Springing

Growth season is upon us! For those of you in the south (hi! me too!) spring is starting to make its slogging roll in to summer already. The daffodils have folded to the peonies, the rhubarb is stretching to the sky. A little too soon, if you ask me. I'm a cool weather gal, give me all the woolly layers, tea and baked things, thanks! *

Either way you feel about the warmth, I find myself caught up in the rhythm of it all. With each season change, reflections, ruminations and planning starts to ramp up. I am growing, we all are. For myself, art making is growing. Both in an emotional well-being state, and into a business I'm proud to call my own.

When I sit down to think about the changes I've been shifting into, all of the wide-narrowness of growth comes into focus. And then it goes right back to blurry. And back into focus, and so on. I know what I want. I want to create clothing, home goods and art for everyone, at every level. I want my art to both boldly challenge and whisper to its viewers. I want my clothes to empower and comfort their wearers. I want my towels to wipe down counters and make people pause in their dish drying to see the moment they are in. To feed people food that makes them close their eyes and savoir the moment of memory and flavor.

The challenge: how do I accomplish all of these things, and still maintain a semblance of balance in my life? I work at an office during the day, and really enjoy spending time with my husband and friends. The house still needs to be cleaned, yoga stretched, meals cooked, and let's not forget the art I want to be making 24/7!

Doing my best to get all of these things done can feel like an endless race. I admit, it gets exhausting, but it's getting better. The projects that call to me strongest are answered first, instead of what 'everyone else' might want. I'm learning and relearning that if my heart sings while I make, the song will catch other's attention on its own. 

*not that summer has EVER kept me from baking! I have a rhubarb pie calling to me from the garden... gotta go bake, bye! 

Seeking Light

Initially, this piece of fabric was motivated by two simple thoughts:

  •  To use up a giant cone of mystery yarn
  •  To make curtains that provided privacy without sacrificing too much light (we just got new neighbors after over a year of the house next to ours being flipped...)

It began simply as an experiment of creating a fabric that would let light in. It began to turn into a battle of wills. I wrapped the yarn around the back beam in the wrong direction twice. The yarn itself was a bigger pain in the ass to work with than I expected, slippery, stretchy, generally ill behaved. I was making shuttle-throwing mistakes and found a few threading ones... It was becoming a mess. 

I considered cutting it all off and throwing the whole thing out.  It became more complex, each time I let an error or slip stay in the fabric.

Instead, I decided to accept the mistakes, the missed threads. I embraced the fact that human hands made this fabric would show loudly. I changed from twill to a plain weave whenever I wanted. Double, tripling the yarn on the shuttle so that there would be thick and thin bands running across. I realized, after a while, that this simple experiment was turning quickly into a piece of art right under my nose. It was becoming more complex, the less I worried about doing things 'right'.

It became thick with meaning and metaphors. We do not know what our lives will be made of. I do not know what kind of fiber this yarn is made of.  

It is unevenly woven, with thick and thin spots.  Our lives are thick and thin, full of energy and goodness. Worn to gauze with grief and over-action. Stitched up with care and love, buoyed by the support of loved ones.

The pattern changes, seemingly at random. The way we move through present into the future is always changing. As we make adjustments and decisions the path and patterns we walk change. Each decision made to change the shuttle, the treadling {to our lives} changes the pattern. So what seemed random to start with really made sense all along, we just couldn’t see the bigger picture.  

The fabric is hidden on the front beam as it is created, the beginning hidden from the end.  If that’s not a beautiful metaphor for life, I’m not sure what is. When it is pulled from the loom, cut and tied off, washed and held up for inspection, the whole picture is revealed.  

Errors turn into knowledge gained. Patterns changing signal growth and Truth. Knots are healed and healing scars. Fabric is draped around the body, around the home, to add warmth and protection.

 

When I finished the fabric, it had already named itself.  

The Shroud of Living.  

A little morbid, perhaps, but so is life, at the end of it, we will be wrapped in shrouds. 

I cut the fabric in half, and stitched it into curtains.

Death is everywhere, let the light in to the dark places

I hung them in our bedroom, keeping our lives inside a safe place, yet letting light shine in.  

This fabric has taught me. I am grateful and am eager to keep learning.

Back to the studio, to making, for me. I will always go back to this heart-space, it is home. 

Fivers

People always ask how I get things done. "Five minutes here, five there" has be come my quick, truthful-yet-sarcastic answer. It got me thinking the other day. What can we accomplish in five minutes?

No- that's not right. 

Here's a better question: What can we start in five minutes, biting off little pieces until something is finished? 

You need two things to do this. 

A timer, and an activity.

