Sunday, August 9, 2020

Purposeful Play

 Dyeing is such a serendipitous activity.  I do not approach it scientifically and precisely therefore the outcomes can be wildly variable.  Indigo is a favorite and I have always great results.  Until the last vat a few weeks ago.  Not sure why but I did not get the nice swampy green and purple flower.

In an effort to revive it, I heated it to 170 degrees for 30 minutes, stirred gently and added more reducing agent, thiox.

It worked!  I combined some rust dyed linen with this revived indigo and played all Saturday afternoon.   I continue to be inspired by  I followed a link on her blog and made some moons.

Lots of choices for stitching projects.  I continue to think about the role of making in my life.  How to maintain a thoughtful slow approach and not think in terms of "making art."

These hand dyed fabrics and naturally dyed threads make me happy.  As does this finished small piece below.

And enjoyed a breakfast picnic and cookie baking with my favorite turtle wrangler.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Stitching On

Sunday night... not sure I am ready to head back to work tomorrow but duty calls.  The Lifesaver Quilt top is pieced and ready to quilt.  I used scraps and no pattern.  It is a wonky log cabin of sorts.  I love the scrap bin at the Cary Quilting Company.  I also love my forty year old Pfaff sewing machine.

Along with the scraps, I included some indigo dyed peices.  It was fun and you have to feel hopeful while sewing a baby blanket.  I decided to assemble this on the machine so it will stand up to some serious laundering.  I do plan to handquilt it though.

I also finished July's slow stitching.  Pretty happy with the end result and enjoyed the work.  I hope everyone has a good week .  Stitch on.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The Quilt that Saved My Life

Ouiser Boudreaux: I’m not crazy, I’ve just been a very bad mood for the last 40 years!

Another blog post so soon, yes!  I had an epiphany today.  If you have been following along (bless your heart)  you know I have struggling.  It feels like I've been in a bad mood for forty years or going crazy.  None of my crafting efforts were sparking joy.  Knitting, spinning, weaving and dyeing were not doing it for me.  I dove into the world of slow cloth and gratefully gobbled up blogposts new and old from Jude Hill.

This is my third slow stitch monthly journal.  I am enjoying cataloging the bright spots each month.  I already have April and May on the wall in the studio.  I am working on July now.  There were bright spots this month, fresh tomatoes from Wendy's garden, a family dinner and a long phone call with my bff.  But work is still overwhelming and news of the outside world dismal.

I want to make something beautiful, unique and meaningful.  Baby quilt, make a baby quilt a little voice inside whispered.  A blue, scrappy quilt with lots of love and hope for the future stitched in.

There is no baby needing warmth and comfort on the horizon in my life.   I will send this out into the world for a little one needing a welcome.  Thank you, Jude Hill for all the care and love you have sent out into the world.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Ragged Edges

It was not... that she was unaware of the frayed and ragged edges of life. She would merely iron them out with a firm hand and neatly hem them down.     P.D. James
Work continues to be overwhelming, the virus casts a cloud of uncertainty over every facet of our lives.  The news continues to frighten me.  Not the unrest but our government's response to it.  My natural tendency is to pull in, a turtle safely esconced in it's shell when feeling in jeopardy.   I am going to resist the pulling inward and move forward gently with myself and everyone else. 

The two small tapestries above were woven on the Saffron loom.  My big Mirrix is warped and ready but there is no weaving mojo to be had.  I have faith it will return.  For now, I am doing some dyeing with indigo, rust and brazilwood and exploring slow stitch.

Indigo and Rust

Brazilwood on linen

Indigo and Rust
I am toying with the idea of embroidery on this...
What a tool!

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Do You Know What Love Is?

The month of May has been challenging for oh so many reasons.  At the beginning of the month I felt really lost.  Unable to find joy in my usual distractions of spinning and tapestry weaving.  Needing an outlet, I started exploring slow stitching.  I found the blog of Claire Wellesley Smith and purchased her book Slow Stitch and was happily engaged.  On May 4th, I decided I would just mindfully stitch during the month of May.  No plan or focus on product just a record of my days.

