Wednesday, February 23, 2011

That Artful Tao of Shawl Craft – Part I

A series of recent events have had me thinking quite a bit about my own creative journey, especially my crochet shawl-making journey. As regular readers of the blog know, I ended last year with a shawl flurry.

Of course, while I’m focusing (for purposes of this writing) on all of my 2010 crochet shawl-making activities, my greater awareness of crochet and its artistic potential kicked into higher gear in spring 2009 when I attended a Tunisian crochet class, focusing on creating finished objects using three different strands of fiber. Not only was it a fun class, but I walked happily away from it with my imagination brimming with possibility. It also fed my lifelong love of textiles.

After that class, I created a queen-sized bed blanket using nothing but Tunisian simple stitch, a size S crochet hook that I modified with a knitting needle and tape into a longer, Tunisian crochet hook, and the fiber colors I had available in my
stash. That led to a series of paintings, based on the color blocks in the blanket. That eventually led to a few of my paintings being shown in a small, local show. That tangentially led to a personal commitment to craft 10 shawls in 2010 (with a little help from a Ravelry group of the same name, now entitled 11 shawls 2011), even though I had never before made a shawl. That led to a serious passion for photographing my fiber and projects. Oh, and all of that has led to a wonderfully creative daily existence, including writing this blog.

Phew. That’s a lot of thats.

So what’s Tao, and what’s it got to do with art, crochet, and crafting shawls, anyway? Simply put, Tao (pronounced “dao”), is a Chinese term given to, according to Robert B. Zeuschner, author of Classical Ethics East and West, “… a spontaneous, mutually resonating process wherein each individual thing simultaneously creates a pattern and has a place in [a greater] pattern.” As Zeuschner further illustrates, the original Chinese character for Tao means “road,” “path,” “crossroads,” and, eventually, “the way.” See, there’s an organic method to all that madness.

Tapping into all of that, according to Taoists, involves internalizing five basic models, or ways of approaching situations. On Friday (in Part II), I’m going to list them for you, and apply them in some meaningful way to my year of shawls. If one truly internalizes these five models, so the Tao goes, then one can be free of all of the trappings and chaos of everyday life. While I’m not certain I’m that free (cause hey, I need to provide a roof over my head and food on the table), when it comes to crafting shawls, and creativity in general, they’re pretty nifty to have in one’s creative tool kit.

1 comment:

  1. I loved that spread and the blog post was so interesting... I'm looking forward to reading part II!