Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pacing myself.

Boy, I almost wanted to post this yesterday too, but then where would we be today?  I think I'll like this "save as draft" option.  When I have ideas, I've got to get them down, because heaven knows there are other days when the well is dry.

More pictures!

There's nothing like the last minute to keep a promise to one's self.  This blog started out with much grander plans...it began as its very own domain, which was going to be the beginning of my World Fiber Domination Project.  I paid for the domain name for a year, and not only never posted a blog entry, I did nothing along the lines of world domination.  Well, I take that back:  my art teacher buddy drew up some wicked cool logos (one of which you see in the sidebar), and my media specialist buddy scanned them into the computer and burned them to disc for me.  Beyond that...not so much.  But the idea that I could make my own small mark on the fiber world didn't leave my head.  Custom knitting?  Nope.  Too many hours for decent compensation.  Pattern design?  Not likely.  I can whack together my own socks and such, and even do a good basic sweater or vest, but I'm not nimble enough mathematically to resize patters.  (Nor am I patient enough, really.)  Handspinning?  That still has possibilities; when I first started ruminating on this, my spinning was w-a-a-a-y too...um....shall we say, inconsistent for me to feel confident selling it.  And I had a kitten who liked to chew up the drive band on my wheel.  Dyeing?  Hmmm, that sounded good.  But really, I know I don't have the eye for color combinations that you see in the best dyers out there.  So if I were to dye, it would be solids and/or semisolids, not only because it's probably safest for my talents, but also because I don't think there's a lot of solids out there.  The run has definitely been on handpaints and multicolors for a while, and there's a lot of good ones available.   But I like plain socks too, and I've read pleas from other knitters for some less adventurous hand-dyes.

But why would I pull out the ol' Country Classics if all I was going to get was yarn that looked like any other commercial stuff?  Bo-ring.   I thought back to a class I didn't take at the John C. Campbell Folk School a couple years ago, but was able to observe a wee bit...natural dyeing.  (I was learning how to play the banjo instead.  What a trade-off.)  I had the chance to see the indigo-dyed yarn come out of the pot.  It was magic, and I vowed to try it somehow, some day. Two years later I said oh hell, and ordered a beginner's kit from Earth Guild.  I had just enough white yarn in my stash to try the cochineal first.  That's all it took.  Well, it took a little more than that because of some *ahem* situations in the spring, but for all intents and purposes, I knew that THAT was what I wanted to play with.

Natural dyeing, while generally predictable (indigo is going to give you blue, not orange), is by and large, a crapshoot.  Onion skins won't give you blue, but will you ever get the same yellow from different batches of onion skins?  Not likely.  And that's what I love about it.  I love the little surprise in every pot, and I love that if I don't love the surprise, I can overdye it and probably make it all better.   I haven't done any dyeing since summer, partly because of work, and partly because it's, like, WINTER up here and the yarn would freeze before it dried on the back porch.  There's also the question of space:  my apartment is small.  VERY small.  I've sold or given away much of the furniture I brought with me when my marriage ended.  I've even drastically reduced Le Stashe.  There isn't space for unnecessary or unused things here, and that includes yarn that I don't have time to knit.  Besides, I can dye yarn a hell of a lot faster than I can knit or even weave it.

So the obvious next step in World Fiber Domination would be, then, to sell the stuff.  Etsy?  Meh...my photography skillz aren't that mad.   Farmer's market?  Still a possibility for next summer.  Try to sell it on Ravelry?  Didn't appeal.  It's only taken me another six months to ask the owner of my delightful local yarn store, Wooly Minded, if she would possibly give me some space to sell my yarn on consignment.  And she said yes.

Today, a dear friend and I walked those two baskets down to the shop, and Jean (the owner) oohed and ahhed over the colors and made me blush by saying she might just take it all home herself and knit it up.  I am very pleased with the colors I have.  I'm looking forward to trying more.   I need to source more undyed yarn, and think my next step is to get a wholesaler's license (or whatever that piece of paper is called that will let me buy from wholesalers).  I suppose I should consider something with taxes too, though I certainly won't be making bucketsful of money for a while.

But, as a wiser mind than I said once, a promise made is a debt unpaid, and I sure do feel like I've started to repay myself today.

Does three days make this a habit?

It comes as no surprise to me that I feel more inclined to write when I'm well-rested.  Somehow, we ended up with two full weeks off for Winter Recess (fka Christmas Vacation) again this year, plus we had a snow day on the final Friday before its official beginning.  Last week, as loyal readers (all three of you) will remember, I was anxious and upset, but I was sleeping better.  I've been sleeping better and better, but my work days are pushing the 12-hour mark.  There's my regular school day, then three days a week I teach private studio lessons for another two hours or so.  Mondays and Fridays are then for all the other weekday errands that may need to be done.   So creativity takes a serious backburner during the week, and I often end up using Saturday and Sunday to recover.  Don't get me wrong; I love teaching.  It's been a good place for me.  But as time goes on, I realize that it takes a lot out of me, and uses a lot of my creative mojo.  That wasn't a problem until a few years ago, when I realized there was an alternative.  (I should have started blogging then; now I have a lot of catching up to do.  Oh well, more blog fodder.)  How I manage to balance (or not) this quandry remains to be seen.

