Wednesday, December 14, 2016

considering play

"play is the only way
the highest intelligence of
humankind can unfold."
-joseph chilton pearce 

just playing. and considering. these two activities go hand in hand really. they can also be a field for a crossroads of another sort. where the lo-tech style of my art meets the hi-tech tools of modern pocket computers  (otherwise known as "smart phones"). while i still enjoy lo-tech romping with colored mark making tools such as paints and colored pencils, creative apps and digital images allow me to play at times when it might not otherwise be convenient to pull out paper and pencils or a watercolour kit. like while standing in a queue at market. or sitting in my monstrous front loader on break at work!

here, i'm entertaining the idea of light as wreath. or wreath as sun. which way around depends upon your perspective. it's nice to see an idea on "paper" so quickly. allows me to move forward without a sense of wasting much time when the idea doesn't work out. or, in this case, allows me to move on to cloth and stitch more swiftly when it does!


Wednesday, December 7, 2016


every doorway,
every intersection
has a story.
-katherine dunn

i've been thinking lately about the story of my cloth work. not so much of the story of how i came to do it, but rather the why of the art itself. whether the "art" in question is cloth, paint, music...or even the way i arrange my personal all boils down to my desire to reunite and record fragments of thought, feeling, and memory in such a way as to convey these fragments to others. to allow them a glimpse into my joy. my sorrow. my...whatever...and by doing this, i continue to discover new things about i relate to the world...through the process of quieting my mind and working with my hands and the interplay of them and the materials i am working with. this opens a doorway into the inner workings of how we each look at the world in which we live. provides an avenue for sharing...


Saturday, December 3, 2016

recovering a sense of play

"the creation of something new
is not accomplished by the intellect
but by the play instinct."
-carl jung

life can sometimes bog us down. adulting can be a very serious matter which can take over and rub the shiny off of just about everything.  in order to remain sane, we must remember to cultivate a sense of play.

play energizes us. enlivens us. it has the capability of renewing our sense of optimism and makes us open to new possibilities. in our art. in our lives. in general.

there are many ways in which one can play.  one of my favorites is to create and play with little people. needle chanting new spirit-filled people into existence and fanning the imagination with their stories.

here are three such people in their beginning stages. a perky boobed lady emerging from an old fragment of experimental batik. a woodsy fellow in winter holiday colors making his way from a vintage clothing fragment. finally, a peachy, flesh-toned dude taking shape from a "failed" dye experiment. beyond these few shreds, their stories are still transpiring. being whispered quietly in the background.

me? i'm carefully listening.
with scraps of cloth and fibre.


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

changing perspective

"when i let go
of what i am,
i become
what i might be."
-lao tzu

these lovely rust dyed cotton fragments
were a gift from a delightful follower
on instagram (@pwendy). this buddha is
joyfully sporting new threads until inspiration
moves them in another direction!

a comment i made to erik shipley of ship's manor on instagram the other day was very enlightening for me once it took root in my consciousness.  a simple statement made about my style of knitting. something i have said a thousand times about being a process knitter rather than being results driven. one of those *aha!* moments that suddenly through open the drapes that have shrouded my perception about my own creative style. not only am i a process knitter, but i am a process artist!

this was a very liberating realization. freeing me of years of self-judgment and ofttimes debilitating criticism about harboring a plethora of unfinished work. reminding me of the joy i experience in simply creating for the sake of creating, not to race to complete something for the sake of being done with it. the many creations that rest in various stages of growth are just that: resting in a stage of growth. of evolution. all a part of my enjoying their process of creation. no longer accusing. no longer judging. but celebrating whatever process they are in. whatever step they are at along the path each moment. rather like a reminder of the way i try to live my life. in the moment. not grasping and judging but enjoying. celebrating.

there is something to be learned from these emerging fragments of the creative process. something delightful and invigorating!


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

use. reuse. and fanboy surprise.

