Lizards in the Leaves

Rustlings in the green....imagination, art, whimsy

May 26, 2006

Illustration Friday - Cake

Cakey Hat I (2006)
Wool, hand-dyed, handspun & commercial synthetic yarn, knitted and crocheted

Illustration Friday 05.26.06
Theme: Cake

What a great day for this theme!
It's husband Paul's birthday:

And it's also the birthday of RiverWools, my local yarn shop (home-away-from-home) and so the knitted/crocheted cake (hat) is particularly appropriate.

May 23, 2006, Roses-in-the-Green

The sky was just so gloriously, infinitely Blue today I just had to take pictures...

This is looking east toward the morning sun coming up over the roof.

And the picture below is the sky to the west, looking across the street from my front porch.

I also took a picture of my back screened porch, sun streaming in, the wild rose bush. This has always been a calm, peaceful space for me, and it is moreso these days.

I finished the roses scarf and I love it so much I took lots of pictures.

One of the reasons I love this scarf is that it is a manifestation of an idea I have about creating things inspired by illustrations and stories in my favorite children's books. I would say this comes close to a Jack in the Green vision.

Jack in the Green is an out-of-print picture book that gorgeously illustrates a simple story "...of fantasy and ancient magic that involves the courage of a simple gardener, Jack in the Green, and a quest to restore the cycle of the Seasons to earth..."
Here's Jack:
and the Spirit of the Garden:

and my Roses in the Green Scarf.
Now I am thinking of such a shawl.....

May 20, 2006

Shawls, Roses

Yesterday just after writing the Blue entry, I received a package in the mail from my sister George-Anna. In it was a lovely card with words that made me cry and a 4-leaf clover from her yard (apparently my niece Channing has a 4-Leaf-Clover-Finding Gift). Also a wonderful lizard pin, beads down its spine, wrapped in shining green and golden threads. You see it above on the green shawl I recently finished, pictured below:
This is the 4th shawl I've knitted in this pattern. This is in SouthWest Trading Company Karaoke-50% soy silk/50% wool, with a carry-along yarn of Feza kid mohair in variegated blues. First time I've worked with Karaoke and I like it very much.

This is Shawl No. 3 -- the pattern designer calls it the "As You Like It Wrap"-- but I think of it as the Isis Wings Shawl because of the beautiful winged shape. She designed it to be small, something between a scarf and shawl. I make it in thicker yarn with size 11 needles, so it comes out to be a definite shawl that is on the small side of the shawl continuum.
I made No. 3 with the beautiful purple Cascade 220 Heather, and a carry-along of Gioello, which has mohair and sparkly glints of gold, red, green, blue.

So. This shawl has become the leitmotif knitting of my grief journey. Despite all the UFOs and zillions of patterns in my possession, I went to the yarn shop the week after Patrick's death feeling I needed to find something special to accompany me and comfort me in the strange new life in which I suddenly found myself. And it had to be something that required a bit of attention, but not a whole lot. I always have one on the needles.
This is shawl No. 5. I'm using SWTC Oasis, 100% soy silk in a variegated lavendar, green, butter colors. I'm knitting it up with a strand of the amazing Dewberry color (purple) in KidSilk Haze, which is kid mohair and silk. As you can imagine, the knitting of it is a tactile delight - soft, cool. It is also just barely slippery, just enough to slow down the knitting to a pace that seems to me to be ceremonial and mindful. In process, this shawl is the perfect knitting for the journey I'm on, for the boat ride on the river of sad....

As for Roses...I'm not sure I can properly convey this, but I'll try.
One of the spiritual practices I have now is to try to transform the sadness and grief feelings into more positive energies. When the deep sadness comes to me, I acknowledge it and try to stay present with it, but also take it as a cue to hold and send forth unconditional love to Patrick in spirit. I believe that imagery and feeling is the medium of spiritual connection and communications, so I wanted an image that would be able to carry a powerful love. The rose already has such symbolic and collective association with love that I decided it should be my image for this practice.

Right now, a wild and unkempt trellised rose bush is beginning to bloom against my screened back porch, so I can look upon those roses as I send love. But I also wanted rose pictures. I remembered the beautiful rose photographs taken by Steve Hartley, dad of the creative Luscious Gracious family. Not only does he take glorious photographs, but he knits, too! Anyway, you can see dozens of his rose photographs (and right now, buy a bouquet of a dozen cards of your choice for $20ppd!) at the rose card sale page. Lots of pictures on that page, so it needs a few minutes to load.

I made my selections and placed my order and received my cards the other day:

They are absolutely perfectly suited for my meditation and conveyance of love...

And Kiki sent me a wonderful gift, too - she tucked into the package this Ironstone "Little Loop" yarn which she dyed herself with Kool-Aid a few weeks ago. A yarn she called "Rose Garden"....

I was so touched by her generosity and thoughtfulness and so thrilled to have a Kiki-creation, then I remembered a yarn I'd spun on a drop spindle last fall, a yarn I thought of as Sunsetrose. And look, just look how it goes with the Kiki-yarn!

I have no idea what it will become, but it will have some power I think. Right now, it's all tucked away together plotting and planning its future form and will let me know when it's ready.

Meanwhile....on the needles, this scarf:

I started out to do a swatch of Iris Schreier's Trellis Stole from Exquisite Little Knits. I love the concept: a wrap made of a lacy, loopy open knit that carries a novelty yarn and looks like little flowers on a trellis, but haven't been pleased with the swatches I've made in this pattern...something about the yarn I've tried it with or the drop-stitch loops or the rows consisting of the novelty yarn only....I don't know exactly what didn't please me. Maybe it was just all of that together.

But I just got some amazingly beautiful Mountain Goat in greens (color Olive) and decided to try again. The novelty yarn is Trendsetter Flora #22. Wow. The combination is glorious to behold . But I still wasn't pleased with the stitch pattern and so I started my own, just a moss stitch, alternating two rows of the Mountain Goat alone with two rows of the Mountain Goat and the Flora. Yesssss! And the few rows I'd done of the Trellis Stole pattern look nice as a beginning and end to a scarf.

And so, I have rosy things all about - the real roses, the beautiful photos, the gestating yarns, and a lovely whimsical scarf in production. Oh, and I realized the scarf will qualify as an entry in Riverwools Novelty Yarn Challenge for June - it will be fun to have it displayed with the other entries and even more fun if I win the $75 gift certificate!

It's a beautiful day in Indiana today - I hope it's so where you are!

May 19, 2006


Mother's Day was difficult.
I'm just a very sad woman
right now....I travel a river
of sorrow. Right now, it's
a gentle river, I'm past
the whitewater I think.

Sometimes I'm in the river,
floating along, being carried
by the whim of the currents.
Other times, I'm in a little
boat and I get to be dry and
have a little control over
where I'm headed.

But I'm still on the river
of sorrow.

Yesterday was our 21st anniversary and neither Paul nor I remembered...
May is not merry, we are also coming up to the anniversary of Paul's twin
brother's death just 2 years ago, killed by a drunk driver. Paul's brother Patrick for whom our
Patrick was named.

Here's a draft of a poem I've been working on:


We are the ghosts in our own house,
wandering the hours
translucent and bewildered,
with grief smoking from us
in sooty tendrils that darken the walls.

We are the ghosts in our own house
drifting right through each other,
flickering sadly,
whispering feverishly,
breathing shadows and incense.

We are so hungry.
We are so thirsty.

We eat the golden light
from beeswax candles
and we drink their honey fragrance
seeking communion
with our lost one,
as though sun and flower
transformed so (bees, fire!)
might be the sacrament
for the bereft and earthbound.

We are the hungry ghosts in our own house,
with pockets full of stones and regret.
We are the thirsty ghosts dreaming of stars
shimmering through the fog
dreaming of wings (iridescence!)
bridging vast distances,
a startling kiss in the darkness,
a blue and deathless

This post was not at all what I expected to write. I have a file full of pictures of new shawls, of Luscious Gracious goodies. And I have a mind full of intentions....get back to my blogs regularly, even the decluttering; get my bookselling business back (Molly needs mega-tuition for fall...), start planning and creating for the fall ArtsFest booth.

I miss Patrick, the promise of him. I am so wounded by all he, and we, suffered because of his drug and alcohol addictions. And while I'm so incredibly grateful we had the opportunity to see his light beginning to shine again in those last few weeks, I feel so cheated and betrayed that he died, that he didn't make it all the way back to us, to a happier life for himself...

In those last weeks, he never, ever ended a conversation or got out of my car without saying, "I love you, Mom." And that's what I try to remember most.

May 9, 2006

Needle Cosies, Handspun Shawl

These are fast, fun and just splendid to look at when finished - needle cosies from Cat Bordhi's Second Treasury of Magical Knitting:

Do check out her free patterns, there's a great little bag sized for the Denise Needles case and a quiver to hold the cosied needles. For some of the patterns, you will need to have her book or at least know how to do her Moebius Cast-On, a wild bit of knitting technique that Yarn Harlot did a great job of being impressed with here.

I decided to make a bigger spiral cosy as a felted vessel. Here are the in-progress pictures:

Knitting finished, waiting to be sewn up.

Sewn up, waiting to be felted.

Felted, slipped onto one of those tall glass candles, then twisted to spiral the stripes. Waiting to be dry. I suspect this is a bit too tall and thin to stand on its own in a functional way when dry, so I may fold the sides in or otherwise manipulate it later.

Finally started to make a shawl of some handspun singles, something I've wanted to do since seeing Adrian's (Hello Yarn) beautiful Thick and Thin Shawl. She sells kits for this with her pattern and handspun and they seem to disappear almost the minute she updates her shop.

I'm using singles spun from hand-dyed roving from my two favorite sources. The peachy one is from Deb at Dudleyspinner and the green/blue/yellow/purple came from Winderwood Farm. I don't think I'd have purposely combined these two in a million years - but my desire to knit this shawl and not wait another minute forced me to pick up the only two significantly large balls of handspun singles I had in stash. And I was thrilled to discover they looked pretty nice snuggled up together in stitches.

The pattern is, in its essence, the ubiquitous triangular shawl shape that grows from the center neck by alternating one row with 4 yarn over increases (2 either side of a center st, 1 at each end of row), one row knit plain until the shawl is the size of your liking. It becomes unique and personal by your choice of yarn, color(s), stitch patterns. I'm just doing random numbers of rows of stockinette, reverse stockinette, garter. I may throw in a few moss stitch rows.

I do have a pattern from SpinCraft for this shawl. They have nice basic patterns that leave one those choices. The shrug I wrote about in my last past was one of their patterns.

and now....I am going to stop blogging and start knitting.

May 8, 2006

Shrug and Foolishness

Here are pictures of the cotton shrug I knitted last week. It's way big, probably because it's loosely knit cotton. Essentially, it's a rectangle to which you add ribbed cuffs and sew sides together for about 5 inches from cuffs. In any case, I love it and have been so delighted that we've had slightly chilly days that have been perfect for snuggling into the colorful soft cotton.

Until the other day, I had no idea what these flowers were:
Now I know they are crimson columbine. They sprang up in the place where I decided to pile all the flowers that were sent for Patrick's remembrance ceremony, let them go back to the earth. It's a spot by the back screened-in porch, by a wild, unkempt trellised rosebush. I guess that perhaps there were some of these in one of the arrangements....??

Anyway, before I identified it, I spent some time just looking at the flowers. I thought they looked whimsical and funny, like jester caps...and it seemed an important observation as I have also had the strongest feeling that Patrick, in an archetypal way, was/is like The Fool... there's more to explain in that than I can do right now, but I think it's not a bad way to metaphysically explore some of the meanings in his life and death, and his struggles with addiction, the dichotomy of his own bad choices and his innate wisdom. Well, here's one quote on The Fool as depicted in Tarot:

"This whimsical character is numbered zero because he represents both the beginning and the end of the journey toward self-awareness. Innocent and wise, naïve and deeply insightful, the Fool is often represented in the tarot as dallying along a cliff. He is a risk-taker, an adventurer, someone who lives fully in the present and recognizes that the universe is constantly changing. To less daring souls, he sometimes looks like a silly child. Like Shakespeare's fools, he often has more insight into the drama on the stage than the other characters do..."

Getting back to the flowers that have appeared - once I figured out they are columbine flowers, I looked up flower meanings....several showed Columbine = Folly.

and I shall leave it at that for today...
love, Zann

May 6, 2006

Illustration Friday - Fat

Illustration Friday 05.05.06
Theme: Fat

Thanks to my daughter Molly for taking the picture of me. Self-portraits....I've been doing a lot of them since beginning my blog. A healthy narcissistic impulse I think (hope), as I've always loathed pictures of myself. Deciding to use my image for artistic expression has been freeing on many levels.

I loved this Whitman quote, and it absolutely made me want to hug myself, my fat and bones, and just love it all.... ( Also my just-finished shrug, more pictures of which I will post next entry!)


May 2, 2006

Gratitude continued

Here are the pictures I was unable to upload yesterday.

Carol in Ohio sent me yarn and a pouch with nature things - stone, shell, feather - and a mother goddess figure that made me cry when I saw it. This figure was one of the objects I brought to place in the center of the healing circle. Thank you, Carol!

I want to give thanks for the wild violets that have appeared all over my backyard in the last couple of weeks. As I'm struggling so to accept this great tragedy in my life, I'm still trying to be open to all the small and precious gifts of the universe.

And, as always, I'm so grateful for the gift of knitting.
This is my current, almost-completed project, a big rectangle of various softball-type cottons, a hand-dyed multi-color one from Lotusblossom on eBay, various colors of hand-dyed Manos Stria, and a periwinkle in the inexpensive Bernat Cottontots. It is expecting to be a sort of shrug/coccoon, with ribbed cuffs, from this SpinCraft pattern.

The cotton is very soft, and the colors are lively and cheerful - tactile and visual pleasure - and I think it will look great with jeans.

Finally, I am going to give thanks that I was not hit by a truck....I had the scariest, most narrow escape from just that today in downtown Terre Haute. I'm still not sure just what the driver was doing or thinking. I was crossing the street with the light and in the very middle of the crosswalk when I suddenly heard the motor gunning on a pickup truck that had been waiting to turn left. I thought he was just making his turn so he was going behind me, but the guy was just suddenly turning right at me! I was in the middle of a step and somehow managed to step backward, with a huge scream, watching in disbelief as that truck just roared inches away in front of me. It was so bizarre - I was in the very middle of the crosswalk and for him to go speeding across in front of me meant he also had to have almost hit the car waiting at the light on the street he was turning on.

I was absolutely freaked out. I walked a half block to my daughter-in-law's salon to sit down and shake and tell the story, and was quite a bit cheered to see my granddaughter Raven was there. She and I went off to the yarn shop and the bank and then to the Swope Art Museum (all of these right within the same block!), where they have four rooms devoted to their annual spring exhibit of young people's art. Raven has a little ceramic cat bowl on display. First we looked at that, then we went roaming around, spent some time admiring this Thomas Hart Benton I've always liked:

Raven gave me hugs and a bite of (I swear) a Japanese Moon Pie.
A rather interesting day....

May 1, 2006

Grieving, Grace, Gratitude

It's very dreary in Indiana today - gray skies stretching forever, drizzly rain, chill winds sweeping through. And that quite well describes my inner world as well. Right now.

This grief, this losing of my son's earthly presence, is a constantly shifting thing inside me. On the outside, my life is rather calm, placid. Little happens. But inside, oh, I'm full of collisions and bright lights and sobs, moments of brilliant clarity, moments of thick fog, dark despair. And I never know, almost from one minute to the next, what to expect. Turmoil can give way to a sense of peace. Peace can become turbulence. Acceptance mutates into utter anguish.

Though my husband and daughter and other sons are grieving as well, and we are all trying to be kind to each other and supportive, it is very much a solitary journey in the Shadow side for each of us.

I wrote to my sister yesterday:

".... I hardly know what to say, write, think anymore. I wish I was more able to communicate. I feel that I have moved into a very solitary world of which it is difficult to speak. That's the way with a grief this big - no one is on the same path through it. We are able to support each other, but we each must make our own separate way. And "through it" is the direction - you don't get over it, around go through it.
I know that I am forever changed. Right now I haven't a clue as to where I'm going or who I am...I am only certain of this: I need to stay as calm and peaceful as possible, rest a lot, have faith, express love, let go of the past, focus on my relationship to Patrick's soul and spirit now, be in nature, evoke all the creative forces that I can. ..."

And so, I am trying to go through grief and loss with as much grace as I can muster. I am trying to find the most authentic, true things to guide me. I am trying to stay alive....and I don't mean just alive, I mean Alive.

Right now I want to thank so many people for sending me their heartfelt thoughts of support and sympathy. Many of you are people I've never met in person, people who know me only through the thoughts and art I've shared in my blogs. Many of you are dear old friends whose spirits never really lost touch with mine. I appreciate you all very much and feel blessed with your presence. Thank you from the deepest part of my heart!

I am grateful for the beautiful grieving/healing ceremony that was created by my friends Kathy, Brenda, Marie, Jennifer, Liz and Sharon for me and Patrick's roommates Tifani and Nikki. It was a powerful evening and I know that the energy of it is still working for healing in my spirit and soul.

And I want to thank my old friend Julie (old as high school!) for all the tea things she sent.

and I want to thank Tea for its comforting warmth and taste. Tea is a balm for my body and soul. Tea, soup, tapioca pudding and strawberries (thank you, Ellen, for the latter two!!!) were all the physical nourishment that sustained me during that first terrible week.

And Peacock, I hope you know how just how much your notes and gifts have meant to me, have become part of my life as I use them or see them. They always speak to me of your generous spirit, your empathy, the creative forever gratitude for all of that!

I know that I will never be able to thank all of you as I'd like - I send my gratefulness out into the universe and hope that someday I can repay by being there for someone else in need.

There was supposed to be a bit more gratitude here, with pictures....but the way-too-moody Blogger will NOT let me upload any more pictures, so I am going to save those thank-yous for another day.