Weaver’s Tale – 11

Daffs 21

EASTER JUST WOULDN’T BE EASTER……

Now seems an appropriate time to say thanks to all the crew who endured blizzard conditions to make sure that folk had what they needed and to clear the roads so that they were passable. The experience brought people together and I think made many people appreciate what a supportive community we live in. We were looked after very well in our housing complex thanks to Isle of Arran Homes and to the Nursing Home across the street who provided food when the shops had to close.

It’s also time to think of the farmers who lost livestock in the snow and to hope that the tourist season will not have any lasting damage from the experience.

In our house Easter just wouldn’t be Easter without eggs, Fairtrade chocolate and vases of daffodils, preferable from the garden. It also wouldn’t be Easter without thinking of my Mom who died on Easter Monday – a well planned resurrection! And of course at least some of the family getting together to share the weekend, good food and Bach on the radio.

This year Chris is here from Philadelphia along with Jill and her two girls from  Ireland. Simon will contact us on Facetime later from Peru to complete the circuit.

We each take what is most meaningful from these get-togethers – an opportunity to continue the on-going card tournament which started with “Go Fish” many years ago. I bow out from that now – I hate card games and the tradition is safe with the grandgirls. I am allowed one telling of the world’s most corny “Knock, Knock” joke every Easter. If my family don’t read this straight away I may get away with telling it twice.

“Knock, knock, Who’s there? Ether. Ether who, Ether Bunny.

Repeat this as many times as you can get away with and then when the audience is groaning and complaining change it to:

“Knock, knock, Who’s there? Orange. Orange who? Orange you glad the Ether Bunny went away.”

Most of all Easter just wouldn’t be Easter without a sense of light, rebirth and resurrection. This is especially true for people on Arran this year after the ordeal of snow, power cuts and lack of any electronic communication. The intense cold and dark which we experienced is not something I would like to repeat any time soon.

Having said that in the middle of the night when there was no heat or light, I never felt entirely bereft or alone. I had my duvet, my camping torch and the gradual return of noise as the generators began to work and the helicopters carried equipment to repair poles and clear roads.

It was an Easter experience of feeling cold, in the dark and struggling at times to keep food on the go, but never once did I feel afraid or believe that it wouldn’t be sorted and I had my inner being to rely on to recognise that there is always a force more powerful than we are, no matter what circumstances it allows us to experience it and take comfort that “All is well.”

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Weaver’s Tale – 10

Two Gray Hills1

“A NAVAJO SORT OF DAY’

Today I am still glowing in the aftermath  of a positive visit to the hospital yesterday, plus a positive response from my publisher and most of all the presence of my tall, thoughtful son.

Today’s events so far have a sort of Navajo theme about them. One of the fun things about my necessary nail care is choosing a new colour, especially this week when things have tended to be a bit gloomy. My fingers have changed shape since I’ve been ill, so I can wear my Navajo ring again which has been in the box for about 10 years. It was a gift from my parents-in-law the first time I visited them on my own in Phoenix. We drove up to Fort Apache and Montezuma’s Castle a cliff dwelling on the reservation and they bought me the ring as a memento of that trip. The silver and turquoise are traditional Navajo with rays carved to represent the sun, and small half moons curved with rain drops.

Later when we moved to Chicago I met “Laura” (her Facebook name) and discovered someone else who was as passionate about Navajo arts & crafts as I was. In her travels west she collected Navajo rugs in traditional designs like the one pictured here called Two Gray Hills, which she has very kindly allowed me to reproduce in my Practical Weaving book. “Laura”‘s enthusiasm for Navajo weaving coincided with my own growing awareness of the the craft and contributed to my determination to become a weaver.

In the years that followed we met a few times, but then lost touch. She had meanwhile moved to the South of France and carried on her own fabulous textile work there. She discovered me a few years ago on the Ravelry website for knitters, got in touch and the rest is the next phase of history.

