Fibershed by Rebecca Burgess

I received this book from my Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Kathleen for Christmas in 2019, Thank You. This post is going to go into a lot of biology, environmental concerns, and more serious topics.  If this is not for you, my organization story will continue next week.

As a bit of my background relating to this book, my thesis to receive my bachelors degree in sociology surrounded the relationship between early menarche and hormones being fed to the animals that we, as Americans, derive our meat from.  Essentially I looked at the research tying children getting their first period as early as 5 years old and the hormones being pumped into the cows and chickens from which we get milk, eggs, and meat.  Hormones, and antibiotics really, that are not flushed out in any way before being fed to ourselves and our children.  Though I do not have that paper, there was certainly a correlation.  In the past decade or so I have all but forgotten that paper that managed to land me my bachelors degree, which I only needed so that I could get a my Masters in Library Studies.  To be frank, it is not financially viable for me to live an organic life.  This does not mean that these concerns should not be addressed, even if sweeping changes are not realistic.  My reading of FiberShed is not replacing the knowledge I gained from my thesis, but building on it in ways that I had not considered.  This is going to be a quick review designed to encourage you to read this book and others like it.  This review in no way replaces the joy, and extensive knowledge gained, by reading this book.

Synthetic fibers are derived from petroleum products, or have gone through chemical laden processes to be created and turned into clothing.  When these processes are occurring many safety precautions have to be taken to ensure the health of the workers, then the run-off has to be carefully disposed of so as to not contaminate the local drinking water.  The fact that all too often both of these steps are not taken seriously causes great ecological problems.  We are wearing these products on our skin, the largest, permeable organ on our body.  How many of these chemicals are we absorbing?  This book tackles these problems on both a local and global scale from a crafting point of view.  We as crafters can take charge of the yarns we buy, the fiber we spin, and the clothing we create.  This book goes from fiber, dyes, and encompasses all of the processes in between.  Exploring every aspect of fabric creation from where the cotton is grown, and from what kind of seed, to the sheep, processing the materials, dyeing the materials (naturally, of course), weaving/knitting these materials, even recycling them.  There is an amazing wealth of information, including how the methods of agriculture detailed will be profitable for not only the environment but the farmers and consumers also.  All of this information is interspersed with personal tales from herself as well as her friends and companions along this journey.

For a fascinating, if terrifying, look at our fast fashion culture check out this book.  Inside we are also taken through a journey of some steps that we might take to regain our chemical independence, as well as the steps that some conglomerates are taking to help our ecology, economy, and general sustainability.  Since this book comes at this from a crafting perspective there is some lamenting, but there are many more solutions.  Fantastic Read.

Remember to Live Life A Little More Abstract!

Organizing Fiber

Since I have been unable to craft I have decided to go on an organizing spree.  I’ve also had an amazing amount of energy these past three weeks, since reading the book “Do Less” by Kate Northrup, I wonder if it is tied in with the moon cycles or my personal cycle.  I’ll try to keep track and figure this out.  On to organization, below see the two metal laundry baskets I picked up to fit my fiber and yar…okay.  I have more fiber than I thought, I filled both of these.

Yes, I know my carpet is ugly.  Okay so I filled up these two Laundry baskets….and most of a third smaller laundry basket…

While I do still intend to retain my subscription to Paradise Fibers, I also plan on creating projects so that I can spin more intentionally and spin down some of this stash…in July…when I can craft again.  *sigh*.

I have not been entirely idle on the crafting front, in addition to finding out that I absolutely cannot knit, I cannot sew a needle minder, and I cannot wire wrap bookmarks (that really has more to do with me not understanding types of wire and how to harden them than anything else).

I can still needle felt, and do Bullet Journal Activities, so not all is lost.  This is going to be for the best, I hope to have all of my crafts in easily transportable boxes by the end of February.  My ‘reach’ goal, that will happen if I get everything packed away in time, is to be able to take down my modular shelving as well.

Adversity exists to prove to ourselves how strong we can be.

Remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract!  (Normal is so boring).

Crafting Single Handed (Literally)

2020 is going to be a very interesting year for me regarding my crafting life.  As shown above, I can certainly work with polymer clay, though the stamp on the left that was meant for wax is not working as well as I would have liked.  I will try it again with shallower cuts, if that does not work then I’ll put some cooking spray or olive oil on it to make the wax release.  The bowl on the right turned out wonderfully.  I am also doing well with my bullet journaling and other written/artistic activities such as watercolors, and Japanese Stab Binding.

My MRI showed that the ligament in my wrist has been completely torn, I will need to have surgery and then spend 3 months in a cast.  Scheduling the surgery will need to wait until I have received approval from the insurance company, this can take 25-40 days.  I will likely not be having surgery until March at the earliest.  March-April, April-May, May-June would be three months in a cast, so hopefully sometime in June I will get the cast off.  Realistically I will then need physical therapy since my wrist has not been actively used since November 2019.

These facts, combined with my need for a full-time job means that this is a year of:

  • Organizing and packing up my yarn, fiber, and crafting equipment.  This is also a perfect time to catalog my collection.
    • Goal is to have most easily transportable, non essential, items ready to travel when I need to move.
  • Go on a complete yarn diet.  Do not buy any yarn, still get paradise fibers monthly box
    • No purchases during Feb., March, & April  = Cotton/fine handcards when $50 is reached in PF Rewards points.

