Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Beginning to End

Begin with the end in mind.

Is a yarn that you might be able to cobble into "some textile" at some point in the future what you need to focus on at this time?  Think of all of your wants and needs, including textiles. Is yarn for  "some textile" the effort that you want to make at this time?

In particular, I was thinking about the piles of "art yarns" that I saw at CNCH.  If you are going to put the effort into making art yarn then think the project through, and make a finished object that is worthy of being worn on the red carpet. Having thought the project through from beginning to end, the object will be better.

Think of a builder.  Do they just take a load of wood to a lot and start cutting and nailing?  No, they have a plan, and they take the sizes of wood and amounts of supplies needed for the plan.  They stop to make a foundation. Without a plan, they might not have the big beams that they need to hold everything up and support the load. If the builder has a good plan, he can use it to build house after house, and they will all be good, strong, beautiful houses.

If the builder is very clever, they can build strong structures that will withstand storms, without using those big beams. However, this takes real planning.  Likewise the textile crafter needs to plan for rain, washing machines, dry cleaners, wear, abrasion, stretch,  wind, sun, cold, heat, sweat, and etc.  This takes real thought and cleverness.

That said, a lot of the yarns that I use are based on rather standard singles.  I have no problem spinning long wool 10s and 40s because I like these singles as building blocks for yarns used for outer wear and socks. I have plans for the fabrics/objects that I like, and I use those plans over and over because I know they work.  If  I have the singles on hand, they can be quickly  plied up and dyed to make a very nice, and functional fabric. I can do this, because I have thought these objects through, I make these objects on a regular basis, and I have thought about how much I need to produce.

These singles are my "2x4s", and like a builder I have different kinds of 2x4s.  A builder might have 2x4s of oak, pine, red wood, and maple. Each has its proper use, and there are stacks of each in the lumber shed, ready to use.   My stocks of singles are  from different fibers and each has its proper use. If I just spin yarns and then plan the textiles from the yarns, then at some point, I will have yarns that want to be out door fencing (red wood) when what I need now is kitchen cabinets (maple).  If I let the already spun yarn define textile  projects, then I may end up with not quite enough yarn or a little bit too much.  If there is not enough, then the design fails, and if there is too much then there is wasted time, effort, and fiber.

If you are not particular about using the right yarn for your textile, you might as well use mill spun. Mill spun works very well for generic textiles.  If you are going to the effort of making a textile from hand spun, you might as well plan it out and make an exceptional textile.

No, it is better to be an intentional spinner, and spin the yarns wanted for the objects desired.  See Alden Amos, The Big Book of Hand Spinning.


William Cobbett said...

The fact that you fail to understand something does not make that something invalid. The problem lies with your stunted understanding and failure of imagination.

Aaron said...

Not understanding, not agreeing, and having a better approach are three very different conditions. I have managed creative organizations and thought a great deal about this topic.

Great work is the result of executing a vision. Great work includes not only the artistic merit of the piece, but also quality, presentation, suitability for use, consistency, and cost. To balance all of these factors requires a plan.

Artists that rely on talent and inspiration do not produce as high quality work as those artists that have talent and willing to put in the effort to do the planning required to produce an exceptional body of work.

I note that Peter Porcupine (William Cobbett) had a long history of libel and not facing his victims, so he does live in spirit. It is a particularly apt nickname

Anonymous said...


It would do you a world of good to recognize that not everyone spins to achieve the same goal that you desire for yourself. Many art yarns are the desired object. That is the end as you put it. You cannot say that the person did not begin with the object you see as the as the end product because you do not know. When I first learned to spin, I spun unevenly. However, I achieved my objective at the time--to spin yarn. I wanted to spin singles fine enough that when plied would make a suitable sock yarn. Eventually, I met that goal. I do not expect that every spinner has the same objects or goals that I do. Nor should you. Enjoy what you can do and stop being critical of those that have no desire to spin the types of yarn that you spin for yourself. And remember just as you don't appreciate what some others are doing, others don't appreciate your scolding, bullying manner.


Bitsy said...

You should meet My family. On second thought, No, that would not be good. Grandma would scare you; well, she scares me anyway.

But what you would like is that she still plans out major building projects. She used to be a mechanical engineer, and her hobby still is house construction and remodeling. I learned as a kid that you take your time up front to design out as many of the problems as can be pessimistically expected to occur.

I understand your 2x4 comment.