and then there was yarn

The yarn ate my homework.

Mardi's beautiful handspun for the prayer flag project

(That’s my excuse for it being several days since my last post. Never be ashamed of having to resort to The Classics, I always say.)

Houston, We Have Crocuses

I think it is really interesting how there are patches of crocuses (croci?) all over our yard, and yet it is THIS patch which is the first to bloom, every year.

Winter has been fighting with spring all week long. For a day or half day, spring will get the upper hand, and we’ll have glorious blue skies and sunshine. Then winter will get cranky (because let’s face it, that’s what winter does best) and wants some attention and we have sleet or that four-letter-word s-n-o-w.

However: I know it’s spring, because Mama Dove is back on the nest, getting ready for babies. She flew onto the porch last Wednesday morning, looked around, hopped up into the nest, and proceeded to houseclean with determination.

Babies, ho!

Making and Writing

There are two loves in my life (well, three, if you count Nicholas!): Writing and crafting. The two are inextricably intertwined for me; however, I find it challenging to be truly productive in both at the same time, within the same day. I seem to go back and forth between the two, immersing myself into the land of Making for a few days or a week (and not blogging nor writing much of anything), and then sitting for days at the computer, tap-tap-tapping away at the keyboard, without Making much of anything at all.

It’s an interesting rhythm. It does allow me to focus on one sort of creating at a time; it allows me to delve deeply into a project or a particular bit of writing and to spend time thinking, refining, sculpting what I am doing. But from the outside, I imagine it looks erratic and inconsistent. For a while, I blog two or three times a week; then, like this week, I don’t blog for an entire seven days.

This makes me feel as though I am a Bad Blogger. I’m not following the Rules, the Common Wisdom that says if you don’t blog regularly/frequently, then your readers will desert you and you won’t get new readers and you will grow a wart with a long, thick, shiny black hair right in the middle of your chin.

(Maybe YOUR wart hair will be grey or yellow or red. Everyone’s different. I’m quite certain that mine will be black and shiny. I’ll be able to see myself in that damn wart hair.)

During those seven days of non-blogging, however…whoa. I did a ton of paperwork, I sewed, I knitted, I designed, I spun. I also cleaned house and did yardwork, all because, for a few days, I gave myself permission to be offline, to not write, to just live life.

Maybe the reason I seesaw back and forth is that I don’t have the right balance of writing and crafting in my life to begin with. I keep circling around and around this idea of balance, like a bug circling a drain…OK, maybe not like that. How about like a hummingbird circling the petals of a sweet, juicy flower…I know the nectar is in there, if I could only figure out the best approach.

One thing I have been trying lately that I like is doing a bit of crafting first thing when I get up. Usually, I dress/shower, come downstairs, make coffee or tea, and head straight for the Internet, where I work and play for several hours before thinking about getting up off my butt to go Make Something.

The past couple of weeks, I’ve been taking my coffee/tea mug over to the spinning wheel, or the sewing table, or the loom. I’m not a morning person, so the gentle, familiar rhythms help me to coax my thoughts out of hiding, to warm up my brain and body, to limber up my creativity a bit before I face the entire online world.

It’s been great, taking a wee break. The question is, how to keep the good part of that, the More Making, and yet tear myself away from yarn and fibre to sit down and write about yarn and fibre, to share this crafty life that is so enriching? How do I keep both words and craft flowing, without one blocking the way of the other?

I sense that I’m at least asking the right question, even if I don’t have an answer.

Sewing with handspun

When I got back from my teaching gig, I went over to my sewing table to pick up the blue dress again…only to find that one of the cats had left a little wet prezzie on the dress for me. (Ewww.) Said cat obviously wanted to be completely clear about how he/she felt on the subject of Mom Being Away From Home.

While the dress is in the wash, I have been working hard on the Secret Project again. Remember this gorgeous handwoven fabric, made complete of donated handspun yarns?

I finished seaming the Whatever It Is; that led to several happy minutes at the ironing board steaming the fabric and pressing the seam allowances open. I say “happy” because I secretly (well, OK, not so secretly, now that I’ve told all of you!) love the steaming and pressing part of sewing. I love how pressing something you’ve just sewn somehow makes everything look AMAZING. It’s as if all the threads just magically fall into place at the touch of a hot iron.

I’m now basting on the trim. Working with handspun/handwoven fabric is a bit unnerving, because it’s so precious, and so irreplaceable. I know I have this much trim, and no more; I know that even if I needed more trim, and quickly wove up more myself, it wouldn’t be the same as this lovely trim woven out of the handspun gifts of dozens of people.

The interesting bit about this project has been the way it forces me to do all sorts of different crafting to achieve a single goal. Since I’m using handspun sewing thread, I stitch until the thread runs out…and then I have to make more. I just spent the past two days spinning a few dozen yards of another batch of 2-ply itsy-bitsy silk thread; it’s currently hanging to dry in the kitchen.

click to see itsy-bitsyness

Spinning sewing thread…who knew? Spinning the ultra-fine singles isn’t the challenging part; the challenge comes whenever I have to wrangle or wind or ply the lighter-than-air singles. They are pretty high-twist, in order to hold up to the friction and pull of sewing; this means that they constantly want to fold back upon themselves and make little tails which are impossible to untwist. In my mind, I can see Abby smiling that wicked little half-smile of hers: “I’m telling ya, it’s all about tension management.” I think she’s right; if I can figure out how to put “just enough” tension on the singles during the plying process, I might be able to conquer the curly tails problem.

