Thursday, January 28, 2010

Why Whine about Winter?

You know, a lot of people complain about the winter weather. Especially in Maine. I admit, I do my fair share of it. And I look forward with great enthusiasm to the advent of spring. I love to see the forsythia forcing buds on unusually warm winter days, or the willow tree developing a haze of yellow as their buds tease us with a hope of warmer days ahead.
But I have to admit I like the cold weather. I'm a hibernator of sorts. I love hour long afternaps, letting the book I'm reading drop out of my hands as I doze off. I can remember late afternoon at work when I would have given a full day's wages for a cat nap. And I even like having a legitimate excuse, It's too stormy out, I'll have to stay in, to work long hours as a practicing fiber artist. The mesmeric work of knitting and spinning is so suited to short sleepy winter days.

I consider myself lucky to be able to share my fiber projects with a passionate group of handcrafters here in Washington. We are a core group of 7 or 8 who get together weekly to knit, crochet, spin, weave, hook rugs, sew, sketch, whatever. The creative output is inspiring. Kathy's hooked rugs, Sue's imaginative recycling of felted woolens into purses, etuis, and more. And of course shared culinary tidbits eg. Carol's meringue cookies. I tried to justify these as the protein requirement (they are practically all egg white) for my breakfast, but I think the sugar content negates any legitimacy to that claim. Even for me that would be a stretch.

Kate's weaving. What can I say about that tea towel. I hope no wet or dirty dish ever comes face to face with that piece of art work. I totally embrace the whole Bauhaus thing--form follows function, etc. but this.....calling it a towel doesn't do it justice.

Karen's sculptural knit bird houses modeled after swallows nests are intriguing. She's acting as a mentor/collaborator with a 12-year old student on this project. Amazing! I can't wait to see it on exhibit.

Janet is not only one of the most prolific crocheters I know, she amazed me by learning to spin on a wheel in about 1 week (before Christmas) so she could hand card then spin sheep's wool blended with fur from her Keshon dog into yarn for a scarf for her daughter & granddaughter. I highly doubted, when I was coaching her, that she could master the skills to spin that stuff and the make the scarves. Before the holidays? Good luck. But I re-visited one of life's lessons with new emphasis, Never underestimate the resolve of fiber artists. Pull it off she did. Skillfully. We bartered fresh eggs from her chickens for spinning lessons, and I'm still repeating the rewards of that exchange. Plus, stories of her chickens, neighbor's marauding dogs, coyote kills with photographic evidence hold me rapt with both awe and frightful amazement. I am horrified by these tales, yet can't wait to hear more.
And then there's Yvonne. The quiet one in our group. But boy does she know alot about goats. Her male goats--"bucks" she calls them--recently won a New England or Northeastern award for something like best in show. The cashmere she brushes from her goats spins up into the most luscious fiber. I have yet to spin this stuff of my fiber dreams. I value it like fiber gold and am a little hesitant to get it near my wheel. I bought a Golding drop spindle at the MOFGA Fair last September specially balanced for fine fiber spinning like cashmere and quiviut, thinking that would move me forward, but, as yet, I am still lacking the confidence to try it. Another day perhaps for cashmere.

Right now I'm making potholders. Yup, potholders. Just like when I was 8 years old. Same old chipped red metal loom. Same type of cotton potholder loops. But the colors are scrumptious. And the results are, well, very functional. A nod to the Bauhaus.