Spirit of Damselfly 2017 (a beginning)

A request for a commission  came to me last Autumn from the partner of a gifted poet who had admired my South Downs Tweed. My creative ideas had unconsciously started when she sent me a poem ‘Damselfly’ which I had been pondering.  ….The process of designing started with a conversation and a wondering … and my notes record ideas and snippets …”damselfly, water, sea, rivers” ….”Spring summer, appreciate the lift of energy,”…”strong rich colours teal, lighter blue, olive greens..” … colours that expand into the bright edge of themselves… ” So my exploring, experimentation and mood board began … and as I looked and pondered my yarn palette grew too. A mix of merino wool and bamboo perhaps…?  After a few weeks I decided a point threading would be fun to explore and so using fibonacci numbers to help randomise the warp I painted a warp and went ahead with an experimental cloth to send to my client for her perusal…..

© sue orton 2018

weaving again

The winter was a fallow time for weaving for me.  Now inspired by a long planned trip to Peru, I am back designing again.  Creative confidence is for me a transient thing.. getting it back has been mixture of dogged persistence, encouragement from an experienced weaving buddy and just getting in my studio. I’ve spent last week wandering through Peru shapes pictures, journal entries and poetry; making potato cuts of hats, Inca shapes; browsing patterns and designs to translate into cloth. I have extended my colour palette too from Knoll Yarns.

© sue orton

January return to Taiji Qigong

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I have returned to practising Taiji Quigong this week thanks to the brilliant DVD The Road to Health and Vitality with Chris Jarmey and sold for just £5.00 + pp in aid of The Bubble Foundation. He explains the benefits of the practise and then takes you through the 18 movements (about 25 mins) gently and clearly; I love it.  If you want one,  send a cheque to the foundation + a donation if you wish and they will send you one.

© sue orton

women writers 3

In February I decided to seek out women writers who I did not know and  who’s books had been shortlisted for prizes in the last few years. What a treat I have had.

StateofWonderA State of Wonder by Ann Patchett I found just brilliant. It made me laugh and cry in equal measure and I never saw what was round the corners. Shortlisted for the Orange Prize in 2012 and described here:
There were people on the banks of the river. Among the tangled waterways and giant anacondas of the Brazilian Rio Negro, an enigmatic scientist is developing a drug that could alter the lives of women for ever. Dr Annick Swenson’s work is shrouded in mystery; she refuses to report on her progress, especially to her investors, whose patience is fast running out. Anders Eckman, a mild-mannered lab researcher, is sent to investigate. A curt letter reporting his untimely death is all that returns. Now Marina Singh, Anders’ colleague and once a student of the mighty Dr Swenson, is their last hope. Compelled by the pleas of Anders’s wife, who refuses to accept that her husband is not coming home, Marina leaves the snowy plains of Minnesota and retraces her friend’s steps into the heart of the South American darkness, determined to track down Dr. Swenson and uncover the secrets being jealously guarded among the remotest tribes of the rainforest.

BurntShadowsKamila Shamsie’s Burnt Shadows effected me deeply; I re-realise that the dark days of the second world war has left many trails into this century. It’s a brilliant book described here:
In a prison cell in the US, a man stands trembling, naked, fearfully waiting to be shipped to Guantanamo Bay. How did it come to this? he wonders. August 9th, 1945, Nagasaki. Hiroko Tanaka steps out onto her veranda, taking in the view of the terraced slopes leading up to the sky. Wrapped in a kimono with three black cranes swooping across the back, she is twenty-one, in love with the man she is to marry, Konrad Weiss. In a split second, the world turns white. In the next, it explodes with the sound of fire and the horror of realisation. In the numbing aftermath of a bomb that obliterates everything she has known, all that remains are the bird-shaped burns on her back, an indelible reminder of the world she has lost. In search of new beginnings, she travels to Delhi two years later. There she walks into the lives of Konrad’s half-sister, Elizabeth, her husband James Burton, and their employee Sajjad Ashraf, from whom she starts to learn Urdu. As the years unravel, new homes replace those left behind and old wars are seamlessly usurped by new conflicts.

