Common Threads

I’ve never been a sewer.  Not that I’ve had a burning urge to sew, but at least to be able to mend or repair would be a skill that I would welcome.  Seeing a notice on Facebook about a textile artist who was inviting people (even those with no sewing experience) to join her Sewing Circle, I was intrigued.

I was thrilled to be able to add this happy adventure to the other reason I was going to the MOA, the current exhibit Layers of Influence: Unfolding Cloth Across Cultures which is finished at the end of the month.  So in order to leave the house I packed up my camera and about a weeks worth of knitting.  I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and it’s always half finished projects I swear I’m going to complete while I’m on the bus, having a coffee, etc and it usually ends up untouched (except for getting more tangled in my bag) and returned to the house.  John calls in my “donkey load” and I’ve finally decided it is my unfinished security blanket.

I was welcomed instantly by this sign. A lovely museum employee standing beside it was inviting me to join the circle.  I looked over and saw two tables of buzzing conversation and laughter, and at that moment thought there was no better place to be.

Seated at the end of the table I was able to choose a blanket square and a threaded needle and told to do what I wanted. I could sew in between the lines of tape, outside or over, but not through, as it would be removed later when the blankets were all pieced together again.

I was instantly comfortable and the conversations about how you got here seemed to be the conversation opener.  It went very quickly from that to intimate details of people’s lives.  Memories, triggered by the act of stitching itself just seemed to pour out of people.  One older man confessed that he never imagined how relaxing the act of stitching could be and that he felt all of his problems just drift away.  He had memories of his mother mending things and instantly felt connected to her.

The interactive exhibit was titled “Blanket Stories with Marie Watt”.  Each blanket that was donated had a story, and the act of stitching on them was creating new stories, pulling from memory, each tug of the thread coaching the stories to the surface.  I can’t describe how honored I felt to be included in these stories.

One younger fellow ( a new teacher ) was talking about how his mother crocheted wonderful blankets and how he wished that he has that skill and it was something he might tackle (one day).  Well, for once, that overstuffed bag of unfinished hats had a purpose.  I asked him how he would feel if that “one day” was today. We finished what we were currently stitching, the artist handed my square to a young girl who just sat down at the table and my new crafty friend and I left the circle and started our own craft corner.

He is now the proud owner of a new wooden crochet hook and a several sample rows of crochet in a bright pink.  BTW, he picked up the crochet like a rock star and within a few minutes had managed a chain stitch, and a few rows of single crochet and then he went back to join the circle.  I was bursting at the seams. Given a wonderful gift and then able to pass on a new one, I was overjoyed.  With that lovely exchange I was now

korowai (cloak decorated with tassels) Maori

able to see the exhibit I came for with new eyes.

 

Layers of Influence was a wonderfully curated exhibit.  As a touchy touchy individual, the small signs reminding me to keep my curious grubby paws to myself were necessary.  I wanted to meld with each piece I saw. Drinking in their stories with my eyes would have to do. My hands would have interpreted a more visceral experience.

Textile tells stories, cloth tells stories, we keep our histories in our cloth.  Nothing was more evident to me today.  Humbling really, as I have been a knitter most of my life and didn’t realize how many stories had passed through my own hands.  And for the final mic drop, I left a small slice of moose antler with the artist.  If I’m lucky it will become a part of someone else’s story.

 

 

 

 

 

Poster Child

I used to be a better poster.  As a matter of fact I was the poster child of posting.  I want to be better.   I love the blog, I really do, but the call of inventory is ever present and locking up almost all of my time.

What’s been going on?  Nothing terribly exciting.  There has been much knitting and spinning and dyeing.

There has been plenty of fibre ordering.

And yes, there was a show.  Folk Festival in Edmonton is like the happiest place on earth for me.  Great music and friends and the best coffee and well if that just doesn’t make perfect even more perfect.

Alaska_PanhandleAnd now I’m back home, the studio is completely trashed, my to do list is miles long, and all I can think of is getting out of town…I need to go away.  But I still need to work when I’m away so I have a crazy idea brewing….. It seems like a great thing to do, right?  Incredible vistas, fresh air, no dishes or housework or cooking and a lounge chair set for ultimate knitting comfort.

Can I do it?  I have been online, sussed out pricing, even reached out to find a like minded friend to tag along and it seems possible.  After the last Ladner market and home well before Knit City in the beginning of October.  How else can I make what I need to make and stay inspired and free of other responsibilities.  Will keep you in the loop.  Which means I will be working on my posting skills as well.

