SIMPLICITY, PATIENCE, COMPASSION
A scrap of aural heaven to calm the day. (Treat yourself.)
With gratitude to teachers Christina Feldman, Maddy Klyne, and Narayan Liebenson.
LIES AND LAUGHTER
We laughed so hard at today's all-day rug hooking meeting that I came home with a sore stomach. [Ok, there's one lie referenced in the blog post title: Actually the truth is that I ate so much that I came home with a sore stomach.] Much of the laughter centered around hilarious stories about our experiences with lying, and then certain "lies of omission" about Cheryl's delicious coffee. You had to be there, but we all laughed until we cried.
Pictures of people's rug progress are below. (Maria and Lenore, how did I miss yours???)
The amazing Fish Rug is really humming right along. How I wish I'd been able to get better photos of this rug so that you could see the colors in the water. This is striking!
Next up, two shots of Cheryl's current rescue project. The first photo shows how she is coming along with hooking the rug. Much of the hooking was done by the original anonymous hooker, probably decades ago. Cheryl has been finishing the hooking but is hampered by not having much of the original wool. In the second photo, you can see two pieces of the wool she bought at Dorr Wool--the closest she could get to the original rug's colors. While they won't match exactly, I do think they will work well. Isn't this a beauty?
Ann had 2 pieces with her (below). This one was one she had barely started last time we met, and now it's nearly finished. I believe it's going to be a chair pad.
Next up, her wonderful leaves (she finally found the wool to finish this, which she had put "safely away" when she was due to have guests staying for quite a while; we all know how that goes! She just found the wool):
Cynthia's Kokopelli rug is nearing the finish. This will go in her living room:
As for me, I ripped out the loops I had put in to start my rug, because I'd changed my mind about colors and the plan to tweak the design a bit. Last night at home I re-did the center entirely and here's how it looked then:
I am not yet committed the colors. So today I fooled around with colors a bit more and did this:
This is still very much in the experimental stage (and I haven't even trimmed the ends on the upper yellow triangle, which is one reason that looks so messy above). We'll see how this evolves. I have to let it alone for a few days now, and that's probably a benefit as my subconscious can do some more color consideration.
With apologies to Maria and Lenore, whose pieces I didn't get photos of! So sorry.
And now to the food: Oh. My. God. Cheryl is a phenomenal cook, and so are most of the other group members. Cheryl served us wonderful Italian Wedding Soup with hot biscuits, and we had Maria's yummy savory Parmesan Cookies to go with that. After that, a rest for a while...then out came Lenore's delicious casserole with whole wheat pasta (which we all loved), chicken sausage, kale, and other goodies. Ok, by that time we were full beyond belief. Another rest with more rug hooking. And then the most amazing carrot cake by Cheryl, using carrot baby-food rather than sliced carrots. I have never heard of that before but it was remarkable.
Are you surprised that none of us needed wheels to roll home after all that?
I do love my hooker buddies. A creative and drop-dead funny group. And oh my, such good cooks. Do we get together to make rugs? Or do we get together to eat? Sometimes it's hard to tell.
I'll end with this anonymous quote: "If we're not supposed to have midnight snacks, then why is there a light in the fridge?"
Good question, eh?
I love reading your comments so feel free to add yours!
ARTISTIC FRIENDS AND GRATITUDE
Sometimes it's dangerous to compliment people. Dangerous but lucky. I ran into two talented and boundlessly kind friends, a new one and an old one, on a recent visit.
First B, a long-time friend and truly generous person on so many levels. We were discussing the beadwork this group of women had done together last fall, and I was admiring this:
She promptly gave it to me. Eeek...but also, oh my, how wonderful. It was made (by her) to contribute to an auction, the funds to be used to support a worthy cause to be determined next summer. Needless to say, I will be contributing. I love the workmanship and especially the bee at the end.
Meanwhile, I had noticed a fabulous tiny necklace on a newer friend, Z. Taking my new-found wisdom of getting-things-through-complimenting-people across the room, I went over to inspect it and it was even sweeter looking than I'd first seen. (And yes, I am joking about using a compliment to get a donation! This was not my intention.) Check this out--what a great idea.
This is a small piece, just large enough to hold, say, a coin or a small ring. And guess how it was made: it's simply a ribbon, folded vertically and with care to the placement of the design. Z says she got the idea from a friend who embellished hers with beads on the sides and bottom, and used beads for the closure also. Z saw that one pouch her friend had made and then went and made her own. I just LOVE this idea!
Well of course you can see what is coming--I complimented her on it a few times and the next thing I knew she was draping it around my neck. And now I own it. Fortunately she has another at home.
This compliment thing--it's really workin' for me! I have quite the haul of swag!
I was embarrassed and stopped complimenting people after this! It was a very artsy and creative group and a group that believes wholeheartedly in kindness...I didn't dare say another word to anyone for fear I'd be needing a wheelbarrow on my way out the door.
Seriously, I was a bit overwhelmed with the generosity of my friends, as well as their talent and cleverness. And the creativity they've displayed.
My takeaway was how much all of us enrich each other, and kindness to each other makes such a difference in life. This time, I was the one who was enriched, and I hope to pass it along.
Thank you to both of my lovely, generous friends.
"My religion is kindness." --His Holiness the Dalai Lama
SO BUSY IT'S DOWNRIGHT FISHY.
Ok. I have been so wildly busy I have not been able to post until just now. So...
Who knew that the same group I made the silver stars for (see my March 9th post) would be a bunch of knitting maniacs? And I hadn't brought my knitting. Oy. So I was forced to watch while we all hung out, and saw scarves and socks growing while my own fingers just itched.
At one point I overheard a conversation...something about "fish lips." What? Huh? I just had to interrupt, and eventually heard they were talking about something called the "Fish Lips Kiss" heel pattern for knitting sock heels. Yes, you heard that right. It's not a typo. That's the name: The Fish Lips Kiss Heel method.
Well, really. With a name like that, who could resist finding out more? Thank you to Z and others who filled me in on this. I realize I may be the only person in the knitting community who has NOT heard of this method, but now I have. Apparently, the name comes from the fact that the heel looks a lot like our pooched-out squishy lips when we try to make fun of fish. (I mean, don't you spend a lot of time making fun of fish? No? What's wrong with you?) Or so I've been told...I haven't actually read this myself.
If you're curious. the pattern is only $1 and can be bought on Ravelry. And if you knit and you haven't heard of Ravelry, run...do not walk...over there. It's a fabulous resource for knitters and I even share rugs I've hooked. They serve crocheters as well, plus a bunch of other great things like a zillion specialty groups.
So after buying this $1 pattern about fish lips, I decided to try it on these socks:
Bear in mind I've had these socks underway for over a year. I've made a zillion socks and I've never been this stalled on a pair...not sure why, but now I have renewed ambition.
(Ahem...if you are noticing that I am avoiding the new rug hooking project, you are sadly correct. I will remedy that on Thursday as I'm too busy to confront my admitted intimidation before then.)
Part of the process involves making a cardboard pattern of one's foot, which I did this afternoon. I love this idea. I am a long way from reaching the heel, so I'll have to work at this for a bit and then I can try this new pattern. Stay tuned.
[NOTE: I love comments, so feel free to make 'em, especially if you've ever done a Fish Lips Kiss Heel. Or even if you haven't.]
GREAT INFOGRAPHICS ON MINDFULNESS
If you are a practitioner of mindfulness meditation, check out this helpful post which contains three wonderful infographics. It takes only a moment and is well worth it.
Although I haven't gotten very far, I did get the rug started as promised yesterday. I had vowed to pull "at least 6 loops." Probably I maxed out at 46 loops--but the point is, I started. No more Blank Page Syndrome. However, there's not enough to show here as so far it's too skimpy until I get going with something other than one line of loops.
Right away though, I ran into problems with color. What a lot I have to learn about color. I think this rug will be a great teacher. I envision a lot of ripping out as I go, due to the need for experimentation and evaluation.
In the meantime, I'm getting ready for an unrelated event that requires the presence of some silver stars for decoration. Several people are going to the event, and no one has any stars. This morning I went to the local craft store and bought some fancy card stock in shiny silver and came home and made these:
Not too shabby. Directions are everywhere on the internet. Hope they will do the trick for the event!
Here (below) is a response to a journal-project prompt on the topic of looking up. The photo is not the best quality, but I was combining my favorite thing to look up to--trees--with another journal-project prompt about what music means to us. A tangle came to mind, Verdigogh. Verdigogh is actually based on a rosemary sprig, but whenever I draw it, it reminds me of pine trees and the lovely music they make when wind moves through them:
No question that this Facebook Journal Project (it's a closed group now because it has maxed out with members) is visually enriching my journal. I just need to remember to actually write in it, not just fill it with responses to prompts.
