Friday, 18 February 2011

Confessions of a yarn addict...

Yesterday, my new Turkish spindle arrived, the second I purchased from Threadsthrutime on Etsy:

Like boys and their toys, I wanted a bigger one than the beautiful one I have already, so that I can spin more yarn at once, and thick one, too!

I was like a Pavlov dog whenever I heard the postman's arrival this week - would it be today that my spindle cometh? Some girls are waiting with baited breath on their prince, I wait for my spindle! At least, the spindle can't turn into a frog..but might as yet spin me gold. And it will certainly spin me...YARN!

Now my house is not only coming down with yarn, but also with fibre! I have carded batts, rovings and tops in baskets in my living room studio, and I buy them faster than I understand the difference between a carded batt and a top!

 Looking like a painting - 'Fireworks' Custom Blend Merino combed top by Shunklies on Etsy

Once upon a time, I was a dedicated shopper of fashion, now, I confess, if it comes to buying clothes or buying yarn, yarn wins hands - or rather knitting needles - down. Occasionally, I have days of beans and spuds just to be able to purchase more yarn! Sometimes I do wonder what people wear nowadays, and if I am still able to dress properly. But who cares - I've got yarn, people, I've got yarn!

I even knit up scraps of old jeans, silk strips, t-shirt yarn and my old cotton shirts.

I suspect that if a peoples' revolution were to break out in Belfast city centre, I would cling to my yarn stash like bankers to their bonuses!

The colours, the texture, the sheer feel of it, and the greed of possession, of having it sitting in my stash ready to be whipped out when an idea strikes me - that's the joy of being a yarn addict like me! My living room studio explodes with colour and fibre - it may be a grey and miserable day outside, but beautiful yarn is running through my fingers, or colourful strands of merino twirl around my Turkish spindle.

 My own handspun yarn in 'sea colours'

The way my stash is growing, I wouldn't need to buy any new yarn for years to come, because I am no octopus and have only two hands, so I won't knit my beautiful treasures up for a long time yet. However, being a crafter and an advocate for slow fashion, that's not a bad thing, because it's the sheer joy of having fibre and developing ideas - each box of yarn is a box of possibilities, of knitwear and wearable art to come!

 Spring will spring, unique wearable art neckwarmer by purlsofcolour
(knitted recycled Sari silk ribbon at the back)

Once I have finished a piece, I nearly find it sad to let go, although I am thrilled when it finds a buyer. Still, yarn has left my brings a tear to my eye, but then...there is space in the box...hey, an excuse new fibre! Do I hear the postman at the gate? Are these my yarn parcels from lindsaycrafts and woollygathering???

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

For what it's worth

I had this article in my head for ages, ever since I was in Laurieston Hall in September...

But time flies and I still haven't written it. In fact, I've written so very little these days, that I can probably count myself lucky that I managed to scribble some New Years Resolutions in my diary which scarily sounded like the ones from previous years - something about not procrastinating so much, being more organised, finally learning better time management and getting fitter. At least I scrapped the 'growing up' and 'being realistic & sensible' ones, because these in my view are only other names for 'functioning in somebody else's world'. Finally caught on to that one...

My own handspun yarn in 'sea colours'

So, what did I want to write about.. Oh yes, the worth of one's work. Let's take you back to a few late summer days in Laurieston Hall, a community in Scotland. I don't think I ever turn into a community or communal type, but I was impressed. Not just by the fabulous vegetarian food (which even thrilled the palate of a big baconface like me!), but by the way the community was run. They were so organised that the German in me was thrilled!

However, it wasn't in that horrible stick wielding kind of way many organisations operate, but in a much more meaningful way. People knew that they counted, and that their work counted. You were organised because you knew other people relied on you and your work, not because some mean boss would give you grief. I was on tidying up duty on two evenings of my stay and was amazed how easily I fitted into the routine (I even liked tidying!!!), but at the same time also knew that if I wasn't moving my butt, the stuff didn't get done - my input was needed, even if only for the two evenings I was on duty.

Another example, we spend an afternoon plaiting onions. Yes, plaiting onions! I've actually did write something about it at the time, and you can read it on the Etsy Ireland Team blog.

Onion plaiting was great fun, but also necessary work so that the onions could be properly stored for the winter. Again, your work counted - you were connected to the work and did it well because you knew it was necessary, rather than being bored, thinking of other things you could rather be doing, and feeling that you just couldn't be arsed. No cog in the wheel there.

And that's why I love crafts so much. Not only because I have to express my creativity somehow or else turn into a grumpy and foul-mooded individual who slurps coffee to stay awake, but also because you get a great sense of purpose and worth out of your work. You are connected to what you are doing and while you are doing it, it's important that you keep doing it, that you finish your creative work, because there is nobody else there to do it for you. You totally bring yourself into that process.

And if you sell it or give it to somebody as a gift, you have a feeling that this counts for somebody - that the ideas and hours you put into that piece has worth.

So when I sometimes want to give up running a small craft business, because I feel that I am not getting anywhere, I make no money from this and nobody gives a f... arthing for my work, I have to remind myself that it is worth something - and not just to myself. In a world where everything is mass produced and doesn't have much worth, crafts do, because they have meaning. We might have to convince more people of its worth, but it is worth...a lot.