Lovely snow over the weekend, but oh-so-cold. As I walked through my freezing kitchen this morning I spotted this guy out my back door. I'll be thinking of him as the Snow Buddha from now on. He reminded me to make the best of things, including the chaos I'll be experiencing for the next few months.
I doubt I can live up to his attitude. But I'll do my best.
Meanwhile, in starting to pack yesterday I had to roll up one of the small rugs to make room for boxes. This is a tiny rug I hooked a long, long time ago. I haven't measured it in ages but I'm guessing it's something like 2.5 feet by 18". That's probably way off, but you get the idea--it's small. It's also a long-time favorite of mine. This is just a partial view of it. When I was making it, I was lucky enough to know and live relatively near to Pat Merikallio, a fabulously talented colorist, artist, and rug maker. She now lives on the West Coast, but she was kind enough to help me with the color planning and I am a forever fan of her color instincts and all her rugs. Thank you, Pat!
But alas, just look at the binding. Yikes. I confess I've known for awhile that it was disintegrating and have been too lazy to address it. Once I get myself moved I will make it a priority. I may even have some of the original wool.
It occurred to me as I was writing this that adjusting my attitude and "fixing things" are common themes for me. I was just reading this quote from Jack Kornfield about meditation, which has implications for both these themes: "Part of spiritual and emotional maturity is recognizing that it's not like you're going to try to fix yourself and become a different person. You remain the same person, but you become awakened."
Which I certainly am not. Maybe someday?
I have indeed been absent from writing for a long while.
It's nothing bad, nor have I abandoned my blog. Instead, life has been overly-full with good things, including two major projects. I'll write about one of them today.
I just returned from a less-than-24 hour trip to Cornwall, VT, where I stayed overnight at the Oxford Rug Hooking School and completed the requirements to become a Certified Teacher Punch Needle Rug Hooking. (!! Hurrah !!)
And as if that weren't wonderful enough, just look at the weather and views I had while I was there (even though I hardly had time to be outside).
There was earthy eye candy everywhere.
Here are some samples, a photo journey for your enjoyment:
Amy Oxford's school is a bit of heaven on earth, one of my favorite places to go and well worth the four-hour drive for me. (Although TWO four-hour drives in 24 hours just about did me in.)
And then there is Amy herself, one of the kindest and most generous people I know. A fabulous artist, teacher and businesswoman. And there is also Heidi the dye wizard, working her magic on both creative and administrative aspects of the school--and just as nice. (Heidi also can repair absolutely anything.)
It is sheer pleasure to be in residence there.
I am ready to collapse for the evening and try to take in the fact that I'm now certified...a fact which just makes me think, "But I have so much more to learn!"
My one regret is that I couldn't stay longer. Anyone who has been to the school and is reading this will know exactly what I mean.
As for the other project I'm involved in: that one is bigger, longer-term, and more disruptive, and may prevent me from writing much for a while.
It's all good. But it's also all-consuming.
To quote the old Beatles' move, Help: "I can say no more."
I have been busy today, despite excessive heat and humidity. Although it hardly seems possible that I actually needed to dye more gold yarn for my current rug (after all the excess I had at the finish of the last one), I did.
But dyeing during the heat of August is not my idea of fun. So what to do?
I woke at 5 a.m. and it was only 70 degrees outside, so I zipped into the kitchen and dyed four skeins before the heat could build. Hopefully this will be enough to finish the rug. After hanging the skeins to dry, I spent a few hours punching also and am coming close to finishing everything but the borders. on the rug Well, perhaps that's pushing it just a little bit...but I'm definitely making good progress and I think the above statement will be true after one more day of work.
Once I wound the yarn, I amused myself by making a yarn-cake mandala on my iPhone. Love these fun iPhone apps...
It's too early to show my rug design, but a took a photo of a small part of the rug and ran it through another iPhone app to make a spiral.
Wow, these apps are powerful...I love this and only wish my rug could look like this! Quite amazing. (Indeed, my rug looks nothing like this at all.)
Ahhhhhhhhhhhh...I love it when I discover something scientific that justifies one of my so-called bad habits, and this video is less than 2 minutes long:
AND ABOUT THOSE KNITTED KNOCKERS:
Ok, so here is what I have been doing in the off-moments when I haven't been dyeing yarn for my new rug: making Knitted Knockers.
Yes, they are what they sound like and look like. They are ingenious prostheses for mastectomy patients to wear instead of the (usually) nasty implants or other heavy, unwieldy prostheses. You can find out all about them on this amazing website.
You see here a pair I have nicknamed the Blue Boobies...isn't there a bird called the Blue-Footed Boobie? Well anyway, I couldn't resist doing a pair in blue.
