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Up early to get in the shower before my son, but also because I was too anxious about some crochet projects to stay in bed any longer.

crocheted gloves

My “fun” pair of fingerless gloves. See the monkey button and eyelash yarn trim?

It’s the annual holiday ART2BUY at our local arts center (DVAC), and yesterday I fulfilled my commitment to them by dropping off the last pair of fingerless gloves I promised as well as a shibori scarf. The fingerless gloves have been selling well, but this last pair was a departure; I decided to make them “fun.” Since one person’s fun can be another person’s stupid, I was sort of regretting that little experiment as I lay awake at 3:30 am. Oh well. The shibori scarf–just the second time I’ve tried this method–turned out OK, but wasn’t exactly what I expected. I had intended this to be star of my inventory and was really stoked about the vision in my head, so my hopes were probably a little high. I stare at the ceiling and picture the staff at DVAC either (a.) laughing at it or (b.) trying to figure out where they can hide it.

The story behind the scarf. I started with a slate gray sports weight wool, which I single-crocheted to be nearly six feet long and three feet wide. As part of the shibori process, this would be shrunk–or felted–after adding in whatever resist materials I came up with. In the past, I had used plastic golf balls. They were the right size, but were so slippery, they often came out of the fabric during the shrinking process. After searching unsuccessfully for small rubber balls, I decided to use the Styrofoam craft balls one can find at Michael’s. The rough texture and multiple sizes were perfect for what I had in mind and they didn’t disintegrate when plunged into hot water. I also thought it would be interesting to put pleats in the ends of the scarf, so I used small rubber bands to hold the fabrics and spaced them at roughly two-inch intervals. To make it really interesting (or so I thought), I would immerse the whole thing in a dark blue dye just after the majority of the felting was done.

Why the dye? This is where I reveal my competitive streak. When I made my first shibori scarf last year for DVAC”s art auction, I was approached by a fellow artist’s husband who confided that his wife was interested in talking to me about my shibori scarf. Feeling flattered and curious, I sought her out. Well, she was confused, she said. Did I dye my scarf? (No.) It didn’t look like it had been dyed and shibori was always dyed, so how could it be shibori? Her husband interjected that his wife had taken a class in Columbus (she nods vigorously) and it had been all about shibori and dyeing, plus it was a whole-day class (more nodding). OK, hmmm, I say, appearing to be considering her comment seriously, when I actually would just like to poke her. Gathering my thoughts, I think I do a decent job of explaining that when knitting or crocheting (she dyes silk fabric), the resist material and the shrinking is considered shibori. If you have natural yarn and dye it as well, that’s great, but it’s not required to be considered shibori. I could tell she didn’t buy it, so I pretended to see my husband across the room, made my escape and fumed the rest of the evening.

crocheted scarf

I need more research and experience over-dyeing. Not the dramatic effect I wanted.

Because I am a malleable pleaser (and slightly competitive), my attempt at dyeing was partly so I could tell her this year that, yes, damn it, I did use dye, but also to see what kind of effect I would get. The result: More research needed. Dyeing is more complicated than I ever imagined and perhaps once wool is dyed, it doesn’t take an over-dye well. As you can see from the photo, there is a slight blue tint noticeable in the pleated area, but the dramatic effect I envisioned did not come through. And by the way, what’s that green thing?

If you have been following StorylineCreations, you know that every piece I make is inspired by a quote from literature, poetry or music. Because I am a huge admirer or Wendell Berry, I selected the following quote from “Given:” “The soil under the grass is dreaming of a young forest, and under the pavement, the soil is dreaming of grass.” To illustrate the idea of life beneath the pavement or sprouts under the snow, I added a single hand-crocheted flower in one of the “rocks” left after removing the Styrofoam balls. Does the shibori scarf work, even though it’s not what I expected? I’m still deciding, but hoping that someone will think it’s the perfect gift for themselves or a friend.

Does the thought of failure inhibit your creativity? Are you anxious when you decide to try something completely different just to see what happens? We all know that failure is part of the process and being afraid to fail is not kind to the creative mind. Still, aren’t we all happier when we succeed? Of course we are! But the reality is that happiness is transient and has never proved to be that helpful to me when digging deep for inspiration or searching for a way to express the inexpressible.

One last thing. As usual, I welcome your comments, feedback, random thoughts, and, if you are willling, your fears about the creative life. Also, take a minute to complete the poll below about competition among artists. Finally, it would really make me happy if you would like my StorylineCreations Facebook page and visit my etsy shop.

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