Working, Warping

Adjusting tension, measuring yards, tying knots, cranking the yarn through, detangling as I go. 

Suprises

 

We had half a snow day in Charlotte this past Sunday. I woke up to steady flakes and a decent ground cover. Not expecting it to last, I carried on with my morning weekend rituals, tea, starting bread to bake, weaving quietly. 

It kept coming. The snow was piling on to branches and blossoms alike. I grabbed my camera, slipped on clogs and a coat and managed to capture these strange little images. 

Snow on cherry blossoms, such a lovely combination of opposites. 

Perfect timing

I've been noticing little gifts, sparks of reminders to breathe, stitch, walk, breathe.

Two herons flying across the road, beautiful and gangly

A hawk zooming through trees

Hooting of the barred owls outside

The different types of daffodils in our own yard

Being invited to share more than I submitted

This Shaker song, posted on a new-to-me blog, which I learned years ago, when I was in choir. It always makes me happier to hear the tune, and, as it turns out, reading the words also bring cheer. 

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gain’d,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

(by Joseph Brackett, 1848)

If you don't know it, do take a moment to look up the tune, it's bright and humble and sounds like springtime.

I hope you are well, in your world

Dogwood.jpg

A Brain Full

I had the delightful honor of learning from Lisa Klakulak of Strongfelt fame a few weeks ago. Not only did I get to learn techniques that would've taken me ages to figure out, but I got to spend time in one of my favorite places, Asheville NC. 

study one

study one

I lost track of how many times my brain exploded within the first few hours of the four-day workshop.

Study two, mid-felting

Study two, mid-felting

She presents techniques and goes into mathematical formulas to figure out how to manipulate the wool to do what she wants it to do. Seriously awesome, if you're interested in expanding your understanding of wet felting, get thee to her workshops! 

Study three, compared to original resist template.

Study three, compared to original resist template.

Thank you for sharing so generously, Lisa!

Kelly Call

I had more written, about this loss, and deleted it. I said what I needed to say this past Sunday, in front of so many who were also touched by Kelly's light. I also still needed to acknowledge this here, with you. 

Kelly and Chance, at our wedding (she made the cake, of course)

Kelly and Chance, at our wedding (she made the cake, of course)

l miss you, my dearest. I don't know how I'm supposed to renovate the kitchen without your guidance, or where you wanted to go on the cheese tour. I know I will always value every second I spent with you, and I love you. Every time I bake, I will think of you. 

We will be okay, great, even. But we will never be the same. 

Spaces Between. A Reflection

Where do they come from, your cocoons? What are they?

These are questions I get everytime someone sees my work, sometimes it’s the third, fourth, or tenth time they’ve seen the cocoons.  They’re puzzles to their viewers, and puzzles to their maker as well. The night at Goodyear Arts, I was happy to attempt to answer these questions over and over again. I got a closer to the truth of them, and for that, I'm grateful all over again. (My favorite part was telling people they could touch the cocoons, gently. It was the BEST.)

I struggled to tell people what they are, because I don’t understand fully where they come from.  I found myself (a hand talker) reaching into my ribcage to hand them the answer instead. I explained that instead of giving each a public name, they were meant to be named by each viewer. To hold the space they need most in their heart. To go home with whomever connects the deepest. 

As to what the cocoons from... They come from within, from the place of truth and magic and ancient knowing. I am the vessel, not the sculpture.  They tell me what colors they need. I ask them more questions than I receive answers.  They let me know when they’re finished. Sometimes they need to rest. Or maybe I need the rest, so I can listen and hear their whispers more clearly. Other times  they get loud, demanding attention. Picking at my brain when I’m not working on it, like an itchy tag on a dress. They take up space, holding intentions and reminders in each nook and cranny.

I close my eyes and take a deep breath before I start stitching. Letting my mind settle, like leaves after a breeze. Letting my heart ease, and open to the task at hand. My hands wander, working with my eyes in search of balance between wool, beads and stitches.

The physical weight of embellished wool felt calls me forward. It’s just as much about the needle pushing through the fibers as it is the finished piece.

They’re meant to change the room they’re in.  Holding their own space for the viewer, changing how we react to the familiar room.  Hanging things from ceilings has always fascinated me, how it can make a large room smaller, or a tiny space more welcoming. There’s something about it.

Fiber arts are my heart’s work in this lifetime. The medium is transformational and broad, challenging my boundaries and comfort zones. I adore that something so soft and gentle can push me so hard to find my Truths. 

Spinning in Sunlight

Fingering to lace-weight, spun singles in Merino wool. Plans for weaving, to see what happens. It's been nice to spin again, falling back into the rhythm of wheel and wool.

Wearing myself

It all started when we got new wardrobes in our bedroom last year. Our 101 year old house seriously lacks in built in closet space. With the addition of clean, white storage space for my clothes I suddenly found myself judging what 'should' be allowed to hang there. 

