When I began this weaving project, it was in my mind a mat, a space for me to sit, to think, to feel texture and to meditate…
For a while, I worked on it every night, sitting in a dimly lit room nearby my falling asleep children…
Then it sat,
Waiting for me to come back.
And I did, with the same destination in mind.
But when it was finally coaxed off its wooden support, it was not flat.
It insisted on curving, no matter the wetting and pulling and stretching I subjected it to.
There was never a moment I thought about starting over. It was too late for that. I suspect the too tight pulling of the cotton weft in the midst of woolen rounds was the perturbation in the otherwise peaceful flow. Ironic, given that it was those very cotton strips that inspired the piece to begin with.
Time to reconsider, time to adapt…
A chance to use more of what would otherwise be tossed away.
My old worn sweater,
An antique bobbin of woolen thread,
My grandmother’s very old doily, worn, strained, yet saved.
Wrapping the outside of the now bowl in my old worn sweater, allowing for waves here, ripples there, I feel the comfort I was longing for when I first began those initial rounds. Gentle stitching with the woolen yarn offers chances to start anew, start anew, as weak spots made for unplanned breaks.
Stitching burlap around the soft bowl suggests sturdiness and the promise of support.
And this tired, beautiful, intricate and broken gift offers up its last, sweet breath and is saved, its softness part of something new.
Now my mind wanders to what it will hold, this comfort bowl of mine. Old things. New things. Found things for sure. Memories, too, no doubt, of specific moments and foggy plans that were once laid out on paper with pen, changed over time with cross outs and rewrites. Maybe appreciation, too, for adaptations so subtle they are almost imperceptible in loud life.
I’ll admit to being one very distractible and lack-of-focus afflicted person at present. It is hard to figure out why. Here are some possible reasons: the intense heat has made working with wool mildly unpleasant; the coming to an end of summer vacation fills me with a nagging dread and combating impulses – do as much as I can with my kids and make the remaining days epic-style awesome vs. relax and take each day as it comes and just make sure to swim; anticipation of having time to organize my projects, my work and my goals and a drive to get started, get to finishing, and get organized. I teach at a local college, have a small clinical private practice, I hope to bring fiber art and craft to more kids this year, and I have some writing projects I long to pursue. All of these responsibilities and goals, plus being a mommy to two young ones has me, well, a little all-over-place, and I think that is reflected in my project heap and book pile. I thought I’d share some of what I’ve recently finished, what I’m working on and what I’m reading with those of you who read this here blog of mine. Maybe you, too, find the end of summer to be a little, well, turbulent?
~ I finished the Azel Pullover for my daughter. I love it. I truly do. It is not completed just as the pattern was written. It’s a bit shorter, and I modified the cowl neck because the numbering of stitches was off and it was making it wonky, so I ended up just knitting in the round which made a great looking band around the neck. By the way, the creator of this pattern is wonderful, and responded to a question I had about it in a very short amount of time.
~ As part of completing the above pattern, I acquired a whole bunch of new skills in the knitting department: the cable knit cast-on, picking up stitches, making button holes (not elegantly executed this first go-round, but I can get the buttons through them), and fixing big mistakes (I practiced understanding what stitches look like when you have to take out a few rows and get them back on the needles).
~ I also got to use the knitting needles my grandmother gave me. You can read about them here. I am so happy about that.
I just completed the circular weaving piece that I started a while back. You can read about that here. It was supposed to, in my imagination, lie flat, but alas, it does not and is currently awaiting a super modification that I am actually very excited about. The hoped-for meditation mat will turn into a bowl to hold organic materials I plan to use to spin into yarn or work into weaving pieces.
The weaving looked nice and straight on the loom, but…
Once off, it would not lay flat. I think I pulled too tight on a few rounds of yarn. It seems to want to be a bowl, and I have an idea of what to wrap the outside in, so more to come on this!
Sewing With My Kids
Both of my littles have begun sewing their own little dolls, which is truly wonderful. You know, it is one thing to practice slowing down and exercising patience when it’s just me I’m reckoning with. When I’m working on projects with my children, I’ve realized that it’s best if I have some project in my hands, but one I’m not absorbed with. Nothing kills creativity and learning like impatience from the guide. I’ve been guilty of that and have made a dedicated effort not to let my own inclination towards impatience that I so readily apply to myself destroy these quiet moments with my children. I think I’ve made headway in this department.
I recently read a book to my children called Cloth Lullaby, by Amy Novesky. It is about the artist Louise Bourgeois and especially, her relationship with her mother, who was a weaver and tapestry artist. Louise apprenticed under her mother and later in her life became a renowned artist in her own right. Her giant sculptures of spiders, who were inspired by her mother, are one of her hallmark themes. Spiders create thread and repair and build and, in one part of the book, the author describes how when webs are damaged, spiders do not get angry; they simply repair them. In this beautiful book, I was reminded of an important ideal~ steadfast and calm repairing and steadfast and calm teaching. I was grateful to have read it with my littles.
Organized My Fibers and Garage Space
I spent a good amount of time going through all of my materials and getting them organized in a way that will make project planning and gathering much easier in the months to come. I do plan on doing a fair amount of dyeing wool and experimenting in the fall.
Wool I Dyed and Carded
I’m not done with carding all of the wool yet! But here are the results of the washed, dyed and carded Shetland I wrote about recently. It’s so beautiful. Coreopsis is quite the dye plant and is shown on the right. On the left is Shetland dyed with marigold.
Shetland dyed with marigolds. I’m hand carding this with my Ashford carders and plan on getting a nice fluffy woolen yarn after spinning it.
Shetland dyed with coreopsis, carded on my drum carder. The color is absolutely gorgeous.
Books I Am Reading
Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott~ I love the way she writes about every single thing. I need some writing advice and she’s my go-to for that.
Stitch By Stitch, by Carolyn Meyer~ I really want to know how to do rudimentary needlework. I’m struggling with this because it is a bit of a departure for me, and I’m not sure it’s wise to start yet another journey into another handcraft when I have so many I already love and could get much more proficient at, but have you seen this book –> Slow Stitch: Mindful and contemplative textile art, by Claire Wellesley-Smith. This book inspires me in a way that is almost painful. The colors, the textures and the soothing promise of slowing down is really speaking to me and I want to figure out a way to work this in to what I do both in my own handwork practice and with others.
Would anyone like to do a slow and consistent, chapter by chapter Stitch-Along with me, using Slow Stitch as the guide? Seriously. Write me if you do.
This summer has included many beautiful times with family and with friends, many bike rides and lake swims and creemees, lots of convalescing after some antibiotic side effect havoc, lots of chip eating and garden tending.
Days have been long and night sounds have been welcome and wild. Temperatures have been hot and rain has been scarce. News has been painful and overwhelming. The Olympics have been awe-inspiring. And the days are going on and each one offers a new chance to get connected with the present moment, to breath and to not resist the passing of time. I think in the coming weeks before school starts, that is what I’ll be trying to keep in the forefront of my mind. To look and to truly see, to hear and to truly listen, to touch and to truly feel.