Tuesday, May 12, 2015


May is my birthday month.  I don't get all crazy about it, but I still like that I have a birthday.  It's a celebration of ME.
I have a new friend that also has a birthday this month, on the exact same date!
There are no special plans.  There never are.  The other half, doesn't even think about doing something special for me.  That's okay. I've gotten used to it.  It's sort of like living with the Bah Humbug master.

In June this year, we'll be married 40 years.  I'll turn 59 this month.  You do the math.  Ha!

Healing from knee surgery has been.....up and down. I had some bad days.  I had some breakthroughs.  I had some very good days.  At this point, I can walk with a small limp, in the house, with no assistance.  No cane.  The crutches and the walker have been relegated to the basement.  The cane resides here, but only gets used when I go out.  That's only because I feel insecure still, when I'm out.  Plus, I get tired.  Which means, I have to start working on my stamina again.  I'm hoping that by next week, there will be no cane.

I've been weaving.  I have not been spinning, but the "need" is there, so I know I'll be setting up my wheel and getting to it soon.

Let's see....I think  I showed you the white one last, so I'll see what I've done since then....

copyright Martha Manigross
This is "Black and White and Red All Over"  - even though it sort of looks green in the center where the red runs through it, it's black- thin black.  So the green background shows through it.
Copyright Martha Manigross
Copyright Martha Manigross
Copyright Martha Manigross
I really like this one, as well as the others I've made.  I find a peace in weaving these wall hangings.  Some call these prayer flags, wall hangings, or banners.  I'm not sure I go along with prayer flags.  I think something more like zen flags.  That's the mindset I get in.  When I start one, I must finish it and I work on it till it's done --- unless, I feel like I'm not focused on what it wants to be -- then I have to take a break.  When I return, I always know what it's meant to be.

I don't have a vision when I start.  I have a sense.  I pull out certain colors, and sometimes I stick with that, other times, as I move along, it tells me that I need another direction.  So I search around, and figure out what that direction is, then get right back to it.

These come from my heart.  It's really hard to describe.  I'm not sure I've ever felt this way before about something I create.

I believe there is one more I haven't shown here also.  Let me go get it!

Copyright Martha Manigross
This is called "On The Beach"   It's been so long since I've been to a beach.  I'm not one to lay in the sand for hours, but I do love the waves crashing into the ocean, and the gulls overhead.  I long for a nice quiet vacation, where I can walk on the warm sand, hear the ocean, and just sit and soak it all in.

The above pieces have been created on my Schacht Cricket Rigid Heddle Loom.  I find a peace with weaving these on the little loom, manipulating the yarn, playing with the colors, and just playing with the senses.

I've started a new piece on my Saori loom also.  This is going to be more cloth, I believe, for another garment.  I fight with myself on the Saori loom sometimes.  I want a certain cloth, but then I fight in my brain that the cloth I want, is just too traditional.  I need to work and letting it be free-flowing.  More Saori.  More from the heart, like my wall hangings. So there is a battle going on, and the cloth isn't always what I think it should be, while it's still on the loom.  However, the last cloth I made that I struggled with, I ended up liking very much, when it came off the loom.  So, I'm pushing forward.

It's also time for me to start spinning. I  just get an urge.  A need.  Something that needs fulfilling. Too difficult to describe.

I'm also enjoying the warmer weather, although, it warmed up way too fast and immediately felt like summer - hot, humid and oppressive!  The next 2 days are supposed to be beautiful though, so I'm going to enjoy them.

The studio/office is going to be rearranged again. I have to be able to take my photographs and the setup I have now, is blocking the only wall that I'm able to take decent photographs on.  Everything is going to have to shift.  I'm not happy about it, and neither is the other half.  He bolted the grids into the wall even though I was trying to avoid that.  I really WANT a bigger room, but since one doesn't exist in this house, it isn't going to happen any time soon. I just make this work the best I can.  Which means it's constantly changing.

That's about it from me.  Take care, and thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What I've Been Up To.....

