I have not always been a spinner. This is a relatively new obsession … uh …hobby … that started with a birthday gift given to me by my oldest son Andrew.
Andrew has always leaned toward creative doings. About five years ago he bought a 4-ounce skein of wool roving in beautiful blue shades from an Etsy store, and gave it to me for my birthday. “Can you make something for yourself with this?” he asked. Neither one of us was sure what to do with it (oh, how naive I was!), but it was soft and beautiful so I said “yes.” Little did we realize what an absolutely perfect gift it was.
After a little research, I found that I could spin, felt, crochet or knit the roving. I wasn’t quite sure how to crochet it so I looked into spinning and ended up buying a drop spindle. However, after getting the drop spindle, I put it away along with the roving and didn’t pull it out of the box for some time. At that point in my life, I was working full time and doing my master’s degree at night so I didn’t have much freedom to craft. Gosh, that makes me tired just to think of it!
A few years later, we discovered the Salida Fiber Festival and found that they had a drop spindle spinning class. I signed up for it, had a great time in the class and then promptly fell in love with a Matchless Spinning Wheel by Schacht out in the market. My husband, who is very supportive of my fiber addiction surprised me with that spinning wheel at the Taos Wool Festival, and we were off!
It still took a while to pull out that roving that Andrew had given me but once I spun it and saw how the varying shades of blue just melded together I just had to do something with it.
By that time, he had given me another roving. This one was white (he didn’t know what kind of wool it was) so out came the dye pot. I painted it aqua, green and purple then steamed it.
Once it dried, I pulled out another bobbin for my spinning wheel and made a single ply. I then plied the blue shaded ply and the tri-colored ply with a Z twist and got the worsted weight yarn that you see in the picture below (I’m still at the try-this-and-see-what-it-does stage).
Z-twist plying is great for crochet so when I saw a pattern in Interweave’s Fall 2016 edition’s Fizz Scarf, I knew that it was perfect for this yarn. It’s lacy, but it supports a heavier yarn. And, I love how the different colors in the scarf blend with different backgrounds.
Can I say that this is probably the least favorite of all the fruits? Love isn’t easy but at least we all love people. Joy is wonderful. Peace, yeah, I can hang with that. But patience? Patience means that I have to make myself do something. Wait!
How many of us are good at waiting? When you see a line a mile long at the DMV or the post office does it make you tingle in delight over the prospect of standing in line? How do you like being on hold? How do you feel when you want something done now and you have to wait for others to do their part before the task is finished?
Yeah. Waiting is not easy.
Waiting is a little easier when something good is at the end, like a ride at the amusement park, or a nice dinner that takes a while to cook and the smells are driving you crazy. Having patience takes on a new dimension when you love someone also. How many parents have we seen sit up all night with a crying infant or with a sick child? Sure it’s exhausting and you can get frustrated, but waiting for the end result makes all the difference.
It’s the same way in crafting. I once crocheted an afghan that took several weeks to finish because there were a bunch of motifs involved. In my younger years, I loved to crochet afghans, but as I got older and busier, I only crocheted afghans once in a while. Before crocheting this blanket, I was not a big fan of granny squares either, but as you can see, the pattern is loaded with grannies and other motifs. But I thought the pattern was perfect for the people for whom I was crocheting the blanket.
So, I hunkered down and began the blanket, one square more than 80 times. In the middle of making the granny squares (and frogging many of them), I remember wondering why – exclamation points and several other bits of punctuation, if you know what I mean – I was doing this. I also muttering more than a few times, “I can’t wait until this is done!” I also remember the feeling of satisfaction when I could say that the blanket was finished and spread it out for my family to see.
Crochet and all other needle and yarn work, is slow craft. It’s like the Slow Food Movement, which involves cooking from scratch and locally sourcing where your food comes from. Slow craft is the same thing. We take time to make something rather than buying it. We are intentional and deliberate in choosing our materials and we enjoy the process as well as the finished product.
For my project, I chose a soft acrylic so that it would be easy to wash. I also chose a yarn that was made in the United States in order to support my home country. I chose to make a blanket, rather than buying one because I wanted to put time into my gift to make it more special. These are the elements of the slow craft movement.
Crafting slowly is a good way to learn patience. Yes, I struggled with it during this project, but when I was mindful of it I slowed myself down, took a deep breath and learned to enjoy what I was doing. I also found that I liked making granny squares more than I thought. Crafting with a quiet spirit also gives you time to pray and think about others, especially for the people to whom you are giving the finished project.
But why is patience so important? Why is is one of the Fruits of the Spirit?
God is patient.
