• Sue McDowell

Spring as a time of tests...


When I was very active in glass, the pre-spring months of Jan-March were always great ones for testing. The holiday sales were over and the long, dark days of winter were great for drawing out designs and recording results. Glass was (and is) a demanding mistress - I learned early to document as much as possible for anything I produced. A minor variation and bam! I would get a result I loved but couldn't reproduce. Frustration! I had my system down in glass..but I'm still struggling to figure out the best system for tracking what I'm doing in fiber - what I used, why I used it, what I thought I as going to get, what I ended up with......I can certainly write it all down in a journal but there has to be some connection to the physical product and, ideally, the product *before* it becomes final. As if anything, in art, is final.....

So the picture at the start of this blog post is a reminder to continue figuring out a way to record what I'm doing and why I'm doing it.

"Kathy's Bear, 2018" was an attempt to test 6/1 Fårö wool which I acquired before I knew anything about anything because it was sold as a really beautiful set via Mirrixlooms (it's now sold out or I'd give you the link). I acquired 16 skeins- one of each color but when it arrived I suspected I'd made a "tactical error" (I'm trying not to say mistake when it relates to my creating).

Imagine my surprise when, months later as I'm reading a blog by one of my fave tapestry artists, I see her reference Fårö as a great tapestry wool. "Wait a minute!," I cry..and run to the box to gaze at those 16 skeins in a whole new light. Months after that (because it took months to wind them all from skein to ball) I started using them on the tapestry above. And viola!! On my little hokett loom at 12 epi, my Fårö looks and feels amazing. What was I thinking!!

Which leads me to documenting my 2nd experiment:

This teeny test strip (3" w x 5" tall) is from three different skeins I purchased at the Wooly Mammoth in Anchorage. All of the skeins were dyed by NorthernBee Studio who, it turns out, will be in the Ann Arbor area mid-April (this month!)

I will spare you all (and myself) from the second photo which shows what happens when you attempt to felt a test piece (this test piece) without securing the warp knots.....and you watch your piece "un-weave" before your eyes ;-)

Lesson learned. And I learned that this yarn is even better looking than I thought it was going to be (still trying to develop that skill) as well as learning that it just felt even better than Fårö (truth be told, I may be allergic to wool).

There are soooo many lessons to learn when working with fiber. And aside from putting each piece in a baggy with its accompanying journal entry, I haven't settled into a good way to document all my painfully new found knowledge.

And what on earth, you may ask, has happened to my polar projects? Well, stay tuned gentle reader, stay tuned. That ship has not been lost..just waylaid in all the good intentions to test before I jump into the next big effort. Though fiber is less expensive than glass, all my lessons with glass testing have served me well in not assuming I could do something big with a particular fiber until I've tested that particular fiber. I have three new "stuffed" bears to show you in a post soon...and then there's the "next big thing." You'll see......once I test!

#weaving #RebeccaMezoff #woolymammoth #northernbee #faro

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