Monday, December 27, 2010

Last Words

I don't mean to dwell on this.   But as I shared some witty banter with a friend I just thought how much I miss my friend, Colleen.  She was so damn witty and always had a funny response to everything.  It was always great fun to match wits with her.  Oh why, oh why.  It is such a loss to me, to all those that loved her.

A mutual friend told me that I needed to write a "song" for her.  Well, I'm no musician but I do wax poetic from time to time.  So I wrote this poem for both of my friends.  I just wanted to share it here in case somebody . . . anybody can find some sort of hope and know that no matter how bad they think things are,  there are people who love you and need you.  Please don't cheat the world of every precious minute you can contribute to this life.  I don't know how good of a poem this is, it feels a bit rough and unpolished.  But it was one of those gifts from the muse and I offer it up, lumps, bumps and all.


Tho you feel darkness all around
And death sings its siren song,
Step outside yourself and look again.

The darkness is illusion,
blinders put there by your pain
But in truth
You will see,
there is a flame.

You are the light in someone’s life,
Your smile has dispelled the bleakest of nights
And your darkest hour need not be in vain.

Unbind you soul,
extend your hand,
be assured that many hands
will reach out
to take yours.

Let the love that does surround you
break that barrier that confines you,
Allow the light of love to lift you
from the depths of hopelessness and pain.
The flicker of your soul will ignite once again
To keep you warm, give you strength and keep you sane.

It may feel a lonely battle, but once you
reach for help,
You will find an army of God’s angels at your side.

Be strong for just one second,
Cry for help with your last effort
Open the door, do not shut it,
Let love in.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

In Honor of a fellow Lost Soul

I am sad to say that I have lost another friend to the great void beyond.  I wish that she had reached out  to me-- to someone-- in her hour of need.  Unfortunately, it is only human to withdraw when the pain of life is too much.  I pray that angels escort her on her journey to the other side and bath her in the love that this delicate flower of a girl so needed.

My friend suffered greatly with anxiety and depression throughout her life.  I am no stranger to these feelings (as are many of us).  Often times I feel that I am viewing the world through a looking glass, never really part of it, just watching the shadows of life play on in the mirror's reflection.  To venture outside often seems scary and fraught with danger.  These are the times that I count my blessings and know that I can go to my friends who are always there for me, whether I deserve it or not.

For my dear departed friend, an ethereal spirit, witty, kind and beautiful I dedicate the poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson:  The Lady of Shallot.  Spinning and weaving are incorporated into this poem so it is a poem that caught my attention a while ago.  And as I think of my friend, I can't help but feel the mood and essence of this poem.

For my surviving friends and relatives:  never give up, carry on.  Life is suffering,  but there is love and friendship that makes it bearable.  Never forget that, please.

by Alfred Lord Tennyson

On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro' the field the road runs by
To many-tower'd Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott.
Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Through the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four grey walls, and four grey towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.
By the margin, willow veil'd,
Slide the heavy barges trail'd
By slow horses; and unhail'd
The shallop flitteth silken-sail'd
Skimming down to Camelot:
But who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand?
Or is she known in all the land,
The Lady of Shalott?
Only reapers, reaping early,
In among the bearded barley
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly;
Down to tower'd Camelot;
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers, " 'Tis the fairy
Lady of Shalott."
There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.
And moving through a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.
There she sees the highway near
Winding down to Camelot;
There the river eddy whirls,
And there the surly village churls,
And the red cloaks of market girls
Pass onward from Shalott.
Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
An abbot on an ambling pad,
Sometimes a curly shepherd lad,
Or long-hair'd page in crimson clad
Goes by to tower'd Camelot;
And sometimes through the mirror blue
The knights come riding two and two.
She hath no loyal Knight and true,
The Lady of Shalott.
But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror's magic sights,
For often through the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights
And music, went to Camelot;
Or when the Moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed.
"I am half sick of shadows," said
The Lady of Shalott.
A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
He rode between the barley sheaves,
The sun came dazzling thro' the leaves,
And flamed upon the brazen greaves
Of bold Sir Lancelot.
A red-cross knight for ever kneel'd
To a lady in his shield,
That sparkled on the yellow field,
Beside remote Shalott.
The gemmy bridle glitter'd free,
Like to some branch of stars we see
Hung in the golden Galaxy.
The bridle bells rang merrily
As he rode down to Camelot:
And from his blazon'd baldric slung
A mighty silver bugle hung,
And as he rode his armor rung
Beside remote Shalott.
All in the blue unclouded weather
Thick-jewell'd shone the saddle-leather,
The helmet and the helmet-feather
Burn'd like one burning flame together,
As he rode down to Camelot.
As often thro' the purple night,
Below the starry clusters bright,
Some bearded meteor, burning bright,
Moves over still Shalott.
His broad clear brow in sunlight glow'd;
On burnish'd hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow'd
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
As he rode down to Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flashed into the crystal mirror,
"Tirra lirra," by the river
Sang Sir Lancelot.
She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces through the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
She look'd down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me," cried
The Lady of Shalott.
In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining.
Heavily the low sky raining
Over tower'd Camelot;
Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And around about the prow she wrote
The Lady of Shalott.
And down the river's dim expanse
Like some bold seer in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance --
With a glassy countenance
Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shalott.
Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right --
The leaves upon her falling light --
Thro' the noises of the night,
She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song,
The Lady of Shalott.
Heard a carol, mournful, holy,
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her blood was frozen slowly,
And her eyes were darkened wholly,
Turn'd to tower'd Camelot.
For ere she reach'd upon the tide
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died,
The Lady of Shalott.
Under tower and balcony,
By garden-wall and gallery,
A gleaming shape she floated by,
Dead-pale between the houses high,
Silent into Camelot.
Out upon the wharfs they came,
Knight and Burgher, Lord and Dame,
And around the prow they read her name,
The Lady of Shalott.
Who is this? And what is here?
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they crossed themselves for fear,
All the Knights at Camelot;
But Lancelot mused a little space
He said, "She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace,
The Lady of Shalott."

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Elusive Spider Woman

Admittedly I have been avoiding this next installment of blogs.  Pressed for time by projects and frustrated by  vague information on the elusive Spider Woman of Indian lore, I have chosen procrastination.  However, in order to move forward, today I will try my best to make a little progress and a little sense for today's blog.  I did consider skipping the legend of Spider Woman.  But there are such wonderful poetic visuals;  I just can't pass her by.

