The photo above is a picture of Barbara Demorest, who founded Knitted Knockers, my absolute favorite things to knit. She's sitting on a pile of (as-yet-unstuffed) Knockers. I added to the pile this morning when I mailed off over 60 Knockers I made--I sent them to her organization to distribute, free, to cancer survivors who've had mastectomies. This is such a rewarding and compelling reason to knit.
Below you can see what a Knocker looks like once it's been stuffed with polyester. So much better than the silicone/plastic prostheses, which are heavy and can promote sweating and irritation. Knitted Knockers are light, airy, washable, and more closely resemble a genuine breast.
Let me allow Barbara and her organization to explain, as they can do it much better than I can.
If you've had a mastectomy, I hope you will contact the organization and ask for a free Knitted Knocker.
And if you're a knitter, I certainly hope you will volunteer to make a few of these. If you do, be sure to go to the organization's website to find a zillion patterns (knitted or crocheted, and many options for how to make them) and a list of "approved yarns." Using only approved yarns is very important, as only certain fibers can be tolerated next to delicate and/or healing skin. Thank you for considering this!
Here's the bag I sent to the organization this morning. It's absolutely stuffed to the gills with Knockers I've made while watching tv in the evenings. So easy to do, and so helpful to breast cancer survivors.
Oh, this was fun to do. It has been a long time since I've done any punchneedle embroidery, and I enjoyed every minute of this. I've done a lot of my own designs but when I saw this pattern by Lori Brechlin of Notforgotten Farm I just couldn't resist.
I recognize this sentiment as being universal to all rug hookers and rug punchers. Here's a shot of the piece before it was framed:
After all, a hooker can never have too much wool.
Off I went today to a local b&b owned by one of the Quabbin Rug Hookers. We hooked from 11-2 and really enjoyed ourselves at her unique and beautiful house on a gorgeous spring day.
And here are a few of the rugs-in-progress:
Judy was beginning this fabulous Bea Brock pattern and I love the colors she's using. This is going to be a stunning rug.
Next (below), if you've been following the progress of Phyllis's "Zen Sand Garden" rug, here it is as of today. She's almost done! I'm loving this rug. It's Phyllis's original design, and she's been improvising with great success as she's been working on it.
Although we'd brought lunch, Lynda served a wonderful tomato soup and warm bread (yum). So filling. During lunch I had a chance to speak with Jane, a brand-new rug hooker. Here is Jane's maiden voyage (first rug); she was also testing out some frames today to decide which one she wants to buy...
I forgot to say that there were only five of us present today at Lynda's cozy house. I totally enjoyed being there and meeting her dogs Kiwi and Harry.
Here is the progress on Lynda's Peace Pagada rug:
With thanks to Lynda for hosting, for all the "eye candy" at her house, and for inspiration from the other Quabbin rug hookers. Good food, good conversation, and good work today.
I'm not dithering, but the weather is. After yesterday's glorious sun and spring flower adventure (see the last post), today it's dull and starting to snow heavily. Every New England Spring is like this; the weather can't make up its mind.
I got busy doing the latest It's a String Thing Challenge, from CZT Adele Bruno, based on the letter Pi. Click on that link and hop on over to the challenge page to read about Pi and have a chuckle. Also to see what everyone does with this string. You'll get an eyeful out of the way the same instructions turn out so differently when read by different people. Enjoy!
In my last place of residence, the local homemade pie shop celebrated the letter Pi on March 14th annually with free pie. Yum. (See why March 14th is relevant by clicking on the link to the challenge page above.)
So...watch the people walking into the Spring Bulb Show at Smith College. Everyone walking up to the door has a preoccupied or blank look; then as the door opens and they enter, the looks shift to shock, ecstasy, utter delight, and might even be accompanied by shrieks of, "Wow!" or, "Ahhhhhhh...!" as the scent of hundreds of hyacinths and a million other types of bulbs hits the nose. OMG, the smell, the fabulous smell. It hits you the moment the door opens and never quits as you view the show. It's the scent of Spring. There is just nothing like it.
Below are some pictures, unfortunately unaccompanied by smell-a-vision. If only.
...and tomorrow we are due to get a foot of snow. But what the heck--today proved that spring is on the way. Just outside the greenhouses I saw crocus and snowdrops blooming. It's on the way, it's on the way!
A page from my journal today. Not a masterpiece but at least it got me tangling and drawing, and I completely enjoyed doing it.
And speaking of roses, kudos and roses to my buddy Cheryl the Rug Rescuer. She has just completed a commissioned rug rescue for someone she knows who brought her a half-finished rug. As I recall, there was no wool with it, just the unfinished rug, so Cheryl had to match wool as best she could. The pattern, I think, was drawn by a rug hooking teacher who was unable to continue hooking, so I believe it's an original. Anyway, I love this rug (below). Let's first look at the rug on the floor of Cheryl's drop-dead gorgeous Victorian living room; then I'll post a closer view.
