Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Change with a capital C

Last time I wrote, I was inspired to start creating seamless garments.  Since then, I have done two holiday shows, had a Black Monday sale on Etsy, learned more about pricing retail vs. wholesale, and generated a list of all my new projects that is a mile long (and so exciting to contemplate making).  And then the news we'd hoped for came.

My husband got a good job offer ... in Minnesota.  

If you don't know what living in Michigan is like right now, think grey and depressed.  We'd been in a recession long before the housing crisis.  I have watched so many friends lose jobs, or pick up the pieces when they survived a devastating layoff and had to take on their former colleagues' work for no additional pay.  Savings starts depleting and the credit card debts still increase.  Stress levels are high wherever you go.  Because of that stress, my yoga classes are still well-attended.  And somehow my scarves are still selling, but only to people for whom cutting back means not going skiing in Banff this year.  But M's job has been untenable, and my work is not enough to keep us here.  

In a little over eight weeks, our family will uproot some pretty deep roots (we've been here over 12 years), and set some new roots in very cold soil near the Twin Cities.  The children will be fine eventually.  My husband is better and we haven't even gotten there yet.  I am somewhere in between.  My yoga career flourished here and I found a new calling working with fiber.  I have a large community of support for both fields.  I know I can start over in MN and it will come together over time.  And best of all, we will finally be near a large contingent of family, both my husband's and mine.  (My MIL has already started mentioning art fairs to try and get into this Spring and Summer.)

Anticipation mixed with sadness.

a better job situation for M
economic improvement
new house
new schools
renewing old friendships
extended family nearby
meeting the yoga community
finding the local handmade community
great restaurants
bluer skies (literally as well as figuratively)

Waldorf community
yoga community
all my mamas and babies I've been blessed to help through that transition 
our shul and Rabbi 
Leon & Lulu
Namaste yoga
my teacher in Honor, MI

When someone states a truth about you so obvious that you balk at its correctness, you know you need to work with your resistance.  Long ago, my yoga teacher told me I don't like change.  I thought about my life in theatre with several jobs a year.  I thought about moving cross country more times than I can count on one hand.  I though about my willingness to change colleges, change careers.  I knew he was wrong, and I argued in my head with him for weeks after he said it.  Then I realized he was right; I don't like change.   But having done it all my life, I am good at it.  I look at my deadline for packing this house  up after M leaves to start work and I know I can do this.  I look at starting over at 45 and I know I can do this.  I look at my children and see how much help they will need leaving the only place they've ever known, and I know I can do this.

And after I'm done, I can pull that list of Woolynns projects out and start on that.

Monday, November 8, 2010


The first felting workshop I took was creating a seamless purse.  I remember Margarida explaining how we would use a resist and layer the wool roving around it. I also remember my mind balking at the explanation that there was "a front and a back to the inside and a front and a back to outside."  Working three-dimensionally stumped me for a few moments and then, looking at a sample of a finished purse, suddenly it clicked.  When I chose to make a second purse a month later, I told Margarida I wanted to put a pocket on the inside.  She looked skeptical until I explained how I would do it. Once she saw that I grasped the process for construction, she let me do my thing.  (I've been carrying this purse for almost three years now.)
Purse on left is second effort;  purse on right is first.
Since then, I have made a few more seamless purses, but have been content to mostly work with silk scarves and wraps.  I have found that what interests me most in making a scarf is how it lays. Can I get the silk to become a shawl collar?  If I lay the wool this direction, will it cinch in at the waist?  Inceasingly, this has led me to look into making seamless clothing.  The fiber artists I'm drawn to are doing long coats, little bolero jackets, dresses, vests, even theatrical costumes.  I've been sketching out a dress and a skirt I want to make and I know I have the mechanics down generally.  So it was time.  As much as I want to make that skirt, I knew I had to start smaller.  I decided on a vest.

I took a sleeveless top from my closet and measured it.  These projects shrink about 40 - 50% from the inital size of the design.  So I added 40% to the length and width and to the armhole openings.  I was so focused on the construction that once I placed the silk around the resist (a big piece of bubble wrap cut to size), I realized I had no design in mind.  I rummaged through my wool and finally decided on a pattern of purples framed in black sort of like stained glass.

