It took me a little bit about what to write about my ‘yarn love’ and then a Facebook memory popped up that told me exactly what makes me love yarn the most – it’s community. Yesterday I was reminded of a lost friend, Janice Rosema, She was this incredible fiber artist, a freeform crocheter who loved colour and interesting art in general. She had a way of getting to know other fibre artists sort of quietly and then when you would talk to her she would mention the different things that you had created or shared over the years, and it made you feel special because you were in the presence of this amazing fiber artist…who knew YOU. I have a lot more to say about this, but I will keep it short in order to honour her memory, and share the words of a great friend, and the talent of many others.
My friend Naomi, of Ryono Creations shared a beautiful little post on this day in 2013 that mentions a lot of us that have flown in the same circle for years, and it really warmed my heart.
“The world is a bit less colorful today….fiber artist and friend Janice Rosema is gone.”
yes, the fiber community lost a creative force yesterday. she was not as visible recently as she had been in the past due to her poor health, but she was an inspiration to many. janice, her creations, and her creations to be, will be missed.
i only met up with janice a few times but she always had the nicest smile and a warm hug for me. i felt heavy throughout the day yesterday, but it also made me think of the wonderful artists i have met who inspired me when i first started playing with fiber back in 2007.
If asked where I craft, really, it’s everywhere. I tend to have very busy hands all the time, and my home studio, although it has it’s own place – my entire basement….it kind of spreads around the house. I am decent at picking up after myself however, and when finished with things, taking them back to the studio. I had this idea when we first bought a house, having bought a bigger house than we needed for dwelling to be able to incorporate my studio, that I would be able to separate work/craft and life, but the truth is – I need my craft, all the time. I need something to do when I am watching TV or hanging out waiting for dinner to cook, or spending time with the dogs and baby, or even chilling outside. I need to do the stuff I do; I need to make. I feel like i always have a million ideas in my head and getting out a certain amount of things productively prevents me from exploding.
The first thing that I worked on when we bought the house was my studio, to ensure that I could remain productive and prepared for shows and sales despite the craziness that takes place when you move. I am very lucky to have a large studio with a dye kitchen, pottery room, area for skeining yarns on my skeiner, yarn stash space, big library card catalog to organize all my goodies, and a cozy knitting/crafting nook with TV for background noise and good lighting.
A couple years ago I decided I wanted to setup a little pop-in shop for when people want to come over and do a little shopping, but the real reason is so that I can organize all of my products that I sell at shows. It makes it really efficient to see what I have, and tell what needs to be made. It also inspires me because I really enjoy looking at the breadth of my work.
I also keep a lot of things to inspire me in my studio – scraplets of things, found objects, interesting art and collections.
I also have a few other spaces around the house that I setup as cozy spaces to both store spinning wheels in an intentional and functional way, and also act as a change of scenery or quiet space to create. My library is one of them.
One of my other favourite things to do is work outside. I love that I organize Worldwide Spin in Public Day and get to spend time outside spinning, and encouraging others to do so. I love calling up a bunch of friends for a Sunday Crafternoon and hanging out somewhere outside in a woodsy area or near water and just talking, laughing and making. It’s the epitome of the good life. This is my spinning setup in my back garden.
There are a lot of communities that we become a part of in life – our families, neighbourhoods, clubs, and of course our hobbies. We find people both in person and online. I have to say that from all the different groups of people I have spent time with, the yarn and fiber community is one of the most welcoming. I have been a part of many amazing experiences and seen our community come together incredibly at times of need – when our friends are sick, in the event of personal tragedy, or most often just to lend a hand or a word of kindness. I get to see it in many ways every day. I also really enjoy seeing the openness with which people share their knowledge and information on the different things they work on. I have never really experienced much in the way of ‘competition’ but instead been embraced as I embrace others – in that we all have our own niche in this space, and that’s a nice feeling.
That being said, we are at a strange time in the world right now, with a lot of clashing opinions, and a lot of change – some for the good, and some for the bad – if we look at this through a world scope. My efforts in 2017 are going to be more targeted at my community, and at building new communities. I have always thrived on knowledge sharing – part of the reason, I think, it my geeky enjoyment of things like databases and data entry, where I can log information and share knowledge. I have always enjoyed knowledge management, even in my day job – creating knowledge spaces for people to store documents, files, tutorials and so on.
