Peace Fibres Book

Peace Fibres – Insights to Stitching a Soulful World an Interview with author Karen Lohn

We had an opportunity recently to interview Karen Lohn, author of the wonderful and interactive book, Peace Fibres.  The focus of the book is the multidimensional role that fiber work plays in developing relationships across cultures, generations, and in personal relationships. The book itself came about quite organically as a result of Karen’s personal observations during international travel, and as a result of the manner in which she wove her newfound insights into her work as a clinical psychologist.

The book is colorful, engaging, thought provoking and truly interactive.  The words that came to mind as I read this book are: Inquisitive, Connective, Suggestive and Explorative. As you travel through the pages, the stories, the activities and the ponderings, you will find it encourages connection to Self, to family, generations, community, culture, economy, politics and the earth.

I am sure you will enjoy projects like The Rapunzel Scarf of Friendship, Weaving Diversity, and the Threads for Thought throughout the book. It is not a work you read from cover to cover, but one you can pick up over and over for a new adventure in just a page or two. Of course you will also enjoy the many vibrant photos of fiber art creations from many cultures around the world!

Joining, connecting, unifying. An image. An intention. One tiny sizzling thread joins another, then another, until a form emerges. A canvas. A garment. A scrunch ball. Making beauty. Warming. Comforting. Inspiring connection. Inviting contribution. Instilling peace. Fibre work is both metaphor and manifestation of harmonious relationship to self, others, and the larger world.” P. 169

We hope you take the opportunity to pick up Karen’s book, and perhaps to take one of her workshops.
You can get the book on Karen’s website, and also see her workshop schedule there.


Everyone who comments on the Peace Fibres Spotlight feature in April 2012
will be automatically entered to win an autographed copy!

Karen Lohn is a licensed counseling psychologist who is passionate about the tapestry of life. For more than 20 years , she has taught classes, workshops and college courses focused on integration of self through metaphor and experiential learning. Lohn lives with her husband, Bob, in Grand Marais, Minnesota,
where she rises before dawn to savor each new day.

Traditional braids worn in Guatemala 

We asked Karen about her experience in fiber arts, how the book concept came about and more details about her journey and discoveries in writing the book. I know you will enjoy her telling of it,
and that you will enjoy the book just as much!

Not a fibre artist, just a dabbler, I began to notice how warmly connected I felt when I would look down on any given day, asking myself, “Who dressed me today?”  Almost always, I would be wearing something handmade for me, gifted to me, or inherited as a hand-me-down; my day would be one of loving entwinement with that person, even if they were gone from Earthly life.

In 1994, my sister and I traveled to the Far East to experience a variety of cultures there. Neither of us had any goal of focusing on fibre work, but in every visit, that is what we did.

In Hong Kong, we caressed slinky, elegant silks and purchased yardage to gift to friends and family. In Bangkok, after motoring up the Mekong River to the Hill Tribe villages, we discovered the significance of the back strap weaving women there were doing to feed and to clothe their families; jackets and table runners remind us still of that powerful experience. In Jakarta, Indonesia, we witnessed the community of women working in a batik “factory” while they talked and laughed and counseled one another.  My gorgeous tablecloth and napkins attest to the art they created as they also earned an income.

I was awed by the awareness that, from intimate relationships to indigenous villages, fibre work connects.  Both  metaphor and manifestation of peaceful relationship, fibre work expresses the “C” qualities of the archetypal feminine: community, compassion, creativity, cooperation, contribution. It connects us to the natural world, to our inner selves, to one another interpersonally, intergenerationally, and intercultually.  What an amazing avenue to developing peace personally and politically.

With guidance, even kindergartners can learn simple fibre arts. In northern Thailand, we watched elders teach village boys and girls to weave the pattern of their tribe, the Akha.

A counseling psychologist, I developed a group experience for clients entitled “The Fabric Series.” It was a hands-on, holistic approach, including meditation, yoga, discussion and activities, and simple symbolic fibre projects.  The series was powerful.  I repeated it many times, each time finding that working with tactile fibres accessed significant response for many.  Peace Fibres: Stitching a Soulful World began as a project intended to offer the series as a model for other therapists. Once I began to research the vast role of fibre work, it became clear that this was not sufficient and the book became one intended for anyone, whether or not they might ever have stitched a single stitch.