Laying out the wool for the back side came first.  I added yarns and wisps of silk hankie to offset the solid sections of wool colors.  I have long learned that, once felted, mulitple colors can still look flat.  Then I did a little wetting down and brief felting, so I could flip it and lay out the front of the vest.  At this point I didn't know if it would remain whole and become a top, or if I would cut it and make it a vest.

I rolled it all up and rolled and rolled and rolled (periodically re-wetting it down and rolling from the other direction).  Several hours later, I removed the resist and began fulling it.  The rolling allows the wool fibers to migrate into each other forming a solid piece of fabric.  The fulling is how it shrinks and becomes felt.  I rubbed the entire vest by hand against a textured board (think washboard) until it no longer stretched anywhere.  It quickly became clear that I should have used a 50% increase in size, but I was still hopeful it might fit a small adult.  Fulling took a long time, rubbing in different directions to control the shape.  But finally it was done.  I hung it up to dry last night and took some entertaining self-portraits so I could display the finished product.  Yes, it fits me, but barely. My nine-year-old wants it.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Figured out how to felt it.  Several ideas of how to wear it.  One option shown here.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


I spend a morning shopping with a friend.  I need a dress for my son's bar mitzvah and, in search of something interesting to wear, we explore several little stores in downtown Rochester Hills.  While out and about, I spot a large wrap: a rectangle split up the center, length-wise, on one half.  The two thinner pieces hang in front of the body and the uncut side hangs down the back.  It could be tacked together on the sides to make a vest-like tunic, or it could be left as is so the thinner pieces can wrap like a scarf.

At home later, I sort through my silk yardage.  Light grey silk chiffon with a bluish hue to it calls to me.  I put another long table alongside my usual work surface to accommodate the extra width of this project.  I have never worked this large before.  Carefully, I cut the silk right up the middle and fold the edges over.  Now the wool.  Merino wool roving in a dark teal blue that I find I use frequently in my work.  Another ball of roving in variegated shades of grey, black and white.  More wool in a steely blue grey.  Thick layers of all three colors along what will be the bottom edges when worn.  I'm hoping for a wonderful ruffle of soft wool.  Then I take wool and run it along the outside edges of this large work.  The exposed silk edging should gather and mirror the wool ruffles along the bottom.  I work similarly near the edges of the center cut.  This will cover the cut edge as well as continue the ruffle idea.

But here is this opening that will sit on the neck and shoulders.  It has a raw edge that needs wool so it won't unravel.  I haven't cut it in such a way as to create a collar (maybe next time).  As I start to lay wool, I use the combination of colors I used for the bottom ruffles.  I have no precise idea as I begin, but slowly it becomes a small skyburst as I gently place whisps of teal against the grey.

It looks too flat.  I fumble through my bin of wool yarns, pleased to find a silvery grey similar to, but not quite the same as, the solid grey roving.  Always drawn to swirling shapes, I unwind the yarn in small loops along the sides and the bottom edges.  I continue the skyburst feeling with streaks of silver yarn radiating outward from the neck.

Still something is missing.  I can't find my embroidery floss.  Did my daughter sneak off with it to make friendship bracelets?  I really want to finish this.  Oh, yes.  I forgot about the silk throwster's waste I bought this summer.  Pieces of teal that work brilliantly in scatterings all over the wool.

It looks amazing.

Now, how on earth do I felt a piece this large?

to be continued ....

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My stash by Lynn S.

yards of cut silk chiffon
iridescent silk scarves in cellophane wrappers
three giant zip-loc bags of wool roving:
         reds/oranges/yellows/purples, blues/greens, black/browns/greys/white
second-hand scarves from resale shops
a rainbow of hand-dyed cotton scrim from Australia
embroidery floss spooled on cards and stacked neatly in a storage box
a bin of wool yarn with skeins standing on end 
a dresser full of cotton and acrylic blend yarns
two shopping bags of novelty yarn
several bars of Kiss My Face olive oil soap

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A coming of age ... of sorts

The heathen Jew was raised by Jewish parents who sort of observed.
She went to services on some holidays.  Celebrated at home.
The smells of roasted chicken, matzoh ball soup, latkes, sponge cake, shmaltz are her Jewish identity.

Grown up, barely, she purchases a menorah and lights the candles when she remembers.
On tour with Jesus Christ Superstar, she holds a makeshift seder in her hotel room for fellow cast members.  She finally gets to do Fiddler, and is the only Jewish person in the cast.  (Similar experience with Yiddle with a Fiddle.)

She marries a lapsed Catholic; they have two children.
Knowing that the children will learn all about Christianity just by growing up in this country, she begins celebrating at least some of the Jewish holidays in her home.  Seders, latke dinners, the occasional baking of challah with very young hands helping.

The children are not confused as the heathen Jew feared.  They know that they get Chanukah gifts from one set of grandparents, and Christmas gifts from another.  Santa comes, too.  They know about Jesus and atheism because various aunts and uncles have differing beliefs.  The heathen Jew teaches them that no one knows anything for sure, so any of it is just that: a belief.  The children have their own relationship with religion and spirituality.  It includes God.

As the oldest child grows, he takes on his Jewish identity more strongly.  He asks to go to Hebrew school.  The heathen Jew is carried along.  The family joins a synagogue.  The lapsed Catholic father attends as much as the heathen Jew.  The children begin religious education.  It is a welcoming congregation, and one in which the heathen Jew and the lapsed Catholic feel comfortable together.  Holiday services become regular events.  They even go to Shabbat services on occasion.  The music is glorious. The heathen Jew had not realized how many prayers and melodies were still with her from her childhood.  The lapsed Catholic starts humming along.  The heathen Jew starts taking off work on the High Holidays.

A "wedding" occurs.  A Torah is commissioned and a celebration more moving than words can describe weds this Torah to this Synagogue.  Each family member has written a letter in this Torah.  A cantor from Berlin accepts the very old one being replaced.  She speaks with such passion for learning and gratitude for her Judaism.  The cantor returns several months later and leads a service.  Her interpretation of the text moves the heathen Jew unlike any sermon she's ever heard.  The heathen Jew has found her teacher.

The rabbi discovers the heathen Jew's past singing career and asks her to join him leading a music service.  The heathen Jew agrees and takes home a CD and a prayer book to memorize the less familiar melodies and words.

High Holidays, present tense.  Five weeks from her son's bar mitzvah, the heathen Jew is at the synagogue celebrating the new year.  The cantor from Berlin is singing.  The rabbi is singing.  Their voices mix as though they have always sung together.  In the rabbi's sermon, a quote that hits home: "I would rather choose to believe in God and be wrong, than not believe in God and be right." Two days later, the bar mitzvah of a converted adult.  One who chooses to not only be Jewish, but to add study of Torah to his life.  A conversation after with the cantor, who is still visiting.  A statement from the rabbi that my work with wool and silk would make beautiful prayer shawls.

It may be time to drop the word heathen.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Life lessons, part 387

I don't know if it is due to running my own business or if it just comes with age.  Learning to speak up for myself is getting easier.  Yeah, I still fret and fume and simmer for a while, but now instead of staying in that angry, frustrated, put-upon space, I can actually move forward.  I can sort out the true grievance and (gasp) talk to the person to whom I need to talk.  It has happened more often and it gets easier each time.  Quite recently, I was able to tell someone about my displeasure with an aspect of an event that disproportionately affected me.  My comments were intended as "how to do things differently so no one else has to experience what I went through", not as just griping.  The best part?  It was received the way it was intended.
Trying to be more like water and flow with, through, and around.  Too many years spent burning erratically, occasionally hurting those around me, but always doing more damage to myself than anyone else.  Slowly carving a path forward with a little more ease, increasing steadiness, and newfound malleability.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Michigan Fiber Festival, my almost-teenager, and me

Monday, monday ... and my voice is in the cellar.  Talking all weekend with customers, other artists, vendors has taken its usual toll.  I was planning on going to Allegan to the Fiber Festival on my own this year.  Last minute, my almost-13-year old volunteered to come.  "It'll be long, often boring, and if it gets hot, the big industrial building will be miserable."  He still came.  Eli packed up my van before we left.  He helped unload and set up my booth.  And 20 minutes into our first of three days, he said, "Mom, we've got a problem. I'm already bored."  Once he resigned himself to the truth of what I'd told him, he became a great partner.  He was showing scarves to people while I explained the process to others.  He wrapped scarves up and bagged them, while I wrote up invoices.  He handed out my cards.  He also befriended the other vendors and helped them out as well.  (I was surrounded by familiar faces from last year, all of whom I was looking forward to seeing again.)  Don, from Shelridge Farms, was without his wife Buffy this year (she was in Chicago at another fiber event).  He frequently took to asking Eli to watch his booth when he needed a break. He paid Eli in yarn and a fingerless glove pattern (that I am to knit this Fall) that Eli was admiring.  Sometimes Eli settled into a corner and played games; sometimes he meandered around looking at booths or visiting the animal barns.  Always he was great company.  At one point, on the stickiest muggy afternoon, he came up behind me and draped himself around my shoulders.  A part of me wanted him off; it was just too hot.  But another part of me realized that he may not be affectionate with me in public like that for much longer.  I let him hang there, soaking up his weight and sweetness .... and sweat.  I'll bet that is the last time he'll volunteer for such an outing again.