I can't believe we are at the 20th of April already.  April has been......well.....different for me this year.
I'm certainly glad spring has arrived.  It's still cool most days here in central VA, but the birds are singing outside my window, the flowering trees are blooming everywhere, and at least for today, the sun is shining, though we've had a LOT of rain.  The rivers are muddy and flowing and the creeks are almost out of their beds.  The grass is SUPER green, so much so, we've had to limit the time the horses are on it.

On March 31, I had arthroscopic knee surgery.  I had been looking forward to getting it done because my knee was so painful.  Though I'd had this same surgery, well, almost the same, 25 years ago, I guess being not so heavy, and not so old before, the healing is taking it's time this time.  WAY too much time!   I'm 3 weeks out (today) and I'm a bit frustrated.  I think at first, I pushed it too much, knowing what the doctor expected of me.  When will I ever learn to take care of myself, and not CARE what I think someone else expects of me????  Sigh.....

I won't post what my knee looked like, 2 days post surgery.  I don't want to gross anyone out.  It's just swollen and puckered and 3 little stitches.

I haven't been very creative during the last 3 weeks.  Which makes me unhappy.  I've been tired, and trying to recuperate, and now, I'm going to PT too.  That takes time and energy.  Hubby has been very good to me, and takes me out.  It's good that he does.  I get cranky otherwise!

I also read a good book, by Barbara Delinsky, called Sweet Salt Air.   It was distracting and that's exactly what I needed.

Yesterday, I decided I just had to do something creative, so I sat down at my little Cricket 15" loom, and this is what I made.




Black cotton warp, naturals for the weft.  I used beads, and some silver sparkly bits, commercial yarn, and hand spun yarn, and a bit of white nylon fiber I had.

I have to say, I LOVE this wall hanging.

I will be doing MANY more of these wall hangings.  There is just something about them.  Freeing.  I let loose, and the fiber talks to me, and tells me when it needs more, when it needs less, and when I need to add something special.  I sometimes wonder, if I'll lose that somewhere along the way - the freedom to create, and not care whether anyone else will like it or not.  I just love this feeling and I hope to hold onto it, and not over think it each time I approach another hanging.

Tomorrow will be my first time driving in 3 weeks.  I hope I don't get anxiety over it. I'll be going to my massage appointment, which I really am desperate for, which is going to be a challenge, with the place I go being on the 2nd floor and no elevator.  I'm stubborn.  I'll make it!

That's about all the "news" from me.  I hope you are enjoying life, and taking it one day at a time!

Friday, March 6, 2015


This morning is yet another morning of the last few, that I've awakened with a feeling of disconnect.  There is a lot going on in my little brain - that's not anything new.  The thoughts I'm having aren't all that new either, but I can usually shake them off within a day or two.  Not so much this time.  That's ok.  Being reflective is a good thing for me.  I just know that anyone that knows me, can tell what's going on with one look into my face.  That part, I really wish I could hide.  I am who I am, and there's no hiding anything.

When I'm feeling this way, I tend to either veg a lot, or be creative. I've been doing both.

If you remember back a few months  almost a year ago, I said I was involved in the Journey to the Golden Fleece course.  This course sort of opened up a lot of feelings for me, and it also taught me about following my heart, not my brain.  The heart says do "this" and the brain says, "no one will ever like it."  This thinking, along with some other things that happened, led me to the year I'm having this year - all about finding Martha.     This has been good in most ways, but it has also made me realize some things I've been stuffing inside.  Which then makes me face those stuffed things.  Which isn't easy............more on this down the page.

Yesterday we had a snowstorm blow through.  Thor.  Thor was interesting.  Thor started out with mild temps and rain, then turned to freezing rain as the temps dropped, and finally, dumped about six inches of snow on us.  The previous snow had just melted and gone away, literally, the day before Thor arrived.

The ground is white, and pristine looking.  It won't stay this way, but for now, it's absolutely beautiful.  Yes, I'm crazy.  I love the look of fresh fallen snow.  That's probably because I don't live in a snow belt, and haven't had feet upon feet of snow fall on me, like my friends and family in New England have had......on the other hand, watching the snow fall and blow around and the peacefulness it causes, is magical to me.  I have no other way of explaining it.

