Vision Mojo

I have not knit much in 8 months, which is something like a personal record. A piece of my ideal life has been strangely absent in order to prevent work injury. My mojo is most happy when I do two things: Get even a brief walk every day somewhere in nature and knit a bit every day. If someone should offer to pay me to knit and walk so those could be the core of my life, that would be even better, but not likely going to happen.

After reading an inspired article about physics and knitting in the New York Times, I encountered this lace designer’s work, Sharon Winsauer. So I bought a pattern and suddenly felt the return of that excited buzz of joy of creation. My mojo was back. I knew without a doubt, I have to attempt this piece of lace, no matter if it takes a year or a decade. The size will be big enough to cover a queen bed, a mandala of a bedspread. And it just so happens, I did enough test knitting last year to obtain hand-dyed, lace weight silk/wool for this in exchange.

https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/CrazyLaceLady

Then my brother sent me another great knitting idea where someone took data from his child’s first year of sleeping patterns and turned it into a baby blanket. And “poof” a vision was born for what I would really like to do if I won the lottery. You know that mythical brainstorm board titled “When Money Finds Me”? Mine has gone through a gazillion revisions. This is gazillion and one.

The vision: Host hiking/knitting retreats for nerdy folks from around the world based on nature connection and knitting. Transform data from nature observation (bird songs, fern frond math, Fibonacci, etc.) into blankets or wall hangings, with an option of giving an item away to people in need, like sand mandalas that get blown away, only in yarn. I would invite guest teachers like math nerds who can explain more than I can about mathematical structure, and knitting nerds who focus on a specific expertise of design, while I lead groups traipsing about the woods gleaning nature’s beauty, data, and spirit.

And then this feather fell from the sky literally in front of me. It’s always a sound idea to have a good dream for when money should find you.

Grounded Abundance

Happy Lunar Year of the female Earth pig. May you be blessed by grounded abundance…I’m working toward that for sure, but it’s all around us to see.

Our abundant elements.

Almost 99% of the mass of the human body is made up of six elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. Only about 0.85% is composed of another five elements: potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, and magnesium. All 11 are necessary for life.

Master Google
Good luck chanchito from Chile

During our rare West Coast snow while most of the US is buried in it, I took myself away from work for two hours to walk to woods and make a snow angel I haven’t done since I was five. More knitting later when I have something to share.

To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.

Lao Tzu

Abundance can be simply had by consciously receiving what has already been given.

Sufi saying

Everything you need will come to you at the perfect time.

Lao Tzu

Root yourself in this Earth, and it will root itself in you.

Sheniz Janmohamedd

The foot feels the foot when it feels the ground.

Ernest Woods, Zen Dictionary (misattributed to Buddha)

You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just weather.

Pema Chodron

Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.

Buddha

Day 1 – Brough Shawl

Each day in December I aim to share a quote about darkness, create a mandala in a natural setting with found items, and feature one knit in progress. Pattern will be linked in video description.

For this Brough Shawl, I am using a Polwarth wool/silk blend yarn from Sincere Sheep company, donated to me to make for mothers of critically ill children. The nonprofit I worked with all last year folded, but I and two other women in my community successfully completed and donated 15 shawls to the Seattle Ronald McDonald House, and intend to continue our shawl donations in 2019.

Donna Smith is a designer living and shepherding in the Shetlands, a place I would very much like to visit someday. You can find her patterns HERE.

December Experiment

Translucent Money Plant dropped its seeds. Will look for 20 dollar bills in spring.

As I knit each night, I’ve been inspired by all the knitting podcasters and vloggers out there who have held spaces of sanity and comfort in 2018. Amid the torrent of bad news, sheer craziness and challenging times, these creators remind me of the self-healing power of creating and crafting that knitting is for me. As I’ve spent the year focusing on what I want to value most, the intersection of fiber arts, wool, sheep, farms, earth-grounded folks is where I want to turn.

