Winter Solstice 2020
When I last wrote, in August, I mentioned Pandemic Permanence. Well, here we are. In more of a lockdown than before, now in a greater surge, and with continued resistance to simple measures, like masks and staying home, that can save lives. I have been fortunate to be working from home, creating beautiful things in fiber and creating an online store.
As the wheel of the year turned to Autumn, we lost our beloved RBG. It felt like an important and comforting point of connection to participate in some KALs that raised money for causes she believed in.
As Autumn began, I completed a color gamp based on Lunatic Fringe’s Tints and Tones. This was the next step in my series of Altar Cloths that I plan to finish in early 2021. A total of five different cloths are planned with two of them already completed. Colors and drafts are in planning for the remaining three.
As the pandemic wore on, I continued weaving, knitting, and spinning. Scarves and shawls came off looms and needles.
There were, of course, other knitting and weaving projects completed but as this is being written before holiday gift giving, no pictures are being shared.
It finally happened! I launched my online shop in December. It was more complicated and took much longer than anticipated. I found myself facing obstacles I couldn’t solve on my own and began the search for a consultant. A connection was made with a wonderful consultant who put me in touch with the Sierra Small Business Development Center and a grant. With grant and consultant, and lots more hard work (meaning no loom time), the shop opened in early December. Thanks to family, friends, and word of mouth, the opening was a success. Next steps will include creating more inventory and increasing my visibility. Perhaps someday I will be able to include other fiber artists.
Before turning so much of my attention to development of my online store, I was able to finish the Krokbragd rug on my Gilmore. Gil served me well and the rug graces the hallway. It is bigger than I needed next to my bed and because Gil did not sell yet, it is possible one more rug will be woven in the near future. After that, I really do need to find a good home for this loom as I will be focusing on cloth, rather than rugs and space here in my studio that is home is at a premium. It seems this autumn was not a good time to try and sell looms or fiber tools so I will try again in the beginning of the new year.
As the year, as difficult as this one has been, draws to a close, there is one other project to mention. After collecting fiber for about a year, I finally began my Blue Note Combo spin in March. Interestingly, I now listen to a good deal of jazz.
Spinning was completed in August and the sweater came off the needles a few days ago. I spun 1360 yards of a heavy worsted weight yarn and used 1076 yards in this sweater.
As can happen with wool and silk blends, wet blocking produced a rather larger than intended sweater. Thanks to recent conversation in my weaving group, I now have a solution for such a problem. This is a problem that plagued two earlier sweaters so they will be undergoing the same transformation. I placed a partially dry, damp sweater in a large lingerie bag, put the bag in the dryer on the delicate setting with the lowest temperature, and timed the drying for two to three minutes at a time, checking on the sweater after each brief period in the dryer. I’m happy to report that after about 12 minutes, my Blue Note sweater is much more to gauge specifications.
I am heartened as the Winter Solstice approaches. Certainly, we are not out of the woods yet. It is a very dark, mysterious forest with no clear exit and we do not know if we will find our way out. But light is returning. If we ask the right questions, perhaps we will find our way.
It will be very difficult to have my first ever holiday season without either of my two beloved kids. But I know I am among the very fortunate individuals who have not lost family members during this awful pandemic and during the horrid violence that has plagued our streets. I know how fortunate I am to enjoy the love and company of my best friend, husband, and partner. I didn’t think we could be even closer, but we are. And it seems important to just notice the small, ordinary, and wonderful moments.
The other day, as Michael and I headed to his dojo for our separate workouts (me on the elliptical with Bike the World videos on the iPad and loud, live Grateful Dead shows in my ears and Michael in graceful karate), I felt the warmth of our home, the sun in the room, and gave thanks. I hope you enjoy the poem below the photos.
The Shortest Day
So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us—Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.