If you had asked me several years ago what I saw myself doing in 2015, let's just say I never would have said anything remotely related to spinning and dyeing yarn for a living. Never did I think that something as simple as a little wooden spindle and a bump of coarse wool could set in motion such a passion and joy in my life.
I'm going to start my story a few years back, in order to set up the backbone of why I came into this profession.
I graduated high school several years ago, having no idea what I wanted to do but feeling obligated to do go the route we are told growing up that we are supposed to do; go straight into college and get an education, or get a grown up full-time "real" job and move out of your parents house. I was completely panicked because I totally wasn't ready for either of these, so I chose the easier of the two options (at least in my opinion) and enrolled into the first school that would accept me, and would worry about paying for tuition later since it hadn't really hit me yet that student loans really are real money you have to pay back.
At first I enrolled into a school in Indiana to study Psychology and was supposed to begin that Fall, but I had a change of mind and realized I didn't want to deal with the long commute and was scared being away so much would cause distance between my boyfriend (now fiancé, so I'm happy I made this decision) and I.
I decided to sign up to go to the same school he was already going to in order to be a little closer to home, and study Graphic Design. Graphic Design was probably a bit closer to what I wanted to be doing since I've always had an interest in art and making things. I really enjoyed my time in school, however about a year in I started to get feelings of doubt and staring at a computer screen so much was beginning to take its toll on me. While it was fun making images digitally, my heart longed to do something with my own two hands, something tangible and "real." I dabbled for a bit, researching other programs and seriously considered taking up massage therapy or even horticulture for a while, as both professions interested me since I love helping others and I also love nature. In the end I decided to just keep pushing through and finish out my degree, since I've already invested my time and money into it.
Towards the end of my schooling I began working in a corporate marketing office because I needed field hours in order to graduate. I made it through school and graduated with my Graphic Design degree, and continued working in the marketing office. I won't bore you with all the details, but let's just say after months of deteriorating health due to stress from deadlines and negative people and circumstances (I totally adored most of my co-workers, however many of our clients could be a total drain of my happiness and that took a toll on me) - the corporate life just wasn't for me, and I absolutely hated staring at a computer screen over 8 hours a day, and deadlines haunting me even in my not very restful sleep. I longed for something happier, with more moving around and where my creativity was truly appreciated by others.
I left that job, and during my time "discovering myself" again, I picked crochet back up, which I had been doing off and on since I first learned as a child. I had already heard about Etsy a while before this, since my cousin has a shop (TheGirlCave) and introduced me to it. I began selling my crochet items on Etsy in a shop I called AmandaJasmineCrochet (yeah, I know, soo creative.) This was in September of 2013. A few months after I started that shop and was happily crocheting away, I decided to give spinning a try and purchased a little top whorl spindle kit from MaineWoodsYarn on Etsy.
I totally fell in love with spinning, having never worked with wool before and turning it into real yarn that you could actually use in projects just absolutely fascinated me. Spinning was like a meditation to me, making me feel completely zen, I could work at it for hours and not get bored one bit. I kept spinning off and on in my spare time, and in April of 2014 I decided to invest in getting a spinning wheel so I could spin yarn much faster and make even more of it. I started Serene Fiber Arts right around that same time too, as I was getting into dyeing my own fibers and such for spinning.
Here is a photo of the wheel I purchased, and is the one I still use today (though I have upgraded it with an awesome jumbo flyer) This is my Kromski Sonata, which is basically the travel version of the Minstrel. The treadles fold up and it comes with a travel bag so you can take it around with you. This is my pride and joy, and I still keep her nice and clean and get crabby whenever anybody bumps her or the cats start coming near her.
Flash forward a year, and here I am in April 2015 still spinning yarn and enjoying every bit of it. This past year has been an absolute joy to me. I am so happy, after many years of feeling lost, to finally have found my true passion and calling in life. Learning to spin has opened the doors to the whole world of fiber arts for me. Because of spinning, I decided to take up knitting after giving up on learning it a few times as a teenager, and also learning to weave tapestries for even more fun with my yarn. I am constantly learning and honing my skills, I have come such a long way in just the year I have been doing this. Never did I think I'd actually be able to see a wool fiber and tell you the exact name of the breed and features of the fiber (okay, well I'm totally not an expert yet and definitely don't know all the sheep breeds, but I'm learning!) Nor did I think I would be spinning lots of different fun fibers into super crazy bulky art yarn (this is my latest adventure)
The reason I chose the name Serene Fiber Arts, is because the fiber arts are what helped me find my serenity after years of struggling with anxiety issues. Working with my hands is seriously what keeps me sane. I am here with this shop because I absolutely enjoy what I do and truly feel like I cannot live a day without doing some type of fiber craft. I strive to continuously learn all that I can about the world of fibers and continue on this adventure of creating. The soft clicking of my knitting needles, the quiet hum of my spinning wheel in motion, these are the things that have brought so much meaning into my life and I will forever be grateful to all of those I learned from, through Instagram, YouTube, Blogs and Ravelry.
Knitting, Crochet, Weaving, Dyeing, Spinning. This is an ancient art that has begun to fade with our modern culture of mass production and "Can't you get that cheaper at Walmart?", but I am totally excited to see the textile industry coming back into a positive direction as more people pick up this wonderful art and appreciate the beauty of natural fibers and handmade.
I hope you enjoyed reading this little story of mine.
Let me know below, why do you love the fiber arts? What does handmade mean to you? What craft is it that you most enjoy?
Amanda J. French
Fiber artist from Louisville, KY. Professionally, I spend my days spinning one of a kind yarns from wool and recycled fibers, and weaving with them. Other hobbies include; yoga, fitness, painting, studying languages, reading, and knitting.