From My Studio

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My free-form (free range) vest is almost done. I thought the weaving of the yarn ends would never end! I was playing with them and made this little colorful nest. As I was playing with the strands, an idea popped into my head.

Could I put them outside for the birds to make their nests? Is that safe?

I can’t bring myself to throw these snippets away.

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Instead of adding a band of knitting at the bottom, I single crocheted all around the edges of the vest, including the armholes. It made the bottom a little wavy looking, I’m not sure why. I really like the edging but think that I should add a couple more rows of single crochet.

What do you think?

Here’s a closeup of the back panel of ribbon yarn.

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Even though you need to take great care when stitching and later washing the garment, I love working with ribbon yarn. It’s so scrumptious looking with the way the colors wash into each other and it feels silky and luscious in my hands.

Lately, instead of beads, I’ve started collecting yarns. Oh no, another addiction. Here’s the latest purchase. I think I’ll make another vest in lighter blues, greens and tans.

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Speaking of blues and greens, I started playing with my watercolors last weekend. I’m not painting anything in particular, just feeling the way the colors lay on the paper and swirl and mix into each other. I’m just playing…

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I especially love the “bloom” effect as the colors meet on the wet page. Blue says, “hello yellow, let’s bloom together and make green” Lovely.

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Maybe someday I’ll actually paint some real flowers from my garden but for now I am having so much fun making free-form watercolors.

When I was in kindergarten many moons ago, my most favorite activity was finger painting. I loved swirling the paint around with my fingers.

“The moment in which children relax into the presence of their imagination there is often a collective sigh of relief – of children smiling to each other, knowing that their inner world is not peculiar to one’s self, but a vast gathering of information in everyone, like the richly populated voicing of the sea or a summer meadow.” ~Richard Lewis

Saturday Morning Tea

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On this sunny, late July morning, I’m getting off the tea path and venturing onto the herbal path.

This dried flower has been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine. Here in New England, we commonly see it blooming from August all the way up to the first frost in October.

Have you guessed what it is yet?

You’re absolutely right – it is the chrysanthemum flower. In this case, yellow chrysanthemum. In my research, I have discovered that the Chinese use both the white and the yellow flower for medicinal purposes.

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I steeped the flowers for about 8 minutes in boiling hot water, resulting in a luminous, pale yellow infusion.

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Called Ju Hua, it has a cooling affect on the upper body so it is mainly used in Chinese medicine to reduce or clear heat from the body, such as bringing down a fever or high blood pressure. I have read that it is also a digestive aid, especially for greasy foods and can help with head congestion.

What a beneficial herb! I like to drink it for its honeyed, floral taste with notes of sage and pepper.

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Yesterday I purchased this lovely teabowl. The fabulous texture makes it look like it’s dripping with icing. Mmmm…

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A path dips down into my new bowl and awakens my imagination.

Where will it take me?

“Not all those who wander are lost.”

~J.R.R. Tolkien

Saturday Morning Tea

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It’s a wet, misty morning outside that speaks of mystical adventures. I’m almost expecting a unicorn to step out from the line of trees.

I felt like I was in a drippy, green cocoon when I stepped out onto our backyard deck. The trees embrace our backyard world in a protective sway.

This morning’s tea is from the Oliphant tea estate, located in the Nuwara Eliya district on the tropical island of Sri Lanka, better known as Ceylon in the tea world. I have found information that this estate was the first to grow 30 tea plants brought over to the island from China. Sir Anthony Oliphant was a chief justice on the island around the time of his son’s, Laurence Oliphant, birth in 1829. Both men are credited with being the first to grow tea on the island.

Ceylon is well known for its black tea production. Think a “brisk” cup of a well known teabag. However, I have chosen a green tea instead and it is a delight with its large broad leaves and golden yellow tea color.

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At the highest altitude for tea growing on Sri Lanka, the Nuwara Eliya tea growing district is an emerald green world due to its high rainfall.

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The leaf of this tea reminds me of the large leaves found in a China Yunnan tea. Here is one that took on a most interesting shape during processing.

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A duck for a wet day.