There are many tribes of  North American Indians and like any culture, they all have their own twists and versions of similar gods and goddesses.  This is the Hopi Indian legend of Spider Woman who was created by the "Creator of Tokpela (The First World)."  He was Sotuknang who created Spider Woman to be his helper on earth.  Upon her creation she was given her name, Kotyangwuti, and she asked Sotuknang, "Why am I here?"

(Credit for this next passage goes to the site:  under Native American Indian Legends.  I could not possibly re-tell this as artfully as the original author has!)

"Look around you," answered Sótuknang. "Here is the earth that we have created. It has shape and substance, direction and time, a beginning and an end. But there is no life upon it. We see no joyful movement. We hear no joyful sound. What is life without sound and movement? So you have been given the power to help us create this life. You have been given the knowledge, the wisdom, and the love to bless all the beings you create. That is why you are here."
Following his instructions, Kótyangwúti took some earth and mixed it with some túchvala (liquid from the mouth or saliva) and molded it into two beings. Then she covered them with a cape made of a white substance which was the creative wisdom itself, and she sang the creation song over them.
When she uncovered them, the two beings, twins, sat up and asked, "Who are we? Why are we here?"
To the one on the right, Spider Woman said, "You are Pöqánghoya. You are here to help keep this world in order when life is put upon it. Go now around all the world and put your hands upon the earth so that it will become solidified. This is your duty."
To the one on the left, Spider Woman said, "You are Palöngawhoya. You are here to help keep this world in order when life is put upon it. This is your duty now: go about all the world and send out sound so that it may be heard throughout all of the land. When this is heard you will also be known as 'Echo,' for all sound echoes the Creator."
Pöqánghoya, traveling throughout the Earth, solidified the higher reaches into great mountains. The lower reaches he made firm, but still pliable enough to be used by those beings to be placed upon it and who would call it their mother.
Palöngawhoya, traveling throughout all of the earth, sounded out his call as he was told to do. All of the vibration centers along the earth's axis from pole to pole resounded his call; the whole earth trembled, and the universe quivered in tune. Thus he made the whole world an instrument of sound, and sound is an instrument for carrying messages, resounding praise to the Creator of all.
"This is your voice, Uncle," Sótuknang said to Taiowa. "Everything is tuned to your sound.
"It is very good," said Taiowa.
Once they had finished their duties, Pöqánghoya was sent to the north pole of the world's axis, and Palöngawhoya to the south pole, where they were jointly commanded to keep the world properly rotating. Pöqánghoya was also given the power to keep the earth in a stable form of solidness. Palöngawhoya was given the power to keep the air in gentle ordered movement, and told to send out his call for good or for warning through the vibratory centers of the Earth.
"These will be your duties in time to come," said Spider Woman.
She then created from the earth the trees, bushes, flowers, and other plants. She created all kinds of seed-bearers and nut-bearers to clothe the earth, giving to each a life and a name. In the same manner, she created all kinds of birds and animals, molding them out of earth and covering each with her white-substance cape of wisdom, and singing over them.
Some she placed to the right, some to the left, and others she placed before her and in back of her, indicating how they should spread to all four corners of the world to live.
Sótuknang was happy, seeing how beautiful it all was: the land, the plants, the birds and the animals, and the power working through them all. Joyfully he said to Taiowa, "Come see what our world looks like now!"
"It is very good," said Taiowa. "It is now ready for human life, the final touch to complete my plan."

To clarify a little, Taiowa is the Hopi version of a Sun God, the original creator who created Sotuknang. Taiowa refered to him as "nephew".  As I stated earlier, this is only one version of the Hopi legends.  There are other versions and other gods given credit for various parts of the creation.  It is safe to say that the  Hopi Indians associate Spider Woman with the creation and emergence of life on earth.  She is the teacher of survival skills to  humans.  The Navaho Indians believe the skill she gave to humans was the art of weaving and before they sit down to a loom, the Navaho will often rub their hands in spider webs to absorb the wisdom and skill of Spider Woman.  Spider Woman is said to be a metaphor for "She who creates from a central source" and her spider web represents the matrix of our reality.  According to, this matrix refers to the "Spider Web Effect"  a theory that all things originate from a central source, spiral out in a matrix, grid, lattice or web,  following the same geometric design.  All things are connected to each other and to that source.  Whatever affects one part of the web affects all parts of the web.  Very progressive thinking for an alleged primitive culture, don't you think?  This same effect is given credit for our ability to learn to be psychic and to connect telepathically.  It is no surprise that Spider Woman is also associated with "dream catchers" which are common in our culture even now.  It is said that during dream time we remove part of our consciousness from physical reality and venture off through Spider Woman's web, experiencing that which we cannot understand with our physical consciousness. 

This time around, while writing this brief and singular legend of Spider Woman, I am finding that the information is not so vague.  However, it could become a life's work due to the fact that there are very many versions of the Spider Woman and even Spider Grandmother stories.  There are many excellent sites on the web if you wish to pursue them.  Simply search Indian Lore, Indian Legends, or Myths.  The stories become exponential and you will find  many different versions by all the different tribes.  The Indian culture has a wonderful tradition of storytelling to explain all of life's mysteries in a wonderful way that imbued more mystery and awe to each subject.  The more you read them, the more impressed you will be, not only with their poetry and creativity but with their knowledge of the world, the science of it, and our place in it.  It is an understatement to say that there is much to be learned from the ancient cultures of the world.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Back to the Magic & Mythology

I am still drawn to the fairy tales and mythology that surround the arts of spinning and weaving.  For some reason knitting and crochet don't get the glory like spinning and weaving.  I think perhaps its because there's a type of alchemy, "some magic", in transforming fluff into substance that can be woven and knitted.  Just about every other fairy tale is about spinning hay to gold.  Talk about making something out of nothing!  As I look into all the various folk tales, they are cautionary tales of laziness, or asking others to do your chores (that's when the fairy folk come to help and then wreck the place).  They are finger wagging admonitions that you won't marry if you don't have skills!  Of course, I also enjoy the reverse spin (pardon the pun) where the damsel who cannot spin shows her husband the hideous physical mutations that come of being a good spinner (mainly big ugly lips from wetting the flax as they spin, amongst other troll-like attributes).  There is so much to cover in the mythology of this art, from the ancient goddesses to the characters in Marion Zimmer Bradley's Mists of Avalon, that I cannot possibly cover it all.  I've wanted to, but it is truly overwhelming.

