Sunday, June 10, 2012

I cannot believe how long it's been since my last post. I'm sorry. I think of blogging often, and somehow it doesn't get done.In  the spirit of living my life and not writing about it- I will admit that I don't really feel bad. I've been busy.
BUT - yesterday was my 60th birthday. And that deserves to be written about. I am confused. How did this happen? The Perennial Flower Child is an age, that even in her most honest moments- she finds hard to say out loud. You really don't know how much it took for me to be able to write that down!
 Many years ago I decided that appreciating where you are right now is important. It's easy to dream of the future- it's easy to get lost in the past- but right now can be a challenge. So my belief in the now just had a head on collision with Not Me. 
Friends and family have called to commiserate- congratulate me on this achievement of a new decade. I have had the good luck of being one of the youngest in most of my long-time circles. Family- and friends from 'Back in the Day' . So I've seen others go through this. And learned from them. Of what I do and don't want to do.
I don't want to think of myself as old- as a senior- as a granny. I'm not. My spirit is vital, and I am passionate about many, many things. I'm not cynical- or worn out or negative. I've had a few health things that have gotten in the way of some things I want to do. I guess that I'll never compete in the Olympics, or climb Mt Everest. I may have trouble with a walking tour of Great Britain. And sometimes I worry that if my sons don't find the right girls to spend their lives with and have babies soon- I won't be able to play on the floor with them like I did with Zoe and Noah.
But the flip side of that is really a lot more exciting. I KNOW what I want and who I am. I have a self assurance now that I didn't have for many years. I have time and energy to greet this new chapter in my life with a 'Let's get started' attitude, and more energy at my 60th birthday than I had at my 55th. And that is a trend I intend to embrace.
So. This is MY year to: take my art seriously and produce. To eat healthy and treat my body with a little respect. To love my friends and family with everything I have, while still taking care of Mary.
                                           This will be fun. Wanna come along for the ride?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

What I Did for My Summer Vacation

This is the Summer of Making it Work- as in- use what you have, stay away from the store and make it fun.

So I started by cleaning out my fabric stash. A closet full of plastic bins overflowing with beautiful (and ugly) cottons- some from my mother's fabric stash and at least 30 years old! I ended up with lots of bins filled with neatly folded fabrics sorted and labeled on the shelves of my closet. And at least three bags full of stuff I am going to donate.

Then my a/c died in my studio. Yeah- we have central air ( we live in North Carolina for heaven's sake!) but my little room upstairs gets uncomfortably hot without the window unit. And in the spirit of Making It Work- I decided NOT to spend the money on a replacement unit,
but to move my sewing plans downstairs- to the kitchen. With a week off from work and lots of unfinished projects resurrected from the piles of fabric, I took over the kitchen counters- Cutting space on the island, iron on the counter, sewing machine on the table. On Vacation! Oh- and outside temps well over 100 degrees. I put Pandora on the computer and had nothing but time- I had an awesome week!
I made two quilt tops from a charm pack and yardage I bought at least three years ago- I over dyed some very ugly yarn- making even uglier yarn. And I made fabric bins to organize all those pieces of fabric I so lovingly folded. I found a bolt of upholstery linen I was going to recover a chair with- The chair is history- so I had yards and yards to play with.
I have always loved Maya's blog- Maya Made, and her burlap buckets have inspired me over and over again. My original plan was to make buckets, but then I realized that square shapes would suit my needs better- so I made up my own pattern and went to town.

15 bins later- I have some pretty cool looking storage! I was going to use stamps to label the colors I had sorted my fabric into- but I have decided to use numbers instead, with a fabric strip tied to the handle to indicate what's inside. This way I can reuse these bins in the future. I liked them so much- I thought I'd put together a tutorial for them- stay tuned for that!

By now, my week of free time was winding down- responsibilities lurked- the fantasy that I could make things for a living was evaporating like the rain from a brief summer shower. Laundry needed to be done- groceries bought- threads vacuumed up- meals prepared. But I felt very good about what I had accomplished.

Then this morning I started thinking about how I knit more than quilt these days and why. It's because with knitting I can stay right in the middle of things- I can easily hide surplus yarn in the cabinets in the living room, and sit and interact with my family while knitting. Quilting requires me to retire to my studio space- away from the center of things, isolated (which is sometimes a good thing). Quilting takes up lots of space.
When I first got married and my kids were babies, I did whatever I could do to stay at home with them and not have to pay someone else to raise them. Daycare has come a very long way since the late 70's. So I had my sewing machine set up in the eating space of our apartment and I sewed zippers into eyeglass cases for needlepoint kits. I made good money and worked for an awesome woman who believed in nurturing other women's creativity. And I was available to the kids and in the middle of things. Later we moved to California and I still had limited space-but my sewing machine was always in the dining room, in the middle of things.
Flash forward to an empty nest- including unused bedrooms- and a studio space was born. I love having my own room- and I love leaving everything where it is, in whatever stage of being finished- but I miss being in the middle of things. It's a trade-off- I'm rarely embarrassed by my clutter anymore- I still get quite a bit of work done. I love knitting, and I'm happy I am getting better at it all the time. But I REALLY loved working with fabric and making quilts and having threads on my clothes and singing VERY LOUD to old Joni Mitchell songs while my sewing machine was going full power.
So now I have put away all my toys and I have finished the laundry and I'm prepared to go back to work tomorrow- But what I really want to do is make this

Hey- only 5 days to the weekend, right?