Patience is important because God is patient with us. It is worthwhile for us to allow the Holy Spirit to develop patience in us so that we can show God’s love to others and to experience God’s love for ourselves. It is also good for our minds and bodies. Studies show that impatience can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease. It can also lead to anger, anxiety and stress. As modern Americans, impatience is deeply ingrained into our culture. We don’t want things now. We wanted them yesterday. It’s difficult to overcome that mindset, but God can do it if we let the Spirit work.
The reality is that most things take time
Sometimes it’s hard to remember that most things in life take time – growing up, pregnancy, growth of crops, harvest, change. Because of this, I am convinced that God did not rush through creation in 6-24 hour periods. Creation shows us that God actually took a great amount of time developing our earth and us in order to come out with something that was truly pleasing. And God saw that it was good, Genesis 1 says several times. Since God did not and does not usually rush, and takes time to do things, we should try to slow ourselves down as well. Try asking God to develop patience in you. You’ll see an example of excruciating slowness right away.
The Point is to Be Like Jesus
The entire point of the fruits is to let God live in us so that we can be like Jesus, show God’s love to others and overcome sin in our lives. As I read the Gospels, I see that Jesus was very patient. How else could he handle the hoards of people who constantly wanted his attention and his healing. How else could he handle the dullness of the disciples? How else could Jesus go to the cross, hang there when he didn’t have to and then actually die without patience?
Like I said earlier, it is worthwhile for us to allow the Holy Spirit to develop patience in us so that we can show God’s love to others and to experience God’s love for ourselves. It may take a long time; we may feel like we will never get there, but the journey is worth it because God walks beside us.
This year I decided to do something new. I signed up for Spinzilla! Well, maybe I don’t care about doing something new, I just want an excuse to spin.
Spinzilla is a week long adventure of fiber fun. You get to spin your little heart out and collect yardage for your team. That will be my excuse to spin more often – as if I needed one!
Really, though, how many times do we put off our projects and put off learning and practicing what we enjoy doing for other things? All too often. True, some of those things, like grocery shopping, going to work, sleep, showering, fixing meals, etc., are all important but come on! Let’s spin!
My team is Paradise Fibers. I joined them because they sent out an email asking people to join their team.
Proceeds from the $10.00 registration fee go toward the Needle Arts Mentoring Program , which is sponsored by the National NeedleArts Association. Last year, 5,246,497 yards of yarn were spun and this includes plying. That is a lot of yarn, my friends!
Here is a link to sign up for Spinzilla. Don’t put it off; the last day to sign up is September 30 because the event takes place October 3 – 9. I will be spinning in the evenings (and maybe at lunch) with fiber that I bought at the Salida Fiber Fest and with what I will get at the Taos Wool Festival. Hee, hee – I return from that the day before Spinzilla starts – is that convenient or what? Don’t worry. If you can’t go to a fiber festival, you can surf the websites of Spinzilla’s sponsors because they are having specials.
All of the teams have forums on Ravelry and from the looks of it, many participants are now preparing their fibers for the event. There is a mad rush of dyeing, carding, and combing. What will I do to prepare? Since my fibers are prepared, I’m going to finish up some of my crochet projects so that I won’t have to think about them during the week of spinning bliss. Now doesn’t that sound like a plan? Are you gonna sign up?
What do you think of when you hear the word “peace?” The sound of a babbling brook or singing birds? Lying in the sun at the beach? An afternoon away from the children or the office?
Temporary peace can mean a number of things depending on your interests; however, in both the Old and the New Testaments, the meaning of peace comes from the Hebrew word shalom, which is defined as “wholeness” or “completion”, according to jewsforjesus.org. In the New Testament, which was written in Greek, the word, eirene, is rooted in the concept of shalom. But it can also be used to describe a lawful order or the way you treat someone.
In Galatians 5, Paul uses the word eirene to describe “peace”. In context, it appears that he is talking about shalom, or wholeness or completeness. Shalom is what the Holy Spirit brings to our lives when we are in relationship with God.
In my experience, the peace of God did not come upon me all at once when I began a relationship with God. I had my moments, but real peace – wholeness and completeness – came much later. In order to attain it, the first thing I had to do was allow God to work through a bunch of anxiety, worry and self-loathing that was present in my heart. God had to get me into a place where I quit trying to live how others expected me to live. I had to do what I felt was right in my own heart because God had put those desires there in the first place. For me this process took more than 20 years. Perhaps it will take or has taken less time for you. But, because we are all different, your process and issues will be different from mine.
What’s important to God, however, is that we head in the direction of finding that peace. We may never completely attain it in this life but at least we’ll find some peace along the way. I believe that God has brought me a lot of peace in crafting fiber. This may sound silly, but it’s true, and it took me a little while to accept that. Aren’t Christians supposed spend all of their time in their churches and do great things that have nothing to do with who God made them to be? Aren’t we supposed to go viral for Jesus? Aren’t we supposed to be a famous musician or write a book in order to be heard? That’s the way it comes across, yet it goes against what many of us are meant to do.