So after hanging out on the computer for awhile, and having a couple of conversations, I decided to do some weaving.  I had done a wall hanging, my first with weaving, a few days ago, because I needed to finish up the Journey course.   During the course, I'd fall behind, then do a couple of modules at once, creating the yarn I needed for those modules.  Then I'd fall behind again, and catch up the same way.  It was my creative process, so I told myself, however I got through it, was what it was going to be.  I made some pretty plain yarn, and some really fancy, colorful yarn, and I  made corespun yarn with wire, and I made yarn with colorful feathers sticking out all over.

I was going to weave it on the circular loom that we got to work on during the course, but because my yarn had some special features, I couldn't see myself tearing it apart by pulling it in a circle and possibly damaging some of the yarn, and I figured it would also cause me to struggle, and I didn't want to struggle while weaving.  I decided to weave it on my 15" Cricket loom which was warped, and I had enough black cotton warp left on it, to weave this wall hanging.

©Martha Manigross
This wall hanging used each of the yarns I made during the Journey course, and I wove them in all in a row.  Although I feel like no one else would understand the cohesiveness of this piece, that's not what this is about, and I'm extremely happy with it.  The weird thing is, it felt SO good to be weaving a wall hanging......like....somehow, it is meant to be that I do this.  It's been a long time coming.  Something I realized just around the same time I completed this, is that it brought me back to high school, when I did an art piece in macrame'.  I was told at the time, the piece was accepted into an art exhibit that would be photographed, put in a slideshow, to be shown in schools across the country.  I never got the piece back.  That makes me sad to not have it, and no one else really ever knew it happened, and I never got to see the slideshow.......so who knows what really happened to it.

At any rate, I felt grounded to have made this piece.  Which led me to making another piece yesterday during Thor......

©Martha Manigross
I call this piece, roots.

I'll be making more wall hangings.  Which means I'll be spinning more yarn, to get the textures and colors I'm looking for. It was very calming and meaningful for me to do this wall hanging and there are MANY more in me to do.

Well, that's it for today.  I have much more I could say, but I have PT this morning and many things to get done.

Take care,

Sunday, March 1, 2015

New Project!

Since I've been in this new mode of weaving and sewing clothing from the cloth I've woven, I was poking around the basement and found some cloth I'd woven a few years ago, on one of my "other" looms.  I think it was the newer Baby Wolf 4 shaft.  I did NOT get along with that loom at all.....I had so much trouble with it, all the time.  Previous looms I owned were: an older model Baby Wolf, a 45" Leclerc 4 shaft loom, and a 24" Kromski Harp rigid heddle loom.  I loved the Leclerc, but it was HUGE and took up too much room.

I have to say,  I LOVE my little Saori loom. It's SO easy to do everything with. It's easy to thread, slaying the heddles and the reed; it's easy to flip around if I need to get to the back.  It's got the little shelf built in on the top, as well as the bobbin winder built in.  It's quiet, and easy to play with.  It fits in perfectly in my little office/studio.

©Martha Manigross
You see the purple cloth hanging over the back of the chair in the photo above?  It is the fabric I spoke of above, the fabric I'd woven on the Baby Wolf.  I wound the warp and used the same yarn for the weft.  There were lots of long floats where the threads didn't catch when I was weaving.  It's okay though, I'm good with that.  It's got great drape and I love the colors.  I decided to make a shirt out of it.

I did what I always do with my hand woven cloth ~ I sewed it together in rectangles.  That makes for a very basic, boxy top.  Not exactly flattering.  Like this one:
©Martha Manigross
This is fun, but it has NO shape to it and on my body its quiet unflattering, but it's my creation and I love it.  I'm thinking of re-working this one to make it a bit nicer for me to wear.

So the adventure began when I decided I was going to be brave, and try to make the new one look more fitted, more like a real shirt, one I'll be happy to wear.  Once I got the center front and back sewn, by overlapping the selvaged edges, I decided to sew up the sides.  It was really HUGE on me as this cloth was wider than the cloth I'd recently woven.

I put it back on the dress form, and I let it sit there overnight.  I had to take my time and decide what I wanted to do with it.  Sleeping on it, and seeing it sit on the dress form, helped me not rush through the process just to get it done.  Yeah, I do that.

