The Torn Motivations of an Indecisive Student.

I have a problem.

Seriously, it’s not good. There are so many things pulling me in different directions, trying to convince me to do different things with my life. It’s hard to tune everything out and figure out what, exactly, I want to do. first, there’s this:

Here's our booth at the beginning of the day! It was chilly at 6:30 in the morning, but quite pleasant after the sun came up a bit.

Here’s our booth at the beginning of the day! It was chilly at 6:30 in the morning, but quite pleasant after the sun came up a bit.

This weekend was the Red Barn Arts and Crafts festival, and a couple of fibers girls and I (I’m so happy to be an honorary fibers girl- even if I’m not currently in any of the classes. Hopefully I’ll be back in, next semester) had a booth in the student section. Students get tables for free, which is awesome! Emma had dyed up some silk scarves in positively beautiful colors, and Melanie had some equally beautifully dyed rayon scarves with embroidered butterflies and dragonflies on them. Also beautiful. I had my eye on one of them, but it sold before I made my move. Emily made some bead rings, and also a pair of felted slippers and some other fibery goodness. I, of course, had my Etsy bags (available for purchase here, if you’re interested) The ones that didn’t sell at Red Barn will be up on Etsy in a few days.

I brought my spinning wheel to give myself something to do, and it turned out to be the best possible scenario because it would catch people’s attention, and they would wander over to see what was going on- and then buy stuff! Certain generalizations can be made about people when they see a spinning wheel for the first time. Men will usually come up really close to the wheel (and therefore me), and stare at it- they’re trying to figure out how it works. They usually don’t say anything, unless they can’t figure it out, and then I explain it. The first question out of the women’s mouths is usually ‘what kind of yarn are you making?’, shortly followed by ‘what are you going to do with it?’- this generalization probably only applies to fiber-inclined women at craft fairs. Children will stop and stare, but they will wander up very slowly and stand further away- a few looked like they thought the wheel was going to spin out of control and attack them. Everyone was mesmerized with the moving parts, and as far as most were concerned, it was ‘magic’ (this was said by numerous people)

Check me out! the sun wasn't great on my face, but hey- better than no photos at all...

Check me out! the sun wasn’t great on my face, but hey- better than no photos at all…

The highlight of my Red Barn spinning experience, however, was one little girl- maybe 6 or 7 years old, who came right up, and started asking the most intelligent questions about how the wheel worked. I was so startled, I had to gather my thoughts before I could answer. How does the twist hold the yarn together? How does the slow big wheel make the small one spin faster?  Do those different grooves make the spin faster or slower (Yes!). How do you control how fast the wheel winds the yarn? That little girl is destined for greatness.

A few asked if I was selling the yarn. If I’d though people would be interested, I would have made some yarn to sell! Oh well, it’s also too bad that there’s not a next year for me at the festival. I also would have made business cards, had I thought people would be interested in those. A lot were. I had 30 bags for sale, though, and all were made the afternoon/night before the festival. 30 bags in 11 hours. I counted, by the number of TV shows and movies I had on in the background whilst I was sewing. In my head, it didn’t seem like it took that long to do, but after I counted all the hours up, I was amazed that I’d been able to focus that long.

Anyways, our booth looked fabulous, and we made lots of money. Plus, it was the most fun I’ve had in a large group of people since…well, possibly since I can remember. I didn’t at any point feel the urge to run and hide from the crowd. Also, I got this very pretty amethyst ring from a jewelry vendor:

Another cell phone pic. Maybe I'll take a super close up one when I get home.

Another cell phone pic. A photo couldn’t do this ring justice anyways.

I thought I’d be tired after Red Barn, so I hadn’t planned on any activities for Saturday night- even though I had a lot of homework to do. I realized I wasn’t terribly tired, though, so after I took myself out on a dinner date (and basically enjoyed the company of said self for a little while), I decided to dye the fabric for my flapper dress.

Fabric in the pot, looking a bit like a witch's brew!

Fabric in the pot, looking a bit like a witch’s brew!

