Could It Be?

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Could it be, in these small un-arted hours, beauty is wrought?

Could it be, in dishes and diapers, laundry and lunches, heaven is laid out?

Could it be, in lack and leanness, provision is lavished?

Could it be, in faces – not fancies – that fullness is found?

Could it be, as I embrace the small, my life is enlarged?

Could it be, that ART is happening even when I’m not making it?

Could it be, in all I feel as futile, God is fashioning beauty?

Could it be, the big life I long for is found in the little life I live?

Could it be, the constraints of time and money, unleash creativity?

Could it be, the pain of not making is simply the longing to be near Thee?

Could it be, this passion that seems to leak out a sieve, is actually being sifted, refined, made pure?

Could it be, even if I had all the time, energy, and provision to do my art, to live the big life I long for, that it would not be enough to satisfy or reach said big life and big art?

Could it be, that in me – a common vessel – resides eternity?

Could it be, that this side of heaven, I’m to weave my little thread, even if it’s the same thread as yesterday, or a new one I find along the way?

Could it be, my daily work is to draw a line from everyday things to eternity and back again.

Could it be, that contained in my insignificant, small life, the realms of heaven abide and He lives in grace and truth abounding?

Could it be, that the King of all nations would be born in a barn and sleep in a trough?

Could it be, that the Master Artist comes to create in humble, insignificant lives?

Could it be, the grandest art is made on the littlest scale?

Could it be, that True Beauty is wrought in lack, insignificance, and tedium?

Could it be I have it all wrong – instead of this life being about ME being able to do my art and thereby live my BIG life…that it is rather about CHRIST, the high and holy one, coming to live BIG in my humble and insignificant life?

Could it be, that my insignificant life is transformed into a magnificent one through the humblest of events – a babe in a manger, Emmanuel, God with us.

*****

Retuning my heart this day after Christmas, weary from so much merry-making, wondering where the Beauty is, reclaiming what is true and good. May your days after Christmas be magnificently insignificant as the babe weaves His love into your life.

Artfully yours,

Jennifer

What I Really Want for Christmas

eyestosee

The month of December is filled with distractions.  I’m moving from here to there to yonder with increased speed. Lights and tinsel pulling my eyes from where my feet are planted. To-do lists lengthening with each passing day. Longings abound for more provision, more peace, and an ability to make just the right holiday celebration for my family. On top of all of that, my own desires and wishes for things I don’t allow myself to purchase throughout the year seem to bob to the surface waving gleefully at me.

I recently wrote a letter to Santa and posted it on Instagram. It’s a tongue-in-cheek-though-based-on-truth letter from my inner artist child to whomever might read about the visions of sparkly, colorful batts of wool and glittery drop spindles that dance in my head. It’s true. Having recently dipped my big toe into spinning and weaving, I am now being pulled into a colorful, sparkly world (much like the glitz and glow of Christmas itself!) dreaming of all the supplies for this new-to-me craft. In between all the shopping and wrapping, visions of wool and spindles and looms are prancing in my wee head.

It all gets me to thinking though. What is it I really want for Christmas? A stocking full of bright-colored wool and spindles will likely not bring the provision and peace I long for daily. When I stop and breathe and drop into a space of present-ness, I can experience the ache for those good things which cannot fit into a stocking. Healing, wholeness, rest, and provision…in essence Peace on earth and Goodwill toward men. Yes, this is what I want.

And when I sit in this place long enough, I begin to realize that I actually do have all of these things, in some measure (not in their fullness), right now, right here where I am in life. In the midst of all that is going on in my family, in the lives of loved ones and friends, I can see bits of this healing and provision, some small, some big. The deep things I long for are actually afoot as Christ comes to us daily, Emmanuel with us. I just need eyes to see it.

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This week, as these visions of wool and spindles dance in my head, I’m taking an extra moment to breathe and pull back the distracting curtain of holiday hoopla to really look for the presents that are in many ways already mine in Christ. They are yours too! The thing is…even though woolly batts and spindles are not THE thing, somehow Christ comes to us in and through them, as we make things with our hands. This is not meant as a justification for buying stuff. It is merely a recognition that even in the good things that we want in our stockings, glittery and sparkly though they be,  He comes to us and offers something far more beautiful and amazing – His own self, the Christ child, the babe in the manger.

I want eyes to see. Yes, that would be a lovely gift in my stocking this year and every year. A deepening ability to see Him, in and through and beyond all the goodness in my life, as well as in all the pain and hardship too.

A Very Merry Christmas to each and every one of you!!

Artfully yours,

Jennifer

***

“Lord, purge our eyes to see
Within the seed a tree
Within the glowing egg a bird
Within the shroud a butterfly.
Till, taught by such we see
Beyond all creatures, Thee…”

Christina Rossetti, 1830-1894
English poet

Kork Nisses Discovered and Designed

all6korknisse

Every now and then I discover something that sparks a flurry of creativity. Perhaps “flurry” isn’t the word…more like a snowstorm! Over the Thanksgiving holiday I found these little cuties and rushed to click on the Free Pattern links.

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But when I did, there was no pattern to be found. Not even the website. For some reason, the pattern for knitting a Nisse had been removed and I could only find a paragraph written in Norwegian, which sadly I could not decipher.

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OK…so let’s try for a crochet version. Yes! A crochet pattern here indeed! But I wanted some changes…a slightly different single crochet fabric as well as a different shaped hat. So off I went in creating both a knitted pattern and a crocheted version of my very own!! I think my family thought I had fallen down a rabbit hole.

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Indeed it felt very much like being transported to another world. I eagerly looked up the definition of Nisse and this is what I found:

A tomte, nisse or tomtenisse (Sweden) (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈtɔ̀mːtɛ]), nisse (Norway and Denmark) (Norwegian pronunciation: [ˈnìsːɛ] or Danish pronunciation: [ˈnesə], Danish plural nisser) or tonttu (Finland) is a mythological creature from Scandinavian folklore today typically associated with the winter solstice and the Christmas season. It is generally described as being no taller than three feet, having a long white beard, and wearing a conical or knit cap in red or some other bright color.

They often have an appearance somewhat similar to that of a garden gnome.[1]

–Wikipedia

How delightful! These would be the perfect mystery make for my knit & crochet students when we resumed classes after the holidays. And yes…they have enjoyed them immensely and now I can share the love with you all!

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Feel free to download either the Kork Nisse Knit pattern OR the Kork Nisse Crochet pattern. Or if you are multi-stitchual, grab both!

And I hope you enjoy the fun of making your own little village of Nisses! Share them on Ravelry if you can! I’d LOVE to see them!

Artfully yours,

Jennifer

WAIT!!

RoomtoGrow

It’s that moment just before it all happens. That moment much like when the Millennium Falcon prepares to bolt into warp speed. It’s that space where the lines are all squiggly just before they pixelate into a zillion dots and we are propelled into something new, something different.

It is Christmas Eve and most, if not all, is ready. So much planning, preparing, buying, making, wrapping, decorating, baking, partying, festiving, musicing, working, movie-watching, event-attending…it’s enough to make even the most stout-hearted a bit dizzy. I always land on the other side of it all wondering what just happened, looking around at what seems like new terrain, indeed a New Year ahead of me.

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Before this all goes down, everything in me wants to holler “WAIT!” I want time to take a deep breath and look around, taking stock of all that is around me. I might be bringing all this with me. Then again, I might not.

I’d like to create a space, even if it is only for five minutes or ten, where I linger at the manger. I imagine it would be quiet here, with the exception of some animals snuffling and occasional bleating. Others are here too, talking in hushed tones because of the sleeping babe, the wonder at hand, the beauty under foot. We have all come here from our various work and worlds. Everyone is welcome here…from shepherds to kings, and everyone in-between.

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As for me, I’ve put down my paintbrush and knitting needles. Just so I can have a long peek, a full-attention gaze at the marvel of why all this craziness has been happening anyway. On the other side of warp speed I know I’ll pick them up again and paint the beauty I saw and knit the memories into my heart. For now though…I’m here in this humble yet holy place. I want to drink in this fleeting moment of quiet and wonder. I’d actually like to take it with me wherever it is I land on the other side of hyperspace.

Into all the travel and the eating, all the gift giving and receiving, all the family and the fun, all the tension and the tease of celebrating something we’ve warped out of recognition…I’d like to take this bit of wonder. I’d like to bring with me the liquid light of a baby whose life rearranges mine. I’d like to haul the star along with me to guide my way onward. I’d like to kneel in everything I do from this point onward.Just let me linger a bit more here, drinking it in, inhaling all the earthy magic of divinity in hay.

