Friday, May 28, 2010
More on the Companionship of Women
This is a picture of the women in the District Check weaving workshop that Emma participated in a few months ago. I started wondering why the pattern drafting class members seem to be a closer-knit group than this one, which is less diverse.
Here are my ideas:
In the weaving workshop, it was hard to talk because of the noise of the looms. In the pattern-drafting class, the sewing has been almost exclusively hand sewing, so it is easier to carry on a conversation.
In the weaving workshop, there was really no need for help from the other participants. In the pattern drafting class, you become intimate with your sewing partner right away because you have to measure each other's bodies; everyone is called upon to identify the fitting problems and help solve them; you are somewhat exposed and vulnerable during the fitting process (as when you are standing very still while two people are pinning your bust darts), but then you are reassured and grateful when the other students are so helpful and encouraging. In short, there are many opportunities for bonding with the other students.
I don't mean to imply that the weavers didn't enjoy camaraderie. They did. But it was when they left their looms to talk in a group and when they did the waulking of the wool. The waulking drew them together most of all because they were singing together and working rhythmically together on the same wool blanket. And this synergy was heightened when the master called for them all to take a shot of whiskey together to re-vivify themselves for the next round. Unfortunately, waulking is the last step, so the feeling of community it engenders cannot be enjoyed during the weaving process.
One thing that both groups benefited from was eating lunch together. Nothing seems to build community as quickly as sharing a meal.
So this is what I learned from the two experiences:
If you want to promote community within a group of women who are strangers, have them share a meal together first, preferably a pot-luck. Then have them work together on something that is quiet enough for conversation to flourish but for which each individual will need the help of the other group members. Finally, create opportunities for one-on-one bonding.