Sunday, March 18, 2007

I am feeling sorta cranky today, which must be a good sign as I have been miserable for 3 days straight: pain everywhere, fatigue making me take long naps every day, etc. I figure this is catch-up for all the stresses in my life in the past fortnight so I won't panic or get depressed, but I'll get cranky instead.

In catching up with various blogs, I have hit a number co-incidentally which recounted the blogger's introduction to the needle arts. So here goes mine (change channel if not interested). I started sewing as soon as I was old enough to hold a needle and made clothes and quilts for all of my dolls by hand (I had 1950's Madame Alexander dolls) and graduated to making all my own clothes and then on to quilts. My mother taught me embroidery, quilt-making, and attempted to teach me to knit and crochet. For the last two I knew how to make the stitches but not how to follow the encrypted patterns as printed in magazines. When I was growing up, there was a big box (like a box a washing machine might come in) in the attic and whenever anyone in the house made anything, the remnants went into the box so that when you needed something for quilts or doll clothes, you could dive into the box. We also spent many summer vacations on the coast of Maine with the closest city being Bath. There was a department store there which, besides having the novelty of those pneumatic tubes that whisked money from the cashier to the central office, sold off-cuts from a factory that made women's housedresses. You will date yourself instantly if you remember when women wore housedresses. These off-cuts were perfect for scrap quilts and all our quilts were scrap quilts and all made exclusively by hand. I looked down my nose at those who made quilts on the sewing machine until I moved here. I can no longer hold anything in my hands either firmly enough nor long enough to make hand piecing possible. When I went to grad school I continued to make quilts but sold the tops mostly as extra income. I was never fond of quilting process. I still have the quilt my grandmother made for my 12th birthday and the 2 "grandmother's flower garden" pattern quilts from my parents' twin beds. I still want to make quilts when I have more time; another project for retirement but somebody else will do the quilting. I also did dyeing, both the hippy tie-dye and some basic but large scale (dress fabric lengths) batik. When I return to it today, all the technology has changed but I still love it. My mother took up knitting after I left home and I still wear jumpers she knit for me in the 1970's. Aran jumpers never go out of style and when cared for lovingly can last forever.

I also did counted cross stitch until it became boring and needlepoint, which I still love but rarely have time for. Spinning followed knitting and knitting was inspired by my mother-in-law and BFLB, who also led me into the Alladin's cave of the Fibre Gods. Once you've fondled fibre in its unspun state and realize you can make yarn as you like instead of what the market thinks you want, it's very hard to resist spinning. It might have something to do with being surrounded by sheep. I always visited the sheep pavilion at the Ohio State Fair but those were largely meat sheep and there were a few weird ones (four horns?!) in a little side display as spinners' sheep. Now that I am learning to weave I can't wait to use up lots of hand spun and I want to try and spin every fibre know to woman.

So what about this sounds cranky? Reading that somebody has taken up spinning because they want to make "art yarn", those balls of underspun candyfloss, bead coated, ribbon festooned junk I hate. It's like saying that I've taken up oil painting based in the inspiration of my toddler's finger paints. Obviously, from what I have written above I've a long history in the textile arts and I have pretty traditional tendencies and standards. I would always aspire to be the best I could, not to aim low at lumpy unusable blobs of wool. It has been my experience that most if not all of the great abstract or even semi-abstract painters could paint a perfectly formed and rendered piece of representational art before they started experimenting at the edges of the medium. You have to crawl before you can run, but apparently some people are going to be content with never getting past crawling. Oh, well, it's their own time they are wasting and I'll steer clear of those practioners of spinning.

We had our weaving class last week and we actually wove 4 whole inches and I made houndstooth checks! How thrilling! I know I wove much too firmly but I kept thinking I was making something that looked like finished cloth even though I well know that cloth fulls when washed and I have left no room for it to expand. Still have erratic selvedges. I am spinning what I've carded of the filthy fleece, and it's a shame it was so filthy and I couldn't afford decent processing of it because it is really soft and pale grey with a luster sometimes visible between the lumps.

1 comment:

HollyEQQ said...

I hope you are feeling better. It is a shame about the fleece being icky... sounds lovely.