Out of time

Knitting takes me out of time. Sitting outside yesterday, in the sunlight, listening to the wind in the trees, watching Corbie puppy-out after bees and flies, I could have been anyone, anywhere (read: at least since the advent of knitting). If I ignored the house with its humming electricity at my back, and the cars on the road, and the planes overhead, I could have been anyone, anywhere. It’s a small step to the side to then, through this craft, reach out and touch my ancestors. It ceases to be about knitting specifically and begins to be about textiles in general, and there is something we all have in common: making portable shelter. Taking some raw material (in this case, essentially thread) and creating something that wasn’t there before.

Jo has summarized very eloquently here part of the appeal spinning holds for me: its timelessness.  Spinning takes me out of time, and often, out of myself as well.  When I am preparing, dyeing, and spinning wool, I could be almost anyone, almost anywhere in the world, at almost any time.  Sure, there are a few limitations on this depending on the equipment being used; spinning wheels first appeared in Asia in the 11th century, and in Europe a century later, but the flyer and treadle wheel we all know and love didn’t follow for a few hundred years after that.  Spindles, however, have been around for as long as people have been covering their bodies with cloth rather than animal skins.  I’m tempted to say this coincided with the switch from being hunter-gatherers to being farmers, but in reality no one knows; people were probably collecting plants such as nettles and retting and spinning those long before sheep entered the picture.

Want to feel closer to your ancestors at this time of turning towards the dark?  Take up a traditional craft.  Spinning qualifies, but so do sewing and needlework, weaving, carving with non-mechanized tools, candle-making, making herbal preparations using a mortar and pestle, and probably a hundred other things I’m not thinking of at the moment.  These crafts take you out of time; they strip away the façade of the modern era and, by so doing, they help to thin the veil.

You can read the rest of Jo’s post here.

Tour de Fleece 2013 Week One

Tour de Fleece 2013 Week One

The first week of Tour de Fleece 2013 is over!  Some highlights of my own accomplishments:

  • About 4-5 pounds of fleece washed and hand dyed
  • Researched and tested (with great success!) a new method of scouring fleece that preserves the lock structure and the beauty of the wool, without being overly fiddly
  • Completed three ritual cord commissions
  • Completed 2/3 of the first yarn installment for a long-term special order
  • Took up spindling again, and discovered that all the wheel spinning I’ve done has amped up my skills in this arena (surprise, surprise!)

Next on my dance ticket: more fleece scouring, more dyeing, more spinning, two more ritual cord orders and maybe some freelance ritual cords for the shop–plus some unexpected fun, I’m sure!  (And pray the gods, no more pet emergencies!)


Venom Yarns: Fiber with a Bad Attitude

Introducing a special new line of yarns for my Fensalir Fiber Art shop on Etsy: Venom Yarns.

The first four yarns in this collection are available now, and I’ll be adding more as the inspiration takes me. In contrast to the somewhat more positive spin of my mythologically inspired and plant dyed yarns, Venom Yarns are 100% bad attitude and proud of it, with names like Toxic Kool Aid, Sharkbait, and Rotten Apple. They are handspun by me using only the finest farm-fresh fibers, and their gorgeous color ways are hand dyed using low impact professional acid dyes and the occasionally packet of drink mix–meaning they are NOT toxic to the environment. Come take a bite; you know you want to!

In honor of this launch, I am also introducing a new coupon code: FENSALIRLOVE. Enter this code at checkout in my store and you’ll get 10% off on your entire order. Which means it’s definitely time to stock up on some handspun yarn for all that holiday knitting…*wink*

Camp Pluckyfluff recap and photos

Not sure how many of you lovely people also read my other blog (or even if any of you do, besides Jo), but I forgot to link the post I wrote last week recapping the weekend’s events and sharing a few photos of the proceedings, so here it is.  (Come on, you know you want to click; there’s fiber candy…)

A few random notes

First and most importantly, The Fairy Queen of Spencer’s Butte is now available for the Kindle!  I haven’t mentioned it here yet, but I got a Kindle myself a few months back and absolutely LOVE it.  So if you’re a new Kindle owner too and would prefer to read Jolene’s book in that format, now you can!

Secondly, I just finished a rather large update over at Fiberwytch on Etsy: more necklace scarves, and two new skeins for knitting or crochet.

Thirdly…well, this sort of speaks for itself:

Meet Luna, our blue smoke Persian, who decided my spinning fiber basket looked like a good place for a nap.  (And who am to tell her otherwise?)

And lastly, there was mail happiness today, in the form of this:

You’re looking at a pound of California Red roving (a heritage sheep breed), newly arrived from Apple Rose Fibers on Etsy.  Guess what I’ll be doing tonight?

Samhain sale at Fensalir Fiber on Etsy

Now through Tuesday, Novemer 2nd 2011, take 15% off your entire purchase at my yarn store by entering the coupon code SPOOKY during checkout. A great way to stock up on striking and unusual handspun yarns for your holiday gift knitting projects!

Also, a couple of people have asked me whether I can make more of some of my yarns. Even though most of the ones I have listed thus far are marked “OOAK” because I only have one skein of that particular design at the moment, for many of them I could potentially make similar skeins–perhaps not exactly the same (as is to be expected with handspun yarn), but similar enough in colorway and materials to allow you to complete your project. So if you see something you like but need more of it, just ask! I’d be more than happy to see what I can do.

Along the same lines, if you fall in love with a colorway but would prefer a different wool, chances are good that I can do that for you! I am also happy to spin custom yarns in the colors and materials of your choice; just email or convo me and we’ll discuss price and a time frame. This includes spinning very special keepsake yarns made from your pet’s fur (blended with wool or other fibers if necessary). A warm pair of mittens or socks knitted from the fiber of a beloved animal friend would make an especially thoughtful, and very unique, holiday gift!

Wishing all of my readers joy and comfort at this very sacred and solemn festival…

Fensalir Fiber on Etsy

I have some exciting news (exciting to me, anyway): at long last, my new Etsy store, Fensalir Fiber, is open for business! The shop features unique art yarns hand spun by me and inspired by all of the obsessions that form the basis of my life: magic, folklore and fairy tales, the spirit world, special local places and power spots (in and around my home in Eugene, OR), the natural world, and the ephemeral world of dreams.

fensalir fiber on etsySome of the yarns in this first batch include wool from rare heritage sheep breeds such as Polwarth, Romney and Navajo Churro; as I’ve mentioned before, supporting these endangered breeds by buying and using their wool is something I care deeply about, so this will be an increasing trend for the future of my store. Many of the designs incorporate wool hand dyed either by others or by myself, including dye made from berries, roots, barks, lichens and mushrooms. Hand-dyeing my own wool–using professional powders and drink mixes in addition to plants–is an activity I’ve found more satisfying than I could have guessed; it appeals deeply to my kitchen-witchiness, the same part of me that loves to brew mead or concoct herbal oils and potions. The opening product line-up even includes my very first hand painted skein, which has an organic, rustic look I’m quite pleased with.

The debut of the store has been a long time coming. I’ve dreamed of having a yarn and fiber shop since before I actually had a spinning wheel, but of course the entry into my life of Miss Wheelamina Ashford, my vintage Ashford Traditional, last July, is what made this dream a real possibility. Wheelie has been a good teacher for me, and we’ve gone on to do very well for my first few months of spinning, I think. But of course, I still have a great deal to learn, and lots more spinning I plan to do–so there will be frequent additions to the store, because I’m going to be producing much more yarn than I could possibly use myself. I’d like to eventually add kettle-dyed and hand painted rovings designed by me for others to spin as well. And some of my yarns (as well as wool in other forms) will be showing up later this fall and winter in my other store, incorporated into jewelry and personal accessories as well as various curious objects for your home and altar.

But for now, if you knit or crochet I just may have the exact yarn you’re looking for! Don’t knit or crochet?  Many of my yarns are designed for embellishment purposes, and could also be used in a variety of other crafts such as dollmaking, scrapbooking, home decor, or felting, or even for tree trimming or other decorating projects for the holidays.  Don’t see exactly what you’re looking for?  Well, as I said, I will be adding more offerings on a regular basis, so stay tuned!  I am also open to commissions, however, and would love to spin something special just for you.  I will also spin your pet’s fiber into a special yarn as a keepsake.  Just email me and we’ll talk!

In the meantime though, go have a look!

Here we go again…

I’ve come to this same realization before. You’d think I would have learned by now that separating my work from my Work is never going to…well, work. The oaths I have taken are such that there’s really no way it can.