"nothing lasts forever.
but the thing is,
you can reuse some."
-rick riordan, leo's mother, the lost hero

nestled in the bottom of community's work basket are tons of almost forgotten scraps. slumbering peacefully away. until now.  i can't let them find their way to the waste basket...or lay idle for too long.  so i have embarked upon a new quilt journey.  while being comprised of cast off scraps from community, i think it will need its own name. it's own story. i'm not sure what that will be as yet. perhaps they will begin to whisper more clearly as more blocks are created.

these diminutive blocks are a mere 4" and are based upon a block from Quilted Moose.  one of several in Louise's garden sew-along. i fell in love with this one block, however, and have decided to create an entire quilt out of it...with 3/4" sashing and corner blocks between each.  it will pull solely from scraps from community.  

instead of sequestering myself in the sewing studio at my treadle, as is my usual behavior, i wanted to watch some television programs while i stitched, so i pulled out my "new" 1965 Bernina 730 Record Zig Zag machine. i found this machine (born the same year i was, so it's not that terrible old. ha!) languishing away on a sale table in a local charity shop with a meager $22.50 price tag. 

this lovely old machine came with all of its original papers (including bill of sale), all of its original accessories, several extra accessories, sewing deck, an immaculate case (original) and two original keys!

after brushing the dust away and giving the machine a good oiling, i set it up to begin to sew...and then i realized: there's no foot control pedal! ack!  so before putting it away and getting out my other "new" machine (the brother i talked about in an earlier post), i went looking online for a replacement foot control. then it hit me: this machine has no foot control.  it is a dedicated knee control machine!  i'd heard about these knee control bernina's before, but being a die-hard pfaff fanboy (at least, when it comes to new new machines) i never gave it much thought.  always figured they were talking about a knee lift bar.  ha! you learn something new everyday! after a little playtime, i'm rather fascinated by this knee control.  it's especially nice when sitting on the davenport and sewing on my antique fold away table. no foot pedal to migrate away and be chased after! so i guess i can't pooh-pooh bernina's that i own one and actually really like it!  though, don't expect to see me replacing my computerized pfaff anytime soon, cuz i'm still a pfaff fanboy!


Sunday, October 23, 2016

something epic this way comes

"but i love halloween,
and i love that feeling:
the cold air,
the spooky dangers lurking
around the corner."
-evan peters

like rabbit, i'm late, i'm late... i always seem to stumble across these wondrous things late.  ah well, at least i stumble across them.  in this case, i'm talking about the epic halloween quilt along but together by flying parrot quilts which you can stumble across here.  it's not your average halloween quilt either, it's epic. it says so right on the web page...and truly, it is epic indeed!   

i'm using the suggested fabulous fabrics: ghastlies by alexander henry; spellbound by cotton and steel; lost and found halloween by jen allyson; chillingsworth's spooky ride. but i have also dug deep into my stash and even did a little local shopping around to add my own touch to this twelve week quilt along gem (if you follow me on instagram, you've probably already seen a good portion of these fabrics).  though, since the quilt along itself is officially completed, i'm going above and beyond...i'm going to enlarge the quilt from a lap sized to a throw sized quilt (read: twin...cuz bigger is always better in my book). to accomplish this, i'll be adding in extra blocks garnered from here and there and even a few surprise touches.

to get started, i've paper pieced the first week's blocks above. candy corn and witch's hats.  i did, however, alter the witch's hat pattern (no offense to the designer) cuz i rather like a taller hat with a narrower brim.  next up: spiders!

wait, what?!? halloween is next week?  well, perhaps for most folks...but for me, halloween is all year round, so whenever i finish this quilt, it'll be cozily snuggled under no matter the time of year!

happy haunting!


Sunday, October 9, 2016

"we do not live an equal life,
but one of contrasts and patchwork;
now a little joy, then a sorrow,
now a sin, then a generous
or brave action."
-ralph waldo emerson

contrasts and patchwork. a fitting description for my life of late. and so i continue to stitch to distract my mind. digging deep into the stash of vintage fragments. the smaller ones especially. all i needed is an inch of each.  a thousand tiny stitches while the treadle rocks rhythmically beneath my foot. needle chanting in its own right. not as simple as when working completely by hand, but meditative just the same. 

now a dive into my stash of neutrals and whites to fine a border and a back. some more needle chanting, a little tying, and then a leisurely dunk in tea dye pot and a romp in the dryer.

hindsight being what it is, i'm wondering if i should have embroidered vines and flowers on the border. perhaps even a scattering of blossoms across the tiny 1/2 inch squares...  that could be an entertainment for another day.  i hear we are expecting 4 1/2 inches of snow on tuesday...


