Getting centered.

Literally and figuratively. Centering my cross stitch pieces and finding emotional and mental calm.

Let’s start with that second one.

(Click here to jump directly to the cross stitch centering tutorial.)

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You may be familiar with Julia Cameron and her iconic book The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. If you’re not, it’s just as hippy-dippy as it sounds, which is probably why I enjoyed it.

When I was at my first MFA creative writing residency in 2012, both my mentor and a classmate recommended Cameron’s book to me as a way to let myself write more freely, without thinking so much. See, the book takes the reader through a series of activities to help unlock creative energies, and one of the main components of the process is Morning Pages.

Morning Pages are simply three handwritten pages of stream-of-consciousness journaling meant to clear the mind—or unearth ideas that were previously hidden under the rubble of uptight thought—ideally written early in the day before worries and obligations take over. The pages aren’t supposed to be shared or published. Instead, they have a throw-away quality that lowers the stakes so the writer can babble on without worrying what anyone else will think.

(The Artist’s Way isn’t just for writers. It’s for anyone wishing to live a more creative life. It just so happens that part of that discovery process, according to Cameron, relies on writing through one’s thoughts.)

In short, the purpose of Morning Pages is to get past perfection.

To get past self-consciousness and inhibition in order to make messes, out of which personal revelations and innovative ideas are born.

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Questions of weight.

It is finally summer!

Not on the calendar, of course, but school is out. My grades are posted. My classroom is packed up so the floor can be waxed. I worked that last baseball game. (Well, kind of. It started to rain an hour in, and the athletic director let me leave, which I did—very, very quickly.) I am a free woman.

One of the first things I did with my freedom was (surprise, surprise) dye some yarn!

It was different, though. First of all, it was cotton. I had never dyed cotton before, but when one finds thirteen skeins of it clearance, well, one knows exactly what to do.

Buy that stuff up and get some color on it immediately.

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My inner Lisa Frank is always just under the surface.

Plus, these skeins of yarn came in two weights—lace and worsted—neither of which had I dyed before. I’m a sock yarn girl, through and through, so this was also new. Though honestly, I’m not totally buying that the “lace” yarn was really lace weight. It seemed more like a light fingering weight to me.

Over the course of a couple hours, I dyed all thirteen skeins, which I rinsed and hung out to dry the next day.

IMG_1876I freestyled some of the classic Fencerow Fiber colorways: Wild Blackberry, Honeysuckle, Red-winged Blackbird, Summer Storm, Tiger Lily…

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Same yarn, different angle.

Mockingbird, Bluebird, and what was supposed be Red Fox, which turned out to be more of a Brown Squirrel. And of course, some Rainbow Connection colorways.

I had such fun playing! And I was so impressed with how quickly cotton just sucks up dye. I think I will always be a wool loyalist, but the cotton-dyeing experience gave this plant fiber a new place in my heart.

I was able to get the lace cotton to dry enough to show off at the first MadCity Street Market of the year, which was a neat experience.

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Terrible photo, but I forgot to take one in the daylight!

The market is every third Friday of the month, May through October, from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm on Sugg Street in downtown Madisonville, Kentucky. I was happy to share a booth with Maria Lee of Black Dog Fiber Studio (where I’m headed here in a minute for knit night!), Kim Hardesty of Bicycle Botanicals, and local artist Susan Henley.

It was a great summer kick-off.

And then yesterday, I did something I haven’t done in several years, kind of like dyeing fiber: I went kayaking.

Frame-23-05-2017-03-59-20I know it’s not fiber-related, but it is somehow related to the part of me that I let disappear for a few years, the part of me that feels reawakened since I’ve started dyeing again.

Honesty: I gained quite a bit of weight since I’d last kayaked, and in my mind, it was something that I couldn’t do at my size.

Yesterday, I proved myself wrong.

fullsizeoutput_837And it felt good.

Body image and body positivity are themes, a little like my inner Lisa Frank, that float just beneath the surface with me. I can’t promise that they won’t make an appearance here occasionally.

But I will always try to come back to color.

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Dreaming of verbs.

I am wary of nouns of identity—the ones preceded by forms of to be.

I am a teacher. I am a writer. I am knitter. I am a dyer. I am a spinner. I am a blogger. I am a designer. I am a photographer. I am a creator.

Those feel like lies. Like they require membership cards that I am too uncertain to carry.

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The Rainbow Rhombus Wrap continues to grow slowly, here while I wait for an oil change.

I much prefer verbs and this sentence structure:

I teach. I write. I knit. I dye. I spin. I blog. I design. I photograph. I create.

The actions are undeniable. The verb doesn’t have to be followed by an kind of adverb like well or professionally. They are just facts, objective.

But the nouns? Entirely subjective. I mean, have I passed the certification exam for those titles?

Do I care to?

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Some of the tiny wild strawberries that dot our yard like miniature Easter eggs that reveal themselves only once you start looking for them, and then, their cheerfulness can be seen everywhere underfoot.

Being is another thing I do.

My being isn’t determined by my writing—just like my writing isn’t determined by my knitting.

So I’m weird about labels. I recently started adding #indiedyer to some of my Instagram posts, but every time, I feel a little uneasy about it.

I know some would say that this is an insecurity, like I think I’m not good enough to own certain titles.

Maybe.

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Delicious rolls of yarn, ready for dyeing.

But I think it’s more of a rejection of the idea that I should be “secure” in those titles at all.

Titles, labels, categories, genres. They limit. They point to a set of expectations and parameters.

I am not anti-boundaries, but I think that’s something different.

If I call myself a writer but don’t write for a while, would that change who I am? Would it  mean I’m not doing what I should? Should I, then, feel like a failure because I am take a short—or long—break from doing what that label implies I should do?

I think the answer to all of those is no.

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My most recent dyeing experiment, the results of which are simply this: LOL.

So these days, I’m not doing much writing, though I am doing more now that this blog is moving and shaking a little.

No, these days, I do a lot of other things, and one of them is dream.