Something Else that Spins!

I started this blog 4 years ago to chronicle a journey though the spinning universe … my first post said this:

“Everything in our universe spins, from the tiniest of atoms to the mightiest of planets. Everything spins. Is this why there is so much peace to be found in spinning wool into yarn? In the act of spinning, are we emulating the Almighty’s act of creating and sustaining?”

I suppose, having had those intense feelings about spinning yarn, it is no surprise that I have now found even more peace and contentment in another act of spinning … making pots from clay on a potter’s wheel.

Potter's Wheel
My Potter’s Wheel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clay is yet another natural substance, like wool, that demonstrates the glory and grandeur of our Creator. It’s very nature and molecular structure (more about that later) makes it the perfect raw material for constructing pots and vessels–just like wool contains within its structure the perfect characteristics for making yarn and fabrics.

First pots are much like first yarns —  uneven and somewhat wobbly, with lots of room for improvement! Arabella’s sage advice about spinning wool — “Good, you understand the basics. Now all you need is time at the wheel. Nothing else can teach you what you need” — also holds true for the potter’s wheel. The only thing that improves first pots is the continuous act of making second pots, third pots, fourth pots and so on.

The journey continues!

 

 

More Thoughts on Gains and Losses

I often think and sometimes write about gains and losses. In my life, globally, as God’s people, and even across the breadth of human history. Maybe especially across the breadth of human history, and specifically post-Industrial Revolution, when oh so many things have radically changed.

I suppose, as one who engages in centuries-old handcrafts, it’s only natural to compare the ancient and the modern. In any case, I just spent a wonderful weekend of creativity and learning at Mary Berry’s Fiber Retreat, and the whole experience brought me once again to these thoughts of gains and losses.

While I am quite glad that spinning wool for yarn and thread is my hobby and not a daily necessity (gain!), the weekend reminded me of the need to purposefully seek out groups that nurture us and foster excitement to learn and create. We can be so isolated in our lives (loss!), and the handcrafts that used to be so very necessary for survival and function are all automated now. Come to think of it, not just handcrafts, but so many other vocations have all been industrialized–from barrel-making to horse-shoeing to iron forging to silver smithing …the list could go on and on.

It’s the slow leaching out of daily creative efforts and the benefits we lose when that happens that gets me. And I do mean slow–such that we might not even notice. The progression has a frightening end, as we are now witness to and a part of — the elimination of the arts from school curriculum and the resulting general neglect of creativity and artistic expression. Which reminds me. Go see The Monuments Men, the WWII movie about the art scholars/architects who became soldiers and went to Europe to protect and restore stolen art. During the last year of the war, they recovered and then returned over 5 million pieces of art that had been stolen by Hitler and the Nazis. This movie will remind you how important art is to the world and to each of us.

 

My mom’s blog is great! You might see where I get some of my peculiarities … and wonderings about the world….

Hill Country Cottage Gardener

“Beauty is as beauty does.” This was one of my mother’s favorite sayings–she had a million! I heard this one often growing up in the ‘50s, whenever she didn’t like what I was doing. If I wanted to be beautiful (like MM?), then I’d better “straighten up & fly right” (another one of her favorites).

Image

There is great wisdom in the idea that our outer surroundings are a reflection of our inner selves. But as a pragmatist, I’m more interested in the reverse: how our inner selves reflect our environment. Most of us are more consciously aware of our environment than our inner selves, so let’s create beauty in our gardens and our homes and expect that inner beauty will follow.

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If you are not already on Pinterest, you need to get on the waiting list today.  Or, if you have a friend—or a daughter—who is already a Pinner…

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The Creative Journey

Creativity is a fascinating concept. Once unleashed, you don’t know where it might take you. I’ve been fortunate to bear witness to my mom’s amazing creative journey since her retirement from teaching. I wrote about my mom’s creativity a couple years ago when I started this blog. I commented on the way being in her house  in the hill country makes me feel, because her artistic expression is everywhere. Read this post and you’ll see what I mean.

Since she retired, she’s been able to turn her attention full-time to her artistry. Her journey has fascinated and inspired me. She started making mosaic art pieces to place in her garden. It’s wonderful! Here’s one of her amazing stepping stones:

Tropical Flower
Gorgeous in the garden

Then she started making “waterers” for the garden–fabulous dishes that could supply water to the garden creatures:

Cactus Waterer
Drink!

Even she didn’t know that she was only beginning to discover her artistry. She bought a kiln (yes!) and started creating “Cottage Tiles” in her workshop, grouting them mosaic-style onto pots. Her work is original and inspiring to me, as I am on my own creative journey.

The Original Cottage Pot
The original cottage pot!
Turquoise Cottage Pot
Turquoise Cottage Pot

Understanding “Dyed-in-the-wool”

Ahhh! I get it! Dyeing the wool before it is spun (i.e., dyed-in-the-wool) is the best way to ensure the color doesn’t fade once the wool is spun into yarn or thread, and then fashioned into a garment worn around town. The literal meaning of the phrase is simply a description of when the dye is added.

The phrase has evolved over time to mean something metaphorical as well. We use this expression “dyed-in-the-wool” to indicate a person who is committed to an ideal so deeply that it has become a permanent part of their being, as if they had been “dyed” that way prior to being “formed.” For example, I would say, “My dear Arabella is a dyed-in-the-wool romantic.”

Here, Arabella is rinsing some Corriedale roving that she dyed while it was “in the wool.”

