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  • Becki Henderson-Gow

Spinning a Yarn about Yarn bowls

This has been a difficult year for all of us. So many things that were the norm have now become things that we long to embrace again. I think of the many times I would meet a friend downtown for coffee to enjoy an hour or so talking about pottery and life in general. Those were days that I took for granted, never imagining that they would be taken from me so quickly. I stay home a lot now. I don't mind staying home, because I always have more than enough to keep me occupied in the studio and at home, but I do miss the freedom of being able to hang out with a friend sharing stories and coffee, sometimes spinning a yarn. Yes, it's the freedom and spontaneity I miss.


I have found comfort during these unusual times by using my hands. I use my hands daily, getting them muddy with clay. Working with clay stimulates my mind and my creativity. I always seem to be working to create the more perfect pot, one that is both beautiful and functional. Form, color and function are important aspects of my work.


I started making yarn bowls several years ago at the suggestion of a friend who works with fibers. Eileen has a small business and loves to create bright and colorful toys for babies. She also knits and crochets beautiful hats and blankets for these little ones. I adore her work and am envious of how easily the projects flow from her hands. She is a master of needlework. If interested in exploring her work, you can visit Eileen's website at www.daffodilcorner.com. I am sure she would love to hear your comments concerning her beautiful work.


At first, I did not want to make yarn bowls. I did not have the experience to see the value of them, but when my friend insisted I attempt making them, I gave it a whirl. At first, I thought they would not be too difficult, but soon learned otherwise. They are actually quite tricky and require a lot of skill. I discovered that cutting clay and expecting the separated parts to stay in line with each other took a lot of thought and skill.

I had to learn when to start cutting. If the clay was too wet, I would end up with a snaggy mess on the cut edges and would have to enter into a time consuming regime of cleaning up those edges when the bowl became drier. If I waited too long and the clay was too dry before I cut, I would end up cracking the entire bowl and have to throw the whole thing back into the reclaim bucket. I also learned that if I put the cut too low on the curve, the swirl would pop out of alignment during the firing, leaving me with a less than perfect yarn bowl. Believe me, I have had a lot of these imperfect pieces. Another difficult aspect of cutting the opening for my yarn bowls requires me to burnish all of the cut edges so that they are smooth and do not fray the yarn as it passes through the opening.


I am the type of person who must decorate my pottery whenever I can.

I use a slip and a trailer to create decorative lines around the opening of the bowl. Sometimes, this too can backfire, literally, when an air bubble in the slip dispenser explodes an ugly blob of slip into the area of design. When this happens, I have to wipe it away and begin again. Yarn bowls require a lot of work. I sometimes wonder why I continue to make these contrary yarn bowls, but realize they are wanted and loved by many who work with their hands in yarn. This is why I continue to make them, for those of you who love to create. Plus, I enjoy a good challenge. I now make yarn bowls on a regular basis and offer them in four different glaze colors.

This year the dark blue green bowls are selling quickly online and in galleries. What is your favorite glaze color for these bowls? Take a look at my shop and send me a quick message telling me how and why you chose a particular color. I am always curious about such things.


Earlier this year, my youngest daughter started using one of my yarn bowls for her crochet projects. She says she likes the fact that she can put all of her supplies into the bowl when she has finished for the day and does not have to worry about losing her scissors and hook. Several weeks ago, she and I decided to work on a project together while staying in our own separate bubbles. My daughter recently discovered a crochet pattern for an afghan my mother made years ago. We both love this afghan and wanted to try to make our own version using yarn colors of our own choosing. She chose blues and blue greens where I decided to use sunset colors of red and orange. We both had to order our yarn online from difference sources. My yarn came first while Jessica's yarn decided to vacation a while in Rhode Island and New York. Her yarn finally arrived this week, so we are ready to begin our projects.


I am thrilled one of my daughters shares my interest in yarn and crochet. By taking the time to work on our projects, I have fallen in love again with the art of crochet. The repetition of a stitch, the changing colors, the ability to stop in the middle of a project and pick it up hours or days later is very satisfying to me. Working with yarn provides me a sense of calm and control during this very difficult year. I am eager to escape for a bit and work on my afghan. Hopefully, all of you who love working with your hands and yarn will begin a project of your own and discover the satisfaction it can bring to you.



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