Lizards in the Leaves

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

Mar 31, 2011

Kusha Kusha Progress

I'm in the home stretch of the Kusha Kusha scarf, a project that is so aesthetically pleasing to me on so many process levels that I don't so much want to be finished knitting it. 

But wait, when the knitting is finished, it must be fulled/felted and that's a whole other delight, one that involves transformation, serendipity....ahhh, a total bliss project.

Never mind that the knitting is like knitting with hair, that with this fine a yarn and the needle size, it's difficult to discern just which side of the stockinette is knit and which purl. That at least once I picked it up and got it wrong and so have a section of reverse stockinette. Yes, never mind - felting heals such things.  And if not, it's really okay. The personality of this scarf is so plastic and whimsical and  unconventional it can handle it, act like a bit of reverse stockinette was intended from the beginning.

On a serious note, even before the earthquake and tsunami, I had been thinking a lot about Japan lately, about how much there is the Japanese influence on my fiber art. Perhaps not so much in design, but in the materials I work with - my favorite yarns,  SAORI weaving, the concept of wabi-sabi I often ponder. 

So as I began the Kusha Kusha with Habu Textiles yarn, and am in the beginning my SAORI journey, and am making textile jewelry with Noro yarns, my thoughts have been of gratitude that these things have come into my life, how much deep joy I have in working with the textures and colors, the freeing process of SAORI.  Gratitude to the Japanese artists who have created them.  Those have been my thoughts for awhile, and so I feel connected in a more personal way to the deep sadness over the terrible, incomprehensible devastation that has come to Japan.

May healing begin.

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Mar 29, 2011

Remember Aestlight?

I almost didn't. In fact, I completely forgot about Aestlight. Until I got a brilliant idea that I would just let go of old UFOs (Unfinished Objects), give them to someone who would have no compunction about frogging them and use the yarn for her own projects.  But when I came to Aestlight, I was shocked to see how very close it was to being finished and put it right back into the WIP (Work-In-Progress) category.

If you care to follow its slooooooow journey to completion (I began it 11/28/09), there's a post here from last summer that will help.

Information on pattern and yarn is in the sequence of posts available throught the link above. I will just add some thoughts I had on the whole of the project.  I had some difficulty with keeping up with the exact stitch count, especially during the border phase. I have no idea why, I just remember it being somewhat tedious and aggravating to be so out of whack again and again. I did wind up with 4 less stitches than I needed on the first side of the edge, but I was able to compensate by working into the same stitch for 4 rows spaced out over several repeats.

One of the reasons I think I abandoned it last summer was because I really didn't like the change of color for the edging - no matter how often I told myself it was the only sane, fiscally rational solution to not having quite enough yarn in the first colorway.  I just couldn't justify buying one more skein of Starry, in an attempt to match the first when I already had the color I chose to substitute.

However, once it was finished and I could stand back and look at it draped over Zelda...I LOVED it! And I've decided that if I keep it, it will be my Dark Moon shawl, that it well carries the energy of the dark moon/new moon time.

Okay, well, I must confess it hasn't been completely finished as I haven't blocked it yet. That's a whole new category I've thought of - it's an FBFB now (Finished-But-For-Blocking.) I'd say I have at least 4 projects in that particular queue....

Mar 25, 2011

New Work: Textile & Vintage Button Jewelry

Hope to have some of these in the Artisan's Marketplace part of Arts Illiana's Spring Show....really enjoying working on these, as well as being thrilled to find more ways to use vintage buttons that doesn't ruin their buttonness. 

In the above photo are also some pins I've been making, as well as a necklace using a vintage plastic buckle. I'll do a post on the pins at a later date.


Mar 24, 2011

Five Years

Kathe Kollwitz, Lamentation 1938
It's barely comprehensible that it has been five years since my son Patrick died.  That five years ago today, we brought home his ashes.The hurt, pain, longing,'s all still here. It's with us every day. Sometimes it's just a low hum in the background and sometimes it's the loudest sound in our world. The loss of a child is indeed a grief like no other.

If I talk about it less, it's because I feel like people just don't want to hear it anymore. Or people will think I'm "stuck" (as I heard one person said about me), not moving forward. And when I don't talk about Patrick when I'm thinking about him, or when I'm missing him, then I feel less than authentic. My silence on this, my solitary tears, separate me from people more and more often these days.

So that's how it is, five years tending the grief garden. I'm not who I was before. I've learned to live with enormous pain and grief while engaging with a creative, healthy and joyous life. It amazes me that when I touch the grief place, it is as raw and painful as it ever was. It amazes me that I have moments of pure bliss and contentment. It amazes me that my being can be composed of such powerful, conflicting emotions, that I feel cursed and blessed at the same time. But that's how it is.

A poem I wrote last week:

tomorrow my son died.
today i hugged him for the last time.

this today my daughter texted
that she misses me.
i texted back
i miss you more

then cried in my cereal.
i ate strawberries & tears for breakfast.
i made that my facebook status.
i tweeted it.

i think i'm like Persephone.
i spend half my life
with the dead.

i think i'm like her mother Demeter.
i move through the land in disguise,
sorrow and stones weighting the hem of my dark cloak.

oh. please. i'm not Goddess in archetypal myth.

i'm a mortal mother whose child died tomorrow
like mothers' children do      every.  day.

tomorrow my heart cracked open,
its infinite capacity exposed
so everything started tumbling in.

tomorrow i began this endless poem.

i'm always imagining it is reposeful
under winter's earth,
how the withered stems of dreams
still dream in the roots below.

it's all in-breath.

and always - so far-
the day after tomorrow
the sun has returned
color rises
warmth kisses

out-breath begins.

Ah, we miss you, Patrick, and always will.  Love, love, love...

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Mar 23, 2011

Catching Up / The Gopalan Gallery Show Part 2

Here are better pictures of the Ritual Objects series:

Altar Mat with Charms and Wand (2008)
    Happy Childhood Charm
    Unlocking a Song from the Heart Wand
    Meditation Knot Charm
    Intention Focus Charms  

Wool commercial yarn and wool roving, hand-dyed, woven, spun, wet-felted, crocheted, needle-felted, stitched

Dreamtangler (2010)
Wool roving, hand-dyed, spun, wet-felted, crocheted, needle-felted, stitched

Secret Keeper Talisman (2010)
Wool roving, hand-dyed, wet-felted, needle-felted, stitched

Smokewalker Stick     (2008)        
Wool commercial yarn and wool roving, hand-dyed, woven, needle-felted, stitched

Truth Spy Fetish (2010)
Wool commercial yarn and wool roving, hand-dyed, spun, wet-felted, crocheted, needle-felted, stitched

Ocean Oracle Shrine  (2010)
Seashells, wool & nylon yarn, wool roving, hand-dyed, spun, crocheted, woven, wet-felted, needle-felted, stitched

Sun Power Shrine  (2010)River stone, wool commercial yarn, wool roving, hand-dyed, spun,
 crocheted, knitted woven, wet-felted, needle-felted, stitched

I also had two pieces in a series to which I'm still adding.  It's called Meditation Solitaire and it's based on the idea of the tabletop Zen garden. Instead of arranging sand and stones, one arranges a variety of shapes (spheres, circles, discs, strands) of felted fiber on a knitted mat. I include a lidded felted vessel to store the pieces in, and the vessel and lid itself can become part of the changing landscape one designs.  Kids loved this and quite a few adults found it soothing and fun.  I only have a picture of one of these right now, but as I make more I will post them.

Meditation Solitaire: Game #2 - (2010)
Cotton, silk & wool commercial yarns, wool roving, hand-dyed, knitted, crocheted, wet-felted, needle-felted

Finally, felted river rocks, which were a part of the Ritual Objects series:
Remembering/Forgetting/Letting Go Stones (2010)
River stones, wool roving, hand-dyed, needle-felted, wet-felted

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Mar 22, 2011

Catching Up / The Gopalan Gallery Show

Back in October 2010, I had the thrill of being part of a gallery show (my first!)  It was held at the Gopalan Contemporary Gallery.  I had the fun of doing it with dear fiber friends, Cathie Laska and John Salamone. Our fiber exhibit was paired with the work of Stephanie Doty, whose mixed-media really complemented the fiber.
Of course, so giddy and self-absorbed, my pictures are all of my own work, so this is a very one-sided presentation of the show.  It was gratifying and amazing to see my shawls, hats and sculptural objects displayed.  It was also a real challenge to figure out just how to do that!

I am especially proud of the stands I made for the hats - I knitted covers for vinyl balls and attached empty yarn cones to them. The cones fit fairly snugly into heavy-duty, yarn-wrapped cardboard tubes (saved from rolls of bubble-wrap.) For stability we had cans of beans at the bottom of the cones, wrapped in socks so they, too, fit snugly.  I really do like the way the hats look displayed on the round balls, rather than mannequin head-type display.

 Forest Floor Shawl (2007)
Wool, mohair, silk, nylon commercial yarn, woven, crocheted, stitched

 Wrapping Hat - Small Homage to Chakaia Booker (2009)
Wool commercial yarns, plastic button, knitted, stitched

 Joy After Sorrow  (2008)
Wool commercial yarns, crocheted, stitched

 Mangos For Breakfast By the Startling Bougainvillea (2010)
Cotton, silk, wool commercial yarns, woven, crocheted, stitched

 Motley (2010)
Wool, nylon commercial yarns, woven, crocheted, stitched

 Ritual Objects Series (2008-2010)

The Mermaid Breaks the Net and Wears It In the Deeps (2010)
Cotton, silk, wool commercial yarns, woven, crocheted, stitched

 Sujata Gopalan, the gallery owner, was very supportive of my wish to include a few of my poems that went with some of the pieces.  And I had to write an artist statement, something I'd never done before. I had a very difficult time, until I decided to think of it as another poem....

Zann Carter
Artist Statement

at first it’s all about process:
the rhythms of
the spinning
the weaving
the knitting
the crocheting
the felting...

endorphin bliss of process

and then it’s about transformation
(the unspun wool becoming
the yarn becoming
the object)

all happening in my hands
                        in my hands!

Oh, the lovely tools,
the healing ritual of familiar movements,
the spell cast by repetition,
the falling completely under that spell.
enchantment moves me through loss and sorrow,
                  the wound of the world in me,
into the sacred joy-space of creation.
it happens often enough that
i do these things again and again:

spin weave knit crochet felt

then it becomes about story
story told by bits of texture and form and color        colliding,
a wild trajectory of stitches, the way fibers meet
each other just so,
intersect, join, move away again, leap and arc
and play around spaces...

sometimes the story is whole,

sometimes there are only fragments,
solitary images that find poems to hold them, too,
pieces of a scattered puzzle, hints, clues
to a mystery that will never be solved
but wants simply to be.

i make garments to wear in dreams and fairy tales,
artifacts from a world permeated with magic and myth, a bearable reality’s


My friend Brian Morton did a review of the show and I love the way he described my work as "...airy, chaotic and bizarre..."
Next post (I hope): details of the Ritual Objects Series.

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Mar 1, 2011

Wurm done, Kusha Kusha begun

 Finished Wurm! It's a funny-looking hat and looks funny on me, but oh, it's soft and warm and I'll bet I wear it next winter for sure.  Then maybe I'll take a picture of it in use. For now:

And yup. I've been sucked right into another Yarn Harlot project.  Wouldn't you know, the very day I wrote about wising up to the fact that I love reading about Stephanie's projects but don't find them the sort of projects that hold my interest...the very day, she wrote about starting a project which uses Habu Textiles' silk stainless steel yarn.

I have been intrigued with this yarn ever since I saw it in a project featured in Living Crafts Summer '09 issue.   Scroll down a bit on that page and you can see a thumbnail and brief description of the beaded scarf-necklace.  So when Martha at RiverWools got in some Habu, I picked up some of the silk stainless steel.  I never got any farther than playing around with it and making this.

So I've started a Kusha Kusha Scarf which uses this fine, fine yarn along with a fine, fine strand of merino wool. 2/3 of it uses both yarns and gets felted.  I love this. But I'm telling myself I won't be making the Kusha sweater YH wrote about. I won't.


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