Here At the End

As hard as it is for me to believe, 2019 is nearly over. It’s the end of the year, the end of a decade… feels like the end of a lot of things, so I feel like tying up loose ends.

While I didn’t make much of any progress on my declared intention this year, I did get a few neat fiber-related things accomplished. I facilitated a group tapestry project, taught a class in my neighborhood, and traveled to Peru! I tried a bit of natural dyework, washed a whole bunch of wool, and completed my second 100DaysofBatts project. I sold a wheel, cleaned out some stash to make room for new plans, and tried to refine my plans for The Yarnicorn as a business. I made some new fiber friends, and had some neat adventures, and got better at managing the balance between making art, parenting alone, and basic “me management” requirements. All told, it was a pretty good year.

So here I sit, at the edge of a new year full of goals and hopes, at the threshold of another decade, hopeful and curious about what comes next. I’m looking forward to making some new work. I’m excited about a few of the projects I’ve already got on the calendar for 2020. And I’m cautiously optimistic about how my ideas and goals will manifest in my life as I continue moving forward as an artist, a business owner, a single parent, and an average, decent human being in general.

One thing I’m NOT going to do to myself in 2020 is try to force any sort of social media presence. I’ll be here, mostly working, but I feel like this is a quiet, underground time in my process. My sincere hope is that we can all find a way to use our fiber pursuits to help each other, ourselves, and our planet in a sustainable, hopefully happy way. May 2020 bring all of that and more for you, and I hope you’re well, wherever you are in your artistic journey. Be warm, be well, be merry if you can. The light will be back soon enough.

The Turning of the Wheel

I woke up this morning and it’s October already! How?!

I had a magnificent adventure to Peru in July, and a few other adventures closer to home to round out the summer. September happened, as it so often does, in a frenzied scramble of new routines and back-to-school events. It requires a sort of hibernation on my part while I recalibrate and adjust to the new schedules. And now, it’s fall. Already. Where did the year go?

I have been using my “spare time”, such as it ever is, to sort the thousands of pictures from our trip and try to distill a narrative I can blog about here. I think I may have come to the conclusion that it’s an impossible task, but I’m still going to try because Peru is magical and deserves my best effort to share its wonder with you. Go, if you can. Truly. My bank account is still grumbling at me, but I regret NOTHING about choosing that adventure. What a glorious gift for me and my girls!

At the start of the year, I pledged to write weekly. That obviously hasn’t happened in a bit, and I’m not going to pressure myself to write catch-up filler. But I’m still here, happily dancing along, trying to figure out what’s next in this single motherhood/sole proprietor adventure and how to make the most of it.

I’ll write more soon, if only to share trip pics. The rest of the journey may go dormant for a while. The leaves are starting to fall and the world around me is turning inward. I may choose the same.

100 Days Done

It is finished! My second #100daysofbatts project is complete. I had to double up on a few days to make sure I was finished in time for my upcoming trip to Peru with the girls, and I got them all done!

It’s neat to do a daily project like this. Left to my own devices, I often work on a more casual schedule. I like the routine of “wool wash Wednesdays” and I try to spin 15 minutes every day, just for the meditative routine of it, but dye days, carding days, listing days (ahem!), etc. are less scheduled here. Having a repeating assignment every day means I have to show up, every day, no matter what else might be at hand, and I like that challenge. When I had to go to court to deal with my ex? I had to make a batt. When the awkwardness of visitation started? I used my time to make a batt. When I learned I might be able to travel with my kids? Made a batt. Made each kid a batt on her birthday, too. It becomes a sort of journal, a story, encoded in fibers. Some of them were obvious, and named to be, like the “365 – Silver Linings” batt I made on the anniversary of my ex abandoning us.

Silver and holographic sparkle, and a reminder to myself that all storms have magic.

Some were just playful, or repeats of previous colorways as I tinkered and dialed in the blends. Some were technique practice or experiments in how certain fibers would play with each other (or not; some were “duds” in my opinion). It’s not particularly taxing or time consuming to make a single batt in a day. The challenge is showing up, every day, consistently and not getting burned out or letting boredom or overwhelm derail the whole project.

