Planning and Sorting

We have been quiet, but busy.  Today was for planning and sorting.  We have more dying to do in the next few weeks to get ready for our very first festival.

Here is a sneak peek at what we will have to offer at the Historic Morganton Festival in Morganton, NC on September 7 and 8.  Look for us on the courthouse lawn.

Teal and Black Shirt


I thought ya’ll might like to see one of my shirts on a real person.  It’s nice to have friends who are willing to model for me.



Wild Spirals

wild spirals

Health problems and weather have finally given way and I have been able to get back into the garage and start experimenting again.  These are “warm-up” shirts, exercises in color mixing to get back into the groove.  Plans, oh, do I have big plans now!  The challenge will be to get the images into my head translated into fabric.  I have started to  name my custom colors mixes after friends who have made particular requests.  In the mix up there you will find Zim’s Purple and Tom’s Yellow.  Let’s just hope my notebook survives the splattering.  I still have Technicolor hands.

These are what is left of the last batch of 6.  I am flattered that friends grabbed the others before I could photograph them.  The one on the far left with the big red spiral is already spoke for but the other two are available for adoption.

Middle shirt, purple and green, Fruit of the Loom me’s size large crewneck.  $25 includes shipping and taxes.

Right shirt, dropped spiral, FOTL men’s V-neck size 2x (I think it would be fun as a woman’s sleep shirt) $30 includes shipping and taxes.

PayPal only.

Fly your flag, peeps!  Full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes!  Much love to all of you.




We are finally having beautiful weather here.  It comes in spasms, but there are more gorgeous days than wet and cold.  Over the weekend friends and I wrangled assorted kids,went on a picnic,and decided to teach the kids to fly kites. I sent someone into a store to buy them for the crowd and this is the one they chose for me.  I hung it in the studio both for inspiration and as a memento of a wonderful day with friends who love me.  It may not stay there long, however, as everyone had a blast and I am sure we will be doing it again.

Can’t Escape The Irony



Here I sit in the wee hours of the morning with my cup of faux coffee and buttered toast wrestling with the demons I am sure every “artiste” and creative type  encounters in their careers.

I am a fledgling entrepreneur who is close to deleting my Facebook and Instagram accounts.  Why?  Because I am overwhelmed with advertisements and self-promotion.  The “likes” and “follows” I receive on my accounts don’t seem to be because the people behind them are interested in dialogue but because they want to sell me something or garner “likes” for their own pages.

Sure, I want to sell my stuff, too.  But I don’t want to shove it in someone’s face every time they sign online.  I want to “like” and “follow” other accounts because we have something in common and can communicate about what we do, not because accumulating signs of approval boosts my ego.

I need to sell my creations. I need to create a market for what I do.  But I don’t want to be cynical and manipulative while doing it.  I like fiber and color and pattern so here I am slinging dye around, making tie-dye clothing in a world dominated by dark colors and ironic slogans.  On-line marketing, SEO, hashtags, etc. are a foreign language to me.  The learning curve is steep.

The world seems to be running on algorithms these days.  They are everywhere.  Not only in marketing and sales, but in all the service professions.  No one seems to know how to connect with others in an open, genuine manner any more.  The pressure to do more with less to keep the greedy stockholders happy has reduced the amount of time people have to be more than meat robots.  You want to offend me?  Treat me like just another step in your memorized algorithm.  I will get cranky and obnoxious in a heartbeat and do my damnedest to jerk you out of your robotic responses.  Who would you like me to manifest?  Robin Williams, George Carlin, Andy Griffin, or the evil witch of the West with the flying monkeys?  and I easily recognize jargon.

I am working with an online group that is helping me formulate a business plan.  The questionnaire I am required to fill out is intimidating.  What is my mission statement? Hell, I don’t know.  I make for the joy of making and hope people like what I do.  I want people who use my products to enjoy them, have fun, and feel loved.  Is that enough of a mission statement?  I am not out to save the world. Chip away at some of the gloom, maybe, but not lead a revolution.

