Monday, 29 August 2016

The Siren song of the Crafts

Lately the fabric has been calling to me and I've been daydreaming about sewing.
There are times when the craft supplies, whether they be the fabric stash or the yarns, call to you and pulls you in like a Siren song. This past couple of weeks I have been finding myself longingly staring at the fabric stash and dreaming of projects to turn those gorgeous pieces of cloth into. My skills are limited but my dreams are big.

The lure to craft is not unlike the effect of a Siren song upon a weary sailor. When the materials are special, the call is entrancing and irresistible like the mythical lullaby of the Sirens. When I feel the pull towards the fabric I find my brain is taken over by thoughts of projects and the colours and prints upon the cloth. It draws me in until I find myself working at my sewing station cutting and pressing and stitching away.

One of the Wiksten tanks that's I've made of late.

I feel like the pull to craft is not only something mystical it is some kind of subconscious push towards some tap out, therapeutic craft time. Like the weather-worn sailor I find myself in a season of busyness and stress and my ability to juggle everything is failing more often than I'd like. Mentally I'm feeling the strain and though I am tired and in a bit of a funk I cannot resist the urge to make something.

I've written before about how I find making and crafting very therapeutic; a path to mindfulness. Again I write here to reiterate it. Undeniably there are times when certain yarns or fabrics sing to you and you just know it is asking to be made into something beautiful. The process of making leads one to put aside the stresses and 'to do lists' of life for a while and the joy of a product made with love lifts the spirits.

A friend of mine was recently sharing of her struggle with depression and then excitedly took me down to her workshop where she has been making a table top with recycled wood. She spoke with such delight when she explained where each piece of wood originally came from and how she was almost finished with the varnish. Her work is beautiful and I marvel at her talent but more so her ability to find a positive mental space when she is feeling the blues.

More things cut out ready to sew up.

Sometimes we do not realise that we need to be involved in this process of making. Our heart and mind suddenly crave to make something and all stemming from a need to nourish the mind and soul with some positive energy. Initially, the pull may feel like a dangerous Siren song because of all those tasks that need to be ticked off and jobs to be done, but once we immerse ourselves into the making and take a breath we realise that craft time was exactly what we needed.

I believe it is alright to allow yourself a little bit of tap out time to do the thing that you love. The Siren song of Craft is not a bad thing, but instead a chance to experience a moment of mindful peace.

What do you like to make or do when you take the time to tap out from life's stresses? Does it nourish your mind and soul and feel like it was exactly what you needed to do? Share your thoughts.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

About the time I went to Bendigo for the Sheep and Wool show...

What I came home with from "Bendi Spendi" this year.

Hello my sad neglected blog...I'm back with a post that is weeks overdue. This is my round up of the Annual Australian Sheep and Wool show that was held in Bendigo back in mid July.

For woolcrafters in this neck of the woods this once yearly sheep and wool show is one of the most exciting weekends of the year. It is this event that will prompt the migration of knitters, crocheters, spinners, felters and all fibre lovers into this lovely regional city each year. They come in their little gaggles donning their handmade woollies and find a fibre heaven in the woolcraft market sheds.

This year instead of dragging the family up with me I did the day trip with some knitty girlfriends. We piled into the car with the largest boot and headed off even before my littlies had woken up (such a rarity, and of course it happens on the day that I'm not able to sleep in.). As much as I love having my family with me on such adventures, doing the show with friends who are on the same page when it comes to fibre was such a nicer experience than having to put up with the complaints of Sir S who declares, "I don't like sheep." 

My "Women of Wool". Love you girls!
I confess, I went quite crazy last year at the show because it was my first and I'm going to blame it on the wool fumes. This year I prepped myself to be restrained and to be the supportive enabler for my friends instead. To help me, I was prepared to stick to my woolly wool filter and continue to avoid purchasing any superwashed fibres even if the colours sung to me. My one must buy item was a knitted dinosaur softie because last year that was the one thing at the show that Sir S took an interest in and I told him that if I had money at the end of the day I would buy him one. Well, I'm sure you can guess that I ran out of money last year.

The show did not disappoint this year. The selection of beautiful yarns, fleeces, knitting accessories and bits and bobs were all marvellous. I love seeing the number of independent hand dyers who are around these days and discovering new people who I were not familiar with before. I love seeing how Nan Bray's White Gum Wool is becoming quite a popular base for hand dyers to use and that makes my heart sing because I am a huge fan of her principles and practices. It excites me to see Aussie hand dyers using her bases because it means that I can still buy from indie dyers and support their small businesses.

Here are some of my stand out favourites from the show this year:

1. Alpaca Allure
At this stall I met a family who run their own alpaca farm and a mini mill out in the Dandenong Ranges, Victoria. They had all this lovely undyed yarns in gorgeous natural alpaca fleece colours. The thing that really got me was on each of their labels they listed the names of the animals that the fibre came from as a dye lot. So, I bought a skein of their 8ply that came from Rose and Leo in 2016. It is so so soft and I love the natural sandy grey colour.

I bought some yarn from her last year and I was happily a return customer this year. It was the super luscious camel/ silk lace weight yarn that got me this year. Knitting with lace weight yarn is a bit of a scary prospect but getting to work with this beautiful yarn will motivate me to give it a go.

Impossible to resist touching this fleece.

A family run Australian farm that is growing some beautifully crimpy and superfine merino. They had this raw fleece on the table and I could not keep my hands away from it. What can I say, crimp excites me.

I had a lovely conversation with the man behind this mill, Alasdair while I pawed over and sniffed his skeins of Gotland wool. He too runs an alpaca farm and mini mill in regional Victoria and he had some really exciting blends of Gotland with fibres like silk and recycled wool or cashmere. I am so impressed to find a small industry of fibre milling and production just on my doorstep in Victoria. I am filing away this information for future fibre dreams.

I came away with a couple more business cards and flyers of things that caught my eye but I restrained myself from buying. If I get the chance to follow up on those yarns and fibres in the future I'll tell you about them.

It was such a fun day amongst the wool fumes and the tactile heaven of fibre. Did you make it to Bendi this year? What caught your eye or should I say hand as you fondled through the stalls?

BTW, I did buy the dinosaur for Sir S this year and redeemed myself (and wool) in his eyes.

It was clear I had a bit of a colour theme this year.