My taste in clothes hadn't changed, but my priorities had. I didn't want to fill my new wardrobe with quick fashion that I knew would only last through the season. I wanted handmade, durable, high quality clothes to fill that space! 

I realized that my wallet wouldn't support that decision. Not all at once. So I started searching for patterns that I could sew myself. I found Sonya Philip, of 100 Acts of Sewing. She's amazing, what started out as a personal project has blossomed into a rolling movement. Her patterns are written in the clearest language I've EVER seen. The lines are simple, perfect for a basics-loving lady such as myself. So I took the plunge and plunked down some digital dollars and waited for my pattern to show up. (I had fabric in my stash already). 

When it arrived, I traced it out onto tracing paper, and started laying it out on the fabric. Naturally, being me, I made some changes, deepening the neck scoop,adding inline pockets and a facing so I could avoid bias tape. When I sat down to sew, it felt like I blinked and had a dress! It was SO quick and Sonya's directions were easy to follow along with. 

The next week I made another.

I wanted to make MORE, but was having trouble finding fabric I wanted to wear. That's when it dawned on me. If I ordered raw silk fabric, I could not only SEW my own clothes, I could DYE them too! 

So that's just what I did. I sew them first, saving the hemming for after the dye pot. Then I plop them into the pot and let the dye do it's work. After the dress is rinsed and dried, I hem it with coordinating thread. Presto, tunics and dresses I love to wear, that are handmade and let me explore my passion for color. I'm proud to hang these in the wardrobes, and can't wait to continue my collection of handmade clothes. 

Ok, not my best photos, but I'm really excited about these, and didn't want to wait any longer to share with all of you :) 

*I have permission to use Sonya's patterns as a sizing guide, with my own alterations, should you need a raw silk top too.

*if you're interested in sewing for yourself, here's the link http://100actsofsewing.com/shop

 

Holy Rock

Not music.

Stones.

Having the honor of learning to use grit and electricity to turn beyond-ancient earth in to pure beauty. It surprised me how quickly I fell in love with this medium, I usually shy away from engines in my art.

I am stunned, how deeply I've been touched by this magic. How much I missed it when I was busy stitching up cocoons. It may be cold out, and my machine may be in the shed, but as soon as I can stand it, I'll be out there. I'm ready to learn more, to hear the rugged hum of stone on wheel. 

Spaces Between

I’m still tumbling this experience in my head, up and down, like a coin flipped through fingers. Shaking it out like runes to be read. In a nutshell, it was amazing and brilliant to have my work seen by so many people. Being able to see peoples’ reactions to my work is such a gift, most of my patrons are long distance, and I’m grateful for each and every one of them. But to witness people Seeing my work for the first time, words escape me, for now.

Knowing that people believed in me and my art enough to let me show it to the world (thank you, a million, a billion times Goodyear Arts!). My heart is full of gratitude to everyone who has played a part in this show, from the first person who ever bought a cocoon, to my family and friends for their support, and every single soul that walked through the installation. Thank you. Thank you.

And now, I am in the between space. Holding onto my work, turning it here and there to see where we will go next. The cocoons will slowly make their way into the shop in the coming weeks or so. It's time to finally remove them from the space this coming weekend. 

2017

Three days into this new year, and I haven’t done any of the things I usually do by now.

The yarn cabinet remains unsorted.

So does the fabric stash… it needs to be pared down significantly.

Let’s not talk about the books…

Lists of things I’d like to do in my studio/life/house remains unwritten.

I enjoy doing the above things, my little rituals. Traditionally done the last day of the old year, or the first day of the new. I’m also very okay with not having done these. I am still very much in the in-between stage that happens after a large project is finished. Where I get to sit still and sift through the emotions and physical reactions to consistent hard work that’s finally paid off. I’ll be sharing more thoughts and photos of the Goodyear Arts installation, it has been more rewarding than I ever imagined.

So I’ve been sitting quietly, the studio got a deep clean, and many things were let go, to make room for what’s to come. There’s plenty to sort through still (let’s not talk about the beads…) I’ve worked slowly, letting my hands and mind change projects as they called to me. At the moment I have three, no four, projects flowing through. A sweater, a new set of meditation shawls, a case for my brother’s cards and a watercolor that may be finished soon. All quiet things now, quick and slow repetitive motions that quiet my heart and let my mind explore.

And now, as my fingers cross the keyboard, I feel a list coming on. For the creative-making part of my world. Some for me, some for you.

         

·         Find a yarn to weave fabric for a skirt (perhaps the brown stuff can be over dyed?)

·         Plan more scarves and shawls, use the yarn collection as inspiration

·         Sew and dye more raw silk dresses        

·         Keep making cocoons, see where they lead

·         Explore weaving for the home, more towels- but also pillow covers and maybe light, lacy curtains too

·         As SOON as it warms up, (which may still be cold) get out to the shed and wake up the lapidary machine. I miss the rumbling hum

·         Weave more bags to combine with leather, use these to explore new weaving patterns

·         Take more photos, get outside, and explore the house, too

·         Get to know the inkle loom better- travel friendly weaving sounds important

·         Wet felting- more of this, soak up every ounce of the workshop in February

·         Keep watercoloring, it’s good for everything

·         Light more candles, they add such ease to the room they’re i

 

I hope this new year has found you hopeful and ready to explore your own truths deeper than ever before. I look forward to sharing my time with you here, and the rest of the social media that brings us together. Perhaps we’ll meet for tea, if we’re lucky in locations.

