“A Bit of a Whirlwind”

The last week or so in world terms has been a bit of a whirlwind. This has been reflected in my own life as events have spun around the centre of my being and I am now trying to earth and take it all in.

It has been impossible to ignore the suffering in the Phillipines, especially the children. I decided to cut my Christmas budget and make a donation to help with distributing aid as quickly as possible to where it most needs to go. I can only pray for a swift recovering and trust that my prayers will be added to the many from round the world. The events in Sri Lanka have also been disturbing and while I don’t understand the full political picture, I do understand something of what it would feel like to have my sons taken away from me and not know their fate. A mother’s worst nightmare!

In the face of all this, I count my blessings and am thankful for the things that happened to me this week. I was in hospital overnight for a routine fluid drain and was reminded again of how good the care is that I have received since I got ill and the humour and good nature that accompanies that care.

The biggest lightening bolt was the arrival of the final proof of Handweaving: the Basics. It looks so amazing and the final editing is a matter of strategic tweaks. It will be such a joy to finish it and send it back ready for printing. Then we’ll have a PARTY!

Receiving the parcel was quite emotional and I have to confess that I cried all over Freddie the Postman. Luckily he was wearing his regulation raincoat and probably felt quite pleased to be making someone happy rather than delivering their pre-Christmas bills.

So now it’s time to work slowly on the revisions in the book, give my body a chance to recover from losing so much substance in one go and begin softly to think of Christmas and enjoy the preparations. My paperwhites are poking their leaves up through the soil and there’s an amaryllis swelling in it’s pot in the cupboard, so that part of the plan is going well.

I treated myself to two books this week. One was recommended by a friend, “Meditations with the Cherokee” by JT Garrett. The other is “living on the earth” by alicia bay laurel, a beautifully illustrated handwritten book that was a big part of my life 40 years ago when we lived on the island in Sweden. The “Rewild” course I have just completed brought this book to mind and I was thrilled to find it in print again and just as I remembered it. The cover of the old copy was soaked in olive oil from a cooking experiment all those years ago. It will be interesting to see what the fate of this one will be.

So it’s been a lovely blend of past and present this week with much to look forward to.

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To read about my textile and artistic work see:

The Arran Knitting Company

Rainbow Textiles

blogs I love:

Scottish Island Mum

One Soul Many Hearts

Miracle Design

Angela Elliott-Walker

Simple Abundance

Illustrated Journaling

Useful Websites:

Headspace

We are Wildness

“Unfinished Business”

Unfinished Work.jpg1

Unfinished Sampler c. 1650

Someone sent me this postcard years ago and I have kept it in my file, constantly intrigued by the fact that it is unfinished and curious as to what happened to the embroiderer who didn’t finish it. It is attributed to Mary, wife of James II of Scotland. Was it death, war, packing up to go to another castle, simply boredom or a feeling that it wasn’t ‘good enough’ to finish, or she had run out of yarn.

I like to think of handwork as part of a production process, one of a series. In my book on Handweaving I have written advice to students who are struggling with finishing pieces because they are not perfect. “There is no such thing as a masterpiece, each piece is a practice for the next and we learn as we go along”.

The important thing is that we never stop learning. Our society puts the emphasis on milestones like exams and degrees, yet these are really just markers on the way of lifelong learning and with trial and error, we can always come to the next step of proficiency and achievement, knowing that this is just a step on the way.

The positive side of unfinished business is that we can always finish it at a later date. The frustration that comes to us is a sign to move on and try new things and in that process we’ll find the skills to either go back and finish the piece we’ve left behind or find the courage to file it away for someone else to pick up who has the skills and interest to carry on.

I’ve spent frustrating hours at the loom not understanding why something wasn’t quite right. On one famous occasion I was trying to learn a Finnish technique using beautiful coloured linen from Helsinki. The technique just wouldn’t come right either with tension or colour blend and after several days I thought “What the heck” and started to weave a design on the warp which was not the one I planned, but one which looked stunning and sold as soon as it was finished. There are no rules and its all about exploration.

I’m not a fan of the Spanish explorers and Christopher Columbus is definitely not one of my heroes, but it is amazing how often we set off to achieve a goal, only to discover that we’ve arrived somewhere else much more to the point and more satisfying than what we set out to do originally.

We are quite arrogant about our lives when it comes to unfinished business and reluctant to acknowledge that we may leave projects unfinished or ideas undeveloped and that’s OK. There is no race and the process of learning is like everything else worthwhile, one day at a time

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My book Handweaving: The Basics is on pre-publication sale through Amazon.

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To read about my textile and artistic work see:

The Arran Knitting Company

Rainbow Textiles

blogs I love:

Scottish Island Mum

One Soul Many Hearts

Miracle Design

Angela Elliott-Walker

Simple Abundance

Illustrated Journaling

Useful Website:

Headspace

“Around the World in 81 Gardens”

This week began with the pleasure of re-watching Monty Don’s “Around the World in 80 Gardens” which I treated myself to on DVD.

And the 81st?? Brodick Castle Gardens in my own backyard where I took a lovely trip with my visitors – daughter Jill & granddaughters Blythe and Fern from Galway and son Simon who lives and works in Peru.

Beeches at Brodick Castle.jpg1

Beeches Beginning to Turn at Brodick Castle – October 30

I loved Monty Don’s series because it brings together some of the things I am most passionate about, apart from gardening. From the ancient and modern art and architecture of gardens in Mexico to the magical house designed by the Chilean architect Juan Grimm which perches on the rocks above the sea on the Pacific Coast outside of Santiago and the perspective of more formal gardens in Europe, it was a feast for most of the senses, and I could smell the hot sand and the salty sea, and feel the prairie winds rustle my hair as they did the grasses.

Equally impressive were the gardens which were for food and sustenance, like the ones attached by floats to houses on the Amazon and the Floating Gardens of Xochimilco,  in the midst of Mexico city. In Havana, co-operative gardens are an important feature of life in Cuba, providing organic food for the local neighbourhoods, run by residents for residents.

There was a strong spiritual dimension to the series, reminding us that gardens and the land contribute to well-being physical and emotional and health, providing a sense of peace in the planning and maintenance of the earth and surrounding space.

If you haven’t seen any of this series it is well worth getting a hold of the DVDs and doing what I did, curl up and watched them while waiting for my family to arrive.

Background music for today….The rattle of LEGO as the Hallowe’en House came into being, the gentle sound of two generations playing cards (no quarter given), wind and rain battering the car as we sang our repertoire of rounds while waiting for Simon to get off the bus in Whiting Bay”Why doesn’t my gooooooose????”,* (Sing as well as thy goose, when I paid for my goose, twice as much as thine).

Oh and of course, the Aberdeen match on the laptop. Blend that all together and all you can do is end up laughing hilariously and feel blessed that we can all be together now and then and get it out of our system until the next visit.”October Visit1 October Visit2 October Visit5

This was my Facebook description of our visit yesterday. Now the girls are back home in Galway, somewhat disgruntled about having missed Hallowe’en guising, but soothed by messages from their friends that they had got soaked in the Hallowe’en weather. I miss them, but I know that they are back on their own path again and we will visit again soon. It was so lovely to see my daughter as well and to appreciate what a good mother she is.

Simon leaves on Saturday morning and I am very glad that Alison will be in to help me in the flat, to take my mind off his departure and clearing space for me to work on the final, final draft of my Hand Weaving book which is on its way from the publishers now. It won’t make up for my absent weans, but I will see them again soon and hopefully by the next visit the book will be a reality.

Tomorrow is our in-house Communion. That will be a welcome source of strength and remind me that I will think about the next visit and not grieve for the end of this one…

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To read about my textile and artistic work see:

The Arran Knitting Company

Rainbow Textiles

blogs I love:

Scottish Island Mum

One Soul Many Hearts

Miracle Design

Angela Elliott-Walker

Nordic House

Simple Abundance

Illustrated Journaling

Useful Website:

Headspace

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