Monday, January 21, 2019

Cultural Appropriation

This is a huge



topic lately.

It's consuming the fiber arts world, along with the headlines. Cultural conflict. I can't speak to everyone or even anyone else but myself. But, here I find myself, in my mid-fifties, feeling about five years old. I look back and realize how sheltered and naive I've been. How much I feel driven to help and support others and yet so uneducated about what that really means.

I have a militant, accusatory "friend." She was a friend, once upon a time. I'm not so sure now. She wears her causes like badges. In my well-intentioned ignorance, I related a time I was clearly discriminated against. At the time, it hurt and was a shock to learn I didn't get noticed because of my color, age, and shape. It didn't matter that my credentials were excellent; I was invisible. I was trying to understand the only way I knew how - to tap into my own experiences and feelings. She attacked me and said I would NEVER understand because I was white. Her response was to further widen the gap, to take out her anger directly on me even though I'd lived my life consciously including everyone, accepting everyone, the best I could. I can't listen to her anymore. 

A couple years later now, I find it ironic that she feels she made the split because I don't post enough pictures on social media, in her opinion, of my oldest. Never mind that she doesn't know if that was my decision, or on the request of my daughter, or the truth which is that I post mostly photos of knitting or cats, trips when they come up, along with a meme or two. My younger daughter lives with me and is my handiest model. Both of my daughters are breathtakingly beautiful, inside and out. I don't see my oldest nearly as often as I'd like and would gladly like to have the occasion to photograph her more. I feel sad for my friend who seems to suffer when she doesn't need to and resists joy in favor of raging against all her "thems."

No one likes to be blamed and attacked for the actions of others. I wasn't the only one who felt it when it came up in a discussion group. It just took one person who maliciously struck out at all people who were not BIPoC. I almost left the group altogether. She clearly had deep hurts but, unfortunately, like my friend, was so angry, she widened the gap as she listed case after case of injustice and accused "us" of the results. 

Fortunately, I didn't leave. I took a back seat for a while and did some reading.  I also watched some of the reflective videos of the organizer of that group, Abby Franquemont.

I listened. I finally felt confident enough to comment again. Thankfully, Abby responded and offered some clarification and not someone who instantly condemned and judged. I'm learning. I realize I don't need to try to find my own experience and that I can't because I haven't experienced it. I listen and include. That's what I can do...listen, respect, include.

My task now is to be inclusive as I explore my work in fiber arts.

More on this later...

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Learning to let go

It feels like I've been focusing on others for decades. Even when I was young, I always was concerned more about others than myself. That's not really a good thing. It's really kinda pointless because I can't change anything for or about someone else.

This was really brought home last night. My youngest has moved to Boston to attend Boston University and complete her master's degree. She had an unexpected and rather dramatic housing snafu. My first impulse was to fly out and swoop in, but, luckily in hindsight, I was working. I had students in front of me who depended on me to be their teacher. There were a couple times when I had to control my face as I empathized with my panicked and frustrated daughter. Now, I can see she'll be okay.

Lately, my older daughter has been struggling, as well. She's dealing with some health issues which will require long term intervention. Even though she's only 23, she's facing it head on with bravery. She'll succeed but it won't be easy. There isn't much I can do for her except be there, let her know I support her and will learn whatever I can about her struggle to be an informed, stabilized force for her. I'm just so proud of her for tackling this when many would just ignore it, hoping it would just go away.

As I think about last night, I'm aware that I'm falling into old "worrying about others" habits. I wondered if I bothered my co-workers as I worked out some of my worries by talking with them. Everyone was kind, or tried to joke to lift my spirits, or was sympathetic, but I worried that I was talking too much about myself and my perceived problems. The reality is maybe, MAYBE, they thought I was a bit of a hovering mom (and they'd be right) or they didn't think too much of it and were just talking.

