Saturday, August 10, 2013


So I should say why I have an Aeronautical Chart of my home state. 2013 is another year of extremely limited yarn buying and that holds over to all crafts. I'm definitely not buying anything to craft a Nerd War project. The Aeronautical Chart came from this years Midwest Weaving Conference.

My roommate was talking the three day spinning class with the Keynote speaker, Jeannine Glaves, and they were spinning non traditional objects into yarn. I was asking for nightly updates since I traditionally take the three day spinning class but passed this year for Inge Dam's Incorporating Tablet Weaving into Garments. A technique much used by Viking but using modern equipment. I had hired Inge Dam just so I could take this class.

Anyway, on day 2 my roommate mentioned that everything was going great but the class had decided that spinning maps was an impossible feat and nobody had gotten more than a yard or two. I made a mental snort and thought Well, I can spin maps. I can spin anything! How hard can it really be? It's just paper. I've been playing with paper since... forever... I have an art degree based off the use of paper. Surely I can spin a map even if ten other people couldn't. It's important to note that I've never spun paper. I've never wanted to spin paper. I've never contemplated spinning paper before that moment.

That night at dinner I asked Jeannine Glaves for a map so I could try. I just love the Midwest Weaving Conference even when I'm not one of the people running it. Everyone there has intimate access to thirty of the top fiber artist/authors/instructors in the country. I can even say the world since each conference has at least one instructor from another country.

Jeannine gave the map to me at the Native American Flute exhibition that night and I immediately started crumpling, crushing, folding, and kneading to break up the fibers and the sizing to make the stiff waxy paper malleable. I then started cutting it into a long spirally strip. About an inch wide since I was thinking a thinner strand would be easier to control. Jeannine would walk by once and a while and give me tips to cut wider or in the directions to cut and to try samples and my thought was pttth This will work just fine and this will be my one and only sample since I'm only proving to myself that I can do this.

That night I was exhausted, as I was every night since I was taking classes while being a concierge to three hundred people, but I stayed up in the lobby slowly and carefully spinning the yarn. It went well enough except that every fifteen inches I had to stop and hand wind it onto the wheel. It wasn't until I went to knit it that there was issues. It just wasn't flexible enough or strong enough to manipulate into stitches. In printmaking we would soak the paper so that it could flex and mold into the etchings. At that point, having nothing to loose, I gave my paper yarn a bath in the sink.

Knitting it while soaking wet was fiddly but worked fine. One doesn't knit with paper yarn to make anything but art so I needed a real project. It needs a reason for existing to be worth the extra work and the more delicate end product. Being a map I wanted something useful for travel. Earlier in the day I had mentioned needing a new bag to hang the oil bottle off of my spinning wheel. Perfect. By midnight the knitting was done but it wasn't enough. I wanted this project to fully represent this conference.

The next day I went around my class asking my classmates for scraps from their projects. I received the the green thread that I used to embroider the the contour lines of a map and the jasper rock beads to symbolize the rocky slops of the flint hills. I used silk thread from my bobbin scraps to embroider the dotted line that ends with the X on Emporia where the conference was being held and the tassel since I had learned tassel making that morning.

By dinner that night, just 24 hours later, I had a finished object to show. At that point it was already known that I had successfully spun the map so the class had tried again, spinning it wet, and had even better success than I had.

The bag in action.

That white blob is a  handmade glass sheep that has graced every one of my spinning wheel oil bags. It's become my wheels' totem.

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