Friday, July 21, 2006

In The Zone

What is it about getting into your craft that feels so good? Getting into the groove of spinning, knitting, sewing, woodcarving, drawing, painting, whatever you might do. What is it that makes the rest of the world fall away and leave just you and your art?

Lat night I got into that zone. I dug around in the fiber stash and pulled out some alpaca(?) roving and threw on a fresh bobbin and went at it. I only had a few ounces, 2 at most, so I was spinning fine to get some length out of it (I've also been on a laceweight thing lately) and Little Boy was sleeping and that squeak on the treadle got going in rhythm, and next thing I knew it was dark out and I had a core on the bobbin of some of the finest spinning, even and smooth.

I've never spun that nice and fine before. Was it the groove? Was it the roving? Was it my mood? The roving had tangles in it where one of the cats had played with it once. (Why DO cats love roving but leave uncombed, uncarded fleece in any stage of dirt or clean all alone??) I had all the wrong ratios going, I thought, and I thought I was spinning too tight. I looked this morning, and though I haven't plied it yet, it's so fine and smooth and regular, I can hardly believe I did it myself in the almost dark living room.

I used to find that zone all the time. I would disappear into my sewing room and create period clothing with tiny, immaculate handstitching. I would get into the zone when building new patterns. I would even get there when sewing 50 hand-made buttonholes in wool coats. Embroidery really send me there, with the shading and stitching. Cross-stitch, not so much. Looking at a chart breaks it for me, sometimes. Why can I get there while running around a sewing room, but not when looking up at a chart? I have no idea.

I was discussing craft-ADD with the proprieter of my local embroidery shop, Island Needlework Studio, where I've been shopping since she opened some years ago. How we bounce from project to project, even craft to craft on an irregular basis. Isn't that why we all so have many WIPs? I have them in just about every art/craft I do. I don't do it with my dayjob so much, but then again, it changes rapidly enough to keep me from getting bored. I'm always getting some new sample type, some bizarre analysis that needs to be done, a change in project assignment, some interruption, a power outage, a broken instrument, whatever. I keep busy and two days in a row are seldom the same. It's in my hobbies that I flutter about like a butterfly with ADD in a botanical garden. Try this, attempt that, get something going and work madly on it for a few months, get something half done, move on to another art altogether leaving the detritus of the last one scattered about my living spaces. Looking through my bins of materials and supplies is like an archaeological expedition into the history of my fiber obsessions. Some short-lived, some longer.

The weird thing about it is that all these fiber obsessions seem to be retained. Even if I walk away and totally abandon it, I always come back. I come back because in my explorations through the other facets of fiber I find something else I could try, and say "Cool!" and I go back, beacuse I want to try that new idea. And once I open that can of fiber worms, I can't seem to put it away again.

This whole cycle happens over and over again, and has been since I first learned to sew (age 2), knit (6), embroider (6), crochet (8), weave (10), and spin (24). I have bouncing around, ideas floating back and forth, building with the years and the building knowledge of history and textiles. It happens on a timescale of years. I've been on a knitting kick since grad school, when the fellow I was dating at the time wanted a Dr. Who-like scarf in black but couldn't find one to buy. It overlapped with the final years of the 20-year obsession with Elizabethan dress, which meant a stint into stockings, of course.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this. I think I'm frustrated. I bought my beautiful new wheel (that squeaks no matther how much oil I put on the treadles) and wool, and had intentions of spinning and knitting sweaters and scarves and hats and all kinds of loveliness. And now i'm having all this thumb-tendon trouble. I'm restricted to lace-knitting, in very small doses, as it's the least-tension knitting I could find. With the quantity of wool in my house right now I'm going to be able to circle the earth in laceweight if I spin it all that fine! But I want to spin heavier, too! Some of this is just screaming to be warm winter cabled sweaters. Socks. Oh, how I miss socks! Socks in my purse, waiting for a train, waiting at a traffic jam, a few mindless minutes of roundy-roundy make a day so much calmer! And they're about the highest-tension knitting I can do, so they're gone. I'm frustrated in my efforts. I'm tired of reading about knitting.

I've started hunting for a loom. Well, not really started. I've been casually looking for a long time, but I've been hunting for a few weeks now. I need one I can afford, preferably a jack, something that I can work on and get to know, maybe. But not too big, either. And no tabletop. I have 2 of those already. I want to floor loom. Something I can make full-size fabric on. Something big. I'm wishing some of Cassie's karma would fall my way! (Better be careful about saying that - I've had too many experiences with unplanned Planning to play with it. The totalling of the car I didn't want being one of them. Twice. Not my fault. Random freak accidents caused others to hit me in bizarre and unusual ways when the Universe conspired to take my car.)

Anyway, suggestions for looms, frustration-ending, or just plain comments are welcome. Let me know: what puts you in the art zone?

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