Saturday, September 12, 2009

May Sarton and Knitting

"I look forward with joy to the years ahead and especially to the surprises that the day may bring."
...May Sarton

In this photo, I am holding my 2 week old great grand daughter, Isabella. This is one of the most special joys that I could ever have experienced this week. And, each day brings an abundance of joys.

Today, I started reading May Sarton's book, At Seventy...A Journal. Within a few pages I found that this journal is inspired and uplifting and honest. Last week, I read her journal At Eighty-Two and it was so moving to be a part, through reading, of someone's daily life. I believe this was her last journal before she died. May Sarton can teach us how wo age with grace and courage.

A number of years ago, I had decided to begin collecting books that I wanted to read when I retired. I have a large collection of May Sarton's books on a shelf, as I collected them one by one mostly through purchases on Ebay. In addition to those books, I collected a number of shelves of books of poetry. I have them in alphabetical order on four shelves built on the wall. Each shelf is about 5 feet long, here in my office. The Sarton books are together on a shelf in a hutch nearby. On the other two shelves of that hutch are collections of poetry on tape, by the authors of that poetry. And, there are more books on poetry, writing poetry, and other books that are poetry related. These shelves are probably 4 feet long. I have lots of poetry books. I am wild about good poetry.

On some other shelves, are books by and about Native Americans, and books by and about German authors and Germanic culture. These are all things that hold special interest for me.
And, yet, other shelves hold art books. I am an artist and was an art professor.

Why do I love these books so much? I collected them for years, in anticipation of my retirement from my teaching position at a college where I taught in the Arts and Humanities program. This was to be how I would spend the years of my retirement. I would be reading all these books.

Something unexpected happened to me nearly two years ago. I lost much of my eyesight. Now, I cannot ever read all the books that surround me. At least, I cannot read them with my eyes. But, I love knowing the books are here, surrounding me, and lifting my spirits at just their presence.

I plan to read these books in my retirement, just as I have always planned to do. But, now, the books will be read by listening to them on tape. I have begun this reading project. I have begun by reading the two books by May Sarton that I spoke about in my opening sentences.

My daughter reminded me recently that now I can both read the books, and can knit at the same time. Thus, I am doing two things I love to do. Reading and Knitting. It's great! I find joy in every day, and will find joy in the years ahead and especially the new surprises that today may bring. Thank you, May, for speaking to my heart today.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

What I did about it...

After searching for some kind of help for over five months, I finally got connected with the Bureau of Blindness and Vision Loss in Erie, PA. It did not happen quickly or easily. Two of my doctors had to place several phone calls before I finally got some help and support. Meanwhile, during the five months, I turned to knitting.

I had started working on a sweater for the Knit for Kids Program, through Guideposts Magazine. I had one about half finished when I lost my sight. I picked up that unfinished scarf, and thought I would just TRY to knit again, without vision. It was not easy. I stumbled about for days. Finally, I had to force myself to just close my eyes and begin to let my fingers begin to take the place of my eyes. I had to learn to have finesse, and search the yarn and needles for information to know what I was doing with that yarn and needles. It was slow going. But, finally I began to do it again. What a thrill, when I could actually knit in the dark!

Knitting was my life savor during those five months of waiting and searching for help. I knitted away, finishing SIX sweaters for kids. I was so happy to once again be doing something for somebody else. It made me forget my own troubles and frustrations. I literally spent five months sitting in a corner in a big rocking chair knitting my days away.

Finally, in April of 2009 I was sent to the School for Blind and Vision Rehabilitation Services in Homestead, PA. It was a residential program, where I would remain as a student for the next 14 months. Next, I will write about my adventure at the BVRS progeram...and what I faced during those weeks of learning to live as a blind person.

Friday, August 07, 2009

New Beginnings

It has been nearly two years since I was able to access my blog and to write on the computer. I am so excited to be sitting here at my computer and doing things I used to do with ease. You see, I have had a life altering experience through the loss of most of my eyesight. The cause was Ischemic Optic Neuropathy. Yes, I had never heard of such a thing before myself! It is a rare condition, I learned. I have met only one other person who has it, and I will talk more about that the next time. For now, I just want to say that I am very happy to be writing here once again. I will be posting photos again, and writing again. I have NO IDEA of anyone reads my blog any more or not, but I will write anyway. It feels so GOOD to be able to do it.

