Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Query: Can you do yoga in a skirt and heels?

A thoughtful friend, who also happens to lead professional development workshops for social workers on occasion, invited me to teach an hour of restorative yoga to a group of said social workers yesterday.  They were working on training towards some kind of certification and, at the end of the day, she wanted to offer them an hour of "self-care".  That last bit was very thoughtful of her, don't you think?  She knows that social workers have very high pressure/low appreciation jobs and burn out isn't just an abstract idea for them.

So, with my shiny, new certification, I entered into the lion's den.  It wasn't quite that bad - for one thing, social workers tend to be extremely nice and caring people - but there were a couple of things that my friend neglected to tell me.  She had mentioned that there would be 45 of them.  La la problem!  We will just stick to very simple movements and lots of breath work.  She also told me that probably none of them had done yoga before and possibly about 20% of them would not be able to get down on the floor.  Ok...chairs and simple movements and lots of breath work.  Oh, but she didn't tell me that she wasn't going to tell them about the yoga portion of the day, so naturally many of the women had on skirts and high heeled shoes.  And some people simply had no interest in yoga, period.  And the room was a bit small for 45 people to stand in, let alone to whip out the mats that she had very generously provided for everyone.  They were all pretty psyched about the mats, however.

When I arrived and quickly noted the situation, I realized that I had to scrap about half of my class plan.  Because, however wonderful my teacher training was (and it was!), we never talked about how to teach yoga to 45 people in a small room, where half the people are in inappropriate clothing (for yoga), one of them is pregnant and a handful prefer to remain seated with their chins in their hands and a look that says, honey, if I wanted to move my arms around and visualize the moon on a still pond, I would NOT do it here at work.  And PS. I don't want to do those things.

Needless to say, it was an excellent learning experience for at least one person in that room yesterday.

Friday, February 22, 2013

There Will Be Yarn

For a long time, I have been lamenting my laziness.  Somehow, I just never seemed to get around to spinning yarn for my etsy shop.  How can this be?  Too much wasted time on the computer?  Daydreaming out the window when I should be applying myself?

Yesterday I realized that, perhaps, it wasn't total laziness.  Maybe it was, in fact, busy-ness.  Because now that teacher training is over, suddenly I find myself listing yarns in my etsy shop.

Over 600 yards of lace weight Rambouillet!

A wee skein - only 56 yds - also of the same Rambouillet.

A gorgeous bulky two-ply.  When I made that orange and black skein for my friend's hat the other day, it was so fun to knit up that bulky two-ply that I decided that I must share the love!  Made from a Widdershins fleece that was 80% BFL and 20% silk.  So soft, it is like a dream!

And check out this dreamy shot.  Currently under production...some Shetland lace weight.

It is nice to be back.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Dawning of A New (Old) Era

April may be the cruelest month but, for me, it will be the busiest month.  Suddenly, the deadlines are stacking up.  It's all good, as they say.  Actually, I hate it when people say isn't all good!  Sometimes, it is bad!

Whatevs, as they say.  Right now, it is all good.  I would go so far as to say it is awesomesauce.

First up in April will be a participatory performance project of an alliterative nature done as part of The Brooklyn Museum's First Saturday program.  I am pretty excited about this since approximately 10,000 people attend these events.  Yes, you read that correctly - 10,000.  Excited might not be the best word for how I feel about it, but let's keep it at that for now.

More on that project later, today I simply wanted to acknowledge that I just ordered sewing patterns for historically accurate dresses from the American colonial era as part of a video project I am creating.  This is all part of the ongoing collaboration with four other artists on the subject of war, revolutions and the Battle of Brooklyn.  A new group exhibition on the subject will be installed at the end of April.

Is she so rosy-cheeked and happy because of all that food?
Or because she knows her garments are made with 100% historical accuracy?

For many months, I have been feeling like my work is shifting in its direction but mostly that feeling has been just that - a feeling.  I haven't taken many actions towards making it real.  So plunking down cold, hard cash for costumes for a video feels like something.  

Ideas.  I have Big Ideas.

Where is this all heading?  I have no idea but I guess we will find out.....

