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Archive for the ‘Therapy’ Category

Field Trip, Reunion, Color Therapy

Posted by Janis on February 28, 2009

Pam's show at William Woods University

Pam's show at William Woods University

I took a field trip yesterday. Even the words “field trip” give me a little buzz — the memories of school day getaways to places unusual, new sights to see, time to hang out with friends on the bus to and from, trying to get truckers to honk their horns and singing “100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” at the top of our lungs until the driver or our teacher begged for mercy (usually around Bottle #83, as I recall). I wonder if sixth graders are allowed to sing about taking down bottles of beer and passing them around these days? Probably not.

So — I drove to Fulton yesterday to meet up with a dear old friend from high school whom I hadn’t seen for twenty years. Pam had a show of her art quilts at her alma mater, William Woods University, and it was my first chance to see her work in person. You can see it, too — a couple of images anyway. And you simply must go to Pam’s wonderful website/blog to see all her work: .

I had been following Pam’s adventures in quilting online for a year or so now, but seeing the work in person is absolutely overwhelming. It is the most exciting art I’ve seen in … well, maybe ever! Yesterday was gray and cold, and walking into the gallery was like getting a super-shot of pure color therapy, relief for the winter blues. When you see the quilts from a distance, they look like paintings. Pam has created all these amazing techniques to apply drawing and painting techniques to fabric, so the quilts are incredibly textured and dimensional. Looking at them close up, you can see they are created from an infinite variety of different patterns of fabric, painstakingly chosen to contrast, blend, or do whatever The Artiste wants them to do — she is master of her materials, that’s certain. Pam has a stunning sense of color, as you can see, plus her sense of humor comes through the work so clearly. I laughed out loud looking at the quilts — in the Food Pyramid (below), the hieroglyph camel has a tiny cigarette hanging out of his mouth, for instance. Pam calls them “cartoon quilts,” and that is really apt.

It was so great to see Pam after all these years. We had a good laugh about my taking her to her first concert – Kansas – and my brother swiping my car to take his girlfriend home, leaving us stranded so that Pam didn’t get home till 2 a.m. — to a frantic mother. (This was way before cell phones, dear readers — and I doubt if either of us had enough change to make a long-distance call on a pay phone.) Pam was one of those people who, even as a kid, you just knew she would do amazing things. If there had been an award for “Most Likely To Live An Artistic Life,” Pam would have won. Because she did and she is and I am so very proud of her.

Pam and Food Pyramid

Pam and Food Pyramid


Portrait of the Artist as a Young (still!) Quilter and Me


Posted in Therapy, Travel | Tagged: , | 7 Comments »

The Last Word on Christmas Knitting

Posted by Janis on January 2, 2008

Final score for 2007 holiday knitting:  Sweaters 3, Fetching 1. Here are my nieces with their sweaters and a pic of my Dad’s in its finished state. I didn’t get a pic of the Fetching, but they turned out nicely (you’ll have to take my word for it).


Christmas Eve included a mad dash to Jo-Ann (which I felt bad for patronizing after reading the horror story about the customer who wasn’t allowed to use the employee restroom…) for buttons and a bad moment of thinking I might run out of yarn for the button bands and bind-off, even though I had 3 MORE BALLS of it at home… But – WHEW – made it, with yards to spare. I did forget to buy regular thread to sew the buttons on, so I tacked ’em on with yarn for Christmas morning then put them on properly the 26th (back to Jo-Ann).

I feel really grateful that my family makes a big deal over my handknit gifts – even the girls. After reading so many accounts of rudely received knitted gifts on Ravelry and the Knittyboard, I breathed a big sigh of relief when the packages were opened and the girls were waving their sweaters and shouting, “Look! Aunt Jannie KNITTED this for me!!” Rachel put hers on immediately and wore it until the alpaca started to roast her like a mini Christmas turkey. Hannah modeled hers briefly and so did Dad. Annie the dog got to wear Hannah’s on her head for a Kodak moment, and I was basking in some knitterly glory.

Now I have a problem:  I miss knitting Dad’s sweater. It was so full of hope and ambition to be a great finished piece, and I really did my homework and did all the finishing right. When I didn’t like the way the picked-up stitches looked on the left button band, I ripped ’em back and did them again. I studied every tutorial I could find on sewing in the sleeves, and even basted them in with cotton thread before seaming. Even so, I sewed the first one in three times before I liked the way it looked. OK, it’s worth it.  All the things that used to scare the pants off me in finishing and sewing up, I managed to do and it turned out –  well. It turned out well.

