Weaving When Your Hands Betray You

A while back I was teaching a tapestry and bead weaving class at The Art Institute of New Hampshire. I remember one woman complaining a lot about her arthritic hands and I worked with her to try to find a way to use her hands effectively and with as little pain as possible. There were things she just could not do. Her hands betrayed her. But she was able to weave, just slower than she would have liked. 

At the time, I was a long way from having my hands betray me. In fact, if I had my way (and I was determined to have my way) they would never betray me. And then there was this lump at the final joint of my ring finger on my right hand. I finally went to the doctor thinking I had broken it, hoping I'd broken it. But alas it was "broken" just not the way I thought. It was arthritis! Egads.

The next downhill spiral arrived at the base of my thumb. That's the joint that allows you to grasp things, open bottles, turn door nobs, weave! It, unlike the fingertip joint, was painful and sometimes made any art medium difficult. Weaving, it turns out, was the least offensive. I wasn't going to take drugs for it because I am stubborn, but I also wasn't going to give up my world of creativity with my hands. 

When we first designed Mirrix we did it with certain disabilities in mind. We made it right/left-handed. And because it's weaving, the loom holds the tension so your hands do not have to. That is huge. We provided a wrench to turn the wing nuts to increase tension because I figured there were folks out there who would need that little assistance. Little did I think that would be me someday!

My hands are betraying me. Most of the final joints on my fingers are getting arthritic. Mostly, they do not hurt that much. And since tapestry is a much easier medium than most since the loom, not your hands,  holds the tension, I find it is now becoming my primary medium. I can still do it. Yeah, my hands drop things sometimes and tiny knots are difficult to tie, but I am not giving up. I am determined to weave for the rest of my life, arthritis be damned!

And so I am grateful for this little tool of ours, this sweet chunk of metal that is allowing me the freedom to create past my expiration date.