Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Fair Question (pun intended:)

So a coworker saw me sitting in the store one day working furiously to meet a deadline.  I have been a bit out of touch this month because I was writing a state grant for promotional dollars for the 2nd Annual Scotts Bluff Valley Fiber Arts Fair.  The grant really has taken every bit of my "extra" time at work and at home and my Type A personality really doesn't allow me much in the way of room for error or C+ work.  Nope.  Guess I'd rather go for the A+ and put in twice as many hours as I probably needed to...

Fair Planning Committee
Cher Maybee (Barn Anew Bed and Breakfast) and I last Oct. at the fair
Not pictured, Peggy Wells, Brown Sheep Co.

Anyway, my coworker asked me why was I putting myself through the stress of all of this (the fair planning, the grant writing, the meetings, the coordinating, and on  and on...)  She wanted to genuinely understand because this is a voluntary activity and she knows how busy I am already.  We had visited in the past about how I was trying find a balance between all of it and that I was having to choose carefully the parts of this industry that I want to be involved in the most, because I couldn't do them all, nor would I want to try.  She simply didn't see the point of the fiber fair if it was going to be that much work.

I sat back in my chair for a minute and took a very long, deep breath.  It was a fair question.  I wanted to give an honest answer.  It didn't take long before I smiled and said something like "Well, because it makes me feel good to know that I was instrumental in creating something that touches so many people's lives in so many different ways."

She sat down and asked me what I meant..."In what ways does it touch people's lives?"  Well at that point I gave her a rather detailed list of what I thought and felt.  And I'll share all of that with you as we go along this year planning the next fair.

But in the meantime... 

I'd like to hear from you.  Why?  Because I thought it would be helpful, valuable, and inspirational for those that have not been touched by the bug, the knitting or crocheting, weaving, spinning, felting and so on bug, to hear from those that have! 

Have you been to a fiber fair or festival?  Did you get to go to the Scotts Bluff Valley Fiber Arts Fair last October at FARM?  What was your experience(s)?  Are you planning on going this year?  What are you most looking forward to?  How does being involved in fiber art touch your life?  Your partner's life?  Your children?  You get the idea...And if you are involved in other art mediums or creative endeavors, please share your thoughts! 

I will be offering a class at Prairie Arts Studio beginning March 20th called Mindful Knitting.  You can read more about it to the right under Current Class Schedule (March/April 2010 PAS Classes).  I want to understand from each of your perspectives how creativity enhances your world.  These are just some of the things we will be exploring in that class.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Tough Love

I know, strange title for a New Year's Day post.  But it's the phrase that has been running through my brain all week and that's what I'm going with! When you think of tough love you probably think of some difficult scenario between a parent and a teenage child, right?  Where the parent is having to create boundaries and limitations that in the long run will be best for the child.  And even though the child doesn't "get it" at the moment, hopefully they will, some day in the future.

I have learned that there are many, many different circumstances in which tough love needs to be applied, and as always, I relate my lessons somehow to knitting.  What am I talking about?  Well, a new year, a new decade, a blue moon last night...good energy....and all of these things seemed like a great reason to apply a little tough love on myself in the form of stash busting.  Yes, stash busting.  For those of you that understand what I mean when I say stash busting, well you probably should keep reading! ;)  Maybe you'll relate.  If that term makes no sense to you whatsoever , well, hang in there.  I'll try to explain.

In my basement is a spare room with a very small walk-in closet that is referred to as the yoga/knitting/exercise/storage room...aka Mom's Space.  Yes, it's a catchall for many things, but mostly it contains my ever growing supply of yarn and knitting projects, aka my STASH.  You might think that this stash of yarn began to appear since I have been employed with Brown Sheep Co.  Nope.  Not true.  I have been moving a considerable size stash from home to home for the last 20 yrs. (And I have moved a lot)  We box it up, move it to the new house, unpack it, and there it is. Yarn in all colors, weights, textures, fiber content and so on.  A veritable yarn "store" that any knitter would love to "shop!" 