These goals should put me in a good place June of 2020, when I will reevaluate.  Until then, I have plenty of reading to do, plenty of organizing, as well as Bullet Journaling!

Remember to live life A Little More Abstract!

Ever Learning

I really enjoy dyeing wool and silk, the two main sources of water that I use are city water, from the public library I work at, and my own well water.  It has never occurred to me that if I were to experiment more with natural dyes I should be more mindful of where my water has come from.  The article I linked to below is a font of information about an experiment that some dyeists have undertaken and some of their results.

https://www.wxpr.org/post/science-art-combine-show-waters-different-lakes-produce-strikingly-different-dye-results?utm_source=Mielke%27s+Fiber+Arts+Newsletter&utm_campaign=12ce5e6089-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_01_16_03_53&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1c69f401ff-12ce5e6089-107039657&ct=t(EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_1_16_2020_11_11)&mc_cid=12ce5e6089&mc_eid=92603a0e99#stream/0

New Year, New Goals

I am still not certain when my wrist brace is coming off.  This has not stopped me from exploring my creative side, simply permitted a new avenue of exploration.  While things are certainly easier to accomplish with two working hands, as well as wrists, this has given me an opportunity to explore avenues of creativity that I have allowed to fall by the wayside previously.

Recently I have been exploring crafts that can be created with forms of clay that do not require a kiln to create lasting pieces.  Since the summer of 2020 reading program for New York State is “Imagine Your Story” focusing on mythology and fairy tales.  I know that many programs are going to focus on the mainstream Greek and Roman mythology, with a bit of Norse (Thor and Loki via Marvelverse), and some Celtic or Wicca mythos thrown in.  The Japanese have a remarkable mythological tradition, as do the Native American, and African peoples.  I would love to be able to explore these traditions, it would be wonderful to have examples illustrated to patrons either through craft, storytelling (with some intellectual discourse), or a food tradition.

I am just bursting with ideas, as some of them come to fruition I will post the successes and failures here for everyone to learn from.  Until then remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract!

Time to Contemplate

For me time to contemplate is one of the most dangerous things I can have.  I love staying busy as well as productive in both my home and work life.  When I get contemplative I start thinking in terms of, “Be the change you want to see.” and “Discover the obstacles and eliminate them.”  Of course these two phrases have me re-thinking several aspects of my life.

The first is plastic bags, honestly they are just taking over my kitchen.  I do sort of hate the idea of buying cloth bags, however I cannot work on making my own at this time so I will take some time this upcoming week to put all of my plastic bags into a garbage bag, I spoke to someone earlier today about our reliance on plastic garbage bags, and take  them to the public library for patrons to use on rainy/snowy days.  I was going to weave homeless mats, but by time I’m healed enough to warp my loom it will be too late for this year.  I’ll get rid of them and start fresh with reusable bags.

The second, along with my boss at the community college I work for, has me reading The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll.  I taught a basic class on how to Bullet Journal at the Public Library I work for, now my director at the community college wants me to show students how to identify and break down their goals into trackable achievements using the Bullet Journal Method.  I am honestly loving learning more about this method.  I use my current journal more like a diary, admittedly one that I have been fairly dedicated to for several months now.  By learning this new method and taking notes on it, I should be able to more effectively leverage my bullet journal and teach the students.

The third, and for now final, contemplation is using the (dateless) Dream Planner pdf I purchased from Dragontree two years ago.  This planner is based around the concept of rituals.  This is a little too…woo woo for me even in my most contemplative moods.  However the planning sheets are certainly useful, and I do intend to create concrete goals to attain some future desires.

This planning and bullet journaling also include setting up a very definitive financial plan.  Sticking to it will be a bit more difficult, however I will persevere.

With all of these goals in mind, I may not be posting much before 2020, if not: Happy New Year.  Remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract!

Suspension of Crafting

You know how there are those days when you start out good, you’re looking forward to something and then something else comes along to mess it all up?  Well I had that kind of day a couple of weeks ago.  I was looking forward to a magic crayon creation class, however while I was setting up a patron came in complaining that they were dizzy.  The long and the short of it is that I managed to get them to the floor before they had what appeared to be a petite mal seizure that they recovered instantly from, and I have what is either a shifted bone in my wrist or a mild sprain.  The doctors cannot agree which it is.  It also turns out that it takes about 3-6 months to heal from a sprain.  Yay, I’m in a brace until about March and we now have several new policies at the library.

I told you that to tell you this, I will not be doing much knitting, crochet, spinning, weaving, or crafting in general until my wrist is out of the brace.  Fortunately for me, writing in my bullet journal is a one handed activity, it was my left wrist ( I am right handed) and the fingers are free so I can do washi tapes and such.  I am also going to use this time to consolidate my stash and get my house in something resembling order.

Frankly, I am a bit angry but I cannot be too sad about this.  The outcome could have been so much worse, the person that fell into me is very solid, however I am solid enough that they did not knock me over like they may have some of my more petite colleagues.  I could have been hurt much worse, there might have been bystander injuries, and so many other scenarios.  I’m teaching a class on creating a metal tree of life, I have a colleague that has volunteered to help, and the entire experience should be fun.

I also believe that I have some serious chances at a full-time job in the new year.  This is going to be a good opportunity for me to adjust my priorities and figure out what I want to be doing without the distraction of…well fun.  Remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract!