Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Contemplation

Bonkers Handmade Originals
Tencel 'n Merino (50/50)
Obscure Rainbow
The YarnBarn of Kansas - http://www.yarnbarn-ks.com/

Predrafted, February 2008

Singles, spun over the course of the last two weeks of March.

Measuring 86 wraps/inch...my first official laceweight handspun.

After meticulously winding into a ball and plying from both ends, the finished two-ply laceweight measures at 44 wraps per inch. According to my McMorran yarn balance, I have approximately 1,050 yards.

From the beginning, my plan was to turn this beautiful fiber into a beaded shawl of my own design. Now that the yarn is ready, I am letting this whole project rest for a while as I consider my options. This will be my first design project, and I don't want to muck it up!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Mondays are for Lists!

Creative Goals for the week:
  1. Extreme knitting on the Frolicking Shamrock socks. Will there be enough yarn? Who knew that sock knitting could be filled with so much excitement! edited to add - Yes, there was enough yarn, but just barely. After an emergency trip to the yarn store to pick up their last skein in this color, I finished the sock with just 6 grams to spare. If I was using this yarn for someone else, I would definitely buy three skeins. It could possibly be the first time I've been grateful for short feet.
  2. Spend time outside every day.
  3. Clean the house. (I know it doesn't seem like this should go on this list, but it does. The mess is becoming very distracting.)
  4. Finish 1/2 of the secret knitting project.
  5. Write one letter
  6. Go to bed earlier at night. I've been rediculously tired, and it's draining my creative energy.

My creative goal list is very short this week, in large part because of some responsibilities I have for my P.E.O. meeting Thursday night. That has to be my priority this week.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Good Stuff

And now, without further ado.....the contents of my knitting bag!

1. Forest Path Stole by Faina Letoutchaia, Interweave Knits, Summer 2003. I actually purchased the America's Alpaca Suri Elegance several months after the pattern was published, but for some reason the yarn has languished in my stash since then. I decided that this particular beast in the bag needed to be conquered this summer.

2. Technically known as the "Scarf With the No. 20 Edging" in Jane Sowerby's excellent Victorian Lace Today, I renamed it after its Claudia Hand Painted silk lace yarn.

3. Frolicking Shamrocks, by Heartstrings Fiber Arts. This is the second pair of these socks that I've made, which is extremely rare of me.

4. Hanging Garden Stole by Sivia Harding. Sometime I will tell the story of the skunk v. my first attempt at this one. Not today.

5. These are just basic socks - a la Ann Budd - for my Dad. They are my carry-a-long project for my purse, so they will probably be on the needles for a long, long time.

6. (Not so) Tweed Jacket with Cable Beret. I love Debbie Bliss, but I hate the way her patterns are written. This one is being heavily altered.

7. Another hibernating project, this time Elsebeth Lavold's Raven. I love the yarn and love the pattern, but just haven't been in the mood to knit sweaters lately.

Friday, April 25, 2008

So I Lied...A Little

My purpose in starting this blog is primarily to document and share my own creative journey. However, I cannot deny that a large part of my own journey currently involves my daughters - be it through fulfilling their crafty wishes or in guiding them to explore their own artistic talents. My mother recently told me that she was proud of the fact that I encourage my girls to be as creative as they want to be, and I do take that responsibility very seriously.

With that in mind, I feel absolutely compelled to report on a conversation I had with my eldest two days ago. (And just when you thought this was to be a kid-free blog... )

My eldest proudly brought a new stack of drawings to me as I sat checking my email. I asked her to tell me about them, and so she went through the pile describing each one in great detail. When she found a blank piece of paper tucked in with her pictures, she announced that she was going to draw something for Daddy.

"What should I draw for Daddy?" she asked.

"I don't know. You know what kind of things Daddy likes. You should draw him a picture of something he likes. What do you think Daddy would want?"

She paused for a minute, and then grinned.

"I'm going to draw Daddy a STEAK!"

And she did.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

And Exactly Who is the Green Woman?

The Green Woman is everything I'm not. She's fearless and fun. She does what she pleases without at all being concerned for what others think. She has an adventurous spirit and loves nothing more than to try whatever new strikes her fancy for the moment, without caring one bit if she's actually good at it or not. She's comfortable in her own skin and can't imagine why anyone else wouldn't be. She is pure energy and freedom.

The Green Woman is a fey nature spirit, who lives somewhere outdoors, although I'm not sure exactly where. She's certainly covered in sticks and leaves every time I see her, and she thinks nothing of tracking mud all over my floors. I've seen her become totally engrossed in watching a flower push through the earth or in listening to birdsong. She's responsible for the tiny redbud that I can see out my back window as well as for the dandelions which my daughters delight in. She laughs during thunderstorms and she dances in the rain. She is the earth and she is wild.

However, the Green Woman is also fascinated with my life. She loves to follow me around, feeling free to comment on anything and everything. She pokes and prods me, laughing when I fail and growing grumpy when I remain stuck in old patterns. She grieves for my sorrows, and is confused by the fears that hold me back. She can be a horrid distraction, an inspiration, a comfort or an annoyance. She drives me nuts, and yet I would be lost without her.

Born during a writers' workshop, and heavily influenced by the work of Brian Froud, Charles De Lint and Cathy Johnson, the Green Woman quite easily flowed onto the page one afternoon in a handwritten essay. Just a single page long, it was the best thing I had ever written - intensely personal and not at all constrained by my usual perfectionist tendencies and self-doubt. (Not to mention a bad habit of over-editing.) I loved that essay, and I loved the Green Woman.

Then I did a really dumb thing. I gave my only copy of the essay to a friend of mine - a published author - to read. She never gave it back, and never commented on it. Instead of pushing, I let it go - perhaps out of fear of the review I expected.

In retrospect, though, this was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of having that page to pull out and critique, I have the Green Woman in my heart. She hasn't diminished with time, as have other characters of mine, because she isn't trapped on the page. True, for years she was relegated to the corners of my mind as a regrettably lost idea....but she wasn't forgotten, and she certainly wasn't lost.

And lately I have heard her knocking again. I believe she was responsible for my renewed interest in journaling six months ago, and I think she is the one who pushed me to change the way I used my journals. I can hear her voice as I reexamine my old expectations for life, and I find her influence in new found curiosity about things I never thought I would try.

Every time I hear the Green Woman knock I find myself dreaming of possibilities.

Who Am I?

Traditionally, the first thing I do when I start a new journal is to introduce myself. It's a somewhat ridiculous practice as I am my only audience, but it has nevertheless always felt like the right thing to do.

If nothing else, it's good for a laugh.

It stands to reason that I should also begin this blog with an introduction. Of course, this is also somewhat ridiculous as my current audience is composed of close friends.....but tradition is tradition.

So, Who Am I?

I'm a 34-year-old stay at home Mom to two little girls, and I've been happily married for 8 1/2 years to my best friend from college. While I am very blessed in my family, I will probably not be writing of them often out of respect for their privacy.

Professionally, I have been a nonprofit grant writer, worked multiple retail and customer service positions, herded genius teenagers as an RA for a summer camp, done lots of babysitting and spent my summers as a tour guide/living history demonstrator. That last job was my first - an unusual choice for a teen - and it was the only job I've ever truly loved. I do plan to go back to work in a few years, but am taking my time to explore some options so that I never again have to settle for something that doesn't make me happy.

My real passions include knitting, spinning, reading and writing. I also tatt, occasionally sew, bake more often than I should, grow as many houseplants as time allows and am learning how to draw. When I was growing up, I was often described as having been, "born in the wrong time." Happily, the current movement of creativity and craft have negated that statement. It also helps that I am now of an age where spending time with my handwork is not seen as odd!

Outside of the home, I am active within my congregation of the Community of Christ Church, and with our local spinning and weaving guild. In addition, I am a second generation P.E.O., and last month I accepted the office of president for my chapter.

I once had a therapist tell me that I was very, very good at everything I do - but that included both the good and the bad. I think that sums things up quite nicely.

This is as much of a nutshell as I can make it, and now that it's over with we can move on to the more fun things.

Birth

Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and step off the edge of the cliff.

Despite the fact that I've been keeping journals for close to 22 years, I've resisted the idea of a blog for quite some time. Why bother? After all, what could I possibly have to say that anyone could find interesting? I had my private journals for my own use, and that was enough for me. The fear bug wouldn't let me even consider the possibilities in a new medium.

What the fear bug failed to understand is that I was beginning to change. For the first time in my life it was losing it's hold on me as I considered ways to create a more meaningful, creative life.

The first spark for a blog is told in two journal entries. On December 7th, item #12 on a list entitled, "Random Thoughts on Journaling," states, "I want a blog." In a lengthy, kitchen sink entry on December 11th I wrote, "Some blog ideas (if I ever get one) / 1st entry to be called 'birth' - discuss how happy I am to be cutting stash down - creativity in being forced to deal with limited resources - need to decide upon full intent (just knitting? or knitting and other stuff) & tone - need to pick a clever name."

The fear bug wasn't so happy with this, and tried very hard to regain control. You have no ideas, it told me, and there are certainly enough knitting blogs in the world. I tried to set the whole mess aside.

And then one day I had a flash of inspiration. At the end of a journal entry on January 8th, there is a simple line that states, "Idea - The Green Woman Comes Knocking. Title? Blog Name? Company?" I didn't know exactly what it was to be used for, but I knew it was right for me, and I loved it.

But I have to admit that a part of me said, "Drat, now I have no more excuses." From this point on, I had to become more creative in my attempts to weasel out of starting a blog. Fortunately, life in general decided to help. A broken finger, the demands of caring for two crazy kids, an opportunity to become the president of my PEO chapter and my father's retirement all managed to help me avoid the issue.

Honestly, I had no intention of starting this blog today. I sat down at my spinning wheel to ply some lace weight that has been my obsession for the last two weeks. After a few frustrating minutes, I turned to my computer with the thought that I might as well go ahead and set up the blog because the spinning just wasn't going well. I freely admit that there was a little bit of panic when I realized how quick and easy the set up was. That panic told me that I had done the right thing.

There are always excuses. Change is scary and some of us are very, very good at figuring out ways to avoid it - even if that change might just turn out to be good for us.

And so, with thanks to those who have been nudging me to the edge for months now, I'm stepping off the cliff.