Had I been born in '71, rather than '51, I might have been found to have a couple of learning issues. As it was, mid-50's testing effectively branded me throughout my school career as an under-achiever. Although I fell hard for great writing and stories, and managed to hang in there scholastically, in contrast, when facing down my true nemesis - any form of written instruction - I remained pretty hopeless. To this day, in order to battle my way through instructions, patterns, etc., I've got to really, really want to.

And, there you have it - most times, I don't. Want to, that is. Hence my love for that glorious term, free-form. Any craft that easily, and sensibly lends itself to free-form practice and expression, that's my idea of a good/zen time. Which is why teaching and exploring these forms of fiber art in my studio feels like an act of gratitude for the creative work that has kept me balanced, happy, and sane for, lo, these many years.

The forms of useful beauty that can be created using what I've decided to term Root Skills - spinning, needle and wet felting, and continuous strand/ frame loom weaving - are limited only by one's imagination. Notice I didn't say, "are limited by your ability to understand and execute instructions and patterns." No, no - these skills are about your hands and your eyes, and they feed, rather than deplete you. This is not to say there isn't technique to be learned, but once you've got the basics, they're yours to command, and they'll take in whatever direction your heart desires.

Yesterday afternoon, I wove a scarf from some luscious alpaca yarn I purchased from a friend's farm shop. As I prepped, I thought about this friend, an intrepid alpaca rancher; I thought about her gorgeous, sweet animals - she labels her yarn with their names - and I took the time to relish the feel of the weighty skein that was about to become a sumptuous piece of wearable art. The whole process, start to finish, took between two and three hours, during which time I called and had a lovely, long chat with my cousin, thought about the writing of this post, listened to a piece of music our choral group is planning, and - the icing on the cake - finished a fabulous audio book I'd been saving for this very project. For those couple of hours I resided in a zen paradise, before floating through my studio door, wearing my lovely reward.

The only thing that thrills me more than the practice of these arts, is being able to share their magic with you. Hope you can come spend some time with me in the studio - we'll have so much fun.