I feel I should start by introducing myself. My name is Diana and I run a handspinning business called Story Skeins.
I am a yarnmaker. Just being able to write that sentence represents the completion of a dream. Spinning, and fibrecraft in general, is my main creative outlet, my meditation, and a prime example of allowing the creative process to happen and letting the results speak for themselves.
In addition to this there have been unexpected benefits, primarily in becoming part of the amazing worldwide fibre community. This year for the first time I am taking part in Fibreshare and will be sending and receiving fibre boxes internationally. I hope to learn more and make more connections with these wonderful people.
I started the year thinking that 2016 would be a quiet year for Story Skeins. I wanted to consolidate the basic business and the regular work, such as the monthly fibre club that I run, but I didn’t want to take on too much more. In fact I have decided to take a period of study leave from my commission work whilst I focus on finishing my training course and passing my last few exams. Once I am qualified, I will be running two micro businesses!
Although taking this leave may seem like a step backwards, in fact I think it will allow the non-commercial side of Story Skeins to flourish. Story Skeins has always been primarily about forging a creative space in the world, building community links, and practising mindful creativity. Although I will minimise my selling for a while, I will still need that creative space in my life, and my explorations will be shared through my various media presences. I’m really excited about the potential result of taking that pressure off and having the freedom to experiment when and how I like.
No sooner had I decided to have a quiet year, than ideas for projects started bursting into my thoughts. Many of these are medium- to long-term projects which I wouldn’t expect to finish in a year, but hopefully I can start the process.
I want to improve my technical spinning skills, so I am working my way through Sarah Anderson’s Spinner’s Book of Yarn Designs. I have never been taught to spin, so I am approaching it with a beginner’s mind and seeing what more I can learn about familiar yarn styles, and looking forward to eventually spinning more exotic yarns (handspun bouclé, anyone?)
I have a background in the mathematical sciences, and love to include this aspect of myself in my work. This year I would like to dust off my programming skills and design my own electric spinning wheel using a raspberry pi computer. I have plans for features that I’ve never seen on any spinning wheel before, so I am very excited about this!
I have spent my first year of Story Skeins exploring all the different kinds of fibre I could find. Of course I’ve spun Merino, and Bluefaced Leicester. But I’ve also spun banana, and soya bean fibre, kevlar, rose, milk protein fibre, and much more. This year will be the year I really delve into wool. I want to understand and appreciate the qualities of each breed, how best to spin them and what uses they are suited to. So much of Britain’s history is intertwined with the wool trade. I would like to learn more about our heritage.
One of my smaller projects is to learn to spin great sock yarn. I am taking part in a sock swap this year with a group of crafters who are all secretly making and sending socks to each other. I’m trying a new fibre blend based on performance, warmth and toughness. It’ll be an interesting experiment.
Finally, I have a set of personal goals. My life is pretty busy. I have two children, one of whom has medical needs that require day and night attention. I have chronic fatigue (these last two points may be related!). I am in my final year of an intensive course of study which will lead to a professional qualification and another business. I would like to do the next four-year course with the same training organisation. I also volunteer in my local community, and I have my beloved crafting business too. Given this context, I am quite please with the extent to which I have managed to balance the various aspects of my life. But I know I could do better. As part of this there are nurturing activities that I’d like to prioritise. I’d like to read more, I’d like to spin more for myself, but above all, I’d like to play more. Remembering that every activity can be approached with a spirit of excitement, fun and joy does me a lot of good.