Spin, Weave, Dye or Blog?

What do you do when you get stuck?

Considering how long it’s been since my last blog entry – it’s pretty clear that  “publish a new blog post”  hasn’t been at the top of my to-do list for a while.

It’s there.  Just not at the top.
Not because I don’t like sharing my work.
And not because I haven’t been working on things I’d like to share.

Like these two rugs

photo of handspun handwoven rug made by Joanne Littler, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio, Fairfax, VT
“Brick” Rug, 31″x 21″, handspun and handwoven by Joanne Littler, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio, Fairfax, VT

 

photo of multi-color wool rug, handspun and handwoven by Joanne Littler, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio, Fairfax, VT
Multicolored Rug, 41″ x 21″, handspun and handwoven by Joanne Littler, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio, Fairfax, VT

and this twill tape/binding (the hem sections on the multi-color rug were too bulky to fold and didn’t look right),

photo of twill tape used as binding on multi-color rug, handspun and handwoven by Joanne Littler, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio, Fairfax, VT
Twill Tape for multicolored rug, handspun and handwoven by Joanne Littler, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio, Fairfax, VT

and another greeting card project with removable/useable mug rugs,

photo of greeting cards with fabric inserts handwoven by Joanne Littler, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio, Fairfax, VT
2013 Holiday Greeting Cards, fabric inserts handwoven by Joanne Littler, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio, Fairfax, VT

and a couple of scarves,

photo of Yak Scarf , 69" x 3", handspun and handwoven by Joanne Littler, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio,  Fairfax, VT
Yak Scarf, 69″ x 3″, handspun and handwoven by Joanne Littler, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio, Fairfax, VT
photo of silver-gray, Alpaca and Silk scarf, handspun and handwoven by Joanne Littler, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio, Fairfax, VT
Alpaca/Silk Scarf, Silver-Gray, 71″ x 13″, handspun and handwoven by Joanne Littler, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio, Fairfax, VT

and some experiments dying fabrics and yarn to “go-with” commercial yarn colors.

photo of fabric and yarn dyed to match commercial yarn colors
Matching colors – hand dyed mop yarns and muslin.

The reason I haven’t shown up here for such a long time is that this blog is part of a question I’ve been struggling with –  my “What will I do about building a new website?” question.

And by struggling, I mean stuck.

The kind of stuck-ness that happens when you know something’s wrong with your project.
And you try to fix it.

photo of a film can attached to a warp thread to fix a broken warp during weaving
Is one enough?

But it’s the kind of wrong-ness doesn’t go away.  It just gets worse.

photo of 5 film cans hanging from the back of a loom used to try and fix broken warp threads during weaving
Are 5 too many?

And you start to think it might be better to cut your losses and move on to something else.

photo of cotton threads, cut from the loom
The final solution.

If you’ve ever struggled to understand something and felt like you didn’t  “get it” – If the only thing you did manage to get – from all the hours, days, weeks, (months?) of study, practice, work and effort  – is a feeling of frustration – then you know what I mean by stuck.

Like you’re not getting anywhere.
You’re just spinning your wheel(s) and not making any yarn.

And if you know what that’s like, – you probably also know how easy it is for feelings of confusion and bewilderment to turn into disappointment and doubt.

The problem isn’t that we get stuck.

Learning something new is always filled with challenges; situations, information, techniques, materials – all kinds of things we’re unfamiliar with and aren’t (yet) ready or equipped to handle.  So we ask questions.  Our questions lead to answers.  And the answers help us move forward.

The problem is – instead of asking “What’s wrong with this?”  the question we often ask ourselves is  “What’s wrong with me?”

When that happens – when we interpret our inability to move forward as some kind of personal failure, our self-esteem takes a hit.

Maybe – instead of trying to push harder against what’s holding us in place – maybe what we need to do is take a step back.

Maybe we need to walk away.

It’s not about quitting or giving up.  It’s about checking in with ourselves and reconnecting with what really matters.

It’s about recognizing how we feel about what we’re doing.
And giving ourselves permission to do something else – something that allows us to rest our minds and re-set our intentions.

