Appreciating the Fiber Arts as a Modern Woman

By Morgan E.

My name is Morgan, and I’m a fiber artist and youth librarian! I live in the beautiful mountains of Southwest Virginia. My talents lie in embroidery, crochet, spinning yarn, weaving, and needle felting! Most times, when I’m not busy at the best job ever, you can find me listening to a true crime podcast and crafting. Or watching tv and crafting. Or listening to an audiobook and crafting. More than likely my dog, Pippi, is also on my lap (she’s helping!). I love to travel and have been fortunate enough to visit a dozen countries!

Being a woman nowadays is…a lot. There’s so much expected of us at all times, always, always, always. Family, friends, work, dishes, chores, rinse, repeat. As I’ve settled into being a single woman, home-owner, and full-time worker at age 27, I choose to use fiber art as a release.

In what feels like another life, I was an elementary school teacher and I worked at a year-round school. On the fall break of my intense and anxiety-drenched first year of teaching, I escaped off to Nashville for a trip with my mom. I stumbled upon an embroidery kit in a cute shop, and then promptly ignored it for about a year. Because, you know, teaching. I didn’t make it through my second year in the classroom, and moved to Virginia with a nice dose of job-PTSD and my tail between my legs. I stumbled upon that embroidery kit at some point in the unpacking process and quickly became a woman obsessed. Wait, this stuff I had only seen old people do was…fun? And relaxing?!

An embroidery I designed and stitched of the iconic scene from “The Sound of Music.”

Soon, I started my degree to get my Master’s of Library Science (a little known degree that is required for most jobs in the field!) I stitched during almost every. single. class. I started an Etsy. I sold some things, mostly to friends and family. My anxiety dreams slowly began to fade. I had something to do with my hands that helped all that nervous energy be channeled into creativity. I could make. I could create. I could put something out there in the world that made it prettier.

An embroidery piece I designed and stitched, based on the hydrangeas in my garden.

By the time the pandemic hit, I had also taught myself to needle felt and weave. I called embroidery my “gateway craft”, and by the summer of 2020 I had added two more crafts to my list; crocheting and spinning yarn. Fiber art is just so grounding, isn’t it? While the world was seemingly falling apart around us, I had something to do with my hands. I made. I created. I learned, I explored, I became a full wild crafty renaissance woman. In a culture that constantly demands more and more and more, faster and faster, I taught myself the art of slowing down. Appreciating the time it takes to work on a project, and reveling in that FO feeling.

A photograph a friend captured of me spinning on my wheel.

I explored, and learned some more – both about myself and fiber art. By the fall of 2020 I had finished my degree, bought a house, and started my current job. I live alone, and work full-time as well as run my business. I still ground myself with fiber art. Life demands so much of us women, and I reclaim my time in the slowest, loveliest ways I know how.

A finished Wildbird Shawl by @tlyarncrafts, using hand-dyed yarn from @woolberryfiberco.

It feels decadent and delicious, to have all these modern conveniences and capabilities and still choose to honor how things used to be done. I can (and do) buy pre-spun yarn, carded from wool by who-knows-what in who-knows-where. But I also now source unprocessed fleece, and prepare it myself. I spin the yarn to weave or crochet or do whatever with on my vintage spinning wheel. It’s a choice I make, one I make all the time in so many ways, to honor the process of how things used to be, in a society that constantly looks for change. Onward and ahead. It’s a choice to breathe and to connect with the earth, and the history of it and the women who came before me. Those women had no choice – no big, modern mills and factories to produce textiles. They worked and worked and worked to produce what their people needed. Fleece was washed, yarn was spun, clothes were made, nets were woven. Nowadays, we have nice and modern products to clean our sheep wool. Once upon a time, women literally peed on the wool to clean it. Oh, but am I thankful for plumbing and soap.

I was asked to do a spinning demonstration at a local history festival – here’s my vintage wheel in the old schoolhouse!

There’s a philosophy book mentioned in the show The Good Place called “What We Owe to Each Other” about morality. What do I owe these hard-working women of the past? My undying respect, for one. But also; gratitude. That they worked so hard for me to be able to relax on my couch, a woman who bought her own house, and use yarn for fun. Not because I need to. But because I want to.

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