Fiber Lethargy No More

Since I last posted in February of this year, I have received e-mails from other bloggers asking why I had gone silent.  The answer to that question is simple:  The 45th president of the U.S.  After the November 2016 election, I was angry and, worse, despondent.  Since that fateful day two months later (inauguration day), my interest in researching and writing on fiber-related topics seemed, well, irrelevant given the political damage that I anticipated would be wrought by the most unprepared and unsuited president in the history of this country.  As a retired political science professor, I seriously thought about establishing a separate blog focusing on politics.  Yet every time I sat down at a computer, my fears, angst and depression about the future of this country choked my voice.

Sadly, my fears were all too prescient, as substantiated by the outrageous behavior, words and decisions of 45.  In an attempt to loosen the choking panic and anxiety that I had been fighting for months, I decided to read Hillary Rodham Clinton’s new book, What Happened.  Though I have been crying while reading it, I have been able to breathe a bit more freely.  But I still wasn’t able to sit down and write about fiber art.

Three things happened, however, that shook me back into enjoying fiber:  My new friend K; the 2017 Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival (OFFF); and Flora Felts.

First, my friend K, whom I met on a senior van trip.  (Yes, I have become one of those white-haired ladies!)   K – creative, intelligent, determined and energetic – asked if I would teach her how to knit.  I thought “sure,” thinking I could maintain an emotional distance from fiber art.  (After all, it’s just knitting, right?!)

Second, yesterday K and I drove over the Columbia River to OFFF in Canby, Oregon.  I started to feel pulses of excitement and anticipation as we neared the fairgrounds, passing women and men (mostly women) of all ages toting large baskets and bedecked in an array of hand-made creations.   I could smell the wool-producing animals and heard their quiet bleats.  Over the course of the day, K posed an array of intelligent questions (why do these two skeins from the same dye lot look so different?  When can I knit with mohair?  Would this yarn work well for a beanie?  What is qiviut and why is it so costly?), and by the end of the day, both K’s curiosity and my chatting with vendors (both new and old) had gone a long way to prodding me out of my fiber lethargy.

Third, the creations of one vendor specifically sparked my interest:  Flora Felts – the work of a Seattle-based Hungarian-born artist Florá Carlile-Kovács (first pic below).  The photographs below I took with my iPhone fail to do justice to her silk and wool felt work.  Florá’s pieces are colorful, bold, powerful and, well, capture (demand?!) your attention.  She seemed delighted to speak about her work with K and me, two women in their sixth decades – something I’ve learned that not all newer, younger fiber artists are eager to do.  (I discussed that in my post two years ago, The Pisher Paradox.)  I left with one of Florá’s wall hangings tucked securely under my arm (paid for – not stolen!).

As K and I perused the award winning creations on display (the judges awarded Florá’s nuno felt dress Reserve Grand Champion, second pic below), I realized that the fiber lethargy that had been heavy on my shoulders had fallen away.  As last year my political despair had led me to cancel the party I had planned to celebrate my birthday (as well as the inauguration of our country’s first female president), I decided this coming January I would celebrate two birthdays.  With that in mind, I returned to Florá’s booth and exchanged the wall hanging for one of her felted pieces of clothing.  It now hangs secure in my closet, and I will wait four months to wear her beautiful art on my next birthday.  (At the next event where K and I see Florá, one of Florá’s wall hangings will go home with me!)

So thank you K, thank you OFFF and thank you Florá! 


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19 Responses to Fiber Lethargy No More

  1. I’m sorry about your ghastly politics, but pleased you have posted such a lovely set of phjotographs


  2. salpal1 says:

    the big pumpkin head has the world in a tizzy (as they should be in with him spouting off hourly). I am sad that he drove you away from this that you love so much, but glad you found your way back.

    I find knitting helps me survive the daily news. I find spinning helps keep me in yarn for knitting.

    I also have found that being in the company of people who craft with fiber is a good way to remain centered, and so I am more dedicated to the knitting group at my LYS, I recently took a road trip to Wisconsin for a ravelry meet up and a trip to Wisconsin Sheep and Wool. Women (and, as you say, some men) from every part of the political spectrum can come together and find common ground with fiber. It is a beautiful thing. Perhaps we should teach our representatives to knit and spin.


  3. rthepotter says:

    Glad you are back. Woolly things do help. I felt and still feel utterly shamed by the Brexit referendum and outbreak of littlebritainism over here, so have some idea of what you express.


