Lizards in the Leaves

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

Aug 31, 2006

Molly, Mom, a Finished Object

Difficult couple of weeks, but things seem calm today so I thought I'd try to do a quick blog entry.
Daughter Molly is off to college. Not sure why it hit me as hard as it did as she not far away really, and she did move out of the house a few months ago and was a student at the university here last school year. However, there is still something real...about your child setting up housekeeping -- dormkeeping-- in another city.
Her friends had a great going-away party for her in a local park and the night before the family got together. The main purpose for that was to surprise Molly with the amazing camera her oldest brother Ian bought for her.

Her camera broke this summer and he called me to say he wanted to buy her another. I told him I knew she referred to this camera as her "holy grail" camera and he gulped and (bless-his-heart) bought it for her. Since he is in Arizona, he sent it to me and I put it in a gift bag and we got her to come to her brother Shaun's house (ostensibly to have a family good-bye with little Sophia) so he could video her opening it.

She was pretty stunned and delighted and we had a nice evening. Here's a picture of me and Molly that night:
Right now I'm regrouping from having to deal with quite a few problems concerning my mother and the nursing home. I do believe that the nursing home where my mother lives is a good one, but no nursing home is great or without problems and we seemed to have several that popped up all at once. I had just started relaxing and feeling that things had been resolved in a satisfactory way when my mother had a fall. No one witnessed it and she isn't very able to report things (especially something upsetting) completely accurately. The surmise is that she got up and her sheets might have been tangled around her feet and she slipped, coming down hard on her bottom then hitting her head on the nightstand.

I spent about 6 hours with her in the ER - nothing broken, thank goodness. But she has a nasty bruise on her lower back and had a head laceration that required sutures. All things considered, she was a trooper and surprisingly clear-headed. She did her best to avoid the conversational avenues that have led to almost all our interactions ending painfully.

Of course, my anxiety drug of choice is fiber and I have steadily continued to knit, crochet, spin and weave. I actually managed to start getting some of my spun yarn washed and set:
And I've started to spin some more 2-ply to sell. I'm very excited that the weaving teacher at RiverWools has used some of my yarn to make a couple of the sample scarves he uses when he is teaching the rigid heddle classes. Here is the display at RiverWools, showing the Ashford Knitters' Loom and some of John's scarves. Right in the front is the scarf he made with black Cascade 220 and my yarn , along with a skein of it.
And here is the shelf that Martha generously gives over to display some of my work:
I have sold a few things, but it's really just a lot of fun to get to display my little creative bits and pieces, and talk to people if I happen to be there when they ask about it.

Finally, here's an actual finished object!
Vessel for Holding Cheerfulness, 2006
Commercial yarn and wool, hand-dyed, handspun, crocheted, felted.

For this I used Peace Fleece in a lovely spring green shade (you may see a lot of this as I bought about 10 skeins from someone clearing stash) and some of that yarn I spun with jillions of leftover scraps. I used a fairly small hook and it made a firm fabric. The vessel is about 8" in diameter, 6" high. I started it with a circular piece done in even rounds and took off in freeform from there, doing spiraling rounds alternating stitch sizes and yarn and occasionally adding in spirals I crocheted separately.

The thing about freeform like this is that all the sides are different - here is a closeup view of another part:
and the inside where I needlefelted a knitted leaf (which I had already wet-felted.)

I like looking at this piece - it does a good job of holding cheerfulness....

Aug 22, 2006

Mon Tricot Spiral Motif

Recently, I won an eBay auction for several Mon Tricot special issues. Mon Tricot was a French knitting/crochet periodical published in the 70s and 80s. I have numerous issues that I bought back in the 70s and at the time I thought the designs as a whole were much more interesting than those in American craft magazines. Every so often, I pick up a few more issues via eBay auctions.

The auction I won included a couple of the stitch dictionaries and The Knitters' Basic Book, Vol 1 and 2. This set is a goldmine of basic information on knitting and crocheting, garment construction , patterns and techniques.
In Vol. 2, there are several patterns for basic shawls of different types and this one, composed of a spiral motif which stopped me in my tracks:Immediately, I got out a crochet hook and used the Silk Garden and the SWTC Karaoke that were at hand and was rather amazed to get the sculptural swirled motifs on the top:

I went to a larger hook and got the bottom motif which looks more like the ones depicted in the magazine. I knew that this motif pattern would be a keeper for me, one that will probably appear here and there in many pieces that I do. And I may even make that shawl!

In a previous entry, I wrote about the lack of longterm mourning symbols in our present culture and have been thinking about what I might do to create my own.
I know that no one will think of this as a mourning wreath on the door, but that's what it is to me. I may or may not add something that will make it more apparent. And I probably need to think it through more, but to me it symbolizes the spiral that is grief, that is life, that is eternal. The center could be the lost loved one....and all that radiates outward from that life...

This was made with SWTC Karaoke (50/50 soy silk/wool.) I felted it a bit by hand at the kitchen sink.

Back to those sculptural versions of this motif....I think perhaps they could be opened and flattened by blocking. The one in Silk Garden is soft and pliable. The one in Karaoke is quite firm.

I combined that wacky supercoil yarn with it and made a wire hanger:
and came up with this ornament:

My friend Laura said it looks like something Dr. Seussish.
It's very joyful in any case and it makes me smile whenever I see it.

Aug 17, 2006

More Coiled Spinning

Many months ago, I started saving every wee bit of yarn snipped or left over from a project. On the table by the Big Chair I have a small plastic container that used to hold the Best Chocolate Pudding Ever ( Kozee Shak Pudding, awful name but great all-natural comfort pudding. ) Into it, I put every little scrap of yarn. When it gets full, I put the scraps in a plastic bag, and I now have a darned good yarn scrap stash going:
I had no idea what I'd ever do with this, but it seemed like a good idea.
Well. It was.
Labor-intensive, but very cool crazy yarn emerges when you spin a singles of multi-colored roving with the scraps tucked in:

Spin that cool crazy yarn as a supercoil and you get cool extra-crazy yarn:Next post, I hope to share a couple of things I've made with the crazy yarns.

Grief and Loss notes:
Ever since I wrote the poem about the Supermarket for the Bereaved, I've been thinking a lot about how our culture no longer seems to have mourning rituals and symbols that sustain the bereaved beyond the initial time of loss and a short period after.

No one has been deliberately callous or unkind, but I also think that people do not realize that Paul and I are still deeply bereaved and in mourning over the loss of our son. It seems to me that it would be easier if we had visual ways to let people know.
We are working consciously to keep moving forward through our loss, but we are still so wounded, experiencing enormous pain at times. If our wounds were visible physical injuries, people would know better how it is with us. It's not unhealthy or self-indulgent to consider that wearing special clothing or symbols might be a good thing.

And so lately, I am thinking of black and purple armbands, then imagining snuggling into a dark cape like a bat's wings with deep purple velvet lining. And cocoons. And nests.
And I got Molly to do our grocery shopping yesterday.....
peace, bright blessings,

Aug 11, 2006

Spinning coiled yarn

Thanks to the great pictures in the Knitty article on spinning coiled yarn, I was able to spin the above cool stuff. I got more yardage than that described in the article: I got 11 yards of coiled yarn from my roughly estimated 45 yards of singles, as opposed to the 10 yards from 75-100 yards. That's probably because my singles were thinner. I also was not able to pull my binder extremely taut because of breakage, so I'll bet my coils are looser

So...there's the yarn - what do you do with it?
Check out the fingerless mittens from the archives of Insubordiknit. Scroll down to the November 04, 2005 entry, if you can keep from being distracted by all the other goodies.
Then there's the Knitty project, a felted bottle bag that uses the coiled yarn sparingly.
I'd like to see what it looks like in a woven project...

And here's a WIP- those randomly knitted strips of Silk Garden 87 getting put together with the spirals for some sort of vest-like garment:

and a little work-in-progress from Mother Nature: a baby cardinal perching in the rose bush just above his empty nest. I've enjoyed greeting Mom and Dad Cardinal and watching the little ones grow the past few weeks.

I took this last week and believe I have seen the bird twice again - do baby birds come back to their nests for awhile after they've left? Yesterday there was a very young cardinal that had gotten trapped in the screened back porch, it had the crest feathers and seemed much more mature than this guy, but I know they change quickly. I opened the door wide, but before I could get a towel to try and gently capture him and let him out, he had banged into the screens, the back window glass...he did find his way out thought he seemed a bit dazed. Mom and Dad Cardinal still seemed to be around, anxiously chirping things at the Young'un. Or at least that is how I interpreted the events...


Aug 9, 2006

Poem - At the Supermarket for the Bereaved

At the Supermarket for the Bereaved

there is an open box of Kleenex
at the end of every aisle.

No one questions why you weep inconsolably
before the Cinnamon Toast Crunch,

why you stand still and silent,
staring at the little Jell-O cups,

At the Supermarket for the Bereaved

there are blank journals
attached to each cart.

On the pages, black and blue
with ink and tears,
you can write
“he loved salted butter”
“I made him Ovaltine shakes when his jaw was broken”
“i miss i miss i miss him
with all my heart”

just underneath where someone else wrote
“I always brought her Oreos for a treat”
“Every normal act is not normal

In the Supermarket for the Bereaved

there are angels at the check-out.

They add everything up,
golden light
radiating from their brows,
promising some kind of grace

‘Fear Not,’ they murmur.

They handle your food
as if it is sacred.

When they give you change,
their cool fingers
brush your palm,

and for a blessed instant
hold your grief as their own.

At the exit, there are candles to light
and places to leave things:
a can of mini-raviolis,
a strawberry,
blue corn

Aug 8, 2006

I Love the Mail....

Last Week's Mail....

brought me a

from my friends Amy and Forrest in Massachusetts : A very full box that UPS delivered at the end of what was a rather nice day last Tuesday.

And in it was a wonderful assortment of goodies - a lovely card with kind words, bath augmentations, a John Cleese video and a crafty book:

and, an assortment of yarn of the novelty variety - the spice of yarns...add a little bit of the right novelty yarn and your project can come alive (and ,as with spices, too much is....too much!)'s an extra-special part of their gift - a tiny heart rock!

I couldn't read the card at first because I started crying as soon as I opened the box. I was so touched by the thought of people I know only online taking the time to gather things to send and comfort me. And the heart rock is so special, chosen just for me from the collection of heart-shaped rocks that Forrest has picked up from Mother Nature.

Thank you so much, Amy & Forrest!!

I know that I cannot "pay back" Amy, Forrest, Linda, Peacock, Julie, Don, Meg and so many others....all those who have taken time and effort to reach out to me with heartfelt empathy, thoughts, prayers, gifts. But I hope I will be able to "pay forward" and that I can someday be an angel to someone else in need of comfort and knowledge of being not so alone.
Thank you all so much!

Today's Mail...

brought me the Dharma Trading Company catalog, dangerous, but oodles of fun to look at:

Dharma Trading Company is a good source of supplies for dyeing yarn, shirts, fabric. They are sending me the catalog because a while back I ordered some silk and Synthrapol for the visions in my head that I'd like print on fabric using my ink jet printer. Someday....

and the latest issue of Fiber Arts, featuring dolls:

I have always enjoyed this magazine, and last year I was able to get a huge lot of back issues which I'm very glad to have. This is one of those magazines I save because I see or learn something new most anytime I go through an old issue. Other magazines I keep for that same reason: Knitters, Interweave Knits, Spin-Off, Threads (up to when they became focused solely on sewing in the mid-90s) and Mon Tricot.

I have years and years worth of these venerable magazines, and have managed to complete runs of past years by finding them at library sales and sometimes in lots on eBay, although often I've had to buy single issues. Before buying them on eBay at sometimes premium prices, be sure to check for available back issues from the publishers.

More recently founded publications that have become keepers: Belle Armoire, Quilting Arts and Cloth, Paper, Scissors, and Art Doll Quarterly.

So much inspiration, so little time....

Finally, today's mail also brought me a book from my sister George-Anna:

Learning to Sit in the Silence / A Journal of Caretaking by Elaine Marcus Starkman

My sister's note said that she found this copy in the bargain basement of a shop in Tennessee and that she read it straight through in one day. From my brief look through it, I can tell it's about caring for a relative with dementia while also having the responsibilities of a family with teenage children - the "sandwich generation" dilemma.
She found a lot that resonated with our situation with our mother and thought I might find in it some comfort and catharsis. Thanks, sis!

Special Note to Novabella: I appreciated your comment to a post below and wanted to recommend a book that has been wonderfully comforting and useful in dealing with loss:
It's Healing Through the Shadow of Loss by Deborah Morris Coryell. She has worked in this field for many years and her website was the first one I found that really gave me a sense of how to go through the loss and grief journey.


Aug 1, 2006

Sophia and the Scrumble

I haven't written about my granddaughter Sophia in quite awhile. She turned 1 recently and had a lovely party. Unfortunately, she hasn't been very happy to see me and tends to cry when she does! We aren't sure why that is. Sophia in general doesn't take to many people. Still, it's a bit of a bummer that I am not one of the chosen ones.

Her father, my son Shaun, brings Sophia by every Saturday and I do everything he says, even the silly stuff, to try to win her over. I think we are starting to make progress and last Saturday some significant progress. It started with me handing her a green freeform scrumble, which had a bit of fuzzy mohair.
She seemed to like it a lot, walked her little baby Frankenstein walk, scrunching and feeling it.

Sat in Daddy's lap awhile with it...

...then came over to where I was sitting and began poking around in a basket of yarn and knitting needles. We wound up playing a little game where she handed me one of the needles and then took it back. Back and forth, back and forth - she even let me sit on the floor with her and continue the game! And my son quietly left the room. About 3 seconds later, Sophia looked around for him and I could actually see a moment where her Insecurity warred with her Desire to Play and.... Play won!

Although I don't have picture, there was a stellar moment when I was able to take her in my arms, and walk away with her for a bit. I was able to hand her back to Daddy before she started fussing or crying to go back to him.

I am still feeling great joy - and it reminds me again to be grateful for the small things, to not take anything for granted, especially when it involves children, and remember that perspective can make all the difference . A repetitious little game might be annoying to one grandmother, and a source of great delight to another.

Recently, on the Freeform Crochet yahoo group, there was a discussion about allowing people to touch freeform work when it is on display at conventions and fairs. When I handed Sophia the scrumble, I was remembering that discussion and what some people wrote about tactile pleasures. I can't help but think that giving her that interesting bit of textures to feel helped to create the fun that followed.