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….
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.)
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.
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.
A few days ago I got this message in my inbox from my friend Susan:
“Hey Pam –how are you? In circle today an idea came up to play off of the pussy hats and give women something else to create – that was a sign a marker of people in the movement. You came to mind. Is there a way you could design a pin that we could wear like a big safety-pin that had a miniature version of the pussy hat symbol attached to it? So my idea is that could you design something that people could easily make just like the pussy hat went viral? Thoughts?”
So I put my thinking (pussy)-hat on and thought back to my last post about collaboration. I like the idea that this project could be a way to create a symbol of an alternate collaboration, one where like-minded souls looking build relationships with others who support human rights can easily spot each other. Like-minded souls can create something simple to share and show the way.
And I had an epiphany (as usual, in my hot tub time machine). I want to offer my Kitty Kollaborator in Kindness Pin. She is part pussy, part heart, with the symbol of safety and she is divinely feminine. Yes, I know, my name for her could be (k)controversial. But, I would love to see a day come when the 3 K’s stood for something positive. So, I am ***(k)co-opting them. (in my last post you learned of my intention to co-opt “collaboration” as building a coalition of like-minded supportive relationships) So, instead I would like to refer to this as the K3 pin. Because if you look at that closely and break it apart, it is like I < 3 ❤ (I heart). And, I am offering her up as an idea to make and share with everyone on your Valentine’s List. You could even take a picture of her and put her on a few postcards. . .(wink, wink).
And then I went further down this rabbit-hole. The term “snowflake” has been thrown around as a derogatory term for a (bleeding?) heart liberal who gets easily triggered into melting at the actions of what is seen as “the opposition”. (It’s also been a label put on this generation of young adults viewed as being less resilient and more prone to taking offence than previous generations.) And recently there has been a false rumor that it was used by the Nazi’s. (See SNOPES.com for the facts) But, I also want to co-opt that symbol. Because we who live in the midwest U.S. know what happens when you get a lot of snowflakes together! I call it the Snow Storm Pin. I could call it an SS pin (I know where that is co-opted from too) but, that is too uncomfortable. I would love to see it created in as many different ways as there are snowflakes. So, please take both of these ideas and CREATE!!! As Princess Leia said, “take your broken heart and make it into art”.
Need help creating one of these? Here is are PDF‘s for the K3 Pin and the Snow Storm Pin with pattern shapes and notes.
1. appoint to membership of a committee or other body by invitation of the existing members.
divert to or use in a role different from the usual or original one. “social scientists were co-opted to work with the development agencies”
adopt (an idea or policy) for one’s own use. “the green parties have had most of their ideas co-opted by bigger parties”
It’s finally here. I can feel it. It is palpable. I felt it in such an amazing wave on Saturday at the Women’s March in Chicago where I walked with friends and strangers. Over 250,000. The peace and love and optimism in the crowd was medicine. And that medicine spread out to even those who could not attend. I had lunch with a friend after the march and the waitress thanked us for being there for HER! And that is why I marched. For all of my SISTERS. And their children. And for RESPECT (which goes both ways and is earned, not demanded) And their access to affordable health care. And their right to choose the best options for their own bodies. And for protections to our natural resources. And for funding and support for our Humanities and Arts. And for the right to worship. And the right not to. And for the right to free speech. And especially for the right to gather in peaceful demonstrations, to express the beliefs and issues we find important as individuals and as a collective.
