Valentine’s Day Field Trip!

This field trip had nothing to do with Valentine’s Day, other than I wanted to go, and Bob came with me. He’s a real trooper and a keeper. ❤ Are you ready for a treat? We went to Ohio Valley Natural Fibers!

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I have a Coopworth fleece I bought at Great Lakes Fiber Show many years ago. It is still dirty, stewing in its lanolin in a box.

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I think it’s pretty, though.

I did hand wash, card, spin, dye, and knit a small amount of it (just to say I did it). I kind of lost interest after that. It’s a big job! A job for professionals. So we took a little day trip about two hours south to Sardinia, Ohio.

The rooms were filled with gorgeous old equipment. It was like a step back in time.

The picker is from the 1880s, and the carding machines are from around 1916. The belts are made from buffalo hide! When they need parts, they ask the local Amish to make them, because everything on these machines is irreplaceable. I know they look like antiques, and they are, but Richard, the gentleman who gave us the tour, fired one up for us!

Here is the web, which is divided into what looks like yarn, but is actually tiny rovings, which are then plied.

This yarn is 3ply, as you can see if you look carefully. The machine is from post WWII, and was also used for plying parachute cord for the Vietnam War.

After plying, it can be wound onto cones. This machine is from the 1960s.

The yarn can also be put up into hanks. They don’t have a date on this machine, but Richard thinks it may be from the 18th century!

Here he is telling us how it works.

So we left my fleece and in 8-12 weeks I will have some nice clean batts ready to spin! I don’t have enough fiber for a yarn order. And, unfortunately, I sold my spinning wheel during the great studio purge. I am thinking about getting a new drop spindle. I was never very good at it, and it might be time to pick it up again. (Honestly, I was never very good at the spinning wheel, either, but I did make some beautiful thick and thin yarn.)

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Here is Diane, the owner and a local sheep farmer, with two hanks of yarn from her own Icelandic sheep. I bought these two, and they might be perfect to make the new West Highland Way design! Talk about synchronicity! I will swatch it and see how it knits up. Now I wish I had bought another hank, but I could order it and ask them to pop it in the mail to me.

We had such a wonderful time, and want to thank Richard, Diane, Sean, and Renicia for showing us around and starting up machines for us. I particularly enjoyed Sean showing us all the different kinds of fiber people asked them to process, like husky, cat, and elk!

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After the tour, Bob and I had a nice lunch at La Cascada and a little hike at Rocky Fork State Park, which was beautiful.

I hope you have a nice Valentine’s Day, if you celebrate! If not, Happy Wednesday!

Art is a Bitch

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Bob and I went to see the Cindy Sherman exhibit at the Wexner yesterday. Cindy Sherman was my favorite artist in college. I was a photographer (degree is BA in Visual Arts Studio, Emphasis Photography) so of course she was a huge influence on me. Seeing the Film Stills in person made me feel nostalgic, but I enjoyed being introduced to her new work as we moved through the exhibit. She is still one of my favorite artists.

I wondered if her work had influenced any of my fiber art. Then I thought of this piece.

The Watcher

This is “Watcher,” and as you can see, she is basically a vulva. I think this piece shows Cindy Sherman’s influence, but also my own experience as a woman. It’s funny that I called her “Watcher,” don’t you think? Shouldn’t she be the one who is being looked at? But she’s looking back. She’s also cornered by her sex, and other than her defensive gaze, she is helpless.

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I haven’t completely given up on art making. I started this piece about a year ago, when another artist who collected my work said to me, “You are one of my favorite artists. You have to keep making art!” He actually gave me this copper plumber’s wire, so I was making this piece for him as a way to try to get inspired to keep making art. I am going to refocus on it, and spend a little time with it today.

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In the spirit of trying something new during the 12 days, I tried crocheting wire in the round – basically a crocheted i-cord. When I knit i-cord with wire, the join is never as tight and consistent as I want it to be. I thought if I crocheted it, I might be able to make a more fluid join. As you can see, I struggled reading the stitches and maintaining any kind of consistency. I ended up with a tiny bird’s nest, gave up, and let the cat play with it.

It did remind me, though, how difficult it is with wire knitting (and crochet too, I guess) during the early stages of the project. It’s like being a pioneer, or cutting your way through the jungle with a machete. You have to keep doing what you started, and keep going, until the fabric starts to form itself. If you give up too early, you end up with a tiny mess, wad it up, and throw it across the room! (Maybe that’s just me.)

I haven’t made any art since 2014 because I felt like I didn’t have anything to say, and I stopped participating in group shows with deadlines — which was, at the time, the only way I could get motivated to make anything. But we watched a video about Cindy Sherman before we went to the exhibit, and it showed her process. She doesn’t start out with something to say. She experiments and eventually the work comes out, which is pretty much how my figurative knit works were created when I started experimenting with stainless silk thread. So maybe I need to keep experimenting?

Are you a process or product oriented knitter/artist? I think I may be both?

A Look Back

I thought the best way to move forward would be to look back. In 2009, I began knitting and showing art. Although I haven’t made art or knit much of anything the past few years, I’m still proud of this work, and I don’t want to forget this important and prolific time. I’ve selected some of my favorite works to share here.