************

I wish you all a Very Merry Christmas!

See you on the other side of warp speed!

 

Macy’s Merry Wish

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You may be wondering who Macy is, from a couple of posts ago with her crocheted Christmas trees. If you’d like a Christmas treat, put the kettle on and sip some tea while you read about Macy and her making heart. Begin here, then here, then end here. These three “chapters” about Macy will be expanded in illustrations for a book in 2015!

My heart is filled to overflowing this Christmas! Aside from healing well from recent surgery, I’m enjoying several projects by the tree:

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…A yummy crocheted Ripple Blanket made by Lucy’s instructions.

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…and the Hitchhiker Shawl knitted in a gorgeous hand-dyed yarn by AndreSueKnits!

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…plus time spent with family as they travel to visit us here in Kernersville, NC.

Macy, Genevieve and I wish you all the Merriest of Christmas days and many knitterly gifts under your tree!

Merry Days!

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From my heARTh to yours…

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…the MERRIEST of days as you celebrate Emmanuel!

May love, joy and peace brim to overflowing as you experience family and friends in the coming days.

December!

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I can’t believe it’s December! Can you? We decorated our home yesterday, putting up the Frasier Fir and my little white studio tree. I love hanging favorite ornaments from years gone by. The above drawing was made a couple of years ago when I got this lovely sparkly bird that clips onto a branch. I especially like the long tail and beads that twinkle in the tree lights. “Twinkle” is difficult to achieve in a drawing/painting. Hence the spatter of paint. 🙂

When Christmas rolls around I have an inexplicable desire to write. I do not consider myself to be a “writer”, but words do well up and want to march out onto paper, especially in winter. My husband told me last year about how Christmastime used to be a contemplative time throughout Advent. The weeks of the advent calendar leading up to Christmas day were to be a time of reflection. Then on Christmas eve, the decorations and tree would be put up, and a period of 12 days of feasting would ensue. Something about that sounds wonderful to me. So much less “commercial” and more meaningful. I don’t feel it’s really possible to live out this way of celebrating Christmas. I imagine needing to be in a remote village in Switzerland to be able to do this right. But I try in my own way to steer clear of some of the trappings. It isn’t easy. I do love Christmas so!

This December will likely be quite different for me in many ways. I may write here about it, I may not. I’m looking forward to just letting “whatever” bubble up. I do however have an itch to post over on my Knitterly Arts blog. It has been a while and I’ve had yarns running through my fingers all along, so a backlog of catching up is due. Again, I’m just going to go with the flow. For today, I’ve got a large (20″x25″) pastel painting commission on my easel that needs some final touches before the owner sees it. I love my work as an artist and feel privileged anytime someone asks me to paint for them. Truly I do!

As we march into December perhaps we can do so with a bit of reflection, a daily dose of contemplating why this Season is even celebrated. I enjoy this Advent reading throughout the month. Let me know if you have others you like reading. And, as always…I hope you can draw each day, recording the beauties you see and experience. I’ll be back to share mine with you!

Packing Christmas

OurCreche

Before we packed away our Christmas tree and decorations yesterday, I wanted to make a drawing of our creche. It was lovely to sit and slowly follow the contours of this little nativity scene we’ve had for over twenty years. I bought it from a Piece Goods store we had in Winston-Salem, the next-door town where we lived at the time. I chuckled at all the blonde people in the nativity scene…really? Blonde wise men? Blonde shepherds? Blonde Mary and Joseph and Angel? Hmmm…. In a brief but rather fun conversation with my random fact-file husband, I learned that St. Francis began the whole idea of creches. They were traditionally made to resemble the people of that area of the world. Our creche is definitely a northern european inspired scene. Even baby Jesus has the fairest skin you could imagine. Ha! Not exactly true to reality.

Anyway, I relished drawing it. It’s amazing how much I did not notice about the scene prior to drawing it. I have unpacked and packed this thing for years. The kids have played with it so much (amazingly, none of the figurines are broken!), adding in all kinds of other characters such as army men, dinosaurs, and other interesting non-barn animals. There were even a few years that we did as the French do and waited until Christmas day to place the baby Jesus in the creche…a small way to recognize what the day was all about before diving into the presents! My drawing didn’t quite capture the facial expression on the baby Jesus figurine. The figurine has a very sweet happy expression, whereas my drawing appears as if he’s a bit worried or frightened by the whole scene in which he has landed. Ha! Perhaps that’s a bit more true to reality.

