This has been an emotionally intense project for me and brings together some of the most important people in my life in one shawl.  The yarn started life as fibre blended at Creating Space on my friend Lindi’s drum carder, Spike.  A blend of 2 shades of fine Haunui fibre and a little copper flash angelina, the resultant batts were meant to remind me of my mum, particularly the colour of her hair.

 

My mum was a very special lady (second from the right in the photo) – a musician whose encouragement and example allowed me find my voice, a fearless and practical woman who was first up a ladder despite her dislike of heights, an openhearted soul who would find time and shelter for those who had none, and a brave and beautiful warrior who stared down cancer until her last painful breath when I was just sixteen.

Over the course of a year, I gradually spun over 1400 metres of this gently varigated brown and slightly sparkley 2-ply yarn.

I looked long and hard for pattern that would have meaning for me, and that would show off the evenness, soft bloom and interesting texture of the yarn. The colour drifts that are shown in this photograph were a feature that only became evident after I’d begun to knit.  One of the things I love so much about handspun yarn is the constant surprises that are revealed as you work with it.  I settled on a Boo Knits pattern called Ictis, inspired by the beauty of Cornwall, a place that my mum enjoyed spending time alone and with friends.

The beads on the edge – 4mm Swarovski 5328 Xilion Bicone in Crystal Copper – were a gift from my loving fiance, and bind us all together in this one piece of handcrafted love.

The whole thing took a little over 3 weeks to knit, although for part of that time I was banned from knitting lace as I was doped up on painkillers following a general anaesthetic and 2 fewer wisdom teeth.  With finished dimensions of a wingspan of 2 metres and a  depth of 90 cm, this is a huge hug, wrapping me in love and memories.

 

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I’m currently working through Dianne Sylvan’s Spiritual Nomad course.  I’m really enjoying it and although I am always learning and integrating new concepts into my overall spiritual ethos, this course is giving me a whole host of signposts that I hadn’t previously considered in depth.  Week two of the course prompts us to consider who our gurus are – those people to whom we turn for direction, guidance and inspiration most often.  I spent today making mine.  This is by no means an exhaustive list of my gurus, but some of the people who really belong on this board have no desire to be on the web, in any capacity, so they remain in a different place and in my heart.

From top left to bottom right:

The Dali Lama – I am always inspired by incredible soul who understands that the way to heal our planet and ourselves is through the moment to moment practice of mindful compassion and kindness.

Dianne Sylvan – I purchased The Body Sacred on the recommendation of a friend some years ago, and since then have purchased copies and gifted them to other friends who I felt would benefit from the words and ideas contained not only in the book, but in the mind of this kick-ass, real-life woman who is dancing her way through life in a crocheted fraggle hat.  Her words and spirit are a constant source of inspiration, humour and uplifting light in my life and the lives of so many others who are gradually learning self acceptance and how to rock their spiritual socks off.

Ina May Gaskin – Oh my.  I discovered the awesomeness (and I use the word awesome in it’s correct sense) that is Ina May only quite recently.  I’m a fledgling doula working toward recognised status with Doula UK and although I’m really only starting out on my birth companion journey but I’ve been walking in tandem with people who need support for a while.

William Bloom – I first discovered William’s work in 2006 when I read his book on Psychic Protection.  As the years have passed I’ve attended several of his brilliant courses and am working towards my Spiritual Companionship Certificate.  His calm, compassionate outlook and clear energy are a constant source of inspiration and I feel immensley lucky to have been able to study with him.

Jennifer Louden –  I’m rubbish at self care.  I’m able to support people, to care for them, to encourage them to look after themselves and help them to heal but I’m often really pants at taking my own advice.  Jennifer’s writing is forever inspiring and a reminder to look after myself so that I can take care of others.

Sera Beak – My copy of The Red Book is falling to pieces I’ve read it so much.  This woman sings to my soul in a way I never even thought I needed.  I always find what I need in there, she makes my feel like someone opened my heart and poured the goddess right in there.

Heather Veitch (Heathwitch) – I’ve known Heather since 2005 but it feels like we’ve been friends for a lifetime.  I was a celebrant at her handfasting in 2009 and she’s been my teacher, my friend and my heart-sister for as long as I’ve know her.  I studied eclectic witchcraft with her when she was the High Priestess of a teaching coven, she attuned me to Reiki and showed me that having a chronic illness doen’t mean it has to define you.  She’s helped me to realise that I can be whoever I want to be and for that I don’t have words enough to thank her.

Purple Butterfly Sister – This purple butterfly is for a dear sister-friend who transitioned in 2011.  She was creative, thoughtful, funny and smart.  She fought like an Amazon with grace and quiet strength.  She is with me every day, she touches my life in ways I could have never imagined and she sprinkles sparkles on me when I need them most.

Claude Debussy – Ah, Claude.  I have a BA in Music and I studied Debussy’s piano music with one of the foremost scholars of his work.  That honour never fails to make me catch my breath and give thanks.  Debussy’s music touches my soul and fills me up.  It pulses with the the rhythm of my heart and takes me to places filled with silence, joy, shadow, golden light, peace and pain. Spirit lives in his work and plays peek-a-boo between the notes.  The Snow Is Dancing and La cathédrale engloutie (The Sunken Cathedral) are two of my favourite pieces of music.

Mikao Usui – This man is said to be responsible for the system of Reiki that we know today after a period of extended retreat on Mount Kurama.  His techniques now help millions around the world.  My spiritual life has profoundly enriched by Reiki and the daily meditation and mindfulness it encourages.

Jennifer Berezan – Jennifer’s work with sacred sound, especially her work for Returning in The Hypogeum at Hal Saflieni in Malta has become a huge part of my healing and relaxation work.  Her music is an inpiration and a source of peace and gentle strength for me and I am grateful.

So ends the whistlestop tour of my guru board.  Making this was such a great experience for me and a really valuable place to sit and and rest on my journey.

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Some pretty cool things are happening in my life right now and I’ve got lots to be thankful for.

I’m moving house.  Twice.  First we are moving out of the rented property we’ve spent the last 2 and a bit years in and into the home of my fiance’s late mother.  This is hard, for all sorts of reasons, a few of which should be obvious to you, dear reader.  Aside from those obvious reasons, it’s sad because we loved it here.  We made our first home here, the first place we’ve lived in together without anyone else.  Just us.  The second move will be out of the temporary holding zone and into our first home that we own.  This is happy for lots of reasons, not least because it is four doors down from the rented place we loved so much.  It’s part of the same terrace and other than a few minor changes to the floor plan and some major upgrades to the facilities it’s exactly the same.  This does however mean that our life is going to be in boxes for the next two or three months, but it seems a small inconvenience in comparison to the wonder that is being able to paint the wall without having to ask permission in triplicate.  Please keep your fingers crossed for us as we ride the tumult of the property market.

Spindependence are going to be at Fibre East.  I’ve been a part of Spindependence since it was officially born early last year and although our internet activities have been fairly subdued, our real life stuff has been growing and our advocating fibre craft and it’s fun-ness is in full swing.  At Fibre East 2011 Spindependence was given a small part of a larger stand courtesy of Outward Images.  This year we are going out on our own and taking some of the friends we’ve made this year along to give them a start at a big fibre event.  If you want to find out a bit more about what Spindependence is about you can go here.

There will soon be another area on the Secret Spinner website dedicated to the more spiritual side of my life.  It will remain connected to the main site, but some of the more specific spiritual service and practice related things will live there so that the darling readers who come here to read about just my spiritual and community life and work don’t have to wade through yarnie stuff if they don’t want to and vice versa.  There will be some crossover posts, however, and that’s cool too – I’m not about to hack myself in half or anything and a lot of the time one informs the other.  I’m just trying to be organised as much as I can.

The other amazingness I’m going to have to be a little more cryptic about until it is up and running. I don’t want to count my chickens before they are hatched and I’m already tempting fate by giving voice to my joy about the house.  For now I’ll say that it feeds into the new bit of the website, and will hopefully give new focus to the spiritual and complementary therapy skills I’ve been building for the last decade-ish. I’m hoping to launch the new area in late February, but it all depends on how the house goes.

So, with regard to the title of this post…

Everything is in order.

I’ve done as much as I can for now.

I’ve dared to dream.

Now all I have to do is believe.

It’s all part of the journey.

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I wrote this post some time ago but couldn’t bring myself to upload it.  This year has been incredibly hard.  I’ve lost a mother and a sister, neither one related by blood, but the loss has hit me just as hard as losing my own mother did when I was a teen.  I originally intended for this webspace to be just about my spinning and fibre related shenannigans, but after a year of challenges and introspection I’ve decided to broaden it’s reach.  My fibrecraft is a fairly recent addition to my creative life, but I have come to realise that it is also one of the most important parts of it.  I am learning to trust myself, to go with the flow of creativity and inspiration and not to let my Self be broken down by the critic in my head that tells me I’m not any good at anything.  I’m not fishing for anything when I say this, it is simply a statement of how things have felt for me for too long. So I’m going to talk about the stuff I’m doing and thinking about when I’m not elbow deep in fibre.  I hope you’ll stick with me on the journey, but I understand if that’s not your path to walk.

