twist and shout

Because I just never shut up

Decisions, decisions. January 24, 2017

Filed under: jewels,knitting,life,writing — kathy @ 11:35 am
Tags: , , , , ,
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“The only thing you want to do is stay in bed and pet me…I repeat, the only thing you want to do…”

Are you like this?

 

Over any given weekend, do you take time to make a list of things you’d like to do/accomplish during the upcoming week?

 

And then once the week begins, do the other “must handle” items like doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, and household chores get in the way and all your good intentions go out the window?

 

Does it drive you crazy, too?

 

I used to be so good about defining my goals and crossing them off my ever-lengthening to-do list—oh, how I love to cross stuff off my list—but the last few weeks, I look at that list and feel paralyzed. Forget all the other stuff that gets in the way; I just can’t choose where to start. And then I panic a little.

 

I realize some of that panic comes from the place in my head I mentioned a few weeks ago, the place where I feel I’m running out of time in my life. But this is getting out of hand. Some days I look up at the clock and see it’s noon and I am still sitting, cat on lap, trying to decide what to do that day. By then it’s usually too late to start anything of great importance, so I just run the vacuum around the house, or sort through the mail. Bleh.

 

I pondered this dilemma a good while this morning—two full coffee mug’s worth of time—(see what I mean?) and finally had this brilliant idea. Well, it seems brilliant now…we shall see.

 

Anyway, I thought that if every night before I went to bed I decided what I would tackle the following day and set things up to be able to jump right into my project, I’d be a step ahead of the game and save time, too. Kind of like laying my clothes out the night before. No heavy thinking, just get up, take care of the morning stuff, and then get to work.

 

Starting tomorrow—I mean tonight—I’ll begin this experiment. Let you know how it turns out…

 

Have you got any special ways to get your projects underway every day? Would love to know.

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An Intentional Hail Mary January 5, 2017

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Last year I managed to do something I once promised myself I wouldn’t do: I completely, utterly ignored my blog for nearly an entire year.

Sure, past years, about midway through, life got crazy and I skipped a month or three of blogging. But the last year has been so overwhelming and relentless that every time I sat down to write, I couldn’t puzzle out where the heck to even start.

Some of you friends know the health challenges my little family has faced this past year; all of these difficulties were enough to affect each of us so deeply that just making it through each day alive was a victory. And sadly I know that many, if fact all of us out there, face tremendous struggles daily. And often, privately.

In my own case, beyond physical frustrations and pain, much of the suffering I struggle with revolves around how life has seemed to pass me by. I am haunted by my inability to yet accomplish goals I’d pinned to the walls of my mind as a bright young thing. Now tattered, these plans flap in the winds of time. The days have flown with the winds. It seems the grind of life has ground on, but I don’t feel improved by any of my trials. Older, certainly; but not wiser.

Still, recognizing that inner work needs to be done is some kind of progress, right? At least I’m awake enough to see that I need that soul work to become the person I was born to be. To be a person who lives thoughtfully, with intention and gratitude. To make thoughtfulness the place in my mind I where I automatically start thinking. To banish negativity. Especially self-directed negativity. And as though to underline all that thinking, the universe appears to be throwing teachers in my path.

Recently I came across a lovely memoir called Never Broken, by Jewel, the singer. I haven’t finished it yet, however I find myself inhaling her words. Her early years, full of struggle and pitfalls, belie the strength and insight this woman has nurtured within herself: her journaling, poetry/songwriting, and creed have a thoughtfulness that is inspirational. In the afterword of her book, she lists things she did to help “retrain” her thoughts and behaviors and they are such wise simple things such as Spend time in silence, Establish a gratitude practice, Create a home for happiness, Embrace imperfection, to name a few. To some, these statements may seem like self-help retreads, however, when read within the context of her memoir, you see them in action. She actually lives her belief that inside each of us is a perfect soul that can never be broken, and that no matter what bad things happen to you, your soul is still there, untouched and waiting for you to reveal its strength and beauty. We just have to do the work to look inside.