Green Hills needle felted art by Debra Poth of Washington

Interviewing fibre artists internationally has been a learning experience for me. The fibre work is such a non-threatening way to converse, to appreciate, and to take action. My favorite story took place on a trip to indigenous villages in Chiapas, Mexico; there, the women embroider two huipiles, blouses that are identical as each village has an identifying pattern; one for Sunday best and one for the hard work they must carry on daily in this desperately poor community. In Amatenango, the pattern includes wide horizontal stripes of orange and red. When I noticed that some of the huipiles also include brightly colored vertical stripes, while others have none, my inquiry was met with laughter. The vertical stripes are removed after menopause.  Prior to menarche, girls do not wear the huipile. So, when one encounters a female, one can immediately identify her village as well as her age and life stage!

In their embroidered huipiles, Manuela and Alyssa express their Mayan identity in the Yucatan.

 

Peace Fibres is intended as a starter, not an endpoint.  My hope is to raise awareness of the powerful role fibre work plays, to inspire awe for the beauty and warmth offered throughout the ages, and initiate action in service of marginalized people through myriad organizations working toward empowerment. Those three words—awareness, awe, action—are my hope for readers, both individually and in groups.

I enjoy offering hands-on workshops and retreats along these themes. As we laugh and talk, we usually do some felt-making as a focus on self, then a needle-felting project such as blankets for babies, chemo-hats, scarves or shawls.  These are donated to shelters, care centers, crisis nurseries, or any organization that the participants choose.  Longer retreats include meditation, yoga, and additional projects. 


Upcoming Events:
May 12-13: Shepherd’s Harvest Festival, Lake Elmo, MN

 May 17-20: Weave A Real Peace (WARP) conference, Boulder, CO

 July 29: Ripple River Gallery, Aitkin, MN

My schedule is listed on my website, www.peacefibres.com.
I can also be reached by email at
karenlohn@boreal.org.

Much, much appreciation to Marie at Living Felt for supporting this project!

Peace, Karen

 

For more info: www.peacefibres.com

26 thoughts on “Peace Fibres – Insights to Stitching a Soulful World an Interview with author Karen Lohn

  1. In this hurried day and age of instant information, super highways and text messaging , I have found the wool slows me down and reconnects me to the earth. In this way, we are able to be equals with all the fiber artist around the world. What a wonderful experience it must have been to see all those beautiful textiles.

    Like

    • Dear Pamela,
      Indeed, “slows me down” is the beauty of the wool….and other fibres as well. And, connection, connection, connection. Each fibre entwining with another, just as we entwine with all peoples across the globe.
      Thank you for this thoughtful comment.
      Peace….one stitch at a time.
      Karen Lohn

      Like

  2. I am a preschool teacher working for many years with low income immigrant families and children, many for Mexico and central America. I have noticed over the years that many mothers have amazing sewing and art skills that they don’t often get to utilize in their busy and often challenging lives. As a teacher I look for ways parents can share their crafts in the classroom with the children. We have also done some felting together. As a teacher I can support a culture and a community in my classroom that values the traditional crafts immigrant families bring with them to our country.

    Thank you for writing this book. It is a good reminder how creativity and fiber art are universal and bind us together as a world community of crafters and artists.

    Like

  3. Sisters of Arachne!! I started as a weaver, many years ago. Every time I touched my loom I felt the echoes of women through out time, gently caressing the fibers, helping to guide my hands and teach me. I learned to spin and knit, but when I was introduced to needle felting I found my center in the fiber art traditions. I love the feel, the colors, the scent of fresh wool, the meditative rhythms, the communion with the animal providers of the wool, the interconnection of the threads of the lives of fiber artists through out history and time. I have searched out fellow fiber artists wherever I have journeyed. I look forward to exploring this book.

