Over / Under

We used to call my ex-brother-in-law the "serial hobbyist."

One day he was in the garage, hammering together pieces of cherry to make a plant stand. The next, he was reading about the environmental impact of livestock and exploring weekday vegetarianism, learning to cook lentils and prep veggies in new and interesting ways. Every few months, something new piqued his interest. There was another avenue of activity to explore.

(Sidenote: the hardest part of divorce now, two years after the fact, isn't the scars of degraded romance. It's missing the family I lost. I miss that former brother, my former sister, my former in-laws, so much that it physically hurts sometimes. They were my family, and now they aren't, and I still love them as though they were. Dammit, now I have tears in my eyes. Moving on.)

I've always admired that aspect of his personality, and found myself emulating him in my own habits. I'd take up barre classes obsessively for a while, then long-distance running in the months following, then I'd learn to cook a different cuisine for a quarter or two, then sketch home decor ideas for houses I'd never own, then outline stories I'd never finish. I'd go deep into those hobbies, devoting much of my free time therein, and move on when I got bored. Nothing really stuck. Serial hobbyist. I missed being a serial hobbyist when I was abroad.

For a while, I tried to paint. I'm not very good at painting, but that's hardly the point - hobbies are for joy more than proficiency. My eye for color is mediocre at best, and my hand is about as trained as a wild mongoose.

 
One of my less horrible attempts. The face looks like that drawing Rafiki does of siiiiiimbaaaa (say it in the Rafiki voice!!) in The Lion King. Oh well. It's funny.

One of my less horrible attempts. The face looks like that drawing Rafiki does of siiiiiimbaaaa (say it in the Rafiki voice!!) in The Lion King. Oh well. It's funny.

 

Anyway. I eventually got frustrated with my lack of talent and ability and decided I didn't have the patience to improve. 

But I knew I was on the right track. Painting felt almost right - not quite there, but almost.

I have pent-up creative energy that I don't get to exercise in my analytical / strategic-heavy career. Sometimes I release that creativity via the written word.... but frankly, writing isn't usually appealing after a workday spent in front of screens. And my favorite kind of writing is still quite analytical in nature.

And then I stumbled upon a lap loom on Etsy and had a feeling I'd fall in love with weaving.

 
One of my latest pieces. Incidentally, I wore those pearls on my ill-fated wedding day. Now they're art.

One of my latest pieces. Incidentally, I wore those pearls on my ill-fated wedding day. Now they're art.

 

Natural ability is such a great feeling, isn't it? I wrote about that when I visited an estancia in Argentina and was somehow good at horseback riding without study. I've always been the worst person on any sports team, I can't draw a passible anything to save my life, etc etc. I might be smart, but I'm below-average at most conventional hobbies. 

For some reason, that doesn't apply to weaving. I learned the rules on YouTube, and immediately understood how to break them.

I stopped painting because I was far from proficient, and that was frustrating. I still have a lot to learn about weaving, but I'm proficient enough as a beginner to still make beautiful things. My color theory needs work, and sometimes my pieces come out a bit... wobbly. I see other artists pull off complicated stitches and patterns that I just can't do yet. The difference: I can see HOW they made it happen. I know that I can get to that point with practice. Unlike painting. Unlike sports.

And I actually enjoy the practice. That's the key point. Weaving brings me joy. Warping the loom, planning color schemes, creating something beautiful with my hands and my imagination. It's such a welcome pleasure.

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So for now, I spend most of my free time weaving. I spend more money than I'm willing to admit on yarn. I have so many pieces that I've even started an Etsy store to clear out my apartment.

A stranger bought a weaving from me earlier this week, which was really fucking awesome. The hobby is turning into a side hustle. 

I'm pretty confident that this time, the hobby will stick.

 

If you want to see more of my work, follow @taylorwoven on Instagram. I'm keeping my weaving photos and personal Instagram relatively separate.


Taylor Coil is a marketing manager who works remotely from around the world.