Everyone is responding to the virus in different ways. I’m OK, I’m still healthy, and my level of social contact hasn’t really changed much. But my shops and retail outlets are suffering badly, and there are other pressures on my time.
For me, right now, it means I have to spend more time trying to help out in my partner’s business, and less time on art, but that doesn’t mean no time, and it doesn’t mean growing my art business is not still really important to me. As most of his clients are in the hotel and catering industry, my income is likely to become rather more important over the coming weeks and months! It’s a juggling act, but we all have to find ways to cope!
So, this is what I am planning to do!
Update my Galleries so that you have more eye-candy to look at, better organised! Check out my new Hats and Gifts pages!
Start a “Commissions” Page, so you can ask me to make stuff for you! Until it’s up, just Contact Me.
Develop some new stock, including some affordable gifts like the Glasses Cases above, because not everyone wants a hat.
Collect as much stock as I can from bricks and mortar stores, and get some kind of a shop page organised.
Give my Patreon and Ko-fi pages some more love, so you can give them some love too
Learn how to use video-conferencing better, and start some online events and teaching sessions, to help folk while away the long hours.
What you can do to support me!
Keep checking back, buy stuff, when it’s up, come and hang out with me, and learn with me.
Offer moral support! Visit my site and my social media, comment, offer feedback, share my posts, and my images (with credit), let me know I’m not shouting into the void from my little socially distant bubble! Sharing is caring!
Support other small businesses of all kinds, so we are still here for you when the world returns to whatever normal looks like going forward.
If you are good at things like WordPress, and Video-Conferencing, and would like to give me some help, and would like me to make something for you in return, I do barter on an hour for hour basis. It takes 10 hours to make a hat!
Bear with me! This is all a bit of an adventure, and it won’t all happen at once. But hopefully, when the new normal comes, you will see a more colourful, faster whirling, more responsive Kaleidoscope than before.
Who knows, this could be the kick up the bum I needed!
It’s all gone a bit quiet here, but that does not mean I’ve not been busy, quite the reverse! In July, I embarked upon this course, and it is taking a lot of my “spare” time.
For now, here are some pics of what I have been working on as Eye Candy!
I will say, I am learning a lot! The course is self directed learning, and they encourage you to keep a journal. Some of the entries in my journal will, eventually, be edited and make it onto here as tutorials.
It is really encouraging me to reflect on my Fibre Art, slow down and analyse my process. The course material is good very comprehensive, but the tutor encourages you to look elsewhere on the internet, and find your own learning resources. There is also a closed facebook group for folk to share their learning, and ask questions.
The course starts with a reflective, self assessment Assignment, and then there are sections on Preparation, Spinning, Plying, Techniques, and Variation. It covers most of the usual Designer Yarn types you find, such as Core Spun, Tail Spun, Core spun, Spiral Ply, Beehives, Autowrap, Cabled Yarn and Boucle. It then encourages you to do variations on your techniques.
Some of these techniques I have tried, but my knowledge is deepening, and enriching with the staged approach. (I’ve read ahead, but I’m still on Fibre Prep in terms of assignments.) The tutor really encourages you to think about what you are spinning.
While the course is New Zealand based, the students are completely international, One lives in the USA, I live in the UK, there is an Australian, and a New Zealander.
One of the things that attracted me about the course is the fact that it very much encourages and experimental and “what works” approach. It is more about learning and discovery than about perfect outcomes, which frees me, at least, from my imposter syndrome, and allows me to put the work in from which mastery will eventually develop.
Did I mention the tutor is the awesome Suzy Brown? Of Woolwench, Fibery Goodness, and tinyStudio Creative Life fame. I am a sad, sad, fangirl, that woman has inspired me and taught me so much in my fibre journey!
It also gives me a chance to practice my photography, as you have to photograph each and every stage of the process! I am also doing Evanita W Montalvo’s Outstanding Images for the Fibre Artist online course, which has helped me up my fibre photography game.