That's it. Here are some things I do

Fivers

  • Doodles, it helps to have everything ready, notebook open, implements ready (currently on my desk, watercolors)
  • Stitches in art or to repair clothes
  • Sit still and breathe/meditate
  • Iron out fabric you remembered to pre-wash before cutting into (see also- prewash your fabric)
  • Trace a pattern (or just a few pieces of one)
  • Rinse cherries/seasonal fruit and enjoy slowly (this will take more than 5, depending on size of bowl/deliciousness of fruit)
  • Mix flour, water, starter so you can bake later
  • Dance
  • Fill/empty the dishwasher
  • Sweep the kitchen floor
  • Brain dump writing into notebook
  • Small exercise (Plank holds, movement, etc)

The beauty of a timer is that it takes the pressure off worrying about time.

One minute can feel like five, five like thirty, thirty like hours. There is only one rule: Do NOT check the timer. Just work up to the chimes, don’t stop unless it feels good to you. Trust the timer, it’ll go off, and yes, you can keep working. Or stop, and move on to other things.

Trust your choice.

New dresses

Here are some finished dresses and tops that I haven’t really shared here yet. All are on the same mannequin. She’s got a 36” bust, so you can see how flexible sizing really is! Each piece is made of raw silk, hand-dyed, and sewn by me. The dresses have pockets! 

Small/Medium

Large, hand-stitched vintage paillettes and beads

Large, dyed with indigo

Medium

Lotuswei and the Flower Lounge

Sometimes I get to be apart of something magical. When Robin connected me to Katie Hess of Lotuswei, I knew this was one of those times. She was gathering people together, to share the joy of flowers, meditation and ancient wisdom. The group that would be guiding the experience needed shawls. Meditation shawls, expansive, dyed to the colors they are called to. BIG swaths of raw silk, to wrap around them, to hug their spirits and shoulders. 

It was an honor to be a part of all of this beauty. 

Thank you, dear ones, for letting me join, and for allowing me to share these photos. 

The Flower Lounge

 Flower Lounge *Love* 

Flower Lounge *Love* 

As you explore Katie’s site, be sure to listen to her podcast! It’s now quite a favorite of mine  

 Flower Lounge *Love* 

Flower Lounge *Love* 

 Shawls hanging to dry, waiting to be sent to their new homes

Shawls hanging to dry, waiting to be sent to their new homes

Thoughts on Death a Year Later

Right before Megs moved away, she held a writing workshop. I went, because I want to write more, and I wanted and needed to spend time with her and her guidance. 

This is one of the writing prompts:

What I can’t tell you is {...} But what I CAN tell you is {...} 

This is what came out, from heart to mind, from pen to paper...

My reflections on Kelly Call's death, a year ago today. How grief has affected my day-to-day, missing her every single one of them.

What I can’t tell you is what happens when you die. But I can tell you what it’s like to still be alive. What it feels like, to live with two weights, one on each shoulder. One is life, and the goodness that resides in the everyday beauty. The other is grief. Maybe it’s more like wearing a yoke, or a vise that randomly seezes and squeezes one’s heart. Like a back spasm (I can tell you about those, now, too). It takes your breath way. To realise that your best friend’s early body is no longer walking around, eating, cracking bad jokes, laughing and crying and yelling into the void next to you. 

I can tell you how it feels, to imagine her holding your hand and hearing her voice in your memory. How shattering it can be. At the same time, life is good- like really, fucking grand, this life. Love is strong, the house is getting better and better and the kitten has brokered a feisty peace between the older two cats. Food so good you cry still happen. Getting stuck in an orchard field, picking apples you two were always talking about picking- that happens too. Crying over your fish & chips happens, as you try to sort out how to renovate a kitchen without your best friend. The woman who became your source of wisdom, as it revolved around people and food; how food is love and the kitchen is her, and love is the kitchen.

And there are too many goddamn sinks to choose from. 

And then you connect the dots from a different angle and realize another dear friend builds houses and can help narrow your choices down. So you order the sink. You sit with the bitterness of missing, as it blends with the honey-sweetness of reconnection and deepening friendships. 

Actually, you do that a lot. A best friend dying by a proverbial lightning strike means living with the duality of deep dark pain of love, and the shinning brightness of love all in one breath. It means getting your paperwork in order. Grief creates a twilight- or a dawn, if you’re a morning person like me (and mourning, too). A dawn that lets you see the night, and a sunrise to remind you to KEEP LIVING- and to live well. 

That is the way to honor the dead. To live well and invite them into your heart. They’ll come out in your work, art, writing, bathing, cooking, goal-listing. Sometimes they’ll send a warning shot, other times those fucking beautiful souls will pop you right on the heart asking for a cup of tea as you drive home from work. They have all the time in the world {and we do not}

This is what I can tell you. There is life after death, but I can’t tell you if there is life after dying. I am still here, living on the earth without them, without her, by my side. But they are still here, and I will turn to them for guidance and ask questions with answers I can hear them say. This is goodness. This is hard, this what living fully must be. Pain and Joy all spun together in one thread. 

