a whole lot of bah humbug with a smattering of warm tidings

christmas is an unusual time for me, both horror at it's suddenness and irritation at the all consuming nature it has taken on. both feelings could be traced to several factors: too many years working retail to be thoroughly disgusted by the time december finally arrives; the small selection of thematic songs which are repeatedly played in every store, tv commercial, radio station, and supermarket, year after year; the constant reminder of being surrounded by family (painful if you're not able to be); the fact that work in my industry is slow and paychecks small during these months; and the driven consumerism that the holidays entail. one weeks celebration is fine, if each holiday stays in it's own month i would have zero issues with this one in particular. all of which combines to make one want to hide out in a part of the world where christmas doesn't exist (until the craziness subsides).

but, come the week of christmas, i am happy to be cheery and bright, put up small decorations, and cherish gift wrapped packages under a tree (however unusual). happily, though i was far from family, i had a lovely day and received even lovelier gifts!


blues on a monday

while waiting for some work to be done on my car, i walked down to the monterey bay aquarium. it was just at opening, so the crowds were small, and i was able to safely move into the child friendly "splash zone" without risk to self or hearing. i find it interesting that no matter how often i visit, i find something new to gaze at. on this day it was these two blue and purple hued tanks, above and below:

apparently it was feeding time at the large tank, and i was able to witness a school of sardines eating krill. they're fast. like, piranha fast. and can eat massive amounts in a swirl of light and motion which darts here and there like a moving wave of quicksilver. it was utterly fascinating! makes me wonder what it would look like when it's bluefin tuna feeding time...


san francisco

i wandered over to san francisco yesterday; the weather reports all said rain, it was clear and sunny when i got there. mostly it was to visit japantown and chinatown. i also wanted to check out some hopefully yummy french tea which was to be found at a french tea and macaron shop, chantal guillon. the tea was lovely, marco polo black tea by mariage freres, and i always take delight in a macaron.

i found this nifty little palm grass scrubby which is so tactile and a great color at an interesting hardware/kitchenware/paper store on post street; i'm not sure if i'll use it to actually scrub anything. it's one of those things that make large cities so interesting; shops don't just specialize in one area. chinatown was like being immersed in another country, and i oohed and ahhed over the 24kt gold figurines found in the window displays of jewelry stores. i often find myself at a loss as to what else to do when one is in chinatown, other than eat, and look at what is being sold as food.

one of my favorite things is this little baby owl incense holder from shoyeido, which i came across in a lovely scent filled store in japantown. i've had my eye on it for some time now, and was glad it was just as cute in person as it is on their website. you lift the little chouette off it's leaf and there's a small ceramic holder for stick or cone incense; the smoke comes out it's ears and tail area.


fluidity of motion

i've been spinning some cream cashmere, and progressing slowly, having only started it back in october. but, a few days ago i completed the singles, weighing in at a little under an ounce. plying is usually more alluring for me, as you get to see your work as it will look when finished. it goes quicker too; only two days.

spinning is something i do when waiting, while having a slow time at work, when i need to give my emotions a rest, and something to set time aside to do. i can't say for sure how many hours it takes to create a skein of yarn, there's no log book i record time in; it's more fluent than that.

as well, it takes longer to create a finer thread. i had the dropsies several times; and had to, at the end, freeze my spindle to get the shaft unstuck from the whorl. for now this yarn will remain a lovely dumpling, as i am far away from my skein winder. although it is easier to use it in this form to knit with, i like seeing the skein; it brings truth to the way the fiber rests, and is how i full the yarn.


go yoga go

well, i've been practicing yoga on a regular basis for the last 50 days, trying to go at least three times a week. i'm proud to have been able to dedicate time to my physical welfare, as it has been only too easy to let exercise fall by the wayside of life. mostly, it's because i find the majority of physical pursuits mentally boring. but, rowing, that i could get interested in. alas, a rowing machine won't fit in my room. so, instead, there's yoga! i'm going to try for three months of steady yoga dedication; i read somewhere that it takes three months to create a habit. here's a photo of my class card, which i snapped as a bit of a memorial of time and effort.



as i watch the big bang theory, i can truthfully say that i find myself using the phrases "sticky wicket", "bazinga", and randomly humming "soft kitty, warm kitty...". i love this show; the last two episodes have been incredibly, deliciously, funny.


a stitch in time saves nine

i've begun to notice some nesting tendencies which have developed since i started living on my own; an increased awareness of kitchenware, dishes in particular, the idea of having a tray to arrange multiple dishes dividing up a meal and to bring pizzaz to eating alone, accessorizing said dishes with coasters, trivets and linens.

