It’s Spring and light, fresh air, and change comes quickly to our feminine souls, doesn’t it?
For the past two months I have been busy building my nest for the new knit/natural dye/ textile supplies shop that I will be opening this fall. The name of my shop will be Atelier fijnKNIT and it will be located in De Pinte, on the main street, Baron de Gieylaan in De Pinte. We will be offering a weekly Tricot-Thee on Tuesday afternoons and evenings, children’s knitting lessons on Wednesday afternoons, adult knitting lessons, and special workshops on topics such as natural dyeing, shibori, felting, and more as requested by students. Of course, we will have a full selection of yarns for knitting, crochet, and weaving, high quality natural dyes and mordants, needles, books, and supplies for knitting, crochet and felting. Please stay tuned for the workshop schedule which I hope to publish in the next few days.
Today, I want to tell my story about how my journey through the world of textiles has led to this dream of sharing textiles with other women in such an overt fashion.
I left the United States 4 1/2 years ago partly drawn by some ancient textile history hidden deep within my psyche which landed me in Belgium and which has taken me these last several years to grasp. I also left the United States with deep grief about the state of my motherland and my countrymen/women that seemed to be on the wrong path in a never-ending push for war and dominance around the world that I simply could not bear to be part of any longer. I believe the reason that I had such strong feelings against this war-mongering, was that my life of studying textiles has brought me so close the beauty of other cultures that I couldn’t bear the thought of all those cultures and peoples that created such magnificent works of textile art could be worthy of such destruction for any ideology, no matter how righteous the cause, let alone for the lies that were at the heart of these destructive forces. I came to Belgium with a heavy heart, longing to see the US get back on a track to peace and the idealism that I grew up with in the 60’s. I also came to Belgium with my passion for weaving, natural dyeing, and knitting with the hope of sharing that passion and rich experience with other women in the US who taught me how to weave, dye, and knit.
Nature speaks to me. Through textiles I see the invitation that nature offers us. It is the invitation to feel gratitude for the abundance and magnitude of diversity that nature gives us freely, without question, without judgment, without selfishness. We are invited to feel gratitude for the fibers from the flax and cotton plants, sheep, goats, and alpacas, silk worms that once naturally roamed the earth and who willingly gave us their gifts. We are invited to feel the softness, warmth, shine, color, and texture of these fibers. We are invited to discover the science of chemistry in plants by extracting their color essences and dipping our fibers into liquid pools of color and minerals that causes us to play. We are again invited to feel gratitude for the playfulness and joy that natural fibers and natural color give us. We are invited to learn and see the origins of mathematics and architecture in weaving and knitting, and thus invited to experience the transformation of science into art as we begin to understand what design is. We create functional fiber sculpture (our clothing, interior decorations) from the mathematics of weaving and formulas that make a sweater fit. Isn’t this process grand? And finally, we transform art into love. We love nature for her abundant gifts, and that love is transformed into showing each other our love by the giving of gifts of color, sculpture, warmth and protection.
We create a circle of appreciation and trust with each other when we share the art and science of making textiles together. That is why I have formed the knitting/textile arts group now at my house/studio and soon to be at the new location, my shop, Atelier fijnKNIT. I want to again invite all my spring-chick women friends, and those who would like to be friends to join us the first and third Tuesday of every month, starting at 2 pm at Salviapark 38, De Pinte.
And speaking of gratitude, I want to thank my friends, especially Kathy Hattori, proprietor of Botantical Colors, for her inspiration, help, patience and trust in believing my vision, and Annie and Christine and the women in the fijnKNIT Brei-Circle for their unconditional support of my “Spring Chick” project (the new shop) in spite of its imperfect and incomplete status.
Many times I hear women say that they are hesitant to come to the group because they are beginners or because they don’t think they knit good. This is precisely why we want you to join us. Nature doesn’t demand perfection and neither do we. Imperfection and vulnerability are the birthplace of creativity, learning, sharing, and belonging and we have nothing to be ashamed of. Of course, there are fundamental techniques, the art and science, that require practice and understanding to achieve a desired outcome. There is an abundance of expertise in the group to help others along. I believe that this sharing of textile techniques is a sacred ritual that connects women through the ages, through cultures, and gives us one avenue to be seen for who we are. We gather together to celebrate each individual approach to our practice. Listening to and seeing the brilliance, the sacred and the mundane in each other, creates the magic that is reflected in the beautiful and functional creations that we make for ourselves and our loved ones.