Tag Archives: #fiberfriday

Spring Streamlining

Super fluffy, SUPER soft Optim Merino. Want it?

I’ve been doing this for a while now. I love fiber art, and I’ve gone fairly far down the rabbit hole from where I started. I learned to knit when my oldest was born. I wanted to make her little knit “longies” to cover her cloth diapers because I thought they were super cute and I couldn’t afford to pay someone else a fair wage to make them for me. Then, I found spinning. From spinning, I got into carding/blending my own fibers. Shortly thereafter, I started learning to do my own dyework. And then, when I realized I wanted to get as close to the source as I could, I learned to process raw wool. That’s about as far as one can go without owning sheep (someday…)! I picked up a bit of crochet along the way (though I admit it’s my weakest wool skill), became enamored with wet felting, and somehow ended up with 4 looms!

My oldest turned 11 this month, which means I’ve been doing this fiber stuff for over a decade now. It started as a bit of yarn and some knitting needles in a bag, and quickly grew to “just a couple boxes” in whatever corner I could stash them (I’m sure you know how that goes). From there, it morphed into a little etsy shop that paid for extras and covered my family’s needs during government shutdowns when my former spouse’s checks were delayed. I ran my “side hustle” out of a hall closet, which meant taking everything out when I needed to work and tetrising it back in when I was done. When we moved again, I made sure I would have dedicated working space, and my hobby bloomed into a proper, licensed business that continues to provide support for me and my children to this day.

Along a path like that, one gathers all sorts of random odds and ends. There are fiber arts I’ve tried but never really clicked with, and tools and supplies I haven’t used in many years. It’s time now to refine what I do here at The Yarnicorn, and maximize the time I have available. Turns out, that means downsizing a bit. We’ll call it “streamlining” because that sounds less sad to me; if I had the time, I’d have more than enough in the fiber arts world to keep me occupied for several lifetimes. I have to focus because I only have so much energy in a day.

So I began today by pulling out some “hidden treasures” and listing them for sale. Someone out there is looking for these, and will have the fun I wanted to have with them. There’s plenty of room in this rabbit hole for all of us! If you’re looking, or just curious, the streamlining albums will mostly be posted to my Facebook group. I decided to do it that way to keep my website for my work. The first album, full of undyed top, can be found here. I’ll try to remember to cross-post links to the blog, as well.

Things change. They have to. My children are growing up, my circumstances aren’t at all what they were when I started this journey, and I have to make space so I can move forward, however that may end up looking. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to tinker and collect and play. Now it’s time to refine and work with greater precision. Onward!

Growing Things

This little radish wasn’t quite ready yet, but someone had tried to tug it up anyway.

Growing things is hard! Good conditions make for good results, though there are always surprise variables along the way. In my life, as in my garden, I continue to try to make good growing spaces, with good conditions and good boundaries. In my life, as in my garden, there continue to be little surprises and variables outside my control. It’s hard to trust that things will usually come up as they should. They don’t always, and I know that, and I find myself losing faith sometimes. Then there’s the aspect of scheduling, and who determines when things are ripe and ready. I bet that little radish would’ve liked more time in the warm, rich earth of its planter, but that’s not what it got. It got pulled up early. And yet, it may be the most celebrated thing we take from our garden this season. It has the honor of being the first, and that means something. It being off-schedule and out of control and early was a source of great delight in my garden.

I can relate to that little radish. There’s a lot going on in my life that’s making me want to dig myself in, fight for the status quo, and scream “I’M NOT READY!!!” but I’m already halfway to whatever comes next. There really isn’t a way to dig myself back down into what I know, regardless of how comfortable and comforting I might find that idea to be. The reality is depleted soil and zero growth potential, and I know I don’t want that. I don’t know what’s to come, and that’s intimidating. Maybe I’m about to be served up as a snack! Maybe this is simply the next step on a much longer adventure. Where does this go? I don’t get to know, and so much of what is happening seems largely outside my control.

A happy little Spring Rainbow batt, complete with sparkle!

