Jun 15 2012

Back from Squam

I attended last week/end’s Squam Art Workshops up in New Hampshire, and I’ve been trying to process it all this week.  It was just beautiful, in every way.  I was very focused on the workshop aspect of it beforehand, but what happened around the workshops was just as valuable and healing, and taught me more about living life.

I spent the first couple of days with a breaking heart, hoping against hope to see my Mom peeking out from around a corner, or from behind another knitter.  Rocklywold Deephaven Camp is just such a Her kind of place, and she would have been so delighted by all the workshop folks who were there.  Not to mention that the natural surroundings are within about an hour of where I was born and spent the first 9 years of my life or so.

New Hampshire is magical in the summer, in a very Fae kind of way.  The natural beauty dazzles, and the insects are truly impressive in their voracity.  And yes, I ate the faery food.  It was delicious.

After the first couple of days, I began to feel a strong connection and camaraderie with my cabinmates, and one evening’s entertainment related the bittersweet joy, sadness, growth, and humor of one woman’s experience with losing her own mother.  It was cathartic, it ripped out that painful little ball I keep shoved down inside, and it forced me to notice that other people hurt too.  Losing a person with whom you shared an uncanny connection happens to other people, and I hadn’t realized just how inconsolable I had been feeling for all this time.  And that’s OK, but the last thing my Mom would want me to be is miserable.

The following days I dwelled on her absence less, and enjoyed myself in the moment more.  I found that cliche, my happy place, in a very real way.  I learned about geometry and the rhythms of designing interesting patterns, other creative women shared wine with me, I communed with the lake and the sun.

I learned how to sew French seams, and an invisible zipper, and made friends everywhere I went.  I talked to strangers and tried new foods.  I had dessert at least once each day.  I was gentle with myself and listened to others’ stories and giggled and smiled and cried.  I dipped my toes in the cold, cold water, so recently snow or ice on the mountains.

I marveled at the beauty of the Luna moths that seemed to be everywhere, and at the tiny faery cities in the moss and lichen on stones and stumps.

I wore ridiculous outfits and accepted compliments graciously.  I gave compliments liberally.  I gave away a hat I made to my roommate, because I like her, and she lives in Boston, and OMG her head is going to be cold and I don’t want that.

I met the Yarn Harlot, mostly because I wouldn’t shut up about her and how I don’t do well meeting people I admire, and my roommate finally dragged her over to meet me, and we had a fun conversation where I didn’t refer to myself nervously as “we” a single time, and she showed me how to knit right from the stack of dyed silk cocoons I had just purchased.



May 27 2010

New Costume

I’m performing for the first time as my troupe‘s student apprentice at the end of June, so I’ve started working on my costume.  Since I’m the baby of the group (story of my life) I have a lot of catching up to do!  The troupe does a mixture of different folkloric styles and straight-up East coast American Tribal Style, which is an improv-based style.

Stuff I already have:

  • jingly coin belt.
  • Yeah, that’s pretty much it.

Stuff to make:

  • Tunic dress
  • Lightweight harem pants / pantaloons (I have a pair made with a crepey cotton, but they are quite warm…)
  • Tassel belt to layer under the coin belt
  • Coin bra top
  • Flowered headband

Stuff to buy:

  • Chinese flats for dancing on not-smooth surfaces

Here’s my color palette:


Materials I’m using:

  • Dark purple swirly batik cotton for belt, bra top and headband
  • Dark purple cotton shirting for pantaloons
  • Bright teal rayon jersey for tunic dress
  • Bright magenta, dark purple yarn plus spicy-gold accents for tassels
  • Spicy-gold flowers with a touch of deep magenta
  • Random beads and bits of trim to add that tribal look

Should be fun!  I’m going to work on stuff over the long weekend, so I’ll have some pictures to share next week, hopefully!

Jan 27 2010

How One Floridian Survives the Arctic Atlanta Winter

Having spent the majority of my life in and around Florida, most recently South Florida, the move from climate zone 10 (min temp 30F) to zone 7 (min temp 0F) has been an adjustment.  Only made worse by dim memories of early childhood in mountainous rural northern New Hampshire, which my research tells me is zone 4 (min temp -30).  I’m still not sure how I survived that, but my pink snowsuit was probably the key.

The combination of dropping temperatures and rapidly receding daylight make Fall and Winter pretty rough for me.  I get up, it’s dark.  I admit I do like to watch the sunrise as I ride to work.  I leave work, and the sun is setting again.  And if I’m not careful, I go home and fall asleep right after dinner.

So, what does a normally cheerful and enthusiastic person do to keep warm, stay healthy, and keep her spirits up in the crushing bleakness of Atlanta’s (comparatively) Arctic Winter?

  • Layering is not just putting on more t-shirts!  Here’s what I wear to work on a given Winter day:
    1. Cotton blend tights (wool would be better, but it’s pretty expensive) or thermal leggings
    2. Knee socks and/or legwarmers
    3. Dress pants
    4. Long sleeved layering t-shirt
    5. Animal-fiber sweater (wool, cashmere, silk, blends thereof)
    6. Cardigan – I take this off when I take off the coat
    7. Wool-cashmere blend lined coat from the menswear dept (good prices at Marshalls!)
    8. Knitted scarf (sometimes I wear the one my mother made me AND the one my boyfriend made me AT THE SAME TIME)
    9. Knitted hat
    10. Gloves (my friend gave me some gorgeous stretchy ones with beads!)

    Once I’m all suited up, I just have to remind myself that even if my face feels like it’s going to fall OFF, the rest of me is warm, really.

  • Winter makes everything really dry, which is another unfamiliar condition. I’ve been experimenting with:
    1. Humidifiers – we got a second one this year, and it’s been helping a LOT.  The only problem is keeping them filled!
    2. Lip balm in my coat pocket, always.
    3. Skin Oil – hot showers are dehydrating, but if I apply a nice massage oil in the shower, scrub with a pouf and body wash, and then apply moisturizer as soon as I dry off, good things happen!  I’ll probably just use the oil once or twice a week to save time.

    The only thing I haven’t perfected yet is the damage my frequent hand-washing is doing to my nails and cuticles. But I kind of don’t want to get H1N1 more.

  • Projects broken into babysteps are keeping my brain from going into hibernation.  Each night I have a plan for dinner (or ask B to plan for dinner), and 3-4 goals to achieve for different projects.  I’ve been getting a lot done!

So that’s it.  I’ve been keeping myself busy with these experiments and dreaming of what I’ll do when Spring comes.  What do YOU do to cope with the cold?