My sight left in two stages, very quickly. First, on January first 2007 my left eye went. I was at the gym, and I noticed that my vision was blurry. I commented to my husband that "I don't know what is wrong, but I just cannot see today." Subsequently, I went to the doctors and quickly learned I did not have an eye problem, but I had a medical emergency. Blood tests were done to determine if I had a systemic illness or disease. I did not. Then, I had surgery on my right artery in my temple to remove part of it so determine if I had temporal arteritis...I did not. I am so thankful for that. Finally, the diagnosis was confirmed and I learned about my condition, Ischemic Optic Neuropathy!

I was told that most people only have it on one side. I did not need to worry, I could still manage to see to do my work, but with difficulty. I had problems knowing where things were in space. I had problems reading. But, I continued on, teaching my classes and living my life as usual, but with care and a bit of caution.

I searched the internet for this condition. I soon saw that most people DO get it on both sides, and lose vision in both eyes. I had 10 more months before that happened to me. About the end of October 2007 I again had the severe headaches and my vision began to blur. Once again, I was hit by this condition but now in the other eye.

Next, I will write about what I did after I experienced this sudden sight loss. I have told you what happened, and now I will tell you what I did about it to change my circumstances.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I'm BACK...

In October 2007, shortly after doing my final blog here, I lost most of my eyesight. It has been a long journey since then. I have Ischemic Optic Neuropathy, which is like a stroke behind the eyes and causes vision loss as the optical nerve is destroyed because of lack of oxygen when the stroke occurs. I will write more next time on this journey over the past 20 monrhs. I will write about what happened to me, what I did about it, and what I am learning in the process of it all. It is a new adventure!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Mystique of Socks and my October Goals

Here are my October goals:

#1 Priority is to Unclutter my home office.
I will ( I mean, I WILL) sort through all the areas in this room and pitch things that need to go. I will begin by showing you my room - this is just the entrance into the room. There it is....all ready for the organizing to begin! Stacks and Stacks of books and stuff.

More books....

Still more books...

Yet, more books and the file cabinets and computer desk, too.

Another view of the entrance into my office....stacks of books everywhere!!!

It is a delightful and sunny fall morning here in Western Pennsylvania. In fact, it is Sunday morning and the last day of September. I am feeling satisfied with the work I accomplished in September. I finished two knitting projects and I organized my fiber studio. I got some wonderful work done on my Sabbatical project, making encrusted bead work. I should be happy, but then I look around this room where I am sitting to write this morning, and here is more clutter that needs to be attended to....soon.

Tomorrow will be the first of October. I was reading some blogs and catching up on some other knitters who write a blog that I enjoy reading. I love to see what other people are doing. Some are taking trips, some have knitted some fantastic things that are beyond where I am at in the craft. Some keep making socks and more socks. When it comes to this kind of sock mystique, well....I just don't get it.

I cannot quite figure out what the allure of socks is, but I can see that it must be addictive. I have knitted only two pairs in my life. I have two more pairs started but they just remain in my Yarntainers, there, on the back burner of "things to do." (I keep all my UFOs in Yarntainers or a basket or bag...all ready to go at any time.) Somehow, socks don't excite me very much...yet. Maybe, the sock mania will hit me one day, but it hasn't yet.

I like to knit things that I can WEAR...I mean
FLAUNT....things that everyone takes note sweaters and ponchos and jackets. Things that get noticed when I walk into a room...things with FLAIR...
socks just don't get it for me. Maybe someday they will, but not yet.

I was thinking about setting some
Goals for October this morning.
I looked around my office, here where I sit to type my blogs and other things on the computer. It needs some serious attention. I took some photos just to remind me of what needs done here. I think if I set this as a goal and give myself a whole month to accomplish it, a little bit at a time, I can do it. I need to go through the stacks and shelves of books and sort them out. Just about all of them are poetry or art books in this room. I need to give some serious consideration to them and root out ones that I really don't need to keep.

Why it is that I just can't stand clutter, yet, here I am sitting amid a room full of clutter? Indeed, it is an "organized kind of clutter" and not just "anything goes type of clutter." It is limited to my passion for Poetry and Art. Yet, it is still unorganized and it is still clutter. I gotta do something to get it under control. It makes me feel sick when I look around and see things piled everywhere, yet I still do it. It is a paralyzing kind of feeling. Makes me anxious, and upset.