Corriedale "dyed-in-the-wool"

I have been anxious to get my hands into the dye pot, and finally had opportunity at Arabella’s. She had received a 3-lb bump of lovely Corriedale, and shared a generous portion with me as a birthday present.

A “bump” is simply a bunch of roving, usually 1 to 3 pounds in weight.

A "bump" from a lovely Corriedale sheep

 

 

Here is what our lovely and generous sheep might have looked like when the wool was still a part of him!

Truly "in-the-wool!"

Gorgeous and generous sheep! They have been supplying us with fiber for our clothes, blankets, coverlets, coats and carpets for centuries!

“Incurable Whirling Disease”

Over The Rhine — if you haven’t met them yet, go introduce yourself; they are quite friendly, and extremely talented.

Exit

I have to leave the city now, she said,
Or dash my soul against my will instead.

I do not wish to have the quiet part of me
That once could rest (the part
That could just be) tossed
Aside and left somewhere
For dead.

Tonight it seems to me
That what some friends call energy
Is nothing more than a phenomenon of nature known as
“Incurable Whirling Disease.”

Please, take me far from here, she said,
The buildings sting and echo
With the fumy cries of yellowjacket cars.

I took her hand in mine and said,
I’m thinking of a place now
Where I used to have to tell myself
Aloud,
Those are not clouds,
They’re stars.

Copyright 2007, Linford Detweiler

 

Gains and Losses

pilgrim oil bottle
At Plimoth Plantation: A Moment of Clarity photo by Teresa Day

Last summer while working in Plymouth, Mass., I visited Plimoth Plantation, a living history museum set up as it would have been in the year 1629. I walked into one of the tiny Pilgrim cabins and saw the above, pretty much exactly as you see it here. I entered through the door just as the sun was pouring into the otherwise darkened cabin through the narrow chimney shaft, focusing the concentrated light on this small bottle of oil. So striking!

I’ve thought of this image many times over the last eight months or so since I took this picture. The thoughts generally focus on the question of gains and losses…since 1629, we’ve gained so much. A nation! Democracy! Medicine, technology, science…so much! I wonder why I keep returning to the other side of the coin (so to speak)–what have we lost?

We’ve lost the pace of peace, to be sure. All of our modernity, each item eagerly trumpeted as “the latest and greatest time-saving device” has not given us more time at all. As we have regulated all that used to regulate us–harvest, seasons, night and day–we’ve removed the natural barriers that kept us separate from the now constant-fast pace at which we hurtle through the days.

We’ve gained medicine, but lost health through our demand for processed foods and our unwillingness to unplug and slow down. Even when the doctor says to us specifically, “You have to reduce the stress in your life, or you will have a heart attack,” we don’t really believe him.

Nostalgia can be a dangerous drug. I want to be careful not to pine for what’s past as a retro-version of “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”

In a sense, though, that IS what we do with our present and future–striving forward with technology and other “improvements.”  Once I get a SmartPhone, I can keep up with email when I’m in the carpool line or waiting at the post office; once I get and iPad and subscribe to the newest airplane wireless technology, I can stay in contact with the office even while I’m in the air; once I get the new 2011 Ford, I won’t even have to parallel park by myself! Once I get…

How do we break the cycle?

 

 

The Spinning Universe: 2010 in review

WOW! WordPress.com sent me this information today about this blog and its visitors, namely YOU. They’ve been keeping track for us, and basically, “we did good!”

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,300 times in 2010. That’s about 6 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 47 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 215 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 75mb. That’s about 4 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was June 3rd with 103 views. The most popular post that day was Photo Credits.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were jacobsreward.blogspot.com, facebook.com, mail.yahoo.com, Google Reader, and terrificfibers.blogspot.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for ancient egyptian tools, spinning blog, naalebinding, ancient spindle, and drop spindle history.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Photo Credits April 2010
1 comment

2

Ancient Spindles May 2010
5 comments

3

History Has Been Woven by a Stick — The Astonishing Drop Spindle April 2010
6 comments

4

About April 2010
8 comments

5

Naalebinding, or Knotless Netting June 2010
3 comments

The Free and the Strange…

Spin-Off magazine and website is, of course, the authoritative site for all things spinning. If you haven’t been there–GO!  However, be prepared.  I have found the sheer volume of information on the site can be…well…really overwhelming for someone who still has everything to learn. So today I wanted to point out two very interesting areas within the website that you can get to straight from this blog, and avoid the frustration of wandering around lost!

Lovely illustrations

The first area is a marvelous resource for information parceled out in manageable chunks–and it’s all FREE! The Spinning How-To page is a listing of short downloadable pdf’s on basic topics such as Introduction to Spinning, and Finding Balance.


The illustrations in a few of these little brochures are simply lovely, and satisfy my need to see the topic rather than read about it. Susan Strawn Bailey is credited for these elegant line drawings.

Plus, I love Spin-Off’s philosophy behind providing these simple and beautiful brochures–small print on the back cover reads, “For the general advancement of the spinning community.”

The second area I want to show you is in the Forum.  It’s an ongoing discussion of What’s the most adventurous fiber you’ve ever spun? Dryer lint?  The cotton from inside a pill bottle? Long locks of someone else’s grungy hair to be spun and made into a belt for his girlfriend?  EWWWW……

Now I don’t want to get snobby here, because I have definitely been bitten by the spinning bug, and one day if I run out of wool to spin, I just might find myself behind the camel shed at the zoo digging around for fiber…though I think I can safely say I’ll stay away from the human hair belt.