And then, there is my personal guru and friend, Elizabeth Duvivier. She is an amazing soul, a wise woman, a gentle but spirited teacher. She is the creator of the legendary Squam Art Workshops (which will sadly come to an end after their fall retreat this year). I was personally introduced to her genius when I took an online workshop she was offering in 2014, called The Magic of Myth. Here we studied the ancient myth of Psyche and Eros, and then, using our newly found insights, we wrote myths of our own. This class touched me in a way I hadn’t expected, however. It not only inspired me to focus on my writing again, but further, it forced me to look deeper inside myself and find the themes that defined how I saw myself…how life’s journey had shaped me.

This year, I was lucky enough to take part in Elizabeth’s “Into the Mystic” retreat. I can’t possibly go into all the details here (though perhaps I will sometime), but I found myself awakening new areas of my psyche while there. Trying to see my self without judgment, was a practice I began to work on. And very difficult indeed for me.

And in 10 days, I am thrilled to say I’ll be taking Elizabeth’s new online year-long course, The Magic of Myth II–End of the Quest. (I believe there are still spots available–you might want to check it out) We’ll be working to go further inward, to “live from our source.” By doing so, I hope to learn to be able to see and feel more clearly why I’m here. This explanation barely scrapes a tiny line into the depth I suspect this course will have, however, as Elizabeth always says, you choose how deep you want to go.

And I say, hell. Time’s running out. Go long, go deep. It’s gonna be a Hail Mary pass sort of year…I can feel it.

 

 

Time Bandits January 27, 2016

Captain Romance's Iain sweater kept me busier than heck the last few weeks before Christmas.

Captain Romance’s Iain sweater kept me busier than heck the last few weeks before Christmas.

Yup. You know how it goes: you get going on a project and the next thing you know, bang–it’s time to pick up the kid, start dinner, do the dishes, and lay your head down for another day.

Been like that around here for days and weeks and months.

And it generally starts innocently at the beginning of the school year with the idea that I’ll  knit a couple of gifts for Christmas, or dye some yarn and list it in the Etsy shop, or perhaps make a whole new line of necklaces to sell or give as gifts. Sew myself a couple of tops with that cool new Double Gauze I’m seeing everywhere. And spend a week cleaning out the closets. Love doing that. Oh yes, and there’s the writing, too. Oh, the writing.

The writing is the thing that my Time Bandits love most. Once I get going, everything but the story, the laptop, and the music coming from my earbuds disappear around me. Time disappears. Literally.

I read somewhere that that means one is working “in the zone.” All I know, is when I finally surface after hours of writing, I’m drained. But drained in a good way. Like the way you feel after a good yoga class. Like I accomplished something.

I hope you have something that makes you feel that way. Now if I could only figure out a way to keep those dang Time Bandits at bay.

Here are a few of the two dozen new yarns I just added to my Etsy yarn shop

Here are a few of the two dozen new yarns I just added to my Etsy yarn shop

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Here are my new Stagger Mitts (there's also a headband)--a new pattern I wrote up to be used with my new yarns.

Here are my new Stagger Mitts (there’s also a headband)–a new pattern I wrote up to be used with my new yarns.

Here they are modeled by a darling friend of Bug.

Here they are modeled by a darling friend of Bug’s.

 

Where do I begin? September 12, 2015

Filed under: knitting,life — kathy @ 1:33 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Yep, it’s been a while. A long while. I know this hasn’t been the first time, but it was the first time I considered stopping the blog altogether.

I don’t know what to say other than in the past few months, my life feels like that spare room/closet/out of the way corner/basement/attic in everyone’s house…you know, the one where you open the door and pitch stuff inside and tell yourself that you’ll get to it later. That’s about the best way I can describe it all.

At the start of the summer, I was just back from Squam, refreshed and filled with ideas. Then the reality of the everyday forced its unwelcome self into my life, while the practical part of me insisted I need to finish every last thing I’d started in the past year.

There were stories that needed editing. Those were high on the list. Then came the knitting UFOs (unfinished objects) I was itching to finish. Next, there was a test knit to finish, yarn to dye, rosaries and jewelry to finish, photograph, and list on Etsy. There were new knitting patterns I was anxious to start. Gift knitting for new babies and brides, and friends who’re not feeling well filled that space. I wanted to use my dang PMC kiln already. A course in the “The Artist’s Way” was repeatedly started and put on hiatus. I was going to teach myself screenplay writing. I wanted to sew project bags and learn how to use my new serger. There was berry-picking with Bug and making jam. I wanted to start to look through college guidebooks for Bug (I know, right?). The bedroom and bathrooms needed painting. The roses needed work, and one of these days I was going to finish transcribing all my recipes written on scraps of paper into the new recipe binder I bought when Borders was going out of business.