I sat up late last night working on updating my 2007 list of Knitting goals. I have 31 listed, and to date, I have completed 11 of them.

OCTOBER Knitting Goals:

Finish the second "Knit for Kids" Sweater - charity knitting for Guideposts project

Knit the second "Penelope Blouse" out of Dale of Norway yarn

Finish the Lana Grossa sweater that I started in July, in Germany

OCTOBER Jewelry Goals:

Finish the MTV Dragon Neck Piece. It is a big project so will take the entire month, I imagine. I am not sure if it can even be done in a month. We'll see about it. This necklace is part of my Sabbatical work, part of the group of encrusted bead works I am creating. I started the necklace just a couple days ago. It will have TEN cabochons in it when completed. I have "captured" two of them, at this writing...if you are not a bead worker, then you have no clue what that means. It could be the topic of another blog...later.

Today the bushes outside the front of my house need a haircut so people can actually see that we have a sidewalk and front porch. After today, then the goals for October will commence...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Rings and Things

Today the Rings and Things Show came to Pittsburgh, PA. It is about an hours drive from where I live. My grand daughter Brandi and I made the trip there. You only have a short time to shop in an entire room FILLED with delightful gemstones. The show runs only from noon to 4 pm! Yes, you have to get there and make your selections with determination because you have to decide what you are getting since you cannot come back another time.

At first, the room seems to spin and blur. It may be because I am partially blind since January. But, it may also be because of the dazzling of the zillions of strands of beads and there you are smack in the middle of them all. The lights glare down on the beads and you can turn around and from every angle there they are, all those beads. They are just waiting to be picked up and touched. It is overwhelming. I just have to breathe in a little deeper, and remind myself that I can take my time and look around at everything. I just say, 'stay calm, my spirit.'

Brandi and I came home with a bag of stones. I focused on replenishing my stash of Pink Opalites. I have sold most of the jewelry I made with that stone last year. I needed more.
Then, Brandi found a table full of the most far out and zaney beads. Well, I hade to have some of those ones too. They are SUPER bright - metallic looking glass beads - that have such a pizzazz they seems to sparkle from every angle.

Other finds for me today were some very large stones on a strand. Don't know what I will make from them yet, but they were so beautiful I had to have them. After I picked up that strand, I found a table of PEARLS in every color and size. I bought several strands of them in copper, and deep violet hues, and cranberry colors.

Finally, I bought a lot of copper beads. I am in love with copper these days. I guess it is the softness of their color and the warmth that radiates from them. They have a nostalgic kind of feel and look to them. They remind me of something that I cannot quite put my hand on. Something that I love. Something from my past, maybe. I don't know. But I love Copper!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

September is for FINISHing

September is for FINISHING some I am showing off my latest FINISH!
The yarn I used for the blouse is by Lanna Grossa. It is "BASIC" in 100% cotton.

Finish #1 for September is now completed. I finished the "Knit for Kids" Sweater that is sponsored by Guideposts. I have set a goal of knitting TWO of these sweaters this year. I did the same last year and it made me feel so satisfied to know a little child somewhere in the world is wearing my sweaters.

Right after I finished this one, I stared the next one. I vow to get this done before I begin my Christmas gift knitting. My goal for each year is to send two sweaters to this charity project. It is a good feeling to know that a child is wearing one of my sweaters...somewhere in the world.

We spent five days in September on a little holiday in the Allegheny Mountains. Bob and I canoed in the Allegheny River every afternoon. It was so much fun. Then, we came back to the cottage exhausted and had dinner. After that, I was able to knit in the late afternoons and evenings on the sweaters. It was sweet. I got in a lot of knitting time, and I also worked on a piece of encrusted bead work (my "September" bracelet). We gathered lots of wonderful stones along the river's edges and those will be made into jewelry in the future.

My SECOND finish for September was the Penelope Blouse by Oat Couture. I had planned to have it finished by June but that just never happened. At long last, it is now finished. It has been a hard one for me and I spent a lot of time in the frog pond. But, I have learned a lot, too.

Here's to some good finishes for you this month, too. September seems to be a time of new beginnings. Now, I need to set some goals for October.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Happy September 1st

Happy September FIRST to everyone.

Today I will be traveling up into the Allegheny Mountains of Western PA. We'll be there for a few days, enjoying our holiday on the river in our little red canoe. I am taking my knitting along and plan to finish up my first "Knit for Kids" sweater for this year's donation to that project. The knitting is finished and now I must sew it together. I have already started another one. My goal is to do two for the project.

