Last week Arlene posted about being stuck and working through some of the creative slumps we all get into sometimes. So this week we thought I should follow this up with a little look at something else that happens with all of us during our creative lives, and that is change. I think this is something that can help cause those many WIPs to come about, you know, you start a project, and for whatever reason it gets put aside. When you come back to it sometimes months later, you realise that you actually dont even like it anymore, or you haven’t used that particular technique since you started it, or you simply moved on in your creativity and it seems that WIP was started by a whole different person.. and then it gets put aside again!
Well I think it is interesting occasionally to do a bit of backwards time travel. So that is what I will share with you today and hopefully I dont create too many ‘cringe’ moments for myself 😀 So lets go back and see what was on the WoolWench wheel in 2011!
Ok so one of the first and biggest changes is that in 2011 I was busy spinning to keep stock in my Etsy shop. My yarn photography was very geared up as product photography, my goal was to create my own recognisable style and branding and I did this with bright colours, the best lighting options I could get, and quirky staging 🙂 I even wrote an ebook about creating your online identity visually with photography: (Pick your copy up here!)
I still love that one! And notice it is a single?! I don’t remember the last time I spun a single to keep as a single, but there were many spun and sold in my etsy shop. And then I moved onto multiple plying… but of course, one thing hasnt changed, I still love to make those coffee references 😉
I was also busy using my hackle to make things like this:
another single! I was beginning to really try out all the different fiber preparation tools in order to create the variation I wanted in my yarns, going from spinning mostly hand dyed commercial top, to spinning my own carded batts, and then hackled roving.
At some point I must have been looking for new challenges, because I was also doing stuff like this:I guess I always loved experimenting 🙂 And here was inspiration from Lexi Boeger, Jacey Boggs, coils and thick and thins and texture.. But then I started coming up with my own yarns, I suspect I have a short attention span and once I have done something once, I need to find the next ‘thing’, this has always led to lots of trial and error practices and definately a bunch of changes in what I spin and how I spin it. This is interesting for me now, looking back a wee way, to see how much more competent I feel now when creating and constructing yarns. I think my big focus on multiple plying a couple of years ago really led me into a lot of investigation and try outs in the actual structure of a yarn, what causes it to be stable and not stable, how to manipulate the fiber to do what I want. These earlier art yarns of mine (and I dont count my many years previously spinning mostly traditional two ply yarns) were often singles and playing around with existing procedures and techniques, but when I started with consciously becoming a yarn architect to create my own designs, I really learned (and this is my current motto) to ‘be the boss’ of the fiber to create exactly what was in my head. This ‘Entangled’ yarn was one of my dreamed up creations, discovered when playing around with a wild boucle technique with a gold thread..
still one of my favourite yarns, and simply my ‘Entangled’ yarn – coilspun.
I guess the pattern I see here is over the last five years, my art yarn spinning has become a lot more deliberate, more controlled, and more planned. My most recent yarns are things like this: my ‘Bubble Tea’ yarn,
And this micro art yarn cable,
Another thing that has really changed in my spinning activity and focus is my reason for spinning. I mentioned before that a few years ago I was spinning for my Etsy shop. I could pretty much spin what I liked, although it was always good if other people liked that too! I also needed to spin a lot. A big change for me now is that I am super busy (and loving it) with our Fiberygoodness focus, Arlene and I are currently finishing up preparations for a brand new spinning course to be released in the near future, and I have been spinning example yarns for this as well as making tutorials. So the sheer quantity of yarns spun in Woolwench house has dropped substantially, sample yarns are smaller skeins and often one-off. We have also just brought out our third set of Yarn Recipe cards, for which I was also busy spinning and developing the yarns to include, and photographing them! The amount of time I have to spin has also reduced a lot. We are running the amazing Dye Secrets course with Natalie Redding and supporting the IT and written side of that, plus I have done a couple of articles for Ply magazine recently as well as various other Fiberygoodness tasks and planning! I have a cool weave-along surprise in the works for the Circular Weaving group too and the planning and design for that is still taking much of my spinning time up!
This is an issue that I know many of us face as spinners. Our spinning practice changes over time as our ‘other’ activities also change. It can be a delicate balance to find between having the freedom to spin or create whatever we feel like, and meeting goals and responsibilities within our lives as fiber artists, and I think this applies whether we are professional of hobbyist fiber artists, we all face constraints in some way. The challenge for me has been how to manage meeting goals AND spinning the things I really just have woken up with in my head in the morning.
I am lucky, because I can kind of fit things or interlock things to work in both ways, for example when we have been working on this new course, I have needed to create example yarns and tutorials, but even if I have been constrained to spin, for example a coreless corespun, I could also then go on to use that in a plying experiment I had in mind for a while already. I can double up tasks. I recently did a video on how to make two different kinds of batts on the Majacraft Fusion Engine, and so I created batts that I could also photograph for inclusion in an upcoming Fiberygoodness book publication. Its my way of multitasking 🙂 Finding as many ways as I can to extend the use of a process or a spin technique that I would like to play with. I am sure that there are also production spinners amongst you too who find ways to play around with yarn experiments while still creating stock for your next market, or to create new ways of preparing your fibers for those yarns too. I look on it as being a bit like multiple plying, layering activities that still result in a yarn, but on the way give you the chance to fulfil the ‘other’ responsibilities that might otherwise be more constraining if you focussed on just that one thing.
However I must say this. There are times when I really just want to spin purely for the joy of just spinning, no goal, no purpose, just me, the fiber, and my wheel. And these days, if I am left to my own devices to spin just because.. this is what I am making, fine! and tweedish yarns from specially carded batts. I find myself going in new directions, the move to New Zealand has offered me a different range of fibers to spin, and my interests have moved into a new fascination with the history of the sheep breeds and their specific qualities, with the challenges of finding the best ways to spin to those characteristics in a creative way. And this is what I love (and this will never change) about working with fiber – there is ALWAYS something new to learn and enjoy, and no matter how my interests change and morph over time, this fascination with what I can do with fiber has never waned 🙂