February 19, 2016

 (Pictured: Master weaver Becky Ashenden's handwoven band samples)

On the 1st of this month I returned to Vavstuga in Shelburne Falls, and will be here for four months total participating in the Vavstuga Immersion Program. Unbelievably, week three is already coming to a close. Each day I rise around 8am and have some breakfast, tea, and time to myself before class begins at 9am. Class ends at four but we are allowed to weave until 9pm. Days are full of weaving, drafting classes, materials classes, and design classes. I'm also learning spinning (though most of the others are already very familiar), and bobbin lace making.

I am living together with four other women in a big yellow farm house, full of lovely wallpaper and many, many looms. We make meals together when we can. At night you can often find us around a crackling fire snuggled under handwoven blankets, drinking red wine, doing homework, carding wool, or practicing nålebinding- yet another skill I've delved into. It is a knotting technique that dates back to Viking times and is older than both knitting and crochet. And with that, I'd like to head back to the living room now... hot cocoa is calling my name this evening.

February 11, 2016

Rewind <<< Travel Recap

Since I last wrote I've worked, I've fulfilled my life-long dream of a backpacking trip around Europe (solo!), and spent a lot of time with my thoughts. Living at home again in the winter of 2015 to save money for Europe was a wise financial decision, but difficult both emotionally and socially. When I left suburban Maryland post high school I hadn't planned to go back save for the occasional visit. My life during those months revolved around going to yoga as often as possible in order to maintain my sanity, and going to work for my stepdad at his office. Leading up to my departure date for Iceland, the first stop on my journey, I grew increasingly anxious. All the what-ifs and worst-cast scenarios haunted my dreams. Looking back, though I desperately longed for a travel companion at the time, I see now how important it was that I take those steps alone. Yes, traveling with epilepsy was hard. I won't sugarcoat it and pretend it was all late nights dancing and whimsy and cute cultural mishaps. But now I know what I can do, and surprisingly, it is so much more than I expected.

In total I visited 13 countries over 4 months: Iceland, England, Italy, France, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Spain, and The Netherlands. It was a time in my life that I will undoubtedly cherish when I'm old and gray. I collected black sand on the beaches of Vik. I saw flamingos and wild horses in the south of France. I dipped my toes in the Medeteranian for the first time. I ate, arguably, the best goat cheese in the known universe. I marched in 4 pride parades. I snuck into an abandoned amusement park on the outskirts of Berlin. I went back to a large Henry Darger exhibition three times in one week-- completely in love, completely in awe. In Prague I spoke out loud and heard the trees speak back to me in my own voice. I slept more soundly than I had a long, long time in a bed breakfast in the fjords of Norway. I pretended I was fancy at the Cannes Film Festival. I savored pasta at the World's Fair in Milan. At times it seemed I couldn't feel more lonely, while other moments I reveled in the sweetness of my own company. Somewhere between London and Cambridge I experienced my worst case scenario, and I survived, by the grace of a woman on a train I will never get to meet or thank. And so, so much more.

January 18, 2015

Throwback to fall: learning to marble silks & cottons


By far the most thrilling thing I learned at Arrowmont was fabric marbling. It is a quick, playful craft. We worked with mainly cottons and silks, but also experimented with a number of other fabrics as well. Certain synthetics worked surprisingly well. We even witnessed a few amazing wood marbling demos. I left with yards of marbled fabric (mostly cut down to test sizes). I am so excited to do more with this technique in the future. I am positively brimming with ideas...