January 2014

Gathering Inspiration

January 30, 2014

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The past year is not one that I would say has seen a lot of creative inspiration for me. It has been an incredible year, a magical year, but not a creative year. Perhaps it was the pregnancy and postpartum brain, perhaps it was the adjustment to a big homeschooling family, perhaps I was just really really tired. Whatever it was, I have not done much more than knitting, and even that was simple baby knits.

As the craziness of the holidays subsided and the new year turned, my oldest and I spent a few days looking through books, videos, and patterns trying to decide how to get 2014 off on the right foot. I think that somehow we both knew that we needed new bits of creative goodness to get our mojo back. We made lists, day dreamed, and discussed the ins and outs of new projects and techniques. We decided that while we already do a creative project almost everyday, picking something specific to work on with each new month was how we wanted to plan our time. Screen painting, crochet, woodworking, throwing on the wheel, all of these things are on the list for this coming year.

In December (or maybe November, the days have blurred together) I discovered Creativebug. Oh my, this is a crafters dream. Classes from some of the best teachers and artists that you can take whenever you want, even in your jammies. In my current state of mommyhood, this was like finding the holy grail. I immediately bookmarked a few that I wanted to try, and I signed up for their monthly membership. One night, as the baby was asleep on my chest, with the toddler tucked safely in the crook of my arm, I decided to watch a class on embroidery. I knew the basics, and occasionally I would take needle to thread, but I wanted to really understand what it meant to embroider something special.

As I sat there and listened to Rebecca explain so many different stitches, it all came flooding back.

Any crafter will tell you their story of when the bug bit them. When they began traveling with their supplies, doing handwork in public, or started designing projects in their sleep. When the idea of a vacation was learning Irish Cabling by a lake, drawing with a best friend at the kitchen table, or taking needle to thread in a cabin along the Rockies. There are ups and downs, lulls and a few hiatus here and there, but we always return to the work of the hands at some point.

This time around it took that bug a while to come back and get me, but I am ever so grateful it did. After a lull long enough to put me soundly to sleep, my imagination was suddenly aglow, and my hands yearning for something new and fun. The past few months have been spent with cloth and thread in hand, with books galore on such subjects as crewel work, wood burning, and sketching. There are a few quilt tops that have been sitting for years, begging me to finally learn to finish them. There are certainly skeins and skeins of yarn that are telling me that now is the time to get over my fear of Fair Isle, and some little girl clothes that promise to be adorable, if only I will sit and learn to smock a dress or two.

Then there is this space, that promises me that if I will once again take pen to paper (or key to screen), I can find that voice that I have missed for so many months.

I dream now in color. In fabric and yarn, in thread and paint. I dream of words, of texture, and of creating the beautiful world I know is right at my fingertips.

                                      ::::::::::::

The sampler I embroidered above is designed by Rebecca of Dropcloth. Her work is a lot of fun, and so easy to get started with. My oldest loved it so much he asked for one of his own. The gorgeous purple silk blanket was a gift to Emma Jeanne from Stephinie of Gypsy Forest. If I can ever sew half as good as Stephinie does, I will call my life complete :). 

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Weaving Our Story

January 29, 2014

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A friend of our family recently shared that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Those are words that we always hate hearing, that bring up many memories, fears and prayers. As I sat listening to her husband describe what it was like to share the news to their community of friends and loved ones, he spoke of the many women who approached them to share their own stories. Some told of survival, some of loss, some of just finding out that they too would be walking the same journey, with the same diagnosis. I can only imagine the importance of those stories being shared. The immediate sense of community and care that must have materialized.

As I drove home, and in the weeks since, I have thought about those stories. Perhaps for the first time I realized that the stories that we choose to weave together, and to share, are really the fabric of our relationships, no matter how long we may be in someone’s life, no matter how brief a moment we may share. It is our experiences that bind us and keeps us close, that reminds us that we are not alone, we do not need to be alone, and we are all closer in situation than we may think.

We are all interesting and experienced. We all have a wealth of knowledge that needs to come out, to teach, to mentor, to guide and to illuminate. It is hard to see ourselves as being that valuable, but it is essential that we do. I have been thinking of the stories recently that have touched me, forever changed me, and shaped who I am in this moment. I think of them as a tapestry that blankets me. A weaving board with every story a different fabric, color, and print. Those are remarkable stories, shared by remarkable people, and there are a lot of them. Some of the stories came from people I only met once, and by chance. Some are by the women who came before me, some are by those I have never laid eyes on. Some are in books, some on the phone, some through tears, some through joy. They are mine, they tell my story, and they are sacred.

I also think of the pieces of me that are spread across another’s woven life, how a story I once shared could have possibly shaped another in a small way. I think of what colors those stories might represent, what meaning they may hold. That is the beauty of the human race, and the magic of love. We impact each other, and we leave a mark.

Now it is time for me to encourage my children to begin to tell their stories. To share their loves, their fears, their hopes. I see Jacob telling another about his celiac disease, easing the fears of someone just beginning their journey. I see Elwood share his fear of heights, bonding with another boy at the bottom of a rope swing. I see their openness, and I pray that it holds. I want them to be storytellers and poets, letting their emotions be their guides. I want them to know that even if one person comes along and is changed by their words, that will be enough. I want them to know that their greatest gifts can come from what they are willing to give of themselves, and how they can help another by simply sharing their own experiences. I want them to remember that their story is a beautiful one.

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