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

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Plying Time Again – I’m Gonna Weave You

Eventually, yes – weaving is the plan for these yarns.

Photo of yarns on spinning bobbins, 2-ply and single cotton and single silk/merino, handspun by Joanne Littler, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio, Fairfax, VT.
Two done, four to go.

But that’s not the reason why I had to ply.

I needed some empty bobbins.   I got myself into a bit of a pickle spinning new-to-me fibers and  ‘forgot’ that in order to make a 3-ply yarn, I would need one bobbin for each ply.  1+1+1 = ?  (Arithmetic – sheesh!)

The thing is, until recently, my preference (my habit) has been to make 2-ply yarns.  With 2 empty standard size bobbins and a jumbo flyer

Photo of the older version of a Jumbo Flyer on an Ashford Traditional Spinning Wheel at Pine Ledge Fiber Studio, Fairfax, VT.
(older) Ashford Jumbo Flyer on an Ashford Traditional Spinning Wheel

I always have a way to make two bobbins full of singles and ply them onto the jumbo bobbin (plus the added bonus of one big skein/no knots).

But there are differences between Cashmere and the so-called “rug wools”  – beyond the most obvious.  And I’m curious about what it takes to make warp for a rug.  So I decided to explore the potential of having an additional ply (and got pretty excited about the possibilities).

But lo and behold – all my so-called ‘extra’ bobbins were otherwise engaged.

It’s not unusual for me to have several bobbins of spun singles waiting to be plied.  It doesn’t bother me to let them sit there until I’m ready to take them to the next level.  And I like looking at them – all proud and pretty on their lazy kates.

But it’s not considered best practices.

Fibers twisted together (yarn) and wound under tension (into a ball or around the core of a bobbin)-  over a period of time – may appear to have lost their characteristic elasticity.  And appearance is key – because it becomes  difficult to accurately gauge the true nature of that fiber or yarn as it appears in it’s stretched-out state.

What that means is – I might not be able to tell how much plying twist I’ll need just by looking at the singles that I’ve oh so carelessly left sitting on their bobbins for who knows how long.

But here’s the thing.
In my experience, based on what I know about the yarns I spin –

Leaving singles on a bobbin is not the problem.

The question of whether or not it’s “good” for my yarn gets filed into a category I call:  “not important, doesn’t matter, and I don’t care.”

If you’re having a whole lot of fun spinning and spinning – and spinning – you may wind up with a bunch of spun singles and nowhere to move them.

The problem is not having any empty bobbins.

When you’re enthusiastically engaged and eager to continue along a particular creative path (like spinning), it seems to me that “best practices” include being able to keep doing what you’re doing when you’re on a “roll” rather than lose your momentum, or worse – feel frustrated at having to stop.

You don’t have to be afraid that your singles will languish if you leave them on a  lazy kate for a while.  It’s OK to let them wait their turn if you have something better (more important, different or exciting) to do.
Develop your own best practice.
Get into the habit of writing down where the drive band is when you spin. (Which whorl are you using?).
Be aware of your natural treadling pace and drafting style.  (How many times do you push down on the treadle before your newly formed yarn moves through the orifice and onto the bobbin?)

Write it down. Those little bits of information will help you pick up where you left off.

Sometimes what feels like an interruption turns into a good thing.

Photo of 3 skeins of 2-py yarns, handspun by Joanne Littler, Pine Ledge Fiber Studio, Fairfax, VT
2-ply yarns handspun by Joanne Littler

Now I have 6 empty bobbins.   Maybe it’s time to try a 4 or 5-ply?
Nah.

Now I gotta go weave.

Joanne