Spinning Out Of Control

I have been spending a lot of time at my spinning wheel recently.  It is a perfect way to spend a cold afternoon.  And here in Chicago we have been having a string of super cold days.  Right now the temperature is 16 degrees F and that is up several degrees from this morning.   I have also needed the quiet meditation I get while spinning.  As I shared here earlier this week, I usually choose a topic or situation to think about or meditate upon while I am spinning.  It is a bit like an extended prayer.  As I add the energy into the fibers I add the energy of my blessings out into the world to spin a yarn….

Yesterday the news cycle was filled with the vile hateful words of our current U.S. president.  He spoke of the immigrants from “shit-hole countries”.  Haiti, Africa and in the past he has referred to Mexico and Puerto Rico among other places and their people in this demeaning and nasty manner.  This is our leadership here.  This is our “role-model in charge”.

I had stepped away from this blog for a while this past year.  Not wanting to add to the noise of the dissent against this administration.  Not wanting to add anything to the negative energy around our current situation.  Not feeling it was going to make any difference anyway.  But, I can be silent no more.

So, as I sat at the spinning wheel yesterday  I questioned how will “They” (his supporters) spin his words?  Because you know they will.  They always do.  And it disgusts me. Especially this weekend as we honor Martin Luther King, Jr. who once said, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

King also once said,Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”  So, to honor Dr. King on the weekend we remember as a nation to honor his wisdom and work, I will be silent no more.

 

This is my yarn spun yesterday and titled, “Spinning Out of Control”.  I spun a merino single from a roving that I had dyed a long time ago in shades of teal blue with small areas of a deep purplish.  I then plied it with a cotton in that same shade of purple as a core-spun.  I added coils and “twisted-lashes” with the wool.  Our current President is spinning out of control.  And those who have the power, access and authority to act sit back and do nothing, while our country suffers.  I will PERSIST. I will continue to work to create the change I want to see in the world.  I will no longer remain silent….unless silent meditation is the best action I can take in the moment.  And sometimes it is the only thing I can do.

 

Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

For the last nine months or so, I have been focusing my time on spinning yarn (and spells, I am the Stitch Witch, you know!)  I took up spinning yarn as a way to meditate, relax and create in a new way.  For me spinning is somewhat of a metaphor for uniting the past and the future to create the NOW.  When I hand-spin yarn at the wheel I pull out bits of fiber (this to me represents material from the PAST which includes the creation, the nutrition, the experiences, the skills, knowledge, talents and qualities inherit in the fiber and in life) . I then add energy to that fiber through the treadling and spinning of the wheel to draw in the twist.  The fiber goes from being loose, weak and ephemeral to being strong and functional.  It moves from the draft (the NOW) unto the bobbin as a “potential” (the FUTURE).  What it is to become is still just a dream.  It is complete in the now and yet holds the possibility of becoming something so much greater through the art of knitting, crochet or weaving.  Spinning keeps me focused and in the moment.  I also like to put forth prayers (spells) as I spin.  Yesterday I reflected on this question….

As we enter 2018 I wonder “why can’t we all just get along?” as Rodney King asked back in 1992, it still seems to be as relevant a question as ever.   The Republicans and Democrats becoming so extreme on both ends of the spectrum hold no hope of finding middle ground.  The #metoo movement has left men and women wondering if they can ever find the trust needed to heal the wounds of past abuses.  Even in my everyday relationships I’ve experienced disharmony when there is a lack of listening in a spirit of cooperation and a teamwork approach.

And so yesterday I spun a spell.  Lavender, like the pink and blue of divine feminine and masculine coming together in Divine Unity.  Like bi-partisan red and blue joining forces to become purple.  Like a soft fine merino wool coiled around a strong core of cotton.  Soft and strong coming together to make something much more functional, beautiful and lasting.  When I spin with a core I let one of the “singles” ply loosely around the other.  For this yarn I also added in coils (the bumps in the yarn where the coil is “bundled”) which took advantage of the thick/thin wool single that I had spun previously.  The core cotton single was a yarn from my stash.

Lavender like a pale version of the Pantone Color of 2018:  Ultra-violet.  Coincidence?  No, more like synchronicity!

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If you would like to follow more of my spinning adventures, follow pamelapenneytextiles on Instagram.  I will also be adding my hand-spun yarns to my Etsy Shop very soon…..go HERE!

Looking for Hope

This is not the post I thought I was going to write.  I had something in the works last week to update what I have been up to all summer.  But then the protests in Charlottesville, VA happened.  And our current president’s words took the wind out of my sails.  I am deflated and with a loss of hope.