Not sure if I’ll do 100 Days of Batts again next year, but I definitely hope to participate in the project again. You can learn an awful lot in 100 days.

Tolerance is for Tuna Sandwiches

Ravelry’s recent policy change is making headlines

Yesterday, one of the yarn and fiber world’s biggest names took a strong stance against white supremacy. Ravelry, a well-known pattern resource, info hub, and social forum for us fiber folx, declared a new policy banning support of Donald Trump on their website. The full declaration, which you can read here, goes into the reasons and gives specific details about what this policy change will mean for those who choose to use their site.

It’s pretty standard, really. A private organization makes a policy change, makes the rules clear, and moves on. As is also sadly standard, there is much backlash and brouhaha today. The fiber arts community has a particular brand of drama, and Ravelry’s recent decision about how to do things on their own website seems to poke right into the squishiest parts of it.

I could say things about that, but XKCD said it better a long time ago:

No, what I want to say here is specific to the calls for “tolerance” that I’m seeing posted in response to this policy. There seems to be a cry for “tolerance” of Trump, Trump’s policies, and Trump’s allies and supporters. Now, just writing that last sentence, I saw the problem, but maybe it’s not as obvious as it seems to me. So let’s spell it out: what you tolerate, you condone. What you don’t openly oppose, you tacitly endorse.

Which brings me to the title of this post. Tolerance is for tuna sandwiches, specifically for those who eat them in enclosed, shared spaces like offices or airplanes. Tolerance is for people who put/don’t put pineapple on their pizza. Tolerance is for those who put the TP over/under on the holder. Tolerance is for typos. Tolerance is for people driving slow in the passing lane. Tolerance is for socks with sandals. Tolerance is for honest mistakes accompanied by a good faith effort to apologize and do better, complete with action. Tolerance is for people who like and do things you don’t, and it only extends to a point: Tolerance is extended up to the point where it causes harm to another.

Someone’s preference for bamboo knitting needles over metal, or the inverse, is highly unlikely to ever cause someone actual harm (though this, too, has been the topic of many a Ravelry kerfuffle). A policy that actively separates children from their families and detains them unlawfully in inhumane conditions is a whole separate level of problem that cannot, MUST not be overlooked or tolerated. Someone whose policies actively denigrate, diminish, and threaten to destroy whole communities and groups of people is NOT someone to be tolerated. The policies of the Trump administration, and Trump himself, should be actively opposed by anyone with a conscience who believes in human dignity and basic decency.

That this is even a conversation we need to have is an embarrassment.

To tolerate policies that clearly violate human rights is to actively endorse those policies. Making space for those who actively endorse those policies to have equal airtime for their position is the same as saying “we are okay with this, and we welcome it here”. With their recent policy update, Ravelry has made it very clear that they don’t endorse, support, or tolerate Trump’s abusive madness.

In case it wasn’t well-known already: neither do I.

Shot of the floor at Newseum’s Berlin Wall exhibit

There’s a separate post to be made about the calls to separate the art/craft from the politics, and who that stance would harm/benefit, but it’s going to have to wait for another day because I’m out of spoons. As a placeholder, I’ll leave this image from the Newseum’s Berlin Wall exhibit, which was haunting.

Lucky and Well-Loved

We’re going to Peru! Let the research begin!

If I was ever on a plane before I turned 17, I was too young to remember it. The first time I flew, at least that I can remember, I flew from LAX to Gatwick with a handful of “new friends” on a school-sponsored trip to England, Ireland, and Wales. I’ve flown domestically a few times since, but that was my one “big trip” adventure to date. I love traveling, and I’d hoped to see more of the world than I have so far, but time and circumstance and all of that.

When I found myself a newly-single mom (almost a year ago now), I figured that was it. What little I could make would keep me local. We could go camping, which I also love, and have done a bit of already. But flights were cost-prohibitive and international travel seemed a far-off dream, at best. “Maybe I could chaperone my daughter’s school trip some day” was the big hope.

On a particularly rough day of parenting, I vented to my dearest friends that I’d had enough and needed a break. I whined about wanting a vacation, the way people who drink say they want a glass of wine or such on a bad day. I didn’t expect anything to come of it; I was just blowing off steam. But these are my friends, and they heard what I wasn’t quite willing to claim for myself: I desperately needed a change of scenery and a reminder that the world was so much bigger than what I was going through. One thing lead to another and soon, we had an idea: if The Powers That Be were amenable, maybe we, collectively, could pool enough resources and pull enough strings to get a trip off the ground.

And then I had ALL the feelings about this idea, because AnxietyBrain.

And OOOOH, did I have to sit with my feelings. It was rough. All sorts of issues about whether or not I “deserved” to go, or could ever repay the kindness of all of the people offering me help and funds to pull this off. I got poked right in the worth! But I kept chipping away at parts of it. Baby steps. “Well, I’ll just apply for passports” was the first part. So we did.

These little cheesers
Okay, that step is set. Now what?

When we’d finished submitting our passport applications, we looked into the logistics. Where we would stay was already taken care of, because my friends are mighty. They also came through with a good chunk of what it would cost to get us there, so the next step became finding a flight. Of course, this isn’t as simple as it sounds when you’re traveling with kids. My oldest flew as a baby, but has no memory of it. Youngest hasn’t ever been on a plane at all. Both are pretty open to adventures, and neither is particularly fussy about much, so I have that on my side, but there were still a lot of variables to consider. I decided we’d take red eyes there and back, and try to sleep on the plane. Found a couple of reasonably well-timed flights, held my breath and bought the tickets.

They’re totally posing in this pic. The attitudes!

Every step I took was more than matched by friends or chosen family, waiting in the wings to offer support, guidance, or a gift of some kind. A well-traveled mom friend let me know that kids under 12 traveling with a parent who has TSA Precheck can also bypass the security screening lines, and gave me the application fee as a gift because she knows what my brain will do with all these to-dos. When you’re bold about sharing your anxieties, people who love you can help you clear obstacles and try to smooth your path.

The red-eye doesn’t scare me, because I know my kids can sleep like this!

My kids are pretty pro sleepers at this point. I’m not, but I like coffee. I’m a mom, which means I have plenty of experience with low-sleep days and long nights. Still, I wanted to at least try to set myself up for in-flight sleep success so I asked for advice. A few days later, these showed up on our doorstep:

Headphones, eye mask, and a Trtl Junior pillow so their necks don’t bend at those odd angles while they snooze in their seats

There was a kit for each of us. Two days later, we each got a travel blanket (with a caution to avoid using the blankets on the plane, especially at the end of the day). I didn’t even know to ask for these things!

What I *do* know how to do is sell wool to make ends meet. I have to admit: I’d been stalling, partly because of fear and partly because of self-pity. This travel opportunity is the push I needed to fully commit to my business and get moving toward my goals here. The first step I had on that list was the streamlining I posted about a couple weeks ago. The second was reaching out to my local community, which starts with teaching weaving later this month. The third step will happen once I’m back from my trip, but the planning and preparation phases are already underway.

And the most joyous thing of all is this: I have hope. For the past year, I have tried to find any sparkle of hope I could hold onto. Every crumb, however small, helped to keep me from collapsing under the weight of the rubble of a failed marriage and the stresses of parenting alone through the festering suck of a messy separation and impending divorce. On the darker days, I held onto the hope of hope, the hope that, someday, I might genuinely feel what I was trying to intellectually create. Maybe it’s not “smart” to travel right now, but the hope and joy I’ve found just thinking about it are worth an awful lot to me. I can’t imagine I’d ever regret taking my kids on an adventure like this. When else will I ever have such an incredible chance again?!

So: We’re going to Peru! I’m looking forward to sharing the details here. A thousand thank-yous to all the incredible people who have come together to help make this possible for me and my daughters. I may never be able to pay you back. I hope that, someday, I will be able to pay it forward. We are so incredibly lucky to be so well-loved!