You can read about her rediscovery of me on her blog Miracle Design and find out more about her gorgeous textiles as well.Update on the Arran weather situation – please send thoughts and prayers to those that haven’t yet got power switched on again. We have been asked to be careful about our electricity use as we are still on emergency generators. It’s so easy to forget the deprivation once everything comes on again. The emergency crews have been wonderful, working hard to get pylons up and running again and getting food through to people who are stranded. As it’s Easter weekend this week, Arran usually experiences a significant rise in the number of holiday  home owners and holiday makers and although the major hotels are open, anyone planning to come to Arran is asked to check with their accommodation provider to make sure that it is suitable still to come over.   Let’s hope for everyone’s sake the situation levels out sooner rather than later.

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To read more about my creative textile work and to find out more about “Laura”:

The Arran Knitting Company

Rainbow Textiles

Scottish Island Mum – Day 40 – Come and Meet the Lovely Lynn

Miracle Design

Weaver’s Tale – 9

AFC TOP1

“FROM FOOTBALL TO WEAVING TO SNOW AND OTHER SERENDIPITIES”

Rolling the film backwards on this day I am writing to the sound of football as Scotland is slowly being pushed out of the Olympic competition by Serbia. Why am I listening to this, I hear you say. Because I am so pleased to have my son Chris visiting and over his jet lag. We chat in between boring non-plays and make up names for an alternative team like Strikeovich, Scoragoalovich – you get the idea! You can tell from this that a childhood favourite in our household was the Asterix series by Gascony. It also reminded me that I was never unduly troubled by Chris’ passion for football because it was a wonderful learning tool – producing league tables, setting up neighbourhood tournaments, using basic mathematics, geography and a number of other subjects. Not to mention the transition to setting it all up on vintage computers, adding further to the skills base.

One of the projects outlined in my upcoming book “Practical Weaving” is a piece that Chris produced with the Aberdeen team colours and initials, designed on graph paper. I could probably continue through the whole school curriculum. Suffice it to say that Chris is now working as a soccer & softball referee in Philadelphia, adding assertiveness and confidence to the list of skills acquired.

Speaking of my book I also heard from the publisher today that they are very impressed with the final draft and it will now go to the copy editor to check grammar, etc. It’s so exciting and I can’t wait to see the final draft!

Back to the power cuts and snowbound roads on the island, things are still pretty grim in some places.  We are fortunate in Brodick that the situation is mostly under control, but there is a worry that the generators might not cope with the surge of electricity that we take for granted on a daily basis. It’s too soon to look at the long-term implications, but something will have to change, perhaps in the use of underground cables rather than the more vulnerable pylons which can’t cope with the sudden weight of a snow and ice storm.

I had a chance to see the island from across the water today as I had to go for a check-up at the Liver Transplant Unit in Edinburgh. The mountains were spectacular in the sunlight and it was hard to imagine that chaos behind the facade. There was no ferry disruption.

The news from the hospital was encouraging. My body is finally showing signs of recuperation which has been going on for a year without any noticeable progress. I can walk a bit farther without support and according to the consultant I look significantly better than I did when he was the attending physican at the clinic last May.

Amazing how much better you feel with positive words and a sense of achievement.

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To read more about my creative work see:

The Arran Knitting Company

Rainbow Textiles

Scottish Island Mum – Day 40 – Come and Meet the Lovely Lynn

Practical Weaving on a Frame Loom

Weaver’s Tale – 8

WINTER MOUNTAINS1

TWO AND A HALF DAYS WITHOUT POWER – AND WE’RE THE LUCKY ONES!

POWERCUT 2013

My neighbour’s son lives in Ulan Bator in Outer Mongolia and my son, as you probably know by now from the blog, lives in Peru. One way or another they both knew that Arran was completely snowed in, cut off and shut down from Friday morning to Sunday lunch time. We have been on the national news – which we unfortunately couldn’t watch and without phone and computer off island communication was at a definite minimum.

