This weekend I've managed to pull myself away from my sewing machine and Duchess Reigns to scratch several other itches that needed a bit of attention.
While I don't travel and teach very much, I do like to get in front of a class of real people at least once a year. Luckily this winter I was able to team up with Sew Much Fun in Gastonia, NC to teach a fun workshop on free motion quilting.
In the perspective of time and energy, teaching online definitely makes more sense to me. I love being able to make a video in 10 minutes that all of you - everyone in the whole world with an internet connection - can see and watch as many times as you like.
But there's a certain energy to teaching in front of a group of people that I just can't tap into alone in my basement studio. Questions fly fast and the instantaneous feedback is always a wonderful exchange.
I like to teach this way occasionally mostly to remind myself of what the major issues and questions are for beginners. It's easy to forget how tricky and intimidating free motion quilting can be and to remember what those earliest stitches felt like. Helping 23 people get started, breaking multiple feet, and talking through many families of designs was a great reminder of what is most important and essential to learning machine quilting.
But before you ask - no, I don't plan to do this more than once or twice a year, and never beyond NC. The main reason is simple: I need to be home making videos, making quilts, and loving my family. I will likely never be a traveling / teaching quilter because that lifestyle just doesn't sound like it would fit my life very well.
Being at home also let's me scratch other itchies that have cropped up lately. I've been dyeing and spinning wool all winter, mostly with no idea what I'm going to do with the finished yarn. Today I finished up this little UFO basket:
This is a little Clover basket form woven with yarn I first dyed, then spun, then plied, then wove through the form. Working on this little project I felt a bit like the Little Red Hen: I dyed the fiber and I spun the yarn and I wove the basket so it's MINE!
Once the glue is dry, this little project is going downstairs to hold my empty bobbins as they come out of the machine. It seems I'm always needing little baskets like this to organize my drawers and it's a wonderful project to highlight art yarn I'm enjoying spinning.
With spinning, I've had to learn a new way to create. So often I micromanage my projects with so much planning that everything has to be figured out before the project gets started. This works great with projects like Duchess Reigns, which needed all the questions answered before the project got started.
With spinning this would mean not spinning any yarn or dyeing fiber without first planning the project that is going to be woven, crocheted, or knitted from the resulting yarn.
But this gets tedious very quick. I don't love knitting or crochet like I love quilting and designing garments or even following patterns and getting good results has always been a struggle for me.
In the past few weeks I stopped spinning, mostly out of a desire to have a clear idea of what I'm going to do with all this yarn I'm creating.
Today I realized that this is a problem. I want to spin just to spin. If that means dyeing 10 ounces of wool blue with no clue what is going to happen to it, that's fine! If that means spinning up some yellow, orange, and red yarn with no planned scarf or sock project in line, that's okay too!
I believe more and more that being truly creative means scratching itches as they come, as you feel a desire to walk down that path or try that idea. I have to admit that I struggle with truly following my inspiration. It's hard for me to create with absolutely no plan and to trust that I will actually make that experiment make sense in the end.
But more and more I'm learning just to enjoy and appreciate whatever I'm craving. If I want to spin, it's not for the finished blue yarn, but to feel the raw wool slide through my fingers.
If I want to weave a basket, it might be for the end result that will hold my bobbins, but it might also be to see my pretty yarn find a home.
I guess the point of all this rambling is to find that place of acceptance of what you want and to actually be willing to act on it. Spin, quilt, paint, draw. Whatever you crave to do, do it.