I was really moved by this project, and--given the trauma a good friend of mine is going through this very week--really wanted to be a part of it. So I am knitting knockers and I hope someone finds them useful.
Now that I've got the hang of it, they are easy to make and require no thought. But the first one! Oy vey. Let's just say I haven't worked with double-pointed needles in years (I prefer Magic Loop for socks) and it took me more than a dozen tries to get the first one going. But that was it--once I got that one started, the rest have been a snap. I just love this project.
I'm snowed in here so haven't been able to get to the studio to work on my rug, but I've been continuing the yarn-dyeing orgy and should have more skeins to show very shortly. I may--just may--have finished dyeing all the yarn for the rug. Just about 50 pounds of yarn. Phew. And each 4 oz skein has been dyed individually, by hand.
A stunningly beautiful day in the state--in the bright sunlight, sugar maples are burning up with reds, oranges, yellows. Autumn everywhere! Only the sky was blue...but an incandescent blue.
With excellent coaching from artist and CZT Cheryl Cianci, I produced the blue-themed tile above, although I was in anything BUT a blue mood today. This was a soothing process, and the slow work with the Prismacolor pencils made it entirely meditative. With thanks to Cheryl.
Tangles used: Mooka, Munchin, Pokeleaf & root, Florz, Knot Rickz, Tipple, drawn on a brown paper bag.
Here is a mirrored version (using the mirror app on my iPhone)
...and a version using the app "Painteresque."
Back in the studio--at last! I cannot believe how happy this makes me. I started my current rug, Micmac, the first week in March of this year. "Starting" is defined as beginning to color plan it., not actually starting to pull loops. By March 20 and 21, I was actually beginning to hook. Here is how it looked then:
On the left, the pattern before I began. Middle: Fooling around with colors. I loved those colors, but couldn't make them work throughout the rug. On the right: How I started the center motif. So...that was back in early March.
I worked on the rug pretty steadily for the next 4 months. See my blog post answering the question, "How long did it take to make that?" here.
In July and August it was too hot in the studio to do anything will wool, so no further hooking got done. In September it was still very warm but the bigger obstacle was my wonky back, which made even driving to the studio impossible. Walking? Unthinkable.
Finally two days ago I got in there for 90 minutes. And today, for three hours! And I walked. I'm very excited. So here is the rug now, after basically 4 months of work (24x42", aka 61x107cm):
Today I was able to finish off the motif in the lower left border, and then I was able to add the motif in the upper border (center top). Here's a better look at the start of the top border that I completed today:
Feeling good about how this is turning out.
The background is Jeannie Benjamin's fabulous hand-dyed wool in a color called Old Underwear, (!!) and I love the way it sets off the rest of the rug. Check out Jeanne's website and wools at New Earth Designs.
While I was hooking today I was listening to the Mindfulness Summit recordings and was, frankly, beside myself with enjoyment. My back is beginning to heal completely. To add to all of this, the weather today was perfect: sunny and cool but not chilly.
How lovely to have a day like today.
Although it's a week past the Equinox, the weather here has been dramatically tropical with high humidity. Today we've had constant heavy rains; the temperature is now slowly dropping, and overnight I think the wind will come in and sweep out the humid air. By the time the storm is past, I think we will finally be in fall weather.
A murky, watery light today signals autumn to me (autumn on its dark days), and I've been in an autumn mood all day. Since we do not have fall colors on the trees yet, I thought I would do a fall mandala. Here was my original black and white drawing.
I constructed this using my trusty Safe-T Compass. It's inexpensive, very light weight, and while hardly engineering-standard accurate, it's "good enough" for basic mandala work. It's a cheap instrument and you get what you pay for--the reviews on it are all over the map. Once I learned what it could and could not do well, I've been very happy with it.
Tangles used: the center is "ad-libbed," then I used Fandance, then, moving out from the center, Beadlines. The next layer started off as Flux but got morphed somehow; the outer layer is Finery. Next I added some autumnal colors.
Honestly...I feel sort of "eh" about this mandala, although I did learn a lot from it. For example, I realized almost immediately that I had made the center too small and fussy; it was hard to color in an effective way. That was a useful lesson.
The colors--which aren't true in this photo but are not too far off--are not what I normally would choose. But after all, I did say in an autumnal mood. In fact I noticed some sadness while I was working on this, along with the usual intense concentration. I don't have anything to be sad about--but doesn't this type of moving meditation sometimes bring things up for all of us? And when things come up, do we have to have a reason for them?
So I just noticed the sadness and kept working, and it was fine. Peace and tranquility were restored by the time I was done.
