Saturday 27 August 2011

dog willing and with a fair wind [or, leaving lovely Long Ridge Farm]

the trouble with wandering the whirled to work
is that sometimes
places are hard to leave
today another bittersweet farewell
on this trip

now, where did i leave those ruby slippers...

Friday 26 August 2011


the stones in New Hampshire
have special qualities
a good sense of balance

as a bonus
they seem to have a beneficial effect 
in the dyebath

Thursday 25 August 2011

in dog we trust

Luna has been bringing sticks
to add to the morning bundle collection

the samples are delightful
[and fragrant] 

a field harvest from an early morning walk
golden rod and St John's wort

and it's the first time
i've seen someone bundle waterlilies...

we are working in an idyllic spot
and it will be very hard to leave

my kindly hosts, Nancy and Jack Zeller
think they might let me come back
[please swing over to Nancy's pages and drop her a line
if you think you might be interested in
wandering these beautiful woods with us]

Tuesday 23 August 2011

dog bless us all

under the benevolent gaze of our furred supervisors
we coax the soft colours of the early Fall
into our cloth

since the summer solstice, the trees of the woods
have been doing their housekeeping
sorting the trash as it were
preparing for the glorious leaf-shed that 
is yet to come

for us it means golds and browns in our bundles
less green
[that's more a colour of May and June - bearing in mind we're talking northspeak here]

by four in the afternoon
folks are feeling the call of the teapot
[or for some, a splash of something stronger]

i wander down the meandering gravel road
bordered by stone fences
blessed by the occasional falling maple leaf
and stand for a while in the gentle rain
[unstrained, like the quality of mercy]
gazing at a still pool
in which small brown fish are nibbling their way along the bottom

i remember, years ago
 lying flat on a warm rock
reaching my arm into a cold cold stream
to tickle the belly of a trout

and turn back
it has been a very good day

here's Velma's version 

Monday 22 August 2011

flung headlong

in preparation for class here at Long Ridge Farm
i wander into the woods
the path a soft depression in the landscape
invites velvet paws

i have the feeling of being watched
not uncomfortable
more the sense of shared space

sitting on a rock i close my eyes
and it's then that the sweet fragrance of the maples
takes me to another time

forty-two years ago
nearly to the day
i first played in woods like these
not so far from here
fondly imagining i could disappear between the trees

the memory tsunami is almost too much
as is the place itself
so beautiful it hurts

walking back to the farmhouse
i find a brier* patch
berries sweet and dark
sorry bears
i ate them

and it put me in mind of a favourite story
about someone who'd been born and bred in a brier patch

despite distractions
a few leaves found their ways
into my pockets

* purists may challenge my spelling but this i how i read it first
all those years ago...

Sunday 21 August 2011


a coat went down to the ocean
covering a body that was busy dipping a dress
in the left coast brine
before taking it further east
to play with it some more

the body was accompanied by her favourite photographer
the only record of the day
would be in a slide-show for one in her head
a few prints on the beach
they don't usually last

i love r u s t

Richard Serra's exquisitely patinated sculpture at Stanford University
touching was forbidden
this work was simply begging to be caressed
[we didn't, but you could see where the structure had magnetically attracted passing shoulders]

Tuesday 16 August 2011

not quite zero-waste cutting experiments

a few months ago when my lovely friend
Marion Gorr went to China
she kindly thought of me while at a market

and on her return
sent me a delicious piece of soft white cashmere
about 2.0 x 1.4 metres
give or take a whisker

i thought about it for a long time
and pondered how best to use it

this week i finally
laid it out on the kitchen floor [after gently sweeping aside some cats]
braved the cutting
and reduced the cloth to essentially three large pieces
that fit together like  a puzzle

the bits that were cut away became

here's what i had leftover
with a coin to show the scale
i don't think much was wasted

i sewed the big bits together with my overlocker
seams on the outside
so the inside would be really comfy

i used my favourite 35% cotton 65% silk thread
in the weight that Marion has had put on cones
in response to me asking
so that when i bundled the coat

and boiled it
the stitching would blend in
with the rest

i think it worked

thank you Marion...

Monday 15 August 2011


today i felt a bit like this

a bit weird
better than feeling like this

so i went into the studio
and played for a while

there were quite a few others
rather than put up a squillion images
what i really wanted to mention
was that my friend Trace
told me to go here
and i did

all day since then i've been thinking about the idea of ikigai
[the reason for getting up in the morning]

so then i was looking for more information
about that splendid concept
and found this article which isn't exactly about that at all
but most entertaining

Saturday 13 August 2011

the big yin....and the bigger yang

attempting to clear a path through the studio
while gathering bits and pieces
destined for the suitcase in readiness
for thursday's off-wandering

i discovered a piece of cloth
made as a class sample
in Aotearoa
possibly 2008? i disremember.

anyhoos, from the front it had been decidedly overworked
was pretty much uniformly brown
it has a bright side

on the other hand
i saw my horror-scope
in the Weekend Australian

i think what it is suggesting
is that staying in bed until the end
would be a better idea
than inflicting myself on the whirled
we'll see what counsel
thursday morning brings...

Wednesday 10 August 2011

just for the record

each week i get at least 2 emails from people who want to come and stay with me and "help in the studio"

i'm sure they mean well, but my studio is quite messy and a little erratic and the rare occasions i'm home all i want to do is be alone and think and play and sew and brew cauldrons and draw
and make noises on the saxophone
and stand quite still
practicing my tarasana pose

i'm afraid i've been writing these sorts of letters....[warning to the kind-hearted, i do sound a bit mean]

..."touched as I am by your youthful enthusiasm, the sad reality of the matter is this. I am rarely, if ever, home for more than three weeks at any time and when I am at is my sanctuary where I work ridiculous and slightly erratic hours, very much as a lone wolf. 

Also I live in a most impractical location; the nearest village is an hour away on foot [ie you would need a car or bicycle] and is not on public transport routes [well, there is a bus but it's once a day in the afternoon and only goes to a shopping mall in the north of the Adelaide metropolitan area] nor is there any short-term rental accommodation other than a rather unpleasant hotel. my house is lived in by more than just me and we do not offer  homestays other than to really close friends 

So while I thank you for your interesting proposal, my answer is no, I do not [ever] take apprentices or interns or workers-for-free. I do however teach workshops at many locations around the world where you would be most welcome to sign up if you were interested in learning sustainable dye techniques"... 

Tuesday 9 August 2011

in the moment

i've been out filling my pockets
and savouring some special places
near where i live

because quite soon
i'll be back here

Sunday 7 August 2011

possibly the last of the mohicans

i finished a commission yesterday
by which i mean
that i finally opened the bundle
and hung it to dry

i loved making it
and so it took twice as long as it should have
as i played with a needle on the surface
this is not a practical way to earn a living

this may well be the last of the dress commissions
that i accept

the trouble with being Sagittarian 
is that we don't like to be fenced in
and working to notes
is very much a form of fencing in
on the other hand we get excited by possibilities
and are overly optimistic

but i'm still grateful to the person who placed their trust in me
and asked me to make a dress
it's not at all their fault that i spent twice as much time on it
as i expected to
and that i followed a running stitch
and couldn't stop