Sunday, February 17, 2013


It's official.  We had our 500-hr graduation ceremony, which consisted of our teacher giving us our certificates of completion and a copy of a chant that she selected for each of us.  She chose a chant that related to our practice or reflected something about our training and where we are at now.

For me, she chose a sloka from the Bhagavad Gita (so not really a chant but it can be chanted).  Here it is:

karmanyeva adhikaraste ma phaleshu kadachana

Your right is to action alone; never to its fruits at any time.  

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!

Meanwhile, on a lesser note, there was knitting involved.  In this tradition, we use little stick figures to explain the practice we create for each individual.  Each asana is drawn out with little symbols for inhalation and exhalation so that the person doing the practice at home can follow along until they memorize it.  So I made our teacher a hat with the little stick figure in padmasana on it.

And then, because she managed to have twins in the middle of the training, I made two more hats.


And then, we had a party at a lovely space in Brooklyn.  Lots of delicious food such as hungry yogini's would want.

And then, those babies test drove their hats.

I think they like them.

Friday, February 08, 2013

How To Be Satisfied

Each year, the Struts Gallery and Artist-run Centre in Sackville, New Brunswick (Canada's oldest!), holds a fundraiser on Valentine's Day.  Called The Sweetest Little Thing, the fundraiser involves sending artists a piece of masonite (I think it was around 6" x 9") and inviting them to create something with it, in anyway they see fit.  This year, I decided to cut it up into pieces, drill holes in it and paint it.

The question of how to be satisfied is one that I think about a lot.  What does that really mean?  I had a lot of opportunity to consider this as I ran up against obstacles at every step along the way of making this little piece. 

First, I do not own a saw, so I borrowed a saw.  Then, no drill, so I went to the hardware store and bought a drill.  Then, I thought we had paint, but nope, no paint.  Bought new paint.  Then, I swear I thought I had loads of copper wire, but wrong again!  No wire.  Bought some wire (they didn't have copper and I didn't have the wear-with-all to search around for copper).  Whew.  Finally, the piece is done.  And a bit late.  So, to satisfy the deadline, I will overnight it to New Brunswick.  

If you would like to own this very satisfying piece while at the same time helping to support Canada's oldest artist-run centre, place your bid here.  Well, it isn't up yet, but go there on February 14th.  You, too, will be satisfied.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Tidy Up Time

When the kids were little, we always had "tidy up time" at the end of the day when they would help put away their toys and things so that the living room returned to something ever so slightly less than total chaos.  My mom started this tradition when we went to Newfoundland for the first ever time in 1997 when Fin was only seven months old.  She got him to help gather up his things before bedtime - she even made it into a game that was fun - and the notion stuck with us.  These days it is a little harder to motivate the wee ones (ha!) to pick up their things and sing "tidy up time!".  Personally, I just like the word tidy.  It is so...tidy.  In Newfoundland, there is a contest called the "Tidy Towns" contest.  Gillams has never won and I must confess that many of the towns sporting signage that they were once the winner of this title are a  Sorry, but it is true.

Well, call it tidy or call it dull, my week has been all about tidying up.

First, heavens be praised, I finished my 500-hr teacher training.  I can hear the shouts of joy and relief!  My apologies if I have ventured into "unbearable" with all the yoga talk.  It has been an intense and wonderful year.  Finishing is definitely bittersweet.  Happy to have my weekends back, sad to not have a reason to be with my fellow YTT's, a group that I have grown to love.  And sad to not be looking closely at all aspects of yoga from all angles.  Fortunately it is a lifetime of learning.  I will try to keep the sharing to a minimum.

And second, I de-installed my piece in New Haven.  In addition to many hours of quality knitting time on MetroNorth, it offered an opportunity for some artsy do-nothing photos. 

According to the curator, many of the passers-by in downtown New Haven eagerly embraced the message, some even raising their fists in the air and shouting "Do nothing!  Yah!".

My work is nothing if not a crowd pleaser.

For me, however, this piece was as much about considering what it might mean to do nothing as it was a deep appreciation of the suction cup hook.  Will I ever create something that uses 450 of them again?  I can only dream.  

And you have to admit, it was a pretty tidy solution.