A joyful come back

It has been more than seven years since I last posted a video on my YouTube channel.

When I began my everything about the fibre project nine years ago, I was focused on Polish (non-English) speakers who were interested in knitting and crocheting, and who were searching for informative, i.e. useful, resources in those two fields. I could not find anything in Polish then, and I had already been involved in running artistic workshops for children and youths, so I thought I would make some content myself and share as part of my artistic diary.

I gave my project a temporary name: prawelewe, which was a made-up word based on two Polish knitting terms: prawe=knits and lewe=purls. As it often happens, the temporary name sticked for much longer that expected, and I still call my corner a prawelewe art studio, although it is no longer only about knitting and crocheting. (If you are a non-Polish speaker, and want to have some fun, check my about page to learn how to pronounce prawelewe properly.)

That period brought an amazing development for me: I learnt various ways of communication with my readers and students, I looked into then-new-to-me tools, and finally, I began designing garments and accessories, marketing those and providing professional customer support to all my fans. All that was a very hard work, which on one hand was extremely time and energy consuming but on the other hand- fantastically awarding. I enjoyed that period, and I knew that there would be even more fruits to collect from it later in the future.

The time went by, the every-day life took over, and after three years I realised that I did not like any more the way my project evolved. I wanted to refresh it, make it more vibrant, and–what was the most important–I wanted to open up to English-speaking audience. At that time, however, it was not clear for me which path to go. On top of that, I discovered that I felt better creating than sharing about what I create, so for the next years to come, I let myself dive into artistic activities in my art studio, and wait until the right time for changes comes.

Now, after good couple of years of developing my skills in the world of fibre, I can see how my audience has changed, how the technology around has improved, and how I grew into a new person. There could not be a better time for a refreshment of my website, my social media profiles, my designs and materials I share on line.

I have a lot of ideas about what I want to create, write and visualize. The 24-hour day is definitely too short for me, and I would love to have that time frame streched so I could squeeze in everything I need and wish to do, but we all know how it is: take it or leave it… so I take what I have been given and work with that.

Recently, I am re-discovering my passions from the past. Perhaps, it has to do with this strange times we are all living in now or maybe I simply miss the creation process of macramé making, graphic design, sewing or weaving, all of which I used to dive into with joy years back.

Regardless of the reasons, I am happy that I have finally passed through the wall that seemed to block me for way too long. I feel it is finally the right time to unpack all my sketches and notes, and get back on my track with broad refreshment of my artistic diary.

Having stated that, I am happy to announce that I have finally made myself sit and create my new video (using some materials I recorded ages ago) and here it is:

The materials used in that video were recorded when I still thought I would want to keep my channel in Polish only. I believe it could be worth staying with Polish for basic instructables for all my folks who do not feel comfortable with learning in English. Apart from that, I still have some raw materials recorded in Polish, and I would love to share those anyway, so it is possible that the next couple of videos will be still in Polish.

However, I might go with English for all my new videos about tips, instructions, news, etc. There is some space for a mixed model, though, which I have been thinking about, e.g., record in both languages or use subtitles for one of the two languages. I will figure it out for sure!

Meanwhile, enjoy watching my new video and if you desire so, welcome to share your feedback on my YouTube channel, in comments section below this post or via e-mail.

I simply cannot wait until I get to work on yet another video. Before that, however, I am going to post the first article of my new series so stay tuned!

Tour de Fleece 2020

This year I made a more realistic plan for my Tour de Fleece challenge, in hopes for fulfilling it in 100%.
As I described in my previous post, I already set several goals for myself at the beginning of this month. I knew it was going to be too much, but I wanted to push myself to even more intensive clean-up sessions… and I am very satisfied with how it turned out. I am mostly done with all the five points that I defined, just some packing is left (as my dedicated containers are finally with me, ready to be filled in with all the goodies).

Now, it is time to challenge my spinning skills. For the 2020 edition of the Tour de Fleece, I have decided to finally move forward and practice two techniques, which I have never tried, and have wanted to learn for quite some time now. I want to go beyond the three-ply yarn and feel comfortable in spinning thick consistent singles.

Hawser plying

First, I am going to learn Hawser plying method, and for that I chose my the least liked fibre I have ever worked with: Malabrigo Nube.

In previous years, I strived to make friends with that fibre but it did not go well. Initially, I spun straight from the commercial top, which was a disaster. Then I tried to split the top into thinner strips and pre-draft, which was far better; however, I still had problems with keeping the thickness of the yarn consistent.
This time I prepared a very lofty cakes, made of thin, pre-drafted strips, which I plan to spin into singles and then into two-ply, and then into four-ply.

