Life Happens

The best Birthday present

Even this year my birthday came and went. Just like an unlit fart, it left no apparent sign. A slight lingering of age-related thoughts, perhaps the realisation that I am no longer 25 is becoming more and more tangible, but my attitude towards it is still a serene one.

I had my middle life crisis at 25, believe it or not. That overwhelming feeling of being lost in the woods and feeling the sand of time slipping through my fingers has been ticked off my list of experiences and I now accept the passing of the years with jolly feelings and appreciation.

Christmas? Easter? Thanksgiving? Meh. But the day you were born? It has to be the most joyous of events and celebrating it seems to be a natural affair. Unlike Fintan who doesn’t care much about birthdays, I love to mark the passing of another year with an event.

We’ve decided to go for a mini spontaneous holiday to Máncora, a nice beach spot in Peru, close to the Ecuadorian boarder.


Happy birthday to me!

Supertrampy style, as usual, we failed to read news about our destination, so we weren’t aware of the catastrophic floods that were plaguing the whole country! Luckily we weren’t affected (except for one muddy day!) and managed to escape just on time, after a blissful time on the shore of the ocean, making sand castles with Camila for the first time, jumping waves, floating in the hotel’s swimming pool and witnessing Camila’s confidence with water grow day by day.

Another exciting present this year, was an unexpected one.

A serendipitous invitation came through my inbox right around my birthday: an invitation to some creative workshops coming up here in Vilcabamba.

It has been a while since I had done something new. It is when I am learning that I feel alive and young, so the timing couldn’t have been more perfect!

Despite the intimidation I receive from everything related to fabric, two workshops in particular caught my attention: weaving and Shibori dyeing.

The word Shibori itself, sounded much like what Camila would say instead of saying ‘She’s boring’ and roused images of fancy sushi and oriental teapots. I have never heard of it before. I quickly read about it, enough to learn that it is a Japanese dyeing technique which involved the use of resists to create beautiful patterns on textiles.


Bind, stitch, fold, twist or sandwich fabric between two same pieces of wood/plastic before submerging in a bucket full of indigo dye, and then be mesmerized by the funky patterns the technique has produced.


The teacher is a very creative and talented artist called Rommie. Her beautiful house welcomed my excited self with an inspiring wave of fabric, wall hangings, weavings and a lot of hoarded material flamboyantly placed on large working tables. I lost myself in her instructions and abundance of material. The possibilities were endless once the techniques were explained.

Rommie isn’t one of those tutors so attached to technique and perfection of execution that would make you feel inadequate. She embraces and celebrates all mistakes, finds the beauty in all cock-ups and has an encouraging way of making you love what you are doing. There was no control to be had on the patterns yet, once one gets a grip on what produces what then the process will reach a whole new level of artistry. But even the initial ignorant playing around with resist methods, the waiting for the fabric to soak up the dye and the trepidation when unfolding the fabric to discover the pattern is a very enjoyable way to spend one afternoon.


Of course I wasn’t entirely satisfied with all of the results, especially that cloth of mine that now has what it looks like a bulldog’s sphincter repeated over and over on it! But I can saw up all of those pieces I have created and make a  beautiful patchwork quilt as a reminder of my thirty sixth twenty fifth birthday!

A couple of weeks later I attended her weaving course too. A two day workshop, weaving recycled material and wool, threaded through the homemade vertical loom she offered for the class. I got lost in the practice which, much like gardening, is an excellent meditation tool. The merging of colours, textures, fibers, all coming together in a piece of wall art.

How I loved it!

So much that I now have my very own loom and have started hoarding fabrics ready for a new wall hanging.

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.”    Henry Ford


This entry was published on March 24, 2017 at 5:15 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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