Weaver, Writer, Survivor
Last month, we featured an extract from a beautiful book by Deb Brandon, called Threads Around the World. It features many interesting textile stories from different parts of the globe. However, Deb's own story is no less interesting.
"I learned to knit from my mother when I was seven. Knitting was followed by needlepoint, crocheting, felting, and spinning, all fun and interesting. Learning to weave when I was 35 felt as if I'd come home, as if I'd been a weaver in a previous life. At the loom, I felt connected to weavers everywhere, through space and time. With weaving, my love for textile arts soared. I wanted to see (and feel) it all: scrumptious raw cashmere, hand-spun silk, gorgeous hand-wovens, an amazing range of ethnic textiles—silk scarves from Laos, felted slippers from Turkey.
"My love leaped to new heights with WARP (Weave A Real Peace). WARP’s mission is to foster a global network of enthusiasts who value the importance of textiles to grassroots economies. I felt compelled to help. When I joined in October 2001, I knew this was where I belonged. I started writing a column, “Textile Techniques from Around the World,” for the WARP newsletter, further fueling my love of traditional textiles.
"Six years after I joined WARP, my world fell apart. I have clusters of thin-walled blood vessels in my brain. Two bled, wreaking havoc on everything—being a mom, my job as a math professor, weaving. I dreamed of weaving, but I could no longer weave. After multiple surgeries to prevent future bleeds and reclaim myself, "brain injury survivor" became part of my identity, too. Within my first month of recovery, I started weaving again.
"It was tremendously challenging, but I persevered, creating yards of shimmering silk with a quality the old Deb could not have done. As I continued to recover, my life became richer. I became more creative, passionate, and compassionate, caring even more about my people across the globe who struggled to survive and create textiles so fundamental to their own cultures and identity.
"Textiles have been integral to humanity from the beginning. They don't just connect us to our past and to each other; they prevent us from losing our humanity. No matter how we define ourselves, we must keep these textile traditions alive."
Deb Brandon is a weaver, respected textile artist and enthusiast, and writer. She’s been an active volunteer with Weave a Real Peace (WARP) and is a popular speaker on textiles and other topics. She has also been a professor in the Mathematical Sciences Department at Carnegie Mellon University since 1991.
I was very interested to read about your journey and feel like you, the connections I have made over the years through my education work and personal work through world textiles. I look forward to researching about WARP. I wish you well.