This is one of those many-thoughts sorts of posts. On one hand, I want to talk about SpinQuest and how amazing it was. On the other, I’m finding myself being thoughtful about Threeravens and what our image/style is, and how that makes me feel. Even after all these years, I find soul-searching and re-evaluation is always a good and fruitful thing, and this weekend and the after-effects have really yielded me some things to ponder, in a GOOD way.
I stumbled into fiber arts – or should I say “re-stumbled” into, as I used to crochet as a kid but wandered away – when my stepfather passed away, almost 9 years ago. It was a comfort for me, and also a way to keep myself immersed in something useful, pretty, tactile, and creative. I needed it so badly, I walked into a shop and bought yarn and needles without any plan beyond going online to teach myself knitting, and immediately started cranking out knit stitch simplicities.
This was before Etsy, before I was selling things online outside of my website, before I discovered the joys of an online crafting community. I was making natural bath and body items and being a DJ and working at Hot Topic… and knitting with friends. I knew there was more of the fiber arts world out there, but it wasn’t until I moved to NC and got a spindle and fiber that I was meant to be a spinner. Blame it on loneliness and a need for more self-soothing, mixed with my endless need to learn new skills, I guess – but when I picked up a spindle, I knew I was HOME. That was what I’d been meant to do.
My spinning started invading every aspect of my life, and I realized that it had become more defining to me than my herbal products were. For a while, my Etsy shop had both items living side-by-side, but it just wasn’t feeling right to me. Plus, I was looking to change my allegiance from one community to another… of course, while still loving all the inter-related communities I’d been a part of previously. So I slowly moved out the bath salts and oils and herbal dream pillows, and I moved in all my handspun yarn, a few felted and knitted pieces, and then my fiber. It was a good transition, and I still go back to the herbalism for moth protection, good smells, and keeping calm. 😉
It’s always been interesting for me to try and integrate my nutty, music-loving, rule-breaking persona with a career in the more “natural” arts. I’ve found that fiber arts has worked really well for me in that regard, because once I discovered that there are MANY people out there like me, who want loud colors and fun textures in their yarn and fiber, I felt like I’d really made the right choice. I’m just not a natural tones and perfectly smooth sort of girl! Not that there’s a thing in the world wrong with those types of yarns/fibers/projects – but they don’t fit who I am, and I would feel like a fraud selling those to people. My products reflect who I am.
HOWEVER. Here’s the confusing part: I am a rock and roller who loves the countryside as well as the city. I am a lover of loud color who wears all black. I relate to street art, and to well-worn antiques. They all have their places, and sometimes those places include hanging out together. So my goal for an image, a style, a “brand” for Threeravens? It’s to integrate these things seamlessly and happily. I used to use a graffiti font for my packaging for a reason – I loved the dichotomy of such an ancient art, something taken for granted for so long as a utilitarian task, next to the representation of a modern, edgy, and controversial art form. THAT is me, in a nutshell!
When I am at a learning/teaching event like SpinQuest, it’s not always a strict fiber art that is my lesson from the day. I did manage to learn how to spin fabric over a yarn core, thanks to Pam Blasko – yay! But the thoughts that were triggered the most for me from the day were more about Community [big surprise there] and my style – both what I think it is, and what other people see. This had been on my mind for a while, probably since I opened the Studio up to be a shop, too… but refining things is a slow process, always. Rob and I had talked about how I have this punk rock attitude, with a happy-go-lucky persona, mixed with a DIY ethic and a love for nice wood and bright color. That’s starting to show in the items we carry; I love the Big Tools that Rob makes, and the displays he’s made for the shop, too. The natural woods show off the brightly colored fibers so well.
And that’s what I think the push will be – to integrate displays that match our tools, and show off the yarns and fibers to their best ability. We are still DIY, but it’s a DIY with more skill as we improve at this “owning a shop” thing! Go us!
That realization was a HUGE bonus from SpinQuest, but the best part of the day was teaching, learning from those around me, making new friends, *spinning in public!*, helping the vendors to get set up, and hanging out with some of my best buds in the fiber arts community for a weekend. [SO AWESOME]
It was also so fulfilling to watch the students create such beautiful works of art in yarn form during the day. There was an exercise that directed everyone to use a work of art to draw spinning inspiration from [shown in the first set of pics above], and I was blown away by how GOOD everyone was at capturing their inspiration. That was worth the trip, right there.
So! In summation: SpinQuest was amazing, I can’t wait for next year, and I truly think it’s one of the best smaller East Coast events that’s happening and growing. AND: I have grown and changed as an artist, fiber person, and shop owner, and I’m glad that it’s starting to show more in how I present myself, too. Change! It’s what’s cookin’!