Happy Mail Day

Orchard Lane by The Fiber Seed

Yarn and fiber lovers everywhere can identify with the this picture and the title of the post. Anytime we receive beautiful yarn in the mail it is a very good day. This particular yarn is hand dyed by a small company run by a husband and wife team. She is the artistic one and the face of the brand while he handles the business end of things. They worked yarn shows together back when we could do those things in person. Now they must rely on online and wholesale sales to support their family. I was the first store in Texas to carry their yarn; I love it and them to this day.

For the non-fiber folks out there let me explain what is so great about this kind of mail as the concept can be applied to many different hobbies or passionate pursuits. As a former yarn shop owner I helped many a person figure out what to make next. For, you see, the making is just part of the process. Making something – no matter the medium – is as much a heart process as a physical one. We aren’t laboriously working away so our families can have warm garments this winter. We are using our hands and minds to create something new, often for the sake of making something new. The satisfaction is in the making. This is why so many knitters and crocheters give their items away. We are creators.

Planning

A new project begins with planning. Sometimes know exactly what we want to make and other times there is just an itch to knit, crochet, weave, or whatever yarny pursuit is desired at the moment. In my case I have a December wedding to attend. The dress I have to wear has short sleeves and even in south Louisiana, a December evening can be cold. So rather than buy a new dress, I invested in this beautiful yarn made by someone I adore so that I can knit a wrap to wear. I knew the minute I saw this colorway that this is the yarn for me.

I had a pattern in mind, but now that the yarn is here I will look again to be sure the original idea is still what I want to make. This could involve hours of looking online at patterns and projects others have made with this or a similar yarn. My husband could not understand this kind of effort. Just get the yarn and make something was his advice until one day I turned the tables on him.

Wandering through the aisles of our local Academy Outdoors and More store, enduring his endless pondering over what kind of hunting items to purchase, I said, “Why don’t you just buy something and use it?” He looked at me, puzzled and was about to make a sarcastic retort when the lightbulb went off. Now he got it. The planning and shopping, thinking and dreaming are crucial to the creative process.

Anticipation

Once the yarn is ordered then I sit and wait…and wait…and wait some more. It only took about a week but it felt like forever. Anticipation is always the most exciting part of the process. It is the time when the imagination runs wild as I think about the colors, the feel and smell of the yarn, and the feeling of casting on, knitting, and seeing what I envisioned come to life. It is magical. It is addictive. And it is the addictive part that can get folks in trouble, but that is for another day.

Someone once told me that we all need something to look forward to. It is what gets us through the drudgery of everyday life. Even if life is great, looking forward to something allows the creative part of our brains to go on vacation. Twice a month I meet a friend for either breakfast or lunch. It gives me two guaranteed things to look forward to every month.

Delaying gratification and having things to look forward to are so very important. Try it. You won’t regret it.

Creating

The next step is the actual execution of the plan. Casting on (the act of putting the yarn onto the needles forming the stitches to knit) and then actually knitting the item. This part provides hours of restful pleasure. The act of actually doing that thing you’ve looked forward to for so long is incredibly rewarding.

Sometimes things don’t always work as envisioned, or the pattern is more challenging than anticipated. That is ok. There are things to learn and grow from there as well.

Lessons From Happy Mail Day

1. Plan then purchase something online and enjoy waiting…dream a little. Be like Ralph from A Christmas Story who waited for his decoder ring only to be disappointed in the end. Not everything we dream up or plan for works out, but there is pleasure in the waiting and dreaming.

2. Always have something to look forward to. This doesn’t have to cost a lot of money – in fact it is best if it doesn’t cost much – but it should be something that brings you joy and is just for you.

3. Create. We have been created to create. This doesn’t mean you have to be an artist, crafts person, it just means you use your mind and your hands to make something new. Plant a seed, cook a meal, rearrange the furniture, organize a closet, plan and execute a fishing or hunting trip, plan a picnic, take a drive just to see where the road leads. Life is a grand adventure…live it to the fullest!

Are You Listening?

There is has never been a time in my modern recollection that humanity has been in greater need of soul nurturing than right here, right now.

I look at this pandemic and all the chaos going on worldwide as an opportunity for a reboot. A unique moment in time when we are in a forced isolation and we have a choice. It is as if God is trying to get the attention of the entire world. We can look at the humans scrambling to fix it or we can look to God for understanding. Continue with the old way of doing things or listen to that still small voice in our heart and make changes.

What kind of changes? Depends on who you are and what you need. For me, I need to simplify, prioritize, and allow God to permeate every moment of every day.

I have written about my love for choral music. I believe I have the soul of a monastic. I am at my most peaceful and content when I tune out the modern world and immerse myself in music that draws me near to God; spending the first part of my day in the presence of my Creator, waiting and listening for that which is just for me, then going about my day feeling that connection. Making things with my hands is the natural outpouring of how my day begins. Whether I am making yarn, a meal or doing laundry, I am doing all as unto the Lord. Everything is sacred because it is all a gift.

How will you use the gift of today? I pray that you find something of eternal value in your day.

Disconnected

This is how I view the world today.

I’m a child of the sixties – born in 1958, my young childhood was shaped by the sixties. Like most kids of the day my world view came from family, school, and television. My TV watching preferences included cartoons, Petticoat Junction, The Beverly Hillbillies, Get Smart The Brady Bunch and The Wonderful World of Disney among others. Our life was not perfect, but I knew nothing different and I was happy.

My husband was born in 1947 and grew up in the fifties. This period of time is often idealized for the economic prosperity that came after the end of WWII. The nuclear family was strong, people began moving for work thus increasing opportunities for economic success. For a child, this must have seemed like a magical time to grow up. My husband had a happy childhood.

We were children and we viewed our world as children. Those experiences have helped shape us into the adults we are today. We have both grown and expanded our horizons of beliefs and now can view the times we grew up in through less rose colored glasses. We can recognize that not everyone had the kind of life we had. No child can possibly understand that concept, but as adults we can look back and see through adult eyes the inequalities.

One of the things that seemed to hold us together, as a country, was the shared vision of us as Americans. We have continued to evolve throughout history and, though often painful, we continue to evolve. This time feels different. I feel isolated and helpless. I believe that there are lots of folks out there silently feeling as I do, desperately needing to know we are not alone. I need to move away from the shouting to find a place of peace and purpose.

I find solace in God and expression in my art. I am a fiber artist and that is where I go to express what words cannot. I prayed this morning, thankful for a new day and a new opportunity to reach out to the world. This blog is part of my daily work. I also asked for wisdom and guidance in communicating what can no longer be done verbally. We are living in a time where no matter what one person says to another, the potential exists to be misinterpreted. It is as though the words are scrambled in midair before reaching the other person’s ears, much like the adults in Peanuts cartoons , it all sounds like gibberish.

I pulled out my sketchbook and recorded four or five pages of ideas for art pieces that express the disconnect I see and feel. I even have a title for the collection. I now have more inspiration than it seems I have a lifetime to create. But, I will take it one step at a time, seeking God’s guidance along the way, as my hands are doing the work but it is Him guiding the message.

Order out of chaos.

I believe that as citizens it is important to know what our elected officials are doing – or not doing. I watch and read, staying informed; however, once informed, I will not dwell on these events. I will dwell upon the things that are good, pure, righteous and of God. For what I dwell upon transforms my mind and spirit. God is order. God is love and peace. That is what I want in my life and I know where to go to find it.

Until tomorrow, may your day be filled with good thoughts and a peaceful heart…

I Stand Amazed

There are few things that move my soul as much as the beauty of nature. Nature is where I feel connected to God and can allow my spirit to relax and decompress from the rigors of the modern world. Nature inspires my art work and fuels my desire to travel. It is truly the magnificence of God on display for all to see.

Having discovered my Scottish ancestry I am completely enthralled with this corner of the world. Specifically it is the islands of Orkney, Shetland and Fair Isle that capture my fancy. Certainly my adoration of wool has something to do with the Shetland and Fair Isle infatuation; my ancestors on my mother’s side can be traced to Orkney. While I don’t believe that my attraction is necessarily genetic, I have deep need to travel there to see if this connection is purely a romantic notion or indeed something deeper. Recently I discovered a delightful Instagram account (@shetlandwithlaurie). Laurie has quite the resume and is a native of Shetland. Among other things she runs a Shetland tour business. I asked her if I could share some photographs of this amazing place. She graciously agreed. If you are interested, her website is Shetland With Laurie . All photos in this post are used with her permission and can be found on her Instagram account.

This a view of Sumburghhead where Laurie went Puffin watching. Image from Instagram: @shetlandwithlaurie and @promoteshetland
Puffins are simply the most delightful birds. I want to see them in person.
Instagram: @shetlandwithlaurie / Shetland With Laurie

Laurie’s blog is so informative. She not only loves Shetland, but is a historian as well. I read her post on the rule of the Stewarts when they took control of Scotland and the surrounding islands. If this corner of the world is of interest to you, please visit and follow her on social media.

Since I can’t go to Shetland right this minute, I must find ways of filling myself from home. Unfortunately I live near the coast of southeast Texas and this is the most miserable time of year. I am looking for a remote Air BnB where I can just be quiet with God in His creation for a weekend. Maybe by doing that every few weeks might help nourish mind, soul and art. How will you reconnect? Whatever your belief or need level, nature is the best rejuvenation around.

Until tomorrow may you find the peace and joy of the natural world around you.