16 November 2009

Fiber Art.

Yesterday was my second Ravelversary! For those of you that are not fiber geeks, it means I've been a member of Ravelry for two years. It's a wonderful website, the future of the intertubes, if you will, and surely worthy of its own post. On this momentous occasion, however, I feel inspired to let you know how I view fiber these days.

This is my first handspun, hand-dyed, hand knit sweater. It's definitely not perfect. It's heavy and a little sloppy, and the skeins didn't take the dye exactly the same, but I love it. It's snuggly and fuzzy, it knit up quickly, and it makes me happy. Mostly because I feel like I've really created something, and no one else will ever have one like it, because the materials, the time, and the feeling of it can never be recreated.

That's what's so fun about fiber these days...I can take wool, or mohair, or ramie, or some other random spinnable fiber (cat hair? recycled soda bottles?) and turn it into something useful. Add some color, and the fun aspect increases even more!

I think this is such a revelation to me because I tend to undervalue what I create. I probably have at least 30 pairs of handknit socks in my drawer right now. I just crank them out, not for the product, but for the ease of travel and process of knitting. Talk to other folks over on Rav, though, and they'll tell you the real story...handknit socks are a definite commodity to some folks. Highly prized, highly coveted commodities. High quality sock yarn is expensive...a basic yarn can cost $10-15 per pair, and hand-dyed sock yarn can cost more than $20 per pair. So materials are expensive. Most experienced knitters would say it takes 10-12 hours to knit a pair, so at minimum wage, just labor would cost at least $60. It would not be out of the question for a knitter to charge at least $75 for a pair of handknit socks. Let's not get started on the hand-dyed, hand-spun aspect, either. I refuse to think of them as costing that much, though, because I walk on them everyday!

All of this musing basically adds up to one key concept: I create fiber art, but I don't like to constantly view it as art. I really like to share fiber stuff with other people, and I like to think of my creations as warm, fuzzy, hugs. I joke with people sometimes that if everyone were knitting when their hands were idle, there would be no more cold feet (or hands, or heads, or necks). But I really mean it. I knit for utility, sometimes for pretty, and mostly to keep my hands busy.

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