Tonight I’m warm, well-fed and basking in the arrival of number one son from Philadelphia, who as I write has just given in to jet lag. As when he was two years old, the sight of him asleep on the sofa softens my heart and I look forward to more craic (translation: chat) as he gradually wakes up.

I’m also thinking about the people on the other side of the island who are still cut off literally and figuratively and hope that all will be back to normal soon. Whatever that will be.

I promised you a tale of how I became a weaver and why we came to Arran. At the moment that seems unreal in light of the past week’s events, so I’ve decided to put it into bullet point form, so that I’m ready with my next blog to write about current events which seem to be overtaking past memories at the moment.

  • I rediscover Arran from my aunt’s upstairs window in Kilmarnock and decide to come over with my 6-year old daughter and take a closer look as I’d never been here
  • We have a wonderful WARM and sunny few days (at this time of year) and fall in love with the place
  • We go back to Sweden, I finish my MA degree and accept a job for the summer months as head of a language school, first in Jersey in the Channel Islands and then in Cambridge at Jesus College
  • I make the difficult decision to leave Jill with her father so that they could get reacquainted and she would have a stable environment
  • I persuade my friend to spend a week on Arran in mid-June, another unbelievably hot and sunny spell. We cycle round the island and meet several members of the thriving craft community
  • We find out that there is a niche for a weaver/spinner/dyer to run a workshop, selling hand-produced textiles
  • A seed is planted which will not be ignored
  • I stay in Britain until September, return to Sweden fully expecting to expand my English teaching portfolio and study Educational Psychology towards a PhD
  • Life has other ideas
  • I return to Sweden, start my new course and go for interviews as a TEFL teacher
  • At the beginning of October I meet a head teacher who doesn’t want to hire me even though I have a degree in Linguistics, 5 years of part-time teaching experience and I was a native speaker. His reason – I wasn’t Swedish
  • I walked out of his office, gave a month’s notice on my apartment, wrote to the Tourist Board on Arran to find a cottage, which I did, and got a quote from Thomas Cook to ship my loom over to Arran, thinking that I would give it three months to decide whether it was going to be viable to work as a craft producer, packed up all my belongings and came to Arran on Bonfire Night 1975. I’m still here.
  • My daughter came back from her time with her father and our new lives began
  • I may have had unexpected and difficult times, but never ANY regrets and now looking back even from this forbidden wintry environment, I would not have had it any other way.

From now on I’m going to focus on the serendipity of our life on the island rather than the chronology. I hope it will make sense and you will begin to see the new Spiderweb form as the story unfolds.

The Arran Knitting Company

Rainbow Textiles

Scottish Island Mum – Day 40 – Come and meet the Lovely Lynn

Weaver’s Tale – 7

“More Implications of Living on a Scottish Island”

SCOTTISH FLAG1

I promise I’ll get back to the story of “How I, my daughter, and my Swedish rug loom came to Arran.” Meanwhile I’m fast-forwarding to the last couple of days where I’ve been in Lamlash hospital overnight going through the procedure of draining off excess fluid from my body and helping keep my liver stable during this waiting-for-the transplant phase. I’m so GRATEFUL this possibility is available locally.

I’m so lucky to have the care that all the hospital and ambulance staff provide with wry humour and no-nonsense practicality.  Of course there are one or two who think I qualify for “Pesky Patient of the Month” award – no names mentioned, but you know who you are. I give as good as I get and the war of tongues takes my mind off my physical predicament.

So today is one of appreciation of the health care we have in this country when we need it and the secure feeling that gives.

Today was also one of historical significance for Scotland.

The Scottish Parliament has named the date September 18, 2014 for us to vote whether we want  to be independent from England.

For me, emotionally there’s no argument but a resounding “YES”. But what’s exciting about this decision is that in addition to gut feeling,  the economic facts must stack up and show that as a country we have the means to pay our way and provide the services that we now see as essential. There is much to be discussed as to how things will ACTUALLY be run in the event of a “YES” vote and what the implications of a “NO” vote would be.