thus far, i've sewn a coaster for my teapot, as well as one for my teamug, sewn a patchwork trivet to tie together the colors of my teamug with my japanese blue and white pottery, and am currently considering my options with place mats. with the tray preoccupation, i've set my eyes on a linen rectangular one from fog linen work; it would go lovely with the linen bits i worked into the trivet.

without the aid of ones trusty sewing machine, hand sewing becomes the norm. it's meditative in it's way, similar to spinning, and knitting a simple pattern. i see the need for my sewing skills to become more refined, but at the same time i am reluctant to try for machine precision.

some of the fabric used in this piece i've been saving for awhile. the large indigo swatch and the variegated swatch were ones i hand dyed using natural dyestuff. the indigo one is a bit funny (and personal) for me because i had decided to experiment with an old fashioned and rudimentary way of making an indigo fermentation vat, and this along with the indigo coaster were some of the results (they definitely have not a drop of scent left from their making). some of the other fabrics were sitting in my hoard, waiting for their moment, and of course, i was able to use my favorite bits of linen which have grown smaller and smaller with every project. the loop to hang it was some recycled jean fluff which jean sent me, spun and plied with blue cotton, then crocheted into a chain. on the backside is some shibori i made at a fiber studio open house.


soft kitty, warm kitty...

i've been doing a little bit of spinning; some cashmere at the moment. it's spinning up fine and soft as a single. i'll definitely ply it; i should have faith in the strength of singles, but i don't really. as well, the plied yarn should be loftier. hopefully i'll be able to fit the entire ounce onto the spindle; but if not, i'll do it in two half ounce skeins.

yesterday i rearranged the furniture in my room, and this morning i hung up one of the jennifer davis paintings. i choose that spot in particular to cover up a cable cord that was coming out of the wall; luckily it's a narrow wall, only about 2.5 feet, so it looks nice there. as this area of the country is prone to earthquakes, i'm a little leery of hanging anything around my bed. but, this morning i was thinking that if i hung something soft, like a woven piece, or a soft stuffed 3-dimensional artwork, it would be okay if it fell on me while i slept (and so would i).


the ocean is a playground

i love a quiet beach; the gentle pull and push of the tide, the scurrying water-bourne natives, the grasses moving in a breeze not of the air, seeing the life which is so different to the life on the land. i have found the tidepools and crystal clear water from my childhood memories, and found new joy in playing with the tiny hermit crabs which live in them.


jellies, and fishies, and thingies, oh my!

the nice thing about having a membership to the aquarium, and living locally, is that you can go on a somewhat quite day and take your time looking at the tenants. you don't have to visit them all, maybe just a few, and there's no rush, it's okay, you can come by another day and look some more.

yep, still a jelly. they like to sit on their bonnets with their "feet" in the air.

this guy is only about the size of a thumb. i can't remember what it is, only that it sure is cute!

again, no clue, some sort of slug or other; looked like a bell flower and ghostly. i should probably get in the habit of taking a photo of the identification plate when i go there.


lucky finds and collections expanding

i really adore the table settings in japanese blogs i come across. trays, various shapes, colors in light and dark, hard and soft surfaces; wood, fabric, pottery, glass, all elements of displaying a meal. i felt like sewing a coaster for my tea kyusu to add the sense of softness and a touch of color to my teaware collection; which was starting to become lacking in both. i didn't want to overcrowd the pottery with too much color, but this linen swatch pairs very well.

i also scored three lovely pieces at a church rummage sale the other day; an oval and faceted cup, a cherry bark loose tea scoop, and a glazed stoneware bowl. it's the best five dollars i've spent in awhile.

a little wonky in shape, but it fits the hands well, and would be a great mug for smaller portions such as gyokuro tea.

inlays of smaller grained sections of bark, a classic gourd shape. i couldn't believe my luck for spotting this little treasure! sometimes larger pieces done in cherry bark can be a little much, and you loose sense of the details, but this is a perfect amount to gaze at and appreciate.

green, black, and brown glazes layered between white; it's reminiscent of marble almost. it could have been created for the japanese tea ceremony, as the shape and size is like that of other matcha tea bowls i've seen.

end of an era

my birthday was a couple of days ago, and provided me with an excuse to check out the delectable goodies from local pastry shops. i couldn't decide on one special yummy thing, so i bought several mini yummies instead. i still find it rather odd to be out of my twenties; it's always felt like such a momentous era in one's life.



i love jellyfish! yesterday, i headed over to the monterey aquarium to see their new jellyfish exhibit. so many different ones! massive and puny, colorful and transparent, simple and exotically baroque. next time i go, i'll capture some of them in motion; so mesmerizing. that, and bring a sketchbook (though never again on the weekends; way too many visitors!).

