Flower bed

Hiya. How the time flies. Nearly two weeks have passed in a blink without a post; time to redress that.

I am doing well. How are you? We’re in the full flush of Spring, here. It’s a joy to see all the colours coming back again — everywhere I look, now, there are buds on the bushes, flowering trees in full bloom, fields of dandelions, and flocks of crumb-eating park pigeons and their iridescent head-feathers. After the long and arduous winter, the sight of pigeons and dandelions has been an uplift.

So today’s sketch is just a few Spring thoughts, in picture form, of a small garden enjoying the day. I don’t know what compels me to draw gardens the way I do. The drawings are intuitive and child-like in some ways, and I enjoy their simplicity. Something about picturing the process of coming into bloom feels good and hopeful. Creating these blooms on the page means the garden within is always alive. For the past year, I’ve found myself in the process of being “grounded,” not only by the quarantining we have all entered, but by life events and uncertainties which have compelled me to see things from a new view — not a rarefied bird’s-eye view that looks down at my life from a level of abstraction, but very much an earth- and worm-level view that dwells among the roots and soil and mushrooms. The view of mud and murkiness from which living, in part, draws its force (as I have come to understand it). Psychologist James Hillman writes about the process of “growing down” into the world — taking on roots, commitments, responsibilities, a life — as an alternative to our usual metaphor of “growing up.” I like to think these drawings signal a sense of rootedness and generativity, even in a simple way.

What do the things and images you make teach you / show you? And do we grow down, or do we grow up?

Until next time, may you have a beautiful weekend and bask in the sun.

Night Garden

While rifling through heaps of paper, looking for a long-lost set of notes (which I never did find in the end), I rediscovered my Artagain pad of Strathmore drawing paper in coal black. I had been looking for it for months and was excited to find it.

I had to try my new pencils on the pad right away, and had in mind to create another little garden — the kind I never seem to tire of drawing these days — but something glowing, alive, and luminous. I gathered the pencils that ‘glowed’ the most, assembled some of my favourite greens, and took to the drawing board. My favourite way to work entails no pre-penciling, but letting the stalks and blooms grow onto the page as they come, one after another, with a sense of commingling colour in fun ways. This sometimes results in forms that look more like fried eggs than flowers (bottom right), but that is ok. Just looking at this garden fills me with a sense of tenderness.

I hope you enjoy this night-time scene and its small, moon-lit world.

Thicket

I hope you’ve had a restful weekend. This week, I thought I’d post a line-drawing from February, using my 0.3 Copic Multiliner. I kind of wore the 0.3 down on this one.

I was missing the grass and flowers and a feeling of flourishing. I think at the time, I was also feeling in the midst of a tangle and transition (without a clear path forward in sight) and moving at about a snail pace (at least, that’s how it felt). Sometimes, I am the snail on top, dangling on a thing and looking for solid ground in all the jumble; at other times, I’m the snail on the bottom, on stable earth and looking for a sense of voyage. Both must reckon with the unknown.

Through the drawing, I realized that life-thickets have their own splendor if we can stop and look around. Maybe what feels like an impasse is a sign that things are taking time, growing in complexity and diversity. Maybe a new way forward is forming. Perhaps something (something) is coming into fruition in a way we can’t yet perceive. In any case, let’s hope these snail pals can make it through the thicket and reunite!

I hope you are enjoying some real grass and green thickets of your own, now that Spring is in swing.

Until next time.

shawl nostalgia

This one’s a knitting post, looking back.

When I finished my very first lace project in 2019, I gained a new appreciation for lace-knitting. The Dinner at the Eiffel Tower Shawl is a good entry-level lace project. By that, I mean that most of the shawl’s lace panels consist of simple yarn-overs (skipped stitches that produce little holes) that repeat across the entire row. Nothing too complex.

Knit up in Berroco Folio, a blend of rayon and superfine alpaca, I remember that I completed the shawl over the course of 3 weeks. I remember that, to avoid mistakes in the lattice lace (the “diamond” areas), I pre-marked the 7-stitch repeated pattern with a piece of yarn at 7-stitch intervals before working all of the actual stitches. It was labour intensive, doing this over 200 or so stitches, row by row, but I learned that dividing my stitches in this way made trouble-shooting problems infinitely easier.

I love the flow state of “mindless knitting” — the kind of knitting that consists of rows and rows with few stops and starts. I learned that lace is quite different. It required my intense attention. The contrast is the difference between getting to cruise on the highway vs. making frequent stops and starts in city traffic. Lace absorbs you. It is a state of being.

When I completed this shawl after having worked at this turtle pace, I was incredibly proud. It marked a “level up” in my knitting skills after years of doing simple stockinette projects and some minor work in cables.

Nowadays, I don’t feel like I’m doing much “leveling up.” I am learning to be content if I feel like I am holding steady, creatively-speaking. Given the current circumstances, I find my knitting (and general creative) bandwidth narrowed. Drawing and art feel fluid, improvisational, and forgivingly open-ended; I draw a little pink cat-person in 20 minutes, and I am happy. The counting, casting on, stitching, and modifying required of garment-knitting surpasses what I feel I’m capable of these days, and I am coming to terms with that hiatus. I’m learning to see it not as a limitation, but an opening onto something new; there is value in taking a break and adapting my media to the constraints of what is possible. But how hard it can be (for myself, and others) to adapt expectations to a new set of circumstances… When these days are over, I’ll keep this wisdom of treading gently (again, on myself and others).

I guess I write this post to acknowledge my knitting nostalgia. It’s not merely nostalgia for a much-loved project, but also a remembering of the maker that I was, and had grown into over years — she had focus and capacities which, now, seem far away and unreachable given today’s atmosphere of ambient uncertainty. Maybe, one day, she’ll see lace glory again. For now, I’m okay with looking back in gratitude that something beautiful was possible.

A favourite moment after completing this project was going to the woods and filming the shawl under the sun on a breezy day. This clip makes me wistful for that summer. I hope you enjoy this moment of lace-calm, set to one of my favourite sunny day tunes. Full song below.

Until next time. 🎶

Toucan fiber folk

I hope you are having a restful Sunday.

This week sees a new knitting friend to add to last week’s: a toucan who is enjoying some knitting and sunlight in a purple lopapeysa sweater.

I have always loved toucans and their stunning colours — they are the opposite of camouflage, brazenly themselves. At least that’s how I think of it.

And Spring is a good time for artists (I am speaking for myself). The return of the sun makes colours extra vivid, bringing out their worlds of feeling. The surfaces and textures of stitches, fabric, and fiber become more brilliant, too. Working outdoors or with windows ajar, I feel connected to the slow sprouting of life around me. A quiet sweetness of being becomes possible.

Wishing you peace and sunny days this week. 🙂