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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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:
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!
I missed a week, and I have a good excuse: I was out in the woods, completely removed from cell service and wifi, hanging out with some of my favorite folx at Fertile Ground Gathering. I went to my first FGG in 2010, the same year I started spinning. I’ve missed a few between then and now, but have returned several times and each time feels like coming home. It is one of my favorite places to rest, recharge, and recalibrate.
This year, I had the privilege of facilitating a collaborative tapestry project. This is a big shift from my usual, highly-solitary work in my studio alone! Over the course of the long weekend, I got to speak to so many people, new friends and old, who each brought stories and pieces of their lives to add to the tapestry. It is an honor to be able to hold that kind of space and to facilitate a community art working like that, and I hope to do more of it.
I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, and as someone who really likes plans and structure, that was a challenge for me. The weft in this tapestry is WILD!!! There’s horsehair, bark twine, paracord, handspun yarns, feathers, a saz string, paper, a bootlace, ceremonial ribbons, plastic bag yarn (“plarn”), and even a glowstick! Some took a turn at weaving in their own additions, others asked me to place their pieces for them. Each addition made new shapes and pushed me to figure out how to keep it cohesive while making room for everything to fit. The end result fit the loom face perfectly, and it’s all held securely in place, so I’d say it’s a success. There are weirdnesses in it (skipped warps, weird sheds, gaps and slubs), but that seems fitting. Life in community isn’t always neat and orderly; chaos abounds and we are usually enriched by it.
I also had the opportunity to teach beginning weaving. I think my favorite part of that was the chance to bond with my daughters. I don’t push them to like what I like. They know what I do, and they often hang out with me in the studio, but they’re not asked to be any more involved in the goings on of The Yarnicorn than they may want to be at any point. Youngest has always liked squishing the wool and playing with scraps, and has gotten more interested in making her own wet-felted pieces. She’s asking to learn to knit now, though I think I’ll make her roll a dexterity check before we try much of that. I don’t want to frustrate her.
Oldest likes it when I make things for her, and enjoys picking out bits for batts sometimes, but didn’t really seem interested in doing much fibercrafting for herself until she tried weaving. She proudly announced to anyone who’d listen that this was now Her Thing. I’m happy she has found a fiberwork practice that pleases her.
It was wonderful to have time to decompress. I didn’t fully understand just how much stress and tension I was carrying until I was given the opportunity to put it down, disconnect from the daily grind, and just sit quietly in nature with my children and BREATHE for a bit! Being held up by my community, being seen and celebrated for my art, and being given an opportunity to simply be, without pretense, was so healing. Taking a few days to unplug from technology is something I often try to do, but frequently fail at actually doing because it’s so easy to sneak a look or “just quickly check my email”. Having access to the internet completely removed from the equation was just what I needed. Nothing back home was an urgent matter. All the planning and doing and figuring out a way forward was right there waiting for me when I got back.
My garden was waiting for me, too. It seemed to be really happy about all the rain we got over the weekend. For the first time since I’ve lived here, I’ve managed to successfully grow peas! I’ve tried for 5 years, and finally got the right combination of soil, sunlight and start date. The tall varieties are nearing the top of the trellises now, and all of them are flowering.
The tiny “Tom Thumb” variety of peas I tucked in the corner of each planter have actual peas on them now! My herb bin has gone nuts with mint and chickweed, which youngest says we need to keep because she likes snacking on it. The radishes are fully grown, and it’s about time to pluck them all up so we can replant in their spaces.
We started the next round of seedlings before we left for the woods, and they’re wasting no time. In a week or so, they’ll be ready to play outside, and hopefully they’ll be happy. I’ve had pretty good luck with tomatoes and peppers here; I hope that continues, as we all love to eat them.
I have mundane things to deal with this week. The laundry is all done. The camping supplies have been cleaned and restocked (we have a few other trips coming up, because it’s scout camping season). I’m still sorting through the rubble of my failed marriage and trying to figure out what needs to be done to finalize the divorce. The children are slowly being reintroduced to their father, which is… a post for another day. I’m trying to keep my eyes on the horizon. Another exciting travel possibility has opened up for us, and I’m working hard to get that to go. No spoilers, because I don’t want to jinx it, but I will say that it requires passports. If nothing else, the dream of it is calling me forward. I know that I carry with me the love and support of a vibrant community, and I’m so thankful for having had the chance to play in the woods for a bit and recenter amidst all the changes. Now, back to work!