Saturday, September 24, 2016

being open

"we all get so caught up
in the moment
of what we're doing every day,
it's hard to hit that reset button
and get pulled away 
from all that and see
life from a different perspective."
-tony stewart

this year has been a year of thinking. thinking about doing. thinking about what to do. thinking about how to do. what to do it with. not a lot of doing. just a lot of being stuck. being. stuck. you have to hold on to those two words separately. together they are too daunting. too damning. strung together, they accuse. they mock. they label.

being stuck: you are stuck. 

but separate, they hold the key to liberation from that accusation.

being. stuck.  

separate, they allow growth and hope.  being: the state of life and experience. stuck: a lack of movement. dormancy. you don't condemn a seed for not yet blossoming into a glorious plant. you nurture it. encourage it to grow. so why do we disparage ourselves when we become dormant? stuck?

it is time for me to focus on the first word. being.  when we break the statement, being stuck, down this way, we can allow ourselves to grow. there is an open-endedness to being. a promise of something more. something different. now it is being full.

being full.
      of promise.
             of hope.
                  of potential.


Friday, September 2, 2016

an untrue story?

"if history
is any indication,
all truths will 
turn out
to be 
-dean kamen

"the untrue story of ship's manor"... how can you not be drawn in and enamored by an introductory line like this??  erik shipley, the mind and talent behind this untrue story of ship's manor, creates the most exquisitely hand-dyed cotton and silk threads that you could ever dream of needle chanting with! my very first selection of his threads arrived this afternoon and i've been stitching away with them all evening. they are a delight! so vibrant and full of energy!  now, as you know, i've never been much for flosses and silks, preferring rather to throw in with the more substantial wildflower threads from caron. however, these sumptuous strands of erik's have carried me away on gossamer wings into a rich landscape of stitching pleasures! of course, this means, naturally, that you simply must have some, too!

meanwhile, on the other side of the needle, meet my new old friend: a 1964 brother 300 deluxe push button zig zag sewing machine! this sexy little number, dressed to the nines in apricot and deepest charcoal, followed me home for a local charity shop. now, i won't be so ungentlemanly as to call her cheap, but she was as easy on the wallet as she is on the eyes, let me tell you.  included in her travel valise are all of her original accessories, original foot pedal, original manual & warranty card, and her original bill of sale. in a society that seems to worship nothing but vintage singers, it is always a joy to find a gem like this one quietly shining her light beneath a basket. she sews like a dream and has obviously been treasured for years and will now be treasured for many more to come! who says other machines can't sing? i have a whole choir in my sewing room, and only a few of them are singers!


Monday, August 29, 2016

ephalumps a'stompin' 'round

"i'm truly surprised
that we seem to get by
without polka dotted elephants,
serving us pie!"
-marc johns

this past month has been a struggle at best. between another lay-off, job search, training, bodhi having health issues, piper growing older by the minute, and the ephalump of depression stomping about in my brain, it's no wonder i've managed so little stitching!  today, however, was an ephalump of another color: no, i still haven't managed to find a polka dotted ephalump to serve me pie, but i did manage a little needle chanting beneath a shady tree this afternoon.  a little romp through a cloth fragment stash and a little playing about with sharp objects.  not sure where i'm going with him from this point.  perhaps i'll work him into a little pocket. a zippered vessel for bits and bobs. a keeping pouch.  i recently salvaged some lovely old metal zippers that i should be able to harvest one from. there seems to be a little story there, somewhere. whispering quietly in the background...


