We live in a world were we no longer seem to celebrate the concept of mastering a craft or in celebrating the beginning of that journey.
There is nothing wrong with intermediate, but that is not a place where we get to sit while putting down the beginners or scoffing at the journey of further improvement.
I will likely never be a master, but I will never stop improving, nor will I ever forget the joy of beginning. The process of self-improvement, even when it is diminutive improvement, is where the joy truly begins. For in that small, simple advancement of the skill, we are rewakening the memories of our first glorious attempts at something that inspired us to try something new.
Creativity is a marvelous thing, but sometimes creativity can lead one to an avalanche of unfinished projects. The positive flow of energy that can come from beginning a new creative endeavor, may in-turn, devolve into a negative sea of stress. The question then gets asked, “Must I finish what I have started?”
In the world of fiber arts, there are many UFOs cluttering up closets and spare rooms. For those unfamiliar with this phenomenon, UFO stands for Unfinished Fiber Object. After many months, even years of living in dusty corners, these UFOs may resemble those other objects bearing the moniker of UFO. For after awhile, Unfinished may very well be replaced by Unidentifiable, and may lead the project to be tossed through the air and into the rubbish bin – flying, you might say into the trash.
While I doggedly try to avoid ever throwing away a project, I readily admit that there are times when one simply must toss out a UFO. Certainly recycling is the best option in these cases, however it is not always feasible. What is feasible, and is a must, is not allowing negative thoughts to beat unceasingly down upon us. Recognizing that while “better late then never” is a catchy phrase, sometimes it is not anywhere near the truth. When our health is in question, it is best to let go of the thing that once gave us joy but now causes us distress.
I began dyeing over 10 pounds of fiber a few months ago, and began spinning it up shortly after. It gave me joy and I have now completed it, but in these last weeks, it has been a bit stressful. The time constraints rather than the project itself was making this project less joy-filled. There were many days when I had to have a serious chat with myself over whether I should halt the project and call it “good enough”. Fortunately, I did have just enough time allotted to stretch the project out and give myself some rejuvenation and healing time. This factor, in-the-end, was the key to success. Even still, I paid a physical price for my determination to finish.
Sometime our bodies and our minds just need a break. Sometimes they require more than rest, they require a bit of a fresh start. During these times, there is nothing wrong with dusty UFOs taking flight. Of course the relief of de-cluttering the closet will never equal the joy of completing a project, but sometimes the peace it can bring is a joy in itself.
Fear is never an easy thing to overcome. Whether great or small, fear can prevent us from fully benefiting from the joys of life.
One of the great fears in knitting is cutting open a finished sweater so that it can become a cardigan. This fear is made even greater when the sweater is knit from handpsun wool, loving carded and spun for the purpose.
Overcoming the fear allows the knitter to have the ease and benefits of knitting in the round, while also having the benefits and comfort of a cardigan sweater.
I enjoy making the top-down raglan sweater for ease of construction, accuracy of fitting, and management of yarn use. When making this latest sweater for my son, I was able to spin the yarn as I was also knitting on the sweater. This ensured that I had little unused yarn when the project was complete. Since the yarn I used was a blend of Mohair, Alpaca, and CVM sheep’s wool, I was glad to avoid making any more yarn than was necessary.
I have steeked sweaters before but the nervousness of cutting open a sweater remains.
While it is never easy overcoming any fear, great or small, it is always worth the effort, and it does become a bit easier as our confidence in ourselves grows.
There is nothing quite as wonderful as wrapping oneself up in a blanket, but most of us can’t drag a blanket around with us like Charlie Brown’s friend Linus does. However a big, squishy shawl is permissible in most situations.
A few years ago, I decided I needed one of these big, squishy shawls. I knew there were two simple types of triangular shawls that would work well for my needs, but I really wanted the top-down version as I suspected it would highlight my handspun yarn.
Basic knitting patterns are often the hardest to find since they are based on simple skills and calculations that many knitters can work out for themselves without the aid of a pattern. This meant my adventure in knitting a triangular shawl started with a bit of trial and error. Eventually I figured out a pattern that suited my needs. Then it was just a matter of spinning the yarn for the project.
The fiber I chose for the shawl was from a number of fleeces I had just purchased earlier that year. I was interested in seeing how each behaved when spun. The sheep were all of the same breed, and all from the same breeder, but that didn’t mean that they would all behave the same way. I began by choosing 3 ounces from each fleece, and then I started spinning. Once I began knitting, I simply knit until a skein ran out, and then I started knitting the next skein. In all, I used approximately 2 pounds of wool for this big, squishy shawl.
