The house is quiet.  It is morning.  My husband has gone off to work, my daughter is off to her second day of Junior year of HS, and my 19 year old son is asleep in the basement, no surprise there. There is nothing major on the calendar calling me to actually leave the studio.  For today, life seems almost normal.  Big exhale…

I have one more big push of a workshop to teach, I leave on the 20th to teach at Sievers Fiber School on Washington Island in Wisconsin.  I have to start printing handouts, and getting interfacing and pattern paper cut, and shipped ahead, but not today.  I have a lecture to give to the American Sewing Guild local chapter on Saturday, but not today.  Today, I’m going to try a repeat of my routine yesterday, which was simple, healing, and mind clearing.  I did some housework in the morning, 20 minutes of yoga, took care of business stuff, paperwork, emails, got in my blog, and then spent the day in the studio creating something.

Sidebar:  In November, the 14th and 15th to be exact, my guild, The Jockey Hollow Weavers, has its annual show and sale.  Timed to take advantage of the upcoming holiday season, it has been a hugely popular event, and the members of the guild spend all year producing items to sell, handwoven, knitted, crocheted, felted, whatever their specialty, it can be found at the sale.  And there are demos, and things to eat, it is a great weekend.  I have never put a single thing in the sale.

Bigger Sidebar: I sold my work in craft fairs for 10 years.  When I quit doing craft fairs, in 1989, I swore I’d never sell my work again.  That was 20 years ago.  I’ve raised two kids since then (my son was born in 1990, six weeks after my last craft fair), and lots has changed in my life.  But I have held steadfast to my rule.  That all changed last month when I was contacted by a woman who saw one of my pieces in the Small Expressions Exhibit in Grinnell Iowa, and wanted to buy the piece titled Survivor.  Since the gallery was not authorized to act as a selling agent for the work, she contacted me directly.  She bought my small postcard size work, the show ended this weekend, the work should be making its way home to me shortly, and I will forward the piece on to her as soon as I get it back.  This experience has made me realize that 1) I am hoarding my work and running out of room to store it and 2) others might want to share a bit of me and own something I do.

Since I mostly make complex garments from my handwoven cloth, and they are made to fit me, it makes it really hard, and very expensive to sell my garments which are largely one of a kind.  I’ve had pressure from teaching venues to develop smaller project like workshops and seminars, and I can see where all this is leading.

So here is a no pressure/no cost to me opportunity to put some of my work out there for sale, the absolute worst that can happen is I sell nothing.  But I will have forced myself to experiment with techniques, on a smaller scale, and potentially make seminars out of them, which is what I do best.  Think of the samples I’d have.  At the moment, I could root around in the archives and come up with a few things to put into the show, but I have some time in the studio, during the next six weeks, minus the trip to Wisconsin, to actually come up with some concrete ideas and small salable pieces.

Of course this means applying a deadline and pressure to myself.  I know the previous paragraph started with “So here is a no pressure opportunity…”, but pressure and deadlines are what I do best.  If there isn’t any pressure, then it goes to the bottom of the very substantial to-do list.  Since I work for myself, there is no boss plopping something on my desk telling me he or she needs it “yesterday”.  I do that very nicely to myself thank you very much.  I’m always asked how I get things done.  I set impossible deadlines and expectations, and kill myself trying to meet them.  The best part for me is when I actually accomplish what I’ve set out to do, and I get the most enormous sense of pride, in having met my impossible goals, that I’m spurred on for the next big impossible task I set for myself.

In January of 2008, I decided to enter all eight of the Convergence 2008 Tampa Bay exhibits.  There were categories I don’t usually play in, like basketry and functional textiles for the home, but I entered them anyway.  And I got work accepted to 6 of the eight shows.  But it wasn’t about the acceptance, it was about applying.  And this guild show and sale for me is not about actually selling work, though that would be nice, it is about having a couple dozen items to put into the show.

loomscarfSo, I’ve embarked on yet another impossible deadline, to create as close as I can, to one item to sell per day during any day I don’t have a major calendar event.  Yesterday was one of those kind of days.  So I put in my headphones, listened to the first few chapters of The Devil Wears Prada on my new iTouch, and I wove one scarf.  It helped that the loom was already set up, there are two more scarves to go on this warp.  But it is a start.  I love the warp here, it is inspired by a class I took with Barbara Herbster at the Jockey Hollow Weavers Guild last May.  The class was in Supplemental Warp, and after I finished the two scarves from the class, I rewarped the loom with whatever I had in the studio, and just had fun.

Today is another non calendar event day, though I do have to warp a small portable loom for an ongoing project for my other guild, Frances Irwin Handweavers.  We are suppose to set up the loom and bring it with us to the meetings to try a series of rug techniques at each meeting during the fall.  That should only take an hour or two, it is a small 4 shaft table loom, and the rest of the day, I get to create.  Stay tuned…


I had to write a second entry for today, because this is a really important day for me, it was right about now, seven years ago, 2/22/2002, that I woke from anesthesia and my surgeon told me the news, that I had breast cancer.  There is no way to predict or describe how one feels or reacts to that kind of news, numb, stoic, shock, indifference because you are groggy and not processing anything being told to you, denial, this of course can’t possibly happen to me.  No fear, not yet, that comes later.

Seven years later, though the experience is still fresh, it has clouded over by time, and it has been, properly in my opinion, reduced to just one chapter of an interesting and creative life.  To say that this experience changed the way I view life would be an understatement.  Ask anyone who has tasted mortality, and they will tell you that each day becomes precious, and that fear dissipates, what’s the worse that can happen, I might die?  Well I’ve been there.  I remember being on a tiny plane, tossing about in the sky, on my way to the Pendleton ANWG conference not long after I finished my treatment.  I was coincidently sitting next to someone who was attending the conference as well.  As we were tossed about, there was an odd calm between us, she had also been through a medical issue that allowed her to see her mortality, and we both knew there was nothing to do but ride out the storm.  And if it wasn’t in our deck of cards to survive, well then there was the trust that the universe had a plan, and we were a part of it.  I know that all sounds like a bit of pontification, but survivors know, it isn’t about what happens in your life, it is what you ultimately do with it.

I did survive, seven more years, and I’d like to think I’ll be around for another 7, or 14, or 28 or more.  And I’d like to think that in that time there will be many more pieces to create, and grand adventures to experience.  I created a piece of artwork, that made the memory of my experience very visible, yet celebratory, titled Survivor, which I won’t post here because it is a graphic piece, but just click on  the title and you can view it.  I rewove the piece in miniature for the Small Expressions show and for the Economies of Scale show, both talked about in earlier blogs.

Life isn’t about how many body parts you have or don’t have, it isn’t about the body at all.  It is just a vehicle to get us through the life we have at the moment, and making the body we have do what we need it to do to celebrate each day.  So every 2/22, I celebrate my own personal anniversary of survival, and remember to seize each day, and make the most of it.