TheLowlandFinally The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri.  I finished this last week and have been unable to get this tale of family ties, the bond of brothers and the breaking of family traditions across continents out of my head and my dreams. Described here:
From Subhash’s earliest memories, at every point, his brother was there. In the suburban streets of Calcutta where they wandered before dusk and in the hyacinth-strewn ponds where they played for hours on end, Udayan was always in his older brother’s sight. So close in age, they were inseparable in childhood and yet, as the years pass – as U.S tanks roll into Vietnam and riots sweep across India – their brotherly bond can do nothing to forestall the tragedy that will upend their lives. Udayan – charismatic and impulsive – finds himself drawn to the Naxalite movement, a rebellion waged to eradicate inequity and poverty. He will give everything, risk all, for what he believes, and in doing so will transform the futures of those dearest to him.

Tempted, you can buy them through Wordery an independent bookshop which has free delivery. Link at the top of the blog.

© sue orton

 

Imbolc weaving energy

February often feels to me like a more positive ‘looking forward’ sort of month. Celebrating Imbolc resonates more for me than the material overload of Christmas. With seeds moving and turning in the ground, early spring flowers appearing and getting to 4.30pm in the light! My weaving too has been moving below the radar for a while as I look, think, play with colour and ideas. This week I bought new wool colours to explore.  I’m making a scarf for me.  So…..  using my warping board (not the mill) I have wound 3 warps, 612 threads on the back beam now and I’m threading and sleying today.

© sue orton

 

weaving again

Weaving has taken a back seat through the winter months. It took me a while to revive my creative energies after my Diploma and the fall out from that. I have also been busy with BIMM work mentoring in Bristol, Brighton and Manchester; I love it but it’s a very different energy from the quiet building and concentrated energy of weaving.  I’m noticing a transition going on as I move from the design ideas, colours and yarns of 2015 into now explorations.  Almost by accident I have just woven a piece which marks this and is giving me pointers for a new direction. My winter beach walks in wind and rain were often raw and seemingly colourless at first, they gave me the design idea. The cloth is an extended herringbone tweed pattern with a mix of left over colours from diploma projects; wool and bamboo; I’m pleased with it as it’s got me back excited about weaving again.

© sue orton

our precious world

As Paris is the focus for discussions about the world response to climate change this week, two books I have read and am re-reading come to mind.

landmarksLandmarks crafted and compiled by Robert Macfarlane is a most beautiful meditation, reflection, verging on poetry, in praise of landscape. It seems we are letting the language of the countryside slip through our fingers and minds, so thank goodness Robert Macfarlane is on the case to help. Gathered over many years from many sources this book is brilliant and we need to keep searching and recording!  Here are some gems:
stoach: to churn up waterlogged land as cattle do in winter Kent, Sussex. There’s a lot of this about around here just now.
yark: cold, wild stormy weather, Exmoor.
And a personal favourite which I can’t stop looking out for: smeuse: the gap in the base of a hedge made by the regular passage of small animals, Sussex dialect.

Anthropocene
If the effects of climate change seem too huge to get a handle on then Adventures in the Anthropocene might illuminate things.  Gaia Vince a journalist and broadcaster specialising in science and the environment, wanted to discover the effects of climate change from different communities in the world, so she gave up her job and travelled the world finding out. I am finding it very powerful and inspiring. There’s a guy making small glaciers every year in Nepal to store drinking water for the crops in Spring because the large glaciers have disappeared in his lifetime. Wi-fi is helping local farmers share market prices of their goods before they walk for several days to find it’s not worth it! This book weaves stories from individuals into a astonishing global story and presents a surprisingly positive picture of the world. The book won Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books 2015.
© sue orton