Saturday, June 19, 2010

dyeing faith

There was that first time I tried sewing sleeves onto a blouse-to-be.  You know, progressing from flat garments to three dimensional ones.  I kept thinking, as I re-read and followed the directions, "There's no way this is going to work."  As I kept easing that rounded sleeve cap into that square-ish armhole, and pinning it to stay put long enough to sew it into place, I also thought, "Who thunk this up?  This is gonna be sooo fugly!"  Despite such thoughts, I kept easing it in and pinning it down, and then sewed on it just like the instructions said to do.  And the crazy thing worked out beautifully.  Faith, baby, faith. 
But it's not always the instructions that deserve our faith.  Sometimes, it's ourselves or even just parts of ourselves that will surprisingly prevail in the end, even overcoming other parts of ourselves.  I learned to knit from a how-to book I had picked up at one of the chain craft stores.  By the way, I don't recommend beginners start with a ribbed-all-over V-neck sweater that calls for eased-in sleeves.  Though by then, I had easing in and sewing sleeves down pat: see above.  But the actual forming of the knit stitches was a real bear for me at first, because that author only showed the reader one way of doing it: English style knitting.  I didn't know there were other ways.  So I struggled with that, as it calls for the yarn to be manipulated in the right hand, and I had a life-long muscle-memory kind of thing for handling yarn with my left, since I had crocheted since forever.  My hands knew what they wanted to do, despite my brain and that book's author telling them to do it some other way.   Several times during those first attempts, as I tried holding the right needle like a pencil and using it to flick the yarn from the left one like the photos showed to do, I muttered, "You gotta be shittin' me!"
So I put the knitting down for nearly a year.  Actually, I threw it in the back of the closet. 
Then one day, I wanted to beat that monster, and learn that damned knitting thing once and for all.  So I took that half a sweater and that book back out into the daylight again.  But this time, I approached it differently.  I ignored how the yarn was supposed to go on my hands, and how the needles were supposed to be held.  Instead, I paid attention to the end result - where the yarn was supposed to go, and how it was supposed to move to get there.  I focused both visually and mentally on the yarn's movement itself, and totally didn't even see what my hands were doing to make it happen.  They just made it happen.  There!  I knit a stitch, by golly! 
And so I had learned to knit, though holding the needles and yarn a bit odd, compared to that book.  Years later, I heard about the continental style of knitting, and realized that that was what I've been doing.  Huh, there's a name for it?  Reckon my hands knew what to do, once I left them alone to do it.

So, moving forward a few years, and blowing past many other craft tales, we come to my more recent tip-toe into the waters of dyeing fiber.  Faith again, baby.  That old romney roving I mentioned dyeing with the culinary colors kit?  It turned out fantastic, despite all the doubts I had during the process.  But by now, I'm older and have been through the learning process lots of times in lots of things, and that stubborn part of me kept me going, just to see where it would all end up, ya know?  I'll make something out of this, if only a mess.  And if turns out to be only a mess in the end, its colors will still be pretty!  So I continued dipping the sponge brushes into my little mason jars of dye, and dabbing them onto the roving that I had snaked along my kitchen counters (over some plastic sheeting).
The dabbing was what worried me.  The whole time, these little loose fibers kept sticking to the brush, as I pounced the color into the wool.  I thought that maybe I should've went with already spun yarn, for my first time - I already have some undyed yarn and should've used it instead.  Maybe I shouldn't be pouncing so much, 'cause it might be felting.  But I didn't stop, 'cause it was so much fun to see the color spread with each pounce of the brush.  The tint would change too, as it seeped across the roving.  That the colors moved across the cream wool fascinated me!  And I just couldn't stop.  While part of me worried, another part was urging me on.
I'm happy to report that it didn't felt at all, and the colors are now steadfast!  And for a final fun bit at the end, I learned how to braid roving at this lady's blog right here.  Faith, baby, faith.  Besides, it's only wool - how wrong could it go?
But the sharing of this has led me to a question: is it still faith when you've learned to trust based on experience?  Maybe what was faith becomes something else?  I dunno either, just pondering it a bit is all.


  1. Lovely dyed fiber; glad you slayed the beast of naysaying.

  2. Thanks! I think having so many doubtful tries at things turn out okay afterall has given me the experience to trust that something will always come out of every attempt. Even if it's just improved understanding of what happened in a 'failure,' it's still a gain, ya know? And with colors, I'm really in a 'why not?' mood, now, LOL.

  3. Your dyeing turned out lovely. I love to just wing it and see what happens!

  4. Here's a more current link to roving braiding.