Weaving a Life is a process of exploring working with our hands as a pathway to peace within ourselves, in community, and with the earth.
Weaving a Life helps people everywhere realize the treasures that live within us by offering experiences and tools that enrich our understanding of ourselves and our place in the world.
Weaving a Life speaks to the human spirit as we explore with our hands the connections of our inner beliefs about ourselves with our daily actions, in our home life, our spiritual life and with our world community.
New weavers will learn tapestry techniques, and seasoned weavers find new sculptural dimensions in their work: the essence of the Weaving a Life process is an experience of weaving our personal fabric.
UMission, a non-profit that celebrates people who are passionate about their missions, interviewed Susan Barrett Merrill. See the interview here >>
Listen to Susan interviewed by Sybil Dana Reynolds of Sacred Life Arts
“Our brain is an intricate loom of billions of neural pathways with a huge potential for weaving internal interconnections and connections out to the world.”
--Arthur Auer, M.Ed, in "Learning About the World Through Modeling"
Contact Susan Barrett Merrill
The Weaving a Life approach is not just conceptual; it brings handwork to a broad audience by providing the simple materials for enriching creative activity. The weaving of the keyforms is itself a process of deepening awareness through connecting the hands and heart in a journey of self-discovery. A fundamental part of the Weaving a Life approach is that the journey can be an outdoor adventure as well: the loom and the techniques are portable, allowing you to bring your work into the woods, to the sea, or to any place that moves and inspires you.
Susan's book is being sold in stores across the US, and has made its way as far as Australia, the UK, India, Central America, Bermuda, the Caribbean and Peru. 144 pages of photographs and text introduce the Weaving a Life approach with the concept of keyforms and their meanings. Over 200 photos and illustrations give example and inspiration. Patterns and detailed directions for weaving each of the seven keyforms are provided, including for the first time the secret of weaving the unique Zati mask.
Weaving Circles are groups who gather to weave, on the Journey Loom, the seven Weaving a Life keyforms, elemental forms that lead us on a journey of discovery, learning to integrate what we love with what we do in the world. Weaving Circles also serve in Circle of Service projects. More...
New! Personalize It! Our Gift Pack of our own hand-crafted Journey Loom and a copy of ZATI The Art of Weaving a Life plus a special note card, all for $99-- a $115 value!
ZATI The Art of Weaving a Life
The new softcover edition of Susan Barrett Merrill's ground-breaking book is in high demand wherever we go. The book is much more than a how-to book on basic tapestry weaving, though it includes much instruction. The Weaving a Life approach is a heart-centered approach to weaving, recognizing weaving as both a means and a metaphor for conscious living.
We have found that people seeking meaning in their lives, spiritual growth, or a deeper connection to their communities, all want more than concepts to understand. We have spoken with people who are hungry for a way to connect to life with their hands, with materials that come direct from the earth, to bring warmth and richness to lives dominated by virtual experience and a culture that feels increasingly confused.
"Merrill gives us a stunning book...calmly blasting walls between life and art the way Cameron did in The Artist's Way, or Goldberg in Writing Down the Bones. So honestly written, so packed with wisdom..." --Daniela Kuper, author of Hunger and Thirst
Our online store has been carefully design to make it easy to purchase online. Everything is clear, checkout is easy, and you can add a comment to your purchase, or send a gift to someone with your note handwritten by us. Find looms, books and media, kits, downloads and gift cards.
Portable wooden loom with cloth case makes weaving as easy as knitting. Take it anywhere!
ZATI The Art of Weaving a Life
By Susan Barrett Merrill. Softcover. Weaving as means and metaphor for living a conscious life. 144p, color, includes 7 weaving patterns.
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The fact is, people are seeking meaning in their lives, spiritual growth, and a deeper connection to their communities. If you are one of these, you want more than ideas and concepts to help you understand how to live a more fulfilled life. You’re hungry for a way to connect with your hands, with materials that enrich life, like those that come from the earth. You want to live a life that transcends the virtual world in which we seem to exist, dominated by technology and its shallow electronic relationships, with little connection to the earth on which we all live.
The Weaving a Life process connects you with nature: the wooden loom and fiber art materials are portable, allowing you to bring your work into the woods, to the sea, to the hearth, or any place that inspires you.
We long to bring together the spiritual, emotional and physical aspects of ourselves what if we could manifest that integrative process in a tangible way? Weaving a Life gives you a conscious process of integrating yourself – your beliefs, your values, and your way of living in the world, in forms you can touch.
The intangible, yet profound, value of Weaving a Life is that it helps you to integrate yourself in a complete way, with simple handwork that is pursued with a goal of understanding yourself. That’s the whole of Weaving a Life, but what does it mean? How can handwork help you understand yourself?
Weaving a Life’s handwork, through the seven keyforms – elemental forms you create yourself – is beyond being mindful. It helps you become fully aware of the wholeness of your life – hands, heart, psyche, spirit – through this simple, humble process of handwork done with a conscious purpose.
