Wild Fibers Magazine

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My mail carrier brought me an unexpected box today!  I love it when that happens.  When, I opened it, I found this stack of magazines setting inside.  I had been looking for the spring issue of Wild Fibers Magazine to arrive for a few days now, but I was not expecting a box of these magazines.

You see, Linda over at Wild Fibers Magazine chose to write a feature length story about The Rocking Yak in this spring issue. I have anxiously been waiting for months now for the story to be written & published.  I am so excited about this.

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It was well worth the wait.  The article is FANTASTIC! Linda has this way of being in a moment.  She has the ability to take in everything. The sights, the sounds, the smells. Then, when she sits down to write about it, she is able to put flesh & bones into her writing & the story comes to life.

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I have been working with Bret on this project for 6 years now, having never set foot in China. Linda was able to pull stories out of the field & give me glimpses into the very heart & soul of this company that I love so much. It’s a gift that she gave to me.

If you have even an ounce of appreciation for the fibers of this world ( If you are reading this blog you probably do!), and have never read any of these magazines, you need to.
This is such a fantastic magazine, often being called, “The National Geographic of Fibers.” It is an extraordinary blend of photography, culture, environment and FIBER!
“The mission of Wild Fibers Magazine is to understand the role natural fibers have played in developing cultures and supporting communities throughout the world. We are as devoted to the people who spin, weave, and create “magic” with fiber, as we are to the farmers, nomads, and shepherds who have tended these endearing creatures from the start.
Wild Fibers travels to places that have yet to be rubber-stamped by the trappings of the modern world.  We sleep in yurts. We comb camels. We spin cashmere. And most of all, we learn about a way of life that is held together by one very long, long thread.
 But it’s not all yak butter tea and pup tents. With the voracious march of synthetic fibers, we stay connected to new initiatives including Prince Charles’ Campaign for Wool and Discover Natural Fibers – an international coalition of fiber producers and processors dedicated to preserving the importance of natural fibers on the planet. 

 Readers love Wild Fibers not only because they discover the world in ways they had never imagined, but because they have such wild fun in doing it!” ~ Wild Fiber Magazine

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One Stitch At A Time

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 Today’s post was written by guest blogger, Lise Solvang of aHandKnitLife

I asked her to share with us about her Knitting in Recovery program, One Stitch at a Time.

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“Patterns”…what an appropriate place for me to start on this part of my own

healing journey.  It’s the name of the recovery home for women who struggle with the addiction to alcohol and drugs where I am arriving to lead a knitting circle.

Still very new to recovery myself, I am anxious, yet hopeful and proud, to be amongst these women who suffer from the same disease that I do.  To any outsider, we would seem very different, at least in appearance, attitude and speech, but the reality is that we are not.  We are each trying to live with the same patterns of substance abuse.  It is only the physical places this disease has taken us that might be poles apart.

After years of wanting to be done with the knitting part of my life…the part that drinking put to ruins…my familiar needles are in my hands again.  These same needles that brought up the painful feelings of shame and guilt I lived with in secrecy and isolation for so long, were now going to become a significant part of my own healing.

I hand them out in pairs to each woman all circular knitting needles, to Bella, who is excited and curious and can’t wait to have something to “busy” her so she can stop smoking…Laurie because she had to be there, Stephanie who knew a little, and then to Susan, who wouldn’t accept them that first day, saying, “Don’t put any needles in my hands, I’m afraid of what I could with them.”  I’ve never thought of knitting needles as a potential weapon before, but this is a new place for me to teach and I am here to learn too.  I bring my chair down to join them in a circle, a significant step towards being ONE and the same.

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Knitting happens to be one of very few things that is best learned one-on-one in person.  I interweave my hands with Bella’s, to guide her into a timeless motion that is to be repeated hundreds, thousands, hopefully millions of times into the future.  I literally hold her hand through the struggle and fight of “getting it right” as we so repeatedly do in life.

I find that a “No Rules “ approach to knitting has a welcoming and sometimes humorous effect.  No stigma is attached, no fear of failure, conquering something new becomes easier, a sense of empowerment replaces.

As in life, there are a few basics that need to be followed, other than that, leave it open to interpret and apply in your own way.  There are no mistakes in knitting, only “design elements.”  Dropped a stitch?…drop another one…that just means you’ve created your own unique pattern.

We’re starting simple, knitting hats and purses in the round. It astounds us all that one simple knit stitch can create such a vast variety of designs and beauty.  Bella starts out well, then drops some stitches, adds some stitches, perfect again, then continues with a different yarn.  She’s knitting her life, she says, going through some tough times, experiencing joy, a door opening towards something brand new.  Not wanting to change or “correct” a single stitch, she comes to love her purse and love her life exactly the way it is enfolding.

Laura finds herself unraveling her hat every Tuesday at five o’clock before I get there at six, to start anew.  This is where knitting differs from life, you can go back and “correct mistakes.”  Over the weeks though she is able to recognize that progress, not perfection is the key, and can finally see the beauty in all the design elements, not mistakes, made.

During these months of sitting together knitting, a deep sense of belonging arises.  A close-knit community is formed from the heartfelt conversation.  Stories bring laughter and joy one day, tears and shared frustrations another.  And sometimes the stillness and peace that follows comes to replace the rush and push of our everyday routines.  Focused on the craft at hand, we open up in our own way, raw and honest, yet somehow safe…together.

The holiness of handwork aids in the opening of the heart chakra.  So used to priding ourselves on our self-sufficiency, we normally cut ourselves off from this shared source of abundant wisdom and help that others are willing to give us.  Here, the communal circle allows us to do our own heart work, the work of healing our selves and each other.  This state of openness transcends our own ego boundaries as it allows us to stay out of our judging minds, even for a little while as we create something that is our own.

Weeks and weeks go by before Susan finally trusts herself enough to pick up knitting needles.  With the support and faith of every woman around her she knits a hat for her husband, even weaving in a strand of her own hair, an old Norwegian tradition to ensure everlasting love.  I don’t think I have ever seen a happier and more proud woman, skipping her way towards the rest of her life.  Then their mandatory session is over and I have to let it go, trusting that I have played some small part in a bigger pattern of creation.

Stephanie contacts me months later to let express her gratitude for the way knitting continues to open up new possibilities for her, “Knitting to me is a way of experiencing my own life. Early in my recovery process, when I first started back knitting, I would unravel and start all over if I didn’t get a stitch correct or if it didn’t “look right.”  Eventually I saw that this was the way I approached my life. I was always reaching for perfection and if it didn’t come, I ended up going back and starting over (with the starting over looking like relapse and going back into rehab). It wasn’t until I saw this in my knitting and decided, actually decided, to make whatever came and appreciate the beauty of it, “mistakes” and all that I was able to move forward in my own recovery…in my own life. Knitting helped me to see that whatever I make is beautiful as long as I make it with joy and abandon with the gift that was given to me by the Creator’s hand.”

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Stephanie is tapping into the recipe for human contentment and happiness.  I’ve begun to research in an attempt to understand the inexplicable, and discover that there are three connected elements that make for happiness:

  1. A creative endeavor that you find exhilarating and you absorb yourself in.
  2. This endeavor produces something
  3. The end product of creative endeavor provides a service for someone else.

All I know is that, today, when I’m knitting there is nowhere else I’d rather be and nothing else I’d rather be doing.  Today I get to be a proud, happy and sober woman.  I find the peace of mind necessary to see clearly the miracle of my own existence in this moment, and the preciousness of those I love.  I see the goodness found in daily life and the many, many ways my life is graced.

I knit to meditate, to quiet myself, to reach transcendence, to create art, to play, to touch, to heal.

Stitch by stitch and moment by moment, we create the fabric of our lives and the pattern that is to become us.

