January: diving deep in 2018, creating growth

2018 was greeted quietly here at Three Ravens Studio.

 

It started before the New Year, really. After all the holiday shows were happily wrapped up, everything slowed down. Although this is an introspective and sometimes melancholy time of the year for many, I love it for those reasons. I love digging in, covering up with warm clothes and fibery goodies with a steaming cup of herbal tea or coffee heavy with cream, ready to go over the year that was and get planning for the year to come.

The thing that I most regret missing out on during this down time was SPINNING!

With the wild fluctuation in weather from normal winter temps to pretty low for us and back again… repeatedly… my skin freaked the heck out. I have supremely dry skin generally anyway, and it is sensitive to climate changes. So the cold, dry air did a number on my hands [and face and feet, but I don’t spin with my those… usually] and I couldn’t bear to touch any fiber at all. Everything caught and pulled and snagged and HURT on all those terribly rough, chapped, cracking places.

[btw – I can’t recommend Hey Thanks Herbal Co’s Hard Working Hands salve more highly, y’all. It healed me up sooooo good and it’s made Baltimore-local from organic and wildcrafted ingredients. Tell her I sent you.]

 

 

Those gnarled branches look just like tangled threads, don’t they? That’s been my metaphor for most of 2017 into 2018 – looking at the way the threads entangle, deciding where to unsnarl and when to just let the beauty of the interlacing and overlapping strands be what it is. Sometimes you can loosen knots by shaking the snarl, you know… and sometimes you just end up pulling everything tighter. And occasionally? Even though you can pull apart the snarls, it’s best to leave them locked together in their own ways.

Seriously, it’s been a year of learning for me!

One of the things I’ve struggled with is finding the right direction and definitions for myself and what I do. I’m an artist, a writer, a creative spirit, a pagan, a rebel, a mentor, a community builder, a teacher… None of these are at odds, but some work better for me at supporting me in life, and others merely bring joy, at least so far. I’m a strong proponent of Doing What You Love as much as humanly possible, with the understanding that sometimes the world doesn’t care if what you want to do doesn’t cover the bills and you have to compromise…  ugh.

I know for SURE that I don’t want to make “supplies” – I want to make things that inspire others to create fiber arts. And then I want to show them how to make those dreams of creation possible. I am best and most successful when I’m teaching and using my creative energy and out-of-the-box philosophy to lead and inspire. So you’ll be seeing more yarn and fiber from me, but in very different sorts of terms: as vehicles for kicking your ideas into high gear, for exploration, for pure fiber arts joy. It’s time for me to stop pretending that I’ll ever be the person you go to for a sweater’s worth of yarn, and instead take up the mantle of who I have always really been: the rebel who leads you down the alley to the secret club of discovery. Rrar!

 

One way that I plan to do that is to dive into the past, into the primitive, to bring forth what I can learn from those who started this journey for us. That includes exploring some things like nålbinding and using ancient rope-making techniques to add to my knowledge base. Here’s what Caitlin Ffrench did recently, which hugely inspires me:

 

 

Doesn’t that remind you of some of the yarns I’ve previously created? I love the thick texture and variance in color! It immediately made me think of Weathered Wall, which doesn’t look exactly the same but definitely has some of the same feel. I see more of these yarns in my future – I want this texture in my hands.

 

 

So what will I be creating in 2018?

Going back to *why* I’ve been so intent on figuring out my direction for the future – being unable to work because of my trashed hands… I am remembering also that resting, downtime, reassessment – that’s crucial for creative types. My Artist in Residence position suffered from my hands being damaged, as I could only think about process, not actually achieve any. But my ideas were off the charts with exciting possibilities, and now that I’ve had this downtime I am full of the creative energy needed to fulfill my obligations without feeling obligated, so to speak! In other words… I am sooooo ready to get to work again. In fact, that’s what I’ve quietly been doing behind the scenes this week, recording video of the final processes and taking photos so that I can construct my demo/tutorial for Fiberygoodness.

The photo of me at the Majacraft Aura is from the first session of work. I like the pensive quality of the photo, which I took while checking light levels in my room. This is my bedroom, which also serves as one of my workplaces. I love the light in there, and when I have the curtains open, I see and hear the local birds as they visit outside. My other workspace is what I lovingly call “The Fiber Pit” because it’s my working studio in the basement – much darker and colder but with a lot more room for fiber processing!

Look for a video for my creation of a fibery vessel representing the element of Earth soon. I’ll make sure to get you a link here as soon as it posts!

So let me ask you: do you find that the holiday season through January to be a time of deep diving for you? Do you find yourself creating, or reassessing? I would love to hear how you spend this cold time of year!