The Project, including The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook and Handspinning Rare Wools
In 2007, I got caught up in The Project, which was supposed to be a comparatively concise effort, completed by August 2008, and has so far grown to require almost four years and has resulted in the upcoming publication of The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook, co-written with Carol Ekarius. I hope and believe the book will delight and inform other members of the textile community as much as the research, fiber processing, spinning, and writing required to bring it into being have supplied me with insight and increased knowledge.
And then there is the set of DVDs for Interweave, Handspinning Rare Wools. Plus teaching a few workshops on general breed-specific and rare-breed wools.
Well, I could undertake a certificate program (see part 1 of this sequence of posts). That would mean choosing not to write the next book I have in mind; perhaps not teaching workshops on wools, rare and otherwise; and likely not editing and producing publications that present other people’s discoveries and support the creative growth of the textile community as a whole.
It would mean I’d need to at least temporarily abandon the exploration of sheep and of wool and of other fibers that truly fascinate me (to complete the initial parts of the certification process). Yes, some of what I know already and want to learn might feed into the in-depth study portion of a certificate program, but I would need to jump through a lot of hoops before I got to that point.
I’m not willing to do that.
When I have read through the requirements of the COE program in its past iterations (the specifications have been revised a number of times over the years, and I don’t have a current set), I can already check off the majority of the experiences, although I would undoubtedly have to do them again in order to submit materials for evaluation. I would also need to pay more attention to my spinning in order to produce skeins of the consistency required for evaluation, something I’m loathe to do because it would require me to give up the adventures that have, for example, allowed me to produce the yarn samples for The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook, some of which (even though they were all produced in a rush) hint at the possibility that I might have the concentration and skill necessary to complete a COE in handspinning. (Or would I get a COE in weaving? Or do a certificate program in spinning through an organization other than HGA? Or complete a TKGA Master Knitter sequence? Is there a certificate in other types of fiber manipulation, one that would let me further explore nalbinding, luceting, bobbin lace, braiding, and tatting?)
Most especially, there at least one book that I want to be researching and writing next.
A digression about something I’ve learned from yoga
I’ve been spinning for more than thirty-five years. I’ve been doing yoga almost as long. I take yoga classes now and again, and at one point, when I was studying with an excellent local instructor, I realized that I had “given” my practice to her. I was no longer doing it at home for my own pleasure. I was waiting for her to tell me what to do, and for her to correct me.
Because my personal, daily practice is vitally important to me, I quit attending the classes and reclaimed responsibility for my own yoga. Without question, I learned a great deal from that teacher and have incorporated valued elements of what she taught into what I do on my own. I also do continue to support my practice by taking occasional weekend workshops—if I’m lucky and if time, money, and location all coincide, as often as once a year—from people I particularly want to study with.
Despite all these years of yoga, I have never had more than a passing interest in teaching it myself, any more than I have been compelled to earn a Certificate of Excellence. The thought comes; the thought goes. I want to keep these aspects of my life for myself, not give them away, as I do with so much else.
End of the yoga digression
Because I am so curious about fibers, particularly wools and most especially about all aspects of the sheep who grow rare wools, my own spinning will likely never reach the levels of proficiency and consistency that I have admired in the work of others. (It’s also a bit daunting to have been in regular contact for many years with yarns by folks like Stephenie Gaustad, Charles Black, Sara Lamb, Rita Buchanan, and Kaye Collins.)
I love spinning, and I love working with the yarns I make. I don’t care if they are totally consistent. I can count twists and measure angles, and that type of information makes it easier for everyone to communicate details about spinning through media such as print and the internet. In my personal life, I choose not to count and measure very much. The yarns I produce make me happy. The process of spinning delights me. That’s enough.
If I’m going to give in many and deep ways to the textile community, as it seems I am wired to do pretty much regardless of personal cost, I’d rather do so in a way that is both unique to me and, in my opinion, most effective and meaningful. My way seems to be through writing, researching, and supporting overall creativity in others. Not by earning a Certificate of Excellence in anything, as enjoyable and personally satisfying as that might be.
In my opinion, the sheep and their wools need a dedicated advocate more than I need a Certificate of Excellence, even if my concentration in earning such a credential did happen to focus on rare fibers.
So no, I won’t be going there.
Stay tuned here for more information on where I will be going. Some of it I can talk about in the very near future. Other parts need to stay tucked away for a while. I do always aim to achieve excellence, although I’m going to need to forego the certificate part.
My editing, coaching, and publishing work is not all about textiles
P.S. As part of earning a living, I also edit books on non-textile subjects. As with the books mentioned in part 2, some of the works highlighted below were staff projects, although most have been done on a freelance basis. My roles have varied widely. Sometimes I’ve just gotten the writer past a stuck spot; a few involved simple manuscript processing and copyediting; and on others I’ve guided the process from initial idea to completed book.
I think that’s more than enough for now. I’ve been knitting a bit, and have some photos to share. Spinning in scraps of time, too, and need to take pictures of that. The knitting and spinning are for the delight of it, and to keep myself moderately sane.