Healing Handcrafting

exploring process and healing through fiber arts and handcrafting


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Tour de Fleece, It’s On! 

In recent years, I’ve seen bloggers and other spinners talk about the Tour de Fleece and I’ve thought, “how’d I miss that again?!” Not this year, though! I was prepared and I’ve got heaps of merino waiting to be spun tomorrow. 

My goals are simple. I want to spin every day with attitudes of openness, hopefulness, creativity and curiosity. I know without question that spinning wool is good for the nervous system, it helps one achieve a rhythmic and almost meditative state, and it’s fun! I want to dedicate time every night to reading a little and learning more of the details around spinning and enhance my knowledge base, and I want to make some killer art yarn in order to sell and make hats with that are begging to be created. I love knowing that people all over the world are part of the Tour at the same time. A collective spinning hug. How awesome is that?


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New Sweater On The Needles

It hasn’t stopped raining in my neck of the woods. Not in any meaningful way. On this wet and gloomy Saturday morning, I don’t mind that much. Yes, my gardening tasks are so far utterly neglected that I’m feeling a wee bit embarrassed, but I’m not unhappy about getting to sit and knit for while, guilt-free. It’s been a hard week. Grief and all that goes with it really got me the last few days and I’m left feeling tired and waterlogged. You know? 

The sweater on my needles is called Amiga, the pattern written by Mags Kandis. I just made it to the part where I get to coast for a long time in stockinette stitch. I’d share the yarn I’m using but I forgot to save the yarn tags! That kind of carelessness is what makes life harder for me. What if I run out of yarn? Or if I want to use it again for another project. Pro-knitters, in my imagination, never do that. I have a goal to be more careful about things like that. I can tell you the yarn is so very soft and kind of a grayish purple. It’s a new batch of colors this season. I bought it in a wonderful little yarn shop called Yarn, in Montpelier, Vermont when I was down there for a conference. 


Ten or so inches of body~ the steady marathon part of the sweater. The part of the project I can easily take with me anywhere because I won’t have to keep track of anything, count anything. Beta wave knitting. Ahhh…


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Recovering, Crafting & Learning Post-Election

Hello to you. It’s been a while. Given that my blog is about the healing benefits of handcrafting with a little bit of elbow room to talk about other things, I made a choice not to write every day about how I’m metabolizing the election outcome in this here United States of America. But to be frank, it’s all I’ve been thinking about. My Slow-Stitch journey has taken a pause and will resume soon (I apologize to any who might be following that and stitching along). I really found it hard for a bit to do anything that was remotely and technically enjoyable because I could not emerge from my own dismay. Things that have helped: attending a peace rally, going to a lecture addressing white privilege and US history, talking with people about their ideas and reactions, many similar, many not, and making a clear decision to be vigilant, to listen and do my best to be an active participant in my community. Joining fellow knitters and crocheters in our local group that contributes items to Knitting4Peace has also proven yet again to be a refuge and a joy~ making things with people for people all over the world is soul medicine. And, walking around outside.

I received an invitation a few days ago to participate in a local Holiday Pop-Up for area vendors and decided to do it. This is also taking some attention away from my Slow Stitch work, but it’s a good and important process for me, to get back involved with making things that I love with wool and yarn. It’s allowing me some room to let myself have fun and just enjoy being random, with a goal in mind, which I need sometimes. I’ve been spinning yarn, weaving and crocheting here and there as I can. My kitchen table is covered with my ongoing projects, my kids are excited to felt rocks and make things too, and it’s just plain feeling good.

Supermoon, bird’s nest and what I think to be coyote scat.

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Can I hide in there, too?

Some ongoing projects and yarny explorations.

Have a sweet week. I hope it includes doing what brings you calm and peace.


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Slow Stitch Stitch Along~ Weeks 7 and 8

Well folks, I’m still working through my sorbello stitch square! Taking me some time this go-around because of an absolutely jam-packed last couple of weeks that included work, my son’s birthday celebration, two major house leaks and Halloween, not to mention everything else that is involved in living a full life! Sorbello stitch also gave me some pause. I think I’ve got the hang of it, but wow, I can’t seem to keep a straight line or keep the stitches looking the same each time! Sometimes I get it and then other times what should look like a substantial, compact knot looks like a weird thick thread line. My wobbly, inconsistent rows started to remind me of old buildings with poor construction in heavy winds, so that is now what I’m making, moving ever more slowly towards more consistency and hopefully more vertical-ness! Ha. Truly, this square will capture an image of me trudging through a learning curve.

Start out wobbly.

Build on wobbly.

Start afresh and hope for stability.

Over and Over.

Here you see how far I’ve gotten so far in my sorbello stitch square. I’ll for sure post updates as I move through completion. I expect to have a little city block by the end with maybe (hopefully) at least a few straight buildings by the end!

For those who are following this Slow Stitch Stitch-Along and are moving along with us, I will share my idea for Weeks 7 and 8, and really moving right through the end of the month. I think it would be lovely to go back to stitches that called to us or inspired other ideas using different fabrics and threads. I can see combining stitches and making designs and pictures, or rhythmic patterns. I can see playing and assembling our squares in either fabric books or in some kind of display that invites touch, reflection and curiosity. I can also see further exploration into stitches we might not have tried. If I decide to do that, I’ll post the ones I’m attempting. I don’t want to rush through stitching and playing to get on to the next thing. It seems like there are so many ways we can integrate stitching into the handcrafts we already do. I can imagine playing around with that in mind as we approach the process of moving on.

