Friday, October 15, 2010

Here Be Weavers ... and Winners!

Early one Sunday morning late this past August, I looked out the back door and noticed a large spider web hung across the posts of the dock.  Always attracted to spider's weavings, I walked down there to get a closer look.  As I grew near to the edge of the pond, I gasped.  There were webs everywhere, all decorated with dew drops.  Webs in cattails, webs stretched across branches from one tree to another, dainty gossamers resting on the grass.  With the sun just coming over the tops of the trees, it was an amazing sight - sparkling strings of beads in every direction.

I ran back to the house for my camera and took advantage of the prime conditions to get some nice shots of the webs.  But the spiders' work provided more than just a visual treat. All the animal stories I read to my kids when they were small - The Wind in the Willows, Uncle Wiggley stories, Mother Westwind stories - have been permanently glued in my brain and have made it very easy for me to start constructing little tales from things I observe in nature.  So why on that particular Sunday morning in August were all our backyard spiders building spectacular webs at the very same time?  A spider celebration or holiday?  A weaving competition? (Who could weave the fastest?  The most artistic?  The finest thread?)  Or was it some sort of social gathering like we human fiber benders are so fond of, a spiders' weaving fling?  See what I mean?  What do you think was going on?  In any case, it was a remarkable way to begin a Sunday.

The photo above is one of my favorites from that morning, so I thought I'd use it to announce the winners of the pink yarn and fiber contest.  I used a random number generator to draw the winners.  The Louet Gems yarn goes to LizzieK8.  Barbara S is the winner of the soy silk roving.  Congratulations!  Please send me a PM so that I can get your prizes to you.  By the way, the comments on why we pursue our fiber arts gave me some ideas to consider.  There may be a follow up post on that subject sometime in the future.

To close this post, another weaving photo.  This is what's on my loom at home right now - another project inspired by nature.  My work can't match the spiders' exquisite creations but maybe they'll let me join in the fun anyhow.  Have some fiber fun of your own this weekend!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Something to Remember, Something to Celebrate

Pink flamingos in the heart of Missouri?  No, I'm not going to tell you I spotted these exotic creatures on my latest walk through the woods.  These flamingos live in the Animal Kingdom down near Orlando, Florida.  I snapped a few shots of them while visiting with my Mom recently.  But they're so festive, so pink that I thought they would be a great way to introduce this post.

October is a special month - Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  It's a time to remember  friends and loved ones who have been affected by this disease.  It's also a time to remember the importance of monthly self-exams and yearly mammograms.  Breast cancer strikes 1 in every 8 American women.  And it's not only women with a family history of breast cancer.  Even women with healthy lifestyles and no family history are affected.  This is not simply a public service announcement.  I'm a breast cancer survivor, have friends who are survivors, have lost a friend to it.  Chances are you have a friend or loved one who has confronted the disease, or are a survivor yourself.  It's a cause close to my heart.  So remember to take care of yourself and take care of your loved ones.  End of sermon.

This coming week, October 4 through 10 is also a special week - National Spinning and Weaving Week.  It's the time for all of us yarny types to celebrate our skills.  Although it's not included in the name, I like to think of this week as a celebration of all the fiber arts - knitting, crochet, feltmaking, dyeing, the works. 

I have been weaving for over 30 years now, fewer or more years for some of my other fiber skills.  In truth, not a day goes by that I don't weave, spin, knit, etc., or at the very least, think about my current projects.  I've been earning my living with my fiber skills for well over 20 years now.  And I'm still not bored or tired of any of it.  It's part of my life, as much as sleeping, eating, breathing.

What is it about these fiber activities that keep me so entangled in them?  The answer is multi-layered.  I've always enjoyed doing things with my hands.  The repetitive motions of knitting are soothing and familiar, especially after a busy or stressful day.  Spinning lovely fiber is meditation.  Throwing a shuttle to and fro, watching the cloth develop, listening to the clatter and thump of the loom - the physicality of these activities just does something good and postive inside - like a vitamin. Thinking about and then trying out color combinations or new designs is a satisfying creative exercise.

There's something else too.  Through all these years of fiber love, I've met the most inspiring, creative, wacky, sharing people.  Many of them have become my extended fiber family.  We share our successful projects and commiserate over and learn from failures.  Knowing all of these amazing people has been an unexpected, priceless gift.  I have a rainbow of memories that stretches across my life and into the future.  All thanks to messing about with yarn!

So to remember and celebrate these two events, I've decided to have a little fun and offer a fibery giveaway, actually 2 giveaways.   Here are the goodies.

First - 2 skeins (175 yds each) of Louet worsted weight Gems yarn.  Cuddly soft Merino wool in a petal pink.

Second - 2 ounces of soysilk roving which I dyed a deep pink, almost raspberry.

If you'd like to be entered in the drawing, leave a comment telling me what fiber craft (spinning, knitting, weaving, whatever) you do and why you do it.  I want to know what keeps others plying their yarn, creating their fiber rainbows, etc.  Also, let me know which prize you'd like.  You are welcome to enter both but I realize not everyone spins (yet) and so may not be interested in the soysilk.  I'll choose two winners in a random drawing on Friday, October 15 and will announce the winners over that weekend.

In the meantime, remember to do your bit to promote Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Celebrate and share the pleasures and rewards of the fiber arts.  The flamingos and I wish you good luck, good health, and a happy October!