29 May 2009

You spin me right round, baby.

This past week, I deviated a bit from my goal of "one project, start to finish, every week." But some projects are worth an extra week or two, especially if you're starting from scratch. So last week, while Jason was out of the house for an evening of Ticket to Ride with some friends, I stayed home, put on Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, and did some spinning. I got the tension on my spinning wheel just right and ended up with some of the most beautiful, delicate, even, 2-ply hand-spun yarn ever, if I do say so myself. Okay, maybe not ever, but still pretty dang good. Now all I need is a week or two at home to gather some plants and make some dye in a cast iron pot over a fire in the backyard. Then, once the wool is dry, I need a solid couple of days (and some patience) to sit down with Amy or my mom and actually learn how to knit something other than straight knit-stitch scarves. I don't really enjoy the knitting part, which is probably why I stopped at the yarn-making step last week.
But I do very much enjoy spinning. The gentle rhythm of my double treadle, the changing texture as I stretch the soft roving and feel it tighten under my fingers as it spins, the tension of hold and release as the yarn is pulled onto the bobbin, the reminder that I will produce good results if I can just keep my feet from speeding too quickly ahead. It's simple, therapeutic, relaxing work.
I forget all that when I let the wheel rest too long gathering dust in my living room. It becomes a mere decoration, an accessory. My eyes glance over it as something that naturally belongs in my home because I grew up with spinning wheels in the living room, on the bend in the staircase, in my mother's bedroom, in the barn. I'm always surprised when guests come over, and that is one of the first things they comment on. "What is that? Is that a spinning wheel? Like in Rumpelstiltskin? Can you work it?" It makes me grateful for my parents, the rich tradition of craftsmanship they raised me in, the value they placed on taking the time to start from scratch, and the skills that they taught me to honor and preserve history with my hands.

26 May 2009

What Is Beauty?!?

(Disclaimer: I have my post for last week's make drafted. I just need to get some pictures. So although I am looking ahead, I am not falling behind. End disclaimer.)

In the mean time, I'm having some trouble with this week's make. A few people at Gordon-Conwell have started up a literary arts journal for (and by) our seminary community. It's called KALOS, which is the Greek word for beautiful...I think. (You'll have to ask Jason if you want a more accurate and complete definition.) The theme for the Fall issue is "What is beauty?" And submissions are due on Monday. I've been thinking about this for almost 2 months, and I am stumped.

There's a good possibility that I'm making it far too complicated. I'm sure that the theme is open-ended and generic because they're looking to comprise a journal that is full of beautiful things, a kaleidoscopic cornucopia of beauty. But I don't just want to make something beautiful. I want my submission to say something about what beauty is. Something symbolic and deeply meaningful and profound. The world is wide open to me: I could sew, embroider, felt, knit, crochet, applique, draw, paint, write, carve, or do any combination of those things. As long as I can send it as a jpeg or a document, it qualifies. I have the tools and the skills and the time. I even have a frame--remember that old mirror frame I got at the White Elephant? What better to frame a piece on beauty than an old mirror? I know. Perfect, right? But I just don't know what to do.

I need some help, some collaboration, some brainstorming. Does anyone have an idea for me? Or even just an answer to the question, "what is beauty?" I think that beauty is anything that moves a person to worship. Like when rays of sunlight peek out of the clouds, that is beautiful, and I think, "Wow. God is pretty awesome." Or when I'm eating popcorn, I notice how every kernel is different, and I think, "How cool is God that He would create something as wonderful and varied as popcorn?" That is beautiful. Or when I talk to a person who has a rich story, full of struggle and redemption, together with them, I can celebrate God's faithfulness. That is beauty personified. But how do I turn those thoughts into a jpeg? Using creative media that no one else will think to use? Making a profound statement that is beautiful in meaning and also pleasing to look at? Like I said, stumped. Can I get a little help here?

25 May 2009

Catching Up 2: Funfetti!

The Saturday after my menorah project was Jason's birthday! Remember? I said I was probably going to be baking something but that Jason wanted a confetti cake so I may have to try to find something else that didn't come from a box? Well, Jason was not about to be persuaded from his dessert of choice, so while he watched the final game of a very exciting Bulls-Celtics series, I set to work on his confetti cake. Wanting to make it at least a little more exciting for myself, I asked how he wanted the cake shaped. Bundt pan? Double-layer round cake? Cupcakes? But Jason (being very much my "compliment"--aka opposite) just wanted a flat cake in a 9x13. Really? Yes. Why? Because it makes for better serving sizes. Humph...how very practical.