Thanks to Amanda Jean for the inspiration

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Deep Breath!

Lots to be excited about in this here part of North Carolina. The dogwoods and azaleas are in bloom and the weather is being spring-like. 66 today and 90 tomorrow. Plenty of rain and wind are keeping the yellow haze that is spring at bay. For those who don't know- we have so many pine trees down here that spring means you keep your windows closed so you don't get pine pollen on everything you own. We consider how a new car will look with pine pollen all over it before we buy...the lyrics of Jimi Hendrix' 'Purple Haze' get changed to 'Yellow Haze'. We think Coldplay wrote "Yellow" just for us. ' In short- it's a mess. But this year we have had a couple wind storms and two or three day long soaking rains that have washed a good deal, if not all, of the pollen away. That's a good thing.

We are also excited about our garden this year. In light of world events- recession, gas prices, radiation in Japan - it just seems to be time to pay attention to being able to do at least some of the providing for ourselves. I found an article about straw bale gardening last year, and never got it together, but this year, we are on track for tomatoes, green peppers, beans (green and dry-able), squash and potatoes- as well as some pretty flowers grown on straw bales. So we don't break our backs with double tilling rather poor soil- and doing battle with weeds. We are going to get at least one and maybe two rain barrels, and hope to be able to keep this going through the hottest days of summer. And that will be the real test. This method of gardening should be successful if we have a moderate amount of rain, but I get lazy when it's 100 degrees out and hasn't rained in weeks.

My nephew, Greg, has started a Facebook group- The Green Gardener for those of us who like this sort of thing- check it out.

We also moved our compost barrel inside the fence so we can get to it easier. (We have been known to throw away perfectly good bunny poop instead of composting it). The round table discussion of whether to build a chicken coop, like our two neighbors have-has resulted in the decision to eat other people's eggs. I think I've done my share of nurturing small creatures, and it wouldn't be fair to Walter. He doesn't like chickens, much. And he'll end up taking care of them. I know myself that well, anyway. The bunny is evidence of that.

I also wanted to talk about how hard spinning is. I got a spinning wheel about 3 weeks ago, and haven't managed to get yarn on a bobbin yet. I know it will come. I'm just stubborn enough that I want to teach myself, but I may have to find some help. My wheel is a little, shall we say- different looking. It's called a Hitchhiker and was designed as a traveling wheel for those who really know what they are doing- or as a good beginner wheel (so I'm told...). There are whole groups of people who have this wheel and make lovely yarn on it. Those talented people let me lurk on their forum postings, cause I don't know enough to contribute. It's ok. I like a challenge. When we stop learning, we stop growing. I don't plan on stopping my own growth- so there you go. When I get good enough to actually produce some yarn, I'll tell you all about it. For now, however- just wish me well on this part of my journey.
How about you? Have you got any new things going on for Spring? Have you shaken off the winter doldrums and started anything new, challenging or interesting? Leave a comment!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

"It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters in the end,"Ursula K. Le Guin

I just spent about an hour on a post I deleted. I was talking about what I'm making now- that doesn't really matter. What I really want to talk about is how we are all on the journey- and the things we do that we love- are the reasons we are traveling. And being aware of that is important.
So I make stuff- and some of it is needed and loved- and some of it ends up in the back of the drawer. It's about the process- the journey, the IDEA. It's also about the finished project- and the blessings that object sends into the world.
Making things has two sides- my side is the creative rush- the flurry of 'Oh- I have an idea' through to the wrapping it in noisy tissue paper so it rustles when the new owner opens it. Or the happiness that the place mats I knit for our dinner trays gives me at dinner time.
The other side is knowing that the love and care, and, hopefully, thoughtfulness I put into making something goes out into the world and makes the recipient feel loved and cherished. That putting on those fingerless gloves reminds Zoe I love her-Noah's hat keeps his ears and his heart warm- or wrapping the shawl around her makes Bev realize she's not alone. That the work of making things puts a little more love into the world.

I like my surroundings to be touched with sentiment- so my husband's baby shoes have a place of honor- right next to my dog-eared copy of Franny and Zooey. My parents both painted and their artwork is on my walls- along with newer works by my oh-so talented son and mother-in-law. But I don't like a lot of clutter. (Which is my constant battle, by the way). I hope the things I make will stand the test of sentiment/practicality. But if they don't- pass them on to someone else. And I really want to mean that. (If my kids give away any 'important' stuff, it will hurt my feelings, though-just being honest here)

So the double edged joy of making stuff comes from sending my love and care out into your world- so you are reminded by that baby hat or blanket that I treasure you in my life, and the pure joy I get from the process itself. It's about the Journey and the Destination. It's about the time it takes and the love it makes-

...and in the end- the love you take is equal to the love you make...

