"What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals." ~Goethe
One of the long-term projects I'm putting on my plate is the Certificate of Excellence in Handspinning offered by the Handweavers Guild of America. Why? That is an excellent question! Let's start at the beginning.
Backstory (includes a whole herd of teal deer):
There was this Ravelry thread, and it was soulsucking and awful and angrymaking. It made me want to throw things at multiple people, gave me fits, and left me desperately wondering what sort of people raised those people. Because, seriously, who does that?! It took a big, steaming dump on the idea of "community" that I love and hold dear and, for a while, made me want to drop out of the fiber arts entirely.
But. But but but.
There's this thing I've learned to do when I find myself getting all fitty. I've learned that things that get me riled up are usually poking at things I don't like about myself. Because it's all about me. Always. So I've been sitting with this ugly, mean-spirited mess of a thread (which has, in fairness, evolved into something useful toward the latter few pages), and really looking at why it's upsetting to me. I found a few things.
One of the recurring themes in the Thread of Suck was a shrill harping about how noobs had no right to sell noobcraft (offered with a side of "get off my lawn!"). The time-honored "this is why we can't have nice things" argument was raised, and a heap of blame for poor market performance was placed on the noobs (theory being the market saturation created by the mass influx of noobspun destroyed the ease with which "experts" could sell their wares). A few posts acknowledged that the market would sort the mess itself (eventually). There was a lot of "you cannot has" thrown down, and without any sort of real authority to enforce that kind of exclusive access to, and control over, the market.
This implication that only Ferraris belong on the road is some nonsense. No one would believe for a second that the vast number of available Civics somehow diminishes the worth of a Bentley (most would probably claim the opposite is true). A Prius is not a Porsche. Duh. This is easy to put into car terms because those values are pretty well known and at least accepted (if not truly understood). Fiber art is a bit different because the knowledge of what separates high-quality from not is not nearly so universal. The element of prestige is pretty much non-existent which affects variables like "luxury" and "taste" that might otherwise be used to justify prices and assign value.
At the same time, we have "lemon laws" that protect buyers from wasting money on crappy cars. There is no such protection in the fiber marketplace (says someone who has received quite a bit of frustrating fluff from "noobs" and "experts" alike). There is no rule or law in Fiberville that says "thou shalt not sell crap". And so, people do. Some maliciously, but my guess/hope is that most do so in ignorance. Ignorance that begins to seem somewhat willful, when you consider examples like "Dyers" who don't spin, and "Spinners" who don't know how to use their own yarn.
Back and forth and back again, to what end? Ultimately, I have zero control over The Market and what the "experts" think and do. All I can do is look at myself, and my shop, and my space in the community. So that's what I've been doing. I've been going over that sucktacular thread again and again, trying to filter out the ego-fueled ranting and distill the points that deserve consideration. Then I've done the icky work of running my own products/process past those points. Not so much as a pass/fail. I still believe that everyone deserves a place. More as a way to determine what needs improvement because anyone who's not an asshat can always find something that does. Self-monitoring/evaluation seems to be the sort of thing that not-douches do.
And so, the booklet in the picture at the top of this rambling post. I decided to go to the dark side and really explore technical precision in spinning, which is not to say that I will ever attain a certifiable standard of same. ;-) I'd like to do this as a tangible thing and not just an intellectual exercise. I'm motivated to learn more about my craft because I'm a nerd like that, and because quality is important to me. I only know what I know, but I know there's more to learn. I also want to know how it is that one gets from "noob" to "expert". If there is a set path for this, I have not yet stumbled upon it. I want my art to be a willful exercise in deviating from a standard, not merely "art" as a matter of convenient labeling for something that won't fit neatly elsewhere. I am aware that there are some "experts" out there who'd be happy to tell me where it fits. I'm not doing this for them. I want to find/refine my style, my "voice".
I can be better, and there's no shame in saying that. I look at the tremendous amount of progress I've made in my very limited time in Fiberland and I am very proud of my achievements. I see no need to be embarrassed by my shop or my decision to sell fiber and yarn without a Decree of Worthiness from those who'd put themselves above me. There is a great deal about business that can only be learned by doing business. The value of the lessons I've learned from having my shop have far outweighed the miniscule possibility that my mere presence in the marketplace was somehow damaging to the market itself. I'm sure the market will get over whatever insult I may have inadvertently caused. I hope the "experts" will, too.
There's a lot more to say about this Evil Thread of Evil-turned-useful and the brainwrangling it has inspired/required. The good news is that I (might) have more time to talk it out. I've decided to put my shop on vacation for the foreseeable future so that I can devote myself to further study of my art, along with some serious community building. We really do need a lot of the latter, and I'm hoping the former will give me the energy to be a part of it. This is all part of that shift I've felt coming.
Excuse my dust. Renovation in progress.