Monthly Archives: February 2014

Joan’s Sweaters


l had the good fortune of an overnight this week with friends who take great care. It is always inspiring to me to be able to step out of my usual routine and space and linger in moments with others in their’s.  It was a true respite and rejuvenation came to me because of the manner with which they care. This is not a realm that I find most people in. This is how my friends exist. They are not over-consumers, nor frugal. Their lifestyle seems balanced and well-managed to me because while they have taken care to have the means to be comfortable they also do things like make sure the birds are feed, the bears have water during a drought and their neighbor’s dogs get walked. While with them, they made sure I had everything that I needed, preparing for my visit with small details that delighted me and made me feel cared for.

There is something so refreshing about the simple gestures of giving and receiving gracefully. It was like going to a spa except there was no money exchanged and it was brought forth with such love, without an agenda, that I could be completely authentic and real.

While we were out and about for the day we popped into a local yarn shop and I overheard a transaction between the shopkeeper and a customer.  A young girl purchasing a small handful of roving for a few dollars, that she did not have enough cash for and did not meet the minimum price for a credit card purchase. I piped up that I could make up the difference of the dollar and when the girl thanked me I told her that I was certain she would have the opportunity to pay it forward. It is an effortless circle. What we gain outside of the money is the true gift of the circle. It made my day, this spontaneous gesture and instilled something in that young girl and the world that will remain unknown to me.

The giving and receiving continued through the day as my friend and I exchanged our stories.  After not seeing each other for 12 years we had an endless conversation and I realized how rare it is to be with someone who does not judge another’s life choices. We’ve always been comfortable in our rare times together.

And then I found the sweaters. They presented themselves like a regiment in the enclave of the closet. They were a curious group and upon looking closer I realized their quality and workmanship like a true textile sleuth that I am, besides my knitting thing, and these were quite obviously related to the England of my friend’s background. So I asked, what is up with these sweaters and can I girl-handle them?

They obviouly had a story. My God, these all came from the same knitter and were knit in the same wool, different colors, probably local sheep. These sweaters were alive with even more than how the wool felt in my hands. The very soul of the knitter was encased in every stitch

Turns out that my friend’s mother lived in Ipswich in Suffolk next door to Joan Barrell. Joan has passed on now but while she lived these sweaters were faithfully knit over the years for my friend’s husband. She had given him one and he liked it so much that she just kept knitting and giving. Can you imagine?  She was not a relative. She was a neighbor who had it in her heart and apparently the time and love of knitting to create these blessed garments for her neighbor’s relations.

There was an extraordinary person behind these that I imagine lived an ordinary life and perhaps without very many others to knit for. Giving as her way.  Try getting that sense and story out of your next purchase from Wal-Mart.


“Exemplifying the new materialism


that is part of the resacralization of the material world.”

This is a direct quote from Charles Eisenstein’s 2013 essay called “The Cynic and the Boatbuilder.”  And that is one of the things that I hope I am doing by making artifacts. 

I was recently jabbed on Facebook by a friend. He said that all my posts were promoting myself and I interpreted it to be hurtful and snarky.  Then I realized that while I was certainly guilty of promotion, he was not reading my blog so did not understand what I am promoting! His assumptions made me think about the harm we do when we whiz through our social media and do not take the time to connect more deeply, let alone to come out of our own snarkiness into compassion. This made me look deeply into my friendship with this person and my choices. I also consider the idea that I was the easy target for what was probably a lot of frustration in his life. Something is wrong and what I expect I should be doing is reaching out to him to find out why he felt the need to snark me rather than approach me in a more thoughtful manner. It made me sad to think that he may be suffering. It made me more sad to think that he may be suffering but blind to his suffering. 

Maybe it is about our lack of considering that everything is sacred. Even his words are sacred. If I read between the lines I know I will hear something besides his snarky comment. Why was he feeling a need to judge me and instead of approaching me personally to tell me in this manner that would seem to illicit an equalling appalling response? Why was he picking a fight with me over my actions? What is going wrong in his own life that he felt the need to criticize me? I feel that as we walk between the worlds of love and fear we are all doing the best we can. But most of the time we are not conscious. One of the things that we are not conscious of is our cultural programming that separates us from one another. One of the programs creates our need to feel better than someone else. Our country is supposed to be all about equality but what we create is a rift between each other because while I must be better than you, we are really not good enough. We are not pretty enough, smart enough, rich enough, etc etc etc. well, enough of enough! We all have enough. Way more than we need but we still do not have each other. It is an old story. So why are we still not aware of the harm of this old story? How is it serving us?

Charles speaks to creating a new story. 

What Charles is speaking of is participation in making the world the more beautiful place our hearts know is possible. Now, there are a lot of ducks to get in a row out there. I am promoting a gift economy but let’s face it, I am still living in a monied world. I have bills to pay simply because I exist. So when I make something I ask that the person interested in my product to offer what they want to pay. This is not the ideal way of gifting but I am making it up as I go along. One of the problems that I run into is the consumer mentality that says if it doesn’t have a pricetag then it doesn’t have value. I recognize that every single one of us has a particular relationship to money and how we spend it depends largely on what we were raised to value. I was raised in a family of artisans and craftsmen. My father worked with wood. My mother and sister lead the way in fiber. We knew the value of a handmade object before the era of cheaply mades. Especially now, knowing how damaging the textile and fashion industries are to the environment must we learn to consume differently. I am still in the process with shifting the way I consume but I am making a conscious effort. To fight the tide of commercialism and the next big thing mentality takes nothing short of a commitment to saving our planet. We have to save ourselves first. We have to somehow gain maturity.

One thing I want to give before I end this blog is forgiveness. I am not perfect and neither are you and neither is my friend. We are all carrying a great burden but it is time to get out of our way, unload the old stories and perhaps gather our forces and forgive. Untye the knot and move beyond your own small worldview into a new story of thriving. I apologize for continuing the story of betrayal and allowing my ego to get bruised by his comments.  I have not opened a dialog with him because I do not want to make him wrong, feel bad or judged, or even point out to him that he was snarky. I want him to come into his own awareness in his own time. I want to accept him as he is. But I also do not want to enable him to judge anything that he has not taken the time to really look into. Everyone of us carries a great burden. May we all be gentle with each other.