Another nice part of being part of a community is giving each other a hand up, and promoting what we both enjoy. So, I wanted to take a minute to talk a little about THISyarn – if you know my fibre artwork, the majority of the yarn I spin is themed and art yarn, and sometimes it can be a little striking to people who aren’t familiar with it. It’s safe to say that on more occassions than I can count people ask me ‘What can I do with THIS yarn?’ Well, the lovely brains behind THISyarn, Dayna Mankowski and Ashley Martineau, do a wonderful job of answering that question in so many ways for knitters, crocheters, weavers, and general fibre artists. They have targeted patterns and tutorials and the site essentially presents you with many options for working with art yarn. It’s a great resources that serves the whole fibre community.
It has been a very eventful week, full of memories, perspectives and lessons. For some time I have been emotionally preparing for good things, and bad things. A very dear friend of mine, Sue, had been in the hospital fighting the return of breast cancer after a stroke, and the onset of lung cancer and pneumonia. It has been a couple months of reflecting on life and taking in how much I am learning in my thirties. Mostly I am learning to love, and to listen. I do a lot in my life, and often I feel like the world can be hungry to know everything about me, but I have reached a time where I kind of want to be quiet, do what I do, and not worry about the repercussions of being less available. So much time is spent on things that promote our lives, that we often lose a lot of time to live them. I don’t want to do that anymore. I am still trying to shape what that means for me, as a person, an artist and a small business owner.
Life events seem to happen in waves, and I was fortunate enough to get to spend some time at a felting workshop with Marjolein Dallinga of http://www.bloomfelt.com this week. I have taken a felting working with her before, a couple of years ago, and I found her to be a breath of fresh air, with a lot of great advice, methodology and inspiration. She shares her work, herself, and her space with you and brings a wash of relaxation and makes you want to think differently. As you massage wool into sculptural forms, you reflect and think about a lot of things. I have been doing just that this week …unplugging as such. I was thinking about my friend Sue, her family…my dear friends, and how their lives will change. She passed away on Wednesday surrounded by her family. I thought about our time together, and how I last saw her only a couple weeks ago. She was in pain but lit up so much when I visited. She was able to talk some, and understand me. She was able to express frustration with the speech recovery being so slow, and the pain she felt. I held her hand and felt very connected and tried to show her how much I love her. I have great memories of laughs, and sweet things we have said to one another. I will always treasure what she gave me in life. She was a funny, bright, chipper woman, with a lot of love and pride in those around her. She was a gift.
As I thought of this, I felted….carefully massaging layers of fine merino wool, tossing it around, rolling it in my hands, forming it. I listened to the different questions other felters asked Marjolein, and how she answered with rules, grace and patience. She has a way of guiding people to do the right thing for themselves, if they are open to it. She teaches you not to be obsessed with the product, but instead to celebrate the process. I love the process, but running a business can often lead you to worry too much about the product. Marjolein assigned us to use colours we didn’t like, that we would not normally choose. She pleaded that we not take pictures during the workshop, which I love, because it keeps the space and time very sacred to those in the room. She asked everyone to be quiet, focus on the work, and she battled the distractions around us. It was the time I needed to get through these things I have been feeling – worrying about a difficult client at my work, worrying about Sue and her family, worrying about my family, and my show schedule. One of the women attending the workshop had been talking about her blog, and asked Marjolein if she was on Facebook. Marjolein responded that she wasn’t and that she was ‘old fashioned’ and didn’t really spend much time on the internet. She told us about another artist she worked with who said that she spent 20% of her time on her art, and 80% of her time online, promoting her art – Facebook, Twitter, website updates, shop maintenance, newsletters, photography, image editing, uploading, networking……as it was discussed, it make me feel kind of nauseous…thinking about how much time I spend doing this stuff, and how it is far from enough for me to be in the top yarn spinners or ‘random artist description’ group. I have been at this for almost 12 years now, and I do well at it….but it is changing, as I am.
I know I may be quoting Marjolein way too much in this post, but she said a lot of things I needed to listen to, things I have been thinking about, seemingly at the time I really need to hear them. As she showed us a slideshow of her work, she talked about getting accepted into a prestigious show one year, but then the next year, not getting in. She then gave a really good analogy of how art careers, or pursuits sort of move in a figure 8, or an S-curve. When you go up, you have to go down a bit, only to go up ahead, or perhaps down, but then back up. This is about popularity, notoriety, success but can have so many factors – trends, judges, luck, etc. It’s something to think about. You are allowed to take a break, then come back strong, then take a break – have a child, change careers, go to school, work on your health, breathe.
