Reappear!

Hey everybody!

I know I’ve really fallen off the face of the earth lately, or at least tripped very near the edge.  I haven’t had much time for myself, but I have tried to follow along with some of you silently.

Work is work, and overtime seems to be a never-ending condition these days.  Still, that makes it easier to pay bills so I won’t complain too much.

Part of my ‘me’ time has been going to volunteering for the local branch of the SCA, a medieval re-enactment group.  I’m my branch’s chronicler which means I take the meeting minutes (once a month) and produce the branch newsletter (4 times per year.)

I’ve also just finished making a youth activity book (y’know, coloring pages, word finds, picture matching, etc) so I haven’t been creatively dormant, just redirected for a bit.  I did warn you all that my focus can shift 😉

 

Okay!  So here are some of the pages from the book I made!  Feel free to print them and color them (or, y’know, have your kids do it).  It was an activity book that focused on kids in the Middle Ages, or focused kids on how it was different from modern life.

©2014 Eliza Murdock

©2014 Eliza Murdock

©2014 Eliza Murdock

©2014 Eliza Murdock

©2014 Eliza Murdock

©2014 Eliza Murdock

©2014 Eliza Murdock

©2014 Eliza Murdock

©2014 Eliza Murdock

©2014 Eliza Murdock

©2014 Eliza Murdock

©2014 Eliza Murdock

©2014 Eliza Murdock

©2014 Eliza Murdock

©2014 Eliza Murdock

©2014 Eliza Murdock

©2014 Eliza Murdock

©2014 Eliza Murdock

©2014 Eliza Murdock

©2014 Eliza Murdock

©2014 Eliza Murdock

©2014 Eliza Murdock

©2014 Eliza Murdock

©2014 Eliza Murdock

©2014 Eliza Murdock

©2014 Eliza Murdock

©2014 Eliza Murdock

©2014 Eliza Murdock

©2014 Eliza Murdock

©2014 Eliza Murdock

©2014 Eliza Murdock

©2014 Eliza Murdock

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Enticing to Play

Vacation Poetry Challenge # 1 by we drink because we’re poets (wdbwp)… it hurt not to make it rhyme.

It consists of 50 lines.  The first two begin with the same word, the second with the last word of the second line,..until we get to line 48, when you take the last two words of lines 47 and 48 to conclude the poem…I goofed on mine, the last two words should come first from line 48 then end with line 47. There should be no punctuation…and when read aloud pauses should only be made for breath.

The phrases should be brief but at least two words should be used.  The title must be just 3 words this is what Shadow Poetry tells us about the title:

The title must be only three words, with some sort of preposition or conjunction joining the first word from the third line to the first word from the 47th line, in that order.

Oh…by way…use the acronym wdbwp as the first word of the first two lines of your poem.

Enticing to Play

wdbwp proposing
wdbwp enticing
enticing dancing with my muse
enticing kindling inner desire
desire for the creation
desire to then create
create a connection
create a reflection
reflection of meaning
reflection of soul
soul caught in a picture
soul of the moment
moment caught my eye
moment sliding
sliding between us
sliding beyond
beyond the rivers
beyond the hills
hills of purple and emerald
hills of sacred stones
stones set and aligned
stones of stars ringed on earth
earth, fire, and water
earth, air, and dreams
dreams of distant landscapes
dreams of sidereal times
times yet approaching
times racing away
away through my fingers
away through my mind
mind wandering in ethers
mind altering thoughts
thoughts jumbled together
thoughts strung out on a line
line up one by one
line carved in the sand
sand flowing seas
sand flowing through glass
glass though unbroken
glass under my feet
feet travel without aim
feet weary with every fall
fall colors crimson gold
fall into a pile of leaves
leaves like dried words
leaves me a child playing
playing with nature
playing with sounds
sounds of
nature

 

Now a picture dump of what I’ve been painting lately 🙂  I’m not happy with all of them, but they’re all helping me grow, and definitely helping me understand how the medium works.  Enjoy!

Rain © 2013 Eliza Murdock

Rain
© 2013 Eliza Murdock

White Tree © 2013 Eliza Murdock

White Tree
© 2013 Eliza Murdock

Islandscape © 2013 Eliza Murdock

Islandscape
© 2013 Eliza Murdock

Edge of Night © 2013 Eliza Murdock

Edge of Night
© 2013 Eliza Murdock

Blue Islands © 2013 Eliza Murdock

Blue Islands
© 2013 Eliza Murdock

Autumn Sunrise
© 2013 Eliza Murdock

Sister Moon

Inspired by we drink because we’re poets Monday Poetry Prompt #11

For today’s prompt, I would like you to pick an object – any object – and describe it.  But don’t just describe as you would to, let us say, a forensic sketch artist.  Describe as you would to a child with a penchant for fantasy.  What I mean is, describe it in metaphors and similes.  Transform its characteristics and use “like” and “as” to compare it something else.  Try to compare your chosen object to things it would be a stretch to compare it to in common conversations.

Oh dear, and I hope I’ve done that!

Sister Moon

A shining, pale platter,
Upon which, I dream,
May be found tea and cakes
And fresh, clotted cream.

Or perhaps a balloon
Sailing so very high;
I’m sure we can reach it
If we give it a try!

Then again, just perhaps
It’s a silvery nest
For night-birds and owls
In daytime to rest.

But, my sweetest, for you
It’s a light to shine bright
And keep you in peace
Throughout all the night.

For dear sister Moon
Still offers reflection
When the sun dips away
To hide golden complexion.

(and suddenly I’m imagining a children’s book where the characters fly to the moon on night-birds, and have tea and cakes, and play with balloons until the sun comes up and chases them all back to their beds.)

Behold my bad sticky-note art! 😀 (or at least, bad camera phone.  I’ll try to take a better picture with a better camera later.)

tothemoon

Okay, so I got a better shot of my doodle, and while I’m adding it so you can see the detail better, I’m leaving the ‘bad version’ because I honestly love how the moon looks like it’s really glowing above!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lessons from Jane Austen: On Being a Woman

So Dean Kutzler‘s suggestion was a biography, and even though I have one already it’s hardly an exhaustive one, is it?  So I’ve decided to write on an aspect of my life that in many ways is responsible for my involvement in crafts like spinning, weaving, and embroidery.

Now, this *may* come as a shock to some of you, so be sure you’re sitting down.  If you have not, in fact, noticed by now, I am a woman.  I know, I know… “Eliza!  How did this happen??” you cry.

Well, I’ll tell you.

It happened when my sister introduced me to something called Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen.

Ah yes, I can see the confusion on your faces. “Wait… does that mean you weren’t a woman before that?”

Yes.  I wasn’t.  I was a girl.  Well, actually, I was a tomboy, (which, in many ways I still am) but I was a girl.

“Ah, semantics.”

Yes and no.

One annoying thing about American culture is a lack of, what I’ll call “rights of passage” observances.  Oh, we have superficial ones, like 21st birthdays or sweet 16s but as a whole, there is no meaningful, cultural marker of the transition from childhood to adulthood, with the conveyance of both benefits and responsibilities.  It makes me sad.  But that’s not for this journal.

Growing up, I never wanted to be like the popular girls.  I didn’t *want* to be stuck-up and more worried about my clothes than my grades.  I still don’t wear make-up except for *exceptions* like friends’ weddings or the like.  I didn’t spend time doing my hair, or doing my friends’ hair, or them doing mine.  I had very different sorts of friends.

We spent time hanging out in the woods building forts, or throwing jelly beans around her cabin watching stupid funny movies.  I lived in the country, so a lot of my own free time was spent out in the woods behind our house, making tee-pees with tree branches and a tarp, and climbing trees and playing in the ditch (I used to make whole villages on the banks of the “river” (i.e. drainage ditch water) and weave exceptionally tiny baskets out of grass and fill them with puffs from the cattail heads like they were cotton.)

So I was a tomboy.  I never wanted to be girly, and since I equated all irritating “girly” things as what it meant to be a girl, I didn’t want to be.  That’s not to say I ever wanted to physically be a boy, I just didn’t want to be a girl.

So I was about… I’ll guess 24 or 25 the first time my sister brought this movie in called Pride and Prejudice.  I was absolutely enthralled with the movie, because in some ways, for the first time I had a standard by which to say “That!  That’s what it means to be a *woman*, that’s the kind of woman I want to be!”

Not like Eliza’s younger sisters, silly, ignorant, idle, vain… I wanted to be like Eliza! (well, probably at the time I was more like Jane, very quite and reserved) but Eliza really got my attention.  She didn’t have to put on airs, chase after men, or be terribly concerned about the condition of her petty coat.  She was strong, she had a quick and sharp wit, the goal of her life wasn’t the ‘getting of a husband’… I could go on for two pages about why Eliza Bennett became what I decided was the ideal woman.

Helped along, of course, by Mr. Darcy’s description of “a truly accomplished” Lady:

‘…A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing and the modern languages to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved.’

‘All this she must possess,’ added Darcy, ‘and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.’

So even by these standards, I do fail rather miserably.  I love music, but I have no real knowledge of it.  I can at least claim to have a greater range of musical tastes than ‘your average American’.  I can sing badly in the shower and loudly in the car, but not well.  I have a little skill at drawing, though I do *adore* dancing!  That is one area I really do have some talent in.  And by dancing I don’t mean busting it on a dance floor, I mean I have done Jewish Folk dance, Scottish Country dance, Irish step dance, belly dance, etc, and I love each one dearly.