I’ve written the above in a light-hearted tone. But truth is: I’m quite heavy hearted about packing away Christmas this year. Some years I’m ready to toss the tree and everything out the door the day after Christmas. A few years, even the day before! 🙂 But this year, I loved the festiveness of lights in all the rooms, the sparkly decorations, the little white tree in my studio sunroom. Coming downstairs this morning was definitely sad as I was not greeted by the cheeriness of turning on all the lights. My husband has promised me he is going to help me hang white lights all around the picture windows in my studio sunroom, something I’ve wanted to do for years. Perhaps it will be just the cheery I’m looking for to replace those lovely trees.

I’m still on holiday and I hope you are as well! I’ve hunkered down in a making mode and will hopefully continue to do so this week as the New Year rolls in! It is delicious to have a little time to work on knit and crochet projects I’ve been wanting to finish for quite some time. Of course there are friends to enjoy, kids to hang out with, and a New Year to toast! But I’m imagining that I’m off on a making holiday this week, pretending I’m away on some lovely week for just knitting, drawing, making whatever I’d like to. Once school starts back in session it will be Art Show preparation time! And that is always a huge undertaking. I shall not think about it ’til then!!

Perhaps you can have some making days too! Draw a decoration or two before it gets packed away this year. As I drew, I felt like I was etching the little nativity scene onto my heart, to carry with  me the whole year through. I definitely want to be in holiday mode all year…even if I don’t have a twinkly tree or two to light up in the early morning darkness. Happy New Year to you all!!

Macy’s Christmas

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‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, except Macy the Mouse.

She stuffed all the stockings with things she had made—
Lovely gifts for her friends, yet few pennies she paid.

When out of the window a rosy glow revealed,
Not a sleigh, but a manger and a dear tiny babe!

He was dressed all in rags from his head to his foot.
But around him were presents the three Kings had put.

His eyes how they twinkled, his dimples how merry
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry.

His sweet little mouth was drawn up like a bow.
Only the years would tell the anguish he’d know.

He was chubby and plump like a baby should be—
Macy smiled when she saw him, her heart filled with glee.

“What do I have that I would dare give
to the Christ-child, this babe, for whom I will live?

Surely things that I make could never surpass
the wealth at his feet, the gold he’s amassed.

The feet of the Savior! So cute, yet so bare!
How cold they must be in the Winter’s night air!”

She ran back to her room, wrapped her latest creation.
Then slowly made her way through the crowd and commotion.

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A gift for His feet, to His mother Macy gave.
He kicked as he wore them … memories Macy would save.

As she reluctantly entered her small abode,
Macy knew in her heart there would never be woe …

… As long as she made things. She’d be ready to give
when the Savior child asked her. For this she would live.

-jpe
12/2/2013

*****This is the third (and final?) part to a poem inspired by a felted mouse I was given as a gift. To read the first two parts click here and here. Macy, Genevieve and I wish you the very merriest of Christmases and a Happy New Year! See you in 2014!

Christmas Mugs

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A Mutiny

The cupboard cannot hold them
these merry mugs of cheer.
For sweetly drinking Christmas,
Out of boxes pulled each year.

I cannot fit them with the rest
so tumbled out I’ll leave them,
spilling Christmas nog and joy
with every chance I see them.

They wink as I drink my morning cuppa
And froth piping hot at noon
Then steam sweet with friends at evening
And swirl my kids with chocolate spoon.

‘Twill be with sadness to tuck them away
at end of yuletide season.
One shall resist the packing day
To declare, against Christmas’ end, its treason.

-jpe

***I bet you have certain mugs you pull out each year at Christmastime like I do. I love these festive vessels for drinking in the season’s cocoa or russian tea! I’ve been enjoying my big red-with-white-polka-dot mug each morning with coffee and lots of cream in it! Our favorite desserty drink these days is hot cocoa with peppermint mocha creamer in it and a dollop of whipped cream on top! Yum! What are some of your favorite hot drinks? Do share!