Today is the last day of March, and even in the Caribbean it is going out like a lion. Tomorrow I will start the new month (fully spring!) by flying home to New England. I’ve been counting down the days for the entire month of March. I’m now at that final number: one day to departure.
Twice a year my life takes a sharp turn from living in a house surrounded by my looms, my spinning wheels, my taka dai, my dyepots, while surrounded by good friends and family, to living on a boat with very little space, no looms aside from a copper pipe loom, a newly acquired tiny e-spinner, knitting and embroidery, and a few friends that are not often in the same anchorage I am. I take stock. Each year in winter I take stock of the things that consumed my time at home, and now at the beginning of spring I take stock of what I managed to accomplished while living on a boat. It’s my semi-annual retrospective of my goals and my priorities.
Meanwhile, the first things I’ll do on my return are thrilling events I’ve been thinking about all winter. Tomorrow my guild’s biennial exhibition will open. I won’t be there, and I don’t have anything in that show, but I am looking forward to seeing all the works when I visit early in the coming week. I will meet my oldest friend there. For several years she had a sculpture studio at this location, the Farmington Valley Arts Center. It feels like a different lifetime when I used to visit her there. I would drive from NJ, where I lived at the time. She had a son, and I had two sons, so getting together was a rather complicated endeavor at that time in our lives, but it was important to both of us to spend time together. I expect we will reminisce about that other life we had decades ago while also seeing the works of many of my dear weaving friends.
On April 2nd, the day after I return home, I’ll drive up to Leverett, Massachusetts, to see an exhibit of tapestries by the Tapestry Weavers in New England (TWiNE) that will be on display for the month of April. I’m excited that less than 24 hours after getting home I’ll be reconnecting with good friends at this event! Due to the generosity of one of my friends, who offered to hold my pieces for the entire winter, I have three pieces in this show.
Looking back is always a bittersweet endeavor, and I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that. When I left home in December I had one more placemat to weave on my Japanese paper weft project. The biggest hurdle about that is the weft for that last placemat had to be unwoven from a previous previous placemat that was not the color I wanted. I will take that weft and re-dye in an indigo vat that I need to make. I am excited and intimidated about dyeing the re-used paper yarn to get the color of blue I want.
Neither my Caribbean tapestry or this sweater got finished this winter, but they both made progress. That’s all I can say, and I must make peace with progress instead of completion. As this sweater grew it got hotter and hotter to hold it in my lap while knitting, which is the main reason I set it aside.
When it became clear that I would not finish my Caribbean tapestry or the sweater above, I dug out an embroidery I started more than a year ago. I bought this design because of the sheep, no surprise! And that’s all I had finished when I put it away. I have enjoyed the few days that I spent embroidering the poinsettias and snowflakes. Wouldn’t it be nice to have it finished for the holidays at the end of this year? Not holding my breath.
In an effort to look on the bright side of my not-finished Caribbean tapestry, I plan to take it to the TWiNE show on April 22, to demonstrate weaving while I sit the gallery on that date. I’m glad I found a bright side to this disappointment.
The only thing I actually finished this winter was the hot water bottle cover I made from Kate Davies recent design group called “All Over,” a collection of stranded knitted designs. I think there will be some chilly nights at home ahead when I can use it! (Also I finished spinning about 100 grams of merino/silk hand dyed fiber…but I’m not counting that because finishing a spinning project is only the beginning of whatever project the yarn is meant to become!)
Along the way of making projects and fulfilling (or not fulfilling) goals, there were plenty of wonderful distractions, like knitting underway while listening to an audio book, which was only calm enough to do one time, when we sailed down the western coast of Guadeloupe.
Drying laundry while Bob writes a blogpost.
Lunch with friends overlooking one of the pitons in St. Lucia.
So many tropical flowers and animals
Months of beautiful views
And one of my favorite visuals: windows and shutters
Look at the view out the window at the back of the room with the open doors.
This is the kitchen at Fort Napolean on Terre de Haute, Les Saintes–another great room with a stunning window and the stark reality of getting water in the 19th century fort.
And speaking of kitchens, I often enjoyed making dinners onboard. I made a version of Isabella’s quiche (from La Brasserie in English Harbour, Antigua). It’s pretty close to hers–incredibly deep and creamy.
I was overjoyed to find mushrooms–all the way from France!–in Fort de France, Martinique. That called for chicken supremes in mustard/cream sauce with mushrooms. It was a good evening!
It was a winter full of lemons and limes. Everything is better with a little lemon or lime, and fresh herbs which grow in abundance here.
In the balance of things accomplished and things experienced, I guess there was a healthy dose of each. I would have loved more time to work with my hands and experiment with some ideas that are burning a hole in my brain! —but— it’s hard to give up the amazing experiences that kept me from working. The weather did not cooperate much this year. There was too much wind which made travel difficult and working at anchor very difficult. I live on motion sick meds every time we sail to a new location, and that takes a day or so to get out of my system. I am not patient waiting to feel better. On the bright side I listened to some wonderful books. At the top of that list would be Elizabeth Strout’s My Name is Lucy Barton.
In retrospect I wish I had more work to show for my time here, and less days feeling the drag of mal de mer. But on the bright side, and thank heaven there is always a bright side, I am filled with ideas to pursue at home and some great memories of time spent with sailing friends and Bob.