Phew. That was just the stuff I’d written down at the beginning of June. I know,  I have that “eyes bigger than my stomach” syndrome. But also, I feel that part of my problem is I feel life passing so fast, now. It’s a blur. And in considering what I want to do each day, I become nearly paralyzed with the choices that I end up doing something mindless like cleaning out the medicine cabinet. It’s so frustrating.

And then there was blogging.

Let me start by saying, though little of what I have to say is of much consequence, I do love it. I especially love the connection it provides with people I might never have the chance to meet otherwise. It’s a sharing space, a place of reflection and community.

That said, this past summer, every time I pulled up the “New Post” page, I admit I was just stuck. I felt pulled in so many directions, I couldn’t seem to make a coherent string of words come out of my head. Some of it made it to Instagram, but mostly it just swirled around in my head.

Sorry.

So, here’s a quick recap of summer stuff that actually happened (the photos have jumbled themselves all up, but I think you’ll be able to figure out what’s what. Sorry):

 

IMG_3394Berry-picking with Bug and jam-makingIMG_3400

I finished a number of UFOs and about 5 gift-knitting things (here are just a few)IMG_3414IMG_3737

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Yarn-dyeing! (Oh yes, and a pattern for mitts to make with some of the yarn, too!)

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A girlie road trip with my sis, niece, and Bug to check out Grinnell College.

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A new short story was finished and many recipes written into new binder, too.

So, there’s still a lot to accomplish…just gonna chip away at it all a little at a time. Makes me feel a little like Sisyphus, though.

 

Perhaps if I hijack one of these bad boys, I’ll get it done. Eventually

 

 

Was it all just a dream…? June 13, 2015

Filed under: life — kathy @ 1:04 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,
Upon arrival, the view from our back screen porch.

Upon arrival, the view from our back screen porch.

Squam Art Workshops, that is. (warning: picture-heavy post; not sure how the type will wrap, so, sorry in advance.)

The entire experience seemed to flow past me so very quickly that I was swept away in it all like a leaf in a stream, riding along, taking it all in until I was deposited at last on the shore.

Breathless. All of it.

I cried when I finally arrived, Elizabeth greeting every person with a hug (unless you were a hand-shaking sort of person); I cried a bit when I left.

I must be honest: I was rather scared of going to Squam alone. I wouldn’t know a soul there. Not face-to-face “know,” anyway. I’d have a roommate I’d never met before and stay in a cabin full of ten other women with one shower and 2 bathrooms. There would be nature. Like spiders and mosquitoes and mice. There would be designer/artist luminaries–people whose work I’d knitted or “queued,” or blogs I’ve read. But they’d be here…going through the dinner line with me.

The one and only, charming, delightful, and absolutely darling, Kerry Lemon. A wonderfully enthusiastic and encouraging teacher, who is a successful artist. Love!

The one and only, charming, delightful, and absolutely darling, Kerry Lemon. A wonderfully enthusiastic and encouraging teacher, who is a successful artist. Love!

But from the moment I got into the shuttle at Manchester Airport, and serendipitously met one of my teachers, Kerry Lemon, I felt welcomed.

So, Kerry…I felt I knew her a wee bit already as she was a “guest speaker” via a video she made for Elizabeth’s online class, The Magic of Myth. And she was even more delightful in person. I felt like we had an instant connection, full of “right, me too!” moments, the entire way on that ride in. I couldn’t wait to take her class, since I love her art, and the ride into Squam made me even more excited. And also in that connection, I felt a bit calmer about my decision to go.

And silly me to worry about the cabin situation…I felt welcomed in that amazing cabin as a stumbled through the creaky door and met my roomies. Elizabeth and Forrest–so wise, those two–set up this cabin with half of us newbies/first-timers, and the other half, women who’d been there before (one, seven times, if I recall correctly) and helped us find our way. I began calling them our Squam sages. They knew how to rearrange the furniture so that we could all sit around the fire at the same time. They knew to bring lots of wine. They were fun, and friendly, and patient, and generous–and knew how to have a really good time. Really good…

One view of our living room in Cliffside cabin

One view of our living room in Cliffside cabin

The back porch...