The only language I know – modern or otherwise – is English.  I know a bare smattering of Spanish words, even less Hebrew, and the only Swedish or Finnish I know is what I sing along to with my music.  When I visited Holland I at least tried to sound things out and figure out what they meant.  (Falafel!  I know that one, that’s what I’ll have! *grin*)  My friend was delighted, actually, making good natured fun of me.   She said no one else had ever come to visit her and tried to read the street signs or dragged her to the grocery store to see what was different and what was the same.  And she made fun of how I held my fork 😛

I can’t claim any special ‘something’ in my air or speaking.  Rather I suppose I’m quite coarse at times, and this tends to be where my tomboyishness really shines through.

But I do so love reading.  I’m so glad you put this in, Mr. Darcy, it really is one of my few saving graces in your list.

So there we go, I really fall quite miserably short of Mr. Darcy’s accomplished woman in most areas, but that was 200 years ago, so surely I can update a little, right?  I can obviously add writing to the list, since Jane Austen was an author, and that’s something to aspire to as a woman!

This is where the arts and crafts come in.  It’s too late for me to try to learn Latin, I’m certainly not going to enroll in Miss Kitty’s School For Fine Ladies anytime soon, so I had to improvise a bit on that list of Darcy’s.

It’s not an easy task to remake a dedicated tomboy into a Lady.  Especially not when you really have little but yourself to guide the process.  And… it just struck me that a lot of my crafts would probably have fallen well below Miss Bennett and Mr. Darcy’s societal stations in life.  But I’m going to ignore that in favor of the 200 year time gap and just go with it.

So back to the SCA (my historic reenactment group), I went to an arts and crafts event and learned how to do blackwork embroidery.

Up to this point, I had never done any kind of needlework in my entire life.  I had barely ever threaded a needle!  But here I was, creating these gorgeous designs on a bit of fabric and thinking “Wow!  I did this!  Me!”  And that was the beginning of my absolute love of crafts.

I learned to embroider, and sew, and spin, and I learned basic inkle loom weaving, and I did repousse, and Norse wire weaving, and I sewed a vaguely Turkish garment, and I learned silk painting, and I make paper, and I learned to cook!  And I write, write, write!

And I’ve learned to draw and paint better than I ever thought I could.  I am old fashioned, I’m really not ashamed to admit it.  I like doing the things that I associate as being feminine, not girly – which I hate –  but feminine.   Because they make me feel like I could fit into the world of Eliza Bennett.  Because, in doing all this, I feel like a woman!
… anyone know a Mr. Darcy?

Spinning and Weaving, Pt II

Sorry for the delay, Sonja!   Here is the weaving at last!

I got my inkle loom at my reenactment event after taking a class using one.  I was very lucky to find one that was very affordable not long after in order to facilitate my continuing addiction to fiber.

What I love most about them is they create very functional pieces in a very short amount of time with very little work.  Being highly portable helps as well, I can be weaving while camping, in a car (that I’m not driving…), sitting on the couch watching TV, or even when I’m hanging at my computer.

Inkle looms – highly portable, usable at my computer!

Inkle loom

There are many different styles of inkle loom, but the basic idea is the same.  They produce long, narrow strips great for trim, draw strings, straps, even shoe laces or jewelry (think bracelet or choker necklace.)  The many pegs provide much greater option for the length of the piece, so depending on how you warp the loom you can end up with anywhere from about three to six feet or more.

Though the design naturally produces a pattern which repeats every other row, so depending on how you arrange your warp threads, you can get things such as checkerboard patterns, stripes (vertical or horizontal) dashes (like below) but the restriction is every other row will always repeat.

White and blue wool bracelet

More advanced techniques can be used to create very elaborate patterns; these involve pick-ups (think of the game pick-up sticks, they came from creating weaving patterns!) and brocade work.

I’ve given pick-up work a try.  It’s definitely tricky and requires a lot more thought on both the warping and weaving end of the work, but the finished product is very beautiful.

White hand spun bamboo and orange hand-spun goat

You can see on the left side the alterations in the pattern where I practiced doing various kinds of pick-up patterning between the white and orange.  It’s pretty rough, this was my first attempt at doing anything like it and I was mostly playing around with the possibilities, but this certainly shows off what can be done!

This piece comes in just over six feet long and was made using orange dyed goat hair and white undyed bamboo.  The bamboo is very soft, almost like silk, but can be a little tricky to work with.  It feels lovely, though, and creates a strong yarn.White hand spun bamboo and orange hand-spun goat

I haven’t yet decided what I’m going to use this piece for.  Might end up as the handle on a bag I keep meaning to sew up.

Here is another piece of trim I worked on, you can again see the repeating pattern of yellow/black/yellow/black with an edge of solid red:

Red, black and yellow hand-spun wool

And another piece I did using a mottled dyed green wool with color gradations from black to bits of white.  The result is a very lovely effect, I think!