Put some love out there! And enjoy the journey.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cloth to Cloth

I am so excited about this online class I'm taking. It will unfold as we go, but I am approaching this as a chance to focus on an aspect of myself I haven't been in touch with in a while. I have always, it seems, embroidered and made quilts. I dabbled at one point in crazy quilting, which combines both. But this is different. It adds story-telling to the mix. And weaving. And while I am not approaching this as focused as some of my classmates, I know it will change the way I produce my art. At least for now. My challenge will be to take the parts of this that are me, and not copy Jude's work, or the work of my classmates. So much energy in this group- so many talented people.

Here are some photos from my dying session yesterday. I used indigo dye for the first time. Who knew that an indigo dye bath had a 'flower' ( the foam on top of the liquid), that it needs to proof like yeast, and that it is a WONDERFUL acid green color. It's the oxygen in the air that turns it blue. And watching it oxidise was a coool experience.

This is about 2 yards of muslin that I folded and bunched.

This is my attempt at 'shibori'. I wrapped the fabric around a pool-noodle (didn't have a pipe) and secured it with rubberbands, then scrunched it down. I LOVE the water-ripple effect.

Pretty fabrics drying in the sun
I hope to be able to start weaving these and other fabrics together and start embroidering/quilting them together today. Housework? dinner? Pizza and a quick vacuum ought to take care of it!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Today is a day for honoring the mothers. Those who nurtured us and helped us to be the best we can be. I wish I had pictures to share with you of all the women I honor today. My Mom, her mom, my Dad's mother, and his sister, these are the women who taught me to knit and embroider and sew. My sisters, (who are SO much older than me!).My step mother, who loves and supports in the background. The women who nudged me in the right direction and the women who screamed in my ear. I thank you for the gifts you have given me- and I hope to be a model to the women who come after me on this journey of life.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

I guess you reach a point, eventually, when you just want to be the person you know you are inside. Not all the different people others know- the person YOU know. I know a lot of things about myself- good and bad, nice and not so nice. And I want to take my time in this season coming up to BE. I want to take my time reading a book and knitting a sweater. I want to start 20 projects and finish them little by little. I want to spend hours on the beach just watching the waves. I want to SLOW DOWN and not feel driven by the lists I make in my head. I want to putter. In the house, in my studio, in the garden. If the Master List Of Things That Need To Be Done gets items scratched off or checked- good. If it doesn't happen- it doesn't happen.
I promise to keep my house clean enough that you don't need to worry if I bake you something. And I'll go to work every day I'm supposed to. And I'll blow the World's Biggest Bubbles with Noah and Zoe. And I'll decide to go to the beach by myself with just a chair and a bottle of water and a good book on the spur of the moment. I'll walk more, because I want to. I'll eat more veggies, because I want to. And if I want to have popcorn for dinner- I'll do that, too!

I have been knitting a lot. I love the way I can knit and also be with everyone. For so many years, I made quilts, and something about my process of making quilts kept me isolated from my family- I guess I needed space. But now that the kids are gone, and there's no guilt stopping me from spending as many hours as I want in my studio- I find myself making a nest for myself on the couch- with one or two knitting projects at hand. And Walter on the other end of the couch, telling me stories. Or visiting with my kids and grandkids and finishing up a shawl (simply knit only- I can't talk and do hard stuff at the same time!)I love the connection to my mom and the other women in my life, the generations of women who made things of function and beauty for their loved ones. And I love the way knitting allows me to be PRESENT and still busy. I feel wrapped in the love and goodness of people like Mrs Van ( my best friend's mom), my father's mother, my aunt Sis, my cousin Ann, my mother-in-law, Jackie.

I will grow with this particular needleart for a long time. So much to learn!! And so many new friends to make on this learning journey. I love going to my knitting group- a collection of smart, witty women who read and knit and who view the world the same way I do. We teach each other and go home energized, and usually a little less confused by whatever aspect of our knitting is challenging at the moment.

I am taking an online class from Jude Hill. I am very excited about this. I have never taken an online class- and that in itself will be a bit challenging. This is an embroidery class, I guess you would have to say. About embellishing and producing 'slow fabric' that has a dream-like quality that really appeals to me. I know that I will learn a lot, and be challenged to create something that speaks of me- but I haven't got a clue about how this will unfold.

I know I'm not very good about posting frequently. I'd like to do better- but I will only say that if the time is right- I will post. I don't want this sharing to be another bullet on the Master List of Things To Do. So, my dear friends- take what you can from this- leave the rest- and savor the moments you have, big and small- treasure the people in your world, and use your creative spirit- to make a perfect cup of tea, or the mug to hold it in. Just USE it!