My December experiment challenge to myself to help me through the darkest month in the Northern hemisphere will be to create 5-minute videos each featuring a quote or short poem on the theme of darkness (&thus light) as well as random knitting pieces in progress or completed in 2018. My intention is not to sell/promote anything but creativity and sanity inspiration. If you would like to add to my growing list of quotes on the theme of darkness or light, feel free to reply them to me here and I will credit you on my brief videos for your share. Thank you!

I tried to come up with a top-ten list of knitting podcasters I love to watch/listen to as I knit, but I couldn’t limit myself to ten. They represent a tiny fraction of the fabulous creators out there, but are simply ones that resonate most with me or teach me something in any way. I won’t live link them in case they don’t want to be on this blog, but here is the list of names you can search for on YouTube should you be so inspired.

  • A Wooden Nest (Oregon)
  • The Gentle Knitter (Ottawa, Canada)
  • Skeindeer Knits (London via Norway)
  • Kammebornia (Sweden)
  • Ina Knits (Norway)
  • FiberTrek (Worldwide, based in Maine)
  • Dunkelgrun (Switzerland)
  • Babbles Traveling Yarns (Ireland)
  • Arctic Knitting Podcast (Northern Norway)
  • Ninja Chickens (North Carolina)
  • Knitting The Stash (Illinois)
  • Knitting Expat (London / World)
  • Paper Tiger (Montreal, Canada)
  • The Wee Sew n Sew (Scotland)
  • The Fat Squirrel Speaks (Minnesota?)

Whittling

Whittling: Reduce something in size, amount, or extent by a gradual series of steps.

I feel a strong pull to shake myself free of most belongings, most books, all furniture, fish tank, cantankerous upright piano. Keeping a mattress, a work desk and computer, knitting supplies, a few pans to cook in, a few bowls, utensils, coffee mugs. I have a year to whittle away before my daughter moves on and I move who knows where.

Three years ago I wrote a vision plan for an ideal future, and at that time it included partnership. Revised version does not. Instead, I feel truly accompanied spiritually and no longer feel a pull toward partnership. In addition, my revised vision includes continuing what one beautiful person called “my ministry” of knitting items of comfort for people in crisis and starting to teach beginning knitting classes to whoever wants to learn.

From 2015 future vision (noted as if already occurred though most have not by 2018):  In summer, I was able to afford to take a week off work and head for the Oregon Coast. I can also afford to complete further training to become a nature guide with basic survival skills. I went on my first week-long meditation retreat. I am working on my third self-published book on the topic of emotional regulation and balance via feedback from the natural world. This includes resources people can rely on to encourage reconnection to the stabilizing, purifying, joyful love and peace one can experience in connection to Nature. People want to pay me to guide groups in the woods and are contributing their strengths in biology and botany to these walks. Each gathering is rewarding and educational. 

Books are nuggets of wisdom meant to be shared. I am donating all my books to my local food bank, with exception of the following. This batch equips me with enough wisdom to face anything.

 

Knitting Update

My 50th birthday present  to self was to be an over-sized cardigan in my favorite deep blue color. I set the project aside to knit for other people’s requests, a year and a half flew by, I lost weight and no longer wanted such a big sweater. So I frogged the half sweater I’d completed and am repurposing it into a pattern called Tree Seeker by Joji Locatelli. Transformation is inevitable. : ) Here is my progress thus far. I am determined it will be done by my 52nd birthday.

Magical moments among the Great Firs after 28 consecutive days of screen time. Each cell in body feels a shift, breath deepens, posture and eyesight improve. Imagine what would happen to me if I could live more hours in the woods!

IMAG2576IMAG2580 (1)

IMAG2581
Waterfall of moss

IMAG2578
Ancient one

Heart in sky on Easter.

Legend of 2017

This was a year that began with a queasy feeling of dread.