Then my husband let me know just how discouraged he is with his workplace. He works for the government and is considered "an essential employee." His workplace is a depressing place and everyone is having a hard time keeping spirits up. This breaks my heart. My husband has completely supported me even though I'm in a field that doesn't make a livable income and has been "Dad" to my daughters. Of course, this came up last night, too. I mentioned how I would support my husband even if it meant moving or changing our lives. Once again, I caught myself putting others absolutely before myself. It's not that I wouldn't do that for my husband, I would. It's that I basically did a data dump on the things I value for myself. By the end of the conversation, I realized I could support him and still do what's important to me, whether that's staying at my current dream job or applying myself in some other application of my skills.

My focus is shifting. My daughters are 21 and 23 years old and need to manage their difficulty with my support. They know I have their backs, emotionally and in practical ways. My husband needs to know we are a team so hold each other up. One thing is certain, I'm committed to making this next phase in my life one where I can focus on myself and my partner so we can truly enjoy life.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

You Spin Me Right 'Round....

I've been spinning. A lot.
What is it about spinning, whether it's on a wheel or a drop spindle, that is so soothing and balancing? I should ask my sister, who knows more about those things, what she thinks it is. But, I tell ya, that process of moving all four appendages and sitting in front of a spinning wheel is entirely mesmerizing and healing.

First, I spun half a fleece processed into a carded roving. I have always been a very controlled spinner, proud of my fine spinning. Hmmm.... go ahead and read all kinds of Freud into that.
Image result for freud

I decided to spin that fluffy rambouillet long draw (so messy!) and fat. It was fun.

Then I went back to my zen mode of fine. It'll be great to choose a project and then dye it exactly the colors I want. This two-ply is a weight I use a lot for cardigans, hats, and handwear.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

"My philosophy is that worrying means you suffer twice.”

Newt Scamander says that in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay,  J.K. Rowling.

I have a lot in common with Newt Scamander. It's not just the fascination with animals, or love of blue paired with brown. No, it's that people find me annoying. Not everyone, but quite a lot. Looking back, I think it's the competitive, take-charge type of person, maybe even women in particular.

I'm a huge defender of justice. If I notice anything that seems lopsided or unjust, I will do whatever I can to restore the balance of the justice scales. Sometimes it looks like competitiveness but it's not. Competition makes me sick, literally nauseated. I avoid it at all costs, unless I see that I can restore balance.  I like things to be calm, pleasant, happy, and, most of all, fair. Bullies and other controlling, bossy type people like to try to upset that and clearly find me irritating, like a bug that needs to be squashed.

Newt is confident in his passions and allows that passion to drive him into doing what he firmly believes is right. I haven't always been very good at that but it's much better lately. I can think less of what other's perception of me and more of the goal I'm working towards.

Still, I can be annoying. So what?

Thursday, September 06, 2018

A Fail

I've put off writing too long. Now I have multiple topics to mull over.

Newsy News

First, I'm headed back Cortez, Land of the Good JuJu. My friend is dealing with chemo as well as can be expected. She's the bravest person I've ever known. She won't be able to come out with us, but we'll stop by to say hello.

Fibery News


Have you ever found yourself needing to vent? I do, often, and will preface it for my listener, typically my daughter or husband, with "This is venting..." That way they know their role is to just listen. I don't need help or even input, but just need to purge.  I did that a couple weeks ago here and planned on just leaving it in the oblivion of "draft." Only it published. 

I suppose it wasn't all that bad. I didn't say anything horrible but I was just so WHINEY

I took it down as soon as I noticed but AAACCCKKKKK!!!

Now *that* story wasn't about fiber but it's related to this one which is...
I love the möbius strip. It was brought up in discussion via forums about a favorite podcast of mine, The Unraveling Podcast. I first learned how to construct it in knitting from Cat Bordhi and it was  brilliant.  Then I heard that Elizabeth Zimmermann also had a möbius scarf pattern. I made the mistake of not reading it and assuming it was a scarf with a twist. I was wrong. 

I was wrong in front of the people I connect with the most. 

OF COURSE, Elizabeth Zimmermann knew what a möbius strip was and would not misuse the term. She's absolutely brilliant. 

And, now, I feel like an idiot.