Be well, my dears!

 

 

Keep Track

I made a special little notebook cover, for a very special friend. She requested Paisleys, turquoise and purple.  Freedom within constraints. 

This notebook was made for Midori Traveler notebooks, in the passport size. Custom inquiries are welcome, drop me a note- crbabbie {at} gmail.com or the contact for in the 'About' tab above.

 

(Big thanks to C, for taking these photos for me.  I was too excited when I finished and sent the cover off without taking any photos! We also added a tab to the bottom, to better hold the pen.)

Stepping back

'You have a right to experiment with your life. You will make mistakes, and they are right too.' 

Anais Nin

This snippet has been rolling around my head and heart a lot lately (the rest of it is lovely too). You see, for months I've been writing and preparing to step onto the stage at TedX Charlotte. As I got closer to the day of the final audition, the more I fought myself. You see, I knew I wasn't ready, but I so wanted to be ready, to do it all and do it well. I was tromping through my days wearing a blindfold  and a broken flashlight (aka: denial to the extreme). 

Tears were shed, drafts written and rewritten as I crammed my own words into my head. I sent in a few versions for coaching and last week got the feedback that I needed, a stepping stone away from speaking. It was direct and encouraging feedback, which is all everyone wants, right? It also spoke to my heart, and made me realize that I was not ready, nor could I be in the time left. 

After much soul (and schedule) searching, I decided to let it go. To remove this huge, terrifying thing from my plate.  My decision has been met with such kindness, from the coordinators and fellow speakers, to the few friends I've told already, and especially by my family. 

It took a few days, but I'm feeling better too, more solid in my skin. I'm proud of myself for stepping back, and am looking forward to my other projects with renewed zeal. 

My talk will take form in some other manner, I believe in what I have to say, and know it needs to be shared. The right venue will be found, of that I'm sure. 

In the mean time, may I offer some hard-learned advice?  Something I hope I remember more often in my own life. 

Be kind to yourself, you don't have to do everything all the time. 

 

much love to you.

The Journey

I stumbled across this poem again, which always seems to find me at the right moment. Perhaps the moment is right for you, too. 

"The Journey”
by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations —
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Simple as breathing

I have a series of shawls I'm still working on.  There's a few in the studio, a couple who have found their homes early.  

Luxurious fibers- silk, linen, bamboo rayon, cotton, hemp. Lightweight with a touch of ethereal calm.  Each creamy white shawl is accented with one color.  A color I hand dye, gently given from my muse. Creating a pattern that is akin to ikat; if those patterns were studied under a microscope.  

Made as meditation, the shawls are woven from the heart. Sung over with well wishes and reminders to breathe. Love woven through every inch of fabric. Fringe for fiddling with. 

Drape it over your shoulders in meetings, wrap it around you at weddings, throw it around your neck as you run out the door, carry it in your totebag.  Versatile, strong and soft, these shawls will walk with you, ready for anything.  

I hope to make more soon, to complete the first round in this series.  Stay tuned.  If they're calling to you, let me know and I will make one for you alone. 

Keeping it Clean

Inspired by practical beauty, I've been weaving towels. For the kitchen, or the bathroom, your pick!  They have been traveling to the summer markets and have been quite a hit!  This color story is limited to what's in the shop now.    

Absorbent 100% Cotton, handwoven in a classic twill fabric.  Hand stitched hem and hanging loop. Ready to clean spills, dry your veggies and add some handmade fancy to your kitchen

Special discount for you dear readers: CottonTowel6.  Save $6 on all towels. 

Stay tuned for the next color story, I'll be warping them up soon! 

Digital Housekeeping

I work in different mediums, always have, and always will.  My studio is roughly organized by medium, depending on how busy I am.  In general the workbench is for leather and beading, the desk for painting and yarn winding, the comfy chair for knitting and dreaming. The loom is the only thing that's dedicated space to one activity, though I'll admit to draping patterns over her frame on occasion.  My supplies all have places they belong in (whether or not I put them back in that spot when I'm done is another story altogether).  

In my online home, here, I've been adding gallery after gallery, showcasing what I've finished in each of these, putting them together in families.  My tabs were getting out of hand, cluttering this space in a way that was starting to feel icky, overcrowded.  So I finally took some time to find a solution, the Galleries tab now houses my artistic families.  You'll find photos of cocoons, weaving, leather and images I'm proud of under this tab. 

All together, but out of eachother's hair, the perfect sibling balance. 

I hope you enjoy perusing through my finished thoughts. 

Much love to you.