The next day, I got up and I decided I was going to be brave.  I pinned the sides of the shirt, making it more fitted.  I tried it on - carefully - and took it off and decided to sew the sides up along the pinned lines.  I tried it on again, just to be sure, and I liked it!  I actually ended up sewing the sleeves to look like real sleeves - I sewed up the sides, then did an upside down L across the sleeve.  It fits SO much better!

Of course, then I had to cut all the excess cloth - and that hurts!   It's really hard to cut the cloth you worked so hard to make.  Once I did it, it was SO freeing!  The shirt actually fits me so nicely. It's not REAL fitted.  It fits loosely and it is airy and comfortable.

©Martha Manigross
Ta Da!  This is the shirt.  It's a pull over.  The next is boat shaped with a bit of a V in the center. It's difficult to tell in this photos because I have my arms up and it's not ironed.

I did learn a few things from this project.  I had to sew all the cut seams down, or they'll come totally unraveled.  I hemmed it by rolling the hem up and sewing, but ended up taking out the stitches, and using a lace hem tape.  The hem lays much flatter.  My dress form is invaluable for hemming straight.  I would never have been able to get the hem straight without the dress form. I think this is one of the best investments I've made!   Too bad I waited so long to do it.

I'm very happy with this shirt. I'll be making more with future hand woven fabric.

I bought some Valentine's day fabric on clearance at Wal Mart.  I am going to cut out a fabric pattern based on the above shirt.  Then I can just cut my hand woven fabric and sew it together without it causing me so much stress.

I've put a new pre-wound warp on the Saori loom, and I've started weaving. I will get some weaving done today, since the weather is making this a stay-in type of day.  I over-did it a bit yesterday anyway, so I'm glad I get to lay low today.

Thanks for letting me share.  Take care.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A New Shirt

Hello!  Winter finally arrived here in VA.  We had snow - maybe about 5-6" - the other day.  It's pretty.  At least things aren't all gray and brown anymore!  Everything is brighter.  However, the temps are awful!  Frigid!  Freezing - no - below freezing.  And wind!  The wind chills are below 0.  UGH.  I can't get warm.  Our poor heat pump is useless in this weather.  I need to get up and do situps or jumping jacks or something!  SOOOOO cold......

On another note, I finished the warp that came on my Saori 60 non-folding loom.  I love my little loom. It's SO easy to handle.

The loom came with a black cotton warp.  I can't remember the width and length, but off the loom it came to about 5 yards, and about 15" wide I think.  After washing, of course, it shrunk some.

The strangest thing happened, I didn't take ANY photos of it off the loom!  That is really unlike me.  I just didn't have the time to photograph it.  I was in a hurry to have it become what it wanted to become.  I really wanted a shirt.  Not another vest.  Shorter than my last hand woven, hand sewn project.  That's this one here, which is the one I made in Saori class.

©Martha Manigross
I wanted my new cloth to become a shirt.  I struggled because I am not experienced in fitting to a dress form; I didn't have a pattern - mostly because patterns don't fit me; and I had a bunch of narrow pieces, not wider pieces.  It took some figuring, some experiments, and lots of trust in myself....then pinning, basting, sewing, and mainly just going for it.

Here is my new shirt:
©Martha Manigross
This is what it looks like worn alone.  Yes, the hem is all wonky.  No, there are no darts in it to give it a shape.  Yes,  I like it like this.  There is lots of texture and design.  This is how I meant it to be worn.  However..................

©Martha Manigross
This is what it looks like if I turn the front to the back.  It still fits.  It looks fine this way too - well, except maybe for the loopy yarn part next to my right armpit.  LoL

Then, if I want to wear a shirt under it, it can be worn with a long sleeve, short sleeve shirt, or a tank top, like below:

©Martha Manigross
It's probably not everyone's cup of tea, but it's mine.  I love this shirt. I'll be making more.  The pieces were narrow, and I had to sew a lot together to get it to fit around me.  I'm really happy with this shirt.

I'll be making more.  I just have to figure out how to get my new Saori pre-made warp onto the loom, and I'll be off and weaving again!  Not today though.  I'm cold and tired. It's late afternoon, the dogs will want to be fed, and then our dinner needs to be started.  Then t.v. time.  Then bed time.  I can hardly wait till bed time!

