Posted by: jinniver | December 12, 2008

The social fiber artist

A little over 8 months ago, I received my invitation to Ravelry.  At the time, I had no intention of spending much time on the forums–I was drawn to the database functions.  Being able to document every aspect of my knitting journey was an alluring prospect.  The interconnectivity between what I documented and what everyone else documented and pattern/yarn databases…be still, my Type A beating heart.

So, I was somewhat perplexed and bemused to discover, several months after joining Ravelry, that I spend the large majority of my time in–you guessed it!–the forums.  I’ve got a pretty detailed notebook, and I certainly use the pattern and to a lesser extent the yarn databases (just check out my disorganized favorites page), but I do a lot of chatting (to the tune of 4577 posts at this moment).

It occurred to me that I was a social fiber artist…and a lot of lingering questions were answered.

For the most part, those questions have to do with other favorite fiber arts that are currently gathering dust, especially my quilting.  I used to have regular–at least daily, if not more frequently–bonding experiences with my sewing machine, but right now it’s buried under a pile of yarn.  I used to love playing with all of my fabric–pulling it off the shelves, working on color combinations, or even just petting it–but right now it’s hard to get to past the piles of knitting books and new yarn storage drawers.  I couldn’t really understand why I’d appeared to lose interest in a fiber art that only a few years ago I spent most of my free time on.  And I had managed a respectable list of finished objects (along with all of my WIPs now in storage):  a 16th birthday bed quilt for one cousin; a college graduation quilt for another; various lap quilts and wall hangings; and even a queen-sized collaboration with my mom for my brother’s and sister-in-law’s wedding (the first one to get married…almost 4 years ago–and yes, Mom, I’m still looking for the binding!).

Poor Lexie doesn’t even have a quilt yet, and she’s a year old.  Jeffrey got one before he was born, and even her cousin Stella has two (one of which, the birthday handprint quilt, was completed after my knitting obsession developed).  I’ve got all the fabric sitting piled in the office/craft room, and it’s the perfect fabric, exactly what I was looking for:  fairies on a background of pink, blue, purple, and green.

Resentful fabric

So…why on earth is it still sitting there?  Why aren’t I quilting?  Why are all my cross-stitch and embroidery supplies shoved in a corner?  Why haven’t I even cut out the pieces of Steve’s next Hawaiian shirt, which was supposed to be a birthday present back in May?

It’s because I don’t have anyone to talk to about them.

My mom gave me my first lessons in hand quilting.  We were visiting, and I watched as she hand-quilted while we watched TV.  I liked the idea of having something to do with my hands, and she helped me get stocked up on the basic equipment.  Then we sat together and chatted as we quilted.  Shortly after, Steve and I were transferred to Monterey, California, where I found Back Porch Fabrics.

A beginning quilter could not find a better place to expand their knowledge and love of quilting.  Everyone who worked there was so welcoming, knowledgeable, friendly, helpful…and they offered classes.  Lots and lots of classes.  I probably averaged 1 a month for the 2+ years we were there.  Certainly, I enjoyed learning new techniques, including ones I never thought I’d try, but the biggest draw for me was the social aspect–getting to meet and talk with other quilters about something we all enjoyed.  Sure, my mom’s a quilter too, but chatting over the phone about quilting isn’t quite the same as standing next to someone and contemplating a fabric layout one of us is working on.  Plus, Mom and I have different styles–I love piecing, which she hates; I’ve moved on to the quicker machine quilting, which she eschews.  And she’s not the type to wax eloquent about the latest quilting tool or complementary color scheme, while those little details can captivate me for hours.

Sadly, we had to leave California, first for Newport, RI; then for Chesapeake, VA; and now for Texas.  I was never able to recreate what I had at Back Porch Fabrics, and while I still enjoyed my quilting and sewing, something was definitely missing.  Gradually, I did less and less of it…and I began looking for another creative outlet.

When I decided to relearn–for although I talk as though I picked knitting needles up for the first time last year, I did actually knit briefly as a child and again in college; I did have to learn everything over again–knitting, I thought it might provide enough of a break from quilting to revitalize my interest, and then I could switch back and forth between the two.

Instead, I found Knotty Girl. And Ravelry.  And started this blog.  Now I can stand around with my fellow knitters and discuss a new technique or pick out just the right color and fiber of yarn.  I can jump on the forums and debate the merits of double pointed needles vs. two circular needles vs. magic loop.  And I can wax eloquent (or not) here about the minutiae of my knitting, knowing that although most of my visitors are probably looking for something specific and are here and gone, there are still those of you feeling as social as I do about my knitting.  Maybe others can create in a vacuum, but I know now that I can’t.



  1. What I find amazing is that my circle of “stitching” friends here, who originally started doing counted thread work together, have gradually migrated to knitting over the past few years. Maybe it’s because of the tactile nature of it… I have no idea. We’ve got a couple of die-hard holdouts… but for the most part we switch back and forth.

  2. You know, that makes so much sense. i can’t tell you how many creative mediums I’ve flitted in , played awhile and then flitted out. Even my husband figured the yarn thing would be done by now. Something to think about anyway.

  3. In January I didn’t knit or quilt, now I’m doing both! Knitting started it all plus sparked an interest in blogging and in improving my photography. I have a long way to go but my biggest issue is finding time! My job gets in the way more than anything!

  4. well nobody care for artist. Its same every decade every century.

  5. enjoyed the solioquay re wip quilt projects versus knitting, it is hard to juggle all the things we want to get done, and still have time for the must dos to put bread on the table. Having a guild really helps to go to meetings and sewing or knitting bees, but these forums are also great as you do not have to leave home, can briefly take a “break” from house work, tv or crafts and see what is new, or Instant messabe back and forth with questions and problems and solutions; Fun to se the photos that can be shared and hear from others facing or solving the same challenges

  6. OOps,I see I misspelled message in my previous post


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