Certificate in Designer Yarns 2 is in the works, and I will almost certainly go on to do that also!
Eventually, I hope to have some stunning workshops and online content from all this learning, with my own Kaleidoscopic spin, so watch this space!
I love hanging out with Fibre People! But as a reasonably new Fibre Artist, not many of my Fibre Folk are the kind of old friends that I am used to inviting into my home. Home friends, in my world, are the kind of folks you welcome with “Mind the Cat Puke, I have Wine!” Hence, my rediscovery of the pernicious art of Anxiety Cleaning!
So earlier this week, I was thrown into an absolute tizzy, by those ill fated words “I’ll pop around and pick them up, shall I?”
Now Fibre Art sounds like a single hobby. But it’s not! In my case it is a combination of several hobbies, some of which feed, and share SOME supplies and resources with each other, but not all. They are; Fleece and Fibre Prep, Dyeing, Spinning, and Felting, Knitting, Crochet, Embroidery, and Sewing, depending on whether what you are making is a material in it’s own right, or an end product, with weaving sitting somewhere in between.
And each of these hobbies comes with it’s own, entirely ancilliary hobby of buying materials to feed it! And, in case you didn’t realise, fibre is BULKY, and fibre tools aren’t much better. But, you see, materials and tools are Inspiration, and Inspiration is Life!
Now when you add to this the fact that I get bored with working on one craft, or even one project per craft at once, I am rarely working on one thing, or even half a dozen things at any one time, you have a recipe for a perfect storm of mess!
I will confess, I’m hopelessly addicted to those magazine features about the lives of people who run creative businesses, where elegantly eclectically dressed women waft through bijou country cottages full of thier own works and impeccably curated vintage finds and ethnic textiles, and no-one ever finds an empty wine bottle, a single abandoned male sock, or a lump of VM or Worse on the living room carpet! And I imagine myself as one of those women, right up to the point where I start working and making something.
I have a Pinterest Board somewhere with “Perfect Craft Room Ideas“. And these perfect craft rooms all have one thing in common. They look like nobody has ever made anything in them EVER! If I ever manage to win the lottery and build the perfect craft room, I will never make anything ever again, because I would be so terrified to mar it’s pristine beauty with the kind of flinging stuff about and moving things from one place to another, less inconvenient for the moment, place, that my typical creative process seems to require. And that assumes that a dedicated craft room is even a thing!
While we have a good sized house for two people, if we are to have guests, ever, my designated craft room also needs to be the spare bedroom. It’s also the room with the linen cupboard, AND the room with the rail of LARP Costume on it. When the spare bed is up, there is about two square metres of unoccupied floor.
Simple, I thought. We aren’t using the Conservatory. I’ll put all my fibre, my tools and my desk in there. It turns out, there’s a good reason we weren’t using the Consevatory, which faces South East, and is mostly made of glass! To enter it on a sunny day, between the hours of 10:00 am and 3:00 pm, any time between April and September requires a deep breath, and the kind of protective clothing they issue to fire fighters. I had one of those digital thermometers on my studio table. It stopped registering the air temperature one day in April about 11:00 am at 48 degrees C, at which point, it was still comparatively cool in there. So if you hear me airily mention my “Studio” remember that what I am talking about is a room typically hotter than Satan’s armpit during the hours of daylight, for six months of the year, and colder than Siberia the rest of the time. So what was a pristine and inviting space is now somewhere where stuff gets hastily shoved for storage, or to dry!
I decided that April, that none of my expensive wooden tools were long for this world if they stayed out there, so into the living room they came, and they’ve been there ever since.
Now there IS an underlying structure to my mess. Most things not in use have a designated space, and I usually remember to put them back there when I’ve finished using them, but “finished using them” remains an elastic concept, and besides, I can only really put stuff away in the conservatory when it’s night time.