You’ll notice I am not showing what the Secret Item is; I’m still showing only close-ups or bits and pieces. It’s still a secret. But we’re getting closer to the Big Reveal.

Till then, I have the Furry Guardians to help me protect the secret’s, uh…secrets. 🙂

Today’s Chispas

Beyond Cute: Baby bear cubs snorgle baby tiger cub.

Food for thought: What sort of schedule works for you?

Wacky: Everything in this online store.

About sandi

Knitter. Spinner. Quilter. UFO Wrangler. Sometime bead artist and weaver. Two toddler-age kittens, 1 permakitten, 2 grownup cats, 1 beloved dog angel, 1 spouse, 1 crazy life. I suppose that the 5 cats make me 1 crazy cat lady; OTOH, apparently, yes, I do need that much feline supervision.
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12 Responses to and then there was yarn

  1. Heather says:

    Welcome back to the blog – we missed you. I totally get the trying to find balance thing as I’ve been struggling with the same thing lately. *Hugs*


  2. Mardi says:

    I guess my question is, in what way is blogging not “real life”, especially when one is a professional blogger?? is work not our real life? If I went to a boring office job just so I could eat, I would likely say no. But since I go to rehearsals so I can eat, I have to feel they are part of real life, even though I am not engaging in an independent, enjoyable experience or task. I’m not being very coherent…but you get the idea. I know we feel that we blog “about” life, but the act of writing is making something too, as you have so eloquently described…


  3. shamelesstwist says:

    Sandi, you’re inspiring me to disconnect & remember what life is about; living outside the screen. Much love, my friend.


  4. Pat says:

    Hi Sandi,
    Glad to read this weeks blog. Don’t think you need to worry about losing readers. What you share after a creative spurt is far to interesting . We know that you are up to some creative endeavour that you will share with us.
    Aren’t cats wonderfully subtle when they want us to know that they aren’t happy with us? Mine do recreational vomiting. YUCK!
    A friend and I have been gifted a “mutt/rommeny” fleece that we have been processeing. The owner has kept the sheep for pets but hasn’t done anything with the fiber so this is straight from the field – so to speak. Lots of work but fun. When I have spun yarn – that really looks like yarn – I plan to send some for the flag project. I have about a yard that could possibily be used. The rest can only be described as interesting.
    My friend has already spun enough to make a pair of gloves that feel wonderful when you put them on. I’ll get there.
    Can’t wait to see what the tidbits of fabric are. 😦 it’s not nice to tease your friends this way!
    Enjoy the Spring weather!
    Pat aka westies


  5. Laura says:

    Balance. Such an easy term, such an impossible concept. I’m playing with that idea of maker’s and manager’s schedules in one of your last links. Fascinating stuff.
    Hope you’re enjoying your making. It looks like it. 🙂


  6. molly says:

    sandi, we don’t read your blog because it’s here every day, we’re reading it because you’ve posted it. you’re sharing your creativity, triumphs, disasters and cat-horches with us. i think that makes us friends! and i think that means that we can be patient whilst you craft at something that you can blog at us later, eh?
    give the kitties an ear-scritch for me – they are very good guardians of the ‘secret’!


  7. Kate says:

    Such deep comments here. I just want to say you’re not the only one who loves the steaming and pressing part.


  8. cal says:

    and i just want to say, i am SPEECHLESS!!! spinning sewing thread? didn’t know it was even possible… wow.


  9. Sandi,

    My life is writing. I’ve eleven books published over the past thirteen years. I’ve learned to give myself permission to steep. Like tea, I’ve learned that the good thoughts take time. Surprisingly, I’m most creative when I give myself permission to fully live life. Plot solutions come on the bike. Character ideas come during artist dates. Your writing is about the process of making things. You must make in order to write about making. Of course we must aspire to accomplish, like number of blogs per month. But the best stuff comes slowly, when we are in the process of doing other things, when our mind is distracted. I give you permission my friend. Live life, and for the writer, the writing will come!


  10. Seanna Lea says:

    Honestly, inconsistent blogging doesn’t bother me in the least (I can be pretty inconsistent myself), because I added most of the blogs I read to ereaders so I would see when a post happened without that almost nagging habit of going to a site each day to check.

    I love your handspun fabric. I have a loom and it needs some love and attention. I should pull it out and finish the piece that is on it, so I can try something like this (only no handspun thread for me).


  11. The enlarged close-up of the handspun blue sewing thread against the handspun woven goodness makes my heart speed up. I could dwell in that photo happily for a long time. Can only imagine how touching that fabric must feel. Even through all the pixels translating its image to me, I can see the layers and layers of love.


  12. Becky G says:

    Well, dearest Sandi…. me thinks your rhythm sounds an awful lot like breathing… breath in, breath out. Blessings


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