In addition to my knitting, I have packed up some bead work projects to keep me occupied. I am doing some kick A** pieces of encrusted beadwork and can barely stand to put them down I get so excited with them. This has turned into a passion.

In the photo we are enjoying the beginning of the summer on the Allegheny River. These special times are important for the soul. I find solitude and time apart from my daily routine so satisfying. There is peace and joy in being with family, working in my studio, teaching my grand children how to "make things." And more.

Peace and joy to you.

I was wondering, what YOU do for your soul? I would love to hear from you.

Monday, August 27, 2007

What I Have Been Doing Recently

Esther's Homecoming, Encrusted Bead Work

Twilight Reverie, Encrusted Bead Work

The Eyes of God, Encrusted Beadwork

I am now officially on Sabbatical for Professional Development from my teaching position. After 12 years, I finally applied for a Sabbatical to pursue my special interests and get a break from the classroom. Today, instead of going to work for the first day of school, I am working here in my studio. It's WONDERFUL, I assure you! I began my Sabbatical Project in June, by visiting museums and special exhibits in Austria and Germany.

What am I doing, you ask? My project is the study of the work of Hildegard of Bingen, 12th Century writer, artist, composer, nun, evangelist, and much more. She lived and worked in the Rhine area of Germany. That is such a beautiful part of Germany, in the grape growing and wine making area.

You gotta look into Hildegard - I tell you she is one woman to celebrate. Are you aware that in the 12th Century, a woman was not permitted write? That is because writing was for men only. She had to have special permission from the Pope to write otherwise we would not have her work today to read. And, Hildegard was the first female preacher who took evangelistic tours to preach the gospel. She did FOUR of them, in fact. But, for me, it is her ART WORK that I am most interested in doing research on - she had visions and she made pictures of the images from her visions. I am wild about the Middle Ages iconography, and the use of the MANDORLA as an image for holy purposes. I will be using the Mandorla as a motif in upcoming work.

Along with my study on Hildegard, I am working in my studio on a series of fiber/bead works that will be in response to 12th century sensibilities.

I am posting photos of the first three bead works that I have completed in this series. There are lots more to follow. Some will be using imagery directly from Hildegard's paintings. These pieces I have just completed look like they are directly taken out of a museum of art showcase of work from the 12th Century.

If you have any information you could share with me in this project, I am most grateful to hear from you. I have only just begun to learn and I am greedy for more insight. Information and comments are most welcome. Thanks.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Contest #8 - SP10

Robyn, hostess of Secret Pal 10 has asked us to post
on a special topic for Contest #8.
Her insturctions to
us stated:

"Blog/Post about 3 yarns you're just dying to try/get
your hands on, and why! You have until Saturday,
June 30th, 2007 to post your entry.
This is also the
last day of SP10."

My focus this summer is going to be on Lana Grossa Yarns.
I am about to leave tomorrow for a three week trip to
Austria and Germany. Of course, I will be visiting
every yarn shop I find on my travels. I have decided
in advance that my mission will be to come home with
some beautiful yarns made by Lana Grossa.

Currently, I am making the Penelope Blouse by Oat Couture,
out of Lana Grossa Basic Print. It is my first adventure
into Lana Grossa Yarns. I love it.
Therefore, I will be looking for more as I travel.

I have THIS BOOK and want to do some of the patterns in it.

Here are the THREE I want to get for making some sweaters.

#1: Pashmina Cashmere Mix Up - for something wonderful for
FALL/AUTUMN - It is a blend of 22% Cashmere and
28% Merino Extra Fine yarns.

#2: Tocco - because I am crazy about yarns that have a
halo or haze effect. This yarn is 25% Kid Mohair and
20 % Merino Extra Fine, and 55% Microfiber.
I would like to try one of these blends with
microfibers since I have never used them yet.
I enjoy trying new things.

#3: Terra Meilenwert 50 - Classic Sock Yarn
I am not yet a sock knitter. I have made two pairs,
but I want to do more.

Here are some photos of the yarns I want to try.

Right now, I justwant to do some work using Lana Grossa
yarns. That will be my focus.
I have my knitting needles all packed, and some
pattern books. I am just about ready to fly EAST,
Across the Pond.