When preparing the cakes couple of months ago, I thought of a project, with which I would focus on keeping the colour sections aligned. I tried various techniques for that two years ago, also with Malabrigo Nube, but I blended the strips too much to be able to distinguish the colours while spinning. I might try the colour games sometime in the near future. For now, I feel focusing on new techniques is what I will be enjoying more.

Wrapped singles

The challenge related to the thick singles is going to be more complex. I chose Shetland for the singles, which I carded on my drum carder into two batts, 76 grams each:

and then separated those into rovings:

The fibre was gifted to me by my dear friend Sandi (who brought me scents of my loved Michigan’s UP with that package). It is airy, fluffy and yet soft fibre, and since it is my first Shetland to work with, I am very curious about how it is going to spin, and I cannot wait to begin.

On the other hand, I am aware of the fact that drum-carded Shetland is perhaps not the best material to use when learning how to spin consistent fat singles, but I do not have any long fibres at hand so I am going to try to spin as thick as I only can and see how it goes.

The Shetland is not the only fibre I will be working with. As the title of this section suggests, I want to incorporate practicing the fat singles spinning into learning how to spin wrapped singles.

The second fibre, for the wraps, comes from the Finnsheep called Jackie. The fibre was a gift from my dear friend Callie, who is also a Michigan lady, and who owned the sheep at that time.

In fact the yarn is ready. Although, it is not well done by any means. The story behind that hank deserves a separate post. Enough said, there were tears of disappointment and lots of stress involved on the way… everything because I neglected the singles on my bobbins for way too long. The twist setlled and I wanted to find a remedy to that by overtwisting the singles, then I did not wind the yarn tightly enough on the bobbin so when the end slipped into the loosly wound yarn it was impossible to find it and I needed to cut the yarn, which happened multiple times… oh, was I exhausted.

The yarn is nothing I would use for a project, and I have been keeping it only to remind me about the mistakes I made while working on that (and also for the purpose of sharing my story here on my blog so anyone who reads it, could learn from my mistakes). When I thought about projects for the Tour de Fleece this year, and found the wrapped singles materials, it appeared to me that I could try giving that broken yarn the second life.

Since I am planning to write a separate blog entry on my adventure with that Finnsheep fibre spinning, I only show the two-ply together with the Shetland to give an idea of what the yarn will look like:

I am not at all sure if it is possible to get a nice wrapped singles with the fibre/yarn choice I made but I will not find out until I try so I will go for it. If the Finnsheep yarn will not look good together with the Shetland fibre, I might drop the idea of the wrapping. The hank will then wait for its time.

One more thought at the end.
While preparing for writing this post, I went back to one of my favourite books about spinning, ‘The Spinner’s Book of Yarn Designs’ by Sarah Anderson, and re-read all the sections related to spinning fat singles and slubs, and it was just then when I realized that Sarah organised the sections in that particular order intentionally: slub yarns before the fat singles yarns. Therefore, I think I will add one step to this year’s challenge, just to have a bit of a practice with the slubs before I jump to the singles. For the slubs, I do not have the fibre chosen yet, though. It simply seems right to approach the practice sessions as suggested in the book so I will find some material to work with within couple of days.

That is all for my plans for the next month. Off I go to my spinning wheel.

All the best to you, dear reader!

77. Tour de Pologne

prawelewe logotype
Tour de Pologne logo

The whole idea for today’s post might seem odd to some of you.

In the world of spinners it is common to link the Tour de France event with challenging ourselves in our spinning endeavours during the Tour de Fleece event. The cyclists spin and the spinner spin- you get the idea.
There is a simple thought behind that concept, which might be brought down to one sentence: We set up goals for ourselves and challenge each other in achieving those goals within a certain time frame matching the schedule of whatever event we like to follow.

When I realised that it was already August, with the Tour de France and therefore the Tour de Fleece approaching, and that my prawelewe art studio was a mess, I needed to come up with a plan.

A bit of an inside story to explain why the whole fuss.
My relatively new flat has a space dedicated to my prawelewe art studio. Although most of the renovation works is done, my art corner looks like I would have moved in just a minute ago, with tons of boxes and bags of fleece, yarn, cords, cardboard, paints, textiles, tools, etc. squeezed on several square meters with my spinning wheel and the sewing machine on top of that pile! The artistic mess is good, provided I have access to everything I need.
Since I am planning to begin a new artistic project, it is just about time to prepare my working space. Therefore, I decided to set up a private challenge for myself to finally complete the organisation of all my art materials.

This awkward reality we are living in these days seems to require equally awkward activities to be undertaken so everything matches perfectly. That is why I like the idea that came to me several days ago, to have the Tour de Pologne become the first event for my private challenge, before the Tour de France becomes my annual spinning challenge.

