Mary Spinning

Opening the windows and redirecting focus...

Spring brings along the usual airing out of spaces, finally warm enough outside for the windows to be opened and things to be sorted out, cleaned and organized anew.. and my fiber bins are packed with awesome treats even I had forgotten about. Much like the pleasures of blogging, the time to sit and go through the ever-accumulating stash seems to have dwindled, and it was invigorating enough to clean and organize my fibers that I decided to check in here and do a bit of writing.

Getting ready to vend at the Fleece Market at Webs' annual Tent Sale coming up on May 14th, and the yarn making apparatus is engaged with delicious fibery creations in various stages of completion. Full bobbins waiting to be plied with some of the sumptuous 1/45 cashmere with 1/600 silk binding from Loro Piana that I purchased at Webs as soon as it became available, and I am having a wonderful creative experience playing with it in the plying process, adding a bit more luxury into my already high-end handmade yarns.

As the past few years have tossed me about personally, I've begun to narrow my focus with making yarns that engage and satisfy me during the process, yarns that I would personally want to knit with, that will be beautiful and durable, and move outward into the world and in the hands of others, make spectacular garments and projects. I make luxury yarn for handknitters and crocheters who want to add something unique and precious to their creative process.

Life is too short to drink cheap wine or knit with less-than-pleasing yarn.

Which reminds me, there should totally be a tiny glass of port consumed while I'm plying this evening.

For a more up-to-date look into my process, please follow me on Instagram at Artemis4242 for the photographic adventures of a fiber nerd.


Mary Spinning

Summertime musing..

Enjoying my participation thus far in the Tour de Fleece spinning challenge event, and making time to reconnect with the joy I find in the fiber community nourishes me on a regular basis.

I may not post here much anymore, but I can be found more regularly on Instagram as artemis4242 these days, as well as Facebook.


Spindle progress continues as I head for tonight's kirtan in Arlington with the band.. #spindle #tourdefleece #tdf2015 #wool #yarn #merino #manos #handspun #handdyed #handmade #spinning #handspunstagram #howitgetsmade #process #iloveachallenge #fibergram #fiberporn #infiniteportability #DIY #teamwebs #GoTeamWEBS
Mary Spinning

And another year gone by..

February approaches soon, and I'm somewhat amazed that I let an entire year slip by without a decent blog post, but at the same time, living with a spotty internet connection means that a lot of the things I used to do online have changed.

I do post about my fiber adventures on Facebook at Artemisia Ink Studio Arts, and can be found on Twitter/Instagram at Artemis4242.

Looking forward to participating in some great events this coming season, vending and teaching at this year's MA Sheep and Wool and participating in the first Alchemy Fair, and I'm spinning away in the winter cold to get ready!

Mary Spinning

February again?

Poof! Time going by at breakneck speed, as always. Suddenly February again, and I'm a year older and hopefully a tiny bit wiser.

Working on the usual plethora of spinning and knitting projects here on the mountainside, especially during recent blizzard conditions.

Tonight's just bitter cold, and thankfully we did not get more snow dumped on us last night. Happy to be inside playing with my spindles and contemplating what I'll do after all these things are done. :)


Mary Spinning

Winter announces her arrival..

Cold season is upon us, and I have been unable to escape its horrid clutches. Home and finally plowed out after another 6 inches of snow got dumped on us last night, canceling our music gig for the night and reminding us just how futile our planning can be in the face of intense weather.

Today finds me sipping cup after cup of medicinal herbal tea, blowing through consecutive boxes of kleenex and generally trying to encourage my body to be doing better so I can work tomorrow, a hopeful approach that will likely prove futile.

I will know that I'm feeling better when I can focus enough to either knit or work at my spinning wheel, as not being able to do either is making me nuts.

More tea..


Mary Spinning

Death and reflection...

My wonderful parents and sister have been looking after me and keeping me fed while I hole up a bit at home in Manchester, still working within myself at beginning to process the impact of Brian's loss as the shock makes way for disbelief and the whole gamut run of emotions.

I look around at my things in this room, and so many of them came from Buried Under, starting when I was about 12 years old and obsessed with EC horror comics from the 50's. I spent so much wonderful time there as an employee and afterwards just hanging out, always stopping in whenever I was in town even after I had moved out of the area. I kept all my subscriptions there even when I lived in California, having books mailed out to me, just because I couldn't bear the thought of getting my monthly issue of Wonder Woman from anyone else.

As a close friend, I remember so many long conversations late at night, parties he came to, the deep connection we shared.. all the times he held me close if I was upset, offering a broad shoulder to cry on, and positive words of encouragement that always left me feeling better.

Sometimes we don't realize the impact that our beloveds have on our lives until their sudden absence shocks us to utter stillness, and then we notice this cavernous space in our world, bereft of presence, and that impact becomes crystal clear. The past 24 hours have been filled with these realizations for me.. just how much I loved this man and everything he did for me and so many of my friends, lovers and beloveds. So many friendships and relationships formed and played out in my life around the store's gathering point. It's all just enormous right now.