Talking to people is the fun of the event for me.  Sales were good; I even sold a very expensive deep purple wrap that I usually display up front because it grabs everyone's eye.  Had to change things up when it sold on the first morning.   But it is the enthusiasm of customers and other artists (not to mention enjoying the praise) that really makes it fun for me.  Talking techniques, looking at fibers I've never played with before, comparing experiences ... I always learn so much.  Some of it was just business learning.  Some of it was encouragement about where I should try and get my scarves seen.  Apparently, Lexington, MI and Charlevoix, MI are now top on my list of future shows in addition to trying to get my stuff into some shops in Chicago.

One of my favorite encounters was with this woman.  Eli and I had discussed how one particular wrap was going to go to someone tall, leggy and blonde.  Sure enough, that very description appeared in the form of this lovely woman:  warm, friendly, and easily 6 feet tall.  While she didn't end up purchasing it, she admired it over a few days.  Her friend purchased a burgundy wrap, and may still be trying to talk the blonde into buying this.  It was so gorgeous on her, I just had to get a picture of her wearing it.

It was hard to decide not to return to Allegan next year.  I so enjoy the people and I get to do a little shopping for interesting supplies as well.  But the distance requires lodging, meals and time away from my yoga teaching schedule that all eats into my profits.  I decided to focus on more local art fair-type events, especially after the sixth or seventh person said I needed to do juried shows.  Saying goodbye to my vendor neighbors was surprisingly moving.  They have been welcoming and helpful and kind for two years now.  All of them understood my decision and agreed with my plans, even as they remarked how nice it had been to share space and company. They also couldn't stop praising my son.  I wish I could take credit for Eli, but he has been conscientious and helpful since he was a very little person.  I loved hearing his praises sung all weekend.  I had good sales, good help, and good company.  What else could I ask for?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Art Fairs in August

It is mid-August.   I've been working hard this summer creating inventory.  So hard I have had to slow down due to sore muscles and joints.  That said, I feel ready for this next weekend at the Michigan Fiber Festival in Allegan, MI.  This is my second time as a vendor there, and I am looking forward to seeing the wool, yarn, looms, spinners, and more wool-related items than I ever knew existed.

One week later, August 28 - 29th, I'll be making my first appearance at Dragon On The Lake in Lake Orion, MI.  It looks to be an amazing event with dragons from various artists in various media, races on the lake in gorgeous dragon boats, a sidewalk chalk competition.  (On a side note, my good friend's son designed a logo for an art class in his high school and it was chosen for the event.)  I got to explore the world of art fair people and their advice as I purchased a tent for this, my first big outdoor event.

If you find yourself in Western Michigan on the 21st or 22nd, or in Southeastern Michigan the following weekend, please stop by and say hi.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

child's play

Sometimes, if I have room on the surface area where I've laid out a scarf to roll, I'll use the extra room for a rectangle of wool layers that I can stitch up into a clutch purse or a Little Bag or a Bigger Little Bag after it's felted.

These little purses give me a chance to try out techniques I've seen or heard about without a huge investment in effort and materials.  Recently, I started playing with m childrens' marbles.
I placed them between layers of wool and snipped them out after the wool was fully felted. The effect was brilliant (the bag sold before I even had a strap on it) and makes me want to use different shaped toys on my next effort.

My interest in childhood activities also led me to create a gorgeous strap based on the friendship bracelets my daughter now makes for her girlfriends.  (I'm lucky enough to be sporting one on my own ankle as well.)

Right now, I'm working large; too large to create another little bag.  But when this big piece is done, I can't wait to see what other advantage I can pull from having children.  Or is it that I'm still just a child myself?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Oooh, pretty!

So many different things can inspire me to start a new project.  Sometimes it is a photograph, or flowers climbing up a lamppost.  Today it is a particularly soft, fuzzy yarn that moves from cool periwinkle to ivory white to chocolate brown.  I rummaged through my stash (this felter's stash consists of many balls of dyed roving, lots of interesting yarn, various fabrics but mostly silk) until I found the perfect roving to accompany this yarn.

Now all I need is a dark brown silk scarf as a base.  I begin by laying pieces of fuzzy yarn down and add some other pieces of plain yarn in similar colors.  None of these will felt directly onto the silk so I'll end up with a wonderful draping effect after I'm finished.

Then I begin laying thin layers of roving down, sandwiching the yarn between silk and wool.  I lay the wool in a long swooping design that will hang beautifully around the shoulders.  (Over time, I've realised I care enormously about how it hangs.  If the work is hard to wear, it will sit in a closet or in my inventory.  What is the point of that?)

I've sandwiched lengths of yarn at the ends of the scarf so their will be a bit of fringe later. I am also taking a chance and laying bits of the fun, fuzzy yarn on top of the merino.  Sometimes this yarn will adhere to wool; sometimes not.  If not, I'll end up removing it partway throught the felting process.  I know that whatever happens, this wrap will be lovely.  
Time to felt.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I understand that this scarf thing is supposed to be work. I feel it in my body as I get tight in the shoulders and neck from all the felting I'm doing. But it is the other part of the work that I really struggle with. Even as my current photos are a huge improvement on my first photos (and believe me they are leaps and bounds better), they aren't good enough. I need to either get a better camera (no money), find a photographer willing to barter (any leads?), and/or hire models (money again). Regardless of what I do to change this, photography takes more time than I give to it right now.

But it must be done. This is a business and I need to promote myself in every way possible. I took the time to get new business cards, a business email address, all the legal trappings of a business (LLC, EIN #, etc) , credit card processing, a bank account and business credit card. If the photos are crap after all that, and no one buys my work, I may as well kiss all of my investment thus far goodbye. Time, materials, legal paperwork, artistic effort --- it must needs be supported with the visual work. Time to stop wishing and start doing. It can't hurt anymore than my tight shoulders, right?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

New stuff

I am in serious production mode, creating inventory for two shows that are going to run on back-to-back weekends this August. It is a hot humid day and I really need to get some of this photographed so my son obliged and sweated in the sun while I put silk and wool around my shoulders again and again. These are just a sample of the results.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Felting with attitude

Who knew there were upsides to a daughter who can wring more vowels out of an "I'm not" than Eliza Doolittle managed at the beginning of Pygmalion?

I was all set to suspend work on a new scarf and take my youngest shoe shopping. (Her feet do not stop growing just because it's summer.) She still had a dishwasher to empty and was looking in the top rack for something when I heard a creak and looked up. There she was, leaning over the top rack and putting a little too much weight on it. I simply asked her to not lean on it. (My temper is not exactly even, but this time I really did request it nicely.) "I'm not!" This had many more syllables than two somehow. We give no warnings for consequences due to snotty responses anymore. Shoe shopping postponed for bad behavior. And I get to work more on my felting.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Here it is, in all its bead-inspired, colorful glory. The tulle worked pretty well, but some of the little "floating" circles of wool needed additional tacking down. Part of what I love about felting is NOT having to sew, but I loved the effect and decided not to rip them off when it appeared they weren't fully adhering. I am so pleased with the final result.

Friday, July 9, 2010

better than ibuprofin

This is the photo that my friend Eve took. It has caused me much headache. I looked at all those colored beads against the white neck of the mannequin head, and thought, "Damn, there's a scarf in there somewhere." Now I have to figure out how to make it. The obvious answer is to duplicate it by felting a ton of beads and doing a wool version of same. But that would be making another necklace (or necklaces). I want to make a scarf inspired by this image.

I don't have any white silk on-hand, but I do have tulle, that mesh that ballet tutus are made of. Never felted onto tulle before, but does that stop me? Not a chance. Since the big square shape doesn't suit my purposes, I cut the tulle and I lay it down in three sections. I take super soft white merino wool roving and feather it into place covering seams and edges. It looks too angular so I flesh out the white on the seams into curvier shapes.

Then I look through all my pre-felt. (Pre-felt can be purchased or can be wool that is partially felted and gets removed from other work. My seamless purses are a big source of pre-felt.) I spent yesterday afternoon and evening cutting pre-felt into circles. Lots of circles.

The colors were limited so when I decided I had enough to get started, I also pulled out my bin of roving bits and pieces. As I laid out a design onto the white wool, I played with lines and curves. I am curious how this will finish since some circles are the flat pre-felt and some are swirls of roving. I hope it retains a bit of difference in dimension. I also like how sheer the tulle is and placed a few roving circles directly onto the tulle. My hope is that it will be wearable with anything and the sheer tulle will allow the wearer's dress to show through even as bright spots of color appear to be aloft invisibly.

I hope Eve takes more photos. I like this kind of headache.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Back on subject

I have been trying some different variations on technique: using cooler or warmer water, trying netting to help keep wool in place while starting the process, throwing instead of rolling. Some ideas work wonderfully, some seem like a lateral move from what I've been doing. But I did try and felt onto unknown fabric. I found a silky scarf in pale gold at the Salvation Army. It had no tag, but I am pretty sure it wasn't silk. It was, however, porous enough to felt ... I hoped. I used some other found silk in a gold and silver pattern of squares and some golden and grey wools and yarns. I laid out a pattern of lines of wool that criss-crossed along the length of the gold scarf. I laid in pieces of the patterned silk on the gold, and added overall length by attaching some pieces at the end with openings between the gold and the patterned silk. I took yarns and embellished. Than I had to begin the felting process and hope for the best. I worked with cooler water and rolled for longer amounts of time. A couple pieces moved and didn't adhere so well so I just pulled them off before my last part of felting, but otherwise I am pretty pleased with end result: Smoky Topaz by Woolynns.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Ladies who lunch ... learn

Lunchtime conversation with much laughter and many tangents. Tangents that lead to self-discovery. Or if not actual discovery, a putting together of pieces in a way I hadn't done before.

Did I know I really wanted four completely unrelated career paths? It's not that I haven't achieved some level of success or personal satisfaction already from each. But how to take any one of them further? If not at the same time, how do I know which one(s) to begin with? Two pieces have received priority attention from me in the past decade: Woolynns and yoga. But I only sing once a year these days, if that. And my yearly foray into directing makes me itchy for more. Big changes are on the horizon. As the tectonic plates shift, maybe I can find a new balance, or a new plate to stand on. Or I could try spinning more plates at once (but now I've mixed too many metaphors.) Supposedly I should do one thing and do it well, but I want to do four things really well. (stamp foot here)

Woolynns is the name of my business and this blog, and it is here I feel my most creative. I see seamless clothing in my head and a gallery is adding my scarves and purses next week. I have two scarves laid out ready to roll (literally). I have a custom piece to begin. Another fiber artist's work has pushed me out of my comfort zone to begin experimenting with size. My next house will just have to have a bigger studio space for all this expansion into larger felting. The prospect is so exciting to me, I feel somewhat uncontained, and somewhat aghast at what I think I'll be undertaking.

YogaMom is the title I gave myself when my first child was born and I was teaching yoga. I had left performing and felt a need for a job title. It fit. That yoga part of myself is where I feel my most accomplished. I have been teaching for 14 years now. I have trained other teachers. I work with alignment and energy, injury, prenatal and post-partum yoga. I feel like I have so much to share and can never fit everything into one class, one weekend workshop, one private session. I love learning from those who profess to be my students. I want a yoga yurt with heat for the winter where I can practice, teach classes, work with private therapeutic clients.

Performing. I quit doing that professionally in 1998. It wasn't the hardest choice. I had a baby. I was pretty cranky even when I had theatre jobs. As scary as it was to not be a performer, it was actually calmer. I had had a good run that included many high points over a decade of work. People who knew me as a child still wonder if I miss dancing. But I was shedding that side of me even back in my performing days. My body was never made to dance at the level I had asked it to perform. (I'm dealing with the fallout from that every day now.) But if I could get my voice back in shape, if I could work with a great pianist and start singing, a happier part of my performing self might return. Just chanting at the end of a yoga class reminds me of that side of me, making me long for more notes, more syllables, more instruments.

And then the surprising opportunity of directing came along. I had so many good directors over the years. Some were high school teachers, some were fellow college students, some were directors for whom I worked, some taught classes for professionals. I also had some terrible ones; directors who were getting paid to do this. I didn't think I was a director when I got asked to help with Shakespeare for 8th graders. But when I saw how something I offered could make even a bad performance look better, something I offered could bring out more from the child who coasted on talent, when I realized I could get a good performance out of children who wished they didn't have to do this play, well, it made me less tolerant of poor play productions where the children all wanted to be there and wanted to be pushed to do better work. If I could get so much from students who were required to be in the show, why wasn't I doing this more? This one would require certification or even a degree. I would need to learn pedagogy (rehearsing a play is not teaching acting classes). It might require doing it to the exclusion of all else.