“The grace of writing is upon me.
Life is ironic, yes? I was talking with friends recently about how they felt stuck in their art projects, and I was busy tossing out ideas and advice with ease. Oh yeah, so easy to dish that stuff out.
Then yesterday I brought home many additonal small pieces of bright-colored wool to complement the delicious-but-dull colors I already had for my own new rug project.
Very exciting, right?...until I gathered all the wool into one huge pile and sorted it all by color and value, resulting in this:
Holy crow! NOW WHAT? I have no idea where to begin.
I won't use all those colors, certainly, but how to tell which ones to hook?
Dishing out advice is so easy...as long as it's not me who needs it!
I am going to tinker with the rug design this weekend and have committed to pulling at least six loops...I gotta do something to get my self started or I'll just stay frozen in place.
Later: Managed to get some preliminary redesign done on the rug after writing the above. Hooking will begin tomorrow. It will. Yes. It will. Even if only six loops. Even if I pull them all out later. Work will begin.
I'm still having a raging debate within myself about whether to traditionally hook or punch hook the rug. Will probably go with traditional approach to start.
Tonight I experimented with a few more new tangles. Not great art, but great fun! Below is "Moving Targets" on the left, and "Arabel" on the right.
And just above is "Showgirl" on the left and "Twile," (aka "Stoic") on the right.
Very calming to do the above--got my mind off the intimidating rug. Phew.
Guess I'm experiencing a time honored tradition of Fear of Beginning.
"I still believe that at any time the no-talent police will come and arrest me." (Mike Myers)
"I am no artist. Please come and help me." (Michaelangelo to his assistant)
Makes me wonder if Rumi was always this brave:
"Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious."
Lots of art/tangling going on here while I try to get my next few weeks figured out. Today I tried B'Twined, a new tangle by CZT Pegi Schargel. I didn't experiment all that much, however, just followed her instructions and my only addition was color. I plan to get more experimental with this one for sure--it's very easy and I like it:
And I've been busy working in my 2013 Tangle a Day calendar (designed by Carole Ohl, CZT), which I never finished in 2013...too busy at work that year. Her calendar provides a great surface to work on and its tangle spaces are only 2x2" which is even smaller than official tiles. I didn't want to let the calendar go to waste.
Plus, it's a great record of how much I've improved since my earlier tangles. Practice does really make a difference, and I can see it as I flip through this book. I will treasure it for just that reason.
Here's a recent day when I filled three of the boxes:
Yes, you're right, it's not currently August, or anywhere near August. And it's not 2013. But for the above stated reasons, I'm still working in this book, and when I finish that, I'll move on to the 2014 version, which I have barely touched. Needless to say, I didn't buy the 2015 calendar, but I hope to buy and fill the 2016 one, now that I am much more actively doing art. You can order a one of these calendars here.
Recently, someone sent out a challenge to combine Lynn Mead's Fassett Tangle (above, right) with her earlier Phroz tangle (below). Note how similar they are. I didn't participate in the challenge because I needed to first familiarize myself with both. I love these two, and may yet do the challenge just for myself. Here's Phroz.
Cool! And easy.
One more experiment with ING and Sprinkle combined. This one has a little Aha! and Printemps thrown in for fun:
I think there's another issue going on currently for me though. In my journal yesterday I wrote about a phenomenon I've been noticing recently: When I post some of these pictures on Facebook on some of the closed art groups I belong to, I can see myself getting anxious about how many "likes" my pictures will get, compared to those of other people posting. And if mine don't get much of a reaction, I notice that I begin to devalue what I have done.
I've seen plenty of articles about this syndrome, most of them geared towards what happens to teenagers who either get ignored or worse, trashed, on FB, and we all know about cyber-bullying, ugh.
I'm just surprised to see what a colleague refers to as "compare-anoia" coming up for me, and even more surprised to see how strongly it can affect me. (I regularly thank the gods of wisdom that when I was a teenager, there was no internet and no social media--it would have destroyed me. So hard on kids.)
Have been thinking about this a lot over the past couple of weeks. The truth of the matter is, there are plenty of people who are far better at Zentangle than I am, and I do not say that to denigrate myself in any way. It's simply true. Many tanglers were artists long before they took up tangling. Or even if they weren't, many have practiced more. Or just somehow have a knack of grasping the techniques more quickly.