Now I DO actually knit from my stash, I really do!  It isn't as if I just buy yarn for decoration, because of course that would make me seem a bit uh, well, crazy, right?  Ok, so I confess, I do just like the yarn around me in all it's beautiful, soft, colorful glory.  But that's another topic for another day.  The real problem lies with the different yarns that I have kept for many years, but know for a fact I will probably never knit. It could be some wacky colorway that at the time seemed like it might be perfect for something or another.  It could be that it is a synthetic fiber that looked pretty on the shelf, but feels, for lack of a better term, "icky" in my hands and therefore no fun to work with.  Well, whatever the reason, the point is that it needs to go!  (and I know this makes me sound like a "yarn snob", but please stay with harm intended here...I just spend so much of my waking life knitting that I feel I should use materials that really make me excited to pick up my needles, and so should you, by the way!;)

Getting really honest with myself about the type of fiber I enjoy knitting, the type of needles that feel best in my hands, the patterns that challenge me, the types of things I really like to create and use, the people that truly appreciate a hand knit gift versus those that don't, are all things that I have identified over the years and come to know about myself as a knitter.  And knowing myself is the first step in my tough love program I am beginning this year.

It was time to get real, and that's just what I did.  I went through each and every single skein or ball of yarn carefully feeling it, examining it, and deciding whether I would ever truly get around to using it.  And then I began making three piles.  One was the "give-away" pile.  One was the "keeper, but no particular plan", pile; you know, the "just love this fiber" pile and want to do something with it, but not sure what?  And the third was the "planned projects pile" where I have a pattern or a planned design for that yarn.

To my surprise, the "give away" pile was huge!  I was amazed at what I was willing to part with in fact.  I admit that I do throw many things away easily, but not yarn.  No, it's serious business to me. :)  And so that I wouldn't be able to change my mind, I quickly made a couple of phone calls and came up with an idea for who might really appreciate that yarn.  And before you know it, I had put a very big smile on my face and on the face of someone else.  Nice feeling.  My tough love program seemed to be getting off to a great start.

And as the days passed, thoughts were floating around in my head about all the areas of my life that seem cluttered...and it's not what you think.  Oh yes, there's always going to be a closet to clean out or a stack of papers to go through, or boxes to unpack.  Who cares.  I have perpetual piles and I've learned that's just life.  I let myself off the hook on that stuff a while ago. 

No, what I was really thinking about was how many times in one day I wish for more time because my life just seemed cluttered up with busy-ness.  I want  "extra" that I won't feel so that I can get a few more things done...etc.  You get the picture.  But then I realized that wasn't really what I needed either.  No matter what I do, I am not going to be able to change the amount of hours in the day, period.  Ok, so not such a huge revelation I know, but what was a revelation was how my knitting, once again, was providing me with something more than "just knitting."

Whatever your particular beliefs are about why you are here and what you are supposed to be "doing" with your life, I believe there are some basic universal truths for all of us and here's a few of them I hope you might give some thought to:

Do what you love, do what you have to, to be happy in this life, and understand that we're not meant to be here forever...we are supposed to be getting something from our experiences, but it's not all good keep moving forward, take it easy on yourself...stop trying to figure out a way to make the days 30 hrs long instead of 24.  Start tuning in to yourself and what really turns you on.  Seriously.  The past is done.  Over.  Move on.  Fill your days with people that you love, people that inspire you, people that challenge you.  Fill your days with art and creative processes that leave you satisfied and feeling "full".  Stop hanging on to every thing that is a "have to", and start embracing the really, really "want tos".  That's a way to get more out of the time you do have, right?  Try to make your outside match your inside.  Walk your talk.

In other words, time is too precious to spend it knitting with yarn you hate, just because it was on sale and you bought ten of them, or using needles that don't feel warm and comfortable in your hands.  Why keep working on that sweater in that particular color of orange when every time you look at it you feel a little twinge in the pit of your stomach that tells you that you will NEVER wear that sweater.  Just stop.  Spend a little energy on figuring out what you really want to do with your time and then do it.

All of a sudden it seems like the day just got a little bit longer and the air a little bit sweeter.  Stash busting, as it turns out, was good for my soul.  Get a little tough love going in your life and make new beginnings.

These are my intentions and I'm putting them out there.  Let's stay in touch on this, shall we?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Happy New Year...peace, out.