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0 In Insight

We’re puttin’ it on wax – it’s the new style

Spinquest 2013 booth
Spinquest 2013 booth

My small and cozy booth at SpinQuest 2013! Photo thanks to 222 Handspun 🙂

 

 

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.  😉

 

Some of the highlights of Spinquest. Most pics by Melissa Yoder Ricks of Wild Hare Fiber Studio.

Some of the highlights of Spinquest. Most pics by Melissa Yoder Ricks of Wild Hare Fiber Studio.

 

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!

 

More SpinQuest fun! My table, one of Rob's new painted spindles with yarn spun by friend Becky Graham, and my beginner students who kicked all sorts of spinning butt!

More SpinQuest fun! My table, one of Rob’s new painted spindles with yarn spun by friend Becky Graham, and my beginner students who kicked all sorts of spinning butt!

 

 

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.

 

The new ladder display that Rob's made for the shop. Look at that fiber!

The new ladder display that Rob’s made for the shop. Look at that fiber!

 

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’!

Spinning in Public in the Square at Front Royal

Spinning in Public in the Square at Front Royal

Getting my teachin' on!

Getting my teachin’ on!

 

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