nature


I think it’s a universal feeling that we all need to “run away from home” once in a while.  Between a job, kids in school, homekeeping, and organizing guild workshops- a day in the country is in order to get me centered.  And on this amazing fall day last weekend, we took the bikes down to Gambier, Oh where it connects with the Kokosing Gap Rail-Trail. The trailhead is located near Kenyon College, lovely in its own right.

But our eyes were focused on the rural fall landscape where trees meet cornfields and the sound of cows and their abundant smell are in the air.

We make an annual trip to this trail because of it’s quiet beauty.  We are lost in our thoughts as we progress on the 13 mile trek.  My mind goes toward the colors and how they might inform my weaving.

We always visit the Kenyon Environmental Center adjacent to the trail.  There are gardens, hummingbird feeders, and a central Ohio fall landscape. 

 I hope you find the time to get away before the Fall colors disappear.  This beautiful season goes much too quickly.  Don’t let it pass you by.

As summer comes to an end, I find that I am often pulled away from my spinning and weaving to tend to the ebb and flow of the garden.  After all, this is what we’ve been waiting for; the harvest after all this work is upon us. Tomatoes must get picked, eggplant cut from the vine. 

It’s been a very productive year for my tomatoes, eggplant and beans. 

When the harvest comes into full swing from the middle of August until halfway through September, I spend more time with my cookbooks to see all the ways I can use this wonderful bounty.

But all is not lost on the fiber front.  Many of these wonderful vegetables deserve a slow cook.  Once they are in the pot simmering away, I can usually grab a few minutes at the spinning wheel trying to make some headway on a pile of roving.

Life requires balance.  We need time for our food, rest and fiber…oh and work too:)

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I am fascinated by sacred geometry in nature.  In general, it is the thought that God designed nature in such a way that it follows geometric/mathematical principles.  My garden is a great source of inspiration on this level.  And there is no better example than the incredible sunflowers in bloom.

Can you see the amazing spirals in the middle of the flowers?  They are perfectly formed!  And the center blooms from outside to inside the circle as the bees plant themselves for a drunken feast.

As a weaver, I know many principles of sacred geometry and the fibonacci series are used in designing textiles and wall pieces.  Jennifer Moore is a good example of someone interested in the color, texture and form of nature. 

I just know that I’ve been much more observant of nature’s design since I’ve started weaving and my garden provides much inspiration.

One of my travel goals every year is to ride a new bike trail with my family.  Because of the popularity of bike trails, particularly the rail-trail variety, I’ve been able to accomplish that goal for all of the last 10 years.

Over the weekend, yet another new trail was added to my family’s list.  About a two hour drive from Cleveland is the Allegheny River Trail, a wonderful former railroad line turned into a meandering bike trail along the Allegheny River.  Flat and paved, it was perfect.

Even though there are lots of trees, the trail was fairly exposed to the sun during a significant part of the afternoon ride.  But while it was a hot ride that July afternoon, the cool view of the river was inviting.

The history of the region is interesting. It was the site of an oil boom in Western Pennsylvania during the 1800s.  John Wilkes Booth was an early but ultimately unsuccessful investor.  But others made a fortune.  You can see some old oil wells on parts of the trail, some abandoned for over 100 years.

One of the nice features of the trail is the Belmar Bridge which spans the river and provides a nice surface to walk or ride.

Finding interesting trails to ride is one of the happiest parts of my summers.  And a trail with a story is a real bonus.

My sister has a house on Lake Blue Ridge in Georgia where the family gathered late last month for a week of vacation.  It’s a very long drive down there from Northern Ohio, but I managed to do some sock knitting along the way.  I also brought some of my fiber projects for show and tell, but otherwise we all concentrated on the beauty surrounding us.

Lake Blue Ridge is one of many bodies of water created decades ago by the Tennessee Valley Authority.  It’s a lovely location with beautiful homes dotting the lakeside. Thanks to a very protective population, most of the development is controlled and much of the land surrounding it is federal forest.