I've been working out at the gym, going to my PT sessions, and yesterday, I went to see a Sports Medicine Orthopedic doctor for my knee.  The news isn't excellent.  Surprise!  I need surgery!  I already knew that.  What I didn't expect, however, was that he told me I'll probably need knee replacement surgery sooner rather than later.

I had my knee operated on in 1990.  That's 25 years ago.  At the time, they scraped out the arthritis and a few loose bits.  They said I'd be lucky if it lasted a few years.  I think 25 is more than a few, don't you?  I'm happy that I was able to go SO long till I needed another tune-up.  :-)

I have had 3 or 4 people tell me, they had their knees replaced and it was the best thing they ever did - because they are no longer in pain.  Hmm.  I have one friend who's husband had a couple of replacements, and now, they can't do anything else for him.  He's in terrible pain most of the time and had to quit work.  I don't want to be like that.

So we'll see.  I have to get some testing done before getting the surgery, so once the testing is done next week, we'll schedule the surgery date.  Recovery is pretty quick, so I'm not anticipating any real setbacks.  I'll be back to my spinning and weaving soon.

Right now, I just want warmer weather.  And to go to bed.  It's too late in the day to go back to bed, so I'll keep hoping for warmer weather!

Take care.  See ya again soon.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Ups and Downs

This time of year I have lots of ups and downs.  Just before Spring time hits, I get a little lethargic.  It's not like I have anything to complain about.  We don't have 5 feet of snow like my friends and family in New England!  We have brown and gray.  Brown grass.  Gray trees.  Brown leaves (oaks are slow to loose their leaves and some don't lose them till the new ones sprout in spring.....).  A lot of gray skies.

Last weekend, we got royally spoiled.  It was 73 degrees here in central VA on Sunday.  Amazingly beautiful day.  I spent part of it at spinning group, but I couldn't sit still because it was SO nice outside.  It's an hour's drive here to there, then back another hour, so I took off early and drove home with the windows down and music blaring.  It's how I roll when I'm alone, the sun is shining and the temps are in the 70's.  :-)

I know Spring is right around the corner.  I don't want to wish days away because every day is a gift to me.  After having a heart attack that killed me back in 2007, and dealing with cancer of the uterus in 2011, I love living every day.

©Martha Manigross
It's just that some days, I feel very lonely.  Isolated.  Friendless.  I know this will pass.  It's just really difficult for me some days.  I know I have friends.  I know that if I picked up the phone, or sent an email, someone would be willing to get together.  The problem is, it just feels like I do all the work sometimes.  Like I'm the one always asking people to go somewhere, or have lunch, or whatever.  I love having friends, and doing things with them.  I'm not sure why others don't ask ME out, to go here or there, or do fun stuff.   Is something wrong with me?

©Martha Manigross
Of course, I know that sometimes I can't do what others do.  Sometimes people say, let's make a weekend out of going here.  Stay overnight.  Well, that doesn't work so well for me.  I have a husband.  One that likes to have me around.  One I like being around.  If I went out for a weekend with the girls, what would I feel like if he went out for a weekend with the boys?  I'd be lonely.  Of course, he doesn't go out for a weekend with the boys because he doesn't have any friends.  He isn't a social guy.  He doesn't belong to any sports teams, or music groups.  He doesn't drink, so bars are out.  He doesn't have any hobbies.  I mean NO hobbies. He used to do all of the above.  Way back when.  Before we lived in the middle of nowheresville country.

When he's not working, taking care of the horses, or doing the work that comes along with having a 5.5 acre farm, we are together.  Whether it be going out shopping, eating lunch out, or he's going along with me to find something that I have in mind that I MUST have, we are together.  Or, we are watching our nightly shows on t.v.  Yeah, probably not healthy, but it's what we do.

I spent many years where he did his own thing, and I brought up the kids.  Dance classes, dance competitions, traveling here and there to find costumes or dance shoes or dance outfits.  Yeah, I was a dance mom, but never ran into what you see on t.v. now-a-days.  Thank God!  While I was working and traveling here and there with our daughter, Husband was out working for the Army being a soldier, or playing one of the many sports he used to play, or keeping in shape (for the Army), or doing whatever he did.  I spent many years wondering why he didn't want to be with me.

