Jabberwock's Child

Cotton and Silk Embroidery on Denim, by Lydia Christiansen

Cotton and Silk Embroidery on Denim, by Lydia Christiansen

Field Notes: 10/4/2016

I have spent many bedtime tuck-ins reciting Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky to my children. I don’t remember exactly when it started, but there came a point when I discovered I could use my voice to experiment with different perspectives on the words about fear, stereotyping, and how we can sometimes get tricked into celebrating both. 
I recently doodled this embroidery, and couldn’t resist the urge to write it a poem about my response to Jabberwocky. I don’t have any significant experience studying or writing poetry, but as a medium, I love it. Jabberwocky in particular reaches out to me with words unrestrained by familiarity, which opens the door to many possible meanings. Lewis Carroll has expressed a distortion on fear in this verse that I find grotesque and terribly heart wrenching, and I love him for it. I do hope my mind continues wandering these lines for many years to come. Here is the original text often thought of as "glorious nonsense". Tell me, which is the nonsense? (originally published in "Through the Looking Glass", 1871)

by Lewis Carroll
‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
‘Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!’
He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.
And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.
‘And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’
He chortled in his joy.
‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Here is my response to Carroll's piece: 

Jabberwock’s Child
by Lydia Christiansen
A gentle beast, the Jabberwock's child, 
builds walls with fire and mud.
Gifts from a father lost to the sword
and fear of that thing with the name. 
Alone and aware, firing clay
Gives life to friends made by hand
Still the story spits and sputters hate
ringing Callooh! Callay!
warning little boys and girls of the
gruesome, droolling fangs, 
and terrible claws of the Jabberwock
who fashions things with clay. 

I Love This: Merchant and Mills

Standing ovation for Elementary Sewing Skills put out by Carolyn N.K. Denham of Merchant and Mills. This is a thoughtfully curated collection of simple and essential techniques for beginning sewing. This book does not feed the beginner with a firehose, but rather offers the perfect feast of simple understandings which can be applied a million different ways. 
This is the gateway book of three designed to help you navigate sewing with increasing complexity. These books as well as a range of captivating sundries are available online through Merchant and Mills

I am in love with the level of quality that comes from true devotion to craft. 

You Can't Outsource Momentum

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you have one singular option for success surrounded by a million ways to fail? The tension and anxiety in those situations, for me, is stifling.

Blinding fear of failure inhibits our natural drive to create.

Now think about situations that offer clear direction with unlimited possibilities. When you can accept an unknown outcome, right and wrong become irrelevant, and there is only change, evolution, discovery, and resolve. Perspective is everything in the difference between the two. I make no claim that one is better than the other. We all find ourselves, at times, in both scenarios. I simply say that for me, the latter is my Polar Star. I find personal well-being in seeing the world for its infinite possibilities.

An open minded perspective feels like a deep breath of clean air in an open field of bright green earth and blue sky. 

Having too many options, however, can feel just as stifling as not having enough. When choosing a specific path to follow, not knowing which way to go or remaining undecided for long periods of time has a way of feeling overwhelming or depressing. We need focus, direction, and limitations to enhance our creativity, and give us a sense of freedom. Choosing a medium in which to navigate and express your true self is a way of narrowing your focus and gaining momentum. The rules that exist within your chosen medium, whether physical or political, provide clarity and define the challenges that will motivate you to explore and discover new ideas.

This is a choice that should never be outsourced. 

Allow yourself the time it takes to choose your own direction. Although we may reason, or intuit our way through many decisions in life, this is a choice that requires both, and will be validated by both. There is no other way to learn what nurtures and inspires your true self than by experience, and this takes time. If you feel rushed or anxious about this, just remember that wide open blue sky. Try to believe that all the time in the world is yours already to do with however your want. Rearrange your priorities so that self is at or near the top, and know that investing in yourself to become a more vibrant, passionate, and balanced person will enable you to send the same out into the world as never before. 

After many years of trying and rejecting other paths, I have chosen spinning and weaving wool as my personal medium and direction. I find the depth of complexity and possibilities in designing yarn and fabric both challenging and liberating. The natural laws and characteristics of wool provide reason to be knowledgeable, and direction for being intentional about each piece I create. 

Without fail, when I sit down at my loom to weave, my head and my heart align. I thoughtfully gather yarn and set my warp in place. Before throwing the shuttle for the first time, I acknowledge the unknown. The shed opens, and time does not exist, only my senses. I feel the wood under my feet and in my hands. Holding each strand of wool on the selvage before moving to the next row gives me the sense that everything is in its place, and I am connected with it. I am lost in the balance and movement of weaving. With love and simplicity these gestures take over the space in my mind and replenish my heart with a sense of calm. 

The experience of weaving offers a natural give and take that stills my soul. My wonder is answered with beauty in the structures of woven wool. The loom is my teacher. I expect the magnificent unknowns to change over time. At some point the questions I now ask will fade for the simple fact that experience leads to knowing. I don’t know how my art will change, just that it will. I welcome that unknown just as well because I have found my focus. The possibilities are endless, and on this path I am free.