“At my age, I’m not sure I’d be the most appealing member to highlight…” is nothing less than you would expect Pearl Wang, our Featured Student, to reply when asked to do a write-up about her. Let me tell you (and her) why that isn’t the case.
Learning Starts Early
Pearl came to the fibre arts at a young age, watching her mom sew clothes, knit sweaters, and embroider linen for the family. Of course, Pearl wanted to make a sweater for a doll, and rather than simply making it for her, Pearl’s mom taught her how to knit it (go Mom!). From that day on, she knit little vests and had the fanciest dressed teddies and dolls on the block. After learning to knit, she purchased yarn whenever she could to add to her first “stash.” From there, she set out to learn crochet, sewing, quilting, spinning, weaving, natural dyeing, and making tapestry; and I’m sure that list is still growing.
Some years ago, at Pearl’s first sheep and wool festival (in Maryland) she met Richard Ashford, who introduced her to her first e-spinner. Pearl would later pick up her first (and not last) braid of SweetGeorgia fibre to spin and knit, which led her to look into the company, which led her to the brand new School of SweetGeorgia. The School is where I met her over a year ago.
Inspiration comes from all directions
When I had the chance to ask Pearl about her many crafts, she told me how she’s inspired by “… designers who blend colours and patterns together,” but in today’s world, there are too many options. With all the choices out there, it’s “dizzying… [and] there’s always something beautiful to make.” This often means she wants to make everything (and sometimes tries to) but figures out that one must sleep too. While her friends also inspire her with their projects, “it’s a new technique to be learned to complete the [project]” that will inspire her the most about what to make next.
Often the difficulty in finding a project isn’t the inspiration or pattern, but rather access to fibre and tools. “With so many local yarn stores closing recently, I’m finding it necessary to order online more often, unless I want to drive 20 or 30 miles to the closest fiber stores, and they don’t always have what I’m hoping for. Looking at 2D images isn’t the same as being able to pick up a skein of yarn or fiber…” she says sadly. That is something we can all relate to, as not every company has a great sample pack to try before you buy (something SweetGeorgia offers).
Making with her hands gives Pearl a great sense of self-care. “There are so many stressors associated with life these days that crafting is a place where I can go to meditate and calm my mind,” she explains, “It probably sounds strange, but crafting is like the practice of yoga for me because I have to be in the moment and remember to breathe.” This sense of calm that Pearl feels drives her to make time for her many crafts and learn new ones at the School of SweetGeorgia, such as the natural dying she did this past summer.
Being a Student never ends
Pearl’s newest challenge is tapestry with the Techniques in Tapestry course and it is quickly filling up her crafting time. The class provides the information and instruction you need to prepare you, but, as Pearl explains, the process of tapestry design can be rather difficult. “Designing a tapestry feels a bit like being given a sheet of white paper and a box of crayons, and I’m expected to draw a picture that everyone will like. It’s one thing to download a knitting or weaving pattern and purchase the recommended yarns; it’s another to design your own work and then figure out what colors and materials you need to create it.”
When Pearl isn’t watching class, or at home creating with fibre, she spends time with her friends, who often ask her how she creates such beautiful pieces. She replies, simply, “It’s SweetGeorgia, the classes, and any of their yarn. They do the work for me. I just follow the lessons and buy their yarn, and everything works out beautifully.” What Pearl won’t tell you is that she has a hand in it too.