Day of Mo(u)rning, 01-20-2017

Night terrors shudder you awake before sun.
Make your way to the deep half-moonlit woods.
Wait for the curtain to be lifted, the switch flipped,
Blue-black lightens. All of a sudden, the birds.
Follow the trunks of your fellow beings, tall trees
Silhouette hands raised.
Know you will be okay as long as the birds rise
And the trees stand tall.
Stand like these trees, rise like these birds.
Tomorrow, float in a sea of pink compassion.

*****

Followed by a surge of hope.

Followed by months of weight loss and a few of gain, to total acceptance of body.

Homage to Sheep

Of separating from person inhabiting a huge chunk of my heart.

Definitely the year of the knit.

 

And lots of moments of gratitude for being alive and physically able to connect with the natural world.

Ending 2017 with evolving deeper connection to ancestors whose stories I am uncovering bit by bit and imagining the many untold women’s stories in centuries’ trail of documentation mostly in language of men, sermons, money, and wars.

My maternal grandmother was one strong woman, making the trip across the Atlantic by ship once alone to meet her soon to be husband in America, and a second time alone after marrying my grandfather, five months pregnant, for purposes of visa.

Freedom: Meaningless to those who never lost it; to us it meant a feeling like that of a bird suddenly released from its cage…We were on our own, without fear of the sudden touch on the shoulder in the streets. Nobody around us cared what we were doing. The freedom was enough to make one drunk.”  ~ My grandmother upon arrival to America

My paternal grandmother was not only a librarian and a super resilient and frugal woman, but 50 years ago established an organization called Opportunities still thriving today in the Midwestern US that serves developmentally disabled (differently abled) people like the one she adopted as an infant.  So that folks can be self-supporting and have lifetime work who otherwise may not have opportunity.

Leaving the year with an image of three roses a neighbor gave me this summer from her garden, since three roses are depicted in one family line’s crest and a single rose is in another line’s crest.

‘By the arts of a nation is a nation finally to be judged, by the arts of peace, not by the arts of war – the art of the painter, the sculptor, the architect, the musician, touch between them the whole chord of the feelings of mankind … and lead the blood of true life to course through our veins.’  – Marion Spielmann (my great-grandmother’s cousin’s brother) 

May 2018 be the year of the rerobed Earth alongside rise of the divine feminine. Bountiful gratitude to TreeSisters.

 

Dreams Are Free

My latest Helen Stewart shawl, “Sprite’s Fen” reminiscent of a stained glass window

String of Hearts plant in bloom

George Addair is paraphrased as having said, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” It occurred to me that I do not fear much, but everything I want is on the other side of money. I must try harder to overcome my allergy to money. Do I fear money? Possibly that’s part of it.

Dreams are free. To that end, I try to daily live my top three unrealized decades long dreams in some small form.

Taking actions that exist in our dreams even though maybe not amid the precise context we can imagine for whatever we want to accomplish, it feels to me that we can be in a state of perpetually living our dreams.

  1. Hike the Pacific Crest Trail or walk across the US or some other months-long walking endeavor. What can I do instead? Put on a day pack and walk out my front door for miles any opportunity I have. Frankly, even though I would like to, a grand dream of backpacking distance feels more like an ego calling than anything. To be able to say to myself and everyone “I did this,” is ego, when I can have an experience for free on my own two feet anywhere. Researching what’s involved to cover any giant distance safely, it’s on the other side of money, so I don’t let that stop me from the distance walking I enjoy.
  2. Earn a living from knitting. I recently found 200 cloth labels with a business name I created in my mid-20s, so that dream’s been in the imagination hopper a long while. What can I do for now with limited resources? Jot down pattern concepts even if I don’t know how to make them come to fruition or compete with all the other patterns out there, buy supplies only when 70% or greater discounted, and keep knitting
  3. Live in a 2-room cottage or tiny house with structures for a sustainable garden as ground zero from which to travel. Both house ownership and travel are on the other side of money I’ll likely not see during my lifetime unless it falls from the sky, since I am unable to work more than seven days a week. But I can surround myself with houseplants and use an old aquarium as an herb/tomato garden planter if I can’t build a structure for a huge garden, and I can look to models for inspiration such as this incredible space in Ireland, which is sustained by online contributions. In other words, a woman who found a way to live her dream by redefining working for money differently than how I think of it.

