One of the things I love about hand crafts is that the process of doing the craft reminds us that we are the element of change – we are the magic that transforms one object into something greater than its original state.
On New Year’s Eve we find ourselves hoping there will be some magical force that will change the days ahead into something better than the days of the past. In recent years, it seems we cannot even make it through a full week into the new year without having this hope diminished.
When we realize the magic is inside our own selves, then we begin to understand that the hope for a better new year is a hope that can be achieved.
As the big crafting season begins, I have been thinking about one of the most important lessons life and aging teaches. Be Kind to Yourself – it is such an important thing to do all year long, but as crafters, it is something we often neglect to do as we scramble to make just one more item before the holiday deadline.
In my latest video, I talk a bit about how bad I am with this lesson life keeps teaching me. After showing of few of my latest projects, I change gears (around the 20:57 mark). Even when I am trying to be kind to myself and not over-do it, the unexpected can happen and force me to slow down even more. Learning to find peace and joy when the brain and body war against each other is not always an easy lesson to learn. It is, however, a worthy lesson to learn.
I hope you enjoy my video – pieces or the whole – I have enjoyed sharing it.
The free pdf pattern for the placemat I share in the video is here for your enjoyment if you wish to download it.
It has been one year since I began making and sharing videos, and it has been a year full of so many wonderful adventures. Now with the beginning of another Tour de Fleece at hand, I took some time to select the fiber I hope to spin and reflect on the stories that accompany most of my fiber. Like many other spinners, I enjoy purchasing fiber from the breeders who know and love their animals. It is such a joy to learn of the animals, and in some cases meet the animals that provide me with such lovely fiber.
It has been a joyful year of fiber, filming, and fun. I look forward to another year yet to come, and anticipate all the new challenges I will give myself in order to keep growing as I unwind with fiber and fabric.
Every year when Tour de Fleece nears, the chatter includes discussion of challenges and goals. Tour de Fleece (TdF) is a wonderful opportunity for personal challenge, and for growth as a spinner. In years past, I have spun through large quantities of fiber and tackled challenging spinning techniques. This year I plan to take a different approach – to go Wild & Free – to keep it simple.
In its own way, this will be the challenge.
The only prep for this year’s fiber has already been completed – everything has been through a bath (except for some of the alpaca which may or may not get spun this TdF). I have Angora, Pygora, Cashmere, Alpaca, Bison, Mohair, and many different sheep breeds to choose from. Each day I will spin 1 ounce of fiber (different animal every couple days), and will ply the singles every 4-5 days. Certain fibers will spin up fast and others will take longer – 1 ounce of fiber can take a long while to spin when it is ultra fine Angora, but is a breeze to spin when it it Leicester Longwool.
No carding, no combing, no dye, and maybe some time spent spinning in nature – 23 days of keeping things simple.
I put together a short video of my sample spin. This sample helped me decide that 1 ounce rather than 2 was wiser if I hoped to get anything else done each day. Plus it reminded me of just how much I do enjoy spinning Wild & Free.
As I near the anniversary of making my first video, I find myself amazed at how much I have learned. Certainly video making has had its learning curve. Yet, it is what I have learned about myself that amazes me the most. When I began this new adventure, I would have been anxious and even horrified by the silly video-short that wraps up my latest vlog.
Covid-quarantine hair notwithstanding, a year ago I would have struggled with accepting the person I see on the screen. Now I can find joy and whimsy in the person – the whole person – who allows herself to be filmed.
Last year marked the 20th anniversary of a major turning point in my life. I went from being/feeling healthy to something else entirely.
As with most who find themselves challenged with trauma, tragedy, and underlying health issues, I travelled through many phases of adjustment, including anger, denial, and the belief that I could control the outcome. Finally in this past year, I gained a greater understanding and perspective of just how much I have faced in these last decades, let alone, what I faced in the earlier years of my life. With a more clear understanding of the past, I was able to feel at peace because was able to stop longing for what I could not have, and instead, I began to truly celebrate who I have become.
None of us want to believe we are vain. Although vanity is not always a bad thing, it is a crippling thing when it prevents us from embracing life and from sharing our life with others.
Aging is a part of life, and for some, the events of our life speed up the aging process. It certainly has in my case, but then again, my body and mind have never really been in sync.
As I compiled this latest video, I recognized that vanity and fear of aging could prevent me from sharing a silly video-short with the wider world. This gave me pause and had me reflecting all that this past year of vlogging has taught me.
After reflection, I decided that I would continue embracing the joys of life and the pressing onward with my healing. Yes, my healing. Being able to see myself as I am and not as I have wished I could be is indeed a sign that I am healing.
My Mid May Vlog
In this video, I share updates on what I have been doing, provide a quick fiber dyeing tutorial, and share a ridiculously silly demonstration of basting a king-sized quilt with my husband on a breezy day.
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.
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.
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.