Weaving is most likely the oldest craft tradition known to humankind. Archaeological evidence indicates that weaving has been around for at least 20,000 years. Weaving materials to create fencing, nets, sandals, baskets, and textiles has been part of our human heritage for many hundreds of generations. Even braiding hair is a form of weaving! Perhaps this is why the simple act of weaving- stitching over and under and over and under- can be such a meditative and deeply satisfying process, producing a flow state and a respite from the busyness of the day.
In fact, weaving is so deeply engrained in our collective psyches that this craft is featured in many cultural origin myths. For example, the Mayan goddess Ix Chel is known as the Cosmic Weaver and goddess of the Moon. In ancient Mayan culture, all women were taught to weave and baby girls were ceremonially blessed with the tools of weaving by the attending midwife soon after birth. In Mayan culture, weaving became symbolically connected to creation, feminine power, and social status.
Even today, in most places in the world the quality of fabric in a person’s clothes often indicates wealth and identity. Woven cloth represent a form of symbolic currency that is easily recognized by people all over the world.
The production of textiles has drastically changed over time with the mechanized loom and the industrial revolution. But the simple act of weaving- stitching over and under and over and under- remains a powerfully calming process. Slow crafting, producing stitches by hand, creating cloth one weft at a time conveys the deeper meaning of handmade things.