Bealtaine Cottage YouTube channel  – I’ve taken to watching these videos as a balm to the current sense of threat in the world. So grateful to her for beaming such a healing space through the internet.

Fading ocean spray ending summer

Dreams and Dreamers are top of my mind today of course, and here are some numbers for them, these young immigrants who have accomplished way more than I have in my five-decade lifetime. Putting hope in Congress to act is like holding breath under water, it’s not going to last long. But hearing the young Dreamers speak out on their own behalf this week has been inspiring and I wish them continued support from people in high places.

“More than 97 percent are in school or in the workforce, 5 percent started their own business, 65 percent have purchased a vehicle, and 16 percent have purchased their first home. At least 72 percent of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies count DACA recipients among their employees.”

Knitting Dreams

Several days before, during and after the total solar eclipse over the United States on 8/21/17 I was inspired to create an Eclipse Wrap. A prayer of sorts in yarn. This is the first time I created something without following a pattern or writing anything down beforehand, using yarn I had on hand as I went. Increasingly I have started to conceptualize working with yarn’s textures, colors and structure in a similar way to working with music as I did in my distant past as a musician.

Not only has my own life included an abrupt change the week of the eclipse with my daughter leaving home for a year, but the heart heaviness I feel over crises happening in the US and world needs some place to go. For me this year, that place has been knitting.  Below are two short vlogs about my knits taken in my favorite setting – outdoors.

To quote the foundational teacher Elizabeth Zimmerman:

“Knit on with confidence and hope, through all crises.”

If that is not instruction for our times, I don’t know what is.

Eventually I would like to obtain a better camera than my phone for vlogging and make videos of my knits outdoors. I always have at least four projects on needles at any given moment, but as I begin to create my own designs, it would be great to have a visual platform to share them.

Currently, I am spending as many hours a day knitting as I am for paid work. And both activities heavily rely on repetitive hand/forearm arm motion. To avoid permanent injury, something will need to give.  I am following advice of several great sources like this one, to experiment with varying knitting styles.

My knit dreams consist of the following:

  1. Continually learn new techniques wherever I see tutorials for free, low cost.
  2. Earn a second income stream from knitting in different tiers (commissions, design, tutorials/teaching, social service). My goal is to continue the physical practice of daily knitting no matter what, because it provides me great joy and benefit. I have listened to many interviews with knitting/fiber arts professionals who find they have zero time to knit in order to manage their business, even though their passion for the act of knitting was their whole reason for going into it.
  3. Earn enough from second stream that I can cut transcribing hours in half so as to prevent injury from attempting both full-time simultaneously.
  4. Eventually be able to afford help to set up a system I can live with in online marketing for said knitting business since the words “online marketing” make me want to shrivel up and blow away. I don’t like being on the bombardment end of email and social media marketing, so I cringe at doing it to others.
  5. I dream of involving my knitting in ways that support others, and someday I envision incorporating empowerment and self-sufficiency for women (and whatever men are interested), since knitting is a skill that can be learned and practiced with very little formal education and across language barriers.
  6. Develop monthly gathering for Stay Strong Totes Foundation and build network of shawl/shrug providers for “Hugs Through Shrugs” for moms entering the Ronald McDonald Houses in Washington State.

Ode to Nature's Fiber Artist

Spider is 8-legged and its body is like a figure-8. Thus, spider has been linked symbolically with eternity. Spider also makes one of the strongest materials known on earth. I revere spider’s craft.

A front door photo from fall

 

 

Respond to every call that excites your spirit. ~ Rumi

Where lowland is,
that’s where water goes. All medicine wants
is pain to cure.

Give your weakness
to One Who Helps.

Crying out loud and weeping are great resources.

The hard rain and wind
are ways the cloud has
to take care of us.

Be patient.
Respond to every call
that excites your spirit.