    Like

    • Dear Softheart Nancy,
      What a wonderful name! Indeed, Sisters of Arachne…. you beautifully express the sentiment of Peace Fibres. I hope that you will love and absorb Peace Fibres.
      Wishes for peace to you….one fibre at a time.
      Karen Lohn

      Like

  4. I am a golden senior…just enjoying living my life. I think your book is fantastic…what a great inspiriational/idea book.
    Thank you

    Florence Brick

    Like

    • Dear Florence,
      The BEST time of life! Thank you for your lovely comment…. I hope that you thoroughly enjoy Peace Fibres….and, living your one life as a golden senior.
      Peace,
      Karen

      Like

  5. This books sounds fascinating. My grandmother crocheted, my mother is a weaver. When I learned to crochet my mom said it must have skipped a generation. Now my daughters and I enjoy felting together. I love seeing how fiber arts draw us together and weave their way into our daily lives.

    Like

    • You are a living example of the thesis of Peace Fibres…. connections, connections that radiate through the generations and across the globe!
      So glad that you are sharing with your daughters!

      Peace,
      Karen Lohn

      Like

  6. Ohhhh so inspiring…I love to needle felt. The time just flows and soothes the soul. I am sure this book really captures connection and a peaceful journey to one’s desire in fine crafting. Thank you for making it possible for us to take advantage of this!!! I would LOVE LOVE LOVE this book!!!!!!!!!

    Like

  7. I see that you give workshops in Boulder, CO. I am looking forward to attending one. Thank you for your beautiful work and world outlook. Debby Widolf

    Like

    • Good Morning, Debby,
      Actually, I am only in Boulder for a small presentation at the annual conference of WARP, Weave A Real Peace, a four-day event. If you are nearby, please stop by (Outlook Hotel).
      Thank you for your thoughtful comment. All good wishes.
      Peace,
      Karen

      Like

  8. Dear Karen
    I was absolutely thrilled to read your words and chew on your thoughts. I live in Australia and teach felting. Through my textile work I focus on the feminine and our universal connection of soul to earth. Your book and words so resonated with me. I thank you for illustrating the value of feminine textile work in healing connecting and creating harmony.
    Congratulations and thanks
    with much love Barbara

    Like

    • Hello, Barbara,
      Much appreciation for your soulful response to Peace Fibres…. sounds like we have a commonality of spirit. Just think how the healing message of the feminine is radiating across the globe.
      Wishes for peace….
      Karen

      Like

  9. The cover of this book is so intriguing! Even non-felters will be curious to crack it open and take a look. I am an avid felter and love this hobby more than any other I have taken up…but didn’t make the connection of Felting = Peace until I saw this title! lol OF COURSE!

    Best wishes on the success of this book!

    Like

  10. What a powerful project to create this book! I have been feltmaking (in which I include other fibers/textiles) for a few years now and I have had some profound experiences through the tactile nature of wet felting as well as the effects of color. I have felt old buried wounds swell and rise up, and sometimes the wash away while other times they float around and let me be with them in a way I never was able to before. I have also felt a sort of a shedding or bleeding through the colors on a soul level. I hope to get a chance to read this wonderful book soon, thank you for your work!

    Warm regards from Mexico City,
    Heather

    Like

  11. Such inspiring work and I LOVE love love the gorgeous pansies! I would really enjoy this book!!!!! Thank you for hightening one’s possibilities for this wonderful medium. Peace and Blessings~

    Like

  12. I have always enjoyed needle craft over the years, embroidery, cross stitch, crewel work, the basics. I have just found needle felting in the few months and love doing it. Through Living Felt I have found your website Peace Fibres . Your book looks to be much more than illustrating the craft, from what I have picked up it involves a deeper level of learning! I have not found any needlefelting book and would love to have a chance to absorb your ” Peace Fibres”.
    I have found people are so giving in the world of crafts.
    Thank you for giving a ‘peace’ of yourself through your book.
    A new fan, from Southern Ontario Canada
    Teresa

    Like

  13. I love to see the creative inspirational work that becomes beauty for all to behold.
    Thank you for adventuring out and bringing new colorful influences into our lives to those of us that can’t.

    Like

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