Exploring the world of fiber, one draft at a time

My posting can be as frequent or infrequent as my spinning, so be as patient as that fiber, sitting in my stash.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


I have been mulling this post in my head for the last day or so, and it has taken several directions before I have finally decided just what I was trying to say.

The thoughts all started because of a big time consuming project that I have been tackling this month. I am finally sorting through the inventory of my dad's stamp business, with the intention of selling what I do not want and putting what I want to keep into archival safety.

Now this in itself does not relate to this fiber blog. What I discovered about my two major hobbies does belong here, and that is why I am writing this post today.

The stamp project has been fun, and very time consuming. OK so far that description could fit any fiber art hobby too. The stamp project will eventually produce something I will enjoy years to come, and maybe some income. Again, a similiar statement could be made to any fiber art.
Finally, I will only have to do this stamp project once.

And here is where the two hobbies diverge. It is this divergence that I have been thinking about. Why would I not say that I will only knit this scarf once, or spin this yarn once. On the surface it sounds like that is a true statement. Each skein of yarn is unique and producing it 'exactly' as a manufacturer would, is just not possible for me. Yet what I would say is that I spun ten skeins of that romney wool yarn and imply that not only did I do it over and over again, but that I would continue to do it until the wool was gone. Then I would pick up another wool and spin some more. All of this implies it is _not_ a one time project.

I am not talking about one time projects in the sense that I will never touch another stamp again, or never pick up wool and spin again. What I am talking about is the essence of the final result of the project. I will not have to do this major sorting again. I may do something else stamp related, but not this project. It's a project that has the 'magic' of being a once a lifetime thing to do.

I do not look at my knitting and spinning in the same way. I see those as something I will do over and over during my life. There can be 'once in a lifetime' type fiber arts projects. Certainly a major needleart work of museum quality, or heirloom sewing or a weaving of the finest silk or linen meant to last several lifetimes. These are not on my fiber agenda though. Instead I have the knitting that gets worn now, and worn out. I have the spinning that is for fun or education, and will never be used in a project. Or I have the combination of spinning and then knitting with the yarn knowing full well that I will do the exact same thing again once that project is complete.

The biggest difference I can see in the two hobbies is the concept of manufacturing. I collect stamps, I do not manufacture them. I manufacture yarn and sweaters, but I do not collect them. All of the sudden the two statements show the opposites they represent, and with that they show the balance they have created in my life. I now realize why such two divergent hobbies have been such an important role in my life. They create a balance in my life. And that is a very good thing indeed. Whether I am talking about the physical, spiritual, social or work the most important need in any of these areas in my life is balance. I've worked on that concept all of my adult life. And this week I have just realized that I had applied it to my hobbies without realizing it.

So when you find yourself grumpy because you have to yet again pick up those knitting needles or fiber for your project, here is my suggestion. Collect something. OK I strongly recommend that you do not consider your stash of yarn a collection. It's too demanding to be manufactured into something. That's not a collection. No, a collection needs to be something totally without use, and totally enjoyable when you look at it. It should bring some kind of good memory with it. And after you have spent a good amount of time collecting and organizing, you will find yourself eager again to pick up those knitting needles. You need the balance.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Christmas stitching 2006

It is a telling fact, that I have not blogged since mid Nov. That's par for my life that time of year. All of my normal routines get put on hold, except for my job. Stitching gets packed up, books get cleaned up from my comfy chair and tucked back into the bookcase. Clutter gets scooped up and put away, and out comes Christmas.

There are times when I get angry that society seems to demand that women put their lives on hold for the six weeks of those major holidays. And there are times when I am so happy to be celebrating with family and friends again. The fact is that every year I make it a point to make those family and friends the focus of my life, and that can not be a bad thing.

So I had a lovely holiday, and was able to set the pace of the celebrations to my speed. I managed to keep the weight off that I had lost pre holidays, and that was a major victory for me too.

Now the decorations are tucked back into their storage spot under the stairway, and the books are starting to stack up again next to my chair. I have brought out some socks to knit, and life has resume a somewhat normal routine again.

I had the pleasure of making two Christmas gifts this year, and I enjoyed doing both. The first was a small cross stitch kit of a Christmas teddy bear, for my mom who is a teddy bear collector. The kits are really nice, small enough that I did the stitching in about three weeks, and complete enough that they include the mat and glass frame. I have not done cross stitch for several years, and I enjoyed it. Here is a picture:

The second item that I made was knitted and for my daughter and son-in-law. They are owners of three sweet hedgehogs, and when I saw the pattern for a knitted hedgehog, I knew I would have to make them one.

This about the size of a basketball, and not really what the designer originally wrote in the pattern. That's because the original pattern was made mostly with wool and then felted drastically after knitting. My daughter has a true allergy to wool, so I used handspun alpaca and silk yarn for the body. And even after three agitations in the washing machine, this hedgehog was not going to felt down to any smaller size. Consequently, the eyelash yarn that is representing the quills looks a bit sparse, and not close and fluffly like the original pattern. However, the whole hedgehog is very soft and huggable, and is a perfect pillow for the bed. It is loved by my daughter and I had a great time making it. Even my dog thought it was wonderful, although the gleam in his eyes was because he thought I was making him the biggest, bestest chew toy ever. Sorry Barker, this one was gifted.