I was reading on a friend's blog the other day about the importance of lifelong learning. Having just decided to make at least part of my living from textile arts it is something I have been thinking about quite a lot recently. It would be quite easy for me to decide that I need to start making money as quickly as possible and to churn out a whole load of sock and mitten patterns as fast as I can -sticking to what I know. On the other hand the textile world is moving so fast that we are swamped with so many patterns and things to do with our time that I don't believe I will continue to have enough to offer unless I seriously invest time in developing my skills.
Over the last few months I have been conscious of this but have been working in a rather haphazard, opportunistic way. I'm thinking that I probably need to be a little more structured. Atfer all, my whole working life has had a structure around it - one I might not have particularly liked, but a structure nonetheless. I have a feeling that now I am working in a different way, with only myelf to answer to I need to create my own structures or I am liable to spend my mornings in my dressing gown watching Jeremy Kyle and sitting up until 4 in the morning just to finish off that design idea....
What I think I would like to do is to sign up for a structured course of study on something relevant to the textile arts so if anyone has taken a course that they have found worthwhile I'd be really grateful if you would mention it in the comments.
In the meantime I thought I would show you some of the things I have been learning recently. I have been very lucky in joining the Mid Hertfordshire Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers who are a wonderful group of very knowledgeable people who are very keen to share their skills with lots of hands on sessions. With their support I have used a spinning wheel in public for the first time, at the Living Crafts Show at Hatfield House in May and have become a lot more confident in working from raw fleece.
Here is some Corriedale, Shetland,Merino cross from Woolfest a couple of years ago which I washed by bunging a few handfuls in a lingerie bag and putting in hot water and washing up liquid.
The locks have prettily bleached tips and plenty of crimp.
I opened them up with a flick carder and spun and plied them on a drop spindle.
This is the finished result - some bouncy soft yarn perfect for mittens, cowls and hats.
The thing that particularly appealed to me abut this way of approaching a fleece was that by taking a small amount at a time, putting it in a bag with a flick carder, a couple of drop spindles, a nostepinne and a small niddy noddy I had a portable spinning project where I could take the washed locks all the way to finished yarn.
Enthused by this I also got my hands on some very pretty merino shetland in a grey with white tips. Above are the washed locks and below is how they look after a few flicks with the carder.
The fibre is very easy to spin and produces a lovely heathered grey single.
What new skill have you learned today?