The positive energy for the Women’s March came in early December when a friend of mine who lives out east sent me a message that she wanted to know if I would make a pussyhat for her and her daughter, as they would be going to the March in D.C. Of course! I also made one for myself as I knew I would be Marching in Chicago and one for my daughter who would be in Minnesota. And then I just kept going. I put a message out on Facebook which led to many more requests for the pussyhat. I loved the grassroots enthusiasm of that project. Women using traditional women’s skills and craft to make a statement. A statement of unity, feminism, and “can do” spirit. It is exactly the call out that I expressed in my RESISTANCE post that I will continue to use my talents and actions as my voice to support what I believe in and act against what I oppose. I also spent an afternoon knitting with a friend of mine and wished I’d had the time to participate in more of the pussyhat knitting meet-ups that were occurring around the Chicago area. I ended up using up all of the pink yarn I could purchase or scrounge from my own stash and made 20 hats in total. One friend asked if I was making them all “by Hand”. Yes, that is how I get things done…ONE STITCH AT A TIME (SAVES!) Each one was given away with a tag that stated: “In appreciation of this gift please consider a donation to the ACLU or Planned Parenthood“. Several of the hats traveled to our nations capital (I saw a photo on Facebook of my friend’s husband wearing her hat on the bus ride Friday and it made my day!) Many stayed in Chicago and I saw some at the March and almost all of them in social media posts. Some even stayed “home”, but helped those wearing them feel they were a part of the historic event. My favorite was seeing the text from my daughter in Minnesota with her pussyhat on and the message, “hat made it to the MN rally”. I had wished we could have been marching together, sharing this historic event. And then when she sent that text message I realized we were. UNITED.
So now we march forward. When I wrote this post RESISTANCE right after the election I felt at that time like this was the best or only answer to holding our elected officials accountable and to protecting the rights of ALL citizens. But after a couple of months reflection I have come personally to the conclusion that Carl Jung was right when he stated “what you resist persists”. And when I wrote my post on resistance I discussed the options that were put forth in the Dutch Resistance Museum, Resist? Adapt? Collaborate? or Persecute? In their displays the option of collaboration meant collaborating with those you disagree with for the sake of “moving forward”, to keep the peace and make progress even if not in the direction you would like to see it go. But today I offer another option. The option I am choosing to move forward with. One of Collaboration with those who do hold your vision for the future. With those who do cherish the hard-fought battles for Civil Liberties we have established as a nation. With those who do believe in the scientific studies that have proven that what has been done by corporations and big business in the name of economic development and prosperity for a few, is actually harmful to our resources and to our WHOLE.
And I see that action coming together in my small circles and my larger community. And for the skeptics who say the Women’s March was a one day effort and we will all go back to our kitchens and computer screens and televisions (and our knitting!) and our privileged lives, I say “what YOU resist, PERSISTS!” ***We will persist*** You obviously were not one of the Millions who attended the March on Saturday January 21, 2017. Because you would know the joy and enthusiasm and HOPE that is medicine. It is the drug of CHOICE, for me. And I am NOT ALONE, as you can see the Women’s March website has already transformed to 10 actions for the first 100 days. The first action: “Write a postcard to your Senators about what matters most to you – and how you’re going to continue to fight for it in the days, weeks and months ahead”. Get ready, I make beautiful postcards. Really great postcards. The best postcards ever. And I am ready to use them.
1.26.2017 UPDATE: And now this from my favorite local coffee shop BUZZ CAFE. The collaborations begin!
About a week ago I got an email from a friend and fellow artist, Gina Lee Robbins. At the end she posted a link to a call for artists with the comment: “a challenge for anyone who has time and needs a distraction in the coming week”. I am always looking for a creative challenge and needed either a distraction or an inspiration to get into the studio this week. The Visual Aids 19th Annual Postcards from the Edge Benefit was the perfect little project to jumpstart me.
And in looking for worthwhile projects that are “a Stitch In Time Saved” this called out to me as worthy. From their website: “By participating in Postcards From the Edge, artists and collectors support the mission of Visual AIDS to utilize art to fight AIDS by provoking dialogue, preserving a legacy of those we lost, and supporting HIV+ artists, because AIDS is not over.”
So if you happen to be in New York City on January 13, 2017 think about attending the Preview Party. For just $85 you can own a piece of original artwork and give to a worthy cause. Sometimes that’s all that is needed to motivate an artist to get to work in this crazy world.
