Keeping very busy…

It’s what I do…

There have been some pretty dark times in my life. We all have them. And we all have different ways of getting through them. My way, is to stay so freaking busy I don’t have time to dwell on anything I have no control over. And so that will be my solution to the darkness that has set over my small family, with my son’s deployment to Syria.

NJ is sending 1500 troops from the 44th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, their largest deployment since 2008, to bases in Iraq and Syria. I am heartsick of course, and will worry constantly for all 1500 of them, because right now, that part of the world is in crisis and no one knows how to fix it. Mid month I joined my son in Trenton for a large send off, speeches by our Senator, Governor, and all kinds of higher ups that said meaningful things, in support of our troops.

My son is the bald guy right in the middle.

At this point, he has deployed, first through Texas, and then will be making his way to Syria. I won’t know until he can get word that he is there, and I don’t expect to be able to hear from him regularly. Internet is poor, and of course Verizon doesn’t have a cell spot in Syria. He dropped his jeep off for safe keeping and final hugs on Saturday, while I was teaching a two day remote workshop, with the Baltimore Guild, each participant making a vest over the two days. While the workshop was wildly successful, I’m glad they didn’t see my tears when I came in from outside, because my glasses had turned dark from the sun. And I’m incredibly glad I was in the middle of a workshop, and had no time to grieve.

Mid January is my guild, the Jockey Hollow Weavers’ Learn to Weave class, which I teach, along with my daughter. I bring 15 Structo Looms, and the weather cooperated. I bring prewound warps in 8/4 cotton rug yarn, and they set up the loom in a pattern gamp. They get to weave all sorts of structures with different wefts to experiment with color interlacements. It was a really fun day, and I’ve passed on 12 of the Structos to another guild member that would like to carry this forward.

I signed up for 8 workshops this year at Peters Valley School of Craft, because they all interested me, and because, I’m trying to book myself into oblivion! The first workshop took place over the last two Sundays, and thankfully it was recorded since I missed the second installment as I was teaching. The class, taught by Natalie Stopka, who is one of the best teachers I’ve ever taken a class from, was on Natural Dyeing, and it was remote. In January. I have never worked with botanical powders, and couldn’t have been more pleased with the results. My dye kitchen worked extremely well, I didn’t have to buy any new equipment, and the kit Natalie sent provided everything I needed for a successful natural dye experience. The second session was working with a fructose indigo vat.

So these are the results. I dyed the samples with madder (salmon color), weld (bright yellow color), logwood (purple to black color), and of course indigo (the chambray blue color). On silk…

On cotton (Note that I also played around with resists with items included in the kit.)…

On wool yarn…

Ombré effect on a silk scarf from my “to be dyed” stash…

Ombré effect on a cotton scarf provided in the kit. I used the indigo to overdye the weld producing a pretty aqua color in addition to the blue.

And to exhaust each of the pots, I used up the remainder of the dye with skeins of silk and wool. The blue indigo is still wet.

There is something about creating color in January that just makes me come alive.

And of course, it is not lost on me that the mother of all projects fell in my lap last fall, a retrospective of my work over the last 45 years, at County College of Morris in their main gallery opening February 29th. There was some major divine intervention that allowed this huge project to absolutely consume me in one of my darkest months since my husband died. I have to keep putting one foot in front of the other to get this all organized. There are something like 90 works involved. The really cool thing is that I’m pouring over archives, storage, attic, scraps, closets, 40 year old slide images, searching for each of the components I need to pull this off. I spent two hours the other day on the floor of my late husband’s closet looking for an image from 1994. I was just ecstatic when I found it.

And in all that I found a few things I’d completely forgotten about. Like this handspun sweater I made from cashmere, somewhere in the 1970’s. It’s been in the back of my closet since then. Miraculously it fit, and I like it, and it is unbelievably warm. It is my new favorite thing to wear. Go figure…

The gallery staff requested I have handling swatches with each garment. I know the public really appreciates it, most weaving conferences require it, and I spent at least five days rooting through the archives, attic, basement, and even my teaching bags, which I no longer need, and my design journals looking for a scrap of the original fabric. I found all but two maybe?

My guest rooms are packed with dress forms, which come in weekly. My cat Mulder of course likes to help whenever he can, especially if there are boxes. And there are a lot of boxes.

Each form is bulked up with bubble wrap because the forms I purchased, which were very inexpensive, have hips that are only 33″ wide. I don’t know anyone with 33″ wide hips. There are no words… But the forms work for me, and bubble wrap adds the additional couple inches I need to fill out the work. I’ve had to do repairs on some of the pieces, especially ones I wear a lot, and even had to reweave a small area on a major piece when I discovered a cigarette burn all the way through. That was one of my more impressive feats. So one of my guest rooms is pretty packed with forms, each one ready to display, with handling swatch and temp label. The permanent labels will be fixed to the wall.