while there, i also checked out the sea dragons. it's hard to capture these things on film, they move around quickly! they're so neat though.

the teeniest sea horse, adult size; as tall as a golden dollar.

look! it's nemo; that bad kid who never listened to his parents!


west coast living

well, i made it! i've been here in california for a little over a week, and am finally settling in. it's a lot to get used to, but i'm already finding places to go for interesting things, and am enjoying the farmers markets that abound here (must remember how to cook). most days are sunny, and becoming cool; which is lovely after the 90 degree+ days of the last few months.

the drive from east coast to west coast was dry, dusty, and with a hefty dose of the desert. while leaving albuquerque we watched some colorful and strangely acrobatic hot air balloons float over the city. all in all it's been a peculiar couple of weeks.

yummy fresh figs! fruit, i know what to do with, so these along with lots of strawberries, and peaches have been a sudden staple to my diet.

art makes my new space feel a little like home. the funny thing is, by being 3000 miles away from my family and nala and meiko, i realize that it's not stuff that makes a home, but the people who are in it. corny, but true.

finally happened along a tray for my teaware. trays are my new favorite thing. 

bits of before

i snapped some photos before i left, and have finally gotten around to posting them. the silk noil and color grown green cotton blend spun up with interesting texture and i think will stay a single. happily, the hue wasn't diluted much at all by the addition of the white silk. this is before fulling and enhancing the color by an alkaline bath.

although it has been finished for awhile, here is the silk cosy for my kuchulu spindle. bright yellow, and soft pink; the influence being from the kumihimo kaitei.


moving (physically, not electronically)

well, you may have noticed the lack of posts in the last month. it's only going to get quieter, as i've decided to move to california at the end of september. it's crazy scary, but something i need to do. i've been in savannah for 12 years, and it's time to put down roots somewhere else. california seems a reasonable place as any, and my cosmetology license has been reciprocated, so now the job hunt and place to live hunt is going underway. wish me luck!


spinning, spun, sampled

too much drama overflowing from work into life; must dam it up. enough said about that. after teaching a beginner drop spinning class the other day, i was asked if i could spin display samples up of all the spinning fibers a shopkeeper friend has in her store. i thought that would be quite nifty and give me a chance to spin fibers i would normally not.

over two days, i spun wool, alpaca, cotton, bamboo, silk, tencel, merino, hemp, flax, yak, and camel, from laceweight to bulky, worsted, slubby, navajo plied, and what have you. some stood out better for me than others, and those which are my least favorite to spin because they make your hand feel like it's been licked raw by a cat, are still on my dislike list. i think i am currently in love with color grown cotton, though.


spin, spin, spin

yay! i completed my first ravelry 'tour de fleece' a couple of hours ago. all in all, i was able to spin a sampling of dyed bombyx silk brick, 25 grams of treenway silks dyed tussah roving, 25 grams of bombyx silk noil, 25 grams of treenway silks tussah noil, and a half sheet of mulberry paper. the mulberry paper connects with the silk theme, as silkworms eat mulberry leaves.

the interesting thing about these types of silk (the exception being the bombyx brick) is that as a single they are somewhat course feeling, but once plied, become soft and light. as well, the bombyx noils contrast more when blending with carders than the tussah, which is a finer noil.

as if a steady stream of spinning for the last 23 days wasn't enough, i've started carding a bombyx silk noil and green colorgrown peruvian cotton batt to spin this week. striking while the irons hot, and all that.


topsy turvy

spinning away on my drop spindle; this time tussah noil. it's drafting thinner than the bombyx noil, so the singles are finer. i've decided to play it safe and to divide up the fiber into two balls to ply together, rather than risk a center pull ball tangling. it should be interesting and nubby when plied, hopefully tomorrow. tour de fleece is over on the 22nd, so i should concentrate on finishing this up. fingers crossed!


challenging silk

as i've been doing a bit of spinning lately, i thought it would be fun to join the tour de fleece on ravelry this year. there's a wildcard team for jenkin's turkish spindlers; and as it's my spindle of choice, i joined them.

focusing on silk and different preparations of it, i've spun up some dyed bombyx brick, 25g of dyed tussah roving, and now some silk noil. the silk noil is the really interesting one, as it's spun similarly to short staple cotton. popcorn garlands come to mind when i look at it. i think i'll keep it as a singles. i have another bag of tussah silk noils which is smoother, no vegetable matter, and looks to be a longer staple length. which i plan on spinning up after this noil.

i love drop spinning; it helps me focus, work through my emotions/thoughts, and forms a kind of meditation practice for me. now if only it burned a significant amount of calories...