Leah from Seattle Spinner has generously nominated me as the next person in her blog hop around the world. If you’ve stopped by because she mentioned my blog, a special welcome! For regular readers of this blog who don’t know her… Leah says:
Spin, knit, weave…I LOVE these areas, for a multitude of reasons. … I am fascinated with things that go to the root of who we are–things or ideas that existed before the world of modern technology. Instead of being pastimes, these were things needed for our very survival.
She has an Etsy shop: all proceeds (after costs) go to to support a non profit organization in Peru called Awamaki which ‘is a nonprofit social enterprise that empowers rural Andean women with skills training, connects them to global market opportunities, and enables them to earn an income to transform their communities.’ Such a sensational idea…
And now for my answers to the blog hop questions!
1. What are you working on?
I always have more projects on the go than makes any kind of sense. Some lie around for extended periods until I can find the right amount of time or mental space to move them forward. Right now I am knitting a pair of socks… these travel with me on public transport and to meetings. I am practicing my picking and Norwegian purling, since I think this would be a far more efficient way to knit than the throwing, ‘English’-style knitting I learned first. I just need to build up some skill by doing it enough…
I have a quilt in progress. Must get back to it! All the blocks use India Flint’s eco-print technique to showcase a eucalypt species and I’ve embroidered the name of each tree onto the block in eucalyptus-dyed silk. And stopped, having dyed the fabric for the front and pieced the back… apparently there is something about cutting the sashing I can’t face… or some part of me that thinks I need a week to do it in!
I am spinning a lot, in several different fibres. I went to a weekend away with members of my Guild recently and carded a lot of naturally dyed wool. It must be time to do some plying soon! These colours include indigo, logwood and cochineal. Many came from exhaust dyebaths after a dyeing workshop where I used old dyestuffs donated to the Guild.
2. How does my work differ from others?
I am not sure it always does! Over time, I find myself working further and further back along the process of creating things: over some years I went from knitting socks to spinning yarn to dyeing fibre to processing raw fleece and identifying local weeds and trees for dyeing and growing dye plants. This doesn’t interest everyone. Yet, I can’t claim to be all about process. I enjoy creating a finished thing that will be of use. I am less excited about things that are just for display.
I also find that I like to recycle things… I am interested in using every last scrap of a piece of fabric or yarn, and I enjoy turning fabrics that would otherwise be discarded into something useful. Sometimes I think this is a recent impulse, but then I look into my wardrobe where there are shirts made from flour sacks and old damask tablecloth… However–I also have a large collection of all manner of fabrics, yarn and threads and have become a collecting place for other women’s fabrics and notions. Happily, I am able to give a lot of things away to people who will use and enjoy them. This weekend, I am mordanting these fabrics, mostly salvaged from a friend’s mother’s stash. Most of the prints and plain coloured fabrics have gone to new homes but I kept the offcuts of calico and white sheeting for leaf printing…
3. Why do I create what I do?
I love to identify something that is wanted or needed, and the raw materials that would bring that thing into existence, and match the two. Sometimes I make to request or to fill a need I perceive in someone else. or I just imagine the delight a handmade item might produce. I look for opportunities to make something special and think about the recipient as I stitch it. But I also do things as they interest or inspire me and the look for the right home for them to go to. I make plenty of mistakes and have become adept at turning mistakes into useful items and finding ways to use or refashion things that are not as intended, or seem at first not-too-promising.
I also create to satisfy my fidgety nature, I think. To fend off the possibility of wasted time or boredom, and turn what might otherwise be wasted to use.
4. How does my creative process work?
Gradually. I have a substantial day job, which means that I don’t need to make a living from my craft, and also that I have limited time for crafting. I do what I can, when I can, and I am motivated by having an exciting idea, wanting to meet a date for a gift, or seeking to meet a need for some specific item. I don’t have a spiritual or romantic sense of creative process. Rather, I see myself as part of a long tradition of thrift, skill and creativity–and this delights me. So many people in the developed world are now bereft of the skills needed to meet simple, everyday material needs for themselves. I would feel a great sense of loss at not being able to make or mend. These activities are sources of pleasure and satisfaction in my life.
I have chosen to pass the baton to Barbro from Barbro’s Threads–from Australia to Finland! She says she is:
a handspinner who likes to work with many kinds of fibers in all forms. I’m interested in the history and cultural history of sheep and textiles. … Right now I’m spinning and researching for my master spinner title in my guild Björken at Stundars. I’m concentrating on three sheep from Finland (Finnsheep, Kainuu Grey, and Åland sheep), and three from Sweden (Swedish Finull, Gotland sheep, and Värmland sheep).
I am in awe of Barbro’s skills as a spinner and love reading about her textile adventures–learning new skills and visiting museums full of textile traditions quite different to the ones I can see here in Australia. I am so impressed by her work toward becoming a Master Spinner. This is something members of my Guild speak about but which my Guild can’t currently support. Barbro also has a very handsome dog… I hope you’ll visit her blog and enjoy it as much as I do!