emerging and evolving

Inbolc has come and gone, leaving me on the path toward spring. Yes, I know it’s only February, and it’s snowing now, but I’m still turning toward the light in of Spring. I enjoyed the traditional cheese and bread on the holiday, well it was a little bit of cheese, mostly the thought of bread, and a large salad. This is the price I pay for being alive. I’ll take it.

Those who follow the old ways seem to spend a lot of time cleaning in preparation for holidays. Spring cleaning is begun! It’s traditional to renew one’s promises to the path and to oneself, it’s traditional to make the robes, or clean the old ones, and my family, goodness knows why, it’s traditional to clean the kitchen waste basket. I’m done all these things, turned out my entire closet and donated a lot of things that I’ll never wear again. I am so tired of baggy black clothing. I had to buy a new pair of yoga pants as mine were inclined to do the downward dog at the most inopportune times. They are electric blue, in keeping with my renewed love of color.

Time in the studio has been a bit short. I still get tired easily, the kind of sudden tired like hitting a wall. One minute I’m fine, the next minute I’ve got to go sleep for 10 hours. Who would have thought the thinking is such hard work, but I do notice it most in challenging situations, like strange roads or crowds, just keeping track of everyday things is exhausting. Still, it’s a good trade. I’ll take being alive for these little quirks make every day life interesting.

What I am doing the studio is threading the tablecloth warp through it first set of heddles. It’ll be done when it’s done.

I wish you happiness as you walk forward towards Spring and remind you as I do every year that you have everything you need for the journey. Underneath the ground, deep enough down that is not frozen, Spring is stirring and the bulbs are starting to awaken and think about pushing upward. It’s hard work, but, oh, the rewards.

To the north, we ask for resilience.
To the east, we acknowledge a new beginning.
To the south, we are reminded of the fires of striving.
To the west, we are nourished by life-giving water.

Never look back

I am not going to write a year in review post this year. It was a terrible year. First there was that horrible president, and then I had a stroke. Cause and effect? I wouldn’t be surprised.

Instead, I’d rather speculate about 2018. I don’t do resolutions, because they are joyless and remind me too much of plans written firmly in indelible ink. I prefer to be more flexible about my future. I hope to weave often in the new year, especially on the draw loom. I will keep on painting as long as it continues to amuse me, and I seem to have become a fashionista, at least as far as Gudrun Sjoden’s designs are concerned. It was time to celebrate the joy of being alive, wearing a bright and whimsical wardrobe. I thought I would would have woven it, but I honestly know I don’t have the time. That’s okay.

I still plan to be fairly subversive in the new year, making sure to give my tax savings, if I actually get any, to two progressive causes, like WAMC radio and Planned Parenthood. I certainly have no intention of spending it on big business! I hope you’ll do the same, supporting causes you hold dear. I’ve always taken a great deal of pleasure, especially in the past year, to the tax deduction for charitable giving, seeing it as a way to cheat that president’s regressive agenda by making larger contributions to charities that I’m sure he hates. Hey, I’ll take pleasure where I can.

It looks like my town may make a start on high speed Internet in the next year, and I hope we go with something that is wholly municipal-owned. With the death net neutrality, I don’t want one of those creepy Telecom companies deciding what we can access. If it’s anything like what they did with television, they will really try to dumb down the Internet and turn you into commercial watching zombies. I like the Internet quirky and individualistic as it now is. I’m sure you can get dumb stuff too, but only if you insist.

I hope to travel a bit in 2018. There’s a museum that features a lot of handwoven bands, Vesterheim. I think I’ll give it a visit. although it means going from nowhere Massachusetts to equally nowhere Iowa. I’m also tempted to go to Sweden, but I have to figure out what I want to do so I know what time of year to visit. I don’t think I’ll take a weaving class, because you can do that anywhere. I think I’d rather focus on seeing historic textiles, contemporary folk art and countryside.

