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What is it you do?

October 27, 2009

photo by the amazing Morgan Gauthier

I get asked that a lot… to be completely honest, I’m still trying to figure that one out!  There are some people lucky enough to have a niche.  They have something they are really good at and the focus enough to makes LOTS of quality items in that spectrum.  Me?  I’m far too easily distracted for that!  I love fiber… I guess that’s why I call myself a fiber artist, b/c that’s pretty all inclusive.

I started out knitting.  21 years ago.  I joked yesterday that my knitting skills are now old enough to drink.  I don’t recommend trying that though… it’s far too easy to drop stitches and make something super wonky while entirely sober :).  I then fell madly in love with local yarn shops and the idea of having my own.  I suddenly found myself immersed in craft blogs, knitting blogs… anyone who seemed to be living out their crafty dreams in the blogosphere.  I had to join their ranks.  This led me to a forum for people wanting to start their own yarn store.   This led me to etsy.  From there, I opened my own shop (with a God-given gift from friends) and started dying my own yarns.  This satisfied me for a while.  Then the itch to go farther back in the yarn process hit.  I wanted to learn to spin my own yarns.  So for Christmas, my husband got me a drop spindle while on vacation in TN.  From there, my father and I started collaberating online about different wheels and types of spinning.  We discovered the kick spindle together and I was reminded of where my drive to craft came from… my father!  He surprised me with not only a handmade drop spindle, but a kick spindle that he built himself.  It’s been spinning heaven from there.  Someone asked me at the Pioneer Festival I participated in why I would want to make my own yarn when I could buy it nearly everywhere.  I don’t think I had a good answer then, but after much thought… I have to equal it to why would you want to grill your own burger rather than just eat McDonalds?  McDonald’s is alright, it’s cheap, it’s fast… sometimes you just want that…. but when you want a really good burger, nothing beats one you grill up just how you like it.   Handmade yarn is special… you know that it’s texture isn’t going to be perfect (I’m not a machine for goodness sake!) but the imperfections… the varying widths and weights in one strand make it unique.  What makes a handmade pottery piece more attractive than your average Corelle dish?  What makes a handmade quilt catch the eye so much more than your average comforter?  It’s the art!

So what exactly do I do?  I make things.  Right now, specifically I make and dye yarn.  I also use those yarns to knit and crochet wearable and usable items.  I try to use natural and eco-friendly fibers as much as possible in my work.  I am aware of some of the weird looks I get when I explain my career path as an artist… trust me, it sometimes feels very foreign to even speak it all outloud.  But mostly, I’m living out what is inside of me.  I’m proud of that!

In the future I’ll be posting some knitting and fiber jargon so for those of you interested, it may give a little more insight into what makes what I do unique.  Some of you could care less about what makes Merino wool different from other types, trust me, the wool sweaters you may have itched your way through childhood in… that will make you want to know the type of wool you are wearing!   I was amazed how many different breeds of sheep there were and how much their breed effects their use!  For those of you who could literally care less about the jargon… I’ll post pretty pictures 🙂

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