artemis42: (Artemis)
Something about the enjoyment of writing brings me back to it at spring cleaning time, and as I took the time today to go through my frightening and copious fiber stash, I was reminded to make time for self nourishment in these other, simple ways. Somehow the time I've allotted for myself dwindles as things get busy, but the creation of an artistic life is made bit by bit, one day's blog entry at a time, and it's good to have this space still here to add to, even when I no longer visit much.

Perhaps that can be a part of the cleansing fires. Windows open, airing out the space I sit in today, plying away.. Making handspun yarn of awesome continues as I get ready for the Fleece Market at Webs' annual Tent Sale, and I am grateful for the crushing press of deadlines even as I stress out about running out of time.

Later.

-Me.
I was once a journaler, chronicling my thoughts here quite often, as well as in paper journals. Then the paper journals won.

*pokes head into the room*

I started this in 2002. That feels like an eternity, several lifetimes ago.. or yesterday. Weird.

Having reasonably regular internet access again increases the likelihood of updates.

Later.

-Me.
Poof! Time going by at breakneck speed, as always. Suddenly February again, and I'm a year older and hopefully a tiny bit wiser.

Working on the usual plethora of spinning and knitting projects here on the mountainside, especially during recent blizzard conditions.

Tonight's just bitter cold, and thankfully we did not get more snow dumped on us last night. Happy to be inside playing with my spindles and contemplating what I'll do after all these things are done. :)

Later.

-Me.
My wonderful parents and sister have been looking after me and keeping me fed while I hole up a bit at home in Manchester, still working within myself at beginning to process the impact of Brian's loss as the shock makes way for disbelief and the whole gamut run of emotions.

I look around at my things in this room, and so many of them came from Buried Under, starting when I was about 12 years old and obsessed with EC horror comics from the 50's. I spent so much wonderful time there as an employee and afterwards just hanging out, always stopping in whenever I was in town even after I had moved out of the area. I kept all my subscriptions there even when I lived in California, having books mailed out to me, just because I couldn't bear the thought of getting my monthly issue of Wonder Woman from anyone else.

As a close friend, I remember so many long conversations late at night, parties he came to, the deep connection we shared.. all the times he held me close if I was upset, offering a broad shoulder to cry on, and positive words of encouragement that always left me feeling better.

Sometimes we don't realize the impact that our beloveds have on our lives until their sudden absence shocks us to utter stillness, and then we notice this cavernous space in our world, bereft of presence, and that impact becomes crystal clear. The past 24 hours have been filled with these realizations for me.. just how much I loved this man and everything he did for me and so many of my friends, lovers and beloveds. So many friendships and relationships formed and played out in my life around the store's gathering point. It's all just enormous right now.

Thank you so much for all the kind words and support, I really appreciate it.
It's been a good long while since I've bothered to update my personal journal, or crosspost my fiber entries from my aurora4242 journal, which is much more regularly updated, which is to say that I attempt an update once every few months. Due to this dearth of blogging, most new projects, things which are happening and musical gigs are being listed and mused about on Facebook, both at my Artemisia Ink Studio Arts page and my personal account, and my Twitter feed can be found at Artemis4242, for those who follow the Twitterverse.

I live in the woods of Wendell in northwestern Mass. with my partner, I own a noisy and extremely cute Gold Cap Conure named Iris, co-tend a small flock of pampered hens who give our landlady and us the best fresh eggs everyday, and I make the most luxurious handspun yarn around. My day job at Webs is freakin' awesome, I am teaching classes there and loving it, and I am lucky enough to spend the rest of my time playing harmonium and singing kirtan all over New England with Shubalananda. Once or twice a month, the Blue Pearl Band gets together and I get to sing a few great Blues tunes and jam with some of the Valley's best musicians.

I'm busy as hell, and life is good. Not always easy, but nothing worth doing really is.

Later.

-Me.
Moments of raw honesty can occasionally happen when one is engaged in the familiarity of practice. A split second's view from outside, and a rush of clear sight; a drop of sweat drips onto the yoga mat in practice, or a song carries me away in kirtan and suddenly my heart opens wide. Training and long habit tells us to force this down, especially in public.. but the richer vein waiting to be mined may lie in the calm investigation of the moment, beating back the urge to judge, to squelch, to suppress.