Friday, August 5, 2016

the slow burn of rust

"you know, rust is just oxidation.
the same chemical process as fire.  
oxygen interacts with steel,
electrons drift from one
element to the other.
so really, rust is a slow fire.
isn't that weird?
water causes something
to burn."
-leah raeder

i was doing a little rust-dyeing last night before the sun got away and while i was neutralizing the fragments, a thought kept crossing my mind like an anxious kitten. there is a strange idea circulating around the web about rust-dyeing that just makes no sense to me. i don't know if it is simply a misunderstanding that has taken on a life of its own (which is quite common on the internet) or something else altogether.  it has to do with the process of neutralizing the rust process. i have seen it stated, and repeated incessantly, that to do this one must soak the rust-dyed cloth in a salt water bath.

it seems strange to me that one would attempt to "neutralize" the rusting process with the very solution that causes the rust in the first place.  true, most people (myself included) use vinegar in the mix, as well.  but you can use simply water. water and salt. water and vinegar. water, salt and vinegar. or any number of other combinations as well.  so why would anyone think that salt water would neutralize the rusting process when salt water is used to foster it? oh, that's right....because somewhere, someone said on their blog/tutorial/article that was what we are supposed to do. it must be the way to do it.  it was on the internet...or in a book...or...or some highly admired mucky-muck said so!

hmmm...was that a bit curmudgeonly of me?  ah well, i'm getting old and take liberties from time to time.

now to be helpful.  the (ahem) "proper" way to neutralize your rust-dyed cloth is to soak it in a bath of baking soda and water. yep! this is the only way to do it.  you read it right here on my blog. here on the internet. in black and white and rusty orange. it must be true!  ring the church bells and shout it from the highest hilltops!  ha!

seriously, though.  baking soda and water is the way to go to actually neutralize the oxidizing process that is rust.  it also neutralizes the vinegar, making it a win win!

for those of you unsure of the entire rust-dyeing process, here it is (as i employ it, at any rate):

1.  gather rusty objects such as steel and iron in the form of springs, nails, metal plate, steel wool, cans, rods, hinges, architectural bits, etc.

2. soak cloth (i use primarily cotton, however, silk, wool, rayon, and even synthetics will work) in solution of water, vinegar and/or salt. (i use a 50/50 water/vinegar solution...but feel free to experiment. there are as many variations as there are rust dyers.)

3. arrange/wrap/press/fold/etc. cloth on/around rusty object. be sure to do this on plastic sheeting or in a plastic box/bucket/etc. to protect your surfaces. unless, of course, you want to rust-dye your surfaces.

4. loosely cover in plastic sheeting to slow evaporation (also insulates). be careful not to wrap too tightly as the oxidation process requires air to breath.

5. allow to sit until desired level of rust-dyeing has occurred (this is completely subjective! it could be in as little as a couple hours, or as many as several days. generally, however, 2 to 48hours is a good rule of thumb, for those of you who truly must have a number.)

6.  hand wash with dish detergent (this rids the cloth of the vinegar smell, the salt, and any dirt that may have joined the party). i suggest you do this in a bucket or other vessel outside as you most likely will not wish to introduce rust to your household plumbing. if you are dyeing dark tones, use a stiff brush, like a fingernail brush, to scrub the cloth to get rid of built up metal particles.

7.  soak in a solution of baking soda and water (approximately 1 cup to every gallon of water....which means, if you are doing only a small amount of cloth, then a couple tablespoons to a large bowl of water).

8.  rinse thoroughly in clear water and allow to dry. press, if desired.

a note of caution when rust-dyeing: rust can do all kinds of nasty things to your hemoglobin, not to mention that any cuts or scratches can become infected, so it is highly recommended that you make sure your tetanus shots are current and that you wear rubber gloves when handling rusty bits to be on the safe side!

most of all, enjoy yourself and find wonder in whatever it is you do!


Thursday, August 4, 2016

idle hands

"happiness is
a warm puppy."
-charles m. schulz

i've been so busy with building barns this summer that i've been tuckered out by the time i drag my butt home at night and can't bring myself to do much more than let my hands sit idle at the needles. this week i have been playing around with a some ideas for a slow cloth version of bodhi though. i really like the direction this one is going so will have to muster the energy this weekend to dig through my fiber stash and see what i can come up with. maybe i'll manage a little rust dyeing and stitching, too?


