, November 20, 2006

Weaving and Third World Coutiere (thanks, Mom) :)

Today is a "slow day", one of those that creeps along and I creep along with it. Although there are things I need to get done (and this is the perfect week to do it since half the country is on vacation somewhere), I don't feel any need to do anything but sit here. So far, I've watched two episodes of "Judging Amy" and that's probably going to be the highest intellectual challenge to be met.

Maybe it's the cloudy day. Maybe it's the fact that I only got five hours of sleep last night. Perhaps the CIA needs to reset the implant in my brain. (Just kidding. Just kidding!)

Anyway, I had an email asking me about Thai ankle bracelets. Since I have mentioned them a few times, this would be an easy, non-challenging question to answer.

I'm not sure of the history of them ~ or how the village women came to wear them. One day, perhaps someone will explain that. There was something in a book... something about protecting their ankles from small animals and snakes that might be out in the hills. There was something very appealing about them to me, regardless of the origin. There's something sturdy and strong, something ancient, something filled with history and stories and identity.

So the time came to track them down and buy some. It wasn't easy.

Finally back here, I found them on a website. That was one check I couldn't write fast enough to buy eight of them.

Naturally, I thought they might look absurd.. and I waited.. and waited and finally they appeared in my mailbox.

Immediately, I tried them on. Four on each ankle. They felt rather strange, kind of restrictive. They also felt electric. I knew I was tapping into something I couldn't quite identify. Roots. Very deep roots. They're snug. I can feel them. Even as I sit here typing, I am aware of them. They make the rather annoying habit of sitting on my heels impossible. They also make it impossible for me to tuck one leg under the other when sitting down in a straight back chair which is something I do regularly without thinking. There are a few times I nearly hit the ceiling from the pain.

Surprisingly, I get compliments ~ even though it is certainly not something you'd ordinarily see on women wandering around these parts. Part of what lets me know something is "right" here is that no one looks at me like I'm a nut. No one reacts negatively.

And I like being different. Obviously.

It's time to learn how to weave. It is another old practice, one that makes me think of women gathered around in a circle, weaving, creating and telling the stories of their lives and their ancestors. It is how wisdom was passed along.

Throughout the ages, women have done this in all cultures. Quilts, blankets, clothes and household necessities were created by women in circles, working with their hands.

Eventually, I will find someone to teach me the craft. I will order the supplies from Thailand and begin to create.

I'm not a creative person in any visual art. I can spin words ~ but spinning thread is another issue. It will be interesting to see if it is something I can master, something that will come naturally.

At least it's something new ~ something I will need to know for the future. Once I'm "home", I will be sending beautiful, woven clothes, blankets and household items to friends and relatives here.

Peace to all~




meno said...

Oooh, i like the ankle bracelets, but i always sit on one foot too so it might not work too well for me.
I have done a tiny bit of weaving, it is very soothing.

Susan as Herself said...

I have a family friend who is a professional weaver---has her own studio and business... very lovely things. And my mother did some weaving when I was a kid---she made some very nice pillows, and table coverings, etc. When she died I got several of her handmade things, and her table loom. I did a bit of weaving in the early 90's after she died as a way to connect with that part of her. It is soothing, but time consuming, and I gave it up. But the products of good weaving are gorgeous! Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Those ankle bracelets are beautiful. Do you leave them on all the time?

My daughter was fascinated by the weaving photos. She couldn't stick her nose in here or start asking questions quickly enough!

Leann said...

Hi thailand gal.I been out of town for a few days and just took time to catch up on your blog.girl you been reading my your posts.your one on woman and the way they are treated by men was right on.and all the rest of your posts.the men now days want little girl,s cause these men been too busy looking at child porn for any woman to want gives me the greeps to know how many wierdo,s there are out there.sick men who need why on earth would any self respecting man want a lttle girl?the fact is they can,t be a real man so they pick on little kids cause no woman would want days you need to be soooo careful cause you don,t know who to trust.I desided to go back to being slingle.its too hard to find someone normal.I think the bracelets are cool,but my fat legs would never be able to wear them.hope you get your chance to weave,it looks like fun.God bless.