However, through the good graces of Wikepedia, who has neatly broken down the various mythologies for me . . . I thought perhaps I could go down the line and share the myths and some lore surrounding spinning and weaving one at a time.  It's a good way for me to learn as I go and saves us all from "TMI".

I'll start of with Neith (aka: Nit, Net & Neit), an early goddess in the Egyptian pantheon.  She was mainly worshipped in the Western Nile Delta of Egypt.   She was a goddess of war and hunting.  Her hieroglyph bore a resemblance of a loom, so in later years she also became the goddess of weaving.  Prior to this, her name was interpreted as water and she was linked to the primordial waters of creation:  a mother-goddess.  But a different interpretation of her name meant weaver and she was considered to have woven the world and all existence on her loom.  In art, Neith is often depicted as having a shuttle on top of her head and holding bows and arrows in her hands.  I guess women have been called upon to multi-task since the beginning of time.

As a goddess of weaving and all things domestic, Neith was considered to be a guardian of women and protector of marriage.  However, she was still a goddess of war and retained an association with death (I brought you into this world and I'll take you out -- comes to mind).  Actually, it was said that she wove the shrouds and bandages as a gift to the mummified dead.  She was considered a water goddess, the mother of crocodiles and the mother of Ra the Sun God.  But as the goddess of weaving she was said to re-weave the world on her loom daily.  She was a virgin goddess, yet all that she conceived in her heart came to be, including thirty gods.  Procius (412 - 485 AD) wrote of an inscription in the adyton of the temple of Neith (an adyton is a restricted area of a temple, usually at the farthest end, often housing the cult image of the god and accessible only to oracles, priests or acolytes).  Sadly the temple has been lost to time, but the words of it's inscription live on:

"I am the things that are, that will be, and that have been.  No one has ever laid open the garment by which I am concealed.  The fruit which I bore forth was the sun."

Only a goddess could lay claim to such powers of creation . . . that only a woman could appreciate.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Have Wheel, Will Travel

I still can't believe how fast my desire to learn to spin has manifested itself.  True, I have been stalking spinners at craft fairs for quite a few years.  But that was more curiosity than desire at the time (I think).  I checked the date on the first "Spin Off" magazine I bought out of  "curiosity".  It was the Winter 2009 edition.  When I first saw it on the bottom of the magazine rack, I was in disbelief.  I couldn't believe that there were so many people spinning that this craft had it's own magazine.  On the front was a picture of beautiful art yarn that had varying colors of green with a little bright yellow in it and it had these cool coils throughout.  I was in L-U-V.   I had no idea when I bought that magazine that I would already own my very own wheel and be learning to spin before the Winter of 2011!   I've been wishing to be rich for a long time and that never manifested itself.  Perhaps it's too vague or too common of a wish. 

I'm sorry to report that I missed my first Knit-In at the Osterhaut Library.  Underneath all my yarn and bills and snippets of material I finally found my buried calendar.  Upon it's resurrection I saw that I had a long overdue dental appointment.  Sometimes one just has to do what must be done.  So I will attempt the next months Knit-In.  I did make it to the Sit n' Spin event at WoodsEdge Farm in New Jersey.  That was quite a trip.  I learned two things about planning a trip . . . always check your map against the Map-Quest directions and no matter how much your friend loves you and wants to be there for you,  if you get them lost you will have hell to pay until you are "un-lost".  Fortunately we were able to laugh between the screaming and the hyperventilation.   Aside from some travel snafus, it was an excellent day.  The day was sunny with blue skies, the countryside in New Jersey was beautiful and WoodsEdge Farm was a paradise. 

The property was immense.  There were acres of open land and land populated by pines that provided a cool respite for the llamas grazing behind split rail fences.  There was a two story country house, a barn, and the main building had a very inviting front porch that begged to be sat upon.  However, the day was a hot and humid so the spinning was going on inside the building where it was airconditioned.  As I walked in I entered a huge foyer with big shiny square hunks of granite stone for a floor.  To the left and right of the foyer were rooms filled with beautiful knit garments and socks, wool for felting, felted hats adorned with huge fabric roses, adorable sock monkeys and some llama toys (complete with Sherpa hats), hand made molded soaps and even honey from their bee farm.  Continuing straight ahead were two deacons benches set on either side of the foyer (where the girls were parked) and wooden doors behind them that went into a huge barn.  The door handles were wrought iron llamas (too cool).   I was able to go out into that barn because the bathroom was a well-maintained and clean port-a-potty way in the back of the barn.  The barn was stocked with hay and there were some baby goats enclosed  half-way into the barn and half outside.  In the front of the barn were bags and bags and bags of fleece on several tables and a rack with some dyed scarves that were probably put there to dry. 

When my girlfriend and I first arrived and parked outside this magnificent building we were greeted by a very nice girl.  God forgive me, I am so terrible with names I cannot remember the names of anyone except for Jane and Linda (the owner of that beautiful farm) and the Etsy nome de plume of one girl, Ginger.  The girl that greeted us was a very nice girl with dark hair & blue eyes.  She told us she was spending her summer as an apprentice on the farm.  Three other girls were all from Gainesville, Florida and worked at the same college together.  They were friends of Linda and were spending their summer working on the farm while visiting with each other.  Another woman, probably close to my age was spinning away on some beautiful blue wool yarn.  I liked how she had a woven basket (like the kind we used to buy fruit in) lined with fabric, sporting a frilly border and several balls of blue yarn neatly tucked into it.   Another older woman joined us and was showing us the fiber she intended to blend together.  I got to watch while she used paddles that looked huge in her hands to card the fiber before spinning (Carding is when you use paddles that look like dog brushes to brush your fiber out or blend it).   My agenda was to learn to spin better.  But I've noticed that spinners are very single-minded when they spin.  I did learn many things, however.  I learned how to use a ball winder and a skein winder (items I will need to purchase myself).   "Ginger" was spinning very fine silk (I'm guessing about the weight here) lace weight yarn on a spindle.  She also produced a tahkli spindle that she was using to spin cotton.  I can't tell you how fine and perfect that cotton looked!  I should probably explain that spindles are the low-tech way to spin and great for traveling because they are small.  There are different types, top whorl, bottom whorl and the tahkli which has a small bowl that supports the spindle while you spin.  That's a whole other discussion and one I've yet to learn myself!   Ginger taught me so much about fiber.  She's a DNA forensic specialist at the college and obviously a gifted teacher!  She brought out sample locks of fiber to show me the difference between straight fiber and crimped fiber which gives more bounce and loft to the yarn.  She told me about the short staple length (that's the length of each hair or fiber and it makes a big difference when you're spinning) of cotton and the difference in fiber diameter of different fleeces and fibers.  My favorite moment was when she produced what looked like a brightly dyed hankie which was actually several layers of silk fiber.  She peeled off one of the ever so fine layers which was in the shape of a flattened cocoon.  It was like a oval cob web in blues and white.  Then she began to pull the fibers and it turned into a beautiful gossemar strand with the colors becoming ethereal and delicate.  Can you tell I think fiber is eye candy? 