Sunday, June 19, 2016

the movement of color

"colors are the smiles
of nature.:
-leigh hunt

a gentle smile is slowly forming here. soft. muted. timid, even. pale shades of purples, greens, and pinks peeking amidst the rusty hues.  hinting at the possibility of larger smiles. or perhaps laughter in the near future.

this has been an interesting journey that i have embarked upon with you. sharing the emerging cloth from start to what will eventually be the finish.  not that i have ever intentionally avoided it. but that i generally skip around a bit. ok. a lot. from cloth to cloth. sometimes putting one or another away for months. even years, on occasion.  allowing the creative muse to draw me to wherever she pleases. i still allow her that license. only now, i'm trying to tie down at least one cloth at a time. see it through in a more chronological manner, rather than my usual rabbit trail method. hopping first this way. then that way.

of course, this doesn't mean that i'm not still exploring. beginning other cloths. like this rather large fragment of salvaged vintage cotton brocade.  it is nearly three times the size of the moose cloth. i was attempting to capture the sweeping nature of montana's landscape without losing the sense of the big sky we are so well known for in these parts. i look forward to working on this one, too. i can already see the blue waters of the lake. the piney greens of the trees...

and something a little different. a grizzly brizzly bear.  i've no idea what to do with him as yet. but i'm certain he will begin whispering once i have a chance to listen...


Monday, June 13, 2016

broken heart mending

"it is only with true love and compassion
that we can begin to mend what
is broken in the world.
it is these two blessed things
that can begin to mend all broken hearts."
-steve maraboli

ordinarily, the news is avoided in my house. too much hate and violence in the world. the news industry feeds on it. sensationalizes it. attempts to make it pedestrian in order to find new horrors to parade across our minds.  but in a world wrapped so tightly in social media and visual stimuli, some fragments still manage to find their way in. tv screens posted strategically at the gym. memes dancing across various streams on smartphones and tablets.  there's only such much one can filter out.  it is in times like these that i am grateful to lead a sheltered life with my saint bernard, bodhi, and the resident cat, piper.  their sweet soft eyes and truly unconditional love are a gentle reminder of just how healing love and compassion are. would that we could all see the world through such eyes. would that we could all remember that our own broken hearts are not unlike anyone else's. would that we could all see the beauty in the world through the kaleidoscopic cracks in our hearts. would that we could allow compassion to pour through those cracks in an array of rainbow colors.  would that we could all simply see. truly see with our hearts and know joy.


Saturday, June 11, 2016

"clouds come floating
into my life,
no longer to carry rain 
or usher storm,
but to add color 
to my sunset sky. "
-rabindranath tagore 

a little color is gently stitching it's way across the rusty sky, insinuating new depth. hinting at hues still to whisper across this quiet scene...

every new cloth is a journey. some are chaotic. filled with color and noise and celebration. others, like this one, tip toe softly across the imagination, instilling a more meditative sense of joy...


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

a fail is not a failure

"you don't have to
change your goal.
change your path,
be willing to, and
do not see that
as a failure.
that's just life."
-diane hendricks

there seems to be some sort of rusty or corroded metal that does not transfer rust to other things.  whatever the particulates were in my rust mush is of this metal.  it left absolutely no marks on the fragment.  rather than counting this as a failure, i figure i've learned something.  i'm not quite certain of some of the details of that learning. ha! but learning was had.

next step was to pull out some rusty bits from my other stash and star rusting a ground line. also, to grab those new swirly bits from the newly plasma whacked steel plate and rust some stylized clouds with them.  in this process, i found several of my rusty bits that are of the same particulate structure that populated the rust mush and ended up with blank spots.  aaargh!  ok.  learning was had again.

rusty old hand-forged square nails came next to create some tall grasses.  oh, and a tiny rusty moose acquired at a craft show or through etsy or somewhere no longer remembered.  i figured i'd really montana this fragment up a bit!

tadah!  a foundation of rust depiction is achieved!  now to liven this cloth up with some thread chanting and stitch sketching.  maybe some beads. a little piecing. who knows what all else will put in an appearance by the time this fragment is fully realized?!?

but for now...i am at peace with the direction it is taking and quietly enjoying the serene tableau...


