Who for what?

In the new year of 2014, I started this blog to document my practice as a visual artist outside my profession as an elementary art teacher. The spur came from a professional development session advocating building a “positive digital footprint.” My colleagues opened up Twitter accounts and a couple started WordPress blogs. I abandoned a personal gardening blog to begin what I vaguely deduced would be my foray into showcasing my skills in photography, drawing and printmaking.

On the brink of 7 years later, I have changed, the world has changed and currently the nature of my paid profession has changed. It has been almost two years of self reflection flecked with a high degree of distraction and melancholy. Focus on the positive has been spare.

Yet, one thing appears to have kept me from falling into complete creative and mental apathy: working with wool in the capacity of spinning.

Creating yarn forces me to work in the abstract. Spinning focusses my mind: pay attention to tension, listen to the sound and watch the movement of the spindle or treadle. See the formation of something new from raw or reused materials. I am realizing the potential of how colour and texture can play together. Play. Something absent from my years of haphazard and dutiful drawing and printmaking work. Something absent from my natural instinct towards anxious thinking.

As I continue in this space, I will make room for this medium. I feel like it may help me more fully answer the question of “Who for what?”

Knitting sample of hand spun yarn, resting on hand card, iPhone 6S.

Beyond

Drop spindle spinning. Canon T3i. B. Wanhill 2019

If 2019 had been different, this image wouldn’t be here. Through sudden changes in life circumstance, two of the objects in this photo were gifted to me: a soulful wool batt from my cousin, a venerable Medalta bowl from my mom. Together these items have been holding my thoughts on a drop spindle as I’ve finally made a commitment to turn the wool into a useful skein.

It is so easy to be distracted by unhelpful patterns of being. Spinning slows me down and gives me time to think about how my life could be different in a more peaceful, thoughtful, creative way. For an hour here and there I feel like life makes sense and I can move beyond those patterns and build upon a new and positive mindset.

Photogenic fibre

12 17 kerfuffle spin 2
Handspun singles from a “Bubblegum” Kerfuffle Batt by Sarah Elizabeth Fibre Works.

Have you ever been surprised by a habit you didn’t realize you had until someone points it out to you?

It appears that this year, I formed a mild habit of handspinning fibre. Until I started organizing photographs, I hadn’t realized I was spinning something almost every month of 2017.

I think of it as meditation in motion. The by-product just happens to be pleasingly tactile, beautifully coloured yarn that also looks great under a camera lens (phone camera lens that is).

Below are some of the images I recorded. I am still learning to chain-ply, took a great class on hand carding with Diana Twiss and practiced a bit of knitting too. (All images photographed with iPhone 5 or iPhone 6S. Notecard in mail image by Susan Stephen.

Fibre sources include Crafty Jaks Boutique, Northern Bay Fibres, Legacy StudioKinfolk Yarn and Fibre and Sarah Elizabeth Fibre Works.