Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Crazy Ideas, and The Rhinebeck Bag

So if you are at all like me, occasionally you get a wild idea, one that is somehow related to fiber. You suddenly have a flash of inspiration about how to use a certain material to make a certain something and then you can think of almost nothing else for the next twenty-four hours. You get frustrated when you have to do the laundry or go to work or do anything else than obsess about your newest project. And it doesn't have to be a practical idea--oh no. It can be a ridiculous idea, or an outrageous idea. It often involves taking apart some other half-finished project in order to get the needed materials, or maybe running to a store ten minutes before closing time with an eclectic shopping list and a cranky toddler in tow. You are likely to dream about it at night. You convince yourself that you can learn the required techniques in half the time that it takes other people. Which is important, because you would like to finish the project, oh, by tomorrow (or perhaps yesterday) so that you can wear/take the finished item to some specific event.

While you are working on this project, you are fully aware that you might be, um, a little bit crazy. You recall other projects that began in similar ways but ended in disappointment, or even disaster. But that doesn't deter you. Your significant other recognizes the gleam in your eyes and steers clear of you when you race through the house carrying glass washboards, piles of fuzzy stuff, and/or spools of wire. He or she may not say anything, but may stratetically attempt to distract you from your plans. The attempts will fail. The crazy time has begun again.

I have now lived through this particular process enough times that I can offer a statistically insignificant breakdown of the outcomes. While your numbers may vary, I would venture that your categories will be similar. So here, for your benefit, I present :

The Outcomes of Crazy (Fiber) Ideas: A Continuum

Category A: "Where Am I, How Did I Get Here, And What Is This Pile of Crap?" (50%)
(aka "The Morning After")
These are the projects that come to a screeching halt within twenty-four hours due to unexpected costs (financial, marital, mental health, or what-have you), because they are dismal failures ... or because they are tossed aside for a NEW project.

Category B. "Maybe We Could Just Be Friends." (30%)
These projects come to a stumbling halt within a week or two, whether they are almost finished or barely started. The passion has waned. Boredom has set in. Or perhaps you are starting to realize that you have just spent 43.75 hours of your life working on something that is Not Going To Come Out Right. Some of these projects may eventually move into Categories C or D. Others will never see the light of day again.

Category C: "I Fought The Yarn, And The Yarn Won." (10% )
These projects will be completed, but they will be utter failures. You will hide them somewhere and pretend that they never happened. (But you might raid some of them later for materials for new projects.)

Category D: "I Love You, I Love You Not." (6%)
These projects will be completed, and they will be....interesting. They might be "good" interesting (e.g. "artsy"), or just...interesting. They may not come out exactly as planned, but they have potential. They might even be better than anticipated! Ambivalence is the rule here. Most of these projects will get some kind of trial use period, at the end of which they will move into either category C or category E.

Category E: "Magic." (4%)
These projects will be fabulous. You will dance and sing and celebrate your own creativity. You will show them to complete strangers. It is these projects that feed your insanity when you get your next flash of inspiration.

Meet the latest addition to Category D:

The Rhinebeck Bag 2005
Click for a larger view.

The specs: this bag is made from a needle felted wool batt that I purchased last year at Rhinebeck on a whim. (The same batt that was initially going to be some kind of poncho or cape, but it wasn't drape-y enough. So it almost became a vest. Or a wall hanging. But then, three days ago, it decided that its destiny was to be a bag, and that it needed to be completed within five days. Ack.)

So I cut the batt, and machine stitched pieces together, and then wet-felted the resulting bag a bit to add stability. The cover flap (which was already cut and pieced and needle felted as part of the batt's previous incarnation) was trimmed, gently wet-felted, and hand sewn onto the bag. The colorful bits are mohair locks which are needle-felted onto the flap. The strap was thrown into the washing machine to be felted into absolute submission and then stitched on by hand. There is a loop sewn inside the bag to hold my small travel mug/thermos (or a bottle of water), and I plan to add a fabric insert with assorted pockets at some point.

I'm ambivalent.

The pros: I love the colors, the mix of textures, the rough edges. It's unique but understated.

The cons: It's a funny size--deep and wide, almost like a laptop bag. Too big for an everyday bag, too small for a real tote bag. I'm not sure how well it will hold up to regular use. And hey, do those look like strange worms sticking out of the front?

The trial run: Rhinebeck, this weekend. If you see this bag, do say hello!

*And feel free to offer your thoughts on other categories for the continuum. It's always good to know that I'm not alone in my craziness.