In skeining up some recently finished yarns, I perform the same repetitive motions, long familiar after winding many thousands of yards of handspun yarns off of the plying bobbin and onto the niddy noddy, a device that helps a spinner create a circular loop hank that can be tied off to withstand the setting process, and later after it's dry, wound using an umbrella skeiner and a ball winder into a center-pull ball for use.

The motion of my arms and hands, fluid and almost unconscious in the winding, becomes prayer, becomes meditation, becomes a way to step outside myself for just a second..

I notice my breath. I notice my heartbeat. My heart is racing. Why?

I find the answer in a flash, and I don't care for it.

I have been rushing. Racing through this task, barreling down the bobbin with determination to answer the calls of the stories in my mind.. "so many projects behind" ... "once this is done, I can finally finish more of that commissioned yarn that's waiting" ... "why can't I be faster at this?" ... "why do I feel so inadequate?"

I startle, feeling that I've hit on something, and go there. Why do I feel so inadequate? I'm a successful jack-of-many-trades, with a set of jobs I love and feel called to, and though I've been through my share of bad scrapes, hard times and heartbreak, I feel strong enough to manifest my highest potential and overcome all obstacles to find happiness. Logically, I should feel perfectly adequate, but this isn't as simple as logic.. it's a deep feeling, almost pouring from my guts.

I race from one project to the next, one day to the next, one challenge overcome.. and I still don't feel any more worthy, because this feeling that drives me is coming from within.

The calls are coming from inside the house.

But who are they coming from? When? Is this a vestigial voice I hear, calling from childhood desires for approval, recognition? Is this my own unfulfilled dreams taunting me from the wings? Why are these feelings being allowed to have so much influence over my present peace? Pausing to locate the feeling in my body, I find it centered in my chest, awareness of my heartbeat. I feel a release in asking these questions of myself, remembering all the words of my teachers. Breathe.

What is the origin of this feeling? I can disarm it, remove its fangs if I can find it and catch it. I see the fear of inadequacy, and it's a small child, afraid. Breathe.
Surround this place within in light, reminders that I am perfectly adequate right here and now, and I always have been. I am only running from myself, only seeking my own approval, and I give it to myself, right now. I am already home. The child is safe and held by all the teachers, all the beloved guides, always.

I continue winding, breathing.

This is tough sometimes. I am not always in the mood to practice my yoga flow series, or meditate or chant. I forget sometimes in the mad rush from one task to the next that the practice lives in every moment, in noticing the quality of the moment, in bringing my attention to it, and the lessons in practice will find me as soon as I make the space for them to come in.

Whether I'm ringing out a stalk of chard at the co-op back in my grocery retail days, or praying in retreat, or on the mat doing sun salutations, or scrubbing the floor, as soon as I allow myself to notice the quality of my mind, of my breath.. in that moment, I am practicing.

Tonight, while unconsciously winding yarn, I made just a little space inside myself, hollowed out a little bit of room for the Goddess to remind me of the path I dedicated myself to, and the gifts of joy that are waiting for me right here and now, simply by becoming more aware of them.

I took a moment to blow my nose, fighting back the urge to feel silly about the tears streaming down my cheeks, since it's ridiculous to judge myself for having a small epiphany instead of enjoying it.

I go back to winding yarn, determined to feel the fibers moving through my fingers with a new awareness, using the opportunity to introduce myself to the yarn I spent so much time creating, something that shouldn't go by in a rush, but can be savored and sipped, as the yarn it is destined for eventual sale, and will be enjoyed by other fingers in the knitting and wearing. I have only so much contact time with my work, and every moment of it is precious.

I am already home, within myself and this present moment. It just took some yarn making to remind me.

Later.

-Me.
So much going on in the world of fiber arts here in the woods. This season's dye experiments were lovely, and I'm looking forward to creating some incredible yarns with all the gorgeous naturally dyed wool braids taunting me from my fiber stash bins.

Made a few new yarns recently, one of which has already been sold, but I'll put up a few images anyway, though I'd hate to be accused of being a yarn tease. :)



This was a fun project, started on my drop spindle with a Loop Spontaneous Spinning Cloud, and plied with various small lengths of scrap yarn left behind from plying uneven lengths of yarn. Mostly fingering weight, it will self-stripe beautifully, and will likely end up on my Etsy shop after a bit, if no one pounces on it in the meanwhile.