Sunday, June 5, 2016

like alchemy...

"my work
is like a dialogue
between me and 
unseen powers,
like alchemy.'
-cai gua-qiang

delving into unknown territory today...  first "what if" was to rust dye in layers.  wrapped my salvage fragment around the band from an old whiskey cask to dye a large, summer moon.  once dyed, i dunked the fragment back into the vinegar water and then stretched it out on a plastic sheet and laid the metal tree cut out on it, smoothing the wet cloth gently to remove wrinkles and distortions, then carefully folded the fragment back onto itself to get the second tree image rusted in....all the while, being meticulous in keeping any part of the cloth off of the moon so as not to accidentally transfer the first image back into an unwanted area of the cloth.

i was very happy with my initial results...except that all this carefulness left the image a bit stark for my taste.  what to do? what to do?'s a thought...grab some of the rust mush from the bottom of the dunk tank and spread it around to create clouds and ground after another dip in the vinegar water!    i'm liking this so much better already.  only thing is...i have no idea how this will turn out.  i've never used rust mush to dye with before.  it's just the rusty flakings from the floorboard of my international that i dumped into the dunk tank to act as a rust starter.  it's black.  i don't know why.  but it is.  i don't know if it'll turn orange and rust like any other rusty metal. or if it will dye the fragment black or grey.  or if it will just sit there stubbornly. sticking its tongue out at me and do nothing to color the cloth.  i shall just have to wait and see what happens tomorrow...  isn't it exciting?!?


squirrels and other distractions

"i often imagine
that your mind wanders
through the same
forest as mine."
-raine cooper

a dear friend of mine opened a wondrous resource for creating new artistic tools.  it is amazing what a plasma cutter is capable of making from a flat sheet of raw steel!  these lovelies are still shiny and as distracting as chattering squirrels, but will soon be coated in lovely rust and ready to go to work!  i have some very specific ideas in mind to try out with them this weekend...

she also had this delightful rust dye tank created for me.  created from raw steel, it will soon be rusty and ready to go to work.  my idea when discussing the possibilities of such a thing with her was to create a rust dye tank that i could use to get an all-over dye bath brewing in.  my hope with this experiment is to be able to create softer rust dye results than direct to metal rust dyeing.  i'm also hoping to see if it will lend itself to more of a shibori dying technique with rust.  i don't know of anyone who has tried this as yet so don't know if it will work, but the theory seems viable.

to this end, i have already dumped a starter rust dye mush into the tank, created from the rusty bits and rust dust collected from the floor pans of my 1960 International Harvester B112 truck that were removed in the process of fabricating shiny new floor pans.  this rust dye mush has been cooking in a bucket with rainwater for a few months already.  now i'll add more rainwater and some vinegar and really get the tank cooking!

as a happy serendipitous surprise, she also found this lovely small rust dye tank for me.  we are not sure what it was intended to become before it was abandoned in the scrap pile, but it is water tight and made of raw steel, so it is now my new experimental rust dye tank.  the perfect smaller size for one offs and mad experimentation!

so many new squirrels to chase after!


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

bunnies and bernards

whenever i find myself sitting idle, i long to grab a fragment and needle chant a while.  i don't always act on those longings these days. sometimes i breathe into the idleness and just sit with it. relaxing and simply being. i know, for me, this can be an escape.  from what, i'm not certain. so i remind myself how fulfilling the needle and thread can be. allow it to become the meditation that it can be.  to that end, i found myself stitching away at my little purple bunny this evening.  

after an enriching bit of of time with cloth fragments and thread, i took bodhi for a ride.  my little teacup saint bernard. or so i keep telling him.  only 16 months and already 150.6 pounds of puppy. he takes up every bit of bench seat in my truck that isn't already occupied by my own butt.  he loves to spend time with his daddy.  the feeling is mutual.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

colors speak louder than words

"clouds come floating
into my life, no longer
to carry rain or usher storm,
but to add color to my sunset sky."
-rabindranath tagore

while posting on my instagram account about how i love digging through this oversized basket of hand dyed threads with which to spill a bit of colour on cloth on a rainy day, i was struck by my hoarding tendencies when it comes to art supplies. do i have a problem? should i seek help? divest myself of my treasures? comply with normality??