And what percentage do I expect my business to grow in the next year? I don’t know that either. I will worry about it when it happens.  Right now I am concerned about materials and supplies to create enough product to sell and finding people to buy it. But I don’t want to get so big that the hand-produced aspect of the business is lost.  And people I have approached to sell to can get cheap rip-offs made in China for much less and toss them away after a few months instead of using them until they wear out.  The shirt I am wearing in the pic at the top of this article is my very first one ever, the one that started me on my journey, and it is now 8 years old.  The one I am wearing in my profile pic is one of my experiments from the past year and is the representative of the direction I want to go with my shirts.

I don’t know how to answer these questions in the same “corporate business speak” language the originators use.  I am afraid to distill my work into spreadsheets and financial projections because that will take the joy out of it, but reality raises it’s ugly head.  It is part of the not so fun side of running a business.  I am already very broke and trying to do this, if I don’t control cash flow I will just be more broke.

I find myself up against the Wal-Martization of the culture and the pitch to the lowest common denominator; the sad complaint of creative types for centuries.  These days hand-made objects are luxuries and the provenance of people who have the time and money to indulge themselves.  Skills that were once a part of daily life are now dominated by privileged white people, usually retired, and the competition among them is fierce. I have rarely seen locals or POC at Master Gardener events or fiber conventions.  In the town where I live the social and economic problems are such that survival is the focus and anything beyond that is viewed with suspicion, so I don’t sell locally.  Not yet, anyway; though I am not discounting the possibility.  When I first started I couldn’t give away my work here.  I hope that as the town grows and groovies up a market for my kind of thing may develop here. There are new bars and entertainment venues popping up downtown as people migrate here to escape higher costs in the big town on the hill west of us.

I don’t mean to sound bitter and angry,  I am more puzzled and groping my way in the dark.  So much of this blog has become a place for personal venting instead of for my business that I am considering starting a separate one for kvetching and keeping this one strictly for sales and marketing.  Any and all advice or comments are welcome.

Stay tuned.





Facebook Vacation

Hi, all!  This is just a quickie to let you know that I am taking a vacation from Facebook but will still be posting on WordPress.  Please stay in touch.

The studio is almost up and running.  The sinks are installed and I have some nice restaurant mats to stand on and a kerosene heater to warm up the space. I am slowly plugging away on a business plan and all the paperwork stuff that makes being an official business such a pain before I can start begging people to give me money to work with via grants.  First I have to convince them that there is more to me than retro, crazy hippie, tie-dye stuff.  I eventually want to branch out into hand-dyeing knitting yarn, too.  I have pages of notes concerning my “creative visions” and am closer to becoming able to make them real.  Thanks for all of your support and encouragement as I grind it out.

So far the most difficult part, besides all the numbers stuff (how in the heck do I know how much my business is going to expand next year???? I am just starting out!),is coming up with a mission statement.  Does making unique, comfortable, fun clothing for all shapes and sizes sound too ambitious?  I am not exactly sure what the guys in the suits want to hear.  If anyone has ideas, please toss them my way.

In the meantime, beloveds, keep flying your flags!!

Of Shepherds and Sheep


It is the dark of the year, the dormant time when nights are long and cold and the days are too short to accomplish much.  It is too cold in the garage to dye and I spend time wondering if I can afford to do the renovations required to make it an efficient dye studio.  I want space and equipment to turn my mental images into reality.  I follow other dyers on Facebook and goggle at the things they produce.  I want my own voice with color and pattern and chafe at my restrictions.  And I want validation.  I want others to like what I do and buy it.  I don’t want to have to pitch to the lowest common denominator in order to make a few dollars, but I need time and resources to practice and develop.  I feel guilty taking advantage of other’s differences in order to advance my own needs.  Compromising principles and ideals puts food on the table, however.  Finding the balance in that is always a problem.

