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  • Writer's pictureFrancine ○ McCabe

Making Connections

I got the pleasure of spending the other morning with two self-proclaimed fibre addicts. That, guess what, live two streets over from me. I was introduced to Holly and Muriel by another fibre lover and was told about the extensive collection of fibre samples Holly has been working on for years.

This is one of the samples from Holly's collection. "Eternal cuteness" says it all. Love this breed!

When I got to Holly’s house, she showed me three giant binders, alphabetically sorted (a woman of my heart) full of fibre samples from all over the world. She started collecting them years ago when she ordered a fibre sourcebook in the mail, and it came with several samples. She realised that this was a great way of getting to know each breeds fibre specifically. And began collecting as many as she could get her hands on.

I got to see and feel fibre from sheep breeds that we cannot breed here in Canada because of agricultural importing laws (which I know little to nothing about, yet) but the fibre samples she has are unbelievable. She has each one knit into a test swatch so she can learn the gauge and feel of each fibre type. Holly and her friend Muriel are both a part of the Tzouhalem Spinners & Weavers Guild ( ) and between the two of them, they are a plethora of knowledge. I could have sat with them all day sipping tea, browsing fibre samples, and soaking up fibre knowledge. I learned a lot from them in a short time.

Each person I meet and talk to about my book has introduced me to another fibre contact. We have an amazing network of people on the islands who are working with fibre one way or another. The connections I have been making through this journey are invaluable. I don’t know if it’s just more dramatic after years of less contact with people because of covid but connecting with people who are like-minded and interested in the same things as me has been life-changing.

Before I started this book and joined the fibreshed network I didn’t have many friends who were interested in fibre arts or processing fibre. I have some friends who have dabbled but no one wanted to sit and weave and talk fibre with me for hours. I had connected with some local guilds before covid but in-person meetings petered out. Fibre art was feeling a little lonely. And I don’t believe art has to be lonely.

I just hadn’t found a way to connect with the right people yet. When I got the idea to write a fibre book for the Island and the Gulf Islands it was to build more connections for the fibre. I knew the fibre was here and I knew there were lots of makers, designers, and other fibre utilizers interested in local fibre. I wanted to help connect the two and make the local fibre more accessible for those looking to use it. I didn’t realize when I started that the connections I would be building would be so meaningful. Not just for the book but for myself. I am finally getting to talk about the things I love with other people that love them too.

I was nervous initially contacting fibre people and farmers and asking for their time. But the reception I’ve received has been amazing. And I am humbled by this experience. I’ve been asked by a few people how I am organizing and contacting my sources and initially I was a bit of a mess. Not gonna lie.

However, something you may not know about me is that I worked a sales job when I lived in Victoria, BC. I had to coordinate, schedule, and meet up to six clients a day in their homes and sell them an expensive service. And I was good at it. So, when I first started organizing how I would schedule and reach out to people, the skills I had learned in this sales job came through for me. It’s interesting how life seems to build on itself, one thing leading to the next, one seemingly useless skill from a past job helps to propel you forward.

The forward motion hasn’t been totally smooth though. Although most of my fibre contacts are working out, I recently reached out to a past professor, and they were going to help me with some of the publishing details that I am questioning. We were going back and forth by email, and it was going good. (I thought) I sent them a synopsis and we planned for a zoom meeting. That was weeks ago. They ghosted me. So, you know the rabbit hole my brain goes down . . . "they didn’t like the writing, they thought the idea didn’t have legs . . . blah blah blah." But I am coming around to the other side of it now. And realize that although the help would have been insightful, I can do this without it. And accomplishing this without their guidance is allowing me to grow exponentially, although uncomfortably. I’m not telling you this to shame anyone, I doubt they will read this anyway haha but I’m sharing because I want this journey to be transparent and real. It’s not all soft lambs and billowy fibre; it’s manure and rejection too.

But I am here for it. I want it all— the ups and downs. I am a believer that the “downs” are times of expansion and although uncomfortable, necessary. So, I choose to focus on the connections that are successful and continue forward.

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