Working on this brought up questions for me. I'd be interested to hear from other tanglers and especially from CZTs with responses.
The Morns Are Meeker Than They Were -
A Poem by Emily Dickinson
The morns are meeker than they were--
The nuts are getting brown--
The berry's cheek is plumper--
The Rose is out of town.
The Maple wears a gayer scarf--
The field a scarlet gown--
Lest I should be old fashioned
I'll put a trinket on.
My back continues to recover slowly and today I walked 6000 steps. Hurrah! Not all were comfortable steps, but I did it, and am very encouraged. Part of the walk was to see a much-loved old friend for lunch, and on the way home, I passed the labyrinth at the Harvard Divinity School and decided I could manage to walk it today. And I did. Here is a photo of the labyrinth:
It was deserted on this cool, sunny day. Just the way I like it.
I haven't walked it in quite a while, and today I was reminded how narrow the pathway is in this particular labyrinth. It's almost not wide enough for two feet, and negotiating the turns while maintaining balance can be a challenge. Also, it seemed that I just got going in one direction when another turn would come up.
As I was walking it/working it, I was thinking about the twists and turns in life, how hard some of them can be, and what a perfect symbol of this is captured in this labyrinth. I had to greatly slow down in order to make any of the turns, another striking metaphor.
Even when two labyrinths are laid out in the same pattern, the spacing of each is different and so walking each one is different.
Similar to the way our lives work.
"A labyrinth has one entrance -- one way in and one way out. When we walk the path, we go around short curves and long curves; sometimes we are out on the edge, sometimes we circle around the center. We are never really lost, but we can never quite see where we are going."
--Alex Pattakos in this Huffington Post piece.
Finally, here's a scribbled Tangled Labyrinth I did at one of Sadelle Wiltshire's wonderful Tangled Labyrinth workshops. Clearly this was in the nature of a quick scribble rather than a thoughtful tangle, and yet...I like it because it reminds me so much of the human brain.
Check out Sadelle's fabulous tangled labyrinth works here. She is a CZT and a Veriditas-trained Labyrinth Facilitator, and a gifted artist and teacher. You'll enjoy studying her examples. Her teaching schedule is here at The Tangled Labyrinth. And don't miss reading the interesting comment she made (in the comments section)--feel free to add your own reaction to this post if you have one, or have experience with labyrinths.
Labyrinths...Zentangle®...both a form of moving meditation. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!
Today is one of those days when everything feels surprising. The gorgeous weather. What occurred in my meditation this morning. The fact that I'm still having some serious back issues, which haven't taken this long to resolve before. Hearing that Yogi Berra just died (I was a big fan of his Yogi-isms, such as, "You can observe a lot just by watching," and "I usually take a two-hour nap from one to four"). Loved that guy, and I am happy that he had such a long life and appeared to enjoy it.
The next surprise came when I did the It's a String Thing #111 challenge today. Tangles are Hamail and Flux. I got almost nothing else done but at least I did this. And wow--it went nowhere I thought it was going to go and turned out totally differently than I expected. I thought it would be black and white...no. I had planned to use a different tangle than Flux...no. Nothing turned out as I thought! But the real surprise comes AFTER this picture:
As usual, I was playing with my iPhone Mirror app after taking the photo, and tried out some new capabilities, and the app came up with this, which I really like a lot (I'm still not sure how I like the original):
Surprised that the app even changed the colors...and I like them better. Such an interesting app, with many more features that I look forward to explore. More surprises in store.
All the hot humid weather is making me cranky. Really, really cranky. I don't want to do any substantive walking outdoors or real exercise...I just want to hunker down in the a/c. So now I have an intense case of summer cabin fever. Restless to the max! I just want this heat to break so I can get out there again and M-O-V-E.
I thought I would work on a black tile today since I was in a dark mood and I don't get enough practice with black tiles. It's time to put in some serious work and experimentation with them. I also have a seemingly endless supply of three different types of gellyroll pens in wild colors, and I need to learn what the difference is between the three types. Gellyrolls show up dramatically on dark tiles.
Today I limited myself to a white gellyroll with white and red Prismacolor pencils to do a simple duotangle on the black tile.
At first I just did the white-on-black, but then later added the red to reflect my impatience with the weather.
Contrast this to my tile of August 12th. I think the heat wave had just begun then and I was still feeling chipper. I've been paying with the mirror app on my iPhone, and so after I did that tile and posted it, I ran it through the mirror app and came up with this:
Whoa, I love that! And talk about a different feeling from the tile I did today...I liked this so much I'm having some greeting cards made from it. That mirror app is really fun.
While I'm at it, here are a few more portraits that I did long ago. These are from 2007.
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 always 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
Skillful Meditation Project