A chair, what I'm paying attention to, and finishing up colour
In this newsletter you’ll find…
Colour & a pattern
I’ve started a new project this month and I’ve become completely wrapped up in it in a very short period of time (a nice feeling!).
For the next few months, I will be weaving fabric to recover my dining chairs — chairs that my Opa (grandfather) designed and built in the 60’s/70’s for the company he worked for, Brunswick Manufacturing Ltd.
I’m not yet sure that I’m ready to share much about it — I feel like there is something delicate in sharing the details of a project as it’s unfolding, and I’m hesitant about over-sharing… But by the same token, I love to read about other artists’ process and projects — the whole reason I renewed this project (which I had abandoned back in 2019) was because of another weaver’s passionate rescue of a Carl Malmsten couch (please do see VÄV Magasinet 4/2021 & visit Miriam Parkman’s IG to learn more).
I would like to gratefully acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council for this project.
A few weeks ago I finished reading Stolen Focus by Johann Hari. I picked it up with a touch of hesitation — I’m not into reading self-help books and worried this may be one — but was pleased when it turned out to be the opposite, a thoroughly researched and balanced investigation into our attention spans and how they’re changing.
While I’m not (too) worried about my attention span, I do notice how it’s changed in the last decade or so. In Stolen Focus, Hari identifies six ways that our attention is disrupted and broken by our habits, technology and ways of living, speaking both to the scientists and researchers studying in/attention, as well as the people designing the intrusive & addictive technologies we love and hate.
The ways in which Hari suggests our attention is being ravaged didn’t come as too much of a surprise (I’ve read adjacent books and plenty of articles around this topic already). The first enemy of attention can be summed up by the term multi-tasking, a thoroughly modern term that arose with the advent of computing, and something that I am certainly guilty of practicing. The ways in which we (quickly) switch between tasks and put our brain’s filtering mechanisms on overdrive by, for example, working on the computer and texting with two friends while music plays in the background, breaks down our ability to focus and concentrate — no matter how good you think you are at it, multi-tasking, from the brain’s perspective, at least, does not exist.
Other aspects of our lives, like the absence and crippling of our flow states, pervasive exhaustion and sleeplessness, a lack of reading, our negative attitude towards day-dreaming and mind wandering, and, of course, the rise of manipulative technologies and apps are all topics he explores in his book.
I enjoyed it for many reasons — not least because I felt like there was a refreshing acknowledgement of how much of the research he cites is contradictory or difficult to measure, and that there are often no neat and tidy answers to the question of where (or if) our attention has gone. I liked that he explained complex biological processes (like what happens when we don’t sleep) in clear and easy to understand ways, and provides the full audio of his many interviews on the book’s website — for transparency and context, but also so that you can dive in and hear people in their own words and tone. His language is friendly and conversational, and since it’s rooted in his own experiments to regain his attention, it’s relatable and interesting if you like a personal narrative or a lot of scientific data is a turn off for you.
Since I feel like attention is a topic that has been coming up in my real and online conversation and reading in the past few years , I thought that you, too, might be interested in adding this book to your reading list. I made four pages of notes and kept it for waaaay past my library due date, so take from that what you will (and apologies if you were waiting for it on hold at the HPL…)
Next up — gardening books.
Some (other) things I’ve been looking/reading/watching lately:
The latest group of Toast New Makers has a wonderful cross-section of craft work. Of interest to weavers will be Dahlia James’ textiles, but I also love the texture and colour of Reesha Zubair’s pots.
‘Colour is in my blood!: the vivid life of artist Sheila Hicks in the Guardian.
Thank you to Theresa L. who sent me this link (via her weaving teacher) about the lost craft (and cotton) of Dhaka muslin.
The Manitoba Craft Council’s excellent Youtube channels, full of talks about growing your own dye garden, the One Year One Outfit exhibition tour and reflections, and Nehal El-Hadi on writing about craft.
Colour, Parts 2 & 3
You can find part two of my series on colour here. Part three can be read here!
In case you missed it, I put out a new pattern with Gist last month, the Fade Gamp. It’s a great opportunity to utilize some of the colour theory I’ve been sharing, try their Array yarn, play with fades, AND explore colour interaction in weaving. I love the rusty colour that appears where the pink and yellow meet.
I really have no idea where April went. I’m sure I had more that I wanted to share, but I can’t remember! I’m not even sure how I did all the things I said I’ve been doing in this newsletter! All I know is that I’ve been making a right mess of my desk and I love it.
Thank you for reading — please hit reply or leave a comment if you have anything to share.
Absolutely LOVE seeing the pictures of your desk! You've inspired me to just go make a big mess on my desk, and I have a huge smile on my face! Thanks for a very inspiring post, and I plan to read the book as well......
Love seeing pictures of your desk in use!