The aroma is slightly vegetal with a very smooth flavor with hints of toast and fruit. This would be a perfect green tea for those not enjoying the vegetal quality that a green tea usually posesses.  That quality is extremely light in this tea.

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Today I’m off to an Art Fair with a friend. Hopefully, the sun will peek out this afternoon.

Enjoy the weekend!

From the Studio

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It has been quite awhile since I’ve shared any creations from my studio. I’m not exactly sure why that is but I think it has something to do with knowing that I will be moving again and I am transitioning towards moving my studio towards a new living space. Even though I don’t have a moving date yet, I feel myself disconnecting from my current studio space. It’s an interesting process.

Has anyone else ever experienced that with a pending move?

The creative time I have had has been mainly spent curled up in a cozy nook in my living room and I find myself more often than not turning to pick up a ball of colorful yarn. In this transitional time, I look for soft, tactile comfort to ground and center myself.

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A pair of beachy colored socks.

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A buttery yellow baby dress.

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A rose garden colored floppy baby hat.

Last week my company had its annual shutdown and I spent a good part of the week transforming the look of some old wicker furniture. A good Spic n Span scrub and light sanding prepared them for some sprayed on primer and then porcelain colored paint. I love their creamy vintage look and am looking forward to fabric shopping so I can create some plump cushions to adorn them with.

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While I’ve glanced at my art journal a couple of times and sorted some beads and jewelry components here and there, I haven’t felt like creating in that direction lately. I’m sure that I will return to them with renewed joy someday in the near future.

My company will be closed down every Friday during the month of August. We started doing this last year as the summertime is our slowest time of year. It gives our staff members extra time to relax and enjoy some free time before the busy fall season starts.

In anticipation of that extra free time, I’ve recently picked up a book, “Watercolor: A New Beginning: A Holistic Approach to Painting”, from the library. The first sentence of an editorial review from amazon.com expresses the book perfectly.

“Lindsay’s approach to teaching watercolor emerges from somewhere between the traditional art world and the deep, mystic spaces of the self.”

The author Ann Lindsay encourages her students to learn watercolor through the kind of playfulness we experienced in childhood. I find that approach immensely appealing so I took myself down to the arts and crafts store to purchase a pad of watercolor paper, 5 tubes of paint and a large palette for mixing.

Time to schedule some watercolor play time for myself!

Saturday Morning Tea

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It’s a beautiful summer day (finally!) and I’ve invited a sunny daylily to join me for my morning tea. I love its golden light. It reminds me to let my own light shine through.

I’m sipping a Darjeeling white tea from the Okayti estate. Processed entirely by hand, this rare production tea is truly an art form. In the photo above, you can see the tiny white hairs on each leaf tip which give white tea its name. White tea is the least processed of all of the different types of tea – just a short wither and steam heated to halt the oxidation process which naturally occurs. The white tea leaf buds are not rolled or bruised at all so each tip looks very much as it did when it was plucked from the bush.

Close to the border with Nepal, the Okayti estate is located at approximately 6000-7000 feet in Darjeeling district’s Mirik Valley of northeastern India. They have been growing tea since the late 1800s.

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I steeped the leaves in 180 degree F water for 3 minutes. As I removed the basket, the tea’s sweet aroma lifted gently from my teapot.

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I delighted in sifting through each intact leaf to create this fun design. The tea itself is a light buttery color, a paler version of my daylily. Its flavor is delicate and smooth with an amazing sweetness that lingers after each sip.

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I purchased a new teacup this week and enjoyed pouring my first cuppa in its smooth, rounded shape, a perfect fit for my small palm. Created at Cornwall Bridge Pottery in CT, a beautiful dragonfly has been painted onto its side.

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I found this amazing information regarding their symbolism:

“Dragonflies are reminders that we are light and can reflect the light in powerful ways if we choose to do so. “Let there be light” is the divine prompting to use the creative imagination as a force within your life. They help you to see through your illusions and allow your own light to shine in a new vision.”

Wow…

Tea Leaf Reading

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Yesterday I spent the day with a dear friend. Despite a profusion of fluffy clouds floating overhead, we were able to soak up some sun out in her garden where the wildflowers bloomed and the dragonflies danced all around us. Sitting there with a cup of mango flavored tea and a piece of apple pie to enjoy, it was sheer heaven.