This is some linen dyed with black walnut hulls.  This has been my constant companion, knowing it could not be finished before May 31st kept me working slowly and mindfully.  Incorporating moments big and small.

The moss from our mother's day hike memorialized in thread.  I also added an old washer I picked up in a parking lot and a bottle cap.  The cap has Reed's on it.  Dear hubs name is Reed and I put the cap on this to remind me of  a tender moment.  He is Republican and I am a  yellow dog Democrat, sometimes I have to remind myself that I love him in spite of that.

I also discovered the work of Jude Hill and her wonderful blog.  Her work is so delightful and her observations on life so thoughtful.  I especially love her beasts.  I decided I needed to create one.  I decided my inner beast, at least for the last week has been a really pissed off bunny rabbit.  I have named this "The Terrible Awful No Good Hare Day."

Everybody needs a needle book so I made myself one.  I have planned a couple of slow stitch projects for June.  I will continue down this rabbit hole
for now.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020


It is hard to know what to share.  With so much uncertainty and most all my outside activities curtailed it is a challenge to put thoughts into a perspective that is not downright depressing.  When the pandemic started and life began to change, spindle spinning, and tapestry weaving were both refuge and outlet.   I dove into both with a fervor, anxious to calm and center myself and discharge some of my feelings of anxiety, anger and sadness.  I love my little tapestries that resulted from this.

It was calming and energizing at the same time until it wasn’t.  It was almost like chewing bubble gum.  It’s all sweetness and bubbles until it loses flavor and sits in your mouth like a tasteless wad.  My fervor was gone. My big 38-inch loom was warped and ready as was my little Mirrix Saffron.  I could not get excited about either project.  I couldn’t muster any excitement for tapestry period.

 I watch all the tapestry artists I admire post beautiful and compelling work and question the worth of my efforts.  It is a blessing to be in contact with talented artists whose work I admire.  The trick is how to silence my inner critic who wants to goad me to weave more, weave better and weave faster!

COVID Spring

Losing my interest and joy in tapestry weaving would have been unfathomable to me a month ago when weaving COVID Spring.  It sucks.  I have been trying to puzzle it out. I have struggled with depression for most of my adult life but have successfully remained medicated and stable for years.  This feels different.  Everything has changed for everybody.  Some people have lost lives, loved ones, jobs and businesses.  I am fortunate to have my family, my job, my home and my needs met.  I have no right to complain about anything but damnit I am scared, and I am sad.  Not to mention incredibly angry.  Throw some old nurse (not on the frontlines) guilt on top of that and we have a perfect storm.

While trying to dissect the difference between ennui and depression, I came across a word that perfectly captured my imperfect feelings.  Weltschmerz or world weariness.  German for “world pain,” describes an emotional response to the perceived mismatch between how we envision the world should be and how it is now in real life.

I am sheltered in my home and my family is healthy.  Yeah, yeah, I am privileged and grateful, but I miss my friends, my guild, bookstores, restaurant meals, camping, fiber festivals and weaving conferences.  I can hold the thankfulness in my heart as well as the darker feelings that I hesitate to express.

It is okay that I did not weave a masterpiece during quarantine.  Maintaining my sanity, my relationships, my job and my health are going to have to suffice.  Weave on dear friends or sit quietly and dream of weaving on when the loom calls.  No masterpiece,  today I am using french knots to replicate this moss on my slow stitch sampler.  My heart is warmed by Riley finding this moss on the forest floor during our hike and saving it for grandma. I am going to sit quietly, stitch and smile.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Blossom by Blossom

Blossom by blossom the spring begins.”
 — Algernon Charles Swinburne

Spring in North Carolina is a glorious time, blue, blue skies, flowers and birdsong everywhere.   This year, all that beauty is superimposed with the specter of illness and death.  So hard to hold both of these realities at the same time.