December and January will be a smallish (or biggish, depending on time) Kantha project that is discussed in Part Three of Slow Stitch: Mindful and contemplative textile art, by Claire Wellesley-Smith. More to come on that!

Until then, happy stitching and happy autumn. Don’t forget to look for the supermoon on November 14!


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Slow Stitch Stitch-Along Weeks 5 and 6

“Any regular, repetitive action primes the well. Writers have heard many woeful tales of the Bronte sisters and poor Jane Austen, forced to hide their stories under their needle-work. A little experiment with some mending can cast a whole new light on these activities. Needlework, by definition regular and repetitive, both soothes and stimulates the artist within. Whole plots can be stitched up while we sew. As artists, we can very literally reap what we sew.” Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

For Week 4, we worked on the fly stitch. I loved this stitch. It was fun, satisfying, took a little bit to get the hang of, and then lent itself generously to experimentation and shaping. I thought I’d have time to make two squares, but alas, one was all I could complete. I’m working on not urgently finishing something that is supposed to be a practice in steady and slow. Urgency and too-busy are not qualities in life I value any longer. I think they are over-rated tendencies that make people sick. They distract focus from what is right in front of us. There are only so many hours in a day and I’m coming to accept ever more that really, there is a finite amount of time in which I will exist. All of the many things I want to do, wish I had of done, hope to do in the future have to be reconciled with the reality of what is.

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I kind of meant to do a square of fly stitch in rows, but then I decided that actually, the stitches were reminding me of wheatgrass and of weeping willow branches without their leaves. I decided to allow myself to make what I saw in my mind’s eye. It was a lovely experience.

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So, we are moving along in our Slow-Stitch. I am going to add two stitches to our queue and give myself two weeks to play around with them. Halloween and my son’s birthday make this upcoming week more exciting and full than usual, so I plan on steadily and quietly moving through stitches as I can.

It’s not too late to join if you’d like!

Here are the two new stitches: sorbello and seed. Practice using small squares of fabric, maybe one on its own and one in layers. Use thread that calls to you and let yourself enjoy the process without the sense of rushing or pressure urging your hands.

If you’re wondering what this is all about, here’s the introduction to this Stitch Along, that was entirely inspired by the book Slow Stitch: Mindful and contemplative textile art, by Claire Wellesley-Smith.


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Slow Stitch Stitch-Along, Week 4

I like having this Stitch-Along right now. It’s keeping me connected to what I really, really want to be doing but am having the hardest time devoting time to. It’s a constant struggle for me these days, to pick up what I love (other than my children). I plan on writing more about this in the coming week, but I feel rather sure that this election cycle here in the United States is one culprit in a cauldron of stressors.

I found time today, though. Time to sit and complete my bookmark. I turned the design into a house with a chimney and gave it a thatched roof. When my daughter saw it, she decided she wanted to write a story about sewing bookmarks. I hope she does! I mounted my other experimental piece on an antique handkerchief and I thought about time and the apparent coming of a new age of politics in this country.

I thought about ways I might be more gentle in my approach to life, and more disciplined so that I might do at least some of things I long to do, but hadn’t written in to some original plan of adulthood. I thought about adjusting, letting go of some things and turning towards those things that call to me, including service to this aching world.

The coming 4th week of the Slow Stitch Stitch-Along will include learning a new one (for me): the fly stitch.

One square or two. Fly stitch. Different patterns, directions, colors, fabrics. We’ll see. My hope is to do one square on plain linen, and one piece including a few fabrics using both running stitch and fly stitch. We’ll see how it goes.

Again, for those who might want to join, we are using the book Slow Stitch: Mindful and contemplative textile art, by Claire Wellesley-Smith as our guide. I am a brand new stitcher and am finding my groove. Anyone is welcome to join us, with any skill level.

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Slow Stitch Stitch-Along, Week 3

My partner in stitching and I agreed to extend the running stitch squares for another week. The last several days have included busy spots that I could only describe as Tetris-like. When the days actually worked out, I marveled at my ability to pull it all off. But sadly, I didn’t get as much stitching in as I wanted and so suggested extending it by a bit. 

I was able to experiment, practice, and imagine though. 


I was able to get into a very sweet flow and pay attention to my thoughts. I’m slowly learning what I like the looks of and how to make things line up. This is a wonderful process for me. 


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Slow Stitch-Stitch Along~ Week 2

So begins the stitching. Running stitch using different threads and different angles, this is one hundred percent experimentation and new for me. Claire Wellesley-Smith offers ideas and exercises on pages 51-53 of Slow Stitch that I’m focusing on this week. I’m not going to rush and I’m going to pay attention to my thoughts as I look at each row, section, square. I can already tell that the internal judge is gearing up for a starring role on stage. Straight lines are not my jam. Will that be okay?


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Everything But the Kitchen Sink and End of Summer Turbulence

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?

Azel Pullover

~ 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.

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~ 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.

Circular Weaving

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.

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.

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.

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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.

Yes. That.

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