Mottled green hand-spun wool

In fact, this piece ended up replacing the shoulder strap on my purse!

Purse shoulder strap

So not just pretty, but functional!

Burgundy and ivory wool/silk blend

This is the piece I quickly warped up and wove when Sonja asked me to show off my weaving.  It didn’t take very long, but I kept getting interrupted, so this entry got delayed until I could show it off as finished 🙂

And just like the first entry mentioned, it’s amazing how much you can feel connected to others throughout time and across geography when you get involved in these kinds of arts and crafts!

Also: more spinning, because I forgot to add this picture to the last journal.

Hand-spun goat hair (top) and hand-spun undyed silk (bottom)

Spinning and Weaving, Pt 1

Sonja Milojevic suggested I show you some of my weaving, but before I can do that, I must show you the first step.   And I keep that first step in this beautiful box:

Well, I don’t keep all of it in the box, it’s not big enough; this holds my smaller quantities of fiber, little samples, in-work projects, etc.  But more importantly, this is the box where I keep my spindles.

I learned to spin on a drop spindle about… ooh… 8 years ago?  Something like that.  I loved it immediately, and it really touched a whole new part of me I hadn’t even known about.  Or rather, I did, I just didn’t know I did.  There is a whole story behind that I’ll go into in another journal (which is in work, but waiting for this to be done first), but I was hooked from the first.

I learned to spin at a medieval reenactment event – I’m part of a group called the SCA: Society for Creative Anachronism, and part of what we do is arts and crafts as they would have been done in the medieval period, generally between 600 AD and 1600 AD.  Which really gives a lot of options for how things were done, depending on when and where.

Using a spindle dates back thousands of years, and it’s almost universal across cultures and continents.

Ancient Egyptian scene depicting spinning and weaving

The entire point of a spinning wheel?  It’s to turn a spindle.  Relative to spindles, the spinning wheel is a very modern tool.  This is the thing that Sleeping Beauty was supposed to prick her finger on and fall into the enchanted sleep.  My spindles aren’t sharp, that’s just silly, I don’t want to go stabbing any part of my body with these things!

Where was I?

Right!  Drop spindle.  This is my very first one:

It’s called a drop spindle (there are other kinds) because it hangs from the spun thread above, unsupported from below.  It “drops” as you work, the length of yarn growing longer as it is spun, and hence the name.  Here’s a very short video to give you a visual on how it works.

The lady who taught the aforementioned class offered them for $5.00 each.  That’s a steal, people!  So I snatched one up with a handful of wool (not what’s in the picture, but that *is* a gorgeous burnt orange wool, isn’t it?  I saw two balls of roving for sale and snatched them up) and thus began my love affair with this craft.

I now get far more excited over roving than any normal, sane person ought.  But that’s alright, I’m not either of those things 😀

I’ve also purchased a few more spindles, not just so I can justify moving on to the next ball of roving before I’ve finished the first (because I never do that…) but because their sizes and weights lend themselves to different uses.  The one above is a really good ‘all purpose’.  The one below is very light and I use that for my finer silk threads:

But this next one, though not my first, though not my ‘finest’, is one I will always cherish.  It was given to me by a friend who discovered my love of spinning.  She buys artifacts, the kind that they find so often that they sell them instead of putting them in museums.  Among these artifacts she gets are spindle whirls, the round thing on the top.  This one is a stone whirl found in northern Europe (perhaps the British Isles) and is estimated to be about 500 years old.

500 years old.  Five.  Hundred.  Years old.  For all I know, my great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great+a lot more greats grandmother spun yarn using this whirl!  Isn’t it just gorgeous!?  I love it so much!  (yes… yes it is on a chopstick.  Don’t judge me.)

Now, several years ago, I worked at a job where the hours and the location allowed me to ride the bus instead of drive.  I really miss that, it was far better on the budget and it gave me one and a half hours per day to spin.   I got so much done!  The great thing about drop spindles is they’re so perfectly portable!  So it didn’t take all that long before I had lots of tiny little skeins of sheep’s wool, … and goat, and alpaca, and flax (linen), and silk, and bamboo, and rabbit, and bison, and I think I even tried camel once?  All sorts of great fibers to play with!

Here’s just a small sampling of them:

I don’t crochet, or knit, but I do embroider and sew and weave, so I have used my hand spun yarns to repair clothes, embellish embroideries, and weave wonderful, thin strips which can be used for trip, straps, draw strings, shoe laces… pretty much whatever you might need small, narrow strips for.

And that… will be in my next entry.  🙂

Now obviously, I spin because I enjoy it, not because I rely on it to clothe myself or create functional, useful items.

But when I do… I feel a connection to women across time, culture and geography.

Miao woman in China using a spindle

Woman in Greece using a drop spindle.

Woman in Peru using a drop spindle