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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes What You Don’t Do Is Just As Valuable As What You Do

Or – why it helps to go beyond the urge to ‘just say no’.

Have you ever had a day when you realized you spent a lot of time answering  questions with “No,  I don’t do that”?

Here’s some of what I remember saying at Farmer’s Market last Saturday :

  • I don’t use natural dyes
  • I don’t spin dog hair
  • I don’t do other craft shows or events
  • I don’t have handspun handwoven cashmere scarves in other colors
  • I don’t do custom weaving or spinning
  • I don’t have any more of that particular piece.

As I debriefed from the day, I realized several of the conversations I’d had were about what I don’t do.  I’d been saying no an awful lot and it had me wondering what was going on.

Was I having a bad day? Were people bothered by my answers? Did they walk out of my booth in disgust?

Honestly? No.

The family that had seen a demonstration of natural dyeing at a living history museum – was interested to learn about why I choose to use synthetic dyes.

The young woman who loves her dog so much she wants to have some of his fur spun into yarn – appreciated knowing how to harvest and store the fiber.

The ladies who offered me information about a really big craft show they liked to attend – were impressed that I was satisfied ‘only’ doing the Burlington Farmer’s Market.

The young man who asked about other colors of cashmere – understood that the brown, beige, white, tan and gray pieces on display are natural animal colors – that the fiber is so special it’s taking me awhile to feel to comfortable with the idea of dyeing it – and was very happy choosing the light gray/tan color as a present for his wife.

The vendor who was curious about whether I made most of my sales at market or from custom work – learned that I prefer to concentrate on a particular and peculiar path of my own.   If I can incorporate what I want to accomplish with a customer’s request then yes, I’ll consider it.   If not – no, I don’t do that.

And the person who wanted to know if I had any more like the narrow hand-dyed piece I’d made specifically to show her?   She’s already a collector of my work.   One of those special people I learned about from Alyson Stanfield .

Telling this patron of my craft no means she has the only one.  She knows I’ll continue making things with her in mind, –  taking into account the questions she asks and the ideas she shares about what she likes.

All of the no-ing I did at market last week?
It gave me a clearer picture of what I choose to say yes to – and why.

That means:

  • I’ll be dying some cashmere yarns and fiber pretty soon.
  • Weaving more pieces with hems instead of fringe.
  • And maybe writing a post or two about: “natural vs. synthetic”;  why the Burlington Farmer’s Market is so great; and what things to consider if you want your dog’s fiber spun into yarn.

What does your list of “don’ts” inspire you to do?
And yes, I plan to be at market tomorrow.
I hope you will be, too.

Joanne's blog signature, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio