Lizards in the Leaves

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

Dec 31, 2011

Improvisational Knitting - A Scarf

Back to 'what if' experiments.

This scarf in Noro Iro on #10 (6.0mm) needles is the answer to these questions:
What if I combined short row wedges and basket weave pattern?
What if I throw in a bit of garter stitch now and then?
What if I randomly change the basket weave in various ways?

I love the texture and motion happening in this piece. I think it'll eventually take about 3 skeins of Iro.

And now I've got more questions to answer in a future improv project:

What if I vary the stitch increment I'm using for the wedges? Randomly? 

(For this scarf, I'm keeping to an increment of 3, so a garter stitch wedge is:
Row 1: K3, wrap and turn,
Row 2: K3
Row 3: K6, wrap and turn
Row 4 K6
Row 5 K9, wrap and turn
Row 6 K9

What if I get more random with the number of stitches in each basket weave segment?

(For this scarf, with 36st cast on, I've been working with 6-stitch segments, as in K6, P6, K6, P6....occasionally I am starting a wedge with K or P 3, then doing 6-stitch segments and ending with K or P 3.)

Hope this makes some sense.
What I'd also like you to know is how much fun this knit is - though I'm not at all muscial, I want to describe it in musical terms - it's like.... riffing on a basic melody. (I feel like I've said that before here...)

Many blessings for 2012!


Dec 30, 2011

LINKS: Dharma Trading Tutorials, Spindicity

A very useful link:

Dharma Trading Company's how-to page.

DTC is all about textile surface design and dyeing.  At that page you can find tutorials on using their vast array of products, as well as basic technique how-to's. 

And for spinners:

Spindlicity has ceased publication, but there's still an archive of past issues here.



Dec 29, 2011

Finished: Collage Scarf

Inspired by a project in Belle Armoire 2011 Summer, the Scrap Scarves of Lindsay Ostrom (here, scroll down the entry a bit), I thought this would be an easy zip-zip whip up. Hah!  I got so involved with the seemingly random freestyle sewing & then major overthinking with placement of my scraps...typical me.

 Ingredients: muslin, cotton fabric for the base, cotton scraps, orange cotton thread.

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Dec 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday / Carved Crayons

Picture found somewhere on this wonderful blog. I think.



Dec 27, 2011

Belle Armoire - Winter Issue - my pin!

It was very exciting to get this in the mail the same day we did the Releasing ceremony and I found the lost crystal.

It was a complementary Winter 2012 issue of Belle Armoire, with a cover sheet with these lovely words:

Inside, on page 134 is one of the pins I submitted to their Perfectly Pinned challenge, with a nice little paragraph in the story which printed the construction notes I submitted along with the pins.

My pin is the orange felted one on the top right.

I'm jazzed.

Great way to end a year!!  Thank you, Belle Armoire!


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Dec 26, 2011

Solstice2011 - part 2 Tattoo

As promised, here is Part 2 of the Solstice 2011 Mother/Daughter Adventure.

Back in August, Molly suddenly said we should get Mother/Daughter tattoos. "...a little moon or something. I'd put it by my ear like you were whispering wisdom to me..."

We talked about it again here and there, but didn't make definite plans. Then on Solstice Eve, Molly suddenly said," We should get tattoos tomorrow."

And so we did.

Little blue crescent moons.

'Whispering wisdom' - what a lovely way to reframe "mom nagging."

For me, besides the connection to my daughter and what we share, this is  a nod to the forehead crescent on priestesses in Mists of Avalon, my connection to Goddess, to Things of the Spirit. Also to carry around my own blue moon, to remind me the extraordinary is all about, not just 'once in a blue moon...'

Blessed be.



Dec 25, 2011

Solstice 2011

This year, we had our small family gathering on Solstice Eve as we've done for many years now.
This gathering is when we decorate our tree and exchange gifts.
I grew up with Christmas Eve being the day we got and decorated our tree and for years continued that tradition with my own family. But when we moved up here to Indiana, we discovered that trees are nowhere to be found by Christmas Eve and become scarce even in the week before.  That was the original reason for the switch and also satisfied my desire to allow my  children freedom to create their own traditions  on Christmas Eve and Day as they grew up.

I never wanted to be the mom in the sentence (usually preceded by a heavy sigh) "No, I can't do that - I have to go to my mom's for Christmas."  And yet I'm rather okay with "No, I can't do that - I've got to go to my mom's for Solstice."

So daughter Molly came in for two days and we had a sweet little Solstice Eve. Granddaughter Sophia, Son Shaun also came and we opened the gifts from Son Ian and his wife Lisa. One way or another we were all there and though we didn't talk about Patrick much, I lit a special candle for him and I imagine he was as much on everyone's mind as he was on mine.

Solstice 2011 Mother-Daughter Adventure Part 1

So I invited Molly to join me at dawn the next day, to join me in rattling up the returning sun and to participate in my version of The Mother of All Releasing Ceremonies created and widely made known by Pixie Campbell.

Ingredients we used for Releasing: seed pod rattles, white sage smudge stick, tiny cauldron, crow feather, rose solid perfume. Unseen are the bundle with herbs & tobacco and the numerous tiny slips of paper upon which we wrote things that do not serve us well,  all that we wanted to release, to make room for things that will serve us well. By the time I took this picture, they were burnt to smithereens - turned to ash, buried, vanished into air and earth.  

It was spectacular to share this with my daughter and also a very mysterious thing happened.
We smudged ourselves and rattled seed pods at dawn. Crow was cawing and flying over. It took a long time to burn our bundles in the tiny cauldron I have, and it was a good time of raising energy and reflecting.

We swept away the smoke using a beautiful handmade broom my sister gave me, with a branch handle and dark purple straw. 
Some discussion over what to do with the ashes.
We decided to bury them. More discussion about where. 

We decided on a spot by a bush that birds like to hang out in.

I began to tell my daughter about the full moon of 11/11/11, the one where I left out a bowl of stones & crystals & totems and some animal took it and dragged it off several yards.
I told her how I found everything strewn about, except for a crystal a friend had given me & a black stone that was holding grief.

I wrote here that day about that experience, about how I looked and looked for those, as I wrote in my journal:

"... Of all the objects I’d placed in the bowl for charging, these two had deepest emotional energy for me.

The quartz crystal had a beautiful occlusion suspended in it. It was mined from Earth by a dear old friend and given to me as part of a public ceremony of gratitude. But it had some subtle negative energy attached. My old friend and I, while not having a falling out, have had a falling away. We are out of alignment, and that has sadness to it, and came to me every time I touched that crystal.

The black stone was included to represent the Dark Moon, the Shadow….it had my grief attached to it.

I am thinking perhaps it is a gift that these particular objects were taken, that it is about letting go.

It’s more, though, it’s about help in letting go, I think. About knowing I have Guides and Helpers, that the current of Mystery in the universe flows all about me, that Spirit permeates physical reality.

It’s possible these objects may be returned to me. 
And if they do, I think they will be cleansed of any negative energy,while still representing the Shadow of things. "

Since 11/11,  I'd continued to stir the leaves about, looking for the stones, most every time I was out in the yard. 

I'd just finished telling Molly that story and she turned to go in the garage to get a shovel and I brushed away some leaves from the spot where we chose to dig....and, with a cry of utter astonishment and delight, I saw the quartz crystal!

It has been returned. And at such an auspicious moment. I felt blessed and...deeply awed and full of reverence.

Next, I shall tell you about that afternoon, and Part 2 of Solstice 2011 Mother-Daughter Adventure.

Bright blessings to all!



Dec 19, 2011

Poetry Ahead: Charles Olson

I just took one of those cyberspace wandering journeys of serendipity.
It began when I clicked a friend's link on Facebook - a link to a new MIT initiative in putting courses onine which led to:

MIT OpenCourseWare, 
current MIT courses online where I clicked on:

materials for a course in poetry which used the 1999 edition of Allen's The New American Poetry and began with the assignment to read:

Charles Olson's Kingfishers  which led to:

1. me getting up and searching my bookshelves for my copy of The New American Poetry (a trade paperback edition from the 60s)
2. reading Kingfishers.
3. going back online to the MIT course and going to:

a link to the American Academy of Poets page on Charles Olson which led to:

me looking for his 1950 "influential essay "Projective Verse" " which I found here at the Poetry Foundation site, read just a fraction and have made a copy to print and read later.

And throughout this journey, I was googling a bit,  reading, and searching YouTube and watching and listening:

The Kingfishers

By Charles Olson
What does not change / is the will to change
He woke, fully clothed, in his bed. He
remembered only one thing, the birds, how
when he came in, he had gone around the rooms
and got them back in their cage, the green one first,
she with the bad leg, and then the blue,
the one they had hoped was a male....

So what am I thinking after this journey?

That I intend to read "Projective Verse" and think about breath and poetry.
That I'll read more Olson.
That I'll explore the Black Mountain school of poetry.
That I won't need to get a copy of the newer edition of The New American 40+ year old copy ($2.95 cover price, but which I apparently paid .35 for* )  is spine-broken, but it's a sewn binding, not glued, and seems like it's got quite a bit of life yet.
That I'm reminded, once again, how little I know and how much there is to know.
That I need to remember that I can't know everything, that perhaps all I'm meant to know is just what comes to me from the great world, what I encounter as I breathe in it, as I wander in it.

*I recognize the handwriting in that .35 penciled price on the front free endpaper, so I know just where I got this book, if not exactly when. I got it at one of the Indiana State University used book sales for the American Association of University Women, which used to be my annual birthday-present-to-myself. They were always held in late September, when we had run out of money over the summer, so it was wonderful to be able to spend $20 and come home with bags of books. The price was written by the late Elizabeth Bevington, who volunteered her pricing expertise and clerked at the sales. She was one of my mentors in the business of selling used, out-of-print, collectible books. She was from the pre-internet days. She didn't have a television. She carried on her business  (Books Below, in the basement of her home) with a typewriter (manual) and 3X5 cards and the ABA listings of books wanted. I bought lots of books directly from her and I even have a book that was hers when she was a child, Legends Every Child Should Know by Hamilton Wright Mabie. Her name was Elizabeth Hodson then. Then was 1916.
Amazing what seeing that penciled .35 evoked. I'm thinking about Nicholson Baker now.
And now I'll stop.



Dec 15, 2011

Long Delayed Report on Gwen Bortner's Entrelac Workshop

Posting that picture of my entrelac scarf yesterday reminded me that I never wrote about the Gwen Bortner  workshop held here at RiverWools many moons ago.  Many.

Gwen is the author of a great book on entrelac knitting, Entre to Entrelac:

and designer of many magnificent entrelac projects for it.

It was a thrill to take a class from her. But it was even more of a thrill to get to go to supper with her and hear her talk about designing, publishing and her journey to doing what she’s doing today. There’s an interview with Gwen here and for more from Gwen’s own self, she blogs with another knitter here.

To prepare for the class, I knitted two entrelac scarves (one of them in yesterday’s post) and learned to knit “backwards.”

Though it’s not exactly backwards, I don’t think.

Whatever it is, it’s the most wonderful skill to have. Entrelac is made up of little segments of stockinette knitting, just a few stitches across, 8-12 stitches usually. If you don’t know how to knit backwards, you will be constantly turning your work to purl back across, then turning to knit again and turning to purl. Every few seconds (or however long it takes you to knit 8-12 stitches.) Over and over and over again.


(that’s the best way I can represent it without a video of the hellish sequence)

The project though which Gwen taught the class was a hat - entrelac in the round, and each block a different color or colors,  all freely chosen by the knitter. You could even mix it up with the stitches, too, we were not limited to stockinette. So there was a nice blend of the structured element of the pattern, with the unique color and texture choices of each of us. 

I chose silky Noro Shirakaba and didn't get too inventive with stitches.

Luckily I've learned that weaving-in of ends can be meditative. There were a lot of them with all the color changing.  (Hecate has a great post on the weaving-in-of-ends and the intentions with which we knit.) 

End-weaving is also good to take to social knitting groups at the yarn shop - the conversation and laughter flows and before you know's done.

A picture of the workshop:

Gwen and Jen, who usually works Mondays at the shop. ( Jen makes lots of lovely things, and ever since taking Andrea Wong's class in the Portuguese knitting  style, that's the way she knits.  You can see the little pin on her shoulder. Very cool.)

Finally, I just have to mention that I was sitting next to Lana Holden. Yes, that Lana Holden, the designer of Skew and a whole host of other patterns.*  (She wore her Involute wrap to class.) Now, it’s not the sitting next to Lana that is the noteworthy thing. Lana’s from here and we meet up with each other all the time. 

No, what’s noteworthy is the little glimpse of Lana doing what she does so well— becoming intrigued by a stitch challenge, getting an idea of a permutation, then setting about figuring out just how it can be realized.
You can see in the top picture, she's finished her class hat.

But here she's gotten quite busy on something else:


That day, she thought for sure that the entrelac hat could be knitted top down. So she spent the last bit of time in the workshop playing with that. Next time I saw her, she let me take a picture of what she managed to come up with.

Sure looks like the perfect beginning of a top-down-knitted-in-the-round-entrelac hat to me.
I'm in awe of people who can visualize, then proceed to do mathematical incantation and manifest the vision.

Lana’ blog is here, though she spends way more of her time thinking, experimenting, designing and getting her patterns out than blogging. Maybe that’s as it should be.


*Skew on Ravelry has to date been ‘favorited’ by 7878 knitters and shows up in 2883 projects - that means 2883 knitters on Ravelry have knitted her pattern AND taken pictures of their socks AND taken the time to post them. Impressive!



Dec 14, 2011

Wordless Wednesday / Noro Furin Entrelac

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Dec 8, 2011

Poetry Ahead: John Lennon

John Lennon lived until December 8, 1980.
And what a gift to us was his work!

John Lennon Plastic Ono Band (with The Flux Fiddlers) - Imagine by Yoko Ono

I remember reading this book of his.
I still use phrases from it, like instead of saying I'm having a nervous breakdown, I say I'm having a nervous breadvan.