And once I got rolling in the studio this week I found myself well into the process of a larger work. Earlier this week I painted and did the free-motion machine stitching on this piece (working title is) “Two-Gether :: Uni-Tree”. I like where I am headed with it and that motivates me to get back to work on it. Today I am starting my “french-knot” therapy. I find the repetitive hand stitching soothing and theraputic. Perfect for today this first snow day/Sunday!
My View from the Studio today: The (first of the season) Snow Day Inspiration!
Exactly two years ago I was traveling Europe through Paris, Belgium and Amsterdam. On November 16, 2014 I went through the VerzetsMuseum (Dutch Resistance Museum). It was an enlightening experience. The permanent exhibit space is laid out in a chronological path through time from the 1930’s to 1950’s with a focus on the 1940-45 years during WWII and the Netherlands occupation by Nazi Germany. From the Museum Website: “The Resistance is not about heroes and villains, but ordinary people who found themselves in a time of scarcity and oppression (with) dilemmas and had to make choices.”
The displays are made up of everyday artifacts from the daily lives of the Dutch people during that time. The exhibit lays out a story of difficult choices that had to be made in the face of fear of retaliation, hunger and scarcity, and societal pressure. I walked into the Museum believing I would be one who would resist Nazism at all costs. I walked through the exhibit with a realization and a new understanding of what that would truly cost an individual. I was also surprised to find that many of the same issues facing society in the 1930’s could describe the current climate we are still experiencing. Issues regarding the separation of church and state, issues of racism, issues of severe economic differences between the haves/have-nots. Issues of what it means to be patriotic. Issues of what certain choices can mean in the long story of history. How decisions to resist, adapt, ignore or collaborate all play out over time when faced with policies that oppress any segment of society; be that a certain race, religious faith, gender or even a free press.
One of the displays struck a particular chord with me, as a textile artist. It showed the simple everyday embroideries of Jacoba Maria Blom-Schuh of the Hague. She refused to give money to the Winter Help fund until the queen returned to the Netherlands. Because of her refusal she was imprisoned for three months. During her time in prison the SS guards gave her their socks to mend. She played ignorant and sewed them shut! In reality this was her form of further resistance to the Nazi cause. She later embroidered imagery from her time in prison onto these textile pieces (I call them artwork!) that are on display in the museum.
I found that reminiscing about my experience at the VerzetsMuseum (Dutch Resistance Museum) to be very cathartic today, one week following our 2016 Presidential Election. This past week the media has been filled with many differing opinions on how America will move forward following this contentious campaign season. Many questions are being brought to light. I return to my experience of walking through that museum, being offered choices and questions along the path (through time): Faced with different situations would you Resist? Adapt? Collaborate? or Persecute? You may think you know the answers, but when faced with pressure to Adapt by your family and friends and even the leadership of your country, it can be difficult to hold your ground for what you truly believe is Right. You may find that in the face of severe hunger your Will is broken. You may find that is seems more loving and unifying to Collaborate with others who hold a very different View of what they would like to see their world look like. You could find that to get what you want or Need, it is easy to turn a blind eye to the Persecution of others. Or worse, you could find you are the instigator of that abuse somehow justifying it as a means to the end you would like.
This is a wake up call for me as I step into each day going forward, to be aware that my individual choices have an effect on my community and country as a Collective. I intend to take off my blinders to the plight and ideas of those who may not share my vision. To realize what I can do as I am faced with tough choices. To ask myself the tough questions: Am I ignoring the oppression of a segment of our society, and making light of it? Am I looking to find answers that work for all of us, or just for myself? Am I adapting to the new normal because it seems to be the peaceful thing to do, despite the concern that it could be causing others pain? These are the questions and many more that I (and All of US) will be faced with in the coming days and years. I know from walking through the Resistance Exhibit they are difficult questions to answer in the moments we are faced with them. These are difficult decisions to make. It is always easier to say in hind-site what should have been done. It is also easier to say in advance what you think you would do walking into a situation, than what you would actually do faced with the real consequences of your decisions.
One thing I know I will continue to do is use my Voice. My Voice comes in many different Forms. I will use my Words, speaking and writing freely as my U.S. Rights as a citizen allow. I will use my Dollars, as very often speaking with the wallet is one of the most effective methods of communication. And I will primarily use my Talents and Actions (they speak louder than words!)to speak up when I see something harmful and/or hateful to others. I encourage you who would like to hold on to the good in the world and continue to make it better for All to also use your voices and your dollars and especially your talents to call out and continue to shine the light on situations that do not resonate with that vision. Make your daily actions and choices speak to the vision of the world you want to see. We are all an aspect of the Great Creator, what we envision is the first step to what we create here. We can not turn a blind eye to what we see as abusive, mean, selfish, divisive, or inhumane on an individual level or as a collective. We can not “be ignorant”, but just like Maria Schuh’s example we can all “pretend ignorance” (or use other methods) to resist wrong doing, and use A Stitch In Time (to) Save.
Please Note:I personally do not define resistance as a way to obstruct or protest any actions or ideas of the new administration just for the sake of hatred of “the other side”. It is a method of standing up for the protection and against the persecution of the Rights of All others (no “sides”). I do not equate the election of Donald Trump as U.S. President to the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich. I am only making observations and pointing out a way of assessing personally how I choose to move forward as a citizen. History (and herstory) is only as helpful as what you learn from it. Other than that, I tend not to look backward (unless I am reminiscing about a lovely European vacation), but aim to go forward doing my best to create a society that protects the Rights and Freedoms for ALL.
Hot tub time machine. Tonight. Takes me downstream (no more going upstream to work out old karma, unless I want to paddle against the current). So, I go with the flow. Toward a beautiful waterfall. (I’ve had this lucid dream before. The first time I had enough faith to go over the edge, was quite an adventure. But now it’s easier. No more clinging to the rocks at the top, in fear.) When I land in the gorgeous pool at the bottom of the falls I notice more souls than ever before are there. (It is so lovely you all could join me.) It is peaceful, yet exciting. And the pool has seemed to expand to contain so many of us, without feeling crowded. AHHH. Well, back to the message….
I ask, What have you got for me tonight? I hear it LOUD. Repeated. “Relax, Enjoy, Create”…”Relax, Enjoy, Create”…”Relax, Enjoy, Create”. Then, “R.E.-create”… “recreate”…”recreation”…”RE-creation”… “Get it?” Yeah I get it.
Now let me explain so that you can “get it too”. My thoughts the last few days have been on setting my new moon intentions for November. I scanned through my journal from the last few months and a word jumped out at me. “Productive”. As in, “I wasn’t very productive today” or “I really accomplished a lot. It felt good to be productive”. But a month ago I made a major life shift for myself, on purpose. And it is giving me an opportunity to take a new look at what it means for me to be “productive”. So, that is what I am setting as my intention. Re-define what it means to be productive. (Does floating
in a hot tub, talking to the stars counts as “productive”. Well, yes I think so. I just need to get used to thinking of it that way!)
I moved my art studio/gallery out of a public location (the last 13 years) into the privacy of my home. I moved from a 800 square foot space to a 7 ft. x 12 ft. space. Yet It feels more expansive as I can look out continuous windows on three sides from a second floor space. I call it my treehouse. I am adjusting. I am settling in and getting ready to get “productive” again, but in a new way.
So, today I also “played” in my new studio space in a way that was relaxing, enjoyable and creative. I salvaged a pile of old cashmere sweaters that I had washed, and cut apart. By stitching them together, I RE-created a new “up-cycled” cashmere afghan, throw blanket. This is a technique I have used a lot in the past. But, it has been awhile (because of the studio move) since I’ve had time to enjoy creating and have fun. Soon I plan to get several of these cashmere blankets posted to my Etsy Shop. They would make a lovely holiday gift for someone. Something to snuggle up in and Relax, and Enjoy! Something a Stitch In Time Saved!