I do feel confident that I can improve with practice.
So why am I having that sinking feeling when my posts get (relatively) ignored? Why am I comparing my work to everyone else's? Human nature, I guess, and the product of the small-e "ego." Nevertheless, I am committed to
1) continuing to practice like crazy;
2) continuing to post, because it's important for me to get past others' reactions (or non-reactions); and
3) continuing to observe when I'm comparing my work unfavorably to that of others, or feeling disappointed when I don't get attention (jeez, like a 3 year old).
AND...I am committing to actively looking for ways in which I am getting better, and ways in which my work is good.
I took a risk this week and tried a tangle I don't really like and didn't really quite grasp how to do, despite following the directions. It's called Bucky. Here was my first tile. I actually like this tile, even tho Bucky (in the center) isn't done very well. It rather looks like a quilt to me, which I enjoy.
I do like it. But, I knew the Bucky-part wasn't very well done. Therefore I stuck my neck out and put out a call for help on it in the private FB group. The amazing Mimi Lampert (formerly of Smith College Library, now retired), she of the fabulous tangling and colored pencil work, gave me a new set of instructions to work with. Bucky suddenly became easy to do!
What I realized was that I still don't actually like the tangle all that much visually, even though I can now do it easily, thanks to Mimi. So I experimented with it on this tile and had fun seeing what else I could do with it.
That was really fun. I'm using a very cheap children's multicolored pencil for the coloring on all these tiles.
The point is, I did stick my neck out and I really learned something good from it; and one of the things I learned was that there are plenty of other Certified Zentangle Teachers (CZTs) who have trouble with this tangle as well. I have company. So we all learned something. That feels good. I really want to get over this small-e "ego" thing and rely less on the opinions of others. That way, I can have even more fun.
EXCUSE ME FOR STARTING WITH A 30-SECOND WHINE:
Let me just say my entire life feels like in "micro" movement at the moment, and not in a good way. Five weeks of unremitting snow and freezing temperatures, unable to move the car, treacherous walking...you get the picture and it ain't pretty. But today it's above freezing, it's sunny, and a melt is underway. AND I dared to move the car out of its parking space (which someone else immediately took; this is exactly why I haven't moved it up to now). Unfortunately I took it straight to the mechanic who informed me I need $900 worth of repairs. Sigh. Time to get a grip!
Ok, that's enough whining. Phew, glad that's over.
NOW BACK TO OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAMMING...
Let's get to the positive aspect of the concept of micromovements. I just dropped in on Sark's website, Planet Sark (well worth the time) and she has a totally fabulous, downloadable pdf on micromovements here. What they are...Why they can be helpful...Why you should try her technique. And you know what? I've tried it and if totally works. She presents the info in her usual funny, creative, and colorful way. If you're stuck on a project, check this out! You'll do yourself a favor.
So today I could have just stewed about how "stalled" life has been for the past few weeks--and believe me, I have done my share of stewing--but instead I hauled out my new rug's foundation and finished copying the pattern onto its reverse side. Here is the pattern:
Why did I want the pattern on both sides? Because I want to try to punch the rug with wool strips, and punching is done from the back to the front. If I change my mind, I'll go with traditional hooking, which is done from front to back. (If your head is spinning over that last sentence, just ignore it.)
Now I'm just waiting for a punch needle from the Oxford Company to arrive, and I can begin to work on the rug and see what happens. Soooooooooooo...today is all about micromovements for me, just like Sark advises.
Here are the wools I may use on the rug:
Please to note the crazy socks in the photo on the left, a gift from my wonderful friend Joelle. Joelle: I wear these all the time and love them!
All these wool colors look washed out in the photos; they're livelier than this. One of the colors is Jeanne Benjamin's "Old Underwear," a name I absolutely love. Here's what she says about this color on her website: "Old Underwear...This dirty white took off immediately as a best seller. It was inspired by the colour of the beautiful handmade lingerie I found in my mother's attic. It's a little too 'white' for primitives in my opinion. The fine shaders like it for a background, and other hookers report they like it for clothes on laundry lines, animals, white flowers, and clouds."
Just pulling out the pattern and finishing that, plus reviewing my possible wool selection, was enough for me to feel I had done something creative today.
"Notice the small things. The rewards are inversely proportional." --Liz Vassey, actor
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), a long-time meditator, a certified meditation teacher and coach, and focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society