I can tell you- it’s ok to miss them, I’ve missed her every day this year. I’ll keep missing her, (especially when I bake something really excellent). It’s ok to set aside how much you miss their earthly souls until it stops you in your tracks with the foreverness of it all. It is all okay, you will be okay, too. Let yourself feel whatever is bubbling up to the surface. Don’t push them down, if it can be helped. Bring them back up when you feel you’re in a safe place to say hello and feel it, the hurting honor of loving someone who has died. FEEL them, they are yours, no one else’s, and no one else can tell you what to do (not me, that’s for sure) or how to work through it. There is so much beauty in owning your grief, whether it’s loud and screaming, or quiet and sighing. Let your life be beautiful, they want it to be beautiful. Let them come in, and listen to their guidance from the beyond. They still love you, just as much as you love them. 

I can tell you I need to share these thoughts, so they’re out there in the world. Grief needs to be spoken about, not hidden away like something to be ashamed of. Grief is the badge we wear that echoes the love we feel for those who are gone. Death needs to be opened back up to the world, not closed off, all alone.

We’ll all die, someday. Let us live in love while we’re breathing. 

My sweet Kelly Call, you’ve been gone for a year. I don’t know how we’ve managed, but here we are, I wish you could come have some cake and see the kitchen. You’d love it. I miss you.

 

 
FullSizeRender.jpg
 

Work is Yarn, Yarn is Work

I work for Red Heart Yarn, and was able to lend a hand in making our booth stand out at a trade show this month. This is three colors of yarn, and didn't use up nearly as much yarn as I had expected... but I don't think I want to start hammering in anything for a while... I'm proud of my work, and am happy that I was able to combine my day job and art! 

 We won the Island Booth Award! 

We won the Island Booth Award! 

 Thanks to Carrie for snapping this for me! Hi Mom! 

Thanks to Carrie for snapping this for me! Hi Mom! 

It's on the list...

My dear friend Robin posted a map she'd made the other day, of the divine feminine creative cycle. (go find it on her social media accounts, her sites are well worth the time). She asked where we all landed within it and I found myself on the Bottom. A place of slowness, "dark around the edges" and low energy.

Her working points were sweetness in the dark- "rest, singe to the plants, express gratitude, honor other's work, review your own". So here I am, honoring her work, and lemme tell ya, it is mighty work. She and I have worked together for almost two- no... maybe three years? It feels like no time at all, and yet, like we've been dancing towards the truth for millennia. She's the real deal. 

The next point in the cycle is the Way Now. I can feel it coming, rolling gently like fog across a field. I'm ready to be curious, to move my body slowly, dancing in the thickness. I am ready for lists about lists, keeping track of what's interesting and where they might lead. The creative rabbit hole is a sacred place to land in.

I will keep this cycle close to my heart this year. A light to remind myself how to move forward, to get both stuck and unstuck. Stillness and movement have balancing virtues. I think this year is about diving deep into that dichotomy. 

creation and rest

delightful happiness and tearing grief

sweet and bitter

dark and light

color and neutral

wet and dry

whole and worn

warm and cold

Working with Robin, directly, or using the tools and light she helped me develop is always worth it. No matter how hard the work seems, the reward is always truth.

 

 

Puzzling

I’ve been experimenting in patchwork lately. It started as a way to use as much of the off-cut fabric as possible from the garments I’ve been making. It’s a double waste to do nothing with hand dyed fabric. I also wanted to make a new round of ornaments.

And so, patchwork pretties were made. But I found myself quickly fascinated with the puzzling together of colors and shapes, the same pleasure as a puzzle, but without any reference image. (Click on the images to see them bigger, if you’d like to get a closer look.)

0713945F-BDBA-432B-A53E-FDB51A2F8B01.jpeg

 

They tie in closely to my watercolors and I have no idea what to do with the panels made so far, but have some ideas... I’d love to know what you’d do with them!

Last night

I’m sitting in the studio, listening to Shawn’s music as he reorganizes his massive record collection. I’m fighting a cold that’s trying to move into my head. Fidgit is pestering me on and off for affection, snuggle breaks are my favorite breaks. A scarf has been woven in a day. It feels good to have it off the loom, to have the loom empty, ready for a new project tomorrow, in the new year. 

Most of my work has been in patchwork these past weeks, well, that and a new pair of thick wooly socks. The patchwork is a puzzle with no picture. This medium reminds me of watercolors, moving color and shape around until it’s pleasing. Adding details and large swaths as needed, to keep things interesting. I am looking forward to where this path of sewing will take me, to see where it intersects with painting and everything else. 

Tonight is it for the year. The last night. I hope if finds you warm, safe, and content.  I hope you know when to rest, when to stoke the fire in your belly that drives you towards the truth. May the year be peaceful, and may you have the strength to carry your burdens, and to put them down when it’s right to.  

If you find yourself with different ‘new’ year anniversaries as the calendar year unfolds, give room for celebration, for quiet contemplation.  

May your year be happy, dear ones!

xo

cat