Sunday, August 13, 2023

'Meeting' somebody via Zoom

I don’t know how it happened that at some point Sarah C. Swett appeared in my instagram feed a few years ago . But I do know that I was delighted by her posts, enchanted by her comic drawings and always had a smile on my face when I had seen a new post of hers, or read a blog post. Making yarn out of coffee filters. A Sweater, somewhat slanted. Making yarn out of milkweed plants by meticulously securing the fibers, spinning these - and then weaving tapestries from them… Stuff like that. Things I find absolutely fascinating to read about, being able to go part of the way with them (I mean, I do spin, I quilt, sometimes I hand-sew large quilts, I have hand-quilted large quilts, I knit…), but not all the way entirely. (I don’t do hand-spindling, for one thing.) Sarah has meanwhile changed her mode of publication from her blog of many years (a field guide to needlework) to The Gusset on Substack (find it here) and is continuing to delight readers with her adventures in fibers, weaving, comics and the new-in-her-life dog.

When the topic to be covered for the German Guild’s magazine called for ‘Strafarbeit’ (work/chore as a punishment) I knew I wanted to get in touch with Sarah and write about her. The things she does are nothing like a Strafarbeit for her, I knew that before I talked to her, but I know there are many people out there who would consider these activities exactly that. (I mean – when you knit in public, how frequently do you get comments about the amount of work, the time it takes, that the person commenting would never know how to do that nor care to do that either?) Perhaps not too many people like these appear amongst the members of the Patchworkgilde, but even there you can find some who would be appalled if you tried to talk them into doing a bit of English Paper Piecing, for them EPP is very close to a Strafarbeit indeed.

I got in touch with Sarah, she was gracious enough to grant me two extended zoom interviews, supplied several pictures of her works, explained a lot of details about finding, harvesting, stripping, preparing, weaving milkweed, doing the coffee filter thing and other aspects of life that I considered myself to be a very fortunate person indeed, having to write on the topic of Strafarbeit for the guild. It was like meeting a soul mate, and it felt as if I had found a friend out there in the depths of Idaho. Talking to her came easily, and it wasn’t even necessary to prepare a series of questions to exert any information from her because it all was one easy-flowing conversation about common interest matters. I could have gone on talking to her for hours, hadn’t it been via computer screens.

Of course, I am only one of her zillions of admiring followers, and living far away that is what I will remain, an admiring follower from the distance. But it was an interesting experience to feel such a degree of connectedness merely on the zoom platform.

The issue I am talking about will be published by the middle of September, and I am not going to show any of the photos here, merely a wip-photo of my Sweater Somewhat Slanted. It hasn’t made a whole lot of progress in the past few weeks as I was busy spinning for the Tour de Fleece and with all the other things going on lately, but I am planning to get back to it soon-ish.


The pattern can be bought via Sarah’s shop on her website, or on Ravelry, the free website for knitters, crocheters and fiber artists .

Sarah had a wonderful article in the spinning magazine Ply a couple of years ago and she was recently featured on this podcast.

Instances like this make me happy, being a ‘writer’ for the guild magazine is certainly enriching in many aspects.

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