Spinning My Wheels

I sit at a wheel

running hither and yon over miles

of asphalt ribbon

Some so worn and shredded with potholes my car can scarcely

bear the beating.

***

Mile after mile, driving me from word

to endless words..

I can hardly think, let alone tap into any source

of light, joy, meaning.

I sit at another wheel

wool running through my hands

and meaning begins to soothe my potholed heart.

Fibers – cleaned, combed, carded, and dyed, form

into a ribbon of color and softness

that makes more sense to me

than the asphalt.

Couldn’t I remain here?

Couldn’t I have whole days of fiber, wool, spinning ,

and weaving it into the landscape of my life?

I try. I grow weary in the trying.

That other wheel shreds all sense of sanity and rootedness. Will I ever be free of it?

***

If only I could sit at that wheel

and see a golden thread being spun of all the miles,

the stopping and starting, the car’s cutting me off, the backed-up traffic.

Would that I could spin color and blessing

rather than frustration and cursing

at the wheel of our Mazda.

Would that I could live all of my life knowing

that He who is at the wheel has it firmly in hand

and is spinning something of beauty

with the asphalt and frustration.

***

Can I lean into this thought as I’m spinning my wheels today?

*****

Wishing you a day of beauty no matter what sort of wheels you spin. I’m inspired by this fiber artist – Stacey Budge-Kamison, also known as the UrbanGypZ.  You will want to watch her videos on spinning and weaving, and there are so many others to indulge your fiber love.

I’m also continuing the #100DayProject and loving every minute! I’m actually a bit surprised that my typical flighty creative self hasn’t wanted to jump ship and set sail in a different direction. Of course, I am always doing multiple creative things so it all stays fresh and joyful!

A Return to Weaving

It was a year ago, just after finishing a series of nine tapestry weavings for Lent through Easter, that I packed up my weaving supplies and had no intention of revisiting them. I remember wondering why this was so. What had begun in January of 2017 as a total and complete love of weaving  (which I had never done before) simply seemed to vanish into thin air. I also remember carefully putting away all the handmade frame looms, the rigid heddle loom that was given to me by a friend, the yarns, ribbons, lace and wondering if I shouldn’t gift it to someone who might be able to use them? I stowed all the bamboo stalks, the driftwood, the wooden dowels (fun stuff for hanging weavings upon) in the garage and felt it was just taking up space.

But there was something that kept me from getting rid of these items. Whatever that was, I am so glad! I now have a small frame loom warped and already growing nicely into something which remains in my head with only a rough sketch in my sketchbook. I just dove in. Once again.

This time I gathered some of my handspun yarn. Yummy colors spun on my drop spindle or on the wheel I acquired for my birthday last summer and promptly painted. Just the colors of the wool  gave inspiration for a whole stack of weavings! My hope and intention is to slowly work on them, one by one, bringing them to life.

I truly get so excited about things like this! A fresh direction, a new path. Even if it is a medium I’ve explored a little before, it still seems so new to me. I had only scratched the surface of what can be done with tapestry weaving,  during those few short months in the spring of 2017. I have a few things I’d like to try now. Some things I want to do differently. The number one thing being to keep it light, slow, easy going and always always, from henceforth, to weave with colors I love.

I have often wondered, in considering why I abandoned weaving so abruptly, if I didn’t just burn myself out. I loved creating the concepts, the ideas, and bringing them to the warp of my looms for that series. But there was a time frame involved, deadlines for hanging them each week. Even though I did work ahead of schedule, the final week, with three tapestries for that week, was crazy. For a few of the weavings I felt I needed to use colors and textures I wasn’t very excited about in order to convey the idea and message I wanted to come through the fibers. This perhaps took a heavier toll on me and my artist child within. I probably don’t need to tell you how much I love bright, happy colors.

Well, whatever the reason for not weaving, I am a firm believer that these things are often good for us. A break from a particular technique or method of creating, or exploring a new medium, can usher in renewed vision for when you return to something you have loved in the past. The crazy thing is that I almost feel prepared for this return to weaving. It’s almost as if flower petals have been dropped along the route in this past year that I can now pick up and follow back, or off in a new direction with the tapestries. One of these “petals” is finding an artist on Instagram who draws and weaves. Her name is Sarah C. Swett. I followed her a few months back delighted by her “comic drawings” as she calls them, and the mini tapestries she weaves, marveling at their compact and lovely simplicity. I am only now beginning to visit her website and read her blog, which is jam packed with incredible tapestry artworks and how-to information. I am truly inspired by her work!