Now, however, he's changed.  No more running around doing that kind of stuff.  He works from home, and he doesn't play those wild sports anymore.  His body won't let him.  He likes to take me places if there's something I want to get, but sometimes, he just doesn't want to drive that far, or be away from home that long.  It all depends.

It's days like today that I get up, and there's no one else to play with.  My friends either work, or just have other interests.  Someone I thought was my friend, who I tried to be there for during some tough times, totally never saw me as her friend.  She thinks that because we have different interests, that we don't have anything in common.  I really like her, and like spending time with her, but I always get the feeling she's bored with me, and doesn't really enjoy MY company.  So I'm backing off from her.
©Martha Manigross
 There are some other people that I really like spending time with, but they live where we used to live. Travelling up and down I95 isn't easy and is time consuming.  So I don't get to spend as much time with them as I'd like.

There are yet other people that I guess are friends.  Maybe my definition of a friend, needs to be different.  I guess there are friends.  Then there are acquaintances.  Most of the people I know are really the latter.  Not the former.

I'm grateful I have my husband.  I'd like to have him, AND have friends that like to spend time with me.
I'm also grateful I have my hobbies, and that my husband supports me having them.

©Martha Manigross
I've always felt like an outcast, and days like this, I still do.  I don't know why I let it get to me.  I have everything else I could ask for.  Well, except maybe good health and I'm trying to work on that.
If I don't get back before this weekend, Happy Valentine's Day.

Anyway, I hope you have many good friends, and that you enjoy your life every day.  I certainly try to.  Even if I get a little down now and then, I work on appreciating my days.

Take care,

Friday, February 6, 2015


Even as old as I am (upper 50's), I still struggle daily with the simple decisions.  When a decision has to be made, my brain instantly takes in all of the considerations - who, what and how will it affect?  I've always had a huge guilt factor.  I'm not quite sure how it was instilled in me.  If I was told I'd done something wrong, and in my mind it wasn't intentional and I didn't know it was wrong, I would get very upset and embarrassed.  I'd usually cry.  That happened well into my adult years.  It was a response I couldn't help.  In the long run, it made me afraid to try things.  To the point that I now, don't even like to try something new in public.

I'm learning, even now, that if I made an honest mistake, I just have to say, it was a mistake, I didn't mean it, and I'm sorry for the results.  Bring on the consequences.  Easy enough to say, but even now, if I think about going to work in a public place, it scares the bejeepers out of me.  That's just not normal.

I have, however, learned a bit about coming into myself and knowing that I have to take care of me, before I can worry about what anyone else thinks.

Found on Facebook
 Recently, I made the decision to back off on my fiber business as a retailer.  I've put aside the dreams of having a shop/studio, and I'm concentrating more on creativity.  It's going to take me some time to adjust to not pushing and worrying about what I'm selling.  I do have to say though, it's a HUGE relief.  I feel so relaxed and free now that I'm not worrying about what I'm going to have to invest in order to attend a fiber festival and if we'll make money or lose money.

The facts are that I was making money, but not making more than I was spending.

That's not going to change.  In order to create, I have to spend to get supplies.

However, I have a ton of stuff in this house that I can use right now, to work on at the moment.  If someone doesn't snatch up those long locks on my Etsy shop, I will use them myself, in my spinning and weaving.  I figure eventually, someone will love what I make, because when I was dyeing those long locks, I was in love with what I'd done, which to me, means that it's meant to be something that is in my head.

I'm so happy right now, to be working on things that make me feel content.  I think that's the word.  Content.  Not settled.  Not settling for.  Not happy.  Content.  I believe a lot of people don't know how to find their contentment.

That being said, I have some medical stuff I'm dealing with.  I'll be finding out in 2 weeks, what the doc says about my knee, and whether that means surgery, and what will result out of that - more PT I'm sure.  Sigh.  All I know is, I'd like to not be waking up in the middle of the night and be in pain, and I'd like to start working out more, especially walking, to get myself back into shape.  I'm the heaviest I've ever been........and I know that adds to the medical/pain stuff.

I hope you are content with what you do and where you are in life.

Take care,