Thank you so much for all the kind words and support, I really appreciate it.
Mary Spinning

Zen and the art of yarn making..

Moments of raw honesty can occasionally happen when one is engaged in the familiarity of practice. A split second's view from outside, and a rush of clear sight; a drop of sweat drips onto the yoga mat in practice, or a song carries me away in kirtan and suddenly my heart opens wide. Training and long habit tells us to force this down, especially in public.. but the richer vein waiting to be mined may lie in the calm investigation of the moment, beating back the urge to judge, to squelch, to suppress.

In skeining up some recently finished yarns, I perform the same repetitive motions, long familiar after winding many thousands of yards of handspun yarns off of the plying bobbin and onto the niddy noddy, a device that helps a spinner create a circular loop hank that can be tied off to withstand the setting process, and later after it's dry, wound using an umbrella skeiner and a ball winder into a center-pull ball for use.

The motion of my arms and hands, fluid and almost unconscious in the winding, becomes prayer, becomes meditation, becomes a way to step outside myself for just a second..

I notice my breath. I notice my heartbeat. My heart is racing. Why?

I find the answer in a flash, and I don't care for it.

I have been rushing. Racing through this task, barreling down the bobbin with determination to answer the calls of the stories in my mind.. "so many projects behind" ... "once this is done, I can finally finish more of that commissioned yarn that's waiting" ... "why can't I be faster at this?" ... "why do I feel so inadequate?"

I startle, feeling that I've hit on something, and go there. Why do I feel so inadequate? I'm a successful jack-of-many-trades, with a set of jobs I love and feel called to, and though I've been through my share of bad scrapes, hard times and heartbreak, I feel strong enough to manifest my highest potential and overcome all obstacles to find happiness. Logically, I should feel perfectly adequate, but this isn't as simple as logic.. it's a deep feeling, almost pouring from my guts.

I race from one project to the next, one day to the next, one challenge overcome.. and I still don't feel any more worthy, because this feeling that drives me is coming from within.

The calls are coming from inside the house.

But who are they coming from? When? Is this a vestigial voice I hear, calling from childhood desires for approval, recognition? Is this my own unfulfilled dreams taunting me from the wings? Why are these feelings being allowed to have so much influence over my present peace? Pausing to locate the feeling in my body, I find it centered in my chest, awareness of my heartbeat. I feel a release in asking these questions of myself, remembering all the words of my teachers. Breathe.

What is the origin of this feeling? I can disarm it, remove its fangs if I can find it and catch it. I see the fear of inadequacy, and it's a small child, afraid. Breathe.
Surround this place within in light, reminders that I am perfectly adequate right here and now, and I always have been. I am only running from myself, only seeking my own approval, and I give it to myself, right now. I am already home. The child is safe and held by all the teachers, all the beloved guides, always.

I continue winding, breathing.

This is tough sometimes. I am not always in the mood to practice my yoga flow series, or meditate or chant. I forget sometimes in the mad rush from one task to the next that the practice lives in every moment, in noticing the quality of the moment, in bringing my attention to it, and the lessons in practice will find me as soon as I make the space for them to come in.

Whether I'm ringing out a stalk of chard at the co-op back in my grocery retail days, or praying in retreat, or on the mat doing sun salutations, or scrubbing the floor, as soon as I allow myself to notice the quality of my mind, of my breath.. in that moment, I am practicing.

Tonight, while unconsciously winding yarn, I made just a little space inside myself, hollowed out a little bit of room for the Goddess to remind me of the path I dedicated myself to, and the gifts of joy that are waiting for me right here and now, simply by becoming more aware of them.

I took a moment to blow my nose, fighting back the urge to feel silly about the tears streaming down my cheeks, since it's ridiculous to judge myself for having a small epiphany instead of enjoying it.

I go back to winding yarn, determined to feel the fibers moving through my fingers with a new awareness, using the opportunity to introduce myself to the yarn I spent so much time creating, something that shouldn't go by in a rush, but can be savored and sipped, as the yarn is destined for eventual sale, and will be enjoyed by other fingers in the knitting and wearing. I have only so much contact time with my work, and every moment of it is precious.

I am already home, within myself and this present moment. It just took some yarn making to remind me.


  • Current Music
    Nothing Changes - The Moody Blues
Mary Spinning

Oh yeah, I have a blog!

Once upon a time, I had this deep enjoyment thing with online journaling or blogging, as some say. Having been a handwritten journal keeper long before I started using LiveJournal in college, I guess I see this mostly as an extension of my personal writing practice, just with a different audience, but I've never loved the "blog" word.. just sounds too much like a gastric issue and not something I'd like to be involved with, but there we have it, that's the word the culture seems to have agreed upon.