Whine, whine, whine.  So easy to do when you are cold and lonely and recovering from yet another betrayal by the old body.  In my head I am still 30 yet my body is rapidly approaching 64.  Genetics, karma, and bad habits are catching up with me.  People say that age is just a number.  Will somebody please remind me of that  when my knees don’t want to bend the way I would like them to?

We incarnate here for the Great Work whether we are conscious of it or not.  In our own feeble, fumbling ways we are all searching for the Middle Path and the way back to the Source.  Robes and badges and ranks and tools and systems are just distractions.  Attachments to structures are useful, but are full of pitfalls.  We wonder why schisms develop and groups squabble among themselves.  Finding the balance between the tools we need to do our work and the Work itself is a struggle.


It has been said that the Universe (whatever that is) recycles situations until we learn the lessons.  Life is a spiral.  Sacred geometry and all that. So now I am looking at a repeating situation in my life and wondering just what the Universal curriculum is in this particular turn of the screw. It ain’t my first rodeo and I am seeing a pattern here.  Methinks there is fuel for more therapy in this.

I own the qualities of being ornery, independent, and rebellious.  My motto should be “The Emperor Has No Clothes” and if I ever get to change my current one I will most likely switch to that. Imperator non habet vestimenta.

In my rambling adventures through this particular life I have found myself again and again in situations requiring a level of obedience and submission that I struggle with.  I recognize the need for structure, organization,  and self-discipline in my life and will not argue that fact.  But there comes a breaking point.  That point occurs when the outer trappings of the inner work become more important than the work itself.  When rank and badges and testing and degrees cease becoming symbols and become validation for egos or, worse yet, distractions and a way of hiding from the unpleasant truth that the Work engenders.  We have to hug our Shadows.  I am old friends with Kali-ma, Hecate, Isis, and any other name you would like to hang on that archetype.

Where is the balance here?  There needs to be some system to communicate responsibilities within an organization.  Signals as to who to go to when certain needs arise.  Yet, repeatedly when I have reached out to others of “higher rank”, the “shepherds” or “leaders” of whatever group I am currently involved in I have been met with dead ends. Broken and crying in instructor’s offices, on meditation cushions, in the middle of ritual, in the hospital; I have lost count of the places and times and situations.  Poor, pitiful me.  I toss their rule book out the window and whine when they don’t like it.  My personal alphabet doesn’t aline with theirs and I want so badly to belong, yet I can’t swallow all of the Kool-Aid required to get there.

So, what is the lesson here?  That my path is my own and that I am my own shepherd?  Yes.  Always.  There is no arguing with that truth.  And I should give up asking for validation from other people?  Probably, but that is a tough one for me.  I feel like a single cell in a larger organism.  I am unable to isolate myself from what surrounds me.  I just ain’t wired like that.

BUT. . . .(you know there is always at least one of these). . . I wonder if I don’t know the correct way to ask for help and comfort. How many times have I been told that I am too blunt and too direct? Or is it ego and the shadow self coming forth?  and on and on and on ad infinitum with the navel gazing.  Or is it, as a good little Buddhist, am I once again tripping over my own expectations and here is something I need to let go of yet again? and again and again? ( I am nothing if not stubborn.)  And do I need  to recognize that those I ask for help have clay feet and love them anyway?  (The answer to that one is “of course.”)  Dukkha is a wobbly wheel.

I do not believe in separating myself from the world, of building up so much detachment that I do not react to what is around me.  I refuse to be “above it all” and I have no desire for a teflon shield. I came here voluntarily and I wallow in the world I have helped create.  I have found that the more time I have spent on the cushion or my knees, in prayer or meditation or whatever you want to call the act of plugging in to that which is greater than us, the more connected to the “all” I am.  The fewer defenses I have, the more my boundaries erode.  The more urgency I feel to respond to brokeness. And I try in my own small ways.  Daily I realize how little power I actually have when it comes to grand gestures and the birds remind me that it is the little things that matter as I fill the feeders.