Let’s hope that the debate is constructive and we take the opportunity to understand and prioritise the best way forward.

Much to be thankful for and much food for thought!

These lines from the unofficial anthem of Scotland “Flower of Scotland” express what I would like to see about the relationship with our Southern neighbours:

Those days are passed now
And in the past they must remain
But we can still rise now
And be the nation again……..

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To find out more about my art & textile work see:

The Arran Knitting Co.

Rainbow Textiles

Scottish Island Mum – Day 40 – Come Meet the Lovely Lynn

Weaver’s Tale – 6

“TRANSFORM THE DAY”

WINTER MOUNTAINS1

Slight diversion tonight from the main story while I process the experience of  a trip to the hospital on the mainland on a FREEZING cold day, the boat delayed by swell, a grumpy Red Cross patient transport driver,  my appointment delayed so I missed the afternoon ferry back and had to sit and wait in the Discharge Room at the hospital for an hour and a half and then another hour or so at the ferry terminal because the boat was delayed by efforts to dodge the swell. All this for a five minute CT Scan.

I’m doing my best to think positively about the day, count the good things and stop bloody moaning and it works – the CT Scan is a routine part of preparation for a liver transplant and we are so lucky here that it is available  as part of our health service. The hospital staff couldn’t have been kinder and did their utmost to make up for the delays. Sitting in the discharge room with a hot cup of tea and listening to the craic of the ambulance drivers was the perfect way to unwind and realise that we are always meant to be where we are at the time.

I met a friend at the ferry terminal and had a good catch up, then another friend on the ferry for further chat and blether and suddenly I was back on the island in the competent hands of the local ambulance crew who saw me safely home. Meanwhile my cosy little home was waiting for me so I can put the day behind me and rest in anticipation of another two days of treatment, thankfully on the island.

So this is a shortened blog, but sweet just the same, I hope. I’ll pick up the threads (always the weaver!) at the end of the week and share my excitement as I look forward to a visit next week  from my Philadelphia son, my Galway girl and girleens and our thoughts as we wish that Lillebror (the youngest son) could zap in from Peru!

Meanwhile you can read about my art and textile work on these websites:

The Arran Knitting Company

Rainbow Textiles

Scottish Island Mum – Day 40 – Come and Meet the Lovely Lynn

Weaver’s Tale – 5

Swedish Cloth1

“THINGS FALL APART, I FIND THE PERFECT LOOM AND ARRAN ENTERS THE PICTURE”

It’s been a pleasure writing about the past, telling my story, and at the same time gaining insights and seeing patterns that I hadn’t noticed before

In the present, today the weather is cold and grey. I have two hospital appointments this week, both routine but unavoidable. One involves travelling to the mainland, so I hope that cold wind stays calm enough so as not to disrupt the ferry. The downside of island living.

Meanwhile back at the past.

I finished the six week summer course in weaving at HV Skola in Stockholm which gave me a positive focus where the rest of my life was in turmoil. I was divorced after years of believing I’d be married no matter what. I had a miscarriage and experienced the suicide of someone very close to me all in the space of a year and a half. I attended my classes at the University and worked part time a few evenings per week, trying to keep on top of things emotionally as things just seemed to get worse.

What saved me was my new-found passion for weaving. As long as I could have some time at the loom each week, it was a complete escape from all that was going on around me. I decided that I wanted to buy a rug loom, so that I could continue to experiment with what I had learned. The only requirement was that it be portable, because we were planning to spend our summers in the Stockholm archipelago and I wanted to have my loom with me there.

I found a loom which suited me to perfection. I had placed an ad in the Stockholm paper and narrowed the replies down to three.  A friend with a van came with me to look at them. When we got to the third address I was a bit disheartened because the looms so far had proved expensive and not so portable.

