The Journey Begins
I’m so excited to begin this blog. The journey actually already began a few weeks ago or some would say many years ago.
My mother taught me how to knit at about the age of eight. I am now almost 57. Since I am now post menopausal (I mean come on we can talk about that now right?) many things are changing for the better in my life. As I move through the changes and make space in my life-and learn to enjoy that space, I keep seeing over and over one constant.
The single most constant thing in my life honestly, has been my knitting. Through childhood and my teenage years, three husbands, and lots of life events, there has always been knitting. I have been knitting almost constantly since I was eight. At first I crocheted more and made what was fashionable then-granny square shawls, purses, and weird little vests, but then I moved more into knitting, and created some of my first sweaters when I was a teenager. None of them were keepers. I still have vivid memories of them and they were all pretty ugly. I got married at 20 and consistently knitted on something most of the years between then and now.
I don’t have a whole lot to show for my years of knitting, for several reasons. Fashions have gone out, accidents have happened, moths have done their damage, and I have knitted a lot of samples, for several stores that I worked for at various times over the years. At times, money was a factor and growing up Red Heart acrylic was all I had access to, so some of those sweaters were sent off to Goodwill when better yarn came into my life. But I have always knitted.
Knitting calms me down, keeps me busy and best of all provides me with beautiful sweaters, which keep me warm and make me fashionable-not that I care at all about that these days. I’ve always just love the sweaters-wool, any fibers, colors, the tactile goodness of working with yarn. For me knitting is like painting. I consider myself an artist.
My Fibershed Journey
A couple of things have been catalysts recently that have gotten me to where I am today. One was the Woolful article by Ashley Yousling (who’s podcasts are awesome), about superwash wool and the process that actually makes it washable. In short it’s toxic. It also droops and I don’t want to work with it anymore. The other recent inspiration was an article on a website called Raptitude, about using up what you already have, taking a year to not start new hobbies and not buy new stuff. What inspired me specifically about this article, at first, was to read the books that you have and not buy more (we buy a lot of books.) But that inspiration, that seed took hold in me and spread. I could not help but start to see that this needed to happen in all areas of my life.
So I sorted out some books and let them go, made a list of classic and important literature that I really want to read (even going to the library rather than buying) and reading what I have. I reminded myself that I’d rather read these classics before I die than spend more time on Facebook.
And the letting go of things spread from yarn to books to household items.
When my father-in-law died in 2008 we inherited an incredible amount of stuff. We gave away truckloads of stuff to the local hospice thrift store. We gave away more stuff to friends. I mean a lot of stuff. Multiple vacuum cleaners, computers, stereo systems, furniture suites, TVs, watches, including something like 100 pairs of brand new underwear. The man was way into getting things for a deal so he had multiples of almost everything. It was incredible.
Over the holidays last year I invited some of my family up to our farm-the branch of the family that I hope will, well, take care of my estate when I die. I was showing them around our farm and open the barn door so I could laughingly show them the amount of stuff that I had collected. But it really wasn’t funny. It was embarrassing. I realized right then that I’m on my way to becoming my father-in-law. The thought of these people having to clean up the amount of stuff that my husband and I did just grossed me out. I don’t want to leave them that burden. Yes, stuff is a burden.
So along with the idea of using what I’ve got came the idea of getting rid of the excess-the things I’m never going to use because frankly I should’ve gotten rid of them along time ago and just stuffing them in the barn was just putting them out of sight, and not “dealing with my stuff”. Some say that it is more than just a coincidence that the physical objects in your external world reflect the chaos, or peace in your internal world. At this stage of my life I am going for absolute peace. Which means turning up the simplicity and letting go of stuff.
The third inspiration recently has been friends who’ve passed away. We’ve known eight people in three years who were between the ages of 53 and 73 that died. It’s shocking. Suddenly I’m at what I still consider a young age, staring down the reality that I too will eventually sometime in the next 20 to 30 years, kick off leaving all my crap behind for someone else to deal with.
So I ask myself what I want that to look like. I certainly don’t want my family to take weeks out of their lives to clean up after me, and as far as every day of the rest of that 20 years, which is a really short period of time, what do I want that to look like? Do I want it to be filled with the chaos of crap or do I want to simplify everything. And I mean everything.
So as I simplify I also think about how do I want to live each and every day. That too is simplifying. Do I want to spend time reading stupid ill-written books by bad authors, bad fiction? Do I want to spend my days knitting with bad yarn? The answer to that is “Oh hell no”.
If I only have 20 years or, well I don’t know, maybe I only have 20 days, what do I want that to look like? I want the next 20 years to be the best of my life! I want to knit with wonderful yarn, I want to read really good books, I want to sew up some quilts to leave my nieces so that they have something to remember me by. I absolutely do not want to be remembered by my great Facebook posts. I mean that’s really what we’re looking at here. I was spending way too much time on Facebook and I just don’t want the next 20 years of my life to be about Facebook. I don’t want people to say “…well she posted such great things on Facebook”. So yeah there’s that, and so everything my life is now getting more pure, more simple, more clean, less cluttered (anyone who actually knows me don’t laugh I’m working on it), And I’m only going to do the things that I think a really valuable, really important. It’s what I call “fish or cut bait time”. Live my values now or die having wasted precious time.
I read something recently That said don’t focus on your feelings, focus on your values. So I wrote up a little card with my values on it and honestly, I swear it has made a drastic change my attitude. I wake up every morning and think about my values, and get up excited to do something to align with those values, rather than waking up grumbling, saying I feel like crap and being completely grumpy and depressed. It really has helped. Because there is no time to waste being grumpy. It’s glass full time.
So in the vein of doing things that really aligned with my values, I found this event called “Barn to Yarn“. I really wanted to attend so I talk to my husband into going with me and we camped out overnight and then attended this small event put on by the Hopland Research and Extension Center and Fibershed. The event felt familiar, and I realized that the people working so hard to put on this event reminded me of the people I worked with at Georgia Organics a non-profit that I volunteered with for many years, which also happened to be where I met my husband. He worked with them for many years, even serving on their board. All of these people working this “Barn to Yarn” event, I could see, are passionate about something and working hard at seeing it manifest. I had a lot of fun at the event, learned a lot and came home with tons of things I wanted to research, the primary one being Fibershed-a nonprofit that focuses on developing regional and regenerative fiber systems including production, bringing textile production back to America, and specifically in this case, California.
End of Part 1