knit | sew

New Year Old Year

January 8, 2016

Happy New Year Readers and welcome back to Needle and Spindle! I hope you had some enjoyable holidays and if you did not, then let us be done with them and embrace the year ahead.

With my resolution to find balance in all aspects of life still freshly sown, it seems apt to begin another blogging year slowly and with consideration. After encouragement from a dear reader, I am starting with a review post of makings in 2015.

There were small things knitted.

And some bigger things knitted.

There was small sewing.

And some grownup frocks and tshirts.

When I look at my making like this I can see that the majority of these projects were made from my existing stash or salvaged from discarded materials/garments. More materials left my stashes than came into them…finally! The other thing I noticed that much of the making has been generated from my own designs or substantially modified to suit my materials or purposes. I reckon this means my self reliance and confidence in my own skills is growing.  Interestingly, the commitment to making from what I have already has really promoted the development of these skills which in turn assists me to see more potential in the materials to hand. It would seem that constraining our access to materials can have significant creative and skill-based benefits whilst reducing resource use and waste production. Who would have thunk it?

The other thing I noticed was that in knitting and spinning at least, my way of making has begun changing from discrete projects to explorations and processes of making. I have Annie Cholewa and her partnership in the Waysides project to thank for this and this was certainly one of the highlights of my year. From her little village in Wales and my urban grid in Melbourne, we set out together to explore our local neighbourhoods on foot, gathering dyestuffs from the waysides as we walked in order to create a colour map of our habitual places. We had many adventures along the way and discussed what it was to walk and connect with the land…or not! From this organic process, the Waysides Shawl and the Waysides Yoke came into being. They were not planned for at the beginning, they arose from the process and I found this to be such an exciting way to make something.

It was a long year and a fullsome, often turbulent one personally and in the ‘verse but the sustained making and the enlivening discussion we share in this space has been a sturdy keel for me, and I hope for you too. The Year is Dead, Long Live the Year!


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  1. Well I am just thrilled to bits to see this post and what a clever way to do it – a photo collage. Your work all once like this is simply mindblowing: what a productive and successful 2015 you had.
    I love that your work had evolved as you have challenged yourself to make use of materials already at hand.
    Very impressive R. I can’t wait to see what 2016 brings for you and your making xx

    1. Thanks very much CAM for suggesting I do a review post. I really didn’t know what I would find until I saw all the work together and it was a useful way to look back and reflect about what it all meant as a body of work. Cheers, Rebecca

  2. Lovely, absolutely lovely my dear. Happy New Year and please keep us up to date with your writings and creativity.

    1. Thank you Deb. Happy New Year to you to. My aim is to keep up the weekly posts and it lovely to know you are looking forward to reading them!

  3. It was so much fun to see all of your projects together. The dyeing and knitting that came out of your study with friends was certainly a huge growth spurt for your own designs. Because you are multi-talented it is harder to recognize all that grown inside of you this past year. Trust me, from a reader, it has been a rush and a lots of joy taken in looking at your creations. I cannot believe how much I have learned as I read your blog and viewed the links. I follow two blogs….yours and Kate Davies. Two different souls really living their lives as clearly as possible, loving their family and friends with all the ups and downs life hands them. I look forward to another wonderful year….one day at a time. Joanie

    1. Dear Joan, Gosh, that is a really generous comment. You have been most encouraging of my endeavours and I appreciate what a dedicated reader you are. And yes, let us take it, one day at a time…that will stop my head exploding!

  4. Happiest of new years, Rebecca. What a terrific year of contemplation and making and more contemplation that was.

    No pressure, but high hopes for you and family in 2016.

    1. Happy New Year Kate, Thank you for your company and good wishes. It was a year of contemplation wasn’t it! Here is to more of it!

  5. I’m glad to have found your website! I was browsing the Internet for information on the Wendy Spinning wheel because I wanted to acquire one 🙂 do you still spin with yours? I love your 2015 projects! My favorites are the color work sweaters and the floral dresses 🙂

    1. Dear Jeannie, Welcome! It is lovely to have you here, especially if you are getting a Wendy wheel! My Wendy wheel has been my only wheel since learning to spin. All that I have spun has been spun on her. She is a sprightly if delicate older lady. She seems to prefer sports weight and fingering weights as her default yarn. I was able to purchase some other whorls to take her slower or faster but she does prefer her own mid range whorls. She is a wheel to fall in love with. Having said that I have recently purchased a Majacraft Rose and this is certainly faster and more adjustable though not as much character. Wendy is such a pretty little wheel, I doubt you would regret the purchase.

      1. Thank you so much for your response, and your experience is so helpful to hear! I’ve knit with DK weight yarn most of my life so far…but I’m considering moving to lighter weight yarns because I read that they are easier on the hands/joints! Do you believe that to be true in your experience? And, actually I was not clear with my last post lol. I did want a Wendy wheel, and as I did research I came across your post! It solidified my decision to get one 🙂 I own a 1972 lady, who certainly is delicate yet sturdy, and with so much charm. It’s helpful to hear of your experience with buying other whorls – I have the midsize as well, and consider getting the whorl for finer, fingering weight at some point 😉 Oh, thank you so much!!

        1. Dear Jeannie, firstly to yarn weights. Yes, in my experience I have found lighter weights easier on my joints. Circular needles and avoiding too many cables/twisted stitches also helps. Secondly, Congratulations on your purchase. She will be a delightful companion. The other size whorls are good but do be cautious when putting them on. I had to push my laceweight on with such force I broke an edge of it. I should have filed the whorl hole open a bit more before trying to force it. I would push the midsize as much as you can first. Do keep in touch!

