Sunday, June 03, 2007

Releasing My Inner Artist

Today is a grey, rainy day, perfect for staying inside doing chores, reading, or watching a movie. Or, of course, knitting and spinning. After a delicious brunch with my in-laws at our favorite restaurant and a quick trip to Earth and Fire with my brother-in-law (who's a potter), I headed west to visit a couple of studios on the Western Loudoun Artists Studio Tour. In addition to painting, woodworking, sculpture, and ceramics, there were a couple of fiber artists on the tour. So of course, I had to go!

First up was the Blue Ridge Spinners and Weavers Guild. I've known about the existence of this guild for a while, but haven't been able to find them. I was quite excited to see them on the tour, so hoofed it down to Round Hill to talk to them about joining. And guess who was there? Maureen, the Barefoot Spinner! And yes, she does spin barefoot. She had some yarn for sale and very pretty yarns they were, too. She didn't have any roving, having been cleaned out at Maryland Sheep and Wool. The next guild meeting is at the end of August and I plan to be there (assuming I can take some time off work; they meet during the day).

The next stop was Solitude, known for their delicious garlic and fine hand-spun and hand-dyed yarns. Gretchen was just beginning to dye some yarn, so I hung around to watch the process. We talked a bit about color, the different types of dyes (synthetic versus natural), and the fact that there is no such thing as a bad color. She encouraged me to get some paints and play around with creating color. I would love to create my own hand-dyed yarn, but am so afraid I'll create a monstrosity in color. I have a color block like I have a math block.

You know how people always talk about the "inner child?" I'm not sure about my inner child, but there's an artist dwelling within and she wants out. This artistic bent has manifested itself in several ways: music, quilting, spinning, weaving, knitting. The problem (if it could be called that) is that I never had any arts training as a child. When it was time to play a instrument in elementary school, I was passed over (I really wanted to play the triangle). I was in chorus in junior high school, but never did get the hang of reading music. I tried the violin briefly, but was the oldest kid in the Salzedo class and never could get the instrument sound like anything but a cat that was being tortured. I finally settled on the harp in my late 20s, played for about 10 years and became good enough to play at a few weddings. But reading music was never easy. I played half by ear and half by reading.

I never, ever took art in school, either. My drawing seems to be stuck at an elementary school level and color theory? I have no confidence whatsoever in my ability to put together colors. But as Gretchen said, it's practice and observation. It's also about being open to what happens during the dyeing process and not having an outcome fixed in your mind.

So perhaps in the coming months, I'll get some inexpensive KnitPicks yarn and try my hand at dyeing. Stay tuned!


Sheepish Annie said...

You know...when I try to make certain colors work, it always fails. When I throw caution to the wind and slop things together in the dye pot, I always end up with something I love. Every time! It's weird...

I think, like anything else, it takes experiment and practice to make it all work the way you want it to. (on purpose ;)

PurlingPirate said...

I did some kool-aid dyeing and really enjoyed it. Just keep an open mind and try not to force an outcome, just see what happens!

Anonymous said...

Hi Secret Pal!
Sorry about the delay, the package wasn't lost, just waylayed due to some unforeseen (although when is it ever foreseen?) fun family things, your package is mailing out tomorrow. I hope you enjoy it!
Have a great week!
Your Secret Pal