The Return of the Sun

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I read with interest yesterday an article about Candlemas, celebrated on February 2nd, the day halfway between the winter and spring solstices.  It is a holiday to celebrate the return of the sun.  It was interesting because I was just noticing the lengthening of the days.  It’s been easier this year because the winter has been so mild, the temperatures hovering around 50 this week makes it feel like we should be tapping the trees.

This is also when my to do list becomes extremely long and I dare say unrealistic.  There is a need to clean out, pare down, remove the cobwebs, air the rooms.  It’s like you want to shake off the past year.

I also notice a ramping up of creativity.  I just pulled a project from the loom and have three lined up on the table waiting to go on.  I have other looms and am seriously thinking of warping all three with different projects.  I’m not sure how productive that might be but it’s a thought.

There’s also the rug I continue to hook, the sweater I’m knitting, the teddy bear nearing completion.  There are baskets to stain, rooms to paint, furniture to build, cookies to bake.  Uhm, yeah, I’m out of control here.

In addition to that a case of wanderlust has come over me. I just want to get into the car and drive, preferably to water (I daresay I’d have to drive to the ocean because everything here is still covered with ice).  I don’t even know why the water part matters, I want to visit fiber stores and quilt shops.  I want to wind my way through New Hampshire to Maine touching handspun yarn and fine woolen fabric.  Looking at looms and shuttles.  Changing up the scenery, dreaming up big projects (like I don’t have enough already).

Feels like a serious case of spring fever to me, or maybe just an effort to shake off what has been a harrowing month.  Then again it could be something like a mid-life crisis only well beyond the mid-point.  Let’s see how this all shakes out.

 

 

Ice, Ice Baby

141209 Ice

So this is the view from upstairs this morning.  It looks a little worse now.  The weather predictions were right so far and I have done a little planning ahead.  I’ve been watching the squirrels slide on the ice below the feeders and Sophie walked herself this morning (with difficulty) because I wasn’t going to venture past the shed door.  I loaded up the chickens last night, bought some groceries in the afternoon ready to hunker down and stay put.

I absolutely LOVE these days, especially this close to Christmas.  This year all of the gifts I give (well, most) will be handmade.  My list is not long but as with everything else I wait until I’m under a lot of pressure before I do anything.

141209 Maille

I’m still playing with chainmaille, it’s so calming to make and so beautiful when finished.  I can do it while having my morning coffee or pick it up when I have a few minutes.  It’s one of those things that is mindless, repetitive.  Another form of meditation.

141209 Wool

Then there is this stack of wool.  I’ve been mulling this over for a couple of weeks now.  I finally have the patterns I need and all of the material gathered in one place.  I see sewing in my future.

Snow/ice days are such a blessing of time for me.  They are extreme crafting sorts of days.  It may be a throwback to childhood when you had the day off from school and had nothing but the day ahead of you to do whatever you wanted.  There were games, books, the great outdoors.  It seemed as if those days were gifts allowing big blocks of time for pastimes you only had minutes to usually do.

The other aspect is having blocks of time before the holidays.  It’s a time when I do the most baking.  Snow outdoors?  Bake some cookies.  Smells of cinnamon while warming the kitchen to a cozy temperature, something that’s more of a treat than the norm.

So I will be the ultimate multi-tasker today doing things that need to be done (laundry) interspersed with things I love to do.  It makes me think the weather should last the rest of the week.  Just think of what I could accomplish!

 

On Process and Product

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The little afghan in the photograph I crocheted in 1972.  I was part of a group of women who were all crocheting at the time.  It is small, delicate and I love the way the colors played together.  A baby blanket for any gender.  The funny thing about this is I think it is the ONLY thing I have ever crocheted (at least to completion).  I liked making this because the motifs were easy and mindless, that’s everything I love about some crafts.  I love the feel of fiber in my hands, being drawn through my fingers.  Whenever I begin a knitting project now the one thing that makes a difference in how often I pick it up is the texture of the fiber.  A friend(?) once told me I was like Lennie in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men because I loved the feel of soft things, of fur and fiber (and I played with my hair obsessively at the time).  To this day I think about that remark and feel like I may have a better understanding of Lennie’s phyche than many people – not necessarily a good thing.

I do a lot of things with my hands.  It’s my way of thinking, relaxing, calming down when I’m stressed, working through problems.  I love making beautiful things. My projects have become much more complicated as I age.  I’m not one of those people that could knit the same sweater more than once.  The little crocheted afghan will never be replicated, I made it, it’s done, it’s over.  I’d have to say that probably 70% of the projects I finish I give away.  They are often made with someone in mind and if said project lives up to my perfectionist standards off it goes.   That crocheted blanket was made with someone in mind but the window was missed in giving it to him.  It’s amazing to me that I still had it since I’d moved so many times from 1972 on.  Different lives, different places, different people, just the flow of time.

I recently reconnected with the intended recipient of that blanket and gave it to him.  I thought that since I had been carrying it around with me so many years I would miss it when it was gone.  You know, it was a relief when it left my hands into his.  I felt a little foolish in a small way giving a 41 year old man something I’d made before he was born but it also felt like it had made its way home.

Robyn Spady in this months Handwoven magazine writes that “we make our own legacies when we pass along the items we create.”  I really think that’s true.  I have a legacy of things created by my mother, grandmother and great grandmothers.  They all mean something to me when I look closely at them and imagine their hands working the stitches.  I have their creations and know that for them it really was the process as well.  In the back of my mind I hope the recipients of my work will someday treasure them as much as I have the things left to me.  Maybe it will inspire them to create something of their own and pass it on.