  4. I am hoping Flora will be at Black Sheep Gathering 2018 (which, did you know, will now be held in Albany, Oregon, instead of Eugene). If so, I will have to sign up for a class with her. I met a few women who took Flora’s class at OFFF; they said it was wonderful!


  5. I have a hunch that some of the people who cast their vote for 45 are now grappling with stomach issues! I could barely talk without crying or yelling in November! 😦 I am glad you too loved OFFF and was inspired. Yes, Flora’s work is amazing!


  6. Yes, over the last year I find myself closely following campaigns and elections in other countries as well. Some of the candidates … yikes … friends of 45?! 😦


  7. Yes, “drowning in despair” captures it. I pretty much cried from the evening of November 8 through January! Yes, let’s make art!


  8. I too have sent a lot of letters out to various representatives! And I also have an autoimmune disease that flares up when under stress, so that limits my political engagement. I have difficulty watching news shows and reading the NYT (and other news sources); I start yelling in frustration (and shouting political advice) at my TV or iPhone. That said, I have been knitting during these past several months and gardening, but my looms sit idle looking at me rather reproachfully. I hope to teach my friend K how to weave; I have a 15″ Cricket in a closet that I had hoped would spark interest with my granddaughter. (It did not.) I have a project on the needles that is nearing end, and then I will warp my looms, sit down and enjoy the rythmic, soothing motions of weaving. Spin your heart out! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. So glad to read your post. I have also been fighting an urge to start a new blog, one that focuses on logic, reason, science, and a fight against the war against these things as exemplified by the current orange monster in office. I have coping with my grief, loss and panic by knitting non-stop and writing letters to my congressmen. Ugh! My hair is falling out, my autoimmune disease has gone active, and I am blaming him for these things too!!

    I just got some gift coupons to Barnes & Noble for my birthday, and I am going to buy HRC’s book and Unbelievable by Katy Tur. I’m also going to pull out my spinning wheel and produce some beautiful yarn. I may even get the loom warped up! I remind myself that all things evolve, even social/political systems. We will get through this.

    As I write this the orange monster is on the television talking about the importance of supporting girls in STEM education and those fields of work. This from a man who dismisses scientific findings on a daily basis, not to mention his routine objectification of women. Talk about a study in hypocrisy!

    Weave on! I look forward to the reports of your two birthdays.


  10. I’m glad you’re back enjoying your fiber arts 😍
    I felt exactly like you 😭 November 9th was a terrible day, and I couldn’t function for weeks. Then I came across a meme that simply stated ‘Go make Art’! So I did 😊
    I’ve been better, but at least I’m not drowning in despair.
    Now we can only hope that the dreadful times end sooner rather than later 🙂
    Let’s ‘Make Art’ and enjoy the amazing talents all around us 💕
    I’m looking forward to reading your posts again! ~Tina xoxo


  11. streepie says:

    Good to read you again! Flora’s work is amazing, the wall hanging a very special treat.
    As for the current political happenings (not just in the US, but also Europe), I think that the world is getting a wake-up call after being complacent for a bit too long.


  12. Sandy says:

    I had the same reaction to the election and was physically sick to my stomach for days. I couldn’t create anything but did charity quilt tops and knit scarves for the homeless figuring they would need lots of help certainly not from 45.
    I went to OFFF and was inspired-had a great time and came home with lots of fiber. Flora’s work was wonderful.


  13. Marit says:

    Ha, ha!!! I wasn’t going to say anything about 45 vs 49. I just figured maybe there would have been 49 presidencies if not for some double terms? 🙂


  14. nanciec13 says:

    Oh I get this completely!! 45 is beyond dreadful. I am happy to hear you relit your passion!


  15. Yes indeed! I probably shouldn’t have written the post right after composing a letter congratulating someone on her 49th birthday!!! Thank you!!!


  16. susan says:

    Yea, ‘she’ LIVES!! What a wonderful way to get back into fiber, OFF and a new knitting buddy. I applaud you and Flora does indeed do amazing work.


  17. bagheeracr says:

    P’sst. I’m fairly certain the orange thing is 45 not 49.
    Love your linked post- I’ve been spinning for a few years and love to learn even if I’m fairly young but it’s fun to see the newer folks show up to a spinning gathering with a “new” technique of a woolen/worsted method.


  18. Marit says:

    YAY!!!!!! I’ll expect an invite to your b’day party!!! 🙂


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