Ignore those that make you fearful
and sad, that degrade you
back toward disease and death.

(Excerpted from — Jelaluddin Rumi in Delicious Laughter translated by Coleman Barks)

 

 

Alongside nature, knitting excites my spirit. During what feels like very uncertain times (daughter leaving home for a year, social, environmental, political kookiness and sadness), I hold fast like spider to pulling strands together loop after loop.

Knitting is my simplicity and meditation practice. The tools cannot be more simple:  Sticks and yarn.

At Seattle Polish festival this week with daughter who wanted to be cropped out on blog

Responding to the call that excites my spirit, this year I have let go of 27 pounds from my physical being by mindless knitting instead of mindless eating and daily touch certainty in shaky ground.

I challenge myself to learn as much as I can about knitting and daily view a different podcast/YouTube channel by a knit designer/fiber artist in order to learn from those who are making a business of their fiber work and those who are equally passionate about the spider’s way.

Below is a list of some of my favorites, starting with the most stereotype-defying example I have seen of someone using knitting to serve others.  In fact, his service work inspired me to look into and apply to service opportunities in my region.  If you are in the Seattle area, you can check out this link to Knit for Life that works with nine area hospitals for weekly therapeutic knit programs.

Out of Hand

Kristy Glass Knits – Great interviews with fiber artists of all stripes

Melody Hoffman Mandarine’s  – Minimalist designer out of Latvia using all natural wools.

Yarngasm – Link is to her great tutorial for the brioche stitch I am trying with much patience to learn from various sources despite many attempts.

Fruity Knitting – Australian couple and daughter by way of Australia in Germany who knit and do great interviews and knitting cultures around the world segments.

Kammebornia – The most dreamy podcast I have seen that transports me to a place that feels like Heaven on Earth to me. A place that is grounded in nature and history, where everyone knits, philosophizes, drinks coffee, and beauty abounds. (A favorite winter episode where they talk about what I have been called many times about knitting = obsessed).

Abundant Earth Fiber – Natural fiber resource local to me, not a podcast

 

 

Bernoulli Shawl – Very Busy Monkey designs

Lace stitching does not show it’s fully glory until washed, but I could not resist attempting this Bernoulli shawl as nod to the Bernoulli principle that for some unknown reason my dad nicknamed me as a child.

 

Joji Locatelli’s Starting Point shawl nearly ready to join two halves.

 

Woodland Reprieve

Reprieve

After the day’s desk work, just before twilight I enter the star flower’s realm of reprieve. Even abundant woodland mosquitoes are welcome reminders to keep moving to limit their bites and provide a few discomfort souvenirs for my desk-ridden workdays ahead.

The star flower beauties on the forest floor are built upon sevens, seven petals, seven stamens, etc. Exactly the nudge I need from the universe. I have been dreaming of and hesitant to publish my first knitting pattern which is built on sevens, and here this little flower says, “just do it!” I shall call my first pattern Star Flower and I will get a final copy done in simple word processing this weekend. My excuses have been waiting to save enough to purchase design software to “do it right”, knitting enough samples to test the pattern, fearing my little contribution to the vast world of knitting design will be woefully inadequate and irrelevant, etc. I have bouquets of design ideas for big projects, but I must start somewhere small.

Past weeks, I have been frustrated by back pain for the first time in my life and truly feeling my body’s age shift gears even while my focus has been solidly on physical health. So when I entered the woods, my heart leapt in gratitude to this anonymous artist who left a Whidbey Rocks rock for me to find precisely when I needed to find the love emanating from it. Thank you for the joy!

I was able to identify the plant in the blurry photo below that looks like red asparagus. It is in fact a species not well understood that is a parasite on fungi to get its energy (fungi vampire?) and has no chlorophyll. Common name Pinedrops or Pterospora. Near the same location of this plant in past years, I have seen another one called Monotropa, Indian Pipe or ghost plant for it’s white ghostly stems. I think it’s awesome that right at our feet, life forms exist that we do not fully understand.