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My latest Associated Press article in 2006; it may soon be my last as there will be a new lifestyles reporter in the future. I will still be in the newsroom, working as the education reporter. Published in the Hobbs News-Sun on Nov. 5, 2006, and by the Associated Press.
Most people keep their socks in a drawer but not Pat Collins.
The 49-year-old Lovington homemaker stores the woolen socks she knitted or spun in plastic containers to keep the moths from destroying them. Each of her fuzzy, warm, colorful creations have a name that is determined by their hue and how they feel. She has a green, white and pink sock she calls her watermelon sock and two black, white and red socks known as her newspaper socks.
Collins affectionately refers to her color choices for her socks as her "Kool-Aid" phase. She has a yell ball of wool she made from cheap salad mustard and a brown one made from husks from walnuts in her yard. She has also used grocery store and Zanzibar spices as dyes.
Collins said she deliberately makes her socks so they don't match but in a sense, they all match.
"I want to do things that aren't every day," she said about her craft methods. "Every day is great for a lot of people; I figure I'm going through life once. As humans we deserve to put more joy in life. Life is more than counting our lives in teaspoons."
Collins said people don't have to go to such great lengths to find color or to obain all the equipment needed to pursue the fiber arts of spinning and weaving. All you need to spin is some wool and a stick.
This process is called drop spinning and it was used for generations before the spinning wheel was invented. The sails on Roman ships and all the clothing in the Bible were made by drop spinning.
She always had a desire to experiment with spinning and weaving, Collins said. At age 7 her mother sat her down at a sewing machine and taught her how to make her own clothing, a trend she still continues today.
Collins didn't start pursuing spinning and weaving until she was given a spinning wheel as a Christmas present 14 years ago. Her lessons on how to spin were done over the phone.
She currently owns about eight spinning wheels. Those that aren't antigue came as kits from New Zealand.
Collins weaves and spins socks and other clothing items and knits sweaters in her barn. She mainly spins and knits for her and her husband's needs but it's enough to keep her busy.
"It's like running sitting down," she said as her bare feet tapped the wooden petals that set the spinning wheel in motion. "This is the way people have done things for centuries. There were no grocery stores or Wal-Marts. I want to know how they did it. I want to know what it's like. I want to know the pain, time and energy that went into it."
As she lightly brushes her hand over the curve of the wheel to start spinning, Collins gently holds the wool she's making into footwear. The wool she uses is completely raw. It's purchased from the cutting room floor in Roswell and in Texas; occasionally friends have given her some of her wool.
Even though there are magazines and sites on the Internet about her sewing hobbies, Collins said spinning and weaving have become dying arts. This year she participated for the first time in New Mexico Junior College's Western Heritage Museum's Staked Plains Roundup. She's also given presentations about her craft at Hobbs and Lovington and Rhein, Okla., schools. She spun at the 200th anniversary celebrations in Dublin, Texas.
Spinning opens up a new world for her, Collins said. She can make any color she wants and the yarn as thick or thin as she wants.
"These socks make me happy," she said about why she enjoys her hobby. "People stop me in the store and say, what's that? And I say socks. Maybe by what I wear and do people will think there's more to art and life."