At any rate, my latest notion that it would be a great idea to completely separate my budding fiber business from everything else I do and try to secularize it? Not so much. Already the skeins I’m making are dripping with symbolic colors, references to folklore and fairy tales, and hidden meanings. And while I’m sure some of you out there are saying hey, it’s only yarn, as I’ve mentioned before on this blog there is a wealth of tradition and spiritual meaning incorporated into the act of spinning. It conjures up images of Rumplestiltzkin, Sleeping Beauty, and the Norns; it forges connections with the magic of the sagas, with Frigga and the other northern goddesses, and with all sorts of non-northern mythological figures from Spider Woman to the Fates. It also occurs to me that trying to secularize my spinning would be a mistake, even if I could do it, because my background as a witch, an Odin’s woman, and someone whose life is centered around the gods and spirits is part of what sets me apart as a spinner (and as an artist in other mediums, and as a person in general).

So, where does this leave my plans for Fensalir Fiber? Not very far from where they were; I still think it makes sense to have a separate Etsy store for it, and to forge a brand identity for the business that’s related to, yet distinct from, my existing Wytch of the North store (http://wytchofthenorth.etsy.com, which will continue to focus on jewelry and various other witchy sundries). I have decided, however, that it doesn’t make so much sense to be struggling to maintain a separate blog for the yarn store, since at times it’s a challenge for me to keep one blog supplied with fresh content, let alone two. Besides, I remember a few readers of this blog expressing disappointment that my adventures in spinning, dyeing and assorted other fiber arts would be migrating over to a different blog, since those activities really do merge quite well with my spiritual path as a whole. (Also, I don’t blame people for not being overly enthusiastic about having yet another blog to add to their reading list.) For these reasons, Fensalir Fiber and Wytch of the North will be sharing a Facebook fan page and Twitter account too, when I manage to get both of those set up.

This isn’t necessarily a permanent decision; if my fiber store becomes wildly successful at some point in the future it may make sense to establish a separate blog for it again. Or, then again, it may not. (See my opening paragraph, above.) It’s possible that, if at some future date I’m supporting myself to some extent with my crafts and not working full time, this may be something worth doing. But for now, it’s making things a lot harder for me than they need to be.

Over the coming days, I will be copying the posts made at Fensalir Fiber over here, in the interest of making the merger complete (and just in case anyone’s missed them).

Meanwhile? I’ve been doing a lot of seasonal reading (Fairy Tale Rituals, Wolfsangel, and The Witches’ Book of the Dead, reviews of all of which will be forthcoming at some point soon), struggling with exhaustion and flirting with sickness as a side effect of Jo’s boss having decided she needed to work a 7-4 schedule for the past two weeks, and still haven’t gotten the rest of my first batch of yarns uploaded to the Etsy store, let alone finished designing my business cards and other marketing materials (which are all going to be redone, eventually, for Wytch of the North too). I’ve been doing a little less spinning than usual but a fair amount of dyeing using Jacquard acid dyes, and am contemplating offering rovings for spinning in addition to finished skeins. I’m very much looking forward to the Samhain vacation Jo and I have coming up next week—October 26th through November 2nd), even though this time of year continues to promise to be a real season of death for us, as usual (Sassy, my elderly Maine Coon, is still on the decline) rather than merely a symbolic one.

At any rate, currently the plan is to have the new Etsy store uploaded by the first week of November for real, since at that point I need to turn my attention to producing an entirely different set of yarns for a vending opportunity at my job starting 11/21 and running for two weeks (just in time for Black Friday!). More soon!

National Spinning and Weaving Week, and goodbye to DyeLots

Check out my latest post on the Fensalir Fiber blog, in which I sadly recount my last trip to DyeLots (and my fiber spending spree, which was not sad at all).  And yes, I am still working on getting the Fensalir Fiber Etsy store online; hopefully I will be able to finish uploading the first batch of art yarns in the next day or two!

The Legacy of Spinning and Fairytale Yarns

I’ll admit it: I’m thoroughly enamored with the history of handspinning, spinning wheels, and textile production.  So I couldn’t resist sharing this Etsy Treasury on my other blog.

ALSO, I am shooting for an October 1st launch for my new Etsy store, Fensalir Fiber: Fairytale Yarns.  Of course, I may well end up taking a day or two longer, but this is the plan.  To help publicize the new store (and the new blog), there will be a GIVEAWAY.  So, watch this space (as well as the Fensalir Fiber blog) to find out what you’ll need to do to enter.

And the most exciting new of all:  it rained today, which means that–finally–fall is starting in earnest!  I will be posting more about that, and my fall/winter religious festival calendar, in the next few days (as well as my very seasonally appropriate experiments with hand dyeing using mushrooms and lichens).