All the while everyone spun and chatted and they were very happy to answer any of my questions.  I had such a great time.  I would like go back one day.  But next time I will have a mapped out plan and I think I will plan on staying in that cute little town of Stockton, New Jersey. 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Blog Block

For those few who do look forward to my Blogs, I am sad to report that the muse has not stirred me of late.  So, this will be a kind of "Stay Tuned for More" blog.  While there has been a bit of a lull (financially, mentally, and there's nothing like a good hot spell to make you turn into a couch potato) there are things in the works!  My calendar is filling up with all kinds of cool things that I'm sure will be fodder for my Blogging future.

First, I have to give a tip of the hat to my generous benefactor, Craig Johnson, from the Worthington Acres Alpaca Farm and to PayPal (the only credit I have left--I hope) for making this gal's dreams come to fruition!  Craig sold me his used Babes Fiber spinning wheel at a significant discount so I am now the proud owner of my very own spinning wheel.  It's not a fancy wheel, but as long as I can spin on it, I am thrilled!  It's a light-weight portable wheel, so I can easily take it with me on my new adventures in spinning.

Next weekend, I'll being taking it to Stockton, NJ for my very first "Sit n' Spin".   I've never done anything like this in my life before, so it should be quite the experience.  Basically it's a bring your own lunch & libation, free event that you can bring your spinning and knitting too and hang out with all the others to learn and have fun.  I'm nervous but excited.  Anybody who knows me knows I'm not real big on crowds and especially crowds of unknown people!  Hopefully the love of all things fiber will be the bonding glue for me.

The Friday after that I'm going to my good friend, Andzia's, Amber Shop to see her "Jewels of Verve Vertu" open house and exhibit.  I'm really looking forward to that.   This is an exhibit of works of art in the form of batiks, felt purses, wall hangings and I can't wait to see what other surprises.  Andzia tells me I can expect to be wowed by the beauty.  This event is compliments of the art studio of The Deutsch Institute who helps special needs people and people with disabilities do something I'm fond of . . . embrace their dreams through creativity!

That Saturday, I will be attending my first "Knit In" that has recently been formed as a monthly meeting group right here in River City (Wilkes-Barre) at our wonderful Osterhaut Library.  I found out about that through my online group that I love, Ravelry.   Finally, something fiber related that isn't two hours or more away!

The rest of August looks to be uneventful.  But come September I'll be busy as ever.  The weekend of September 11th & 12th is the big Fiber Festival at the Harford fairgrounds.  Hopefully I'll be able to make that trip.  A second "Knit In" at the Osterhaut takes place the following Saturday.   The weekend after that I'm going to grit my teeth and aim the old rust bucket toward Cleveland, Ohio to visit my sister and attend "National Alpaca Farm Days" to be held at the MetroParks there.  The two of us loose around alpacas and yarn . . . it could be dangerous.  Either one of us may come home with a "new pet".   The following Monday begins everyone's favorite Pennsylvania fair . . . The Bloomsburg Fair!  And as a new member of the Susquehanna Valley Spinners and Weaver's Guild, I have the opportunity to participate in the Spinning Clatch and educational exhibit there.  I will be scouring the Thrift stores to find something vaguely Colonial looking to wear so I keep with the theme.  Yes, Laurel Ingalls, I'm channeling you!  Oh, that should be a hoot.  When was the last time I wore a dress?  I can assure you, there will be bloomers of some sort underneath.

God willing and the creek don't rise, I should have a very eventful and fun couple of months.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

In Awe and Appreciation of Women Farmers

It has come to my attention that with each little hobby I add to my list of things to do (in the few spare hours that are allotted to a working gal) . . . I seem to acrue more and more clutter & disarray in my home.  I have "UFO's" all over the place (a clever term--not coined by me--for "UnFinished Objects").    My dishes are piled up in the sink.  There is always laundry either begging to be done or done and waiting to be put away.    I have papers, bills, recipes, knitting and crochet patterns, catalogs, books, magazines, things that I intend to sell (if I could only get organized enough) and a myriad of snippets, beads, thread, yarn, roving and the other odds and ends strewn all about the house.  Then there are the errands of going to the grocery store, the drug store, the little trips that seems to always eat up a good portion of my time.  I obviously lack in the "art of managing time" (and money for that matter).   I continue to spiral into a mad woman's self-made mess  (with the best of intentions of getting organized  . . . tomorrow, and tomorrow, and . . . yah, who am I kidding!)

Meanwhile, it has caught my attention that there are a lot of women out there who work very hard, do a heck of lot more than I do and manage to keep order in their lives.  I first became awed by the accounts of Laura Van Divier who's website I have subscribed too: .  She sells the most beautiful and diverse fabrics you've ever seen.  If you are a quilter this is your go-to site!  I don't quilt, but just in case I do anything in the sewing department, I know where to get the best fabric prints.  I love her emails because she always ends her lists of new fabrics with her "Family News".  It's a very homey account of her life on the farm in the state of  Washington.   I feel like she is a friend I haven't met yet.  When you visit her site she has dozens of pictures of the many animals, ducks and chickens on her farm.  She has a family to take care of, a huge farm to tend to, she runs her fabric business and she even finds time to write a little paragraph with each email to keep everyone up on her life, her animals, her experiences.  I look at all she does during the day and I cannot believe she fits it all into "one day".

