In an earlier life, thirty years ago, I was a fiber artist. Most of my readers know me as a painter and a teacher, which is my current life. In those early years, I designed garments, mostly sweaters, in a one of a kind series, making over one hundred sweaters a year. I showed locally at Folklife and Bumbershoot, at the Seattle Center, galleries and at the American Crafts Council’s shows in the east. Try taking orders from galleries for sweaters in June in West Springfield, MA when the temperature is 97 degrees and the humidity is just as high. Winters in Baltimore with well below freezing weather was a better venue.
I handspun yarn from angora, baby camel down and silk, specialty wools, ramie and more were my specialty. I won awards for my yarn designs. I definitely won awards for the sweaters, some costing as much as $1000. One was hand dyed from herbal materials including onion skins, walnut husks, chrome (yuk), alum and more. It was an order for a man who was a historical reenactment buff. It was handcarded, handspun, hand dyed and hand knitted in natural white, two shades of yellow from the differing mordants, and brown from the walnut husks. Remember this was in the 80’s.
Many sweaters used as many as 30 different kinds of yarn in related colors in the Kaffe Faucet style. A full length opera coat lined with matching silk satin lining was over $900. It was a limited market, but it did make me a good wage. Winters were spent making and stocking inventory. Summers were spent going from show to show and trying to build inventory in between. It was grueling.
In 1995, my wonderful husband decided that hauling a truckload of inventory to shows around the state and the country was more than he could handle. And bless his soul, he told me when he turned fifty, I was going to have to get another helper. He mentioned that he would give me a year off to find myself, or I could continue with a hew helper.
I took the year off. I tried to decide on a new career. It was difficult. What would you do if you were allowed a year to change your life? While I was trying to decide, I wrote a cookbook. It was published that year, 1995, The Artist’s Palate, which went to a second printing. But what would I do after that? I considered going back to school and getting a degree in Architecture. I was already designing houses for people. It was a good option, but I needed to brush up on my math. I took a math class at the local community college and was flummoxed to discover it was all theoretical and none of it covered the Plane Geometry I needed.
Other options were opened. The community college offered me a job teaching art when they saw my induction information. I taught art there for twelve years until they phased out my department. I moved on to other venues and still teach it twenty six years later.
But….my husband and my sister suggested that I take a watercolor class from Eric Wiegardt. I did and I have been painting ever since. But that is not the focus of this missal.
All the materials that I had left from my former life as a fiber artist have been languishing up in my attic since 1995. Now I received news of an artist’s and crafter’s garage sale. I signed up. I started with one table, but when I began pulling the materials from nooks and crannies I discovered I had over five hundred pounds of stuff. I just gave away over one hundred pounds of fabrics I had left to a lady that sews quilts for veterans. https://q13fox.com/2018/11/14/giving-to-the-givers-whidbey-quilters-are-stitching-up-local-veterans-old-wounds-of-war/
I now am left with several hundred pounds of wool which has been washed and carded, some made into roving, to sell. I have about one hundred fifty pounds of commercial yarn to sell. I have three knitting machines. I cried while I was gathering it all. There are thousands of dollars of materials here which I will sell for pennies on the dollar. It has been sitting for twenty three years. Why am I so attached to it?
I have another life as a painter and teacher. I have had this life since 1996. Why do I not want to let go? I am trying to divest myself of superfluous baggage. But this baggage was a big part of my younger life. I must let go before all this detritus molders away in the attic. Give it up and get onto a less cluttered life. Be free of the crap that bogs me down. I have had wind of several groups that look for this material, schools, craft classes for kids, educational groups, groups that have thrift store that support the homeless, the foodless. Hopefully after the sale, I will be able to support these folks by giving them the remains of the day at the artist’s and crafter’s garage sale!