This past week on OTR's FB fan page I asked what YOU might like to learn about me and my process. Here is what my lovely customer Bethany asked, "How did you start spinning? Family member teach you? What made you want to? Did you knit before you learned to spin? What do you get your inspirations from when dying?"
My fiber story began when I was 19. My Nana had taught me to knit when I was about 7, but it didn't really take over my life until my second year of college. The summer before I started my sophomore year my father was diagnosed with Leukemia. At the time I was trying to transfer schools after a not-so-stellar first year and couldn't afford to take a semester off.
I don't know exactly how it happened, but somehow I was reunited with the yarn and needles from my childhood. My Nana had been long gone and I didn't really have anyone to help me. I think I just found an old project buried away somewhere and started knitting. I remember sitting in my dorm room and knitting for hours. I don't think I even finished anything-I would just knit, then rip out, and then knit some more. My father passed away that March. Somehow, I had managed to make the dean's list and was able to transfer to another University at the end of the year. Knitting kept me from being totally swallowed up by that devastating time in my life.
Upon changing schools, I also changed my major. I began studying Art Education, Studio Art, and Art History at the University of Maine. I continued knitting all the time. I had baskets of yarn in my dorm rooms and apartments, I used to sit in bars and knit while drinking beer and listening to jam bands. During the summer I stayed around campus in order to keep my serving job and to take summer classes. On my days off I used to sit by myself by the river and knit until dark. I used to knit leg warmers, and hats-lots of hats. I had a long list of friends that wanted them! I used to knit in class and would work fiber into art projects as much as possible. I remember getting into quite the *debate* with my sculpture professor about whether or not knitting could be considered "art."
In my last semester (of my very drawn out college career), I decided that I really didn't want to be an Art Teacher. I went to my student advisory and told her that I didn't want to student teach and that I would rather find a way to knit for a living. I was so anxious when I went to talk with her! Part of me felt it might be a ridiculous decision, but I think the same force that drove me to knit all those years ago, pushed me to follow my desire. Thankfully, she did not laugh me out of her office. Just the opposite in fact, she had a friend who was a fiber artist and she literally picked up the phone and got me an internship making felt.
In 2004 I began working for Jodi Clayton of One Lupine Fiber Art making nuno felted silk scarves an accessories. It was at OL that I really fell in love with wool. Seeing the magic of felting, dyeing, and all the different fibers was literally mind blowing for me. I continued to work with Jodi for almost 4 years! She taught me so much about fiber and most importantly she showed me that you could do fiber art for a living!
In January of 2008 I began OnTheRound and was selling wool felt bangles on Etsy. I had quite a lot of success with my bangles, but after going through a holiday season I decided that I really needed to take a break from felting. I was tired of pruned fingers and I really wanted to re-focus on my love of knitting.
That same year, my husband bought me my first spinning wheel for Christmas. It was a total surprise and at the time I had absolutely NO idea how a spinning wheel even worked. It was an antique traditional wheel that needed some repair. With the help of my mother's boyfriend and The Joy of Spinning, I had that wheel up and running within a week!
All those piles of wool that had been reserved for felt bangles quickly became yarn. Now that I think about it, I haven't stopped spinning since that very first treadle! Spinning changed fiber for me, it changed knitting for me, and it has inspired me to fall completely in love with color. It's safe to say that they old spinning wheel my husband purchased for me, was the best Christmas present I've ever received!
I couldn't begin to count all the yarn that I have spun in the last 4 years, how many ounces of fiber I have dyed or hours I have spent sitting in my chair happily spinning away. All I know is that every day I wake up excited and ready to play with more fiber!
Thank you so much for your questions Bethany! Next week I will talk more about my woolies, where I get them and what I fibers I love the most!
Be well, stay positive!