I get so many little bursts of wisdom from the customers who visit the little vintage shop where I work. My soul is regularly filled with the creative insights of the random folks who pass through our doors.
Yesterday a young lady came in and I instantly knew she was a visitor from out of town. It could have been the very large backpack she had on that gave me the clue but it was our conversation that gifted me with the wisdom nugget.
I’m a curious person. I am also the type of person that for some reason, people feel comfortable enough to share their stories with. All I have to do is ask a question and they share.
This young lady is from Vancouver. I always joke with people from the mainland (I live on an island) that they are visiting from over the pond. Vancouver is about 36 nautical miles from Nanaimo, my home town. Yeah, big pond, but it usually garners a laugh and a smile.
Because the store is called Very Vintage Upcycled Chic, she asked me if we carried upcycled fabric items. “Not usually” I replied. “Is that what you do?”
For those who don’t know, upcycling is when you take an old item and refurbish it into something more useful for our modern times.
“No, I’m a weaver actually”she said.
Now traditional weaving is not as popular of a fibre art as say knitting is right now and seeing as she was at best in her mid-twenties, I was curious as to how a young women got into weaving.
So I asked.
She told me that she visited a friend a few years back in Germany and that friend’s mother had a rather large floor loom in her garage instead of a car. The mother would weave from April to October as the warmer weather would permit and then create wearable’s with the fabric she wove in the winter months when it was too cold to be in the garage. She said she was so fascinated with the whole process that when she returned home to Canada, she joined a weavers guild to learned how to weave.
This is where the little burst of wisdom comes in.
I laughed and said to her that she was no doubt the youngest member of the guild. “By a long shot” she said. She told me that most of the members were retired older ladies and were thrilled to help her learn the art of weaving.
I thought about this for a while after she left. In times past it was the natural pattern in communities that the older members taught the younger members the skills and arts of their culture. That is how traditions where past on. From mother to daughter, from grand-mother to grand-daughter even friends and neighbours offered up what wisdom they had. Quilting bees, sewing circles, harvest work parties – these gatherings gave the younger members a safe social circle in which to absorb and learn. It was a form of community mentorship really, where knowledge was freely shared.
Guilds, in essence are a more formal form of this concept. Except in a guild, peers learn from peers. Everyone can contribute their knowledge and ideas and are also encouraged to share their inspirations as well. The guild format is alive and thriving to this very day, even online, and is a wonderful way to become part of a community that shares a specific passion.
But I kept thinking about this young women and her interest in weaving and I thought about how blessed I was as a young girl, to have many amazing women in my life who freely gave of their time and shared with me their skills in the fibre arts. Is the tradition of passing on cultural knowledge from old to young being lost? Is it even relevant today?
Oh sure you can still learn to knit or to sew, or to even garden from books, or you can pay for a class. What I am talking about is the sharing freely of knowledge from generation to generation.
It takes a village to raise a child.
This is something that I think we need to understand again. Knowledge is in us to give. It doesn’t matter what it is. Share it, pass it on, offer your time to a young, interested mind.
We live in such an insulated world today were we no longer know our neighbours. We barely have time in this busy life to share a cup of coffee, never mind a skill. But imagine what could be created if we all made it our purpose to share the knowledge that we’ve accumulated over our vast lifetimes and then mentor even just one young person. I guarantee you there is someone out there who would love to learn what you have to offer.
This young weaver was bright enough to pursue her passion and find a place with eager teachers, but it should never end there. Sometimes, the knowledge that you share is as simple as being a sign post pointing the apprentice in the right direction. Or even better, pointing them in a new direction. As was the case with my interaction with Bea, the young weaver.
I might not be a weaver, I might not have any skills in that area to pass on to this young lady but I still had knowledge to share with her. You see my sister is a weaver, http://stillnightstudio.com/ and her weaving style is something that Bea has never heard of before. By sharing my knowledge, as limited as it was, I may have pointed her in an entirely new direction. One that could open her creative abilities wide open, or at the very least, give her more creative insight into her chosen craft.
So the next time that you come across a situation that you feel you might know a thing or two about, don’t stay silent. Offer your wisdom, share your knowledge no matter how insignificant you feel it may be. It’s in you to give, and that generosity just might enrich someone else’s life.
First published March 5, 2016