Yesterday, I drove out to visit The Steam Valley Fiber Farm (yes, they have a website!) just past Trout Run, PA.  This is a farm that also functions as a business for Phylleri Ball's spinning and weaving passion.  I got to try out a couple of spinning wheels to see what kind of wheel I want to purchase (when I finally have the do-re-mi!).  Her "shop" is basically her home.  Which, by the way, is well kept, neat and organized.  She had just been to a farmer's market and had several rattan baskets filled with beautiful hand spun, hand dyed and painted yarns (looking for all the world to me like pirate's treasure!).  Note to self:  there was no "clutter" (hmmm, a novel idea, that).  I enjoyed seeing all her yarns and trying out her wheels.  Even more, I enjoyed our conversation.  I had taken my friend, Dom, who has a greenhouse business with me.  And we talked about how hard it is to keep your head above water in this economy.  We are all struggling . . . but really, local farmers are truly having the hardest of times now.  She talked about her experience at the farmers' market and how people would see the cost of her hand spun, hand dyed, hand knitted socks and exclaim "I'm not going to pay that much for a pair of socks".  We talked about how everyone has come to have the "three-for-one mentality" spawned by super discount chain stores.  Yet, if you added up how many times you would have to replace the cheaper socks, and the time and money you spend going to the store to replace them . . . which is the better value?  American's have Super-sized their lives yet minimized the value of lasting durable goods.   I've been brainwashed too.   But poverty is a good teacher!

Phylleri Ball, proprietor and farmer, took time from her busy schedule to share her farm with Dom & I.   This is where I really saw farming art in motion.  She had a barn full of angora goats that are her source for wool.   (She also mentioned that she uses the black walnuts on her property as a natural dye for her yarns.)    In addition to wool, and yes, meat too, she gathers their milk twice a day and makes her own cheese.  The goats also maintain her pastures for her by keeping them well grazed.  The goats' manure goes into a big pile with straw and scraps and she has two small brown pigs in there who were happily turning the compost while they romped and ate  . . . happy as pigs in (you know the saying here).  They were cute little things.   When I asked if they would grow huge like the ones I've seen at the fair, Phylleri assured me that they would grow to be over 200 lbs each.  Then, like all farm piggies, they would become ham, bacon and pork chops.  Also on the farm were her free range chickens.   As a city slicker, I thought  free range chickens lived like turkeys.  I didn't realize that they still need a coop to go to (Dom educated me on that later).   She had a couple of coops out in her pasture that she constructed, and every day the coops get moved.  Moving them around means that the earth where ever the chickens were roosting is now fertilized with their droppings.  How cool is that! 

While we talked in her living room (between my fumbling with the spinning wheels and fiber on my test drives),  I mentioned that it seems most farmers don't have the family help they once had.  Phylleri agreed.  She said that her children see how hard she works and don't have any interest in working that hard for a meager living.  But she said, it's basically a life choice.  She loves what she does.  Yes she would like to show a profit sometime other than when the tax man comes to collect.  But she said she reminds her children how well they eat, compliments of the farm . . . fresh chicken, spring lamb, ham, and bacon, free range eggs, and homemade cheese.  I'd be willing to bet she probably cans produce and jams and jellies.  Phylerri is probably about 5'2", she's tanned and looks like hard work is no stranger to her.  I really envy women like her, but more so . . . I'm just in awe.  You can't be lax, you can't be self-absorbed, you can't be complacent, indecisive or wallow in your misery when you work like this.  I feel pretty lame when I compare myself to these hail and hearty women of the earth who still, "STILL", make time to be involved in their communities and not only pursue their crafts but excel in them.  These women leave a big footprint to be filled.  It's something to strive towards, even if I can only achieve the most minute fraction of what they do every day.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


The compulsion to spin has been brewing in me for a long time.  When I threw it out into the Universe, that this was what I truly wanted to do, the Universe answered.  It never ceases to amaze me how that works!  Seems this kind of magic happens only with things that I feel impassioned about.

So my passion got down to the brass tacks of "learning".  My benevolent instructor was wonderfully kind enough to loan me a small spinning wheel so I could practice at home.  All week I've been practicing and have gotten immersed in the technicalities of spinning.  This involves learning the language of spinning.  Foreign words like:  drafting, Z-twist, S-twist, orifice, fly wheel, scotch tension, "mother of all", long draft, and short draft.   I've spun every day, and every day I've struggled with knarled over-twisted ugly stuff.  When I start to get too disgusted I just tell myself that this is "art yarn" . . . that would be my positive spin.  Pardon the pun.  I have fumbled with the fiber while I treadled, trying to keep my wheel A) spinning and B) spinning in the correct direction.  My yarn has been everything from fine as hair to a big lumpy dreadlock looking thing.  Last night I learned a lesson in spinning mechanics when the wheel bucked, the flyer came off and my drive band jumped the track.  Fortunately, it's not near as bad as it sounds.  But it did take me a while to figure out exactly what happened and how to fix it.

I found a great support system on  Ravelry is great for knitters and crocheters and they have a group:  Joy of Handspinning.  I got a lot of advice from many spinners who welcomed my questions with kindness and encouragement.  I also watched many a YouTube video to get an up-close look at the techniques that people use.  I got a good laugh watching a British woman's video as she described how some people like to weight their wheels to keep the wheel going in one direction.  She described how sometimes people will drill a hole in their wheel and fill the hole with lead.  She also said that this could be a problem because sometimes the lead comes loose and many a spinner's guild meeting would be interrupted by a lead projectile flying through the group.  (Thanks for the warning!).  A week later my yarn is still "art yarn".  But I've learned more about drafting my fiber and I'm beginning to get a feel for what I should be doing.  It's a lot like learning to drive a stick shift.  There are a lot of things to coordinate, the treadling, holding the fiber, drafting the fiber, learning how the fiber twists and when to pinch and when to let go, when to let the yarn go up the orifice and onto the bobbin.  And I'm loving it.  I can't wait until I hit that sweet spot where it all comes together and I can spin my own knitable yarn!

I have been asked (most recently by my spinning instructor) what made me want to learn to spin.  I really haven't had a good answer for that up until now.  The answer came only this morning, after a week of mulling over what to write for today's blog.  I have always loved the tactile pleasure of working with yarn, so I had thought that this may be a reason.  My sister recently reminded me of the Beck family we had been friends with in Virgina.   Mrs. Beck not only wove cloth on a gigantic loom in their living room, but spun wool too.  So I thought perhaps I had subconsciously filed that away in my brain and then forgotten it.  I was also a big fan of Marion Zimmer Bradley's book, Mists of Avalon, whose characters often went into trances and saw visions while spinning.  Last week, a friend warned me not to "prick my finger" prior to my lesson, resulting in a discussion trying to recall the fairy tales that involved pricking fingers and spinning flax into gold.  I have always loved to read, and myths, folklore and fairy tales were my first love.  I now believe that these had a more profound influence on me that I had ever expected!

