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Getting started with Fiber Arts

Updated: May 14, 2023

Hangin' by a thread: Getting Started

"What hobbies are you interested in?"

When I'm asked about hobbies and responds with "weaving" or "spinning," there is usually a silence and/or a quizzical look. Recently, someone tried to explain to me that I could buy dishtowels at Walmart and wouldn't that be easier? A response to "spinning" is usually, WHY? OK. There is a disconnect there and I am used to dealing with that. A new response I'm hearing, especially to "weaving," is "How do I get into that?" and "When did you get started?" This is the stepping off point for anyone who enjoys sharing their particular interest and, especially, getting someone else started on the path.

Easy beginner project: Table runner and napkins in plain weave cotton boucle

Easy beginner project: Table runner and napkins in plain weave cotton boucle

So how did I get started? Lots of weavers and spinners got started in the 70's in the "back to the land" movement. Yeah, I was there but my avenue to the "land" was cooking and assorted housekeeping things. Not artsy or creative for the most part. Eight years ago, when our daughter was expecting our first grandchild, I had a desire to knit for this baby. I had learned to crochet as a small child from my grandmother but had only accomplished a few afghans (in the 80's) and put it down. Now I really wanted to learn to knit. I went to classes (most important for beginning in a craft) started to hang out in a knitters group. I was fascinated by the variety of yarns and wondered how this was done. That led into spinning and joining a weaving/spinning guild. Spinners there got me started with basic instructions and the guild rented me a wheel. I was hooked immediately. Creating anything is a big deal for me. Writing a story, baking a perfect pie, crafting a garment....something out of bits and pieces, folded around an idea and shaped into a new object. Wow. Soon a free loom came into the guild and eventually to me. Now I was weaving rugs and fabrics. Knitting scarves and sweaters. Out of yarn. MY HANDMADE YARNS. This was getting down to the essence of crafting and creating.

First attempt at rag rug making. Dining table for pampered pooches

First attempt at rag rug making. Dining table for pampered pooches

How d0 you get started? The nuts and bolts of it is really in seeking out both equipment and teachers. Some of my teachers were just friends who generously gave me their time and showed me the steps as I was ready to accomplish them. Guilds and organizations usually have both instructors and rental equipment so you can get started without the big commitment of buying a wheel or loom. Reading books and surfing the internet are great but the support and contact of crafters and hands on instructors is what continues to pass me on through the steps of learning. I participate in a local spinning/weaving guild and take classes at my favorite yarn shops. I even do demonstrating at fairs and shows occasionally. I meet lots of folks who are interested in fiber arts and, hopefully, I can spur one on to putting a hand in.

Lastly, to quote (unfortunately) a sports equipment provider......"Just do it." Yes, you can ponder and think, plan and shop forever, but the final step over the line is to just do it. Go to a knit shop and PAY for the lessons (you are committed). Go to the next meeting of a weaving or spinning group, introduce yourself around as a "newbie" and wanting to learn. You will be inundated with suggestions and offers to help you. I'll be starting a new project soon. Until then I'm,

Hangin' by a Thread.


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