Maybe you had to read it, too.  Did you?

[edited to include this photo 'cause I think the nervous breadvan came out of In His Own Write ]

The night John Lennon died

we were in a meeting,
all the servers and busboys squeezed
into that big-party corner booth.
who said it?  Sam? the bartender?
I only remember looking up in horror
and how the only other horror-filled eyes
were yours,
how our gazes locked, tractor beams colliding,
drawing us back and forth into each other’s shock--
what was the meeting about?
I only remember us fiercely hugging after,
going for pancakes,
how bereft the world felt
how everywhere we wandered that night
his music played and played. 

                                           --Zann Carter

Published in Ides of March Journal June issue



Dec 7, 2011

Wordless Wednesday / Merry Lovecraftmas

Picture found here.



Dec 6, 2011

Miscellany: WordFest, First Friday, Lily at the Window

Just a quick check-in to say the weekend creative writing symposium, WordFest, went splendidly. I had a wonderful time. It was hard for me to agree to lead a workshop for this event and I'm very glad I did.

You might wonder what was hard since I've written before about doing writing workshops. I guess it was the venue. My other experiences were working with The Maple Center for Integrative Health and for ArtReach. At the former, the context was sharing the ways writing helps when struggling with loss and grief. At the latter, it was informal - me and a bunch of teenagers usually. (And adults with teenage souls!)

At WordFest, I was offering a workshop for writers. Alongside academics with degrees and much more experience in classroom and workshop presentation and being published.  Scary. Oh yes.  But my workshop went well and the other presenters were warm and welcoming and friendly. So it was a good experience all 'round.

For the last couple of years, I've been trying to accept challenges that come my way. Even though it's scary, I'm ALWAYS glad I accepted. I learn and grow through each one.

At the same time, my fiber work was being displayed in two venues a couple of blocks away.  

Display at The Passion Window, my 2010 Freeform Guild Challenge shawl, felted vessels, textile necklaces & pins

Display at RiverWools, fingerless mitts, Florabelle hats, cotton scarves

...presided over by Birdwoman's Council Shawl.

John Salamone, my friend & weaving mentor, who moves very, very fast in order to do all that he does: weave magnificient pieces, create delightful window displays, and commit random acts of extreme kindness.

And now that  this busy weekend is  all over, now that I have NO commitments, I am ready to begin my annual Winter Retreat, something I started two years ago. It's 3  whole months when I accept no great responsibilities, take time for my spirit, my writing and art, tend my grief issues, and set my course for the rest of the year that follows. 

This year is especially important because of the turning sixty thing. I'm in liminal space right now,  a threshold before me. I feel it in my bones and soul. I need to honor this feeling, explore it and see where it leads me.

This picture of Lily astonished me when I saw it - the way the light just glowed, blue-violet,  from outside as this short day darkened.  This is the first time I have seen Lily, standing on this chair, peering outside.

This picture is particularly poignant as the mini-blinds were broken a dozen years ago, by Clover when she first arrived. And engraved in my heart is the  image of her sweet little face peering out at me whenever I was outside, whenever I arrived home.

Clover loved looking out there, and it seemed silly to replace the blinds as I suspected she'd just break them again. When she died, I remember thinking I might go ahead and get new ones.

I'm glad I didn't replace them. 



Dec 2, 2011

Poetry Ahead: = DADA! +

Marie Osmond talks about Dada sound poetry and reads Hugo Ball's Karawane on an old episode of Ripley's Believe It or Not :

Listen to Christian Bok's rendition here.

Now, your turn to read it.  Yes. Out loud.


jolifanto bambla o falli bambla
großiga m'pfa habla horem
egiga goramen
higo bloiko russula huju
hollaka hollala
anlogo bung
blago bung blago bung
bosso fataka
ü üü ü
schampa wulla wussa olobo
hej tatta gorem
eschige zunbada
wulubu ssubudu uluwu ssubudu
kusa gauma

Now, go write a sound poem of your own. (Share in the comments if you like.)
Here's mine (written after I first posted this last night.)


ilp ilp respituto
iiiiya iiiiiya iiiiiya
lumbo paru
sono-o-o-o-o--ba elubin
herago gaganga
omp swempo timp
plpl op-op
pik’il prak oood
ahka sem
a kasem vy
ch ch ch
macaroo macaroo
harfam tatrum
plemp sucra til
fe’feek ola kreptil
plan-ta-rah abdoo-oo
tt’pta tt’pta tt’pta
uptra pt
oolp.  plip.  plap.

Next step of course is to see if I have the nerve to perform this at the next monthly reading!  Or make and post a recording of me doing it.  I have to say it's great fun to write and to read aloud.