In the years since I finished that first shawl, I have made a couple more for my children. I wouldn’t say I am a slow knitter, but I am certainly a distracted one. With so many fiber and fabric items begging to be created, I often only knit on a shawl when I am in-between other projects. So a big, squishy shawl doesn’t really fit into a video blog format – at least not for me.
That is how the Triangular Shawl for Dolls idea came into being. The pattern for a big shawl and for a doll shawl is pretty much the same when it is this simple, triangular, top-down shawl. The only difference is the number of rows you knit.
I hope this video and this free pattern will inspire you to knit up a shawl for someone in your life. It truly is a hug in knitted form.
I decided to shift gears a bit this week and try something new. After posting my video updating the progress made on my Christmas Countdown Collection spin, I decided to finally try making my own stitch/row markers for my knitting/crochet projects.
A rainy day project, followed by a backyard stroll was just what I needed to refresh my emotional state of being.
When plans get derailed, it is good to find a replacement, and video blogging has really helped 2020 seem less glum. Every week I learn new things with the video editing. It has been a wonderful way to beat back feelings of stagnation.
If you haven’t kept up with my current spinning project, this is the latest video.
I have inherited heirlooms from my grandmothers, but I don’t think they ever set out to make an heirloom. They were practical women who made beautiful textile creations. Almost all of items I have inherited have been used, some are even threadbare. The threadbare ones are cherished as much as the ones that are still waiting to fulfill a useful purpose.
This is why I make things to be loved rather than placed on display. Practical, everyday items can be beautiful. Beautiful, well-made items, when cared for, can be loved and be treasured and still remain beautiful. I would rather have the items I make get loved and get worn out than to have them last for generations in pristine condition.
After spinning and vlogging every day for nearly a month, I was fairly worn out. However, I also felt mentally energized. It seems the daily challenge of getting at least one creative task in before slumber helped me combat the fatigue the state of world affairs seems to generate.
I have long known this to be a truth – creativity combats mental fatigue. Finding the way to fit creative pursuits in daily is not always an easy thing. Demands of life can disrupt even the fiercest determination. Setting a goal or focusing on a gift for someone else can help keep one on course. With this in mind, I have embarked on another creative challenge.
The Christmas Countdown Collection. It would be more aptly be called the Holiday or New Year’s Day Countdown Collection, but I liked all the Cs. To be completely honest here, I was only going to do a Christmas Countdown Collection but I had too much fun dyeing fiber. Yes, I admit, I just couldn’t stop until the rainbow was well covered.
So what is the Christmas Countdown Collection? Well it is nearly 10 pounds of dyed wool roving that I now must spin into nearly 40 skeins of yarn. Each skein will be divided into two sections. Each section will be wrapped in festive paper. Each package will be unwrapped one at a time beginning on Thanksgiving Eve and going through until New Year’s Day. Due to the need to send one set of squishy packages overseas, all of this must be done as quickly as possible. Yes, it occurs to me that I should have stuck to 25 braids of roving, but the joy of dyeing overcame rational thought.
As my daughter pointed out to me, if I spin one braid a day, and ply multiple skeins every few days, I should have plenty of time to finish this spinning challenge by the end of Tour de Fleece 2.0 (or in non-spinning terms – the end of September).
So let the challenge begin (okay, so it actually already began, but I am just now getting a video posted).
Oh, and for inquiring minds – the yarn is going to be used by my kiddos to crochet Granny Square afghans.
Enjoyment from sharing bits and pieces of one’s life can be the very salve needed for the wounds daily life can inflict.
I enjoyed sharing my Tour de Fleece 2020 journey though film, but making daily videos was more insane than spinning four pounds of wool during TdF.
Spinning yarn is a tremendous therapy for me, but it is something I often do in spurts. Many types fiber and fabric projects beckon to me, and my wheels can gather dust as I pursue other textile art.
With this undeniable truth in mind, I came up with the idea of sharing snips of creativity under the general umbrella of Fiber and Fabric. It will likely be a winding path rather than a direct course that I will follow, but hopefully it will be one that provides enjoyment or amusement… or maybe just a bit of respite.
Oh the wonderful things my daughter says. We were having a very intense (pleasant, not contentious) discussion on a topic both confounding and current, when she summed up the situation in fabulous fiber artist form.
“It may be called a Cashmere Rabbit, but that doesn’t make it cashmere.”