Finding the True Self and Dignity in Weaving

Saori_Deb Rourke

SAORI Weaving is now part of the Personal Development (PD) program curriculum

All flowers are beautiful, even though each individual flower is different in form and color.  Because of this difference, “all are good”. Because everything has the same life, life cannot be measured by a yardstick.  It is this individuality that makes everything meaningful and the uniqueness of each thread that creates the tapestry of life. —Misao Jo

We are very excited to have received two different grants to buy equipment and supplies for the new class. One grant was a Surrey Cares grant and the other was from Westminster Savings Foundation.

Saori is a unique style of weaving founded by Misao Jo in Japan. The SA of SAORI is the first syllable of the word SAI. Sai means everything has its own individual dignity. And the ORI of SAORI means weaving.

SAORI is a free-style hand weaving with no rules and restrictions. There are no mistakes. Unexpected surprises become design elements. SAORI is the opposite of machine-made cloth. Every weaver has his or her own unique personality and every cloth has its own unique personality. On the SAORI website it says, “In SAORI, we do not weave only a cloth. We weave our true self.”

There are four slogans in SAORI weaving:

  1. Consider the differences between machines and people.
  2. Let’s adventure beyond our imagination.
  3. Let’s look out through eyes that shine.
  4. Let’s learn from everyone in the group.

Aside from the SAORI philosophy, the designs of the looms are quite unique. All of the looms, except for the wheelchair accessible ones, fold up when not in use. One weaver’s whole project can be removed from the loom and another weaver’s project can be inserted so that one loom can accommodate more than one person’s ongoing project. There are adaptations that allow a loom to be raised up so that it is wheelchair accessible. If someone is unable to grasp the shuttle, there is an extension to the shuttle shelf so that the shuttle can be left in place. If the weavers are unable to use the foot pedals to change the warp, the warp can be moved by hand.

In February two PD staff attended a weekend workshop on SAORI weaving. This last semester they facilitated a pilot project in PD, using a borrowed SAORI loom. Several people have had an opportunity to try SAORI weaving and there has been a great deal of interest.

Our first purchase with the grant money is a wheelchair-accessible loom with adaptations as well as more thread and inside sets to allow multiple users on the same loom. We are in the process of buying 3 more foldable looms, inside sets and yarns.

We are extremely grateful for the generosity of Surrey Cares and Westminster Savings Foundation, which is enabling us to go forward with this exciting project.

By Sue Forster and Deb Rourke, Semiahmoo House Society

Semiahmoo House Society, a non-profit organization located in Surrey/White Rock, exists to provide quality services and supports to people with disabilities and their families in the community. The Semiahmoo Foundation, located in Surrey/White Rock, exists to fund, support and enhance the programs and services delivered by Semiahmoo House Society.

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