This morning, I decided to look into these fairy tales for my blog.  I started by looking up "Spinning flax into Gold" and came across a site:  This site from Thorskegga Thorn had such a wealth of information on the mythology and lore of spinning I was blown away.  I learned about the German Goddess, Holda, the patron saint of spinners.  She is also the controller of weather, giver of fertility and protector of unborn children.  The Egyptians credit Isis with teaching women to spin.  The Norse Goddess Frigg is a spinner.  In Scandinavia, the constellation known as Orion's Girdle is called "Friggjar Rockr" meaning Frigg's Distaff.  There are Russian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Greek and Asian goddesses involving the arts of spinning and weaving.  Way too many for me to cover.  But my favorite would have to be Saule, the Baltic Sun Goddess who is linked with the wheel.  "She spins light like thread."  In Lithuania she is considered the only guardian to shepherds.  She is also associated with Amber - the Sun Stone!   Amber, I learned, is considered a magical  substance for spinners:  "as the light never tangles in the sky, so an amber spindle protects the new thread from snarls caused by unhappy or malicious spirits."   Go to this link for more mythology and spinning information:  Here you can find out about Native American myths of  "Grandmother Spider Woman",  African,  and Asian and myths of spinning from all over the world. 

Truly, this blog has been a blessing to me.  By sharing my passion and researching my interests, I feel my knitting, crochet, and spinning are not only  hobbies or a passion indulged.  I feel I've been swept up into history, legend and mythology.  It's where I've always longed to be!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Women, War & Wool

Memorial Day is upon us and I was particularly struck by a historic photo in the newspaper.  It was a photo of the Dunkirk evacuation dubbed Operation Dynamo by the British.  History is one of my newest loves.  Education does it a great disservice, distilling everything into dates, geographic locations, and famous people.  Real history is the story of people, people like us, in all kinds of situations.

In the photograph were boats, mostly small fishing boats . . . a whole harbor full of boats.  I read the short story and then researched more on Wikipedia.  Hitler's army had trapped British, Belgium, and French troops during the Battle of Dunkirk (WWII).  With nothing but the sea between them and Hitler's army, they were trapped with no escape.  Their imminent plight was only this: to be killed or captured.  They were stranded and the Luftwaffe rained bullets upon them.  Secretly the War Cabinet discussed surrendering to Germany.  Instead, they voted against it and prayed for a miracle.   And the miracle happened.  It came in the form of little fishing boats and pleasure cruisers, merchant marine boats and commercial vessels too.  Men stood shoulder deep in the water for hours waiting for their rescuers.  Between the dates of May 27th & June 4th 338,226 had been rescued from imminent death and escaped the bitter despair of becoming Prisoners of War.  Not all of them were so lucky, 1 in 7 to be exact, were left behind.  What struck me so poignantly about this moment was the thought of all those people who pitched in to save those men. 

 I recalled reading how throughout history women had knitted socks for soldiers in times of war.  A less dramatic yet earnest show of care and support to the men who go to battle.  So I did a little more internet research.  On I found that during WWII, Life Magazine had published an issue on how to knit, along with a pattern for a knitted vest.  It encouraged women to knit as the best way to help the war effort.  Prior to our involvement in WWII, Americans had already been knitting and sending care packages of food and clothes to Londoners who were in the thick of the war.  Many of these WWII knitters had knitted in their youth to help our forces during WWI.  I also learned that First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was big on knitting for the war effort and was usually photographed either knitting or sporting her huge knitting bag.  She was referred to as "The First Knitter of the Land" and launched the WWII knitting effort at a "Knit for Defense tea" which was held at the swanky Waldorf-Astoria in NY.  The American Red Cross was designated as the single clearing agency for all war-time knitting at this time.  The war created shortages in meats, fats, sugars, gasoline and wool too.  It also interrupted the shipping of wool.  The Seattle Red Cross responded by teaching it's volunteers how to card and spin fiber to make our own wool yarn.  And here's something I never would have thought of:  knitters also knit cotton 15 to 20 foot stretch bandages.  The bandages were knit all in garter stitch which produced a stretchy bandage.  These were sterilized and shipped to medical units worldwide!  Women have been knitting (and men too) in support of troops all throughout history.  So I wondered, did anyone knit for the Vietnam veterans.  True, it was not an environment conducive to knitted garments, I'm sure.  But what I found out was interesting as well. 

Enter the age of the rebel with needles.  Knitting protesters!  Knitting for a cause!  A call to action during the Vietnam war and definitely a product of the 1960's which embraced the "Peace not War" line of thought.   I found an article about a Vietnam veteran who was very uneasy in the days of the Cold War and the nuclear threat that haunted all our worst nightmares.   He found solace in bridging the gap between countries and governments by starting a company called "Peace Fleece" combining Russian and American wool into thick richly colored yarn that is still made long after the collapse of the Soviet Union.   Then I found a site for "CODE PINK",  a knitting protest group who's motto is "I did not raise my children to kill another mother's child."  They call themselves "Raging Grannies".   And learned about the "Grannie Peace Brigade" who in 2008 set up their chairs within view of the White House to express their opposition to five years of war in Iran by having a "knit-in".  They came from all across the country and sat in front of the Dept. of Veteran Affairs knitting stump socks (aka: residual limb covers) to cover the limbs of amputees, casualties of war.  They also knitted baby blankets for the Iraqi children.

I guess the bottom line of all this rumination on history and wars and the many different faces of valor is simply this:  each and every individual contributes to the whole.  It is the little stories, the small sacrifices, the creative effort to solve our nations issues that all become the waft and the weave of the history of ourselves, our countries and our times.

Happy Memorial Day everyone. 