Of Butterflies, Sparkles and Unbounded Celebration

Sitting quietly in the sundrenched morning mist a butterfly fluttered by and I am touched.

Blessed am I to have known a sister so briefly and become deeply changed for the better.  A lady so grace full, so strong and thoroughly kind, brimming with humour and music.

In celebration of her time this time, I created a yarn that makes me think of her instantly, makes me smile and give thanks for our friendship.  A blend of wool and silk, both strong and warm with a little angelina sparkle to make it extra special.  Purple – naturally.

I hear her.  In my head.  Chiding my inner critic so gently but with absolute authority, so that when it pipes up to challenge my validity, my worth, it is unceremoniously silenced with a simple “Now Sweetie, you know that’s nonsense.”  And I smile.  She is with me, part of me, always.

There are times though that my heart aches, the cracks in my joy of knowing her widen and the tears flow.  Though tears are not what she wanted, they escape and I wish for her gentle hugs and unconditional support, for her touch and the sound of her laugh.

In celebration of her generosity, I have gifted some of this yarn to her Purple Circle, just some of the women she inspired with her creativity, passion and joy for crafting and life.

 

Losing the the mother who was not my Mother has been unbelieveably hard, and the ripples are still widening.  She took me into her home four years ago without expectation or question.  I love her son and that was enough.  I was enough.  I watched her slip away from us, fighting until the end that came sooner than anybody could have predicted.  I’ve retreated, cocooned from my life, both online and elsewhere.  I’ve knitted, cried, slept and done what I have to to keep my life ticking over.  But plans are afoot that I hope will benefit not just me but the wider community.  I am slowly emerging – adding back the things that I’ve let slide – and beginning again.  I want to return to my Holistic and Complementary Healthcare studies and services, providing comfort to those who need.  There are possibilities I could never have dreamed of on the horizon but they are secret and safe for now in their cocoon too, not quite ready to spread their wings and fly.

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My dining table looks like a fibre bomb has hit it.  I have the use of a friend’s drum carder until the weekend so I’ve taken the opportunity to blend some dyed Merino with some unbleached Tussah Silk ready for spinning for the shop.  Thus I’m finding fibre all over the house in the oddest of places.  Part of me is worried what people will think when they come over, but the creative part of me, the part that is walking her talk doesn’t give a monkeys.  I live with a chronic pain condition and today it’s whooping me good, but I feel happy and warm because somewhere in me truly believes I can do this. I am an artist, a creator, a spinner, and I’m allowing it to have a voice.  My dining room table is testament to that.

The first of the blending session fibres is on the wheel at the moment – I’m going to Navajo ply it I think, and I’m expecting it to be brighter orange at one end.  It’s sory of a story yarn – The fearless fox who has to venture into the urban landscape to forage.  I might change my mind yet, but at the moment that’s the impression I get as I’m spinning.

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My new journey into the world of spinning has really set my mind back onto a thought path that I’ve been stumbling on and off for years. I like crafting because I like creating. When I am creating anything I feel connected to energies that fill me with awe. Those of the Mother, Creatrix, She who Spins the Web of Life. When I’m in full crafting mode I feel calm, centred – safe to be exactly who I am in that moment.

As I spin I find that I slip easily into a meditative frame of mind, I’m in my body and connected to the wonder of the universe as the fleece in my hand becomes yarn. As the fibres of the fleece become twisted and make the transformation from fluff to yarn I’m birthing something. There are so many possibilities, so many paths for the yarn to take. The fibre twists easily, wanting to become yarn, the fibres together becoming stronger than they are alone. A spinner I know and love told me ‘You can give 100 spinners the same bag of fibre and they’ll spin you 100 different yarns’. I love that. I find it wonderful that no two spinners make the same yarn – their individuality creates something unique and that is awesome to me.

As I journey along the spinning road, I am learning so much.  I’m learning about fibre and technique and colour and all those physical things, but I’m also learning about myself.  I’m learning preseverance, patience, trusting my intuition and believing that what I am creating is worth something.  Small steps but important nonetheless.

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