Tag Archives: #washingwool

100 Days

The results of last year’s 100DaysOfBatts 100 Day Project

Last year, I joined other artists and creatives in doing #The100DayProject. It’s a self-led challenge to complete some kind of art project or creative activity every day for one hundred consecutive days. I picked “card a batt” for my project, and carded at least one 2+ ounce batt every day for 100 days.

A cool thing happens when you take on a day-by-day project like this: you get a new means of measuring time. It was 80 “batt days” into last year’s project when my not-yet-ex abandoned the children and I (for the second, and final, time). Having 80 completed batts on hand made it easier to trudge my way through the last 20, even though I barely remember making them. An 80-day streak is hard to let go of; it’s habit by that point.

I love the reliable aspect of consistent work like this. It simply becomes “the thing you do” and not doing it starts to feel weird. There was a distinct let-down phase when the project was complete. Coupled with all the other things I have had to juggle as a newly-single parent, carding batts fell by the wayside and I honestly haven’t carded anything since.

A new round, a new beginning, a new dream

And so, I begin again this year. 100 more batts to make (well, 97 as of today, as the project started 4/2 and I’m on track so far). It’s a good reminder of how much I enjoy my work, and how much pleasure I get from playing with color and soft fibers and sparkly things. What I do is cool. I’m looking forward to seeing what this years battpile will look like, and how my carding will evolve over this slice of time.

The last of the “treat” BFL fleece, all washed up and ready to work with

I washed the last bit of that “treat” BFL this week, too. I am sad to be done with it; it was such a lovely fleece to process. I’m hoping to get some time to play with the clean wool, amidst the other projects and to-dos and daily life goings on. A nice thing about wool, especially once it’s clean, is that it will keep.

I have a few other projects in the wings, but I’m keeping them close for now. I have a court date with my almost-ex next week. How (un)romantic! He’s filing for visitation he didn’t so much as directly ask us about, after having not really engaged his kids at all for 9+ months. We’ll see how that plays out. Hoping to keep his destabilizing behavior to a minimum, for all our sakes. We are in a good routine right now, doing our dailies and living our lives. Anyone who wants into that ought to ask respectfully. I don’t see how people who walk out of one’s life are entitled to make demands of the time of those they’ve abandoned. I’d love for him to be the kind of dad my daughters deserve one day, but… This is not that, and I hope the court will see through the nonsense and do what’s best for my kids.

For my part, I am trying to keep things steady. As usual. As always. Routine, schedules, predictability and stability are good things for kids (and their grown-ups, too). And we have some exciting plans for extras and adventures, on top of the mundane/basics. We are okay, and I’m going to continue doing all I can to maintain that stability for them. One day at a time.

We’ll see what the next 100 days will bring.

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

Going Slow

One, leetle BFL/Wens lock at a time…

I wash my fleeces in small batches. My methods are similar to those documented in detail by Deb Robson on her blog. Maybe someday I’ll make my own post, but she’s so thorough in her description that I don’t feel a need to. I use sifting trays, and Unicorn Power Scour (which I sell, because I love it that much). I wash about 12 ounces at a time, because I like to watch how things are going, and I only wash about two trays a day, because my back will complain if I try to carry more. This makes it a fairly slow process.

I am not naturally a fan of slow, which makes a lot of fiber processing an excellent opportunity to practice patience. Rushing a fleece can leave it unclean, if you’re lucky, or felted, if you’re not. It’s the starting point of what will be a time-consuming labor of love. Every time I start a new batch of wool, I have to remind myself to give it the time it needs, from start to finish, so I don’t make waste of it.

I am not from a culture that values slowness. I am American, and our worth is too often measured by our productivity. It’s an ugly trait I’m working hard to unlearn, and I’m grateful that so much of my work naturally lends itself to that unlearning. One of the things I love most about fiber arts is that invitation to move slowly, be fully present, and enjoy each step of the creative process. While I’m still not a patient person, I feel richly rewarded for my practice toward that goal.