The back porch…

The shower thing worked itself out just fine.

And my roommate was sweet, considerate, and all-around delightful.

There was nothing to worry about at all.

And all of it was as wonderful, or surpassed my expectations (I know we were warned not to have any pre-conceived notions, but that is nearly impossible, you know?). I loved my classes: Drawn Together, with Kerry, and Found Poetry, with amazing poet Sarah Sousa. Lovedlovedloved. Both teachers put so much thought and preparation into their classes. Both classes challenged me and nurtured me, and I went away from each feeling a bit more confident, and more inquisitive and thoughtful regarding my drawing and writing. Really inspired. (Both of them have wonderful blogposts about their own experiences at Squam–and a little picture of one of the things I made is in Sarah’s blog. Go look.)

I found myself sitting down at tables to have lunch with complete strangers, and very comfortable about it I might say, too. In fact, the day I asked to sit down with a woman who was sitting by herself, we found ourselves spontaneously joined by several other women, including knitting designer Amy Herzog (her website is in my blogroll, BTW), and she asked to join us!

So you knitters who are on Ravelry will also likely know some of these other names: Clara Parkes, Ysolda Teague, Kate Atherley, Gudrun Johnson, Thea Colman, Bristol Ivy, Ravelry’s own Jess and Casey with their adorable baby son, along with artists like Kerry Lemon, Ann Wood, and Colleen Attara, to name just a few. Not all were teaching; some were speaking, and some were there just to be there. I wanted to snap photos of them, but it seemed weird. It was hard not to fan-girl, though, let me tell you.

A little opening night welcome from Elizabeth and two of her amazing coordinators

A little opening night welcome from Elizabeth and two of her amazing coordinators…plus a story about a skunk. 😉

And then there was the always welcoming “hostess,” Elizabeth Duvivier who floated through the dining hall sprinkling faery dust and sunshine and smiles on everyone.

Okay, at the risk “woo-woo”ing the whole experience, I just have to tell you what I told Elizabeth on the last day there…I felt all filled up inside. Like nurtured and recharged. She responded by telling me that it was because I found “my tribe.” She was right. No matter what our ages were, or where we’d travelled from to be there, we had a common link: we all were driven to explore and be creative, and most of all, encourage one another.

And now, even though the days spent at Squam seem rather like a dream now, I am even more focused on making every day creative.

I cannot wait to go back next year.

And now, a little of my photo album…

Check-in and everyone's in high spirits. It was wonderful to finally meet Forrest, especially after receiving the lovely certificate he made for me after winning the Totes contest.

Check-in, and everyone’s in high spirits. It was wonderful to finally meet Forrest, especially after receiving the lovely certificate he made for me after winning the Totes contest.

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All the views were as spectacular as these...

All the views were as spectacular as these…

Kerry's class really pushed me (gently) out of my pen and ink comfort zone...

Kerry’s class really pushed me (gently) out of my pen and ink comfort zone…

We passed the journals through the class and everyone worked in everyone else’s journal for an interesting exercise in color and technique

An example of one of Kerry's own concertina journals from her trip to Iceland

An example of one of Kerry’s own concertina journals from her trip to Iceland

The woven heart welcomed us at the playhouse...

The woven heart welcomed us at the playhouse…

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And to the Art and Craft Fair

And to the Art and Craft Fair

My fav new bumper stickerMy fav new bumper sticker

 

It’s Glittery! April 30, 2015

Filed under: life — kathy @ 10:21 am
Tags: , , , , ,
This is going to live in a lovely frame!! I don't need to return it to redeem it!

This is going to live in a lovely frame!! I don’t need to return it to redeem it!

Wow! Would you look at the beautiful certificate I got in the mail yesterday from Elizabeth and Forrest?! I will treasure it forever!!

It’s so special!! Pictures just don’t do it justice—it’s hand painted and glittered, and look: my name is on it! Joy! and smiles! and so much gratitude. And peace. So much peace. The fact that I was able to communicate my feelings and have them understood brings me personally so much peace and joy.

I am so filled with gratitude right now for all of you, my dear friends. Thank you one and all for your kind words and encouragement. The little girl deep inside feels very nurtured right now. Thank you.