I walk outside and see my beloved hostas, yellow and purple irises.  The glory is there, the color is there but it is almost as if a thin black veil covers them all.

How to capture this feeling ?

I am so thankful for being able to ground myself with peaceful moments of running fiber and yarn through my hands.

COVID Spring was finished this evening.  

Tonight, the death toll in the United States exceeded 50,000.  Uncertainty seems to rule the day.  Yet, bloom by bloom spring is here and inspires hope and faith.

COVID Spring
April 24, 2020
9 inches by 9 inches
Wool warp with handspun weft.
8 ends per inch, woven on a Mirrix loom.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Change is the Only Constant

I want to remember this time.  Not only the events as we respond to this virus but my thoughts and feelings about these times.  It can be hard to sort out when everyday it seems our reality shifts.  Weaving tiny tapestries has been a lifesaver.

Even before the virus, my life was changing.  My boss of fifteen years retired and I assumed her duties.  I embraced the new responsibilities but worried about doing the job well.  I started spindle spinning and weaving little pieces to deal with the stress.  Then CO-VID 19.

A Walk in the Garden
Spinning and weaving during week one was about distraction and disbelief.

Social Distance

Week two involved a new vocabulary and puzzling out the new rules for social distance, working from home and growing anxiety .

Death by Cheeto

Week three, the feelings were not conflicted.  It was anger.  How many people would die due to our ineptitude?

Dark Thoughts
I just finished week four, was trying to sort out what was grief appropriate for our situation and what was underlying depression.  One of the challenges with dealing with depression is keeping tabs ( or trying to) on what are situational feelings  versus mood changes needing my attention.  I realized what I was experiencing was grief and loss. Grieving for all those losing family members and livelihoods and the loss of  being able to plan for the future.

Thank goodness for friends, family, my animals and fiber.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Small Comforts

I think last week was the hardest week of my thirty year nursing career.  I am a manager in the NC Department of Health and Human Services.  I am not on the frontline of caring for patients anymore and cannot imagine the stress on our doctors, nurses and hospital workers.

This week I found such comfort in spindle spinning.  There is something about the repetive motion and light touch required which forces me to relax and breathe

The picture above is my KCL spindle.  I love these modular spindles.  Being a tapestry weaver it allows me to weave small amounts of the colors, thickness and textures I want.

It has been great fun to spin these little Hobbledehoy battlings.  One or two on each removable shaft and then ply them on the KCL lazy kate for my weaving.

I am also really loving this tiny niddy noddy from NextLevelMade. I can wind my small bits of newly plied yarn on it and wash and dry it without removing it.

In keeping with the theme of small things, here is my Hokett loom in action.

Mr. Hokett has retired but some of his looms are still available and there are similar looms on Etsy.  I also have a tiny Mirrix which I am weaving a handspun piece on now.

I am playing with wedge weave variations on tiny landscapes.  It allows me to check out some design ideas.  I don't know what will become of these tiny taps.  But for this moment in time the spinning and weaving are like the rare perfume, a balm in Gilead.  Stay well my friends and find comfort in small things.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Precious is Relative

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language, and next year’s words await another voice.” T.S. Eliot

Happy New Year!  It matters not if it is a new decade or not, it is a New Year.  Today, I made sure to spend time at the tapestry loom.  It has been challenging to find time to weave other than weekends and holidays like today.  My new role at work means more hours and energy spent at the office.  It does make quiet moments to weave more precious.

I guess scarcity is a key determinant of value.  Take for example the green strips of plastic pictured above.  Once a plastic bag destined for the trash, I am now conserving each strip used and wondering how I can get more.  Unlike, the numerous yellow and white bags in my stash... IT IS THE ONLY ONE I HAVE!

I continue to weave with my handspun newspaper and plastic grocery bags and think  about consumption in general.  Most of us are pondering resolutions today.  Do you have any tapestry resolutions?  I was thinking about resolving to find my tapestry voice.   But I think I already have.

May 2020 unfold with straight, even warp and colorful, interesting wefts for all of us.