At the third address we were taken up to the attic storage area for the flats and there on the floor was a pile of very beautiful old wood, obviously hand carved in places, with one small tree trunk which turned out to be the back warp beam of the loom.

The wood had been there for 28 years because it belonged to the mother of the woman who was selling it, not a weaver herself. She wanted £10 for us to take the wood away. We were happy to oblige.

When we got it home, it was a complete loom, portable and functioning in perfect balance after all those years.

Swedish Loom Blue1            loom 11

The next two years were about leaving Sweden, even though I didn’t know it at the time.. I wanted to finish my degree but staying in Stockholm meant being surrounded by unhappy memories and perceived failures.  The realisation that I had to make a change came to me at seven o’clock in the morning in the middle of November on the day my friend who’d committed suicide was buried. I was waiting for the bus to go to work in the dark and cold and at that moment I felt more alone than I ever had before and knew I had to make a move, degree or not.

I made arrangements to transfer  to the University of Linkoping where I could finish the last year of my degree work. Two and half hours from Stockholm surrounded by countryside, it was a good base for recovery and adjustment. I studied, taught English, spent time weaving and  took many long bike rides in the country with my daughter on the child seat, gradually regaining my strength and my focus.

Then fate stepped in again. I was sitting working on my thesis just before the Easter holidays, planning to be finished in June,  when a friend phoned from Stockholm and asked if I wanted a lift to Copenhagen. He had a private student who wanted him to drive his Mercedes to London so he could have a couple  of weeks intensive training there and the car would be empty for the first part of the journey. In the space of an hour I had tidied my papers, picked up my daughter from day care and packed enough for us to stay with my aunt in Kilmarnock for a week.

Looking out my aunt’s upstairs window you could see the Arran mountains in the distance.  I said “You know, Aunt Betty, I’ve never been to Arran. I think I’ll go over for a few days with my daughter and see what it’s like there.”

The die was cast.

Next time: I write about how a three month trial stay on Arran turned into 36 years, with weaving at the heart of it all.

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To read more about my art and textiles see:

The Arran Knitting Company

Rainbow Textiles

Scottish Island Mum – Day 40 – Come and Meet the Lovely Lynn

HV Skola – Stockholm

Weaver’s Tale – 4

“I COME DISGUISED AS A LINGUIST”

Weaving from Stockholm Days 21

“Anna’s Weaving – Stockholm”

In the first few months life in Stockholm settled into a routine. I attended Swedish classes in the mornings at the University, my daughter thriving in the very progressive day care there. Afternoons were spent being a Mom, walking round Stockholm with the pushchair getting to know the city,  making friends and spending time with Astrid, learning more about weaving and Swedish cookery. No time to focus on weaving just yet.

I passed the Swedish exams and got admitted to Stockholm University. Because my main subjects had been German and Spanish before, it was impossible to continue to study them because I couldn’t manage from a Swedish perspective, so I decided to study Linguistics. Most of the texts were in English and I was allowed to take my exams in English too, so I finished the first term and was allowed to continue the work for my MA degree.

Two things were happening in the background, though,  which were to have lasting consequences. First of all we had to leave our rental apartment, which was OK because by then I qualified for student housing, so we were given a lovely family apartment set in royal parkland which was a grant from the king. The complex was very modern and convenient and most of all safe for children as there was play space in each square of houses and usually someone on hand to share childcare.

Having a secure place to live because I was a student gave me the courage to face another situation which I had been sweeping under the carpet. My marriage had been slowly disintegrating and after a year in Sweden we agreed to separate. This led to an amazing amount of emotional upheaval for me while I tried to juggle the Mom, student, and woman roles. It took me many years to recognise the deep grief that I carried with me for the loss of something I had valued so highly and never really understood why it had been lost.

