No Excuses

Every week I meet new people that come to the weaving cottage for a workshop.  Whether it’s for knitting, spinning, weaving or whatever else, they come to me to learn something.   During our time together we always end up chatting about other topics and I can honestly say that I have learned something from every single person that has visited the cottage!   

These people seem to fall into my life just when I need them.  When I was trying to decide if I should jump into this business with both feet, I was torn about it because I thought at my age it was too late.  And then I met Nancy who came to me wanting to refresh her weaving skills....at the age of 80!  While chatting she told me she started two successful businesses after the age of 50.  Then I came across Henry, a man in his 70’s and he said he’s just as excited now to be creating in his woodworking business as he was when he started it at 60.    I had my lovely friend Mary come along who gifted me her loom.  She said that in life you always have to keep your mind open and keep things changing. Don’t pigeon hole yourself.  Don’t get stagnet and chase your dreams.  All of these students stood out with their advice!  I jumped into my business with both feet.  Lessons learned!  

Most recently we had a knitting workshop at the cottage and amount the students was a lady that I met for the first time.  Her name was Diane and she already was an excellent knitter but was just attending to learn something new.  She said she’d be interested in coming back for more knit-a-longs and I was thrilled because she was a great addition to our little group!    When I went home I went on FB to friend her and look at pictures of her knitting when I came across a post she had written.  Not her exact words but it said something like “When I make excuses for myself, I am giving myself permission to not achieve my goals”

That one post struck me!!!  I kept thinking about it and realized how much this applies to life and more importantly to MY life!  One example among a few:   I’ve been struggling with weight gain and I have excuses for not losing it!  I keep making excuses!  Excuses for not eat mindfully.  Excuses for not going to the gym.  Excuses for not achieving my goal weight and getting my healthy life back.  

We all make excuses!  Maybe it’s for our weight; or for being in a dead end job; being in a bad relationship or not being in a relationship at all; being bored with life; not being happy; any number of things.   Stop making excuses!  Join a gym and go!  Eat well!  Fix your relationships!   Take that adventure!   Learn something new!  Go outside the box!  Travel if you want!  Make your choices!  Live your life to the best it can be!  No excuses!

It was just a knitting class and a new friend that I made but what I learned from that one post on her FB wall has left a huge impact on me!  I’m taking control and I’m going to move forward!  Lesson learned. No more excuses!   

Thank you Diane!  ❤️ 

 

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My Little Weaving Cottage

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People are always asking me how I happened to come to my little weaving cottage.   Do I live there?  It looks like a house but no one lives here?  Is it a studio?  What’s the story here?  Well, here’s the story.  

It was always the little white cottage nestled in the trees across the street from my parents.  It was so quaint and sweet and I always loved that little cottage.  For years it was home for a lovely older couple who raised their family there.  Then sadly the wife Elsa passed and after a year or so, Vier the husband moved away.  My dad bought the little cottage as a rental property and for quite a while rented it out.  Then for a few years my niece lived there until she moved to Western Massachusetts.  There were always lights on and lots of life and love in that little cottage but then when my niece left, it was dark and quiet.  My dad couldn’t decide what to do with it.  He didn’t want to rent it but didn’t want it empty, dark and quiet. 

At the same time the second floor of my home was bursting at the seams with looms, spinning wheels, fiber, fabric, etc.  I started to think how wonderful it would be to move everything to the little white cottage and be right across the street from my parents where I could see them every day and work from an adorable space!  I could finally have my own studio!  I could teach my classes on my own schedule and I would be my own boss!  Meraki Handwoven would truly have a home!   What a beautiful dream!!!   So I approached my dad with my idea.  At first he said no.  Then he said he’d like to think about it and then finally he said yes!!!!  I was thrilled!!!!!  My husband and I started painting and getting the little cottage ready to move everything into it from my home.  It took ten trips but we got everything in and assembled the looms back to working order.    Finally everything was finished and I now have my own functioning weaving studio in which I work and teach classes!  The looms clickity clack creating fabric and the wheels whirl spinning yarn every day.  Students come and take classes.  Imaginations are put to work and creativity is sparked!   Visitors come and share their stories of their fiber love.    There are always cars in the driveway and people coming and going.  The lights are on and the little cottage is full of life and love.  No one lives in the adorable little white cottage nestled in the trees but it has come to life again my dream has come to fruition.  