So, good sleep and restful days allow my brain to expand, I think.  I'm not the first one to understand that creativity can be linked to mental quiet, I'm quite sure.  I'm also quite sure that the opposite is true for many other people.  Perhaps for others, creativity leads to mental quiet.  But for me, after ten months of serious mental disquiet, well...I'll choose this path.  Now if only I can get someone to pay my rent while I get all nice and quiet.

And now for something completely different:  I'm going to attempt to not only add photos to this post, but to put them where I want.  Bear with me...


Hey, not bad! This is, of course, the mountain dulcimer I mentioned in the other day's post, the one Dad gave me for Christmas. Isn't she beautiful? She doesn't have a name yet, but she is definitely a "she." "Stella" is a possibility. Suggestions are happily accepted.  

Monday, December 29, 2008

Here's a crazy thought.

So, what if I blogged more than once every three months?  Would it be productive, useful, entertaining?  There is a constant story line running through my head, and being an elementary school music teacher, I get plenty of material there in addition to the existential blather in constant rotation upstairs.  Does it matter if anyone else reads it, as long as I enjoy doing it?  Will it lead to a book contract?  (C'mon, admit it, fellow bloggers...you read the big ones too, you've seen the trajectory...don't tell me it hasn't crossed your mind at least once.)

I know one thing I need to let go of, both on the blog and in life on the outside, is the outcome.  For someone who is dedicated to process in her classroom, and how it leads to satisfying product, I am not nearly as patient with myself in that regard.  Perhaps that will be the lesson here: to just do something for the discipline of doing it (well, and the enjoyment of it, too...see my header, after all) and not be worried about what it leads to.  Unless it seems to lead to axe murderers arriving on my doorstep, really.

Let's see what happens.  If I can dedicate myself to reducing the number of plastic shopping bags I use by remembering my cloth ones, and to buying free-trade sugar more often,  then I can dedicate myself to this.  I think.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas in a nutshell.

Christmas is not an easy time of year for me, and I'm not sure I've actually enjoyed it for several years.  My family is spread out and different parts of it choose not to speak to other parts of it, while I still speak to all parts of it.  It was even more exciting when I had in-laws to figure in as well.  Also, after two years of hopping on a Boxing Day plane to go to a winter contradance festival, I did not do that this year.  The jury is still out (in my brain, at least) if it would have been better to go and face the asshole there who turned my life upside-down, or if it was better that I stay away until I feel like I can visit there without turning into Mount Vesuvius when I lay eyes upon him again (which is bound to happen, it's a small town).  I figure that at least I'm pretty sure I wouldn't start bawling when I see him (which is good), but I can not guarantee that I would remain civil.  And that's important to me.  I mean, I wouldn't search him out to give him a piece of my mind, but like I said, it's a small town and many people know what happened.  They already know he's a jerk.  I'd like to remain the one who isn't a jerk.

Anyway.  Yeah, Christmas.  So the week leading up to the Big Day has been especially anxiety-ridden this year, but the actual Big Day was very pleasant.  Gifts were received with honest gratitude; I helped Middlest Nephew assemble a light saber (a first for both of us), and the weather relaxed so that driving back and forth to my sister's was uneventful.  I was supposed to go up to my dad's the night before Christmas Eve and stay over, but the weather hadn't relaxed yet.  So we put it off til Friday, which didn't work either.  And that's how we arrived at today's trip.

My dad loves to give gifts, and is always on the lookout for things he finds interesting.  So sometimes his gifts are...well...a bit of a hodge-podge.  Always meant-well, never offensive, just sorta weird sometimes.  

So today, after a two-hour drive where, halfway through, the temperature dropped twenty degrees and the wind picked up to the point that it nearly blew me off my feet (no kidding) and Dad had texted to say, "Don't come, it really isn't safe" (which I didn't get, as I was driving with my hands clamped to the wheel), I arrived at the farm where I grew up, and we exchanged our gifts.

There was, indeed, the interesting assortment of little things, but this year, Dad also decided to give me my birthday present (as my birthday is in February, and he gets excited about presents and didn't want to wait).  So he handed me a long corduroy bag...with a beautiful new mountain dulcimer in it.  There is a fellow in the next town over that makes them.  We saw him at a country-fair type event earlier this fall, so I knew how lovely they were to look at, and how sweet they sounded too.

Dad picked out a lovely hourglass-shaped body of mostly curly maple, with stars for soundholes.  It matches the endrails on my hammered dulcimer.  It is the most personal gift I think I've ever received from him.

*happy sigh*  Dad really does pay attention.