Another “petal” along the way was found last week as I went to lead one of the knitting workshops I have at a local yarn shop. The same friend who gave me the Rigid Heddle Loom put in front of me a small but delicious looking book by Alison Crosthwaite, titled Fibrefrenzi Artweave. I’m not sure where to obtain a paper copy of this book, but I will be searching for it soon as it too is packed with gorgeous tapestry and garment weaving and know-how. Alison’s color palette is bold and saturated…so much to love!

So when your heart is already being tugged back to the loom, and such beautiful petals are pointing the way, the sane response is to begin. I’m a bit farther along on this first-return-to-tapestry than you see here in these photos. But I shall save further reveals for another post. I love the fact that so many of my creative loves come together with weaving! Drawing, spinning yarn, even crochet and knitting have come into play with some of my tapestries. Color, line, texture and shape are all employed in these in these artful fiber works.

Feels a bit like I’m weaving my sketchbook. And I like that. We shall see what’s in store in the coming weeks. And I am glad of your company, as always, on these creative adventures.

Artfully yours,

Jennifer

P.S. We had a gorgeous day for the JDRF Walk for the Cure in High Point, NC! A couple of lovely friends joined me to walk 3 miles in honor of my daughter Maddie who lives with T1D. We have almost raised our goal amount and are so grateful for all who have donated to this worthy cause!

Thank you!

What if….?

all6fplowres

What if you could create for just 7 days, a mere week of your life, and at the end of the week have a small series of works that hold together, have taught you a lot, and bring a smile to your face? And what if you didn’t have to go anywhere or pay lots of money in order to have a week like this? And furthermore, what if you didn’t have to clear out your entire life to create some small works of art?

fiberpaintingprep

The last seven days have been an answer to these questions and more as I said Yes to Tara Leaver’s offer to join her in a 7-Day Mini Painting Challenge. Surely I can commit to something like this for one week? Before thinking too much about it, I was pulling out leftover bits of yarn, a couple of crochet hooks and sketching out some thumbnail ideas for the next 7 days.

I’m not going to say that this was easy. In fact, I probably should have thought twice about what it would mean to try to make a small fiber painting each day. Working with stitches and yarn requires far more time than it does in paint and paper! And then to make these paintings in and around a full-schedule and a holiday weekend. But I didn’t think about this. I just dove in. Sometimes it is best  NOT to think. Just begin!

fiberpalette

Even though I had made a couple of  fiber paintings in the past, I still had lots of questions I wanted to explore. Tara’s 7-Day Challenge was actually supposed to require 30 minutes or less, which I could have certainly done with paint, pens or pastels. But I regularly work this way…small increments of time happily drawing and painting, filling sketchbooks with images from my everyday life. For this challenge, I wanted to explore the questions I’ve had banging around in  my  head concerning making these images with a crochet hook and yarn, even if it meant spending more than a half hour each day, which I did, and staying up a couple of days past my usual bedtime to finish them. 🙂

Here are some of the questions I wanted to explore:

day1fp

Day 1: What if I used fibers to create the shapes of trees as well as suggesting light falling on the scene?

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Day 2 & 3 (largest fiber painting of the bunch): What if I tried to use varying tones of the same color to indicate volume and how light plays on a still-life subject? Can this be done with flowers?

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Day 5: Can this be done with fruit? And can I make “cast shadows” read as such in fibers?

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Day 4: What if I used the textures of fiber to suggest nature? i.e.. leafy trees, a “smooth” path, etc.

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Day 6: What if I used stitches and color to show the movement of water and sky? Could I also indicate the texture in a waterscape? i.e.. the foamy waves, the fluffy clouds? (Note: the photographs do not show off all the textures of the yarns. I do wish you could see them “in person”.:)

sunrisescapefp

Day 7: What if I tried to indicate depth in a landscape with things in the foreground and things in the background? Can I successfully portray this to the viewer? (This was explored in each of the landscape fiber paintings!)

Whether or not I successfully achieved all the “what if’s”, (or took two days to complete one painting!) these six paintings make me smile! They still have a bit of work to be done–backing them so they can be wall-hangings and some final embroidered touches here and there.