Later on in the afternoon, my friend brewed a pot of Earl Grey Blue Flower (her favorite), steeping the leaves directly in the boiling water without any infuser. Once the tea was steeped nice and strong, she pulled out her “Cup of Destiny” for me. As I poured myself a full cup of tea, I thought of a question.

“What does the future hold for me?

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I also thought of my question as I sipped my tea. Once there was only a tiny amount of tea left in the cup, I was instructed to turn the cup clockwise 3 times and then turn it over onto the saucer. Once the leaves fell onto the saucer, they were studied for shapes and patterns. We also noticed what fell onto the astrological symbols around the perimeter of the cup.

Here is what my friend said.

The floating leaf bits on the top of my tea (as I drank it) indicated that I will have visitors within the next few days. As I sipped my tea, I kept joking that I was drinking my visitors because it was challenging to sip the tea around the floating bits. lol

The floating bubbles in my tea indicated money and positive energy coming to me in the week ahead. Fabulous!

Remaining in the cup itself were some flowers which fell on the circle on top of a cross symbol and the plus symbol.

The circle on top of the cross is the symbol of Venus indicating love, art and harmony. I will have creative interludes very soon. More fabulous!

The plus sign indicates a warning against overdoing it. I need to slow down and let go a little. Perfect advice for this week off fom work.

A combination of leaf and flower on the saucer had a butterfly shape which symbolizes transformation, pleasure, joys and is considered lucky.

There was also a rectangle shape symbolizing challenges or difficulties, something to overcome in the future. Possibly a letter coming my way.

Two stems formed the shape of a roof which could symbolize the condo I’m purchasing.

Wow. All that from my tea leaves. Oh, one other prediction. I think a “Cup of Destiny” purchase is in my future very soon!

What a fun and magical way to spend an afternoon.

Saturday Morning Tea

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Happy Birthday America! I am so blessed to call you home.

I’m hoping that this weekend will bring a break out of this cool, rainy weather pattern we’ve been stuck in here in New England. The sun has peeked out here and there but hasn’t stayed for very long. My colleagues at work and I were celebrating yesterday when we saw some blue sky!

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My tea today, a hand-made Oolong called Xiang Pao, comes from a small family farm located in the Shan Ling Xi area in the mountains of Nantou County, Taiwan, approximately 1800 meters above sea level. As part of their business philosophy, this farm practices the LOHAS concept. LOHAS is an acronym for Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability and its companies promote “responsible capitalism” by providing goods and services using economic and environmentally sustainable business practices.

After graduating from college, the family’s daughter made the decision to stay and work in the family business. In an e-mail to my company, she writes:

“I told my father we need to insist on selling top quality and handmade when I graduated. Special Oolong tea is well received in Taiwan. We have paid more attention and have tried some ways to make sure our tea quality, and we got some awards from competitions in Taiwan.

We asserts LOHAS concept, to provide top teas to customers in order to make sure all customers get the nature health and nature beauty in the life. Therefore, we emphasize the quality and manufactureer processes so that our teas are high quality and good benefits.”

Just as I am happy to support small local businesses in my area, I am glad to support and share teas from an environmentally and socially conscious tea farm such as this.

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I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes in 190 degree F water. The aroma and flavor are of earth, wood and chestnuts with a mild sweetness. A hint of flowers lingers in my mouth after each sip.

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I am enjoying my cuppa with a bowl of lusciously ripe black plums. I love the velvety, dark sweetness of the fruit combined with the tang of its skin. Mmmm…

Today I am going to a dear friend’s home to sit out amongst the profusion of blooming flowers in her backyard garden. We’ll enjoy some tea and even read each other’s tea leaves using an interesting new teacup she just purchased at the bookstore recently. It’s called “The Cup of Destiny”. What fun! Stay tuned to see what the cup has to say…

“…do you think there is anywhere, in any language,

a word billowing enough

for the pleasure

that fills you,

as the sun

reaches out,

as it warms you

as you stand there…”

exerpt from the poem The Sun by Mary Oliver