Dancing with the Rainbow

Perhaps the rainbow that guided us out of Albuquerque and along the road to Taos was more than just a good omen for our stay there. I believe my future was being revealed to me.

I just found out recently that one of my color heroes, Lindly Haunani, will be giving a workshop in CT, facilitated by the Southern Connecticut Polymer Clay Guild.

It’s called…………….. “Dancing with the Rainbow”.

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Lindly has recently co-authored a book with Maggie Maggio, another one of my color heroes. Dripping with page upon page of color eye candy, it is also filled with color exercises designed to help you find your own color voice. I devoured its pages as I winged my way to New Mexico, determined to start the exercises upon my return. Now I find myself looking forward to studying with the master herself and I will savor every moment.

Taos Journey – Day 2

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Every morning we carefully stepped our way across the cobblestones to the workroom where we  settled down in our own individual cozy spot, picked up our pointy sticks and let the yarn flow from them in colors that spoke to us of the gorgeous Taos landscape.

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Jane showed us various stitches that would aid us in manifesting our impressions and made suggestions on what would work well with the different yarns that each of us had chosen for our project.

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Many of the participants chose to create a Feather and Fan wrap which starts at the bottom and blossoms open across circular needles to the top. I chose to create a shrug which is worked side to side, from one wrist to the other, increasing to the center and then decreasing down the other side.

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Perhaps you might have noticed the smiling man in the upper left hand corner of the workroom? A few of the ladies smuggled him in one evening. He is a cardboard man. They named him “Ford”, perhaps because it rhymes with “board”? Anyway, he looked pretty good modeling Jane’s shrug.

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After lunch on our second day, we were invited to go see a recently constructed straw bale home. I know, I know. I was scratching my head at first, too. Wha?? The concept is really neat though. The Taos climate is arid enough to allow for straw bales to be used inside the walls of the constructed home. It’s a superior insulation material. The walls are plastered over the bales in an adobe style and a window is placed along an inner wall showing the straw inside. You can read more about this kind of home construction here. Fascinating.

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One of the houses was located on a windswept plain, literally in the middle of nowhere and completely “off the grid”. This is their front yard. How amazing is that?!! I was simply mesmerized in learning about this way of living, so much the opposite of  my own suburban environment back home.

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A secret garden.

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On the way out to the house, we passed the Earthship community of sustainable and unique biotecture housing and drove across the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, spanning the 650 feet deep gorge. Sweaty palms on that bridge, I’ll tell you.

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We finished the day with a sumptuous feast at a fabulous restaurant called Lamberts. If you only had one eating place to choose in Taos, it has to be this one. The food was beyond delicious and the service was impeccable. I had the potato leek soup with crème fraiche and chives, served hot, and the marinated roasted beet salad on greens with goat cheese and pumpkin seeds. The meat eaters of our group enjoyed the grilled Filet Mignon with horseradish crème, steak fries and grilled asparagus. I had to try their dessert, too, oh twist my arm – a warm apple & almond crisp with white chocolate ice cream. I wish that I had taken pictures of the feast but I was just so enthralled by my food that I completely forgot.

If you’re ever in Taos, it’s simple – treat yourself and go to Lamberts.

Stay tuned for more Taos adventures…

Taos Journey – Day 1

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Despite getting a late start on the road from Albuquerque to Taos and also leaving during the height of rush hour traffic, we were graced with a very good omen that traveled along with us for quite some time. As I drove along, I just kept thinking how different and, even somewhat alien, the landscape seemed in comparison to my home in New England. But oh, how lovely it was with the shifting patterns of light and the towering mountains shadowing our route. The spirit of this landscape was speaking directly to my soul.

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First rule of thumb when traveling and driving to an unknown destination: plan your arrival during the daylight hours! Our drive to Taos took approximately 2 1/2 hours and, yes, we did arrive just as it was getting dark. Of course, we got a little lost but we finally pulled into the driveway of the Mabel Dodge Luhan House around 8pm, just in time to attend a welcoming gathering in the Main House.

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Mabel was a writer, social activist and patron of the arts. She moved to Taos in 1919 and purchased this 12 acre property. For those who saw the recently debuted Lifetime movie on Georgia O’Keeffe, another famous resident of New Mexico, it was to Mabel’s home that Georgia fled after her husband, Alfred Steiglitz, had an affair with another woman. You can read more about Mabel here. She has written several books on her life in Taos. One in particular, “Winter in Taos”, is at the top of my reading list.

