It is a frightening time. We are all being asked to isolate for the good of us all and news headlines are popping up minute by minute with terrifying new updates. Those of us who work with fiber have some fantastic resources at hand and we can use these to combat the stress of the global Covid-19 crisis, fill some of the hours and boredom that might come with the need to practice social distancing and isolate, and give us some pure joy on days when we need it.
One thing I have needed desperately as the news changes and unfolds day to day is comfort knitting which I can pay little attention to, but will be pleasant to hand and relaxing. I chose to begin a new top down raglan sleeve sweater in handspun Corriedale cross yarn. Two ply. This is from a fleece I got last spring from Strawberry Ridge Farm and which I had processed into roving at Rach-Al-Paca fiber mill. It was a complete joy to spin (and i have several lbs of roving left, which is a wonderful thing) and It makes a wonderful yarn to touch. Sturdy yet pleasant against my skin and wonderful to knit with. This has been my go to at night when we watch the news or episodes of Poirot, something to keep my hands occupied and it also lets me enjoy the feel of the yarn.
Sometimes we need to focus, to take our minds off of worry and fear and this is where a project that takes all your attention can be useful. A friend of mine is making a new reed to use when she weaves with her backstrap loom. This takes incredible precision and attention and I admire her skill so much. I am spinning singles for weaving. This makes me pay much closer attention to what I am doing as I want a smooth even yarn and so need to pay extra attention to my drafting. My standard default yarn is mostly spun with much less attention but for weft I want to make sure my yarn is as good as I can make it. This attention grounds me and that helps so much to focus my mind on what I am doing, leaving no thinking space for worry. When I am spinning this yarn I am focused on the fiber source, the drafting, the grist, the feel of the wool as it passes through my hands. It is an active meditation. I am spinning Border Leicester from a fleece I purchased from Kate Larson several years ago. I dyed the fleece with various natural dyes and will use it as singles for warp.
For pure joy I have a plan to dig into my stash and pull out the treasures I have been hoarding like Smaug and his stash of gold. The braids of fiber whose colors make my heart sing, the blends that feel like air against my fingers. Right now I am not sure what I will grab first, it could be the box of silk I have been hoarding, or the indie braids that are so pretty to look at, or perhaps some of the special camel or cashmere blends I have tucked away. If there ever was a time to break something out that we have been saving 'For that special day' or 'Just in Case' this is it.'
For those of use who are able, this can be the time to support our fiber small business and teachers by purchasing that pattern we have looked and looked at, or place an order for that hemp or alpaca or fleece that has always looked intriguing. With festivals being canceled we can use our privilege to both add spice to our fiber life and support those whose livelihoods are so endangered.