...nah! not when it allows me to manifest bunnies like this little guy soaking up a little rusty sunshine:

yeah, yeah...i know...he's purple! but he wanted to be purple. honestly!  i'd better get back to stitching him. having only a sketchy body is making him nervous...


Sunday, May 15, 2016

piecing and musing

still sitting in a piecing sort of mood these days. this patriotic pinwheel is coming together quite nicely as a result.  it will make a festive table cloth for upcoming summer festivities by the fire pit! being smaller, and most likely to need frequent cleaning, i think i shall machine quilt this one.  usually, i would rent a long-arm machine, but since it is not so large, i will work on my home machine quilting skills.  it's been a while, so perhaps a few scraps for practice might be wise. ha!


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

giving way

"the creative process
is a process of surrender,
not control."
-julia cameron

having these past few weeks off from work, i've been gifted with something very precious. time. time to contemplate. time to invest in myself. my surroundings. my art.  time for things i have had very little time for these past couple years.  while physical limitations have demanded that i find ways of creating things using a different process than i have become accustomed to, they have also encouraged me to think in new ways. as well as to re-discover old ways.

creatively, i find myself falling back onto past processes with cloth. oiling up the treadle machine and piecing blocks. like these hearts above.  traditional piecing. even traditional quilting fabrics, for i have an extensive collection of quilting fabrics that have languished while i have jumped headlong into salvage and repurposed cloth. ignored for no reason other than my desire to control how i express my creativity. to direct its every movement. stifling it along the way without even realizing it.

i have always been about control. control over myself. my process. my plans.  i know that this sense of control is an illusion. but it is an enticing illusion. full of empty promises that delight the self's desire to be at the helm.  i have seen how grasping for this sense of control can kill one's creativity.  throwing up fences and laying down rules. squelching any real sense of manifesting one's art. one's self.  one must find a way to surrender. to the moment. each moment. to allow the creative process to emerge. whether that creative process is enacted through artistic endeavours, one's employment, cooking a meal, or any other daily task of living.

it's all about the surrender. allowing. being.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

slowly moving forward

:"it matters not
how slowly you go 
as long as you
do not stop."

for an artist working in slow cloth, growing ever slower can be a trial.  though the scar has healed, the hand is taking longer.  months of disuse due to pain and numbness followed by months of restraint in a brace after surgery has left my hand weak.  overcompensation for this in my other hand has raised its own issues as well.  months of physical therapy is beginning to reveal progress, but i still must be cautious.  it reminds me of when i first began to learn to meditate. so many  thoughts and ideas jumping around like unruly monkeys making it difficult to simply be for more than a moment or two.  only now it is the ache and stiffness that slows. foretells tiny electrical shocks and numbness.  i can only manage needle chanting in small bursts. and so i burst and rest. burst and rest.  ever moving forward...

there is joy in these small steps. an opportunity to observe and marvel at the detail and the process. a detachment from the urging thought that one must simply get it done.  there is no room for pressing completion.  only for being with the cloth and stitch.  only for relaxing into the process.  it is quite liberating, really.

funny.  one does not normally think of rabbits and slowness as being harmonious.


