Inspiration Or What Happens When It Goes Missing


Thursday, January 28, 2016

In our years coming down here to this RV resort in the desert, in the middle of nowhere, each of us have a certain agenda of what they hope will happen.   I try to use this time to make things and keep my hands busy, which gives my mind something to think about. All this goes along with a shirt I’ve seen with these words printed on the front: “I sew so I don’t kill people.” I don’t own this shirt, and I am a pacifist, so no one’s life is actually in danger. But, there is some truth to it, and I am intuitive enough to know that the wearers of such fashion are not to be messed with. Again, we’re speaking hypothetically. I’m not drawing any comparisons here; I’m simply stating another one of those facts. I have a desperate need to stay busy with these creative sorts of things.


My neighbor embroidered a likeness of Stella.  I free-motion quilted it and turned it into a pillow which is NOT for Stella.  She doesn’t seem to mind.

But allow me to let you in on a little secret. Inspiration can be an illusive entity. I can’t speak for my fellow campers, but things don’t usually work out the way I am thinking they will or should. I leave home with an idea or two, enough supplies to turn these thoughts into a visible result, and the hope that I will find enough peace and space to fill in the blanks. Maybe it’s the ultra tight quarters we are living in, or the inability to clear the mind of all that useless stuff that muddles things up. Things like: laundry, or what to cook so that my people are all happy, or the endless dishes to be washed, or laundry. That journey of a “thousand miles” really does begin with a first step. And that step can become the most difficult. I once mentioned this crafting form of “writer’s block” to a friend, who promptly told me that I needed to forget that idea and just get on with it. In other words, she thought this idea was bologna. I assure you, it’s not.

Along those lines of finding a process that is not readily forthcoming, with Dad outside doing his braiding, Craig on a bike ride, and Stella napping in her bed, I managed to be fortunate enough to listen to a little music aka, Gregorian chanting from the Benedictine Monks of Santa Domingo de Silos. And with this brief interlude of a musically induced coma, I somehow found my peace. (Don’t judge-it works for me.) Those thoughts that were locked inside my head opened the door and joined the party. And, my dear friend and guardian angel, Renate, came over to work on a mutual project. This is a combination that works for me EVERY time.


Dad working on his rug.

Renate, on of my friends here at FOY, is German. Parental inflexible thinking is not a new concept to her. She convinced Dad to demonstrate his braiding at the upcoming Craft Fair. He’s been asked to sit at a table and braid, so that folks can come by and see what he is doing. It should make him happy? We don’t know, but it is an inquisitive group here in the middle of nowhere, and many people have mentioned to me, that they had a grandmother/aunt/neighbor/friend who braided, and they are thrilled that Dad is keeping the craft alive. In other words, in a place where folks enjoy the stroll down memory lane, Dad’s presence at the Craft Fair will fuel even more strolling.

Back to the subject at hand, which on this particular day happens to be “Inspiration.” My dear Mother-In-Law gifted me with a box of powdered dye to use to dye wool. It is like magic in a box. Albeit, VERY POTENT magic in a box. I dye things at home on the farm, but the natural elements I have used (plus a little experimenting with Kool-Aid) are not so powerful. At home, I do all my dyeing outside. Using leaves, and flowers and whatnot, the potency of such concoctions can create toxic fumes. Again, “natural” doesn’t always mean safe. I am well aware that powdered dye has the ability to make a mess of epic proportions. Epic. Proportions. It’s not so much the fumes, although depending on the dye used, breathing those unseen airborne bits of powder can be quite dangerous. So, dyeing is truly an art form that is best done outside, in the gravel, or on the grass, or anywhere that fumes and spills won’t cause horrific grief.


Simply as a point of clarity, this is how I dye at home.  Outside.  On a campstove.  Granny Clampett would be proud.

The same dear mother-in-law (my ONLY dear mother-in-law) who gave me this magic pixie dust, told me about the time she needed to have her stove serviced. The man who pulled it out from the wall, gazed at the rainbow of bright colors surrounding said stove and exclaimed, “Lady, what exactly are you cooking in here?” She laughed and told him she had been dyeing fabric on the stove. He just shook his head. Apparently a few microscopic bits of dye had escaped and fallen between the stove and the cabinets and created a permanent record of her escapades. She also mentioned that she had a “few spots on the carpet in her kitchen.”   Some of this story was told to me after the fact, so maybe I wasn’t quite as careful as I should have been? (No matter, I was spared by the fact that the desert provides me with round the clock exceptionally low humidity and I have a vacuum…….a really good little vacuum, which I know how to use.)

All of this is just background information. Now comes the story. When I received this gift of powdered dye, I knew my friend, Renate, would be able to hold my hand and help me through this dyeing process using REAL dyes. She is a spinner, weaver, knitter, sewist, jewelry maker, etc, etc. In other words, she happens to be one of the most all around talented people I know. She is a kindred spirit and willing to share her knowledge. And so, we dyed a few pieces of wool……inside the Hag. Of course she had suggested we do this project outside, but I didn’t bring my camp stove along to the desert. We ran out of room for such things. I attempted to be careful.


Hand-dyed pieces of wool.  Yes, the color is meant to be an uneven.  I did that on purpose.  It gives your work depth and shading.

At the point in time when I realized the cardboard box of powdered dye was, perhaps, not in the best of shape, and maybe leaking just a little, I upped my game and became more purposeful in my handling of it. When all was said and done, the wool was beautiful, and my Hag mates were forbidden from certain areas of the interior of the motor home until I could vacuum and vacuum and then vacuum again. Stella was relegated to drinking her water outside, as she gets a little overzealous when she imbibes. It is a great relief to me that to date, the carpet is still its usual stained shade of grey/beige and that did NOT come from me and my dyeing adventures.


Renate taught me how to do three-dimensional work using the dyed wool.  This is a flower pin.  It’s about 3″ in diameter.  (Not as HUGE as it looks in the photo.)


These are the tools you use to do the flower above.  The tool on the left is called a proddy, and the one on the right is a rug hook.  (Thanks to our own mailbox here at the park, I ordered a set for myself!)



This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Inspiration Or What Happens When It Goes Missing

  1. Nanci says:

    Fascinating Jan! Love reading about the process and your tongue-in-cheek humor makes it all the more interesting! I completely understand and believe there is such a thing as “crafter’s block!” There is also such a thing as “crafter’s ADD.” I find myself facing the latter many times. Too many ideas come from beginning a project when you are starting from scratch with only a vision. How that vision is ever-changing!

    Your work is beautiful and inspiring and you are the most talented crafter I know! I thank you for sharing with me over the years. I look forward to our crafting weekend someday!

    • msdaisie says:

      Yes, I also fall victim to “Crafter’s ADD,” more often than not……too much thinking, and too little time. Thank you for following along with our journey! I LOVED seeing you this summer and I agree that we need to get together for a “little” crafting! (I think you need to plan for more than a weekend!)

  2. Kathy Swaydan says:

    Greetings All, I just (finally) signed into your blog so I can follow your adventures. Love the dying wool project and set-up, Granny Clampett indeed! The flower is lovely, can’t wait to see what you do next. Also, love the rug braiding. Your Dad looks very involved and I think he will enjoy people making over his accomplishments. Looking forward to your next post.

  3. says:

    So enjoyed your blog today. We are 200 miles south of Portland. Sorry I didn’t get a chance to say “good-bye”. Linda

    Sent from my iPhone


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s