Aaaaaaannnnnnddddd. . . . here we go with the pop psychology. . . .allow me to throw around a few familiar terms here: “healthy boundaries”, “self-care”, “empath”, “codependence”, “inner child”, “PTSD”, “12-steps”, “unresolved anger.” Had enough?  I can give you plenty more.

We all need our “tribe” and modern society no longer seems to support that.  If you look around you at many social groups; religious, spiritual, or otherwise; the “heavy lifting” seems to be done by single older women, largely because the men don’t seem to be able to live long enough.  The crones.  The ones with the time and resources to care for the children, volunteer, do the administrative work, count the birds, rescue the strays, and organize the thrift stores.  They are the ones who take up the slack when the “shepherds” can’t. I could go on a rant about who cares for the elders in our society. Too often it is a one-sided relationship.  And I could be ranting based on  anxiety about my own rapidly approaching elder-hood.

As one who was born bossy and had responsibility foisted on me at a very young age, who does not know how to behave otherwise, and who has spent most of my life as a leader and instigator of one sort or another (often not voluntarily) as well as being a compulsive nurturer I have  fought many battles over the idea that those who lead others; call them “pastors”, “temple chiefs”, “sergeants”,”teachers”, “gurus”, or “managers”, as well as whatever other words you can dig up in the thesaurus, have a responsibility to care for their followers.  In my many years of battling corporations my biggest and most wearying task was making sure that my staff was cared for, that their needs were met. Because if my people were not whole they could not serve those who were not.  And I always thought that my staff should not have to ask or act out in order to get what they needed. They needed structure and rules and direction, but they also needed someone to realize when they needed support and propping up when the work became overwhelming.  Maslow’s hierarchy of needs was drilled into my head in school and daily I see how it can be applied.  I think if Jesus were to speak in contemporary jargon it would have been the basis for the Sermon on the Mount.

Spiritual types of the “mindfulness” persuasion talk about “presence.”  It is the quality of being there, in the moment, with whatever is going on, and not fighting it.  Sometimes it can be unsettling to be with someone who is present. They see through your smoke screens and love you anyway.   Often they love you in spite of/ because of your bullshit.

It is a quality I have often seen develop with age and experience as well as time spent in contemplation.  There are reasons that in some societies the elders gravitate toward the monastic life.  And I wonder if it is part of the reason that elders are no longer cared for in contemporary Western cultures.  Elders remind us that our physical containers wear out and “presence” reminds us to get our heads out of our own asses.  It is a daily practice to be present and we often fail at it more often than we succeed. The point is to keep trying.  Use whatever you need to use as a reminder.  One well known teacher uses the sound of a bell.  I often use a piece of jewelry.

It is when the mechanisms of mutual support break down that a group splinters.  Egos get in the way.   Much goes unspoken.  Hurts fester. Employees resign.  Customers get pissed off. Confusion reigns. People squabble and fight back.  A cohort gets pissed off over the interpretation of a verse in their version of the rules and trots off down the street to do their own thing and the cycle begins all over again.  It isn’t always a bad thing, growth often requires it, but it can also be an unecessary waste of time and energy as well as causing rifts between people who are already too isolated by their own egos.

Nothing lasts forever, but if we take on a task and set ourselves to accomplish it, the shepherds need to look after the sheep and quit worrying about all the shiny baubles, spiritual merit badges, certificates, and extraneous regalia.  We need each other, not the gadgets.

Going to therapy is all well and good, but it is no substitute for connection and community, for spending unstructured time together, hanging out and simply sharing who we are.  It takes time to be comfortable with each other and to be vulnerable. Strength comes from our vulnerability to each other and our mutual trust and interdependence.  We learn how our pieces fit together in order to build something greater.

As our society wobbles toward major changes, requiring uncomfortable and possibly dangerous conditions, all we are going to have is each other.  Would we not be better off to develop the skills and systems we need to build and support community now rather than picking up after the next major disaster? Or will the disasters and upheavals be the impetus we need to learn how to work with each other?  Funny how it often happens that way.