20170816_102103It’s like this cotton thread my puppy Fiona got yesterday.  A tangled mess. She loves to chew cardboard and although I try to keep it away from her, she is a sneaky 10 month old pup.  I found the cone destroyed and the cotton discarded under my bed this morning.  I could just toss it. Give up. The value is little, the amount of thread is small.  And yet, I love the bright green color.  It is often the perfect shade to stitch my textile tree art with.  I’m not sure if this is the best use of my time, but I am hopeful it won’t take long to untangle.

Today I read the despair and anger in my Facebook feed.  I know my friends are hurting, feeling unsafe, unsure who to trust.  Do they wonder if they can trust me?  What can I do to help fix this?   Today I have feelings of hopelessness.  I feel almost like giving up.

Peace Camp Quilt
Peace Camp Quilt

In June I spent a week teaching art during “PEACE CAMP”.  A friend reached out to me to see if I was interested and available to participate in a program coming to our community to promote peace and nonviolence through a children’s camp.  I jumped on the opportunity.  Little Friends for Peace has been working for over 35 years to “disarm violence with empathy”.  They travel around the country teaching children ages 4-14 listening and empathy skills. The children learn about other races, religions and cultures, with invited guests coming in each morning to share their stories of their beliefs and of the places they lived in as children. This is an effective way to eliminate fears and misunderstanding of others.  It was such a joy to work with the kids to create a Pieced Peace Quilt in the art sessions.  The quilt made of salvaged denim and the kids imaginations will hang in our community as a continuing reminder that we must unite to create peace on earth.  This gives me hope.

Over the summer I also taught at other art camp programs both through the Oak Park Education Foundation and the Oak Park Art League.  The OPEF Base Camp provided me the opportunity to teach 3rd – 5th grade students how to create their own “Story Quilt”.  As the first step in the “design process” I assigned the students the task of pretending to be journalists and to interview another student.  Through this they were able to quickly learn things about the kids they didn’t know and find things in common within the group.  It gave me much hope to observe the children sharing their personal stories, listening and supporting each other as they learned new skills like fabric dying and hand stitching.

OPEF Base Camp Story Quilt
OPEF Base Camp Story Quilt

I do not share these stories of what I did this summer to give myself a pat on the back, that I should be congratulated for doing my good deeds.  No, I share them to try to pass on a little of the hope I am still trying to hold on to, too.  I also need to document the “good” I see and am a part of to bring me out of the despair I am feeling today.

And so, like Elizabeth Warren, I persist.  I do not get angry, violent or punitive with Fiona for causing the tangled web.  She doesn’t really know any better.  When she knows better, she will do better.  And that is how I see it.  I must keep sharing my message of hope, and nonviolence.  When others know better, they too will do better.  In the meantime I will do what is within my capabilities to fix the mess I see.  And I hope that like the “butterfly effect” the small ways I can help create peace and nonviolence will ripple out into the world.  My now neat and tidy hank of green embroidery thread is a reminder to me that we can each do something everyday day to repair the wrongs of our past and do our best to fix things for the future.  This is the little thread of hope I choose to hold on to.

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A little thread of HOPE

 

 

July Evening

Backyard Guests

Mosquitos Buzz and Bite

Cicadas Sing

Fireflies Float and Light

  • will Mosquito’s Words buzz in your ear to anger and insight you?
  • will Cicada’s Song invite you to join the rhythm of the dance?
  • will Firefly’s Glow ignite and brighten the dark corners of your soul?

Three Winged-Ones join their forces as darkness starts to fall

They use their gifts in unison to AWAKEN one and ALL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nasty

A Special Sort of Snowflake. Penney. 2017
A Special Sort of Snowflake: (she won’t melt if you grab her) Pamela Penney (c) 2017.

Inspired by the mandala pieces I’ve been working on since the start of 2017 I created this piece “A Special Sort of Snowflake:  (she won’t melt when you grab her)”  It was accepted into the Nasty Women Art Chicago Exhibit and Fundraiser.  All proceeds from the sales at the May 5th, 2017 event will go to Planned Parenthood, whose services have been under-fire and in threat of losing federal funding under our current administration.  If Planned Parenthood loses funding 2.5 million patients would lose access to care.  Another interesting fact from the Planned Parenthood website: “Barring Planned Parenthood health centers from Medicaid would result in a net cost of $130 million to taxpayers over 10 years due to increased unintended pregnancies without Planned Parenthood’s contraceptive care, projects the Congressional Budget Office.”