I know I will create more of these in the future, but for now I’ll just look at the ones I’ve made and smile. When they are fully finished, I may hang them in my home. Or I might exhibit them at my Annual Art Show in November, or offer them on ETSY. I don’t know yet. I’m just enjoying having made them and having many of my questions answered.

shapesofstitches

I appreciate all of your positive responses to this little 7-day journey on FB and Instagram! And I’m thankful for Tara Leaver and her wonderful way of inspiring artists to be freed to create, to move through blocks and to offer our work in the world! If you aren’t familiar with Tara’s art and workshops, do check her out! She has a workshop coming up very soon you might want to participate in. She has lots there on her website to encourage you to be the artist you want to be.

OR, in my case, to spend 7-days being just “ONE-OF-THE-57-ARTISTS-THAT-LIVE-INSIDE-OF-YOU”! Thank you Tara!

Artfully Yours,

Jennifer

Fiber As Medium

FreeformJewelArt

Making lines with a pen is grand. Splashing on a little watercolor is divine. But drawing and painting with fibers seems to take artistic expression to a different plane altogether.

Freeform crochet allows me to create lines for sure. As I choose the yarns in all their varied colors and textures, it’s as if my palette of watercolor has expanded exponentially. Abstraction gets worked into form and shape…something that can be worn.

JewelFreeformStart

I started this piece as a demonstration for a Freeform Crochet class I taught recently at Knit One Smock Too. I love communicating the basic tenants of freeform fiber work: No pattern. No rules. No boundaries (only the ones you dictate for the piece you decide to make).

FreeformFrontOutside

For some folks, the magnitude of the choices available to you are staggering and perhaps at first, a little paralyzing. We work with that. We start slowly. Even though we dive into our stash of fibers and just begin. A motif. A bullion circle. A stitch pattern.

Then add on. Whatever stitch. Whatever yarn. Any color, texture, direction.

Scrumbling to our heart’s content. Making shapes of we know-not-what.

Until something presents itself in our minds. A scarf? A hat? A purse? A vest?

JewelBody

Then we begin to work the abstraction into a shape needed for whatever we want to make it into. For this one, an open yoke. Then add a mesh bottom with more freeform trimming the edge. Asymmetry. Whimsical. Fun.

FreeformLine

And then I have to draw it…the lines of the yoke work.

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But it is also translatable to watercolor. An abstract piece on paper.

FreeformJewelFrontOutside

But I prefer the original item, fashioned from two hands, a hook, and various fibers. From humble, leftover, stringy beginnings to a wearable piece of art.

Knature & Knitting

DelGradoCozy

I often stand in a place of beauty and I see it in fibers. Wools, cottons, silks, acrylics pop out of the landscape or garden I’m viewing. Colors and textures get translated into yarns. And when I go to my favorite LYS I see them: the bright colors of cocks comb and cosmos, the lovely hues of hollyhock and lily, the golden wheat of Mr. Whicker’s field, the rich tones of our plum tree.

Tea&Cozy

But this time, it worked the other way ’round. I picked two balls of a cotton tape yarn purely because of the lime greens morphing into every shade on its way to black and back again. I knew it would make for another wonderful Shoulder Cozy. I had knitted one with Rowan Bamboo Tape (shown below) and loved it in the hot weather. This one would be perfect for early fall here, when days are bit cooler.

FiberGreensPlant

And then, on my walk one day. I saw my finished black/green Shoulder Cozy lying underneath a mailbox in our neighborhood! What? Oh! A beautiful leafy plant growing all around the base of it in the exact colors of the Lang Sol Degrade yarn I had used to knit it. Lovely.

DelGradeCozyEdge2

A pleasure from cast-on to bind-off and even in adding a touch of crochet to finish off the top and bottom edges. Not too fussy. Just right. I’ve already worn it a few times, but now it hangs at the shop, hopefully enticing folks to sign up for my class on all the many ways you can knit this Shoulder Cozy!! And hopefully to entice them to pick up some yarn to make one while they are there!

ShoulderCozyDelGrade

I’m already pulling the yarns from my stash for the next one. I love this pattern for its simplicity and versatility. It can be worn as the capelet shown here or as a cowl for warmth and a touch of color around your neck. Mindful knitting at its best! No charts to follow or complicated stitch patterns (although you could certainly add a few stitch patterns here and there if you wanted to!). Just knit and enjoy the colors and textures flowing through your hands.

ShoulderCozyBamboo

<sigh>