It was the first time I’d dyed silk, so I was marginally nervous- but all my sources say it’s easier than doing wool with acid dyes, and I dye wool with acid dyes all the time- so no big deal! I was shooting for a deep maroon color, and what I got was not very far off. It has a little more brown in it than I was expecting, but I’ve decided I like it- it is congruent with the timeline of the development of synthetic dyes. Although I used synthetic dyes for this project, they would have been fairly new at the time and natural colors would have been more prevalent. So, basically, a little brown is good. The color I mixed is comprised of 6 different dyes, and I’m so very happy everything worked out! I was also surprised that the silk chiffon and the crepe de chine took the dye in slightly different shades. My dress has two layers- the sheer chiffon on top, and the more opaque crepe de chine underneath- and the chiffon, although both were in the same dye pot, took the dye in a slightly more brown shade than did the crepe de chine. Curiouser and curiouser.

I pulled a bit of the fabric out after the dye had exhausted, to check the color it'd be when it was dry...Although this photo isn't particularly representative of the final color.

I pulled a bit of the fabric out after the dye had exhausted, to check the color it’d be when it was dry…Although this photo isn’t particularly representative of the final color.

The process is basically as follows: fill a pot with water enough for the fabric to swim, and heat. Add the dye, which has previously been dissolved and mixed thoroughly. Add the fabric, mix that up, and then add the fixer (I use citric acid). I also made sure to stir the fabric constantly to get the most even color distribution possible, and I added the fixer a little at a time, to slow down the process of the fabric taking the dye (that’s called exhausting the dye)

The finished fabric dries on a rack, dripping in the bath tub

The finished fabric dries on a rack, dripping in the bath tub. I’m so glad there’s a bath tub here!

I had to wait until my roommate wasn’t home, because the acid dye chemical reaction makes her nervous- but I’ve looked up the chemistry, she has nothing to be nervous about. The neatest thing about acid dyes is that there aren’t any nasty byproducts of the reaction. All of the chemistry is soaked up into the dye, so you start and end with a pot of water- if you do it right. The only potential hazard one encounters during the dye process is inhaling the powdered dye- but if you wear a mask and wipe down your work surface with a damp cloth when you’re done mixing, you’re perfectly safe! That’s why I love acid dyes so much. It’s also a lot easier to predict and alter colors as they happen than it is with fiber reactive dyes.

The finished fabric, dyed and dried: Colors are pretty close to accurate in this shot.

The finished fabric, dyed and dried: Colors are pretty close to accurate in this shot.

Anyways, after the fabric was dyed and dried, I needed to check up to make sure the beads I ordered would match- and most of them did! The purples did not, but the purples were beautiful, so I’m keeping them anyways. My plan of action from here is to get the dress made this week, so that I can work on beading in my free time (hah!) from now until Halloween. If I don’t get finished by Halloween, I’ll still keep working on it as a portfolio piece in case I choose to pursue costume design- but by finishing it on time, I’ll be able to take it to Columbia and enter in costume contests- thereby hopefully making a bit of money to offset the costs of materials.

Look at those beautiful beads!

Look at those beautiful beads! In real life, that orangey color is more gold, and considerably less intense…

So here we are: the torn motivations of the indecisive student. She knows one thing for sure- that she wishes to continue to be a student. She feels she isn’t done learning, and wants to work in a more specialized field than her current education will allow. However, she enjoyed the art festival a lot more than she thought she would, and she would like to continue doing craft fairs- hopefully in conjunction with an Etsy store that will grow steadily with time. She also much prefers thinking about and working on clothing to doing her homework, and although she is afraid that she won’t be successful in such a demanding field, she ever so much wants to try to be a costume designer. She also loves illustration, though, and wants to write and illustrate children’s books, and she loves the idea of conservation because it’s the best kind of job with which she can immerse herself in the history she loves.  Most alarmingly, however, is the realization that dawned on her quite some time ago- the realization that she can’t do all of these things. That she has to choose- maybe not just one, but certainly not all.


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