There have been some very interesting thoughts circling around in my mind recently about my making. Some of it may have to do with the ‘Slow Clothing’ movement, which has been steadily gaining momentum. I have come across many posts on Instagram about clothing purchased or made in the spirit of slow fashion, particularly in relation to ‘staples’ one needs in one’s wardrobe. This constant chatter that I’ve been encountering has had me reflecting on not only my clothing choices, which I’ve spoken about prior, but more so on my creative life, and particularly the tools and speed at which I make.
TurtleMade 3-D printed turkish spindle in opaque cinnamon and opaque dark gold (arms), translucent brown (shaft).
Due to my formal university education, training and early mentorship in my chosen career (trauma nursing), I was fostered to be able to move quickly, with purpose, confidence and efficiency. A few members of my family often comment on how ‘quickly’ I can ‘get things done’ and previously I have thought this to be a good thing. While blasting through the house work seems to me to be a good thing still, I am beginning to think that this same approach to creating and making is maaaaybe not the most ideal. I have often talked at length with my husband about ‘production’ spinning. The implication here is speed. Churning out a product. I mentioned about this dance between process and product last week but the thoughts have continued to percolate into more questions:
In the process of making yarn, what is most important for me? I have had a difficult time answering this question. Do I want to make yarn to knit into projects for practical use? Is making yarn in-and-of-itself enough of a project or goal?
Quickly churning out skein after skein for the soul purpose of knitting something doesn’t seem to fuel my creativity in quite the same way that spinning for the sake of spinning, creating a yarn with an appropriate tool for the yarn I wish to create, and performing the actions of spinning itself does. Slowly, the process of making yarn becomes less and less about creating a finished object. It begins to morph into a series of actions and ideas to begin to add twist to fibre to create a yarn.
A Houndesign [now retired] supported spindle in Santos Rosewood and Birch.
My choice of tools and fibre preparation are beginning to change in this process of slowing down. I am no longer interested in ‘production’ or ‘auto-pilot’ tools. If my intention is to spin mindfully, fully engaged in the process, then removing the choice seems self-defeating. My thoughts surrounding my fibre involves creating preparations that I am interested in spinning, engaging in the dyeing process as needed and re-tooling when the yarn isn’t working. This thoughtful process seems to be derailed for me when I then sit down (or stand, as with the Hansen miniSpinner on my kitchen counter) at the wheel and blast through my fibre, making yarn, as quickly as I can.
There seems to be a disconnect here. Thoughtful fibre preparation, time to sample and reflect on the yarn I’d like to make … followed by blast through the spinning as fast as possible. Just get it done. This product-driven mentality is related to my efficiency and purpose in tasks. I may not be the best housekeeper but gosh-darn-it, I can get our house clean to fast when I set my mind to it! See a sweater I love on Ravelry? It’ll be done in two weeks. Maybe three. Seems to diminish the creative and meditative quality of my work, me thinks!
TurtleMade 3-D printed turkish spindle in translucent brown and opaque dark blue (arms), opaque light gold (shaft). Naturally dyed Romney carded, broken down into nests.
This is the pitfall for me: There is always another project waiting to spin, cast on and finish. There is always another bit of fibre to be used up in another project. Many in our society spend much of their time thinking and planning for the future: Dreaming and scheming about tomorrow, next week, next year. While I am excited for the future and the things tomorrow will bring, I have begun to sit in the Now. Here. This moment.
Now when Norah asks, “Up please,” while I am chopping carrots for dinner, I stop what I’m doing in the moment now. Carrots can wait. We have a cuddle, some kisses and chatter a little about nothing. She wants down and toddles off. I continue with the carrots and dinner is delayed … what? 5 minutes?
Those singles I’ve been spinning forever and day? The colours are lovely to look at on the bobbin sitting on my mantle. I need to finish them so that I can ply. I will. Eventually, when I am feeling inspired and excited to work on that project again. Right now, I want to make bouncy, low twist yarn on a spindle. A slow, meditative process of flick, draft, wind on, flick, draft, wind on, flick …
I’m not completely sure what has turned this ‘switch’ ON for me in my creative process. Could it be a comfort with my creating that I am less and less concerned with having a final product to show for myself and the time I spend creating? Maybe it’s an understanding within myself that what satisfies my creative spirit is actually the action of making something, rather than the something itself? It’s both.
So, I’m slowing down. Using tools that are intentionally ‘slower’ and take more time. Participating in my own fibre prep and dyeing, learning my spindles that until now have collected dust, and minimizing the ‘production’ spinning. It’s been a wonderful experience thus far. In the meantime, I’ll leave the quick, purpose-driven nurse at work, where she belongs and thrives.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about your creative process? Is it fast? Slow? Somewhere in the middle? How do you find balance in your making?