If you find yourself, like I have, in the middle (or at the beginning?) of a project that isn’t going well, –  if you’re unsure about which direction to take, or what to do next, – instead of beating yourself up about what isn’t working, and what you think you did wrong, – remind yourself that there are plenty of things that you can do right.
Things that give you pleasure.  Things that you can you enjoy.
Things that make you feel successful.

Do some of those things.
At some point, when you’re ready, if you decide you want to take up where you left off, you can do that, too.
Unless – before you walked away – scissors were involved.

I gotta go put on another warp.
Joanne's blog signature, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Never Weave Samples (And What I Choose To Do Instead)

Some weavers enjoy it.
Most will say it’s a good thing to do.
And all of their reasons why make perfect, practical sense.

Photo of practice fabric for a card insert
This is not a sample. (It’s fabric for a greeting card). Really.

But for me to weave a sample?  I just can’t.
I mean it.
I can’t. I won’t. (“And you can’t make me” says the stubborn child within .)
What that really means is:  I refuse.

The concept is one I embrace – as it applies to other things.
But weaving samples?  No way.
That’s not gonna happen.
I refuse.

So what do I have against weaving samples?

Maybe you’ve  noticed.
Funny things happen when you spend time with your loom.
Weaving time, quiet time, alone time – time spent with and by yourself – that kind of time lends itself to self-reflection.  Introspection.  An opportunity to examine one’s thoughts.

Here’s what I think  – I think I have issues.
And one of them manifests as a strong feeling of resistance to any suggestion prefaced with the words “you should”, “you must”, “you ought to”, “you need to”, or “you have to”.

Have you noticed how often those words appear right before “weave a sample“?

This does not inspire me.
Instead of feeling encouraged and excited – I feel dread and disappointment.
Instead of feeling helped with what I want to learn, I feel thwarted, frustrated and impatient.
Instead of feeling open to the possibility of  success, I feel threatened with failure if I don’t ‘comply’.

I just want to weave – not feel bad when I don’t do it the way someone else thinks I ‘ought’.

And another thing –

What are you supposed to DO with a sample once you’ve gleaned whatever information you wanted/needed it to provide?
It’s just a sample.
I don’t a want sample, I want an actual thing.

If you weave – you know.
Setting up a loom is no small task.
Taking the time, making the effort to weave something to keep in a notebook for reference doesn’t thrill me. 

Cloth.
Useable fabric.
Made by hand.
Regularly finding its place in my own (or someone else’s) hands.

That’s what thrills me.
Not some specimen, some bit-of-a-piece-of-a-thing.

What I’m telling myself

(if I choose to believe my thoughts)
– sounds something like this: “don’t bother, it’s not worth it, you won’t like it, you won’t do it right, it’s a waste of time”.

And that message leads to not weaving.

In other areas of my life, I might go along with that kind of thinking.
But, not weaving?

Not weaving is unacceptable.

No matter how many reasons I come up with for why the idea of weaving a sample irks me – what really matters is:  how to stop the irksome-ness  and get on with the weaving.

As it turns out – there’s a simple fix. (OK, maybe not easy – but definitely simple).

Whenever things show up on my own, personal, “need to know” list – questions I have about a fabric I want to make – I start looking for ways to incorporate the reason for a sample into something I know I will enjoy weaving.   Because the reason is the important part – it’s about gathering information that will help make future projects more successful.

So instead of  weaving a sample –

I make practice pieces.  
Bookmarks, greeting card inserts, mug rugs,  coasters, scarves, towels, table mats, runners, shawls – anything I can think of as a reasonable alternative – a way of gathering the same information a sample would provide.

Instead of irksome, a practice piece is something I’m willing and happy to weave.
More than a reference tool, often imperfect, exciting to plan, thrilling to witness as it takes shape, full of possibility –  leading to more weaving.

And yes, it’s absolutely all in my mind and how I choose to think about it.

Whatever you want to call it, however you manage to accomplish it – it’s all about the same thing: practice.
The value of continued practice.

Engaging in the practice 

Finding meaning.
Feeling positive about what there is to learn.
Enjoying the process.
And having fun with it.

That’s how weaving “works” for me.  A space opens up when I’m involved with  yarn.   A space where crowded thoughts move apart, drift past, and eventually float away.  Where the irksome becomes just another piece of lint  – under the treadles, beneath the loom.

I gotta go weave.

Joanne's blog signature, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio