Frequency, duration, intensity... Knitting Comfortably with Carson Demers

Frequency, duration, intensity... Knitting Comfortably with Carson Demers

As many of you know, I was an occupational therapist for 17 years and still hold state and national licenses. I have seen so many fiber artists and crafters with injuries that meant they had to scale back or stop their beloved fiber activities that I have used my therapist expertise to address these issues in the tapestry workshops I teach. So I was completely thrilled to see the book I'm reviewing here hit the shelves. I did a little dance when I saw it at my LYS last week (Shuttles, Spindles, and Skeins in Boulder has some copies--go get one or ask your local yarn store to carry it).

Ergonomics is just a fancy word for how we interact with the environment. It addresses how we use our bodies for safety, comfort, health, and productivity. And as a fiber artist, how I use my body is of paramount importance especially given all I know about what can happen when we don't take care of our most important equipment. I spend a lot of time every day in activities that are very repetitive (including typing this) and I bet you do too. 

Courage

Courage

There are occasional days where I find myself curled up in a ball on the floor of my studio hoping things will be different when I finally prop myself back up emotionally enough to continue. This doesn't happen often, but yesterday was one of those days. I stepped backwards and tripped over my spinning wheel, landing in a pile of yarn and fleece (thank goodness for small mercies and the soft nature of my medium) and I lay there and cried. I wasn't hurt, just frustrated by how far behind I felt and by the mound of items on my to-do list that never get done.

I don't always know what causes these days where things feel so hard, but I'm noticing lately that many people are feeling the same way. This makes me feel like less of a loser for the struggle and it reminds me that we need to support each other when times feel tough. 

It is big. And I mean BIG!

It is big. And I mean BIG!

Shocked again. I still can't believe how big it is, this tapestry I'm about to start weaving.

There was another moment in April when I was shocked by the size of the piece. But time makes one forget and there were a lot of workshops to teach between April and today. So when I got the cartoon officially blown up last week, I had another shock.

In April I was an artist-in-residence at Hambidge in Georgia and I spent some of the time creating a full-size mock-up of this tapestry design. It was just done in cheap paper and my goal was just to see the true size of the forms and to be able to move them around at full size to see if I liked them. I also needed to check what the curves would actually look like so I could choose an appropriate sett for the piece.

"For goodness sake, smile! I just need a cute photo for Facebook!"

"For goodness sake, smile! I just need a cute photo for Facebook!"

That wasn't exactly what I was expecting to hear two miles up a high-mountain Colorado trail on a late-August backpacking trip. I had seen this group of four children and a woman in the parking lot and the littlest guy, perhaps 4 years old, was a bit whiney. I thought they'd be back before I had my pack on.

But two miles up the trail at a spot offering a beautiful view of the Larimer River valley, I finally caught up with them. The woman was attempting to arrange these four children, the oldest of which appeared to be about 10, into a grouping for a photograph with the valley in the background. I could hear the little guy crying from a few hundred yards down the trail and as I rounded the bend, I heard her entreating the kids to stand still and smile so she could "get a good photograph for Facebook."

When the sun disappears

When the sun disappears

Eclipse.

A total eclipse of the sun is something I haven't seen before. Well, really I still haven't. We had 95% totality in northern Colorado. I had planned to drive to Wyoming to see the sun completely disappear and the planets come out, but we just returned from a long road trip last night and the Colorado Department of Transportation was warning of 8-12 hour traffic jams on I-25 this afternoon as everyone comes home from viewing. I wasn't up for it.

So the collage of images below is what I could see from my backyard.

August's Tapestry Camp

August's Tapestry Camp

The second Colorado retreat went well. It was different from the first (details here) but also a great deal of fun with lots of adventuring and creativity. It is always fascinating to me to observe how a different mix of people changes the dynamic of a particular workshop. I've taught a lot of workshops in the last six years and every one is different. Even when the material I am teaching is very similar, the outcomes can be wildly different.