There might be one thing that I would commit to writing an indelible ink. I refuse to multitask in 2018. It’s a moral weakness, and is just a little bit too much stress for me handle. There you have it!

Here’s to a better year ahead!!

 

What I wove (and knitted)in 2017

I’m not going to finish any other weaving by midnight, so here’s my output for the year.

I did a lot of samples in drawloom class. I have plans for using some of them.I’d like to use all of them in some way.

I have a bit of hemming to do, but that’s sewing, not weaving.

i am pleased with what i’ve done, and look forward to more drawloom weaving in the year to come.

Yule: Time in the dark and calm depths of the heart

The journey to Yule begins right after Samhain. Nights are growing longer and your instinct is to hibernate. Given to that instinct. Follow the spiral slowly and quietly as it turns inward. By now, you have arrived. In silence, in the deep snow, you have found peace, solitude, and silence that can only be found in the depths of the heart.

Some years, my spiral inward is fraught with distractions and I’m impatient to find the silence and hear my hearts own voice. Some years, I arrive unprepared and do not have an easy time understanding the message. I didn’t know what to expect this year. I have been very tired, and has been learning to cope with doing familiar thing in unfamiliar ways. I have been reading a great deal about Hygge, that Danish custom seeking cozy well-being. I think it has helped the journey.

It has helped me understand the message: it is NOW.

That’s a short message, but a very rich way of looking at life. How often do we brush through the now, intent upon some other thing, we miss the clarity of the  moment and the true sense of now? I have to slow down, especially when typing or my fingers end up in a confused pile of letters. I have to slow down, and think about things because haste makes more ways than ever, whether it be at the loom or in life. I want to slow down, savor each delicious minute, and then go to the next.

It’s been an awful year. The government is incredibly fucked up and that isn’t anything I can do about it, not alone anyway. All we can do is hope that president. goes away sooner than expected–I don’t care how–and begin to put the pieces back together again. I have faith in humanity, despite horribly selfish examples that he and his party set. We are better than that.

However you celebrate your solstice ritual, remember that we are better than that and visualize the world as it should be, not how it is.

I wish you health and prosperity, Progressive thinking and liberal views. We will prevail, because evil can only hide for so long and then it’s seen as it truly is.

Blessed Yule, my friends

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even more ‘me’ than ever

Last month, an important theme emerged about ‘being me’. It was a way of saying that I may have been a bit dented and worse for wear, but that I was fundamentally unharmed on the inside. I’ve had time to think about what it means to be me. I love color and often say it is my first language. I’ve been painting again, living with color.

Five years ago I remember worrying that I landed home before I had time to make a celebratory wardrobe. I wore my New York blacks and greys until they began to fall apart, like the tatters of some black moth cocoon. I think i’m hatched now, a proper butterfly. This is how I want to dress, in colors and layers. dressing to please me, and not following some narrow and conforming idea of proper fashion.

life is too short to wear boring clothes

 

 

 

of foliage and festivals and having a stroke

The leaves are turning, and gently falling. Autumn teaches the lessons of impermanence and letting go. It’s time to gather a leaf or two, some autumn grasses, and snip a few chrysanthemum blossoms, for these are the flowers of this season.

This makes me think about my altar, because that’s where the flowers will go. My altar always makes me reflect on impermanence. I found it in a little shop that sold shabby things. The top is mostly rectangular, except for the corners that have  broken away. The lines are simple, the wood is feather-light, and there’s a coat of soft cantaloupe color paint, worn away in places. It is surprisingly sturdy in its fragility. I don’t know where it’s from or how it came to rest in this town. Surprisingly, it belongs here.

 

…and I wrote this two years ago, a fragment that never developed into anything. It’s autumn again, the altar is painted blue, and I have experienced a mild stroke. Don’t worry. I am well. I may forget a few words if you startle me, and I am not do not have the grace enough to  type very well. I still read, and walk, and most importantly, I still weave. I am still me. Those who are hung up on looks will notice a crooked mouth line, but I speak quite well, so you can practice acceptance in the imperfect, if you like, and get over it. I am still me.