Keyforms are elemental forms – Amulet, Bowl, Doll, Belt of Power, Mask, sacred Bundle, Shawl – that are woven from simple patterns, and build sequentially to move students through the journey of Weaving a Life. Each has a special meaning and function. The Amulet calls into your life what you wish to do and to become. The Bowl is the keyform of self-acceptance and self-love. The Doll reveals the wisdom that lives inside you. The Belt of Power helps you advocate for yourself, to define your sacred space. The Mask is an exploration of identity. The Bundle is a toolbox for the journey of your life. The Shawl represents your practice of this process throughout your life. It consists of a collection of woven pieces representing golden moments from your life, recording your inner beauty and strength in a tangible way.
A neurologist who studied the hand and its role in the development of the mind, said, in his book The Hand,
“When personal discovery and desire prompt anyone to learn to do something well with the hands, a highly complicated process is initiated that endows work with a powerful emotional charge. People are changed, significantly and irreversibly, it seems, when movement, thought and feeling fuse during the active, long term pursuit of goals.”
Frank O. Wilson, M.D., The Hand
So this is more than Weaving a Life’s opinion of what happens: it has a strong scientific basis. You really understand this when you can internalize the physical experience of your hands, and externalize your new awareness of yourself in your interactions with family, friends, and community.
Weaving a Life takes the vertical threads, in weaving terms the warp, to represent your innermost beliefs and core understandings. The weft represents your actions in the world: the horizontal threads you weave through the vertical threads of your beliefs, making the fabric of your life. Through the Weaving a Life process, you internalize these relationships, and it gives you new insight into what you are doing, and how you are feeling about it. Weaving a Life gives you a structure to understand your life, and it’s a liberating structure, one that frees you from unconscious actions, bring your choices into a sphere of consciousness of yourself and your goals, and helps you weave a fabric of life that will serve you in all ways.
One Weaving Circle Leadership student described it like this:
“It was amazing: I could touch what I was thinking! When I took my weaving off the loom, I lost part of the warp, which represented my values, and I realized this is like my life. When my values are loose and floppy, my actions won't make a fabric that works for me.”
We talk about values as your innermost beliefs about how you live and how you want to live. Honesty, respect for the earth, creativity – these are examples of values. The warp threads do not just represent your values. Through weaving the keyforms, they become imbued with your values, as you internalize the external process of weaving, and see it become a clear structure for designing your life. When you can touch your values, feel them, see their color, you begin to know what your values really mean in your life. You get acquainted with yourself in ways you never have before.
We often enter into personal or business relationships believing we share values with our partner or our colleague, only to find later that their values in some ways may be antithetical to ours. We’re disappointed, frustrated, angry. What’s really happening is that we thought they had our values, and are disappointed when they turn out to be their own person. If we stick with the relationship, and come to know our own values, in other words, to know ourselves and respect ourselves for who we are, we can come to respect and admire others for their own individuality and for how true they are to their values.
Many of us see people from another culture and unconsciously think they should have our values. When they don’t, we become confused and fearful. When we respect another’s values – and that respect can only come out of knowing and respecting our own values – then we can truly understand them. When we respect and understand each other’s individuality, we can get along. This is the real meaning of “peace begins at home.”
Weaving Circle Leadership Training is our certification course for leading workshops, or circles, in weaving the seven Weaving a Life keyforms. This intensive course provided through distance learning, over twelve weeks, so you can learn from anywhere in the world. In addition to students throughout the United States, we have students in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Most of our work is done over the phone, so an understanding of technology is not required.
Many people attend Weaving Circles and then want to become leaders themselves. Many of our students are not weavers when they begin the course. The woven pieces are designed to be very simple – no experience is necessary. After all, it’s not so much about the weaving as the experience. Often professionals want to use Weaving a Life in their practice. Nurses, therapists, and phychiatrists, as well as teachers, find Weaving a Life to be extremely valuable with their clients and patients.
From the very first, beginning with a life review, teacher and student connect in a deep and powerful way. Everyone wants to tell their life story, but who will listen? The Weaving a Life teacher not only listens, but reflects back the values and life patterns that are revealed in the student’s story.
Moving to the keyforms, with reflection, journaling and discussion, and guided by the teacher, you as a student call into your life what you need and how you want to live in the next chapter of your life.
Many of us are missing something in our lives, but we don’t know what it is. We can spend our whole lives searching for that missing something. Weaving a Life contends that it already lives inside you, and that you only need to reveal it to yourself to live a more whole life, a more fulfilled and rewarding life. What you call in with the amulet, the very first keyform, will become the golden thread that goes through all the work you will do throughout your training, and beyond your training into your life. The amulet is the foundation of your new vision and your new path for yourself, whatever it may be. The sequence of keyforms confirms and expands that vision, and brings it fully into your life in both tangible outer ways in the work you do, and in inner ways in deeper connection with your spiritual core, and in your rejuvenated energy and zest for life.