February 19, 2016

 (Pictured: Master weaver Becky Ashenden's handwoven band samples)

On the 1st of this month I returned to Vavstuga in Shelburne Falls, and will be here for four months total participating in the Vavstuga Immersion Program. Unbelievably, week three is already coming to a close. Each day I rise around 8am and have some breakfast, tea, and time to myself before class begins at 9am. Class ends at four but we are allowed to weave until 9pm. Days are full of weaving, drafting classes, materials classes, and design classes. I'm also learning spinning (though most of the others are already very familiar), and bobbin lace making.

I am living together with four other women in a big yellow farm house, full of lovely wallpaper and many, many looms. We make meals together when we can. At night you can often find us around a crackling fire snuggled under handwoven blankets, drinking red wine, doing homework, carding wool, or practicing nålebinding- yet another skill I've delved into. It is a knotting technique that dates back to Viking times and is older than both knitting and crochet. And with that, I'd like to head back to the living room now... hot cocoa is calling my name this evening.

February 11, 2016

Rewind <<< Travel Recap

Since I last wrote I've worked, I've fulfilled my life-long dream of a backpacking trip around Europe (solo!), and spent a lot of time with my thoughts. Living at home again in the winter of 2015 to save money for Europe was a wise financial decision, but difficult both emotionally and socially. When I left suburban Maryland post high school I hadn't planned to go back save for the occasional visit. My life during those months revolved around going to yoga as often as possible in order to maintain my sanity, and going to work for my stepdad at his office. Leading up to my departure date for Iceland, the first stop on my journey, I grew increasingly anxious. All the what-ifs and worst-cast scenarios haunted my dreams. Looking back, though I desperately longed for a travel companion at the time, I see now how important it was that I take those steps alone. Yes, traveling with epilepsy was hard. I won't sugarcoat it and pretend it was all late nights dancing and whimsy and cute cultural mishaps. But now I know what I can do, and surprisingly, it is so much more than I expected.

In total I visited 13 countries over 4 months: Iceland, England, Italy, France, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Spain, and The Netherlands. It was a time in my life that I will undoubtedly cherish when I'm old and gray. I collected black sand on the beaches of Vik. I saw flamingos and wild horses in the south of France. I dipped my toes in the Medeteranian for the first time. I ate, arguably, the best goat cheese in the known universe. I marched in 4 pride parades. I snuck into an abandoned amusement park on the outskirts of Berlin. I went back to a large Henry Darger exhibition three times in one week-- completely in love, completely in awe. In Prague I spoke out loud and heard the trees speak back to me in my own voice. I slept more soundly than I had a long, long time in a bed breakfast in the fjords of Norway. I pretended I was fancy at the Cannes Film Festival. I savored pasta at the World's Fair in Milan. At times it seemed I couldn't feel more lonely, while other moments I reveled in the sweetness of my own company. Somewhere between London and Cambridge I experienced my worst case scenario, and I survived, by the grace of a woman on a train I will never get to meet or thank. And so, so much more.

January 18, 2015

Throwback to fall: learning to marble silks & cottons


By far the most thrilling thing I learned at Arrowmont was fabric marbling. It is a quick, playful craft. We worked with mainly cottons and silks, but also experimented with a number of other fabrics as well. Certain synthetics worked surprisingly well. We even witnessed a few amazing wood marbling demos. I left with yards of marbled fabric (mostly cut down to test sizes). I am so excited to do more with this technique in the future. I am positively brimming with ideas...


January 8, 2015

Notes from the fall.


Tennessee. I met some incredible people and worked very, very hard. Truth be told, my couple of months there were not as creatively fertile as I had hoped they would be. Week after week I worked the morning shift in the kitchen- up at 5am and too often crashing into bed at 2:30 in the afternoon for naps that always left me grouchy and slightly depressed. While I didn't produce as much new work as I had anticipated, I did manage to do a lot of writing; inspiration was aplenty and I left with a lot of new ideas. I also found time to start re-building my website. Slow but steady progress on that front. One of my favorite nights there was my last- Halloween! Frankie (see his website here), one of the artists in residence, planned an elaborate Dolly Parton-themed murder mystery party. I had an absolute blast playing one of the murderers and dressing up in a silly tie-dye jumpsuit!


After Tennessee I made my way to Western Massachusetts, where I took an amazing week-long weaving course taught by Becky Ashenden of the Vavstuga School. Becky has woven for many years in the Swedish tradion: her methods are tried, true, and beautifully refined. Learning from her was a very different experience than weaving at Penland; the focus was more on mastering the basics of the craft, whereas Penland had been more about conceptual and creative thought. It was a challenging five days in which I managed to weave two small table cloths, a wool blanket, and a dishtowel. The speed and determination of those days gave me a small glimpse of what it might be like to have my own production line. It gave me a lot to think about. Vavstuga School has an apprenticeship program and it is something I would absolutely love to do someday.