All images courtesy Karen Lohn
Grand Marais resident Karen Lohn is concerned about the world and where we're headed. But rather than try to change things on a global scale, she's working on helping individuals find their own inner peace.
Lohn, a licensed psychologist, is the author of a new book called "Peace Fibres: stitching a soulful world," which uses the act of working with fibers as a means of working toward peace, and building a sense of connection with other cultures.
Mongolian spinners to turn Bactrian camel hairs into yarn
Lohn says she was inspired to write the book by her own exposure to weaving and textiles:
Looking down fairly often, taking note of who clothed me that day was the initial inspiration for Peace Fibres. I am the lucky recipient of scarves, jackets, sweaters, and other clothing whether knit, crocheted, woven, or stitched by family and friends. When I wear a garment handmade by someone I care about, I touch it gently and feel connected to that person.
Then, I took a trip to the Far East with my sister. With no intention of
focusing on textiles, in each country we visited, fibre work became a focus.
We stroked glorious silks in Hong Kong; we visited back strap weavers in the
Hill tribes of Thailand; and, we observed a circle of batik workers in Java.
We brought items from women's cooperatives back with us and I again felt
joined with the hands that produced them. It became clear to me that fibre
work serves to connect people; it builds relationship, the foundation for
Traditional braids worn in Guatemala
Once back home, Lohn created activities that use the weaving of fibers as a metaphor for personal development. Not just knitting and friendship bracelets, but also meditation exercises, and "threads for thought:"
It is based on the premise that peace begins within, then radiates in ever-expanding webs of connection. It underlines our interdependence with nature as the source of fibres that serve every human need from basic subsistence to inspirational works of art. From indigenous villages to intimate relationships, fibres connect. And, Peace Fibres invites readers to experience the meditative and sensual aspects of working with fibres through activities and simple symbolic projects.
Women of Paraguay capture the fractal patterns of nature by gracefully stitching layers connected to layers in a durable web of beauty and strength called Ñandutí, or Paraguayan lace.
From Native American dream catchers to the World Wide Web, Lohn found many images of weaving and webs that implied both greater community and greater strength. That's something she's hoping her book "Peace Fibres" will help create:
My aim for readers of Peace Fibres is to stimulate awareness, awe, and action. The stories and "Threads for Thought" offer awareness of the multidimensional roles served through fibre, while the activities and projects offer hands-on experiences of meaning and connection. Throughout, I encourage exploration of organizations throughout the world that are serving to empower the marginalized and offer nurturing creations to those in need. All is aimed at creating conditions that contribute to personal and political peace.
You can find out more about Peace Fibres here.