This came out so lovely, one of my coworkers claimed it immediately, which is poetic, since she introduced me to Loop's lovely fibers. This started as a Loop Bullseye Bump, and was plied with some of my precious Corriedale/Merino cross fleece to preserve the long color sections. I named it "Pink and Glitter" after the Tori Amos song from Midwinter Graces, which still makes me smile. One of the things I enjoy the most about the various yarns I handle at Webs are the fun colorway names that the various yarn companies choose, and I'm the most amused by the ones with a small joke or obscure cultural reference, so I try to do the same with my work.

I've been working on a hat for Webs, which is still in progress, but I'm really enjoying the self-striping repeats in the chosen yarn, which is Schoppel Wolle's Zauberball Crazy, a lovely 2-ply sock yarn.



Hopefully it will be done soon, so I can start on a new hat for myself, now that it's getting cold again.

In other matters, I've been listening to Florence + The Machine's 2009 debut album Lungs nearly constantly since I downloaded it the other day, which reminds me how grateful I am for headphones, lest I drive my household crazy.

Later.

-Me.


Spring is poking its collective head up here in the mountains of Massachusetts, and I'm loving the incredible biodiversity present in the forest and where its edges meet the lawn. So many medicinal and edible plants are naturally part of this ecosystem, and I enjoy watching the plants in all the different stages of growth. The coltsfoot flowers that come up early, only to be replaced by broad leaves later in the summer, mint leaves unfurling to shoot up high on woody stalks to flower in delicate purples as fall threatens her riotous color display as the summer tries to hold out a few last weeks.

I'm raising a few dyeplants this season, and reading my Peterson's guides to local medicinals, and I'll take walks with my gathering basket and sustainably harvest for both the teapot and the dyepot this year as I notice the natural abundance all around me. I just read through Harvesting Color by Rebecca Burgess and was inspired to find the color in the landscape of northwestern MA and ways that I can beneficially interact with my forest environment and interweave that with my fiber work and the nourishment I take in from the plants themselves. It's also fascinating to learn which plants that I can eat or make tea with are also sources of beautiful dyes, and vice-versa, plants I may have learned to avoid due to toxicity may make fantastic additions to the dyepot.

I'd love to find a cast-iron tripod thingy to go over my firepit, so I could hang a dutch oven-style iron pot directly over an outdoor fire and work with that kind of summer dyeing space.. I might experiment with some solar techniques, too.. so many possibilities, and such a busy summer ahead.

Today I'm at the drum carder, going through my considerable fiber stash to create some amazing art batts of spinning fiber for other spinners to peruse at the Fleece Market, which is coming up this Saturday.

Back to the creative process..

Later.

-Me.


My sister gave me this wonderful ceramic turtle for Xmas this past year, and he's found a home in my garden bed, peering out at the chickens as they roam the yard looking for tasty things to eat. They bring me smiles as I watch them, and they come over often to investigate what I'm doing, hoping for handouts.

This afternoon I was able to transplant the new arugula sprouts out of their starter tray and into the garden bed by the door, and get another set of seeds into the open spots in the tray. Once the sprouts are large enough to plant, they'll go into the garden, and I'll have a fresh supply of new plants as I pick the grown ones for salads.

Many yarn projects in the works as I get ready to vend my handspun yarns at the Fleece Market during Webs' annual Tent Sale on Saturday, May 14th. The past few weeks I've been plying finished singles, bringing all the yarns out and repricing them, setting and tagging finished yarns and making new art batts of spinning fiber for other handspinners. Looking forward to a crazy day, and I'm glad I'll have some help manning my booth. Come out if you can, peruse the past few years' worth of my spinning and say hi!

Knitting projects are sort of in limbo, though I do pick one or another up and make a bit of progress from time to time. The angora/wool socks I'm working on two-at-a-time for my mom have just passed the heel turn, and the Blue Moon Drucilla socks have passed the first sock and made it a few inches into the cuff of the second sock.

I've enjoyed trying out the new Blackthorn double-pointed needles made of carbon fiber, and I'm pleased to report that the strange scrapy noise they make at first goes away, and as they absorb the oils of one's hands, they get smoother. I like not having to worry about bending my needles, and they're really lightweight.

More later.

-Me.
I find that use of Facebook and occasional use of Twitter has supplanted my once copious blogging on LiveJournal, and I note this not out of any sense of brand loyalty, but as a look at how much I have enjoyed the longer form inherent in a blog post, and asking myself if the clipped postage stamp sized yet continuous status updates are as satisfying.
Not really.
Convenient, certainly.. but like visiting a Tapas restaurant for small plate after a week of camping when all you really want is a huge bowl of homemade mac and cheese.