Edited to add: I just found out that this lovely piece of art was created by Forrest! He is so very talented—you should see some of his beautiful photography, too! Oh, I am so excited to soon be able to spend time with so many dear and creative people at Squam!

See the sweet card, too?! Even the packaging was soooo pretty!

See the sweet card, too?!
Even the packaging was soooo pretty!

 

Here goes… April 2, 2015

My entry, "the epiphany box"

My entry, “the epiphany box”

So last time I was here I posted a snippet of a VIP (Very Important Project) I’d sunk my teeth into. I didn’t mean to be a tease or anything, I just didn’t want to reveal anything until it was finished and winging its way to the contest I was entering. And believe me, this project took up nearly every moment since I first showed you. Everything–well nearly everything–in my life got sidelined. It was exhilarating to be so immeshed in a thing so creative. It’s been ages since I felt that way. In a nutshell, the contest challenge was to take an old Squam Art Workshop tote and repurpose it into…well something else. The prize is a scholarship to any 2015 or 2016 session of Squam the winner chooses. How could I resist the challenge? And though the concept/idea of what I wanted to express was quite clear in my mind, for the better part of the last couple of months I’ve been experimenting with exactly how to turn it into art. The only thing I knew was that I’d be cutting apart and embroidering the tote for a cover of some sort. At first I thought I’d make a lovely handcrafted journal and fill it with writing and drawings. I set out at once to teach myself to make a book with an exposed coptic stitch spine. Ha. Easier said than done. Plus, I kept wanting to incorporate three dimensional items into the journal, and wasn’t able to figure out how to do that and make it work the way I wanted. The only answer was to toss my control freak self out the window and, as Elsa would say, “Let it go.What I came up with was this: the epiphany box. Here’s the idea: Everything you need is within you: the moment I read the sentiment on the tote, the idea for my entry was clear. I wanted to illustrate how, after taking Elizabeth Duvivier’s (the creator/founder of Squam and all around amazing goddess-woman) “The Magic of Myth” course last spring, I realized that the way I wanted to live my life was inside me all along. I wanted to show how my heart had opened I was inspired to listen and jump back onto my creative path. IMG_2675Holding that memory, I took a deep breath and began to reconstruct the lovely tote into a suitcase which would represent the beginning of that journey–the epiphany I had a year ago. To more deeply illustrate “Everything you need is within you,” I hand-embroidered and reverse appliqued the poppy so that it reveals itself from behind a “window” in the linen. It scatters its seeds (antique French glass beads), planting ideas and spreading its joy wherever its seeds land. I then applied the hand-embroidered piece to the case which I’d painted with scenes of poppy fields all around the sides and on the back. I sewed seven giant “poppy seeds” of black felt and placed them inside the bottom of the case; tucked within each felt seed I placed a little glass bottle to represent a gift or skill that I feel I possess or have reclaimed.

The little bottles that'll go inside the felt "poppy seeds."

The little bottles that’ll go inside the felt “poppy seeds.”

Examples of a few bottles--"Writer," "Fiber Addict," and  "Jeweler."

Examples of a few bottles–“Writer,” “Fiber Addict,” and “Jeweler.”

The "Lover" bottle next to a  filled "poppy seed."

The “Lover” bottle next to a filled “poppy seed.”

Beneath the poppy seeds in the bottom of the box I put a drawing of where my heart felt stuck before The Magic of Myth class. The drawing I made inside the top lid illustrates the release of creativity and love I felt bursting back into my world during the class, much like the poppy’s release of seeds.

The drawings...I'm so happy with them. Why has it been so long since I drew anything?

The drawings…I’m so happy with them. Why has it been so long since I drew anything?

Even though I love to write more than just about anything, the exercise of drawing again filled me with a mixture of thrill and terror. Could I still draw? Would I be able to draw what I saw in my mind’s eye? You be the judge if it’s effective, but I ended up happy with the result. What I found was that the process of drawing was so exhilarating that all I wanted to do for nearly a week was draw. Sigh.

Suitcase with seeds piled inside.

Suitcase with seeds piled inside.

The box is on its way to Rhode Island now for judging and I can’t wait to find out the verdict. But I feel, in my own heart, with the reconnection I’ve made with drawing and embroidery, I’ve already won something, you know? What do you think? I’d love to hear…

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