I may not be a frequent blogger, but know that I love my work, and that I will always continue it – there may be times I am really active, but then other times where I really need to travel, smell the ocean, get lost in the woods or knit something for myself. There are days all I want to do is roll around on the floor with my dogs and have a crush on my husband.
If you ever have the opportunity, I definitely recommend a workshop with Marjolein – she’s a wee bit of amazing wrapped in soul food – http://www.bloomfelt.com/
Some days it is hard to feel positive when you have to see things you really despise in politics, social issues, the environment and so on. I have decided recently to try to do my best to clear my life out of these things by getting rid of media, people, and other exposures to things that don’t make me happy. On my own I am able to seek out the issues that make me passionate; I can fight good fights without having to constantly be bombarded by people who feel opposite of how I do. I think that social media makes people really angry, pseudo-anonymous, and really geared up to fight, shout their opinions regardless of how they could make others feel and so on. I have taken a step back recently on how that makes me feel – and how I want to basically portray myself more as a full human being, instead of just someone who has a certain view on a specific social topic. There is more to me than just the fact I support a certain decision. That being said however, I am really torn because there are certain people who I love for what they do, but not who they are – and that can really be a hard thing to deal with. I guess that is a good reason to not ‘friend’ someone on social media – instead ‘like’ their pages where they discuss their art, their business, etc. This being said – I am removing a few people from my social media websites so that I don’t have to be blindsided constantly by political things that I have no power to change – things often that take place in a country I don’t even live in. I know that we don’t have the power to agree, but I want to have the power still to respect the amazing art that is pumped out of these people.
It has been an insanely busy week – I have gotten so much done so that I can go away and spend some rare time with my family on a camping trip. I have dyed and packaged 3 new fun yarn kits/lines for KW knitter’s fair. I have done a full load of pottery – new yarn bowls, vases, bowls, cups, and more – some to join me at the Art in the Open market and some for KW knitter’s fair. I have gotten a lot of work done at my day job. I have dyed a ton of yarn….and spun a lot too! I am bringing my spinning wheel on this camping trip and I hope to get some great, relaxing spinning time along with some kayaking, hiking, photography and just relaxing.
Here’s a peek at some faux cashmere I dyed – one braid of several different colourways. This is such a nice fibre to dye.
And a peek at a yarn I spun this week with some nice wool flowers. I actually got to spin this at my knit night at Whole Foods – it’s such a great place to do creative things. I find you get a lot of positive attention.
I bought this beautiful burl from the exotic wood store some time ago and my husband/business partner/slave finished staining and sealing it for me this week. He is truly the blessing of my life and helps me with so many creative endeavours that I cannot even think of ways to possibly thank him enough for all of his patience and support. I am very lucky.
There are still about a million things to do tonight before I head to bed early to prepare to wake up at 5am for the market so I should get packing clothes and toiletries, and washing yarn, and so on! I leave this post with a picture of a sleepy, unimpressed Poppy in his new gnome costume.
So, my birthday was August 1st and celebrations only somewhat simmered as of lastnight. That is the sign of having really good friends and family. And, I can say, I am blessed with that. I went to Prince Edward County, the home of my birth, last weekend to visit the family, have much cake, beaching, and barbecue. It was a lot of fun. I am mildly bothered that someone has managed to tell the tourists about my favorite secret beach though. Having grown up in the small town I did, a big part of me wants it to stay somewhat close to what I remember, but things can’t obviously stay exactly the same. I am fine embracing change but I have to admit that I am somewhat overwhelmed by the tourist trap my hometown has become. It is now an art haven, food haven, wine country extravaganza of things that …well, it never actually was. I feel sometimes like it is a facade of glamour that hangs it’s halo around an otherwise normal, but beautiful place. Being the lover of art, literature, food, and all those things that make us human, I am happy that these things have moved there, but a part of me sort of feels distressed that the purveyors may claim they were always there. I sort of feel like they uproot the roots of the real people who live there and grew up there. It’s maybe a silly feeling but I am sure it is not a sentiment I feel alone. Seeing the changes in the farming industry, and a general scale down of the farmland makes me wonder how a lot of the locals feel. I know that my family now have to travel to land in the middle of nowhere to feel like they have ‘escaped’ and, home used to just …a constant escape….at least from things like cellphones, traffic, noise, pollution, etc. but it can sometimes not feel that way. Anyhow, enough of my passive wondering about the state of things. There was a lovely outdoor art show on while I wast there, with painters painting out in the street, and a street sale with craft and local vendors.
I was able to have my favourite pizza, favourite submarine sandwich and favourite ice cream all in one weekend…what can be better than that? This is a funny video I found from my favourite sub shop, Imperial Submarines, made by a local radio DJ (I think…) as you will likely also judge from his voice. You can get a real feel for how sweet the family that owns the shop are. They are lovely, and people that I grew up around. Just good people…
Also, guess who got an iPad for her birthday? Oh yes…and I have to say, they are awesome. I think that I still like the Kindle better for reading books however, mainly because it is ePaper so easy on the eyes, and it is more lightweight and small. But, the iPad is amazing for browsing, applications, reading in colour, magazines, etc. It is really nice and I am a spoiled brat.
I also stopped into Rose Haven Farm Store to replenish a whole new stock of art yarns, so if you are in the area and want to check them out…pop into the shop.
In other artsy news, I am working on a line of custom spinning supplies, including some plying threads. I came up with the idea because I am always looking for ways to make things more my own. So, I started working on my own plying threads and I just really loved the control over being able to chose the colours, texture, fibre content, weight and so on. Here’s a peek at one. There are a couple in the shop and more to come very soon!
This week I am planning an adventure in growing some hollyhocks. I learned recently that hollyhocks bloom every two years and the colour they bloom depends on how they are pollinated. Being that I love surprises, I think these have to be one of the most interesting flowering stalks. I did some research and learned about how to take care of a condition called hollyhock rust, which is like a rusty-ness that occurs on the leaves and can impact other weak plants in your garden. These are my little pods, drying up and waiting for their chance to be planted.
A couple of years ago, I was trolling the Freecycle lists and I came across a post from a man who was clearing out a huge collection of Playboy magazines. So, being the curious artist and reclaimer that I am, I messaged him telling him that I would love to pick them up and use them for art projects. A little while later he messaged me back telling me the story about them. They belonged to his late father who had recently passed away. The entire family had no idea that he had this collection, and his mother was a bit disheartened by these taudry bits of literature so he was hoping I could get them ASAP. I headed to his place that night and he relayed to me his relief in that an artist contacted him instead of some creepy pervert. The whole situation was a laugh for both of us. So, I now have all of the Playboy magazines printed from the early sixties to the mid-nineties. Some, I preserve, and some I use for art projects. Recently when wandering around The Value Village, I saw this whole box of 12 matching, tacky gold frames. In the interest of unique wall art….a plan was born and now all I have to do is hang these pretties.
Mat and I are working on the next episode of the Muststashyo podcast. I am hoping to get it done for this weekend depending on how things go. This has proven to be a very busy summer.
Lastnight I spent a great evening with my friends in Richmond Hill – one of my favourite knitting groups and just awesome people. We have started to have these little birthday celebrations each month to mark the birthdays of our friends from the group. It’s a great idea. I received some beautiful yarn, liquer and a lovely necklace from my lovely friend Kittynne. It’s a beautiful ceramic pendant necklace from http://www.etsy.com/shop/surly and yes, yes, it has a MOUSTACHE on it!!! Yay! The girl does lovely work, and custom orders!
I also wanted to mention something else that is dear to my heart, because of my friend Stacey…it’s Kayak for a Cure! Stacey is a really sweet, genuine person and a cancer survivor. She’s fun and awesome and doing her part to raise money for cancer – something that I think we all can relate to, unfortunately. One thing I have to say that I can find joy in when people have a serious illness, is that it changes them. In many cases of people I have been close to, and in Stacey’s case, you can see such a bright light that comes from them…a whole new appreciation for life and those around them. If you have it in your heart, please check out her story and donate some money to the cause: http://convio.cancer.ca/site/TR?px=3684970&fr_id=6600&pg=personal. If you have some time to sit and read her story, you will see how her sweetness, intellect, wit and charm shine though. She is a survivor of chondrosarcoma which I only learned about lastnight, in detail. It affected her skull base and she had to go through much healing and recovery, but she is now bright as a sunflower, getting back in her boat and doing something really positive! So, be inspired and donate some money to the cure and maybe send her a kind word. 🙂 Or, if you are into kayaking and want to participate check it out – http://kayakforacure.org