I decided to stay in Stockholm and continue with my studies since I’d worked so hard to get into University and I was enjoying my course. My daughter had state-of-the-art preschool care and was becoming bilingual. Ironically the day my husband moved out, I received my work & residency permit to enable me to stay in Sweden and take a part-time job. Weaving was definitely on hold, though, while all of this was sorting itself out.

I had signed up for a summer course at the weaving school in Stockholm now called HV where traditional techniques were taught in a lovely old building which had been there since the 1700’s. The waiting list was long and it took me a year and a half to get a place. Meanwhile I bought a loom (which is a story in itself) and continued to learn the basics as a hobby.

Weaving from Stockholm Days1

Everything else in my life pointed to me becoming a linguist. I completed my course and wrote my thesis on the brain development of bilingual children, using 3 year olds in the complex where we lived as research subjects. I was gaining a reputation as an expert in the field and began to give lectures to teachers and other educational groups – in English because the stress of talking in public froze the part of my brain that was becoming fairly proficient in Swedish. I worked for the next few years finishing my degree, teaching English and becoming an independent Scandinavian woman. But I was restless and certainly not content.

The summer of 1973 I got a place on the weaving course I’d been waiting for. The minute I walked into that classroom full of looms and yarns in all colours of the rainbow, I knew I’d found myself. It took me another two years to fulfill my other obligations and to be able to think about weaving full time. And that’s the next part of my story.

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If you’d like to read more about my art and textile work see:

The Arran Knitting Company

Rainbow Textiles

Scottish Island Mum – Day 40 – Come and Meet the Lovely Lynn

Weaver’s Tale – 3

“…AND A WEAVING TEACHER APPEARED”

Axel, Astrid & Kerstin1

Astrid (in the Middle) Taught Me How to Begin to Weave

I’m so glad I have part of each day to sit quietly, reflect and write my blog. Meanwhile things happen to remind me of layers of the past and how they resonate in the present. Yesterday my youngest granddaughter turned 8 and I wrote somewhat coincidentally about the time her mother was born.

Also this week I discovered that one or two of my small weavings had been chomped by moths. Not irreparably, thank goodness, and partly my own fault because I had not packed them away with herbs as I usually do. Now I have given the little beasties a firm talking to and used the first of my gorgeous gift lavender bags from With Love From Arran  to help keep them moth-free.

I began to write yesterday about the time when weaving was on the back burner after my trip to Mexico in 1968, while other events and forces shaped my life and gently pushed me into a situation where weaving became all-important.

In 1968 the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King and the brutal police reaction at the Chicago Democratic Convention shook everyone to the core. The world would never be the same again.

However  as students we were most deeply affected by the killing of 4 student anti-war demonstrators by the National Guard at Kent State University in Ohio. How could this happen in a democracy? Our lives were directly affected because my husband was a research student in the Technology Building at Northwestern and the manuscript for his Ph.D. thesis was locked inside the building during student protests. There were no gadgets for keeping electronic copies in those days and all we had was a carbon copy from the typewriter of 4 years of work.

At this point a delayed reaction occurred in me. I hadn’t wanted to move to the States when I was 12, I had gone reluctantly to Chicago 9 years later, always leaving the familiar behind. I didn’t feel as if the political battles which were going on all around were any part of me and I was over the moon when in 1970 we got the opportunity to move to Stockholm where I would continue to raise my daughter and my husband would conduct post-graduate research. Of course, I would have preferred to come back to Scotland, but Sweden was the next best thing. We moved there in October with our 17 month-old daughter and two Swedish phrases from the How To Pronounce book – “Do you have a motorboat?”, “No, but I have a motorbike.” Really useful stuff!

We had a friend in Stockholm who helped us through the settling down period until we could find a suitable apartment. Unfortunately all that was available was an unfurnished flat. Fortunately IKEA had opened its doors in Stockholm by then and we spent many hours looking at and being inspired by Swedish design.

I became friends with my friend’s mother and she became a surrogate Granny for my daughter and a great source of support for me. One day when we were chatting I told her about my desire to learn to weave. She went to the cupboard and pulled out a small table loom and said “I’ll teach you.”