Girlplustwo said...

beautiful, chani. i love the rich fabrics and jewelry that comes from the east, and i am so glad you have pieces that make you feel connected to it.

Anna said...

I finally got a chance to check out your blog, (thanks for your comment) you are so real and you say it the way you feel it, I love how you put yourself out there, was very touched by your depression post, I have known people who have gone through depression, its not a very great place to be...keep up the interesting posts. I will definnately check back..

Pam said...

I love the tradition of the sewing and quilting circles and women getting together to share their lives. If you haven't already read about it, the tradiion is being reinvented as "giving circles". Women of comfortable means are getting together and pooling their resources to help, voting on where the money they donate should be used. It seems this grass roots movement is growing across the country.

thailandchani said...

Meno, I believe the weaving will be soothing, too. It is the whole process of learning it that will capture me. It's hard to say after that. I'm worse than a kid. Once I know it, it will become boring. LOL

Susan, it just produces such beauty! Now the task is to find some older Thai woman who will teach me! Eeek.

Daufiero, perhaps it will be an interest your daughter will develope, too. Cool! :) I don't leave them on all the time. They have to come off when I shower or go to bed. Otherwise, yes, they're on. They're just a part of me now.

Leann, I agree with you and your assessment of the cause. Women have been objectified for generations and generations. My complaint comes when we perpetuate it. And.. if that is your picture on your blog, you are NOT fat.. so ... stop it! You are a beautiful woman. :)

Jen, I just love that stuff, too. I'm particularly drawn to the Hmong stuff, hemp and embroidery. It is just stunningly beautiful.

Anna, thank you. I try to be real. Thinking over it quickly, I don't think I know how to be otherwise. There are some advantages to the desert. :) My head didn't get filled with all kinds of weird "shoulds" and "have-tos".

Pam, I don't recall the author offhand but there is a woman who writes about the circles, how women would pass along wisdom and stories. The kids would hang around and listen. Very "Amish", kind of old-fashioned. That's what draws me.

Bob said...

Where I grew up women gathered to quilt. It was part of a world that women inhabited that I as a boy wasn't allowed to know. Getting the church hall ready for the pot-luck was also part of that female world. Whenever we kids wandered near there was the sound of talking and laughter - and no men. It seems to me that there were lots of opportunities for women to be together to pass on their collective knowledge. But men did it too. The men stood in circles outside, some smoking, talking of the state of their farms, hunting or fishing, etc. My grandfather ran a small country store and men would frequently gather to discuss - whatever. The gender and location may change, but the same things were happening. People gather and pass on their collective knowledge. And I think I soaked up some of that knowledge from the outside edges (where all kids were relegated.) (You knew you were growing up when you were tolerated, then accepted in the circle)

I went back to this place recently to attend my aunt's funeral and it was like a time machine. Same old, same old - women inside, men outside.

BUT - I started this comment because of the weaving itself. I work for one of the few remaining textile manufactures in this country. Before I got this job I was never interested in textiles or how they came to be. I have learned in detail how they are made (on an industrial scale) from opening (40 bales of cotton - or polyester), carding, combing, drawing, spinning, warping, weaving - and on to finishing and fabricating, packaging and distribution. It is an amazing process to watch.

Now whenever I see a nice piece of fabric or some textile hanging in a museum I have a huge sense of appreciation for it. Whatever I've seen a machine do someone did by hand sometimes thousands of years ago.

Heather Plett said...

Oh, I LOVE this post! Makes me understand why you "get it" about the coat I returned. I love ethnic clothes and jewellery. Most of the jewellery I wear was bought in Africa or other places I've visited.

I did a little weaving when I was in my early twenties, but haven't gone back to it. I think it would be a beautiful artform to pick up.