Tour de Pologne is organised every year in Poland, and today begins the 77th edition of our national race. The main person behind the Tour de Pologne is Mr Czesław Lang, who is one of the most famous road racing cyclists in Poland and who has been directing the Tour de Pologne for the last 27 years! (an article in the Polish Wikipedia, and in the English Wikipedia).

This year, there are many teams from around the world participating in the event (the starting list) with our best mountain rider Rafał Majka (an article in the Polish Wikipedia, and in the English Wikipedia) and the world’s leading sprinter Pascal Ackermann to name just the two.

This year’s Tour de Pologne is very special because it is the first event in this field taking place in the pandemic era. As you can surely imagine, it is an extremely demanding task to organise, plan and run such an event with all the restrictions and expectations on the list.

I am going to follow the race and challenge myself with the five small challenges to make a fresh space for my new projects:

challenge 1
Wednesday, 5th August 2020
Tour de Pologne Stage 1
prawelewe art studio -> sewing textiles, ribbons, buttons and tools are organised into boxes, described and moved to the storage

challenge 2
Thursday, 6th August 2020
Tour de Pologne Stage 2
prawelewe art studio -> yarn and fibre stash is documented (photos, notes, labels), packed and moved to the storage

challenge 3
Friday, 7th August 2020
Tour de Pologne Stage 3
prawelewe art studio -> flowers are re-planted and the balcony is prepared for the fleece carding (wool picking is planned to take place on our terrace!)

challenge 4
Saturday, 8th August 2020
Tour de Pologne Stage 4
prawelewe art studio -> design descriptions, workshops notes and studio documents are organised, described and put into document folders

challenge 5
Sunday, 9th August 2020
Tour de Pologne Stage 5
prawelewe art studio -> art papers, materials and tools are organised in containers and moved to the storage

For those interested in the Tour de Pologne topic see more on the event main website.

Such a unique Easter

2020 Easter card

2020 began as usual for most of us. Who would have thought that the whole world would make such a turn only three months later? We live now in a brand new reality, where people are physically far away from each other but at the same time seem to long for spiritual closeness more than ever before.

With spring knocking on the door and the wonderful Easter celebration period filling up our souls and thoughts, we remain separated from family members and friends, learning to build a very new kind of spiritual connection with those who are precious to us.

For many, it is an every-year challenge to slow down and ease our minds in preparation for the Easter Sunday in such a way that we purify ourselves truly. We rather focus on our homes and work… rarely being able to leave all those earthly matters behind and turn our sight into the right direction- to be calm, patient, positive and helpful, to be there for others, even strangers, without expecting to be paid back.

With all the restrictions and limitations spread above our heads these days, it is uneasy for many of us to find our way through the new reality. We are used to a certain day routine, with which we feel stable and strong. Some of us might feel stress and even fear now, when there is a need to act quite differently, in a way we are not familiar with. Making a decision about stepping out of the comfort zone, to use the so-popular phrase, is not the same as being forced to deal with the whole world turned upside down literally within a week.

Whether one likes it or not, we have become invited to take a very close look into the way we live our lives, the way we build our relationships and the way we approach people around us. Not only we look at how others could be useful to us but also how we could be useful to others.

It is so simple to see now that everything (good or bad) can happen to every one of us; there are situations we are able to shape easily and there are those, which we have only little influence on. Today you have something, tomorrow you might loose it. Today you are the one who gives money to a person on the street, tomorrow you might be the person who asks for support. Until something bad happens far away from us, we tend to think it is non existent. Only when a gunshot deafens us, we realise that guns do exist and are actually widely used. The past several weeks of watching the news from all over the world and sharing information with family members and friends who live in different parts of the globe reminded me that we are so dependent on each other. If we do not grow together, we fall apart.

This global situation… what an extraordinary way to make us humble!

Easter is the time when we remind ourselves that eventually good wins over bad, that there is no beginning without the end and that if something ends, the new is just about to come. I hope you all remember about that soothing truth.

Only good should come out of this whole situation we are struggling with now. We will survive this transition period to become stronger and better human beings. That is for sure.

Stay healthy and safe, and remember to help each other.

~ Cathliin

Święta Bożego Narodzenia = Christmas

Let this Christmas bring peace to your hearts, so everything that is bad stays behind and what is good comes close to your heart every day for the next year.

Let this Christmas time be pure, with supportive friends and family members whose arms are always there for you to lean on when you need it.

Let this Christmas give you faith and strength, hope and joy, love and power, all to make good things come to life.

Christmas wishes 2019

With all the best to you from me

~ Cathliin

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