However, it turns out, that as a fellow Fibre Artist, you are much more welcome in other Fibre Artists home, if you precede your intention to descend with the stern instruction, “Don’t tidy up!” Through my British Guild, and through my adventures visiting Fibre Folk on my trips home to New Zealand, I learned that most Fibre Folk share similar issues, and I started to feel better about my place.
So my Guest? I did sufficient Anxiety Cleaning to find the pieces of paper work I needed to give her, at the same time discovering various useful items I hadn’t seen for a while, like my passport, my Engagement Ring, and my car Log Book, which was nice.
Then I sat her down at my new Majacraft Aura, and told her to have a go! She and her husband were so fascinated by it’s elegant simplicity, that they didn’t get a chance to notice the rest of the place, and the visit went swimmingly!
It was only when showing them out again that I realised what they had meant by “Well, we knew we had found the right place!” There, on the path, just in front of the door was a single, dyed Wensleydale Lock. Rumbled!
So, I’ve finally learned to invite people that I don’t know that well into my house with out a three day bout of Anxiety cleaning. Hell, if I really like you, I might even pick up the empty wine bottle!
This thin thread, Connecting us to past, to future, To clothing, to warmth, To Women, to spiders, To Spirit, to Fate, This thread is memory, magic, and life. An unbroken connection, To the Lady in the castle, The Shepherd in her croft, It is protection from the elements, Beauty, Sisterhood, and Love, This thin thread, This sacred Work.
I haven’t written a poem in years, much less published one, but this seemed to sum up so much of why I spin. Enjoy!
I am currently learning Saori Weaving, and am very much interested by Misao Jo and her concept of “Kansei”, by which she meant the significance of an intuitive sense of beauty inside all of us. (From her book, “Self Innovation through Free Weaving”, I bought mine here!)
It’s a wee bit like mindfulness, but to me it is more “in the moment” more spontaneous, less planned. It is something that flows, an instinctive, intuitive wellspring of creativity, where observation and learning occurs naturally and profoundly.
I find that Fibre Arts are, for me, the direct path into my “Kansei”, the thing that infallibly gets it flowing, that then inspires me to intuitively pick colours and shapes that look harmonious to me, and to train my fingers to arrange them in a way I find pleasing. When I do this, I create things that give me joy, and that seem to inspire joy in at least some other people.
And I want others to share that joy, that flow, that harmony and learning.
This is why I love to teach. Because EVERYONE has kansei, however deeply buried or differently expressed. My partner, a Programmer, expresses his through a beautifully crafted line of code that does what it is supposed to. I know people who express it through a perfectly brewed pot of tea, cakes, holding parties! But if fibre is the thing that pulls on your heartstings, I want to help you find it.
I love the look of combined joy, discovery, and concentration on the face of someone who has just learned a new fibre skill! I love to see the colours, shapes, and textures that flow from their own creative selves. I want to set that free in the world.
Up until now, this has been pretty informal, mostly among friends. I am a fairly new Fibre Artist, if a very experienced teacher. 25 years in Organisational Development has to be good for something, (apart from building up a Local Government Pension) and if I know it, I can teach it.
My goal continues to be earning some kind of a living from sharing my joy in Fibre, and something happened this weekend to convince me that actually, I really am good enough.
My friend Erin, came to stay to rehome one of my spinning wheels, so I gave her a couple of lessons. Now Erin IS a natural, she soaks things up like a sponge, and starts riffing on what you have taught, taking it beyond where you left off, as naturally as breathing. And there we were, her first lesson, and suddenly we were doing Supercoils, with lockspun yarn that she had spun. Because we connected with her Kansei!
I have also taught people who have struggled to learn. And been able to help them get enough skill, understanding and muscle memory to start that all important flow. Which means more lovely joyful fibre art out in the world.
So this is it! I am officially available for workshops, private coaching, crafty parties (with afternoon tea, for a small extra charge).
Contact me for fees, and availability. Mates rates and barter also a thing, especially among friends.