Sunday, May 16, 2010


I find that the older I get the more I want to go back to simpler things.  Not that I don't love my computer!  It's the greatest thing since sliced bread!  Especially because I can use it to find and connect with local artist, local farmers and local craftsmen that I would never have known were out there!  I recently subscribed to a site called "".  It's great.  It emails me about local foods, farmers markets and events that I may never have heard about.  As a matter of fact, my last notification told me about a festival to be held in Unityville, PA at the Worthington Acres Alpaca farm.  This is a little over an hour from where I live.  They offer many services to local Alpaca farmers, they will process wool in bulk quanities and they sell spinning wheels.  You can also buy their spun yarns and felted soaps.  More importantly . . . you can take lessons to learn how to SPIN!!!  Eureka!  My first lesson is in June.  I can't wait.  In the meantime, I plan on attending the Alpaca Shearing and Spinning demo festival on May 22nd!  Just Google Worthington Acres Alpacas and you will find their site.  Prior to this serendipitous email, the only place I knew that offered spinning lessons was Mannings near Harrisburg which would have been a much longer drive and much harder to get there.

I also have to plug my friend, Andzia, who sells Baltic Amber jewelry.  Her website is and  her shop is right on Main Street in Scranton.  Andzia doesn't just "sell" Amber . . . she "lives and breathes" Amber.  Before I was tutored by her in the amazing history and properties of Amber I just thought it was a pretty yellow stone.  If you don't know about Amber, you need to either go to her site which has a lot of time and effort put into it so that you too can learn about Amber, or else go and talk to her.  Be cautioned however, I've gone from thinking it's "just pretty" to feeling that I will not be complete until I get my own Amber! 

I also found out about a cool home delivery service on the Internet, called EIO (as in "Old MacDonald had a Farm).  They deliver Hillside Dairy milk, butter, ice cream and other local products such as cheese, bakery bread, cage free organic eggs, organic meats, and now they offer locally grown vegetables and fruit!  How wonderful, I'm supporting local farmers, getting fresh wholesome foods, saving gas because it's delivered to my door . . . and because I can order online and I'm not running to the store all the time for these staples, I have more time to knit, crochet, and soon spin!

On Craigs List I found European Treasures.  They were looking for distributors for their Summer Hill Botanicals soap and other bath and body products.  Once again, locally made!  These soaps are wonderful.  Natural ingredients and aromatic scents combined to make soaps and lotions that feel wonderful, make your skin soft and supple while offering aromatherapy at the same time.  I haven't bought a commercial bar of soap ever since I used my first lathery bar of this stuff.  You can find European Treasures in Exeter at the Warehouse Shoppes and on the web at  You can also buy Polish and Spanish pottery there at great prices.

A little further up the road in Exeter is my friend, Dom's farm.  He hasn't gotten into the whole Internet thing, his niece is working on getting him going in that direction.  Now here's a guy who has felt the sting of the "warehouse mentality" that, in my opinion, is the ruination of America.  Yah, their stuff is cheap . . . but so is the quality.  I see people loading up at Dollar stores with all these little chintzy chotchkies or hedgkey medgekies (I don't know the spelling, I just know it means decorative junk you could live without!).  But to go and spend a few bucks for some quality flowers feels like an extravagance.  I walked through Dom's greenhouses the other day and took some beautiful pictures.  As I walked around I noticed that I was surrounded by the scent of earth and sweet flowers . . . not the smell of pesticides and fertilizers that I would get at Lowes.  I was not bombarded with "attention shopper, blue light special, security to front desk" announcements.  Instead I was serenaded by birdsongs, some butterfly wings beating against the greenhouse walls and an occasional bee as it droned by.  If you'd like to enjoy some real flowers in a real greenhouse, you can find Dominic Culver's Greenhouses on Packer Ave. (across from the Fox Hill Country Club).  To get there, take Route 11, turn on Tunkhannock Ave. which will take you to Packer Ave.   If that's too far, please visit a real greenhouse and buy real flowers from people who have worked and toiled to bring you the best quality plants and vegetables grown locally. 

When I left Dom's yesterday, I took the long way home which took me past Hillside Farms in Dallas.  Up on the hill were about 20 to 30 cows wandering around in the pasture.  I smiled to myself and thought . . . that's where my milk comes from!  Its not from cows that are lined up like prisoners and force fed antibiotics and hormones.  They were happy cows . . . which made me happy! 

Saturday, May 8, 2010

"M" is for the many things she taught me . . .

This Sunday is Mother's day so now I have a reason to brag about my mother (not that I need one).  With all my heart, I wish that she were still here with me.  I think about her all the time.  She passed away in 1984 at the age of 52.  But she is always in my thoughts.  She came from such humble beginnings.  I was torn between posting this picture of her to show off her beauty or the picture of her looking like the poster child for the "For a Dollar a Day you Can Feed this Child" campaign.  She grew up poor and in that particular picture she is in a dingy little shift, barefoot in the dirt, looking kind of forlorn.  I love this picture of her because if you knew my mother, you would never guess she came from such poverty.  My mother self-taught herself in everything, and was a gifted artist, seamstress, knitter, gardener, culinary expert and she was extremely well read.  She did what used to be known as "tole painting" long before Donna Dewberry gave it the name "One Stroke Painting".  She knit and crocheted little outfits for my Barbie dolls.  They were very sophisticated little garments too.  She sewed lined coats and tailored suits for the family.  She even made ties for my father.  She loved the outdoors and somehow educated my sister and me to know all sorts of things about trees and birds and plants, passing on her love of all things nature.  I remember one particularly lonely summer around the time I was going into 5th grade.  We had just moved and my sister had gone off to college, leaving me alone for the first time.   My mom kept me contented by suggesting books to read that I would get from the local library:  Nancy Drew, Dr. Fu Manchu and even Tarzan novels.  How many mothers even know what a good read Edgar Rice Burroughs is?  Her enthusiasm to learn was contagious.  I think about how she would love the computer now and all the things you can learn and all the people you can meet.  She would have been in her glory.  No doubt she would've been selling on Etsy, keeping up with friends and family on Facebook, writing her own blog and ordering copious quantities of fabrics, yarns, and all things crafty from the internet.

Unfortunately, as life does, events occurred that drove us apart and then drove us at each other.  I hooked up with my soon to be husband/soon to be ex-husband in my senior year of school and that created major turmoil in our relationship.  At the same time, my father decided he needed to move to Akron, Ohio for a different job.  My mother felt that she had to quit her job, the first one she had since before she was married, and follow.  This caused her to spiral into a life of misery and bitterness.  Then came the cancer like a thief in the night. 