I share these thoughts with you not to brag (well, maybe a little), but because I’ve learned a great deal by knitting this sweater. I learned that if I take my time, plan and prepare well, I can make something really nice. That may seem ridiculously simplistic to you, but to me, it’s a revelation. I always have delusions of grandeur when starting a project — “It will be the BEST lace shawl EVER! It will look just like the picture – or better! AND I will finish it in two weeks, washed, blocked, dried, and on my back!” But usually – especially if I’m knitting for myself – I let little mistakes go unfixed in my rush to finish and in my enjoyment of the process itself. I am notorious for making bad or stupid yarn substitutions and not admitting it till it’s waaaay too late to go back, even when I swatch first and have concerns about the swatch. (Full disclosure here, even though it’s rather mortifying to admit being so damn stubborn. But I am from Missouri, so I guess muleish-ness comes naturally.)

So my resolution in the new year is to remember these lessons. Take my time, do it right, and be proud of the result. It’s not rocket science, but I think it might take me over the moon…

Posted in On the Needles, Therapy | 1 Comment »

Knit 1, Travel, Too…

Posted by Janis on June 23, 2007

Knitting news first: I finished my friend Jen’s sweater (Christmas present ’06). It’s a basic V-neck raglan, knit in the round (I’m in love), from Ann Budd’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns. And, gosh, kids! It really is handy! Worked like a charm… The yarn is Lamb’s Pride Bulky in Winter Blue, in case you’re wondering… I had a little yarn left, so knit up a little matching beanie to go with the sweater. I thought this was a huge step toward keeping the stash at bay. (Smug smile of self-congratulation.) jensweater.jpg

I cast on right away for the last undone Christmas gift of ’06, a sweater for my pal Gloria. (You may recall that I’m determined to finish last Christmas’ knitting by July 4, 2007.) I’m almost finished with the back, and already I’m pining for the ease of knitting in the round. It’s going to be a nice piece, though — the Poinsettia sweater from Knitscene awhile back, but I’m making it all one color – coral. Also on the needles are Hedera socks from Knitty, in Panda Cotton, Strawberries and Limes colorway (yum).

On to the travel section — Orestes and I took a little anniversary trip to Grand Cayman Island over Memorial Day weekend. We were there for four nights and what a lovely place it is! We stayed at the wonderful Turtle Nest Inn, right on the beach in a quiet area of the island. Four nights of pure relaxation: snorkelling by day, finding great fish restaurants by night. Ahhhhh! Despite the tremendous hit the island took from Hurricane Ivan in 2006, things have been rebuilt on land, and in the sea the coral is growing back. We had amazing biodiversity in the reef right off our inn’s beach. One morning I swam with a school of about 100 blue tangs, Orestes swam with a ray one day. I saw a baby octopus and swam along with him for a bit, and there were dozens and dozens of beautiful fish and a variety of coral, including huge brain coral. Awesome, in the truest sense of the word. We did the Stingray City boat trip — I can’t believe how warmly I feel toward these strange creatures! It’s the second time we’ve swum with them and they are just remarkable animals. (I prefer to swim with and around them, not pick them up. Orestes, on the other hand, must hold and cuddle them. They do seem to like it, and come back for more, even if you’re not feeding them.) I wish I had a dollar for every time someone said, “But isn’t one of these the thing that killed the Crocodile Hunter?” They are so gentle, it is hard to imagine what went wrong… Here are a few pix from the trip: our inn and its beach, Orestes in the water (no, it’s not a swimming pool, it’s the sea – so clear!).


Trip #2: The first weekend in June, my friend Jan and I took off for a little getaway in the beautiful Arcadia Valley of southeastern Missouri. We stayed in a great B&B – had a whole suite – (the Plain & Fancy B&B, if you ever get to Ironton, Missouri) – the highlight of which is a large outdoor hot tub which faces a pretty creek lined by beautiful trees (oh, and the yum breakfasts). We hiked and talked, ate amazing BBQ at BayleeJo’s, talked some more, shopped at a very cool pottery works (Chanticleer Pottery), and even saw a cowboy music show at Bobby Powell’s Country Jamboree (how could we resist?). The show was terrific — the house band at the club had worked up an entire evening of classic cowboy songs, all done in gorgeous harmonies.