The best part of all this however has nothing to do with weaving or spinning or teaching.   It has to do with being right there every day and seeing my parents.   It’s seeing my 89 year old mom come across the street just to say hi and see what’s going on.  It’s visiting and chatting with my 94 year old dad who has come over with a boiled egg or two to make sure I’m eating.  It’s looking across the street and seeing my parents red house all lit up, full of life and love.

That’s the story of my weaving cottage.   

Meraki

Handmade is made with love. 

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People often ask me how I chose the name for my small weaving business.  Well, I was trying to think of a name when I came across the word “Meraki” along with the meaning of it and thought... what a beautiful word it is AND it’s Greek!!!  What could be more appropriate right?!?!  The meaning of “Meraki” is the perfect description of how I feel about my work.  I think any artist will say the same of their works of art.  Our soul, creativity, love and essence goes into every creation!  It doesn’t matter if we’re creating to gift for a loved one or and item to sell out of our small business...our meraki goes into it!  It’s just how we’re wired!  If we’re gifting, we create each gift with our recipient in mind and heart.  If we’re selling, we try to think of who might love to buy it and try to put a little part of ourselves into it.  There’s a lot of thought put into every piece and every piece is a one of a kind!    

With the holidays quickly approaching, there will be a lot of shopping going on.   No one at Amazon is going to get excited with every order that comes in.   Same at Target, Kohl’s or any other retail store.  Don’t get me wrong...lots of great gifts come from these places.  But when you shop small business, be it at a craft fair or off a small business website, there is going to be excitement!!!   There are going to be cartwheels!  The owner and creater will be thrilled that you’re buying a one of a kind gift!  They’re going to be feel honored that you enjoy their work enough to share it with someone you love.  It’ll actually make their day as it does mine every time someone buys an item that I’ve put my “Meraki” into.   

Shop small business this holiday season!  Buy one of a kind.  Shop for items that filled with Meraki!

Get out of the wake!

I’ve spent many summers on the lake sitting on my porch watching boats pull water skiers behind them.  There’s always cheering and yelling going on!  So much excitement!  They go back and forth and back and forth across the cove and eventually the yelling and cheering calms down.  The skier is in the wake of the boat and it’s fun but after a while the excitement and rush is not so great anymore.  It’s just doing the same thing over and over with no change.

A lot like life.  You get into someone’s wake and plug along just moving along.  Exciting at first and then just back and forth, back and forth same old thing.  Wether you’re driving the boat or someone else is and you’re riding in their wake you have to make a decision to change if you want things to change.  Only you can make the change.

Back at the lake, suddenly there’s clapping and excitement again!!!  The skier has jumped out of the wake!  He’s blazing his own trail!!!  Making his own wake!!!  Nothing is blocking his view anymore!!!  No more following behind the boat or someone else’s wake!!!  A leader of his own destiny!!!  The possibilities are endless!!!  Yay!!!!! 

Be brave!  Get out of that wake!  Blaze your own trail and make your own wake!!!!   

 

My New Friend Mary

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Sometimes when you least expect it you meet a person who you really connect with.   The person that you have only know for a few meetings or even minutes and you feel you've known that person forever.  The person you feel is your kindred spirit just by looking in their eyes.  That's how I feel about my new friend Mary.   

My young friend Marissa was searching for a loom.  I got a text from her saying she just spotted one in FB Marketplace, it was nearby and it was free!!!  I took a quick look and told her to connect right away which she did.  She was told that there were a few others interested ahead of her but they'd let her know.  I had to try and do something.   It was a beautiful loom and it would be perfect for her.  I connected with the woman who placed the ad for her mom and told her I had been working with Marissa teaching her and if she could find it in her heart to give her the loom she would have found the best home ever for it.  Well, the woman relayed all the information her to her mom Mary and Marissa was gifted the loom.  The next afternoon, Marissa, our respective husbands and I took our trucks and went to Mary's to collect the loom and a few accessories.  While the men dismantled the loom and got it into the truck Marissa and I chatted with Mary.   