Perhaps it's because I take more time to check in with myself when blogging, that a status update is almost more like a press release than a semi-public conversation with myself, which is sort of what LJ is to me.

Perhaps in the busy nature of my world, other things have taken priority, but the love of the longer conversation remains, whether I have the time to engage in it or not.

Later.

-Me.
Progress report:



Loving the two-at-a-time thing, but still furiously knitting with my beloved square DPNs because of course I'm trying to make too many projects at once with not enough knitting time(but what could really ever be enough knitting time?). The yarn is finger-pampering angora and superwash wool, which I am enjoying far too much for my own good, in that I will probably have to get more to make myself a pair once these are done. Doomed. I'm just doomed. Happy about it, at least.

The chickens are huddled together in the coop, snuggled up against each other in a line of combs and wattles, bright eyes and fluffed feathers settling in for another cold night. They bring me such simple joy just by being themselves, and I am so glad we have them here, thanks to our landlady.

Winter offers a New Englander time to stay indoors, snuggle up and get into hibernation mode, something I appreciate more after spending time in California, believe it or not. While I was out there, I missed this enforced quietude, where the weather forces you to just stay put already and get to know yourself better. The seasonal changes underscore internal processes of growth, change, reflection and renewal and as we take a moment to look over the previous year, poised on the brink of the year to come, there is an acknowledgement of the infinite possibility waiting in the promise of the future, unfolding in each successive moment of now.

May all the blessings of joy be with you, no matter what you celebrate.

Later.

-Me.
Still here, though certainly with less available internet time than at any other point in my life that I can recall since the internet was available to me. I haven't made it a priority, preferring to get through the chores of life, the traveling and cleaning and such.
Perhaps taking a hiatus from posting gave me the opportunity to realise how much I missed it.

Living in the forest couldn't agree with me more. I love my home and its gardening space, my landlady's chickens, the peacefulness and quiet.



Kirtan continues to resound through my days and nights, and the band's sound gets better each night as we enter into the deep spaces together.

Still working at Webs, teaching spinning, stocking yarns, helping people find the perfect yarn for their project and really enjoying the community there.

The angora socks I was working on in my last post were finished, here's a photo:



And the hand-dyed skein of laceweight blended Romney wool and Angora photographed beautifully as well.



I also continue to post new yarns at my Etsy shop as soon as I manage to get them photographed, which seems to take me a while. Not enough hours in the day sometimes.

Later.

-Me.
Attracted by its many fine qualities, not least the soft fuzz of the angora and the superwash nature of the wool, I purchased some of the Supersocke Noble line of sock yarn, and proceeded to begin to knit myself a pair of socks. Having just finished making a pair for my partner out of some tasty hand-dyed yarn, it was my turn. Completed the first sock in a colorway I wasn't entirely thrilled with, cast on for the mate and promptly lost the first sock. After I'd woven in all the loose ends and everything. *sigh*

I transferred the few inches of cuff onto a stitch holder and reclaimed my needles. Now no longer having enough yardage for a pair, and using my dislike of the color as an excuse, I bought another ball and began afresh with a new colorway, and I have finished one, and am now filling in the gusset after turning the heel of the second. Hopefully I've learned my lesson and will be able to keep the pair together. Nothing like losing a week's worth of handwork to get you to pay attention to a sock's whereabouts.

So, I'm coated in a layer of angora fuzz, enjoying the self-striping yarn and looking forward to actually wearing them when this sock is done.

In other news, I just finished a lovely skein of laceweight Romney/Angora(sensing a trend here..) and I haven't yet decided if I'm going to sell it or keep it, as I managed to keep the colors from the hand-dyed roving on both bobbins lined up as it was being spun, and it's going to have some really lovely color striping sections when the finished piece is worked up, whatever it may become.

Kirtan has me out and about all over New England 6 nights a week, and it's been wonderful and exhausting at times, but such a blessing in my life. Work continues in the recording studio on the Blues album my partner is about to release, and it's been an exciting process to participate in. I'll post once it's out and available.

Teaching spinning has been really rewarding lately, and I'm excited about the summer classes coming up.. should be a good time, especially the needle felting class, as I think that will feel more like play than work.