I’m grateful for my #100daysofbatts project. I’m 1/4 through it today, and the pile of accumulating product is pleasing to see. Slowly, steadily, it all starts to make sense. I’m trying to stay rooted in that practice, in that daily effort, and hoping to use it as a way to steady myself as the things I can’t control shift around me. This will resolve, and the next thing will come. Just like Spring came. Just like that little radish. I’ll try to stay present for the simple joys and the beauty in each little moment. I’ll keep showing up for whatever comes next.

Signs of Life

Things are starting to bloom here, even if it’s gloomy and grey today.

The caption above pretty much sums up my week. Things are growing, however slowly. Things are starting to bloom, even if against a grey and stormy backdrop. I want sunlight and brilliant blue skies, but I’m going to have to content myself with pops of petals and gradually warming temps.

This is a metaphor. I want resolution and the tidying of myriad loose ends. What I get is incremental progress, and a chance to practice patience. I’m learning, however slowly. I try to remember that the grey skies and storm clouds water my garden, just like the trials and frustrations help me to grow stronger and more capable of weathering my own storms. Everything has a season…

Peeking through to say hello

It helps to see the little bulbs and bits we planted last fall coming through. Every year I’ve lived here, I’ve planted bulbs in the fall. There are some in the backyard from our first fall here. The next, we planted a row along the front sidewalk. Then another, the third year, along the other side. The fourth year, we filled in some of the gaps in the front two rows. And then, last year, the girls and I moved the planters and put a row of bulbs along the front of the yard by where we usually park our car.

I always have a bit of doubt they’ll come up. It gets so cold and the ground is so hard. In the case of the ones in the back, they’re five years old now. Unless I mark them early, they tend to get trampled right as they’re poking through. We rarely water them, or provide them any kind of care. And yet, every year, they faithfully return to brighten our space and remind me that winter ends. Snowdrops and daffodils and crocuses and tulips, even the occasional hyacinth peeks through to announce that things are thawing out and warming up.

My lichen collection is growing! I should probably start that dye…

In the course of looking for color in nature, I’ve found a few more lichens for my collection. Not sure I have the mental energy for that project yet, but I really ought to do something about the stick pile that’s taking over my porch. We’ll see…

More BFL clouds. I’m absolutely enamored with this fleece!

Beyond that, it has been a reasonably quiet week. I washed more of that beautiful BFL I started last week, and my love for it has only grown. I will be sad to finish it next week. It has given me something to look forward to, and I worry that in its absence, I’ll start dreaming of buying new fleeces (I neither need nor have time/space for much more raw wool at this point!). That said, MDSW is fast approaching… The annual trip! I’d better get my butt back to the studio and get through my current projects if I want to responsibly acquire more. I should put the last bits of “hermit season” to good use.

Puffy Fluff

A happy little BFL cloud from a fleece I started processing this week.

I needed softness this week. Not sure if it was the time change, the full moon, the retrograde, or simply the realities of being a single mother going through a contentious divorce from someone who, well, let’s just say the divorce is merited. Times like these push the worst of my perfectionist buttons. Not only am I struggling in general, I’m facing deliberate headgames and nonsense from an ex who knows just where to cut at me, and, what’s worse, I’m beating myself up for not being perfect through all the chaos.

I can’t help the struggles. Struggles come and go, and that’s how I become stronger. As tempting as the idea can seem sometimes, I can’t really imagine a life without challenges. The older I get, the less I shy away from facing things that scare me, stress me, or push me to level up in some way. This is a tall order as a person with anxiety, but it’s usually worth the risk. The headgames, well, we’re getting a divorce. He’ll keep doing his stuff, and I’ll keep using it to validate all the reasons why a divorce is so very necessary, and has been for a very long time, though I didn’t want to see it. I didn’t want a divorce, but I’m starting to understand that it’s the best possible option for me and my children. Living in known toxicity was so draining for all of us; we understand this in terms of chemicals and lead in the water, but leaden emotional connections are just as damaging. We’re so much happier already. I will that would continue, and that we’d keep moving away from unnecessary mess and drama toward a fulfilling, meaningful life. Maybe someday he’ll choose to join us there, but that’s none of my business anymore and I’m done giving him eleventy chances to be decent.