The experience was incredibly peaceful. Maybe its a Buddhist thing. Maybe everyone feels it. Just curiosity, calm acceptance, and never any pain.Lots of sleep and lots of detachment. Life’s not without problems, mostly logistics without car. Next month I will return to work, somehow not typing well. They can deal with it.  I just accept things. I don’t worry. That’s their job.

I am getting the hang of selvedges again. Weaving is slow and deliberate. I like that. Good changes will come of that. I will visit Rhinebeck, for the sheep and wool festival, as i have for many years.  Remember, I am still me. Most of importance of all, I know a little of of what my buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh might have experienced in his on, more severe, stroke. I hope he has the same peace and detachment.I bow to his wisdom, and know it make me feel less alone.

 

 

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This and that

Happy Autumnal Equinox!

This is the day we begin the inward journey, toward winter and toward the deepest understanding of our own hearts. As an introvert/hermit on the mountaintop, I am so ready for this moment. Summer overwhelms me in so many ways–all the gatherings and events, all the noise and running about, and all the oppressive heat.  Give me a warm sweater and the scent of fallen leaves! I do love autumn.

I’ve started to sew the coverlet to its sheepskin backing. One side is done. It’s still too hot to work under such a warm and weighty piece, so I sew for a little while, first thing in the morning, and put it aside in the midday heat. I can’t wait to snuggle under it some frosty evening.

Here’s a tablecloth warp, all pre-sleyed and ready to beam on. I think this will be a good example for showing Lori how to use a ‘trapeze,’ since they are ideal for putting even tension on a wide warp. Traditionally, you would have two people help you beam on a warp like this. It will weave up at 1 meter in width. This is slated to be the inaugural warp for the shaft drawloom. 9 meters of cottolin goodness. There will be more than 1 table cloth from it. The first one I have planned is inspired by a classic and simple piece I wove in Drawloom Basics at Vävstuga.

I am in love with my face cloth! I recently wove this on a 16/2 cotton warp, using 16/2 line linen weft. It has a gentle exfoliating action. If your idea of luxury is all about having healthy, glowing skin, you will absolutely love this face cloth. I have plans to weave more, because I can’t bear it when this is in the laundry and I have to wash my face on something ordinary. Expect to see hand towels and spa towels in the near future!

Weave in peace and joy!

 

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A little yellow goes a long way

A little yellow goes a long way. The Queen Bee napkins are progressing, with two done and the third one leaving the simplicity of the bee skep and heading into the broken rhythms of the honeycomb and bees.

When I wove the first few picks on the alabaster warp, I chose a cool grey color because it was high contrast, and sure to point out any threading mistakes. I stayed with the color as I started adjusting the shed, for the same reasons. Then, I started the color sampling to choose the right yellow weft. I love the way yellow and grey play together. When I rented the house at Sparrow Hill, the yellow walls in the master bedroom were a source of frustration until I tamed them with cool grey and alabaster bed linens. This is the only way that yellow is really palatable to me.

Around that time, I realized that I had too much yellow yarn, so many 1 lb. cones of 8/2 un-mercerized cotton in the brand of yarn that I’ve decided to discontinue at my studio. I don’t like the hand of this yarn. The fibers are exceptionally short, and the yarn is dull and lifeless. It’s OK to use it up while learning the intricacies of the draw loom, and it’s OK to use it up for some quickly woven kitchen goods.

I saw a table runner in En Rand och Några Rutor that had the same relationship between the colors that I found in my grey and yellow yarns. The original used black and shades of red. I adapted the number of ends to suit 8/2 cotton and wound a six meter warp.

The first project was this table runner.

The, resleying the warp to make towels, wider and softer than the runner, I’m finishing up a set of three towels.

I still have too much yellow yarn. Should I wind another warp, of the brightest yellow, and weave an apron with monks belt bands? The ground weft would be the pale yellow, and the pattern weft would be alabaster and grey. It’s a possibility…