Mary is one of the sweetest women I've ever had the pleasure of meeting.  She told us of the property and the sheep that she kept on her acres of land. She and her husband raised their children in the beautiful historic home they lived in,  but after many years in their home, she and her husband were selling to move to a condo nearby and begin a new chapter of their life.  Through her words and in her beautiful glistening eyes I could see how her life was: her children, her husband, her career as a nurse, her farm and her love for the fiber arts.  Her face glowed and her eyes twinkled as she spoke of all of them.   As she gazed across her property while she spoke it was as though she could still see her sheep out in the fields.  She could still see her children running and playing.  She could see her husband working in the yard.  They were her passions.  She was devoted to them all.  She spoke of her sister who was a rug hooker.  She grinned as she said, "My sister was a hooker and I was a spinster."   She spoke of her tiny weaving museum in the little red shed on her property which she gave lessons in.   There was a wood stove in it to keep her nice and toasty even in the winter.   It was her haven, her sanctuary.  Now the time had come that she had to downsize and there was no room for all the big fiber equipment.  Her looms had to go, her spinning wheels had to go, everything....all except for her grandmothers great wheel which she was taking with her to the new condo.   She wanted more than anything to find the most loving homes for everything.    Homes that would care for them, use them and love them the way she had and still did.  When she met Marissa she instantly knew that she had chosen the right person to be the new owner of the loom.    I was lucky enough to receive a few of Mary's things as well and got to hear stories of each piece as she passed them on to me.  Stories that I will write down and keep with each item.  Items that I will put in my own tiny little weaving museum.  Items that will remind me of my new friend Mary and her glistening eyes and smiling face every time I look at them and use them.   I looked into Mary's eyes as she spoke of her looms and her wheels, as she spoke of her farm and of her tiny little museum in the shed and realized that you may rehome your equipment but your love for it and the art never dies.  It lives always in you.  And a little bit of your spirit is always captured in the equipment.  I will always feel a little bit of Mary around me.  My new friend, my kindred spirit.  Thank you Mary for honoring Marissa and me with your fiber equipment.  They've come to the most loving homes. 

Walmart vs. Neiman Marcus

Let me begin by saying I have no issue with either company.  Although I do shop at Walmart on occasion I have never shopped at Neiman Marcus.  This is not a post about a shopping experience.  It's about self worth.

It's probably a year to the day that we were sitting in Maine with our good friends Joe and Jeannie.   We were talking about the things I make and I was saying that like many artisans I have such a hard time pricing my items.  I just have no idea how to value my time.  Because I enjoy creating I feel bad charging for my time and way underprice.  After chatting a bit more Joe looked right at me and said, "Well, it's up to you if you want to be Walmart or Neiman Marcus.  If you're confident in your work and you really think your time is valuable act like it and price accordingly.  If you're not then continue to underprice.  You can be Walmart or you can be Neiman Marcus.  It's up to you."   

Well now.....that was something to think about!   Joe who I love dearly is somewhat known for his interesting opinions and outspokenness.  He in his own words has deemed himself "uninsultable"!  These purls of wisdom came from Joe!!!  He was very right!  Makes sense!  Like in many situations, it's all in how you present yourself, your confidence and your self worth.  Whether your trying out for a sports team in school or a part in a play, presenting yourself in a job interview or your presenting your product for sale, hold your shoulders back, your head up high,  be confident and proud.  Yes, I love creating and I love what I do!  My work in my opinion is good.   Whether I'm painting or knitting, spinning or weaving, it's time from my life and it's valuable.  Just like everyone else's time is valuable.  I'm worth it.  My time is worth it.  My work is worth it.   Joe's words ring in my ears often.  There's nothing wrong with Walmart but I'm choosing Neiman Marcus. 

Thank you Joe!  Makes sense!   