  6. That is indeed a year of accomplishments and not the lest of it…your stash and designs! The year is not really dead, just changing and forging ahead into new territory. Huzzah!!

    1. Huzzah to you too Susan. I hope your snow is melting and the electricity remaining reliable. It was a good year but I like that it is done. Westward ho! into new territory!

    1. Dear Alicia, Thank you. I think we don’t realise how much we make until we see it all together like this! The Waysides Yoke is my favourite too, it is funny to think that there is about six months or more of effort invested in that yoke. It means a lot to me and I also really like wearing it…phew!

  7. I love your collage! Wow, what a productive year you’ve had! It’s something worth doing, for me, too, I think. Just sitting here I can’t recall the projects that I’ve worked on. All the best for a fantastic 2016!


    1. Dear Wendy, I am glad you liked the collage. I too had completely forgotten what I had made at the beginning of the year! All those frocks forgotten! Do have a look at what you have made, you will surprise yourself I think.

  8. So happy you are back! You had a wonderful creative year! Each of your projects is a story worth to be told. I really admire how conscious you were of materials that you’ve been using. I learned a lot from you this year, especially about eco-friendly yarn. You are and have always been such a great inspiration for me! Happy 2016!

    1. Thanks Alina, it is lovely to be back after a wee break. Thank you for your kind words and indeed for your inspiration too. Best wishes for 2016.

  9. What a prolific year! and what wonderful things you have made! I have so much enjoyed reading your blog as you have worked your way through all this making. All the very best for the new year, Rebecca

    1. Dear Katherine, thanks for those words. I am not sure it was so prolific though, I think much of the making may have represented pre study anxiety! This year will necessarily be slower in the making department but it is all part of the journey I guess. Happy New Year to Something From Seaview, I enjoy it so much.

  10. I am a bit late with my comment, but I had to tell you how much I love your blog … the creative ideas that become so carefully made and finished projects, the concern with materials that are chosen with care for sustaining our resources, the linking of craft with place and people, the thoughtful writing about doing things that matter (locally and globally) and the funny bits of your life. I also enjoy your readers.

    Thanks so much, Rebecca.

    1. Happy New Year Diana and thank you for such a thoughtful comment. I think you may have summarised my intentions better than I did. And thank you so much for drawing attention to the readers of Needle and Spindle, because they (including yourself) are so much part of what constitutes Needle and Spindle. When I first started blogging it felt like a soliloquy and now it sits most assuredly as a conversation. For that I am extremely grateful. The readers are wonderful folk, kind, generous and thoughtful.

  11. Fantastic to see all of your projects together and the range of skills and end results. I love the way you write about each of them and the processes you have gone through when planning and making them – so illuminating. I so enjoy your blog, and when a new post pops up I always know I am in for an interesting read with lots of food for thought, clearly expressed. Happy new year to you and your family 🙂

    1. Dear Jane, What kind things you say! Thanks for reading. I am so glad you enjoy the making and my witterings and stories. Happy New Year to you too.

  12. My goodness, what a wonderful collection of creativity! How proud you must feel when you group them altogether as you have done and see just what you have in truth achieved!

    I am once again following in your path and thinking very carefully of just working from what I have hidden in my mysterious seldom opened plastic boxes. They are stacked upon each other next to the bathroom whilst I wait patiently for a room of my own. Some things still take time to come to fruition and my own room is one of them although Virginia Woolf would probably never have had such a challenge.

    I am awaiting my order from Jamieson & Smith, when that arrives, which hopefully will be so so soon, I am determined not to be tempted again this year.

    I cannot think of a more apposite refrain too – The Year is Dead, Long Live The Year!

    1. Dear Lydia, How lovely to hear from you! Ah yes, the plastic boxes! I too have a stack of them and I am resolved to tackle the trickiest of them this year. It is the fingering weight box that is the devil and contains amongst other things, a lot of Jamieson and Smith oddments! Enjoy your parcel from them, it cannot fail to disappoint. I look forward to hearing about what you knit up from it.

  13. I am ridiculously late in wishing you a Happy New Year my friend, but shall add my hope that only good things come your way in 2016.

    Our Wayside’s project was one of my highlights of the year too, although one of the things I learnt from it was that sometimes life takes over and you have to let things go. In consequence, where you have your beautiful shawl and stunning sweater to show for your efforts, I have a box of small skeins of yarn yet to be made into something, and not all of them even blogged about. So for me Waysides still feels unfinished, although maybe it is not the kind of project to ever really end?

    And yes, your ongoing interrogation of sustainable making here, and your friendship from afar, has been a sturdy keel for me too x

    1. Dearest Annie, There is truly no such thing as late well wishing! Your Wayside skeins are all the more precious for being unblogged and unmade. They embody both the project, the travails of that year and your perseverance in seeing that year through. They, like you, remain. They, like you, are ready to made into the new year. Best wishes, for smooth sailing and sturdy keels for all!

  14. HNY to you, and what a marvellous reflection on a year well-spent!

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed following along as you explore your process and ideas this year. The Wayside Collection was a particular standout for me.

    Looking forward to seeing what 2016 brings!!

    1. Thank you Kylie, I am needing 2016 to be a little more circumspect I think…I need to get that study done! Congrats to you on a fabulous entrance into the design world. Best wishes for the new year.

  15. Such a wonderfully cogent and thoughtful post for the new year, Rebecca. I am in awe of your capacity to reflect at depth and put your reflections into such wise and communicative and colourful words.

    I’m interested in the idea of constraint fostering creativity. It can happen in many areas I think.

    1. Dear Polly, Thank you for being such a great companion on the road. May our constraints only ever bring us creativity! Best wishes for 2016.

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