Hello. My name is Donna. I am a fiberholic, an addict.
Knitting was my gateway drug. Hallmarks of addiction were quick to be noted by loved ones. I was always thinking about ways to get more yarn or new needles and knitting was taking me away from domestic chores. Then there was knitting while I was supposed to be paying attention as a good soccer mom. Truth be told, I used knitting at work. At least until I was told I couldn’t knit at staff meetings any more. Knitting kept me calm and worked better than duct tape at those long meetings! I kept a hard line about knitting while I was driving – no way! At least that I could think of. I did try to start a needle exchange at our LYS but the store thought it would be bad for business.
I don’t think I would have made the leap to spinning for a long time except for the company I was keeping. My partner is the number one co-dependent enabler. He’s so encouraging! If you want to know how bad it gets, here it is: when he thought he was going to be laid off from one of his jobs he told me to get that new spinning wheel right away before the money was gone! And recently, when I was saying no way to spending money on a Woolee Winder, what does he do?? He hung out with other fiber addicts and listened to how great the WW is and then bought me one!
From spinning it was on to hand cards and then a drum carder and more recently, an even better drum carder. Of course, there’s color blending and dyeing happening, too. So, yes, I was taking the substance in larger and larger amounts, spending lots of time procuring and using fiber and when I was stuck at work (the day job that pays for all this fiber activity), I did have cravings to play with fiber in one way or another. And daydreams of color and texture! I can’t (and don’t want to) get them out of my head. I did manage to fulfill my family and occupational activities, but sometimes not without a degree of resentment. Socially, well, I do best in groups of other fiber lovers. Otherwise, I am more likely to stay home and knit, spin, weave, or plan more projects.
I know that long periods of repetitive motion, as with knitting needles in my hands or bent over my loom, can harm me and put me in danger of physical problems. Does that stop me? No way! So, yes, I have continued to use even though it may make things worse. But I really don’t see using a drum carder as dangerous – usually. So, no alcohol is used while carding, weaving, or knitting. I do engage in one dangerous thing related to fiber: fiber and fiber equipment have filled our house and can be considered a dangerous environment. Stepping on beads, stitch markers, and other miscellaneous things can hurt bare feet and bumping into looms and baskets of yarn in the dark night can be hazardous. Ask my partner how I know this.
Still, I don’t think things got out of control until a few years ago when I really hit the hard stuff: weaving. Oh my! That’s a deep rabbit hole! I really can’t say how all those looms started accumulating! And I must have been in a black out when that 1973 Gilmore came home with me and joined the herd. Its true: I am more likely to neglect household responsibilities now and I just flat out refused more than one day per week on the income producing job because I am so driven to stay home and weave. And when my partner is writing and I’m engaged in fiber arts, well, we need a keeper. Or at least someone to feed us once in a while.
The good news is that I do engage in group therapy. I meet regularly with a weaving study group. Our big book is MdvH’s Complete Book of Drafting. It has more than 12 steps, I will rely on this book for a lifetime, and there is always more to learn from it. I think the group therapy is helping. I no longer search out yarns shops everywhere I go and I can say that I feel satiated for knitting yarns. I stopped acquiring looms and don’t feel any shaft envy at all, even though I only have eight shafts. It is too bad that with three looms having eight shafts each I still can’t weave 24 shaft drafts, but that’s ok. I can accept that.
So, I’m hopeful and grateful. I’m going to be ok. I’m learning and growing as a human being and I know I will always need the support of a fiber guild. In fact, I’ll be off to a meeting shortly . . .
NOTE: After more than 40 years in health care, with the last 20 in mental health, my current and former clients and patients know that I take addiction and associated struggles very seriously. This is written with great respect for the individuals I’ve worked with and learned from. Many have struggled valiantly to deal with all manner of addictions and I graciously bow to them. It is also written with a wink and a nod to those of us with SBLE (Stash Beyond Life Expectancy) and in honor of those trampled in the crazed stampede at Stitches West. The latter would include my dear fiber enabling spouse who has been run over by wheelchairs, tossed out of lunch chairs, and stepped on mercilessly when we attend the marketplace. And he keeps taking me back.