That's the rug in the foreground above, but isn't the entire room just so beautiful? And here's a closer look at the rug itself:
What a beautiful design. Very sad that the designer wasn't able to complete it, but at least the Rug Rescuer got it done! Now here's the hard part: She has to give the rug away to the woman who brought it to her. I would have a lot of trouble giving something this lovely away.
Now Cheryl is working on this wide-cut rug below (a real departure for her as she's not enthusiastic about hooking with wide cuts). I don't know whose design this is but it's very pretty: And yes, this is another Rescue Rug, started by someone before it was abandoned and turned over to her.
Quite unusual. I don't recall ever seeing this design before. Go Cheryl!
I haven't seen either piece in person yet; another friend took these photos for me (thank you, Kathleen). I'm hoping to see the actual rugs in person in a couple of weeks.
Just drawing repetitive lines is soooooooo relaxing. Any excuse to just do some linework and I can feel my breathing slow, my focus deepen, and the world falls away.
A good thing to know about in these troubled times.
At the museum, a troubled woman destroys a sand painting meticulously created over days by Tibetan monks. The monks are not disturbed. The work is a meditation. They simply begin again.
I really ought to stop worrying when I can't sleep. It always startles me when, after a night of insomnia, I continue to feel fine the following day. That's what happened here. I had 3 hours of sleep and got up at 6 a.m. I was tired the next day but not as tired as one might expect.
A friend who looked at the tile below, which I finished at 3 a.m., commented that it appears the Mookas (the name of the tangle I used) are falling over until they finally collapse into sleep. A hilarious comment, something I'd never have thought of on my own. And true!
It's not a masterpiece, certainly, but it was fun to do and very soothing. I went right to sleep afterwards.
After doing my regular meditation this morning, I watched a recent "Creative Calm Circle" led by Sadelle Wiltshire of Vermont. As I've mentioned before on this blog, Sadelle specializes in meditative arts. This particular exercise was another continuous line drawing--the task was to NOT lift the pen from the page, and meditatively draw a tree. I really enjoyed it. In all, I think I lifted my pen up no more than 4 or 5 times while drawing steadily for about 25 minutes.
I didn't choose a real tree; this is an imaginary one. But the lightning scar comes from my childhood--there was a wonderful huge old oak tree in my front yard and it had survived being struck by lightning twice. It had a large lightning scar down the front of its skyscraping trunk. Sadly, the tree was removed about 20 years ago, but it lives forever in my memory as "The Survivor Tree." I loved that tree and its wisdom. When I was a child and troubled, it always comforted me.
The tree I drew today is not an oak. And the tree from my childhood did not have any vines on it. So without trying to recreate any particular tree, I added the lightning scar simply as a grateful memory in this drawing.
Continuous line work gives me the chance to let go and not worry about something "looking right." There's plenty wrong with the look of this one, but I just don't care. It was relaxing, meditative, and poignant to draw. Thanks, Sadelle!
When I went to my last local rug hooking meeting, I only expected to work on my rug and have fun.
I had NO IDEA what would be waiting for all of us who attended.
We were treated to an incredible show of rugs from Turkey, China, and Iran by one of the members, Elizabeth Vierling. Dr. Vierling is a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, but she is also a rug maker and clearly has a passion for textiles. I took a million photographs...unfortunately my memory of her very informative commentary on the origins and purposes of each piece is fading fast, but here are some of the photos. Enjoy!
I believe this first piece was from Turkey. It is very large and I think Elizabeth uses it as a rug in her home. It is embroidered, using a couching stitch I think (see detail in last photo). Probably circa mid 20th-century.
The color work is just sensational. After ogling the piece (above) for a good long while, we all decided we are not using enough orange in our own designs.
Apologies in advance to Elizabeth for how much I have already forgotten of what she said about each textile. Her commentary on where she located each one, where and how each was created, and what each may have been used for, was fascinating. But in the week since I saw these works, all of her commentary has started to slide right out of my head. Darn!
If memory serves me--which likely it doesn't--below are two clothing panels embroidered by the Miao people of China (one of China's long-suppressed minority groups, now finally beginning to emerge and be recognized for their rich history and cultural treasures).
And if that weren't enough, there was more, and more still...click on each thumbnail to progress through the items, or just hit "Play."
One of the most dramatic textiles was the one below. I loved these tiny aliens. The work is so beautiful, and the colors vibrant. Each thumbnail has a different view (or you can just hit "Play").
Elizabeth travels for academic conferences, and is occasionally able to extend the travel time in order to take in more of the culture of the countries she is in. This is why she has been able to explore and research textiles on some of her trips.
Aren't we fortunate--those of us who were there to see this show? With thanks to Elizabeth for letting me photograph and post the photos, for her lively talk and especially for lugging all the heavy, bulky textiles to the meeting. All of her hard work resulted in a fabulous experience for the rest of us.
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), long-time meditator and coach, focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
NEXT INTRO TO ZENTANGLE CLASS:
No immediate group classes scheduled (I'm open to hearing about a good venue in Western Massachusetts. I am always happy to teach 1-1 and/or in a small group in your home.)
Come and amaze yourself!
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society