Later.

-Me.
Found a few packs of V:TES cards at a comic book shop this afternoon, looking forward to reworking a deck or two when I return to New England, perhaps I'll be able to get a game together in late March, who knows.

Found a very silly blood-pouch of energy drink at the same shop, had to pick one up for the novelty.

Working on a new sock in some lovely yarn from Webs, hand-dyed by our own Kangaroo Dyer, and I'm loving the mottled colors.



One week left in Florida.. good relaxing visit thus far.

Later.

-Me.
Florida's warmth thaws out the winter from my bones, and I can move again without every joint providing the musical soundtrack. Visiting local yoga studios for kirtan has been like finding little bits of comfort in traveling, an oasis in strange lands. Each studio has been so gracious, and last night was great, prasad already prepared and a lively crowd.

Chilling in the Barnes and Noble, enjoying their complimentary internet access while this Sunday afternoon passes slowly.

Who knows what the afternoon will bring, but tonight there will be kirtan.

Later.

-Me.

Time..

Feb. 18th, 2010 06:35 pm
Ever moving forward, I find that I usually have very little time to write, and so I'll steal a moment while I still have decent wifi access, and post something.

Got to Florida after a long and difficult drive, and I'm slowly beginning to relax, though there's always something going on, someone to meet or food to cook.

Stood on the beach for an hour this afternoon, collecting colored shells and staring at the sea as it pounds the shore ceaselessly.

May the shell fragments of my ego-mind be worn away to sparkling sand.

Later.

-Me.
I blink, and the world swirls around me, turning upside down like someone's giant snowglobe. I open my eyes, particles of memory, expectation and loss flutter down, torn pieces of paper in the face of the whirlwind.

Gramma's death in September, Zack's death after Thanksgiving, I admit openly that I don't know how to process this just yet. I just keep going, getting up, doing what needs to be done, going to work, but the only time I have any sense of peace is in kirtan. I'm so thankful that my time continues to be spent in therapeutic activity like singing and spinning.

The new CD arrived looking great, much to my relief. If you'd like to get one, visit Shubalananda.com for information.

Took today off.. I'll go in tomorrow and Wednesday and then have some time with my family.

Spin spin spin...

Later.

-Me.
I don't really know how to describe the sensation in my chest as I sit in the studio listening to the mix being finalised. Anticipatory excited fluttering, an inexpressible shiver in the spine and a mixture of disbelief and patience. It's been nearly 6 months since we began recording, and now we prepare to send it out for production.. sending parts of ourselves out into the world.

Later.

-Me.

Tea. Yes.

Oct. 22nd, 2009 12:00 pm
Haymarket morning as I cough and splutter my way through breakfast, my condition improves slowly, and I'm looking forward to feeling like myself again.

Watched a new animated Wonder Woman movie last night, and was unfortunately quite disappointed. It was entertaining, if you don't know anything about the past 60+ years of the character's history. I can understand a re-imagining of the character's context, but then call it an Elseworlds story. It's not like DC doesn't have access to the canon or anything, and there's no excuse for betraying the essence of the character in the myriad ways they did. Shit, they came close enough to working with the storyline that George Perez so brilliantly wrote in the 1980s, why not use it and stick to what worked instead of making up a bunch of crap and throwing it on the screen?

Warner, please don't bother making a Wonder Woman movie if you're going to louse it up this badly. All you do is piss off the fan base that buys the book and supports your company. I realise that you see her as a cash cow, but the people out there who love what the character represents are the ones you should be marketing to, and they will be ill-served by shoddy storytelling that ignores or rewrites canon. Look at the success of comic-book films that honor the core integrity of the character, and get a clue.

Later.

-Me.

Yarn Sale!

Oct. 19th, 2009 04:19 pm
Having missed many many hours at my job this month due to unforseen death and illness, I find myself in the awkward position of needing to do some fundraising. Therefore, I am having a yarn sale. Purchase any skein in my Etsy shop, and get a second skein of lesser value at 50% off!

Convo-mail me within Etsy and let me know which skeins you want, I will reserve them for you and adjust the pricing on your second skein so you can pay with Paypal, as Etsy requires me to process discounts manually.

If you see something you love, but you need more yardage, ask me about it, and I might just have more of that fleece or fiber in stock to create a custom skein.

Thanks a bunch for looking, either way.

Later.

-Me.
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