The part of this I can control is that internal monologue that adds a bonus “…and it’s because you suck.” to everything. Side effect of several relationships where I allowed others to blameshift sole responsibility for shared suck onto me. I’m not a perfect person, not by a long stretch, but I’m a decent human. I learn, I change, I put in good work, and I’m committed to evolving and improving until I die (and hopefully that’s some time off still). Part of that has got to be growing a stronger sense of self-worth so I don’t join Team KateHate when people around me try to project their mess onto me. This has been a recurring theme for years now, and I’m still working on it. It’s hard to be soft. It’s hard to be gentle with myself when I fuck up, especially when my mistake(s) get twisted into a narrative that says I’m the only cause of a problem (I am responsible only for my piece). I’m fairly good at seeing my own mistakes and taking responsibility for them, and I need to learn how to do that without shaming and guilting myself for being a human and making mistakes.

And so, this week, I tried to practice softness. To ask for what I needed in a way that respected what I was going through. I had to push back a couple projects, call off a social event, and spend extra time wrangling my tangled brain, and I tried not to give myself guilt and grief for taking the time I needed. I give to EVERYONE, even people who never reciprocate, and it’s time I showed myself the same generosity. I deserve to take gentle, loving care of me, too.

For this week’s wool washing, I picked a “treat fleece” I’d been hoarding. It’s a squishy little BFL, and beautiful, and I’ve been saving it because it’s special. I needed something special just for me, so I decided to open it up and start processing it. It did not disappoint! I have a project in mind for this one, and it’s all for me. Not for work, not for others, not for sale, just for me. I so rarely give that to myself, and I deserve the same care I show others. While I work through this fleece, I’m going to look at all the weird obstacles to self-care that my brain likes to throw in my way, and see what I can do about softening them. There’s a related story about how sobriety has made this so much easier, but I’ll get to that another day. For now, have some fleece progress pics.

Pre-soaking the dirty “fleece noodles”
Scoured and still soggy
Pretty purls to play with

Fluff and stuff

Stripped batts, ready to spin

This has been a demanding week, and I’m glad it’s Friday. There’s a lot of turmoil in my life right now, and sometimes it’s hard to see the light at the end of what feels like an endless slog through a dark tunnel that *might* be full of spiders. One of the things that helps to keep me grounded is a daily commitment to spin yarn for 15 minutes. Sometimes, I spin for a lot longer, but on rough days, I set a timer for 15 minutes and then I’m out. The process of spinning yarn is grounding to me, and the softness of good wool is soothing. Playing with bright colors can brighten my mood, and mixing them up shows me of how beauty can be created by contrast.

There’s also a reminder in this practice: little things add up. Keeping each of my “spinning appointments” means I’ll eventually see finished yarn. 15 minutes isn’t much, but over time, it makes many skeins. That’s an important reminder for my brain, which likes to have everything figured out in advance and gets super frustrated when that’s simply not possible. All I have to do is keep showing up and putting in good work, and there will most often be something neat to show for it at the end.

Tension

New singles yarn on the niddy-noddy always looks so perfect! Everything is in order, in straight rows under even tension, and it all looks organized.
But as soon as I let go of that tension knob on the niddy noddy, all of the stored energy in the yarn wakes up and coils and it gets all kinds of chaotic. This is usually when I start to panic that I’ve overspun my yarn and everything is ruined.
Instead of freaking out, I put the new yarn into a warm bath. I have learned that this approach is useful for both yarn freakouts, and human freakouts, too.
And nearly every time, unless something has truly gone wonky, a bath and a bit of adjusting will render even the silliest of singles into a more organized skein. There’s a bit of twist to it still; it’s got no ply to move against, so that twist energy will always give it a bit of direction. But it’s a perfectly serviceable singles skein.
This is one of the things I like best about making yarn. The process is soothing, and a call to be patient, and a lesson in how things are created over time. But there are all these little hidden secrets in it, too. I started for the yarn, but have stayed for the deeper meaning.
Every skein tells a story.