Sunday, March 18, 2018

Slogging Along

I began the year with a new project; to spin, weave, and sew a shirt from cotton to wear at Convergence 2018. Ambitious, but achievable, this is going to push me out of comfort zones, and allow me to finally accomplish a lifelong dream of making a shirt from scratch.
I am spinning Sally Fox's naturally colored cotton in green and brown and white. I purchased a pound of each from her years ago before I realized quite how much a lb of cotton will spin up.
As you can see, gorgeous colors of cotton and they will end up woven into a Tattersall plaid of  narrow lines of brown and green on white. I am excited for this. I have the pattern (my friend Sara recommended it).
 It is so much fun to spin and dream and think of the fabric I will be making and the next one and the next one. This fun, however, does not stick around and now I am at the point where the spinning is a slog. I still have about 2500 yards left to spin (of two ply) to reach the 8000 yards estimate I will need. The problem is, I am tired of spinning cotton and I am tired of spinning for this project. I know I will LOVE making and wearing a garment from scratch. I know the weaving will be fun because I always love seeing cloth build up on the loom. I know I am improving my cotton spinning, and spinning in general, because of the the time I am putting into this. All of those things are wonderful, but in the end, it has become work, a chore, a slog, to get through the spinning.

I think this is a good thing, however. Sometimes working through a project is not always fun, but putting in the time and the effort and pushing through when it gets difficult is what makes a project valuable. It will take me at least 100 hours to spin and ply the yarn for this shirt, and that surprised me. Even though, intellectually, I knew that it takes a great deal of time to make a garment I was surprised by what it FEELS like to put in that time. It makes me think of our ancestors who, until that last three centuries or so, would have had to make everything from cloth that was handspun. What a tremendous amount of time and effort went into every scrap of cloth and no wonder it was valuable, stored and displayed as wealth, carefully mended and patched and cut down and refitted and recycled and used until literally it fell apart or rotted. It is a valuable reminder to me, in this world of disposable fashion and cheap clothing, to step back and remind myself that while there may not be as many hours of work in a garment, there is still the work of people who are most likely being exploited, the resources that went into processing the fiber and dyeing it and transporting around the world the various parts that make up a garment. Textiles are so easy to take for granted, but the slog reminds me that they take work and resources.


Charlene said...

Beautiful yarn. I admire your challenge for yourself and will enjoy seeing your process.

fibergal said...

Wonderful yarns and a great plan. You have my deep admiration.

Meg said...

Good morning, Devin. I haven't checked your blog in a while and I LOVE this entry. Everything you describe about your excitement at one end of the scale to the slog at the other end, and your observations about how precious and important hand-made textiles (ANYTHING hand made!) are illustrate for us all what it's like to take on something new, to learn something, and to remain focused enough to finish it. When I'm tired in a long spinning project, I opt for audio books. It feels a little easier to keep spinning with P. D. James or Jane Austen speaking to me (I know, my tastes are, um, "eclectic"), or the story of the race for the south pole is unfolding. It doesn't distract me as much as music, which affects my treadling rate, and I can still concentrate on the yarn while hearing the story. This project is going to be even more successful than your beautiful Jacob blanket. Really enjoy the blog and your articles in Spin Off. Keep up the good work.

Devin said...

Thank you!! Audiobooks are a lifesaver and i often will listen to the Amelia Peabody mysteries, about a late victorian lady egyptologist and hysterically funny at points!

Meg said...

Amelia Peabody? I'll look for those! I could use a good laugh, and who can resist a Victorian Egyptologist? Sometime if you want something to blog about, I'd love to see more details about the scarf you wove from your natural dye experiments. It looks wonderful, and I wonder if it's from the CorrieX fiber you mention in your entry about natural dyes. Speaking of Corriedale crosses, thanks very much for your mention in Spin Off of Strawberry Ridge Farm. I haven't yet achieved a fleece, but I just wrote to them and asked them when they'll post this year's list and I'm determined to get something. Last year I was just too late. said...

Hi...I just read your article in the Spin-Off Fall 2018! What a well thought out piece! You are very articular and a joy to read.

I must comment about slogging along. I completely sympathize with you and understand your dilemma. I have done production spinning, mostly in the 18 years I have been spinning. Audio books are fantastic and keep boredom from seeing in. AND you meet new authors you wouldn't normally come across any other way. Just try to focus on what you are doing but perhaps try to spin something else in between. Boredom may be kept at bay. Perhaps another color or fiber.

I really liked how you contemplated the process in an era that required spinning in order to clothe and keep oneself and family warm. When we truly sit and contemplate this process, it seems daunting. We would be running around almost naked!!

You brought up a great point in Your Spin-Off article regarding today's ever-changing world. Especially how you brought up continuity and cohesiveness in your spinning world. Life, I think, needs a place to land and grow. Constant change and upheavals puts so much more stress on our bodies and minds. Without those roots, life becomes way too chaotic!!!

Thank you for being to my attention without even knowing you did, some pretty profound thoughts. Good Bless you..and keep up the wonderful work of spinning!!! Can't wait to see your finished product!!!

Teri said...

I'm assuming someone has told you, but the green cotton will fade if it's left out in the light (before you finish it by washing it.) The brown doesn't seem as affected, but I keep all mine in a bin to be on the safe side. It darkens when washed and will be stable then.