But it was his birthday, so I gave the man what he wanted. To make myself feel a little better, I flipped the cake out of the pan so I could at least frost the sides and put it on a pretty plate. Ahh...that's better.
Jason was happy with his cake, and that's what matters most.
I really shouldn't give him too much of a hard time. For my birthday, I asked for pancakes. Big surprise there.
This just goes to show you that compatibility does not mean finding someone just like you to share your life with. (How boring would that be?!?) Rather, it's about finding someone who loves you for all your little quirks and who you love for all of theirs...someone who will make pancakes or confetti cake to celebrate you, even if they don't completely understand. So happy birthday to my wonderful funfetti-cake-loving husband. You complete me.

24 May 2009

Catching Up 1: You Light Up My Life

I know, I know. It's shameful that I'm so behind. But better late than never. April 19-25, I was on the youth group Philly trip, which did not leave much/any time for making anything. I believe before I left, I said I was going to "make the best of it," which I did, and in the long run, it's good that I went (even though I am still making up time at work for vacation days I didn't have and will be doing so until the beginning of June. Lovely.). Anyway, by Sunday night, I had a bit of energy, so Jason and I put on a movie (Ocean's 11 maybe? 12? 13? I don't remember) and painted together. And this is what we painted:
Jason found these little beauties in some very convenient little kits at the Target dollar spot back in February or thereabouts. He brought them home as a little surprise with the promise that we would paint them together at some point. After a week of wrangling small town high schoolers and junior highers in the very urban context of west philly, but still wanting to make something, this seemed like the perfect time to whip out the menorahs. Relaxing, creative, kinda silly face time with my husband. Exactly what I needed.

So this is the infamous project which brought me back to me ethnic roots. Even though I sadly know very little about Jewish culture, I am quite proud of the fact that my mom's mom was Jewish, which means that by blood, I am among "the chosen." I know. You're jealous. Don't worry...I've heard something or other about a "new covenant" so you're probably covered, too. L'chai-im!

20 May 2009


Well, it has officially happened. I am a slacker. I haven't posted in over a week. And I didn't make anything last week. I spent most of my free time cleaning my apartment (which was an absolute pit), and Megan, Justin, and Josiah (aka cutest and best baby ever) came to visit for the weekend. It was so great having them here, showing them our little Port away from Port, and getting some face time with my baby nephew. But by the end of the weekend, I was too tired to create. I started an embroidery hoop wall art project...but then I was seized by a fit of fabric misering. One of the biggest issues I have with creating with fabric is that my stash is limited, and when I have a fabric I really love, it's an emotional battle to cut it up and use it. Silly, I know. Something I have to get over, absolutely. But a hindrance nonetheless...as was the fact that it was 10:30 on Sunday night. (Note: my weeks for weekly makes run Monday-Monday. I find it easier to do projects when my weekends are kept intact.)

But despite not making anything last week, it did mark a small sort of victory. Last week was the first week in fourteen weeks that I didn't make something. And I'm pretty excited about that accomplishment because consistency hasn't always been my strong point. So I'm starting up again this week with fresh energy, refusing to beat myself up or try to catch up. Just moving forward.

In the mean time, I still owe you my ethnic roots post and Jason's birthday post. Coming soon to a blog near you. :o)

10 May 2009

Happy Mothers' Day!!

I have the very best mother in the world. She's always been my best friend. She's full of life and energy and quippy one-liners of wisdom, which I frequently whip out on the youth group kids and I'm sure I'll use them on my own kids someday, too. Just about everything I know worth knowing, I learned from my mom.

I also have the very best mother-in-law in the world. She is so kind and encouraging. And she raised Jason to be an excellent husband, teaching him things like compassion and helpfulness. I am forever in her debt for raising such a wonderful man of God.

And I have the very best sisters in the world. They're both so fun and talented and loving--even when I'm bad about returning their phone calls. And this is their first Mothers' Day as mothers, so I want to celebrate them, too.So since my mom and my sisters all do some sort of gardening, I made coordinating gardening aprons for them from a pattern in A is for Apron. They are complete with big pockets for gloves, a spade, and gardening shears, and a little pocket for seeds or maybe a cell phone (so they don't miss it when I do call them back). I can't decide whose is whose. I could see all three of them in all three of the aprons. (So if you have a preference, let me know, and I will do my best to be accommodating.) The more heavy-duty gloves are for my mom 'cause she does crazy stuff like ripping out briers with her bare hands. Did I mention that she's also incredibly strong and stubborn? :o)

And for Jason's mom, I made a kitchen apron that I designed myself with some inspiration from fabrics that reminded me of her. We've been doing some recipe swapping, so Jason and I also made her a little recipe book with some of my favorites. (I know it looks like something you'd get from a third grader, but the recipes are quite good.)So happy Mothers' Day to all the mothers in my life. I love you all so much, and I hope you're having a wonderful day of celebration, even though I can't be with you in person.

(Your presents will be in the mail tomorrow. Sorry about the delay. :o/)