At night the the top deck of the dock is a great place to stargaze thanks largely to the fact that there is no light pollution. 

It’s always hard to come back to concrete suburbia after a nice week away in the mountains.  Our family looks forward to returning soon to the warm waters and mountain vistas of Lake Blue Ridge.

Each issue of Vav Maganiset has some kind of inspiration for me.  There is always something interesting to discover but it’s best read during a quiet period in the house with no interruptions.

The recent issue had an article called Dyes from the Natural World featuring Jeanette Scharing, an artist and teacher of natural dyeing techniques.  She is dedicated to extracting dyes slowly from all kinds of natural sources.  One of the pictures referenced dyes being extracted from avocado pits.  It was then that I remembered cutting up numerous avocado pits for a dye day event last summer that I never attended.  I dried the pits and the skins and stored them away.

I got them out last night and took an inventory.

From left to right are the dried skins, old dried chopped pits in the back, and the chopped pit of an avocado I used this week in a recipe.  When you first chop the pits they are a cream color, but a short time after they are exposed to the air, they turn a lovely orange.

After I weighed each of the dyestuff, I placed them in separate jars and poured hot water over them.

I’ll probably leave them like this for a week, simmering them on the stove from time to time.  The pits get very hard and need a long time to release color.  The skins on the other hand might be ready quite soon.

Then, I’ll take out my book “Wild Color” by Jenny Dean (a new edition will be released in November) and try a few different fibers to round out the experiment.  In the meantime, I think this looks lovely on my windowsill.

I’m not an artist by training.  In fact, I’ve been downright color challenged and that is why I own a color wheel.  It’s handy at the loom and travels with me to every workshop.  But there is no color wheel that beats the natural world.  Nature has a way of putting the right combination of colors in the right places every time.  Sometimes I just need to bring my stash outside to see what works.

A little green cotton and I think these colors will weave into something sensational.  I also might consider using the same colors in paint for a free form painted warp.

I love to think of the possibilities.  Now I just have to get busy and make it happen.

Spring is the time that most reminds me of my mother.  It’s not the fact that Mother’s Day is coming up in a few weeks, but rather the new life in my garden.  Many of my plants were gifts from her.  When my husband and I bought our house, she donated coral bells for the garden.  And when she died a number of years ago, we carefully lifted the bleeding hearts from her garden and brought it back to ours.  Everytime I see that lovely plant, I am reminded of her and the time she spent tending it.

When I was growing up, we always had a pink dogwood in the backyard.  Mom loved that tree and the beauty it beheld each spring.  A couple of years ago, we added our own pink dogwood to our landscape.  Just this year, it bloomed like never before; an explosion of blossoms.  I like this photo of a small detail of the tree.

I have a great photographic portrait of my mom in high school on my mantel at home, but her plants are a living reminder of the wonderful person she was to me and the rest of my family.

I’ve been fascinated by the concept of sacred geometry, the golden proportion, and the Fibonacci series.  I don’t quite understand it, but would love to explore it further.  When I saw this movie on YouTube, I was blown away by the way this artist so creatively illustrated it.

I’m continually dumbfounded by the connection between math, nature, and creation. Life is too beautiful to have been a random set of events.

Maybe it’s because I’m a weaver and my husband is a photographer.  But he notices things that point to my interest in how warp and weft interact.  I think fiber, but he sees it in nature.  One afternoon he came to me and pulled me out in the garden.  “Doesn’t that look like weaving?” he said.

It looked like a tangled mess.  The chives were emerging into Spring to rise out of the dead waste from Winter’s slumber.  But it occurred to me that it’s a lot like weaving projects.  What looks like a mess at the beginning can often morph into something beautiful.

Unlike weaving these chives will shed their weft and continue to grow their warp upward, but I’ll be searching for more examples of weaving in my garden from this point on.  Bird’s nests come to mind.

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