DeepGreen

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Deepgreen is a knitting business that provides work for women who have suffered injustice. The desire is to see these women empowered with the internal capacity & external resources to grow professionally, personally and spiritually and to make independent changes in their lives.

When I learned that Jon & Elissa are working in Asia to bring hope to victims of social injustice through the fiber arts, I wanted to know more.

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Interview with Elissa of DeepGreen

Was knitting a hobby of yours before moving to China in 2009?

Actually, I am still just in the early stages of learning how to knit! Before DeepGreen, I had always wanted to learn how to knit, so that sort of became part of my incentive to getting things going with DeepGreen. Our knitting teacher, and even all of our knitting team far exceed my skill level, so I get to learn from them. I think it’s a great dynamic for our team to be learning different things from each other – I think they enjoy that they can teach me things I don’t know about knitting, and I love having to look to them for help.

How has your personal outlook/philosophy on knitting been affected by DeepGreen?

I was excited to begin learning how to knit. I had seen through my previous work with a jewelry company that giving impoverished women a chance to create something beautiful with their hands can bring great fulfillment to their feelings of value and worth. I don’t think I realized that I too, could feel a similar sense of value as I began to create. It was quite refreshing.

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You mention on the website, that you discovered that knitting was a popular hobby in your community.  What sort of knitting is traditional to your region?

I’m not sure if there is just one type of knitting that seems more popular than others in our community. I’ve seen women using dozens of different materials and techniques to create everything from a simple stitch to an elaborate pattern.

How did you come to choose The Rocking Yak as one of your suppliers?

We learned about the Rocking Yak from our good friend Bret. Actually, it was our relationship with him and his project that caused us to have some interest in yak wool. We really believe in his project, and wanted to support it in some way. We figured if we could get our knitting business going, we could funnel some support to him through buying his textiles….which we do! We love their unique, rugged natural quality.

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Another aspect to the work you do in your community is your treks.  Tell us more about those. What inspired the summer 2012 trek?

Our summer 2012 trek was the inaugural DeepGreen Trek. Our vision for the first trip was to just get college students outside, experiencing God’s beauty, and engaging them in meaningful discussion about life. We worked with local universities to invite students and professors, and brought our team of native English speakers to lead the small group discussions as we hiked. We learned a lot on this first trek, and look forward to creating even better experiences in the future. We are working on a curriculum to bring students through that allows them continued opportunities over a semester, to hike, learn, engage and act. It will be an exciting year.

Are these treks intended for local students in your community, or foreigners to come join you, or both?

These treks are created mainly for local Chinese students in our community. However, we welcome visiting teams of foreigners to work with us in creating special weekend trips to offer the students.

threads-eastIf a reader is inspired by the work you are doing, what are some ways they could possibly become more involved?

We invite people to be involved in The DeepGreen Project in a number of ways! Here are some current ideas…

There is a lot more information about DeepGreen, Jon & Elissa’s story & the company’s philosophy on their website

 

The women at DeepGreen take great pride in their work, even adding their signature to every piece they have made. Their hope is that you will find their work lovely, comforting and enjoyable…just like the time they spent creating it. When you purchase a product from DeepGreen Threads, you invest in their future, bring them hope and give them life.

“Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.” -Chinese Proverb

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DeepGreen is generously offering one of their Saundra Lee cowls to one of you in a giveaway! For your chance to win, leave a comment.  The winner will be announce on Monday (1.21.13) ~ Good Luck!

don’t forget. . .  “follow The Fiber Nest” for your chance to win a box of Valentine Truffles

CONGRATULATIONS to Breezey514 for winning the giveaway!

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 The Fiber Nest is an emerging fiber arts blog that celebrates the ancient traditions of handcrafts as well modern expressions of fiber art. Here you will find tutorials, DIYs, inspirational stories & interviews. I believe that fiber art is a form of self expression, therefore, I encourage others to play, experiment & discover a freedom to “knit outside the box”.
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