Lizards in the Leaves

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

Oct 31, 2011

Poem for Samhain - Longfellow

 Haunted Houses
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

All houses wherein men have lived and died
Are haunted houses. Through the open doors
The harmless phantoms on their errands glide,
With feet that make no sound upon the floors.

We meet them at the door-way, on the stair,
Along the passages they come and go,
Impalpable impressions on the air,
A sense of something moving to and fro.

There are more guests at table than the hosts
Invited; the illuminated hall
Is thronged with quiet, inoffensive ghosts,
As silent as the pictures on the wall.

The stranger at my fireside cannot see
The forms I see, nor hear the sounds I hear;
He but perceives what is; while unto me
All that has been is visible and clear.

We have no title-deeds to house or lands;
Owners and occupants of earlier dates
From graves forgotten stretch their dusty hands,
And hold in mortmain still their old estates.

The spirit-world around this world of sense
Floats like an atmosphere, and everywhere
Wafts through these earthly mists and vapours dense
A vital breath of more ethereal air.

Our little lives are kept in equipoise
By opposite attractions and desires;
The struggle of the instinct that enjoys,
And the more noble instinct that aspires.

These perturbations, this perpetual jar
Of earthly wants and aspirations high,
Come from the influence of an unseen star
An undiscovered planet in our sky.

And as the moon from some dark gate of cloud
Throws o'er the sea a floating bridge of light,
Across whose trembling planks our fancies crowd
Into the realm of mystery and night,—

So from the world of spirits there descends
A bridge of light, connecting it with this,
O'er whose unsteady floor, that sways and bends,
Wander our thoughts above the dark abyss.

Picture found here.

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Oct 27, 2011

Yarn, Dog, Occupy Terre Haute

If I was a better blogger, I would have pictures of the stunning  amount of new yarn that arrived at RiverWools this week.

But I’m not a better blogger, I’m a yarn addict collector.  And I was quite overcome by the stacks and stacks of bags of new fiber goodness that covered a good deal of the floor space in the front of the shop.

As I gazed  at new colorways and saw the knitted-up samples --  oh, all right, yes! Yes, I also fondled and sniffed -- as I did all that, I never once thought of stepping back and getting out my camera and becoming  Documenting Blogwoman.

Before I go on about the new yarn, I want to digress just a wee bit.  You may have noticed that there is not much going on in the realm of art on this blog. And that’s because there’s not much going on in my life in that realm. Well, I am writing poetry regularly, but I'm wary of posting it here because I'm trying to get published and many journals have submission rules which deem publishing online (even on a personal blog) to be 'previously published.'

I am in a kind of doldrums with my visual creative work, but I’m  percolating in other ways. Inner stuff.

Also, there’s that new young dog in the family. She eats things she really, really shouldn’t

and so must be watched a lot and gently guided over to the Good Side.  That takes time and patience. And I’m loathe to get all involved in a project or try to dress a loom and have Lily-tending become an irritating interuption.

I have, however, become a little bit involved with the local Occupy group. While they haven’t gotten to the point of a 24/7 Occupation, they have been gathering and marching in downtown Terre Haute.  On Monday I joined them for a time .

Yesterday, I made about 50 buttons

to give to the group as a donation and planned to stand with them again for awhile after I finished work at the bookstore, which is right across the street from the Occupy Terre Haute gathering spot.

But it was raining and chilly and my jeans & sneakers were starting to get wet and water was dripping off my rain visor and onto my nose if I was looking up at taller people and….and…the new yarn I’d only had a glimpse of earlier was calling to me. (Did I mention that RiverWools is just two doors down from the bookstore? I could clearly hear that yarn from the street corner.)

So. I handed over the buttons and bailed.
Yes, I left Occupy Terre Haute, abandoned a bunch of dedicated people willing to stand in the rain to get the message out.
Worse, I left them and went to consume.

On the left, 1 Araucania Milodon (100% wool, kind of tweedy), 
the other 2 are Araucania Liwen (50% superfine alpaca, 50% wool- thick ’n’ thin)

Martha did make me feel a little better by reminding me that my purchase supports a local owner-operated business, that it wasn’t like I left the demo and went to WalMart.

For penance, I shall knit some hats and scarves for winter Occupying.
(There are several initiatives for this out there, including this free hat pattern on Ravelry. , a Facebook page called Knitters for the 99% and this blogger's Occupy Our Needles. )
Another blog: Stitch for Occupy

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Oct 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday / Inspiration

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Oct 23, 2011

Belated Happy Blogiversary to Me

As I was making the changes to my template, wondering if I wanted to make more drastic changes, I was thinking about when I first started this blog.  It was 6 years ago in August.

I wrote then that 'terrible things' had happened in my family the previous two and a half years. It's hard to go back and read that and remember quite vividly the day I started the blog, the feelings and hope I had. I want to go back and hug that woman,  who did not know that even more terrible things were coming, that bigger challenges were fast approaching.

That fall my mother tumbled swiftly down the rabbit hole of dementia and I became torn between her needs and the demands of my son and his drug abuse. The next spring, our Patrick died.  Died. (And writing this still makes me feel I've been punched in the stomach, gotten the wind knocked out of me.)

And I blogged.  I tried to keep the very personal to a minimum because I wanted this blog to be mostly about my creative work. But there's a place where one's life events and one's art intersect and sometimes the place should be revealed.

I know that it was good that I had this blog, that I could put my sorrow into words and share it.  I received comfort and warmth from  friends and strangers and, in sharing my story, I think I gave some back to others who are walking the path of grief and loss.  And that was also a gift to me.

I want to thank everyone who reads my blog, regularly or occasionally, and everyone who takes a moment to make a comment when something delights them or touches their own experience.

So I don't think I'm going to drastically change the appearance of Lizards in the Leaves, it's got the face of a familiar friend.  Maybe a tweak here and there. And maybe more of a connection between this blog and my de-cluttering blog, A Chair Is A Closet. 

I might let a little more personal come through  in the content- I turned 60 last month, and it feels like a big deal, and I'm acknowledging that by making some changes, a lot of them of the 'letting-go' variety.

I think that's story worth sharing, too.
Namaste, my friends!

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Oct 22, 2011

Messing with the Blog Template....testing....testing

My blog appearance has been bugging me for awhile.  Not so much the clutter, I know the sidebar is chockful of Stuff, but it's all Stuff I want out there.  The main thing has been the small blogging space and all the empty space to either side.  It's weird, but I feel like it used to be wider.  Don't know how that could be though.

Anyway, I've been fooling around in the template code and changed a few parameters and it sort of looked like I wanted it so I made the changes. Saved a copy of the old code in case.

So it looks better to me, but it loads a bit funky. I apologize for the funky loading and I'll try to figure out how to fix that, but I do like the changes overall.

Now I think I can have larger pictures (This is how many bananas a couple wind up with when they each go to the store and don't tell the other they are going. Also they wind up with four bags of apples and extra peanut butter.)

The Myth of a Revised Principles of Knitting

 A revised edition of Principles of Knitting has long been a mythical object , a knitting Grail, with tales  of it told around the knitting circle for years, tales which, c. 2008, began to include its imminent publication.

I was very excited to see last May that there was a definite publication date for a revised edition of Principles of Knitting by June Hiatt. Definite enough that Amazon had a picture of a new cover

(quite similar to the original) AND a pre-order button.  Now that was new and a very hopeful sign.  If I remember correctly, it had a release date of September. 

I went ahead and pre-ordered and since then have gotten several updates from Amazon, each one pushing back the publication date. The latest one puts it off until Valentine's Day 2012.  Sigh.

You can read my tale about me and my mother and the original Principles of Knitting here. (If you do read to the end of that rather long post, you will see why it's mighty significant to me that Feb. 14 is the new release date...)

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Oct 20, 2011

Third Thursday Poetry - Vera Pavlova

A Remedy for Insomnia
Not sheep coming down the hills,
not cracks on the ceiling—
count the ones you loved,
the former tenants of dreams
who would keep you awake,
once meant the world to you,
rocked you in their arms,
those who loved you . . .
You will fall asleep, by dawn, in tears.

                                                                ---Vera Pavlova

Read more about Vera Pavlova here


Tonight marks the 3rd annversary of Poetry at the Grounds, the monthly open mic reading founded and co-hosted by me and Sarah Long.  "There Will Be Cake " is our anniversary slogan. There will also be door prizes and frivolity and poetry.  Life is good. Poetry makes it better.

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Oct 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesday / L'Amour et La Paix

Picture can be found many places, including here

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Oct 18, 2011

Another Different Lines

I said I'd miss it - my fingers were itching to start another Different Lines shawl.
So I did.

This one in Dream in Color also, but I've gone to their worsted weight, Classy. And gone up just one needle size, to #10.

Colors are Spring Tickle and Gray Tabby. The latter is almost a solid gray, but there are subtle tonal variations.

It's a perfect autumn day  to be knitting a shawl - rainy, chilly, hinting at the promise of the winter's turning inward.
I love the view from my Big Chair, tea, pocket Tarot, wheel and dozy Lily.

The tea in that cup is gift tea from my son Ian and dil Lisa.
It is JinJaa Citrus Twist Green Tea from Teavana.   Orange, lemon, ginger...mmmm.

Lisa and I spent a lovely hour  at Teavana when I visited Boston last spring.
It's wonderful that their tea is available online, but you miss the experience of having an eager Teavana worker open a giant tin and use the lid to waft the scent of it your way. An olfactory tasting.

This tea was made for wafting.  And drinking with just a bit of honey on a perfect autumn day.

Oct. 17 New Yorker
Learning to Breathe by Priscilla Warner

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Oct 13, 2011

Wayback Post : My Saori Intensive

Way back in May, I made a huge step climbing out of agoraphobic exile in Terre Haute and went to Boston to visit my eldest son Ian and his wife Lisa. (Many blessings on my son Shaun for accompanying me and taking care of all the travel details. And blessings on granddaughter Sophia for being a great example of an Intrepid Traveler.)  I was left free to manage me. And I managed me very well, nary a hint of the panic beast, just normal levels of excitement and travel apprehension. Quite seriously, the Zen Flow Worry Chart was a useful tool throughout the trip.

Whenever I found my anxiety level beginning to rise, I posed those questions and it really helped me to stay in the situation and be pretty close to present and calm.  Certainly my anxiety level remained low.

When we planned the trip, it seemed ridiculous that I might be so close to Saori Worcester and not take advantage of the proximity.  And so I planned a two-day weaving intensive in Worcester while Shaun and Sophia traveled to NYC. Intrepid Traveler duo.

Nat and MIhoko have created a beautiful home and studio there and I had an amazing time. Mihoko was able to cover everything I had on my list to learn and she was a splendid teacher. Nat’s enthusiasm, generosity and life force make me smile today.  There were lessons all around.  And here are some pictures:

I knew we were in the right place when I saw the Saori banner at the front door.

Nat and Mihoko

The beautiful, light-filled, loom-filled studio space

 The cubbies where projects are stored. 

One of the very special properties of Saori looms is the ability to switch work-in-progress.

This is accomplished by having multiple 'inside sets' which consist of the two harnesses with heddles and the reed.Warp is wound on a sturdy cardboard tube (you can see it in the picture below, it's actually a square tube ) which slides off the back beam. Heddle frames and reed are removed, the completed part of the weaving is unwound from the front beam, and the front tie rod slipped out.   

A table with bobbins, shuttles and basket of 'treasures', bits and pieces of waste yarn and fiber that become lovely and interesting inlays:

Some finished pieces that were around the studio:

This is a t-shirt with reverse applique - a beautiful use for Saori scraps!


And, finally, here is a watercolor of a stunning project organized by Saori Worcester: The Saori Bridges of Elm Park, in which several bridges were hung with banners woven by Saori weavers around the world. The pictures are breathtaking, I can only imagine what it might have been like to see it in person. You can get more details and link to see the individual banners through this page: Saori Bridges

Thanks Nat and Mihoko, for all that you do in the world!

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Oct 12, 2011

Wordless Wednesday /The Guru by Robert Bissell

picture found here

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Oct 11, 2011

Finished: Different Lines Wrap

This was a great carry-around knit.
I will miss it. I hope I enjoy wearing it as much as I enjoyed knitting it.  It's cushy. And the colors....mmmm.

Details and pattern info here

This last pictures shows my favorite part of this design - there is energy  and movement here - radiance.


2011_Oct. 10-16 - Reading This Week : *

SageWoman magazine Issue 81 Weaving the Web
Mark Doty, Still Life with Oysters and Lemon
Martin Heidegger, Poetry, Language, Thought
Leanne Praine, Hoopla / The Art of Unexpected Embroidery

*being on the list doesn’t necessarily mean being read cover to cover, I might just be dipping my toes in the vast ocean of words out there

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Oct 9, 2011

Adventurous Weaving Workshop

I'm not a very good documenter, an issue which makes blogging difficult.  I forget to take pictures.
I especially forget to take pictures of events in which I am very engaged. I feel pretty good about documenting yesterday's event, though, because:
a. I remembered to bring my camera
b. I remembered to take pictures before the workshop was over.

Just before.
The picture above is everybody after 4 hours of adventure. John is taking his finished sampler off the loom, Cheryl and Dennis are watching, Dawn is reading a Saori book (probably not actually reading as it's in Japanese) and Susan is finishing up for the day.

The workshop focused on two techniques and permutations thereof: inlay and clasped weft with 2 and 3 yarns. It was planned to be an intermediate workshop, with previous experience on rigid heddle required. Participants were to come with a loom, warped and ready to weave. On registration, everyone was provided with 400 yards of black cotton 8/4 carpet warp, and instructions to create a 9' warp about 9" wide.

Oh the rebellion! Cheryl and Susan weren't experienced rigid heddle weavers and had little weaving experience. (They are, however, fiber people and great knitters, and adventurous, and I am not such a stickler for rules, even my own.) John offered to come in before the workshop and help them warp borrowed looms. So, they were essentially weaving for the first time in a Saori-inspired way.

Cheryl's weaving
It was so rewarding to work with Cheryl. She was using a 20" loom, and was having to navigate the learning curve of using it. Adding in clasped weft, juggling two and then three weft yarns going at the same time  - well, that's a whole lot to encounter for first time weaving, and I very much admired her for plunging in and exploring the process.  And not throwing up her hands, even when she chose mohair to work with at one point!

Susan's weaving

Though it doesn't quite show up in the photograph, there was a tremendous amount of motion expressed in the beginning part of Susan's weaving. It was very lively and lovely to see.

Dawn's weaving
Dawn is an experienced rigid heddle weaver. I'm not sure I've seen anyone take off the way she did. For weeks after her first class, every time I saw her in Riverwools, she had a new scarf or wrap to share. Since she was trying lots of different yarns, I got to enjoy seeing (and feeling) how they worked up.

Two things are interesting about her work yesterday -one,  her choice to use white as her sampler base color. It was a practical thought she had, so that things would show up better. I don't think she realized how amazing it would look. The other interesting thing is that weaving freestyle is out of her comfort zone. You'd not know it to see how she enthusiastically engaged and created some visually striking work.

John and his sampler weaving
 John is a master weaver - he is actually my weaving teacher. I learn to tri-loom weave from him and he is also the one who started me on rigid heddle. So it was a great thrill to be able to share some weaving fun with him.  He has one of the Saori principles deeply in his heart: weaving as a group, the sharing of weaving with others.  It was very generous of him to help Cheryl and Susan to be able to take the class, and he has been more than generous with me over the years, sharing his knowledge and weaving wisdom, booth space and lots of laughter.

This is my post-workshop weaving. My own weaving in the workshop was demonstrative, and done more to show the techniques.  But I was certainly inspired by all the discovery of the day and came home and continued to weave. I'm using up some Opal sock yarn here.

If fibery clutter is evidence of a good time, we had a great time.
I learned some new things, found inspiration from my students.

And Susan and Cheryl bought looms. 

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Oct 8, 2011


On Wednesday, I posted wordlessly a picture of Lily:
Lily 2011
She's come to live with us.

 Yes, she looks very much like Clover:
Clover 2006
Very much.

It's all very mysterious and rather a shock how this happened so quickly.
But it did.

We found her at the local Humane Society shelter.
At first, I didn't even want to consider having another dog. Then I didn't want to consider having another dog that so resembled Clover. Then I had an epiphany of sorts.  I realized that lots of people like a particular breed, say Golden Retrievers. They have a succession of them, and they each surely resemble the others. 

They found her early in September. Four blocks from my house. Two blocks from where Clover began following me home 12 years ago.

Mysterious. We joke that Lily must have been on her way to our house when she was intercepted.

We joke, but kind of believe it.

We'll try not to expect her to be Clover.  She is Lily.  Lily with the polka dot ear. And we're just getting to know who she is.

Oct 7, 2011

Rigid Heddle /Saori Inspiration - A Runner

I took my 12" Ashford Knitter's Loom outside to weave on a lovely autumn day this week.
Working on another piece to take to my Saturday workshop. Thought it would be a scarf, but I like it as a table runner.

 Ingredients: 8/4 cotton carpet warp in purple, Noro Silk Garden Sock and Noro Furin , assorted treasures: bits of recycled sari cloth ribbon yarn, banana silk, cotton cloth strips, snippets of leftover yarn from projects.