Monday, December 22, 2008

A Year of Realizations...

This year has been quite and experience. So much has happened for me personally. I have always held on to some sort of creative outlet. In New Orleans I had the job at Mardi Gras World painting and designing floats. That led me in a sort of backwards way to wire sculpture, which led me to jewelry. I enjoyed creating wild pendants out of thick sterling silver wire. I remember how exciting it was when the contemporary art gallery asked me if I would sell them there. That phase ended after several years and I got back into crochet. I made hats just last Christmas for some friends. I considered selling them on Etsy but before I even had time to entertain the idea, a friend mentioned "Lets dye some wool yarn! We can do it with Kool-Aid!" That was around February.

If you asked me last year if I had ever considered spinning yarn, I probably would've cocked my head to the side and said "Like with a spinning wheel?!?" I used to be able to bust out a wire pendant in just a few minutes. It was fun to sit down with a hunk of silver and an hour later have 5-10 pendants to show for it. This spinning yarn thing though, it is so different. I have always been one to find the most efficient way to do things. Working with wool has taught me to be patient. From the very first opening of the bag of fluffy wool, to the needles or a photo shoot for my Etsy shop, it's a journey.

There are so many steps involved in creating yarn. The dyeing process has taught me to let go of my "plan" that I usually have for everything. Some wools take dye differently, some dyes don't end up like I expected, some days the city water has been treated and I end up with pastel mania. Once they are hung to dry in the Texas sun, they often surprise me. I can't even explain how exciting it is to have a fresh batch of dyed roving drying. This is where the patience comes in. I will admit, some rovings peek my curiosity so much I have spun them while they are still the slightest bit damp. For most of them though, I must wait until they dry. Very few have ended up like I actually picture them. It is amazing the transformation that takes place as the colors twist and blend together in the spinning process. There is absolutely no way that any machine could ever produce the effect of handspun yarn.

The options that you have when you start to spin are practically endless. From super thin to super bulky and everything in between. Some fibers pretty much tell you how they want to be spun. You can go into it thinking, I will spin this into a bulky yarn, then the fiber says no. Some want to be thick and thin. You never really know until you get going. I like to experiment. Actually, not having been taught how to spin in the first place, this whole venture was an experiment!

My handspun yarn was the first handspun I had ever worked with. I received my wheel in pieces in the mail in March of this year and still remember the excitement as I was putting it together. I felt like I was about to conquer something I knew little about. I had a box full of wool and I just went for it! There were so many variables: tension, fiber, distance, speed, technique (of which I had none!) I don't remember a definitive moment when it clicked, it was a gradual process. I do remember the first time I realized the thing I had just created could pass for yarn! It was still a few weeks before I decided to use some of my handspun to crochet with. It was a purple and pink blend and I had just enough of it to make a coffee cup sleeve. This was before I had learned to knit. Well I had attempted knitting but it was still dangerous to be in the vicinity when I had two pointy sticks and so much frustration from not really knowing what I was doing! The experience to create something out of a supply that I created from a pile of fluff was nothing short of amazing.

I still enjoy experimenting. In fact almost every skein I spin still teaches me a little something. I see other fiber artists work and I think "I can do that." I have gone from spinning uncontrollable thick and thin yarns to all sorts of (now I can actually call them this) techniques. Consistently spun, super thin, super thick, slubs, art yarn (which was a challenge for me and my symmetrical self), coils and others.

My very favorite part about spinning though...sharing it with others. Every skein I send off is exciting. I mean who really ever knows what it will become? There are so many possibilities when you create a "supply." I create so others can create, gotta love it!

Now my knitting skills have improved. I am happy to say it is no longer dangerous to be in my presence with two pointy sticks. In fact, this year, I knit a bunch of my family's gifts. I was a joy to do and I can't wait to gift them!

Have a happy holiday everyone and I hope your hearts will be full of joy. Each and every one of us has so much to be thankful for.

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