The college van comes Friday for the first load.

And I think the universe is sending multiple angels to help support me, suddenly people who have been off my radar are popping up in unexpected places and encouraging me to get out, meet up, do lunch, and just be with people. A former guild member reached out to see if I’d help her jumpstart back into spinning and we had such a delightful morning, as I dusted off my wheel, my old Ashford Traditional which I bought after my freshman year of college and still gets the job done, and we sat together spinning, and decided to do this weekly. It felt amazing. I think this is handpainted merino but I’m not completely sure…

And so dear readers, know that I am really fine. There will be moments of course, and all I can do is hope that all 1500 return safe and can get on with their civilian lives. I have people who are watching out for me, and I hope that my late husband is watching out for my son. Thank you for all who reached out privately, I know I’m not alone, there are 1500 other families who are in the same boat. I have turned off notifications on all of the news feeds I subscribe to, I can read the local paper each morning and that’s it. I cannot follow the news 24/7.

Back to writing artist statements and dressing forms. Stay tuned…

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Annette (Annie) Lancaster
Annette (Annie) Lancaster
January 31, 2024 6:17 pm

I will keep the 1500 in my prayers.

What an amazing body of work you have!! Wish I lived close enough to see it in person.
Stay busy but don’t forget to balance it all with some rest.

Jane Gawthrop
Jane Gawthrop
January 31, 2024 7:49 pm

Isn’t it wonderful that prayers become more urgent when we know a family whose loved one is so vulnerable. You give us all an opportunity to pray with more focus. Love and support for your family. Keep busy.

Beth T
Beth T
January 31, 2024 8:50 pm

I think deployments are hardest on those back home. Communication may be better than you expect, phone calls are unlikely, but he should be able to email regularly. My husband did several deployments in the middle east back in 2011-2014, he emailed me almost every day. Everything that could go wrong at home did though! Stay busy and stay positive. Thank him please for his commitment to our freedom. ((hugs))

Anne Bridge
Anne Bridge
February 1, 2024 8:10 am

Our networks, no matter the size seem to reappear at the most opportune times. Yours is huge and so many of them are turning the blessings you gave them back to you now with their prayers and support. I was invited by Norah Gaughan to join a spinning group meeting at Harrisville this winter. I’d put my old Ashford slightly aside for over a year. A couple of hours with this new to me group has been so enjoyable. Word came this morning that our guild may have you for some ZOOMing next fall. I look forward to that. This… Read more »

Janet Ducote
Janet Ducote
February 1, 2024 10:38 am

I will be sending my prayers for your son, and all our troops too. I know I cannot fully imagine what you are feeling. Keeping busy sounds like a great distraction, plus you’ll get so much done-
I LOVE the pix of all the forms with your garments – something about repetition always seems to get me, forms with cool clothes? well that’s just heaven! 
Immensely looking forward to your retrospective. Any idea if the opening is open to the public? time?

Nancy Weber
Nancy Weber
February 1, 2024 10:42 am

Stay busy as is your way to get through each and every day. Organizing your immense collection will bring you lots of fantastic memories as you work with each piece. Your display will be awesome — wished I lived closer to be able to see it when it’s installed. Will you do a video going through it for all of us remotely to see it? Maybe a zoom walk-around? Hugs to you, Nancy

Karen Selk
February 1, 2024 4:43 pm

will keep those men in my heart. Your body of work and the organization are amazing and a bit overwhelming. Not many people could pull it off. One has to be extremely well organized, which you are. Very proud of your accomplishments.

Meg Wilson
February 1, 2024 5:54 pm

Daryl, we will keep your son in our thoughts and we will keep you in our thoughts! You are such a dear, such a treasure, and such a good mother! Reading your post was my respite from tilling my 20’x20′ garden. Back at it before it rains!

Carol Dilworth
Carol Dilworth
February 1, 2024 11:19 pm

Daryl, for what it’s worth: friend’s daughter did a tour of duty in Afghanistan, where she was the lead driver. She came home fully intact, if there was danger it didn’t cause her any problems. A Reservist neighbour was sent to Beirut last May, to be home in September. It was extended, and then October 7 happened. He got home the middle of November. I gave him a huge hug and nothing fell off, he was fine. So let’s conclude that everyone I know/know of comes through unscathed. Hang onto that.

Pam Papp
Pam Papp
February 3, 2024 3:47 pm

I understand your worries. My son is in the Coast Guard and was deployed 2x already. The time your soldier is gone is excruciating. I will keep him and all the soldiers and their families in my prayers. I truly will.

February 4, 2024 2:20 pm

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this time. God willing your son will be safe. Glad you are keeping busy.

Marsha Lodge
Marsha Lodge
February 7, 2024 9:40 am

Sending hugs and daily prayers. We’re with you.

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