I do not know what God will do with this fiber addiction, but at least I will enjoy the process of getting there. I enjoy the process of creating. This peace is an indication of what I am meant to do, how I am meant to express God’s love to others in this world.
Submitting to that desire is part of growing up as a child of God. Greater peace comes as the relationship grows.
At the end of August and during September, the fields in our valley that are not dedicated to some agricultural purpose or to natural grass, are loaded with sunflowers.
And they call Kansas the Sunflower State? Southeastern Colorado could give Kansas a run for its money. People also say that the snow drifts in winter will be as high as the sunflower stalks were in summer. If that’s the case, we’re going to be buried.
Because of the abundance of flowers, I just had to clip some and stick them in my dye pot. I had read that cone flowers were a dye plant, and sunflowers are related to cone flowers, so I thought I’d give them a try.
After using a mordant of alum and cream of tartar on 100 percent wool, and then simmering the wool in the dye solution of sunflowers, my results were a little less than spectacular. In fact it looked like spaghetti noodles.
This was when I decided to try the iron modifier that had been bubbling out on my back porch for several weeks. It consists of pieces of iron, like nails, steeped in a mix of vinegar and water. The plastic coffee ‘can’ is full of orange goo. It’s quite gross.
To see if the color would change, I just poured about a half cup of the iron mordant into my dye bath and let it keep simmering. I was amazed to see it turn green almost immediately.
I was pleased with that result so I kept it.
Then, at the Salida Fiber Festival on Saturday, I found out from a lady who uses natural dyes, that sunflower dye is transient. Transient means that it will eventually fade. Okay. That’s fine because the project for which the sunflower yarn is intended probably won’t be out in the sun where it can fade quickly, but I may not use it again. She did, however, recommend rabbit brush, which grows abundantly around Salida.
Guess what I did on the way home?
I’ll let you know how rabbitbrush works in the near future.
Here is a picture of me. I am at the Salida Fiber Festival and my budget is spent. The goofy smile on my face says that I am quite satisfied. I’ve been looking at, touching, and buying spinning fiber (along with a little yarn) all morning. I’m in my happy place. I am inspired. I am in the fiber zone. I am ready to crochet or spin or dream of what I will make with all that fiber.
Yet, all of this fiber mindedness had one drawback:
Parked for over two hours?? Yes, we did that. The funny thing is that we went back to the car before the ticket was there and put stuff in it. We then trotted off to lunch! We could have moved the van then but did we think of that? No. Mike was hungry and I was thinking of how I would make sure to hit the rest of the booths at the fiber fair.
Oh well. The day was fun anyway and the police officer was just doing his job. At least it’s only $20.00. Where I live it’s $35, but I’m not telling that to the city of Salida.
On Saturday, September 10, Mike and I attended the annual Salida Fiber Festival in Salida, CO. The festival, which runs two days every September, takes place at Riverside Park. One of the things I enjoy about Salida is their downtown. Loaded with shops and restaurants, the city of Salida doesn’t roll up its sidewalks at 5 p.m. People are still out and about, riding bikes, walking, running, swimming, fishing, eating, attending art exhibits, playing at the park or sitting by the river, like we were, listening to live music playing at a local restaurant.
Here is the Arkansas River, which runs west of the city. Salida has a nice river walk. The restaurant that had the live band was close to those buildings on the left.
Here is part of the downtown:
The local business owners are also genuinely friendly and so were the vendors at the festival. No one minded talking about fiber or their craft. They were even willing to let people try equipment out.
As you can see, there is a fair representation of many of the fiber arts. Unfortunately, crochet was not really one of them. The only crochet I saw was some vintage lace at a quilting booth and one lady’s beautiful shawl. There was quite a bit to see, so I might have missed it, however.
Weaving seemed to be very popular and I got to try out a triangle shawl loom, which was very fun. I can picture one of these in our house, Mikey.
One of my old friends from the newspaper business, Karen, got into fiber and now owns a herd of alpacas. At the two shows I’ve seen her at, her booth Phoenix Fiber Mill always draws a crowd. It’s kind of funny that both of us got out of newspaper and ended up with fiber businesses. Fiber is definitely more fun and relaxing.
I met my goal that day and bought spinning fiber along with a couple of skeins of DK yarn that had been dyed naturally. There was a lot of fiber there and I was in my happy place.
After the festival, Mike and I took a drive up to Monarch Pass, which is at roughly 11,000 feet. It was chilly up there; we needed our windbreakers. We usually try to fit in a selfie at the places we go, only Mike uses his Canon not his cell phone.
It was beautifully clear that day. On the way up we saw that the aspens were starting to turn. See the golden spot on the mountain? It’s a little early this year. Time to get spinning that wool!