Monday, March 17, 2014

A Year-Long Sweater...

 What goes in to making something?  Creativity? Satisfaction of a "job well done"? Skill? Yes, all these things and much, much more. 

I'm going to focus one year and the sweater I made from my own hand spun yarn. 

As a lot of good things, this particular venture started in October at the NY Sheep and Wool Festival AKA Rhinebeck. In 2012, I decided to purchase enough roving to spin yarn for a sweater. I wanted the sweater to be crocheted (because I love crocheting) and I wanted it to be done by the following year when I would attend the festival again.
Jill Draper, Cal Patch and myself.
For this, my first entire sweater made from my own hand spun, I needed a special tool. So, I paid a visit to the Willette's booth. The Willette's hand-make tools for creating textiles. They are beautiful. I believe in the resonance of the maker on an object, so I was starting this project with all the care and attention that this couple puts into making their tools. I was also using roving that had been grown by a wool grower - someone who cared for their sheep. The sheep's gift in return, a lovely fleece. The care it took to process and dye this roving was also imbued in the wool. A lot of hands had already been involved in the process of making this sweater and I had not even started my part yet!
Mr. Willette hard at work.
I returned home and the year went on. 

I started spinning in November…. My idea was to create a multi-coloured yarn that didn't repeat and had short sections of colour. I decided I would randomly spin the 5 colours of roving into my singles and then chain-ply them to retain the general look of changing colour repeats.

The winter went by and in addition to spinning for this sweater I was working on Holiday gifts and other stuff.

In April, my nephew Finn was born… I continued spinning with the joy of now having another little one in my life.
Proud Auntie!
In May, I started my third year of school (the "hump-year" for the OHS program) and I spent a lot of time over the next several months spinning, sampling, dyeing and writing in preparation for handing in my homework. I took a break from my personal spinning at this point. But, it was there, a few skeins and a nearly full bobbin. I saw it and I ruminated and my skills improved because of school.

June was a big month. I got a chance to go to the beautiful province of Newfoundland. It was for Boomer's 40th birthday - a milestone in itself. In addition to the beauty of the east coast of Canada, I was struck by how wonderfully supported crafts people are in the province. I got to visit many studios and galleries and was greatly inspired.

This inspiration was tempered with grief as news of the passing of a close friend. I now was working on this project in reflection of his life and how the loss affected those left behind. It became more meditative and less intentional.

July brought a huge life change - Boomer and I purchased a house! I never thought this would be possible in my life. The thing that struck me most about the house was the room that has become my studio. Spinning in the bright sun coming in the windows and listening to the sounds of our new neighbourhood was refreshing and healing after the loss of the month before.

Early in September was a chance to say, "Cheerio" to my friend with some wonderful people in my life. We celebrated his life by taking a Scottish themed cruise around Toronto on a tall ship and letting some origami cranes float away. This would have been close to my friend's heart and we were able to grieve and celebrate. By now, I was finished making all the yarn I needed and was ready to swatch.

In mid-September I was lucky enough to attend the Wolfe Island Fibre Festival with my friend Andie of Well Turned Out Fibre House who was selling her hand-dyed and processed fibre. I started crocheting in the autumn sun surrounded by "fibre people".
Shadows on the beach of Wolfe Island.

Here we are back to October 2013. I finished my Violaine just in time to wear to Rhinebeck.
Some fun puppet friends at Rhinebeck 2013.
So, you see… A lot goes into each step of making something. Joy, sorrow, reflection, planning, pride. All of these emotions and factors are reflected in the spinning and in the stitches. The yarn isn't perfect and there are things I would do differently next time. However, the alchemy and memory of everything that happened over that year will remain in the fabric of this sweater. And, every time I look at it, feel it, or wear it, I'm reminded of how it grew to become what it is. It may not be visible to others, but to me, it's all there - in every last stitch.

1 comment:

  1. Your sweater has an awesome story! This is the reason why I love handmade things- they all have unique story and energy. Lovely photos!