Our last few years together were tumultuous at best.  A small steel-town on the shores of Lake Erie, Lorain, Ohio, would be the place where possibilities for the future of both my mom and myself waxed and then waned in a very short time.  My father's penchant for changing jobs that usually moved us between Ohio and Virginia repeatedly meant a very isolated life for my mom . . . and a rather miserable one for me.  My mother was relegated to a very home centered life.  When I think about how she didn't have any friends other than my father's business associates, it seems very sad to me.  But she did it without ever complaining (at least that I'm aware of).  In Lorain, however, Mom stepped outside of the box/house and got herself a job.  She was hired at the local newspaper and did advertising layouts.  What a transformation.  Suddenly, instead of reading the paper and fixating on all the bad things going on in the world, she skipped right past all that and was only interested in ads and how they looked.  Not just her ads, she studied the other papers for their ads.  She had friends for the first time since I was little.   I remember when she went to a Cat Steven's concert with a friend and later confessed that joints were being passed around.  We would go to the only good place in Lorain . . . The Lorain Creamery, and get ice cream sundaes and talk about everything.  I remember I actually confessed to her that I was interested in a boy who was crazy about another girl.  I can still hear her say, "You shouldn't settle for Second Fiddle".  Craziest thing we ever did was sign up to take Roller Dancing lessons together.  Do you know how hard it is to do ice-skating moves on four wheels?  That didn't last so long, she gave herself one heck of a bruising when she fell at her last lesson.  It was so great to have my mother as a friend for that short time.  I like to think that if she were still alive today we would be friends again, sharing confessions and eating ice cream together.    

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Fates

I was thinking about how when you find something you really like, avenues seem to open up in your life that lead to more and more of where your heart lies.  It's neat when it happens.  It's like (going back to my former guitar days) when you hit a certain note which begets a harmonic vibration.  You're in tune to a certain frequency and things begin to line up in that frequency.  It doesn't have to be anything earth shaking . . . you just have little serendipitous happenings that lead to other happenings.

Not too long ago, I was in my favorite section of JoAnne Fabrics (yarn, of course) when a woman in the same isle  asked "Do you Knit?"  Another woman in the same isle took off (obviously not wanting to be bothered) but I answered, "Well, yes, but I'm not really that good at it."  And we were off . . . we got into such a wonderful conversation.  She was like a "Craft Angel".  This friendly stranger was just filling me with all kinds of ideas for ways to get my supplies (Salvation Army, thrift stores, etc.) and re-purposing cheaply gotten goods.  She took me by the hand and walked me through the store . . ."Look at this, I got a whole box of this quilt batting for $8.00 at a thrift store!", and "Look at this, these pattern are 25 cents on sale, I have fur from coats I got at the thrift store that I can use to make these hats" , and "Get yourself a knitting machine and then you can sell lots of stuff on Ebay & Etsy!  You can still hand knit, but in the meantime you can make a lot of stuff to sell", and "Look at these contests! Enter every contest!"   She encouraged me to not be intimidated and to let my creativity shine.  She was such a wonderful person!  Her name was Garnetta.  I am so sorry I didn't get more information about her.  I think about her all the time and look for her every time I go into JoAnne's, hoping I can find her again.

She was so inspirational.  I did enter a contest, the very one Garnetta pointed out to me.  Red Heart Yarn had a contest using their Eco-Ways yarn.  I got in just under the deadline, I'll let ya know how that goes.  I should be seeing contests results around the first two weeks of May.  Then I entered another contest I saw on my Facebook page, by Lion Yarn and the "Instructables" site.  I made an owl phone purse for my niece and entered him in the "Critter Contest" on that site (again, just under the wire!)  I also hope to enter the contest that the "Living Felt" site is having for felted Alice in Wonderland inspired creations.  I've found I like the contests because they spur my creativity and expose me to materials, ideas, and types of yarns I may have not tried otherwise.  Which lead to other ideas, or patterns that I tried that failed with one type of yarn that I know will work with the product I just used for a contest.   Not to mention, it would be soooo neat to win!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Seeds of Imagination . . .

I was wondering all week what I could possibly blog about this weekend. Last night I got my answer as I finished up a project for a friend in England who wanted me to crochet a cat for her friend in Canada.  My other recent project was inspired by my niece’s love of owl’s and my fondness for making small purses. So there it was . . . the Owl and the Pussycat!  How cool, I thought, that my latest projects should evoke fond memories of childhood poems.   My mother loved to read and she also had the ability (amongst her many other talents) to read to my sister and me in a way that was magical. She had the ability to read words as if they were music and breathe life into them so that they played themselves out in our imagination--better than any movie adaptation! I consider myself extremely lucky to have had such a mother and such a childhood. My childhood did not include fuzzy blue or red monsters or big yellow birds. Instead it had the rich imagery of the Owl and the Pussycat, Winnie-the-Pooh (not the Disney version, but the real one), the Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat, and so many other beautifully penned children’s poems and books. Sadly, my mother passed away at an early age. But what she gave us was a legacy of imagination. She planted the seeds of creativity that still live on in me and in my very talented family members. What I lack in talent is buoyed by imagination and silliness. That’s what keeps it fun! 

Sunday, April 11, 2010

APRIL; New Beginnings

For a brief and happy period of time, the strings that struck a resonant chord in my soul were either nylon or steel wrapped.  However much I loved my attempts at making music (via my guitar), music is a demanding mistress (or mister in my case).  Playing guitar requires a devotion & concentration I seem to be lacking in my current state of being.  Now I turn my passion to strings of wool, cotton, bamboo, etc.  Yarn is so much more forgiving and doesn't demand constant attention to maintain one's ego.  I love the creative outlet that knitting & crochet (and my few attempts at wet and needle felting) bring.  By day I do my "clerk-y" duties and fill out the same forms over & over again, plugging banal data into the almighty computer.  By night I get to indulge myself in the soft tactile pleasures of yarn.  I collect patterns and yarn like a pack-rat.  It's a guilty pleasure!   I have branched out into making my own creations in crochet.  I love the beauty of knitted things, but crochet is like play-dough to me.  I can bend it to my creative whims.  I am no professional and I'm never sure how anything will turn out.  But it's just so darn fun, it doesn't matter if its not perfect.  Knitting & crochet are a good way to indulge my creativity, engage in new challenges, and an opportunity to learn to forgive myself for all my imperfections.  I have run into "knitting snobs" in some swanky yarn shops and have learned that many people guard their skills like it's privileged information.  So I'm here to share the good, the bad, the ugly and the funny.  My name is Debi, and I'm a yarn addict.  Hi everyone!  And welcome!