March 13, 2017 by clarezuraw
The theme in my studio this month has been finishing things. In some cases, finishing is pretty straightforward. I finished a long-term personal knitting project, the A Bit of Iceland blanket by Stephen West that has been on my needles since I returned from Iceland with the yarn last May. It was a really satisfying project, unlike many others that linger on my needles for months. I learned a new (to me) technique for casting on and likened the whole experience to reading a good novel that you don’t want to end while also wanting to know how it ends. In this case it ended up huge and toasty.
In other cases, finishing is a little bit more complicated. Since the beginning of the year I’ve been experimenting with some new woven and mixed media fiber pieces (sorry, no photos until they officially know what and where they’re going to be in the world). Almost without exception, I have jumped eagerly into these projects and then let them languish on the finishing table for weeks. This is partly because every step of a new design takes me extra time to figure out and some of these things will hopefully be making their way to craft shows later this year so I want them to look great.
If I’m honest though, my finishing delays are mostly due to my terrible sewing skills. As a kid I learned how to sew not long after learning to knit, but I never pursued it as an adult, so my skills never went beyond basic seams and hems. The most complicated thing I have ever sewn was a hideous pair of culottes, circa 1996. The neon cat print undoubtedly distracted from my uneven seams. Thankfully I grew up in an era before ubiquitous digital media and there is no photographic evidence.
As a weaver it’s especially difficult to avoid sewing as a part of finishing pieces of any kind. I’m a little more confident sewing by hand than by machine. With my grandmother’s thimbles, plenty of time, and some good tunes I almost enjoy the work. Time is of course the problem now that I’m working on big batches of woven pieces. I’m no longer terrified of breaking the Bernina or ruining my handwovens, but fear still lurks and the seam ripper is always close at hand. I have mangled a few things in the last month and learned a few lessons while trying to summon the patience that I encourage my beginning knitting students to find.
Finishing also brings other challenges and questions. When is something truly finished? And then what? Where do I put it? Is it finished enough to show anybody? Is this something someone would want to display or buy? If so, where? When? No definitive answers yet, but I’ll keep you posted.