Once again I hope A Stitch In Time Saves…..because women’s health matters. Because awareness is important. Because it’s just one way to help.  If you would like to help too, here are several more ideas! Go HERE and Stand with (me &) Planned Parenthood.

STITCH + MEDITATION = INNER PEACE

STITCH + MEDITATION = INNER PEACE

It’s really a simple equation.  And I find whether it’s knitting, crochet, embroidery, or mending it holds true for me (unless I’m under a deadline!)  For me, finding meditation time is not just a desire, it is a necessity.  It is how I deal with the world. It is how I stay sane.  It is how I find answers to everyday questions.  When I’m stitching, answers come to me like some people find them in the shower.

When I saw a post about A Year In Stitches a 2016 endeavor by Hannah Claire Somerville, I was smitten with the idea.  Just a few days later a friend of mine created a Facebook group and invited a few friends to join her for A Year of Stitches 2017.  Of course I hopped onboard.  (I’ve recently joined a larger group on Facebook for A Year of Stitches. I’m looking forward to seeing more ideas and sharing there.)

I started on January 1, 2017.  In order to make this project “my own” I made a plan to create stitched Mandalas with a different thread color radiating for each day of the week. Each Mandala would represent a week with seven colors each. At the end of the year I would have 52 Mandalas.  My thought was that this would be a great way to ease into the studio each day. It would give me a “no pressure” way to get the creative juices flowing. I have completed week 11 as of today.  Here is the progress:

What I’ve learned so far:

  • I don’t always do my stitching each day.  For whatever reason I miss some days. So, some days I do several days worth of stitching.
  • Some days I do the color for that day and I would really like to keep going.  It feels like I just get started and I have to stop.
  • I have always finished up each week on time!
  • It has opened up some other creative ideas and projects.  You will see some of them soon including this….

Large Mandala

This is going to end up filling a 12 inch diameter embroidery hoop.  Right now it is just over 6 inches diameter. I am stitching this on a piece of ivory silk.  This project gives me the opportunity to keep going on the days I get on a roll and don’t have other deadlines to meet.  I’ve always been interested in taking on a “daily art practice”, but have either failed in the past, or hesitated taking on the challenge.  This one has been perfect for me.  Low pressure, stress reducing (not inducing!) and it has inspired my regular art making practice. I will keep you posted on my progress throughout the year. (Now that I’m almost 3 months in, I’m not so worried about “failing” my committment again.)

Full Moon Eclipse Energy

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Fiona & Peepers 

As I write this I am feeling complete peace and serenity.  Wow, I know, (how?) in the face of the fear, unrest and chaos that is projected from every news source, every social media platform and every innocent conversation with friends.  But, I am in my sacred space, my studio with the setting sun shining in my window, warming me on this cold winter day.  My new puppy is sleeping at my feet and my 15-year-old cat just wandered through to check on us.  These two remind me that I have everything I need.

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My Fiona – 4 months old

I took Fiona in as a “foster pup” right after Thanksgiving. The local Animal Care League has dogs that aren’t ready for adoption (she needed to be spayed) and yet would do better someplace outside the shelter for a short period of time. I thought this would be a good opportunity for me to see if I wanted to do the whole “puppy thing” again. Was I really ready for a dog again, (We lost our LUCKY last August) or would adopting an older dog be a better option this time around? Well, it was love at first sight. And so, I adopted this sweet girl. Fiona wakes up each morning filled with excitement, knowing she will be fed well and cared for and wondering “where will we go walking today”.  My cat sleeps on my feet each night, feeling my warmth and love, knowing she is protected.  And so despite the uncertainties the “static” of our world tries to rope my attention with, I know I am loved and cared for by an entity beyond my earthly understanding.  That Divine Entity lives within me and my pets reflect it back to me.  I can feel it.

Tonight is the full moon with the first lunar eclipse of the year.  This will usher in energies that we can tap into to clear away “what no longer serves” us, individually and collectively. I really resonate with what Sandra Walter outlines about this eclipse season and what it holds for us collectively:

“As you break your addictions to drama, concern, or worry about the external, and shift to heart-based action, empowerment and divinity, you resonate with the higher trajectories of the Christed timelines which deliver peace and opportunities for global divine alignment.”

I hope that you too can feel the “love wave” that is here this evening. I can only describe it as a wave of Divine Grace.  Despite everything, We are Loved and Cared for and Safe.

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The view out my studio window this evening….It’s Divine.