Quillin Weaving

A blog about spinning, dyeing and fiber related things.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Why Handmade Matters

While selling and buying on Etsy this year I’ve noticed that a lot of the shops send Thank You notes with Handmade Matters written on it. This got me to thinking about why handmade should matter so much in our world of mass produced items.  There is the easy answer that things made individually by hand carry the intention and energy of the maker in them. They are often made with greater care than things made by machine in a foreign land. We like the idea that something is made by someone we know or have met or at least read about online. 
I think there is another good reason why handmade matters and that is that making things by hand empowers individuals, both the buyer and the seller. It also empowers those who just watch. Every Saturday I spin yarn at the local Farmer’s Market. I sit in my booth surrounded by hand spun and mill spun yarn and cloth and talk to people (as many adults as children) about how I make yarn and why.  Before I began to take my wheel to the market I had trouble convincing people that I made the yarn. They were skeptical and I understand why – it is not something you see done on every corner. Those days when every household had a loom and spinning wheel are so far in the past that now we just read about them (or watch Youtube about them). People sometimes ask me why I would make something that is easier to just buy at the big box store.  One reason I started spinning at the market was so I would not feel like my time there was wasted, I usually go home with at least one new skein. Another reason is that I think it is important for people to see how a thing is made. Once you see the process you are more likely to try it for yourself.  I also think handmade things are inherently more interesting than mass produced.
This is the important part about Handmade Matters – If you can do it yourself it Empowers you to do things in your world. If you have skills you are not at the mercy of other people. You don’t have to buy what they think you should, you can make what you actually need and want. Making things builds self-worth. Knowledge shared is power at a grass roots level. Never underestimate the power of a grass roots movement; the Indians took back India from the most powerful country in the world – Great Britain through the grass roots movement of spinning yarn. It was cotton and Gandhi got everyone making their own. He empowered the people by reminding them that they had the skills to make do in life. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Handwork tends to be done in my house at the ends of the day. In the early morning gray before the sun is up and the computer is on I tend to pick up what I'm working on and stitch and think. This morning as I sat with the bunny, cat and dog I thought about all the other stitchers out there in the world quietly having a first cup of coffee or tea and enjoying the quiet before the rest of the household wakes up. We follow the stream of  spirit that tells us where that next stitch should go and what should be added to this project or that. We form a community of (mostly) women who still stitch and make things by hand honoring the materials we work with and the process that brings the final piece to completion. In some subliminal way we are all stitching the world whole again after the tears that life inflicts. Handwork does that. It is the attention to detail and small effort that makes something special that carries a small amount of the energy of the maker within it. It is why old textiles are so compelling and why new ones make you want to know more. I am taking classes right now with Jude Hill of Spiritcloth (see the link in the blog list to the side) and so have been thinking more about the importance of work we do by hand. In this world where perception is stood on it's head (corporations are real entities) we need a slow work movement. Let's call it Authentic Work. It would be like the Slow Food movement but with the work your soul says you need to do. In that early morning stillness when you can't get that idea for your true passion out of your head - that is the clue to your Authentic Work. In this time of business deflation where jobs are scarce and underemployment is the norm, Authentic Work is more important than ever. You are blessed indeed if you can find a way to make the calling of your soul into your vocation and earn some small amount of money with that to help offset these hard times.

This beautiful yellow came out of the dyepots yesterday. The fabric is kona and is part of the new offering of quilt fabric. I'm thinking some of it needs to be part of all this indigo I've been dyeing with lately, maybe in the form of a sun or star.

Whatever hand work you do in this world I hope today you find a way to celebrate it - to know in your heart that it is an important and good thing in this world. You are not alone. You are part of a community of stitchers out here in the world who are making a map of spirit with our needles and thread, leaving a trail for others.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Something Secret-Something Free

We've been working on a new project......it's been a secret until now. We will soon launch a line of hand dyed quilting fabric! The fat quarters will be available at the Farmer's Market and from the studio by appointment. The something free is that to help introduce our new fabric line we will be giving away samples with a purchase of any of our products.