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The next day dawned clear and bright as it always seems to do in Taos. As the day progresses, the clouds roll in and gather over the mountaintops in spectacular sweeps and shapes.

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After a delicious breakfast spread, our morning knitting session commenced. Our teacher and fearless leader, Jane Thornley, shared her philosophy of knitting with us, telling us that it was important to listen to your inner creative voice and let the yarn flow and come together in a free-form, or free range, way. We could choose to make a wrap, a shrug or a scarf, whatever was calling out to us.

You can see Jane’s gorgeous wrap called “The Road to Taos” here. Jane is an avid traveler and the harmonious flow and beautiful color palettes of her creations are inspired by the landscapes and nature she comes across in her travels.

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After lunch, we took a field trip to the yarn shops in downtown Taos, La Lana Wools and Weaving Southwest.

All I can say of that adventure is – oh my!

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It was a feast for the eyes for a color freak like moi.

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We finished our day with a lovely meal at the Dragonfly Cafe, a European cafe and bakery that uses seasonal, locally grown fresh produce, most of it organically produced. We sat in a cozy, cushioned alcove, a comfortable place to end our very busy day.

Stay tuned for my Taos Journey – Day 2…

“Of all the worlds that Mabel tried to create, her dream of turning Taos into a paradise regained speaks to us most clearly today, and not just because it was a modern reincarnation of the oldest American myth.  She addressed the issues that still challenge us; the possibility of our survival in an individualistic world, in a country where community is rarely found, in a land that slowly chokes itself on the effluence of its industrial processes.”

~Lois Palken Rudnick, exerpt from Mabel Dodge Luhan, New Woman, New Worlds

A Trip to New Mexico and a Knitting Retreat

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With each passing day, my anticipation and excitement is growing and expanding as I think about my coming journey to New Mexico. 2 more days!

The first half of my trip will be spent in Albuquerque visiting with my youngest son and his family. And, yes, my precious little granddaughter! So, I will get some “Ella time” which is always welcome with wide open arms. Heaven.

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The second half of my trip will be spent in Taos where I will attend a Jane Thornley free range knitting retreat. We will be creating a garment of our choosing, a wrap or shrug, using the Feather and Fan stitch and an assortment of colorful, textured yarns in colors reflecting the southwest nature palette.

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I was also very excited to be able to complete my “Come Spring” vest so I can wear it on my trip.

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After I finished my vest, I couldn’t resist starting my granny squares. Here’s a peek at what’s done so far.

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I am just loving choosing different color combinations for the squares so that each one is unique. With 16 different colors and 4 rows for each square, the possibilities are many.

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Now that I’m officially a “granny”, how perfect is this?

I will take loads of pictures on my trip and look forward to sharing tales of my adventures upon my return!

Studio Wednesday

About a year and a half ago, I took a Talisman workshop at the Center at Westwoods in Westwood, MA. In the workshop, we did an exercise to find a word that would best represent the talisman we were going to create in PMC. The exercise involved choosing images we were drawn to from a large pile on a table and then meditating and journaling about a word that we thought of when gazing at those images. My word was “connect”. I then created a small charm for each letter and later made a bracelet with my letter charms. Whenever I wear my talisman bracelet, I am reminded of my word and its special meaning for me. It represents the authentic connections I have in my life, both inner and outer, and how important those connections are to me.

Here is the definition of a talisman from the Merriam Webster dictionary.

1 : an object held to act as a charm to avert evil and bring good fortune
2 : something producing apparently magical or miraculous effects

This past summer I found an old stash of faux jade polymer clay I had created years ago at one of my polymer clay guild meetings. I created a pendant with the Kanji character for “beauty”. When I sat down at my worktable today, I pulled out the faux jade again with the intention of creating some more Kanji inspired pendants. Instead, I thought of my talisman bracelet and took out my letter stamps and created some word charms. I also made one out of black clay and Pearl-ex powders.

The charms are pictured above before sanding.  They’ll have much more of a green jade color once I sand away the red paint. Right now the paint gives the clay a pinkish cast. After baking, I drilled a hole in the top and bottom of each charm.

I’m not sure yet what I’m going to do with my charms but creating them today in my warm, cozy studio next to a roaring fire lent a sweet magical feeling to my day.