I do still write by hand in my paper journal, but less often, and I update LJ at a slower snail's pace, it seems. Using Facebook and Twitter, with their continuous short bursts of information, has become more convenient, but like a fast-food meal gulped on the go, it makes me long for a sit-down, face-to-face, "so how was your day?" conversation with myself that journaling provides. So, here I am again, checking in with the world in long form. Yaay!

The sheer enjoyment I have in my work at Webs is evidenced not only by my "they'll have to chisel it off my face" grin at the end of the day, fingers pampered by handling luxury yarns and amazing fibers, but also by the stream of new patterns and projects that come home with me, tugging at my mental coattails until I relent and sigh and tell myself "what's one more?" yet again. Oh yes, I'm doomed. Happy about it, but no less doomed.

These fledgling projects, steadily increasing in number, have taken over my house. I think I need a new bin to contain them, before my partner forgets what the table looks like completely. They are, at the moment, in tiny heaps all over available out-of-the-way surfaces, needles sticking out from all sides, a sock cuff in the window atop it's center-pull ball of yarn, the first piece of a sweater resting on its pattern book, stacks of center-pull balls waiting for projects, a bag of the same brimming with hanks next to my computer, taunting me. Projects for clients floating on top of all my partially started personal projects, and a desperate need for more organization in less space. Spring cleaning urges could not be more timely.

Despite all the chaos at winter's end, it's been a great season, not too punishing in terms of snow until just this past weekend, but even now as I type this, the sun is out, and the meltwater runs in rivulets over the emerging gravel of the driveway, and the icicles hanging from the sides of the house are weeping.

In these past few months I've taught some wonderful drop spindle spinning classes, made some incredible new yarns, learned how to work cables into my knitting, begun to spin up some of my hand-dyed fibers from this past fall's dye experiments, and finalised a spinning workshop on worsted vs woolen spinning that I'll be teaching at this year's upcoming Massachusetts Sheep and Wool Festival in May, which I'm really excited about!

Webs has been filming a great series of videos with lots of little tips, tricks and techniques, and they asked me to do a portion on Drop Spindle Spinning, which was a lot of fun.

Check out the Webs Channel on You Tube for more videos in the series, including some great ones on the wildly popular ribbon yarns and how to work with them, since they're all a little different.

In my musical life, kirtan singing and harmonium playing have brought me all over New England with Shubalananda, and outside of yoga studios, the monthly Blues Night is a chance to let it all hang out. It's a great blessing to love what I do on so many levels, and I'm thankful for each day, still hungry to learn all I can and pass it forward to anyone who cares to ask. Whether it's as a yogi or a yarn nerd, I gain the most pleasure in my life right now from seeing someone else's eyes light up when they have an Ah-Ha! moment with the drop spindle, or sharing a deep moment in singing kirtan, those human connections forged in a moment of mutual understanding.

Things aren't ever going to turn out the way we expect. It's how we roll with it (or not) that teaches us who we are, how we behave when the chips are down that reveals the work we still need to do. Kindness is never optional, no matter what is happening.


  • Current Music
    Leave My Body - Florence + The Machine
Mary Spinning

New spindles galore..

Loving my world of fiber, even while I stay home sick. It's nice to get up from a nap, eat some nice hot soup and sit down behind my spinning wheel for a while.

My family lavished me with 2 new spindles this holiday season, and of course, they're already slowly filling with fiber.

First, the amazing Golding Rudraksha Ring Spindle, made with enough of my interests mashed together that it might as well have been my ultimate dream spindle.

Made with birds' eye maple, rudraksha beads from India strung on silver around the edge, and the inset is Tibetan silver and turquoise, and slowly filling with natural colored cashmere fiber as I spin merrily away.

This spindle caught my eye at Rhinebeck this past year, and my mom nabbed it for me when I wasn't looking, along with some fiber that almost matches the colors of the wood in the spindle itself!

It's a Hearthwise low-whorl spindle, made with maple, purpleheart and osage orange wood in a unique whorlless teardrop shape that can move between regular drop spindle and supported spinning styles. The fiber is superwash merino wool, hand-dyed by Bitsy Knits.

My most recently finished wheel project centered around hand-dyed blended Cormo wool and Angora fiber, which was spun into a fine single and plied with an even finer natural light-colored Cormo wool. Here's the bobbin full of singles:

The finished yarn, plied and set in all it's lofty mottled green glory:

Once this yarn is knit up, the finishing of the fabric will encourage more of the angora fiber to present itself at the surface, producing the lovely soft halo that angora is prized for.

Now to make myself some more tea...


  • Current Music
    Be My Druidess - Type O Negative
Mary Spinning

Yarn in the early winter sun..

Enjoying the view out my windows this crisp early winter morning, as it bleeds into afternoon and the shadows change.

The finished yarn made from the sparkly Loop batt has turned out splendidly, and I'm sure it won't be very long before it finds a new home.

Had a great night out last night, sang a little karaoke while knitting inbetween sips of tasty beverages. I am blessed with lovely friends, and my gratefulness abounds.


  • Current Music
    Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) - Florence + The Machine