Maybe I shouldn't meet good friends for lunch anymore. It makes me think big thoughts.

Monday, June 28, 2010

fending off shadows

If you need to disappear into a book to hide from the gloomy clouds that are hovering nearby, it doesn't matter if the clouds are out your window or in your collar bones. It is imperative that you at least find a good book.

May I recommend The History of Love by Nicole Kraus or anything by Anne LaMott.

If you need me, I'll be riding out the storm with Elegance of a Hedgehog.

~ LS

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer Musing

I went rooting around on YouTube today. Looking for nuno felting tips on bigger projects, like seamless coats and dresses. Found some surprisingly bad stuff. Not the end-product, but the actual videos. I'd love to make my own how-to video, but now there are so many... I feel like I did in musical theatre; like I missed my era. I had a better teacher and am a better teacher than these women (and it is all women) I've seen so far. I also haven't found anything yet that isn't a scarf. I'm pretty sure I know how to make those.

I haven't settled into the summer routine yet. Not sure when I'm working and when I'm mom. If it's a beach day, when do we go? Before I do some felting or after? I'd forgotten how much time goes into calling friends' parents to coordinate playdates. Time away from getting anything else done. The schlepping is down a bit this year, due to Spring baseball instead of Summer baseball. But that also means the boredom level will rise for the baseball player soon. I'm all for boredom actually, but when he sits reading for 8 hours a day, he cannot get to sleep at night. I am so wishing we had a pool. Swimming wears them out but good. I have to factor in beach time VERY soon. Are there beaches where you don't get sand in your suit?

I did manage to lay out a scarf and get over an hour's worth of rolling done on it. And I managed to try out some new recipes for dinner. I used my new Woolynns debit card for the first time today. And I discovered that my children will barter butternut squash for sweet potatoes (the latter being the tuber of choice). I'll take it.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Going Deep into the Roving

Just when I think I'm out of ideas, new pictures and colors and designs pop into my head. I may have to head into clothing to see these creations come in to being. I've worked three dimensionally before. The mental work of understanding seamless purses that first workshop --- there's a front and a back to the inside, and a front and a back to the outside? That no longer phases me so much. What pulls me up short now is should I actually re-invent the wheel or do I do a little research into techniques first?

Photos soon of recent creations will be followed by tales from this mysterious path that is pulling me. Fiber and color and design and function will collide brilliantly, I hope. If not, as Mark says, someone will like it.

~ LS

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Why do this?

I started Woolynns because a good friend told me I was going to sell the scarves I was beginning to make. She did not encourage or ask; she informed me I will be selling them. That was over two years and 100 sales ago. I feel like I am painting with wool and silk when I'm working. Laying out fluffy wool roving on beautifully dyed silk; finding used silk scarves to cut up and piece together with other silks; laying swoops and swirls of yarns to different effect --- all of it feeds a part of me I didn't realize was hungry.

The muscles I use felting it all together reminds me of my years of baking bread; three and four loaves at a time, kneading all that dough worked my arms, hands, upper body. I have transferred that work into wetting down and rolling a scarf in bubble wrap and a towel for over an hour (in shifts), rubbing the fused materials against a textured surface until the wool shrinks and firms up. Where once the end result was fantastic warm bread for my family, now I get a one-of-a-kind piece of wearable art.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


So it looks like I've succumbed. Me. Blogging. I don't know why the world needs this blog yet. I do know I've been told to do this more times than I can count. I'm waiting to figure out what I have to say to the world, which is odd since I rarely am without words.

I spend much of my time teaching: teaching my daughter how to use a sewing machine, teaching my son how to handle the latest crisis, teaching pregnant women about their bodies, teaching new moms how to find faith in themselves as moms, teaching 8th graders about acting, teaching someone with injury how to find relief. Lots of words.

I prefer when I get to learn. Today, I am learning how to shift into summer schedules as one child finished school and the other will be done in two days. I'd rather learn how to make something new out of silk and wool. I guess that learning will come tomorrow.
After I learn how to make fish stock.