Hmmm… I seem to be plugging a lot of businesses in this post. I hope it’s not too tiresome, but I really want to support the independent businesses in the area who’ve been hit so hard by the Johnson’s Shut-Ins area being closed for 2 seasons. (Thank you, AmerenUE – you’ve done a fine job of nearly destroying one of our most beautiful natural areas in the state. I hope Jay Nixon sues your ass off.)

Well, I’m feeling better now. Nothing like a little vent to get your blood going on a Saturday morningjantaumsauk.jpg. A couple of pix from Arcadia Valley: Jan worshipping nature at Taum Sauk Mountain and the sign for BayleeJo’s, just so you know what you’re looking for.bjsbbq.jpg

Trip #3 For Father’s Day we headed down to visit Dad at the Boy Scout camp where he works as quartermaster. Dad has been involved in scouting since my brother was a Cub, which makes about 40+ years of volunteering for that great organization. He’s the chairman of the camp committee that helps take care of facility maintenance (has been for a loooooong time), and does the summer job just for fun. He gave us a tour of the camp, which I hadn’t seen since I was about 9 or 10 years old — it’s grown and developed so much! It really looks great. We were so proud to see the building with Dad’s name on it. Now you can see it, too, plus a pic of Dad in full regalia.dadlake.jpg


Posted in On the Needles, Random, Therapy | 5 Comments »

Phfew! Stale Blog!

Posted by Janis on May 16, 2007

* cough * fans hands around to diffuse musty odor * cough * Well, it’s been a while… let’s see… lots going on around here, shows and scenes to direct, end-of-school frolics of one kind and another, some knitting, quite a lot of frogging – including a complete redo of the bamboo scarf, and even some healing. (This is going to be a little bit about the “therapy” part for a paragraph or so — feel free to skip down or come back another day.)

Mother’s Day. I made it through the most dreaded day on my calendar this year. It’s the first one without my mom and I was so afraid of how I would feel and how I would manage those feelings and what I could do to make it through. And guess what? I had a lot of support and it was just fine. No, really, it was OK. I missed Mom — of course I did, we always made a big deal over her on her special day — but it was bearable. I didn’t fall apart, I wasn’t miserable all day. Several dear friends called to say they were thinking of me, knowing it would be a hard day, and Orestes was on the scene, my anchor. Sunday was also our 12th wedding anniversary, and he wisely planned for us to have our special celebration another day, later in the week. Finally, Dad came down for the day, bearing an anniversary gift for us that is just unbelievable: he built us this authentic Stickley china cabinet. Now there’s a man who knows the value of redirection — wow!

Anyway, by the time I went to bed on Sunday night, I felt the weight of the world was off my shoulders. I was so exhausted from the sheer relief of it that I was too tired to knit even one row.

BACK TO KNITTING: Well, with all that anxiety out of the way, I was raring to go and finish the Orca Tails scarf I’d been knitting off and on since spring break. It is now finished, and it looks pretty good. I made it out of Noro Aurora, about a skein and a half-ish. The original recipe calls for Kureyon, but I thought the glittery bits of the Aurora would look very mermaid-like, and I’m a big fan of mermaids, so the Aurora it was. It did come out kinda narrow, though…orca.jpg

The bamboo scarf was finished a week or so ago – hallelujah! It washed and blocked out so nicely, I can scarcely believe I made it! I wore it one day last week and got so many nice compliments, including, “You MADE this? I thought you bought it at a store!” Who knows, maybe I’m on the way from my “homemade” to looking a little more “handmade.” Man, I hope so — I was just at the thrift store last week, costuming a show, and the number of handknit scarves broke my heart… (Note to family and friends: If you feel compelled to donate a work of knitterly art I have made for you, please send it to a thrift shop in a galaxy far, far away. I will DIE if I see it at one of my usual haunts…)pinkscarf.jpg

Last night I cast on for my friend Jen’s Christmas sweater. From ’06, not for ’07, mind you. I figure if I have all last Christmas’ presents done by the 4th of July, I’ll have a clean slate for this Christmas. Always thinking, this one, always thiiiinnnnking…

A Final Thought For All You Mothers Out There: You are awesome, do you hear me? AWESOME. What you do for your children is absolutely irreplaceable. I hope they tell you this themselves, but if they don’t — know that you are doing good work. And to Kay, Jan, Hilary, Nancy, Terri, Sylvia, Gloria, Eileen, Diane, and Trish — you’re my heroines, gals. What wonderful mothers you are!

Posted in On the Needles, Therapy | 1 Comment »