Friday, April 8, 2016

moon dance

"there are nights
when the wolves 
are silent
and only the
moon howls."
-george carlin

on nights such 
as these, 
the rabbits dance.

it has been a strange and tumultuous year here at manhandled threads.  struggles with depression, physical injury, emotional trauma.  one does not like to think on things such as these.  but to live fully in the moment, one cannot run away from them.  i used to think they were things that had to be endured. i have learned, rather, that they must be embraced. otherwise, one can never make peace with the disturbance.

i have recently been laid off, due to lack of work. the lay off is with "job attached"...which apparently means there is a promise of re-employment when things pick up.  it makes the insurance issues a lot simpler. it also affords me more time to look for something more rewarding for work. as well as it allows me more time to pursue my creative endeavours. hence my digging through long neglected trunks and baskets of late, revitalizing old cloths.  

in the spirit of spring, perhaps, i seem to be drawn to rabbits once again.  if you follow my instagram, you've no doubt been seeing them hop by more often.  this small cloth, moon dance, is one i started a couple years ago and then lost touch with.  it seems fitting to re-emerge now, in a time when i am seeking to fly once more...


Friday, March 4, 2016

poking around

"some people have told
me that i'm grumpy; 
it's not something 
that i'm aware of.
it's not like i walk around
poking children 
in the eye...
not very small ones, anyway."
- dylan moran

i've been away from creating anything (pole barns and home remodels notwithstanding) that it would appear that my general demeanor is being affected.  in an effort to move back toward a more affable nature, i began poking around in the old steamer trunks and rustic cabinets that i stored away the more the "traditional" quilting projects i had once planned oh so many years ago when i used to manage a local quilt shop.  enough proverbial water has flowed beneath that bridge that i think i can approach them once again without the negative energies the woman who owned the shop instilled my my quilting experience.  oh! what treasures i found!  some i'm not even certain what my intentions were back then, so they will have to be reworked into something new.  but this! this little packet of oriental fabrics was tied up with string and contained the book from whence came my abandoned plan!

i began first cutting strips.  then triangles. then sewing hexagrams. well, half hexagrams. the two halves will be sewn into rows and then together to avoid awkward seams.  above are a few of the fun little kaleidoscope blocks that have emerged. down in the lower left corner is a stack of 18 more.  out of the frame is a stack of enough triangles grouped together to form 3 times this many hexies.  once they have joined this bunch, it will be off to play on the design wall!

i can hardly wait to see how this turns out!  it feels good to be excited by something creative once again...


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

into lighter moments

"the relationship
between reader and writer
is reciprocal in a way.
we co-create each other.
we are constantly emerging
out of the relationship
we have with others."
-ruth ozeki

while bodhi does not seem to have the same sense of relish for the gently wafting snow sachi once had, i find it immensely invigorating each morning and evening as i drag him out into the cold, crisp air for our four mile constitutional! though, i must say, he sure enjoys snuggling down at my feet afterward as I quietly needle chant.

each stitch i add to community brings me further from the dark avenues my mind has be traveling. into lighter moments. bringing with the light a sense of belonging. to something other than.  it lifts my spirits and makes it easier to take the next stitch...and the next...and the next.  sluggish ideas begin to move through velvet embrace. awaken.  whisper.

it is good.  perhaps the moss will begin to be scraped from this stone as it begins rolling once more. however slowly at first...


Monday, January 4, 2016

a going on...

"year's end is neither
and ending nor a beginning
but a going on,
with all the wisdom that
experience can instill
in us."
-hal borland

last year was a strange one for me here in montana.  the latter half being the stranger still...  a new saint came into my life, bringing with him all the joy, and copious shedding hair, that comes with such a delightful creature!  we both promptly had surgeries...though mine incapacitated me for much longer than his.  shortly before the holidays i was finally given the go ahead to start sewing again, but have found myself stuck in a dark corner of mind...unable to bring myself to stitch...

with the turning of the year's wheel has come a renewed sense of purpose. or at least a need to dig myself out of this rut.  my wrist is still tender and won't allow me to stitch for long without screaming out in protest, so i am contenting myself with simple thread chanting. endless miles of stitching on community.  it seems an appropriate cloth to work on at the moment.  one that fosters a sense of belonging. of community.  perhaps this will be a focus cloth for a while. simple stitching...nothing too taxing for the wrist...  slowly rebuild the strength in those tendons and muscles... a good way to spend cold, snowy evenings...