It took me all of the five years we lived in Sweden to really understand the principles behind setting up a loom and producing your own patterns, but those days with Astrid were magical as she opened a new world for me. We had many laughs over the language difficulties, but the vocabulary of weaving is most firmly fixed in the Swedish part of my brain – even to this day it is easier to count in Swedish if I’m working with a loom.

My first finished piece was woven on a cotton warp, with rug wool. I then embroidered a tree branch on the finished piece and knew that I was hooked. I HAD to learn more.

Weaving with Embroidered Tree1

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To read more about my art & textile work see:

The Arran Knitting Company

Rainbow Textiles

Scottish Island Mum – Day 40 – Come and Meet the Lovely Lynn

Weaver’s Tale – 2

“IN THE MEANTIME”

Yesterday I wrote about my trip to Mexico where I first discovered weaving. This happened in 1968,  halfway through the four years that I lived in Chicago. My husband had chosen to study for a Ph.D. at Northwestern University in Evanston and during those years, we lived the typical student life of the early sixties. The emphasis for me was in managing our limited finances, making my own clothes and making the most out of the least. I attended classes in Spanish at the local State College to add to the credits I had earned at California State University towards my BA degree.

We managed to take in lots of theatre, concerts and coffee houses in the Near North Side of Chicago which at that time was the place to be. I was very self-absorbed and my main focus was on the fact that I hated the extremes of weather with blizzards and tornados.

I was homesick for my friends and family in California. The saving grace for me was the architecture and art in Chicago and the surrounding area which brought together examples of twentieth century designers such as Frank Lloyd Wright,  Mies van der Rohe and  Yamasaki who designed North Shore Congregation Israel and later the twin towers at the World Trade Centre in New York. I loved the availability of public art like Chicago’s Picasso surrounded by skyscrapers in the downtown area.

picasso chicago_sm

I wasn’t weaving, but everything I absorbed in those years spoke to the textile artist in me, still in whispers, soft but steady.

Then several things happened which shook my core beliefs along with most people I knew at the time. In April 1968 Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis. Riots erupted in many cities, including Chicago, where much of the South Side was set on fire and many buildings destroyed. This was followed in August at the Democratic Convention where anti-Vietnam war protesters clashed violently with police. Meanwhile in June while I was in Mexico, Robert Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles. Nothing seemed safe any more.

At that time I belonged to a progressive church group at Wellington Avenue Congregational Church in Chicago. After the riots in the South Side, we arranged an intercongregational service with an all-black congregation who were located in the midst of the affected area. We agreed that as part of the exchange our group would travel to the South Side and share a meal at the Black Muslim restaurant which had been opened after the riots to try and help the local economy. While we were round the table, Muhammed Ali arrived, curious to know how a group of white people had come to the restaurant. He was most articulate and observant and when one of our group asked him how he could keep boasting “I am the Greatest” he told us that every time he said that several thousand dollar ringside seats sold for his matches, with the money going to the Black Muslim movement!

In the Autumn of 1968 with all of this going on around us, I discovered to my delight that I was pregnant. Thus began a spot of juggling which included getting up, throwing up, going to Spanish classes and then working my shift at the Physics Lab at Northwestern. It was an exciting time, a new journey with lots to learn and a great deal of joy as the baby grew inside me and the morning sickness stopped.

My daughter was born in May 1969, right on the day she was due. The labour did not last too many hours and the first time I held that baby in my arms I was infatuated and felt as though I already knew her. This was the beginning of a different kind of life. We lived in Evanston for another year and a half and then my husband decided for professional reasons that he wanted to work in Stockholm so we moved there and then the weaving began to shout!

To be continued…….

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To find out more about my art and textile work see:

The Arran Knitting Company

Rainbow Textiles

Scottish Island Mum – Day 40 – Come and Meet the Lovely Lynn

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