 

 

Posting as a Challenge

Here I thought the 30 minutes a day outdoors for 30 days would be the challenge.  It’s turned out that posting updates is my biggest hurdle!

I had an Ashford order come in this week. Things I needed for students and then some things that I felt it was my duty to test drive for students.  Love, love, love this alpaca merino blend roving.  The colour is “slate” and I believe I may be spinning the entire kilo.  If anyone is interested in trying out this roving, let me know.  It spins like a dream. I had two wheels go out the door this week to two super enthusiastic students. So part of my week went to putting together and waxing wheels.   Not something I am highly skilled at doing, but a pleasure none the less.

Spinning Class

Spinning Class

I also taught the second half of the Beginner Spinning Workshop at Birkeland Wool.  This group was crazy fun.  Not only had they done all their homework (filling lots of bobbins), but they were so advanced that I was able to squeeze in three ply and navajo plying techniques as well.  It is classes and moments like this that make me treasure the experience of teaching.

Sketchy Bobbins

Sketchy Bobbins

Since I am taking two classes right now through the VSB, I am really, really getting into the camera.   With that comes a lot of editing software and I found this wonderful little programme that lets me turn the photos into sketches.  Not that the actual pictures of the yarn were not interesting, but how can you discover a button and not push it?

Time for an Update

It’s been a while. I haven’t felt the blog mojo, but have been diverting my photos and tiny tbits of info to Facebook.

However, I am missing the blog, so I’m ready to get back in the groove.

So here it is in pictures.

Gone, baby, gone

What happened to February, or more importantly, in February?

I found out that Birkeland Bros. was closing.  It wasn’t a shock.  I think Cara had been carrying the burden of the shop for a while.    I’ve enjoyed teaching there.  As a matter of fact, I never considered teaching until Cara asked me to and well you know the rest.  I have been running classes  there for the last three years.    I never really realized that a nice portion of my livelihood came from this….until it stopped.

Suddenly I find myself flooded with emails from people wondering where they can take classes and if I’m willing to teach.    Other people wondering where to get wheels.

The classes are scheduled, my Louet Dealership secured so bring on your questions and get ready for some learning.  The changes in the studio have made it so much easier to shift this part of my life down the street.

I was also fortunate enough to keep working on Once Upon a Time.  This time more of a challenge (which I love) trying to breathe new life into a pretty wrecked CPW.  Very old, brittle and wobbly and yet with still one more scene left in it.  After that scene I am uncertain!    It was a wild ride working with Disney, and although I see this gig coming to an end, I’ve realized that I have some weird fibre horseshoe thing going on.  One gig ends and another one finds its place.

I’ve just been asked to custom dye alpaca fibre to be used in the production of wigs for a costume department.  So there you go.  And the studio classes, well they are practically full for the month so my work life seems to transition enough that I am always provided with new learning opportunities and skills.

I am embarrassed to say that I am still working on jury pieces, but I am trying to make something exquisite, and it’s taking more time than I imagined.  Free form is a wonderful medium for me to work in, but I am so careful to keep it uniquely mine and not infringing on Prudence Mapstone’s wonderful work.  So when I see something evolving in that direction, I pull it out and start again.

My shows are starting so much earlier this year so I have to have a full show’s worth of production by the end of April.  The blog will be sparse other than yarn updates, but if you have any questions for me regarding classes, where to get fibre, some wheel help, please let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

 

 

 

 

 

All Done

It’s unusual for me to go so long without a post.  It’s also over the top for me to have 3 huge shows almost back to back.  All done.  It feels great to say that.  Of course there are still a few loose ends to tie up.  Just a few more orders to knit —and a lot of unpacking and reorganizing.  It will happen and I will stand back and marvel at the fact that I am still in once piece.

All the help I had this year was stellar.  Due to a lot of donated time things got done.

Just having a few custom orders to contend with is a nice way to end a year of knitting and spinning.

I’ll be pulling back from a lot of shows next year so I won’t be as visible, but you will still be able to find me for yarns and classes.

Stay tuned for an update to the website.  New yarns will be posted and for sale straight from the post.

There will be new kits available in the new year as well.  Seeing what others make from my yarn is quite a high.  Having people at the studio who have been inspired to take their craft to the next level is another rush.  This is what I want to put my focus on.

I’ll have a list of classes and workshops posted in January.  I look forward to seeing you at one of them.

Warm wishes for the holidays.  Still time for last minute Christmas knitting!

This is a demo store for testing purposes — no orders shall be fulfilled.