A Day In The Life Of Zwitsa

Today was just one of those days....I had to tap into my coping mechanisms big time!  It started out beautifully with sitting on my dock at the lake having my coffee and knitting.  It was a glorious morning and I was going to have an a great day!  My plan for the morning was to go to the fiber artists meca here in Maine known as Halcyon where I was going to buy my cotton for yoga straps I'm working on and who knows what else might jump out at me.  So I get ready, grab my bag and tell Kenny I'll be home soon.  I put Halcyon into my GPS, even though I've been many times, I'm not trusting my memory.  The GPS takes me a little different route to avoid road construction and I'm enjoying the change of scenery.  I've got the windows down, I'm happily singing along with James Taylor (I'm getting ready because I'm going to see him at Fenway next Friday!) and I'm loving everything about this day.  Then it happens!  I spot the flashing lights in my rear view mirror but decide that he must be going to a call.  Nope!  He was coming right behind me so I pull over.  Trying not to panic I remember my yoga instructor Beth taught us a copy mechanism of breathing and saying "This is happening right now but you're fine."  Ok!!!  I'm breathing and it's happening!!!  Yup!  To the tune of a $185.00 speeding ticket!!!!  Breathe!!!  Kenny is going to blow a gasket!  Breathe...  I'm so upset!  Should I just go home?  My whole day is ruined!  Well, Kenny always says: "As long as no one has died it's a good day."  Ok!  It's a good day!  So I continue on and get to Halcyon.  I buy everything I go there for and begin my trip home.  Oh yay...the check engine light comes on!  Fabulous!  "As long as no one has died it's a good day."  Ok!  Keep going.  Breathe.  "This is happening right now but you're fine."

Now I start to think about how I'm going to tell Kenny about the ticket.  He's going to be so mad but maybe sweetening the blow with some snacks will help.  He loves Ring Dings!  Maybe some Whoopie Pies too!!  That'll help!  I head to Hannafords and right at the entry there's road work going on.  My lane is moving along but of course the car right in front of me is the last one allowed to go when the flagger flips his sign to stop.  So there I sit.  You know how sometimes you can feel someone staring at you?  Well, there's the flagger staring right at me.  This larger man wearing a faded Grateful Dead t-shirt that has seen a years worth of better days and a beard that went half way down his belly is staring at me.  It seems like I'm there for hours!    Finally it's my turn to go when I muster the courage to glance over and I get a big grin and wink!  "This is happening right now and your fine."  I wave, smile and drive off.  Hey!  I've still got it!!!

I finally get home and present Kenny with his treats before I tell him about my ticket and the check engine light.  He shrugs and says, "It happens and no one died so it's a good day."  That went so much better than I expected!!  

I put my loot away and head up to my weaving room in the garage thinking I can finally sit and weave.  Heading upstairs I hear a thrashing sound and see a little bird has gotten in and is frantically trying to get out a closed window.  Although I don't really like birds...they really creep me out actually but I have to help the poor little thing.  Breathe...  "This is happening right now and your fine."  I move towards it and it starts flying into me.  Breathe...  I try again and it hits me again.  Breathe...you're fine...  After the third time of trying to help it and having it fly right into me I'm done!  I can't!  I go get Kenny and he helps the little guy out with no problem whatsoever.   Happy ending for the bird and after a long difficult not so pleasant day I get to get back to my weaving!  Wait!  What?!   How can it possibly only be noon time!?!?  

Well, it wasn't exactly as I envisioned my day would go but I have my cotton to make my yoga straps.  My adventures happened and I'm fine.  No one died and it's as great day.

Breathe....namaste🙏🏻

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If You Give Zwitsa A Loom

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If you have any small children in your life you are probably very familiar with some of Laura Numeroff's books.  "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie" and "If You Give A Moose A Muffin" are two of my favorites.   If I knew her of any other children's book author I could offer up another that would be titled "If You Give Zwitsa A Loom" .

It all started one day when Zwitsa and Ken were at a yard sale and Ken spotted what appeared to be an unassembled rigid heddle loom on the ground.  He called Zwitsa over to check it out and without a minutes thought, in the car it went!  Zwitsa was so happy!  She finally had a loom.  She wove and wove but quickly felt she wanted more!  Through face book she learned of a loom in North Carolina that was for sale.  But it was in North Carolina!  How could this work out?  Well, it was Zwitsa's lucky day!  The nice lady who was selling the loom always wanted to visit New England in the autumn,  Salem in particular, and offered to bring it up!  So plans were made and up came the loom.   The nice lady who was selling the loom stayed with Zwitsa and Ken for four days to teach Zwitsa.  The nice lady from North Carolina never did get to Salem....   Zwitsa happily wove her rugs.  Ken says, "I'm happy you have your floor loom but I think that's enough on the fiber equipment."  Zwitsa smiles and nods in agreement.

One day Zwitsa decided she'd like to try weaving dish cloths and soon found it was such a bother to have to keep changing the sett on the warp between rugs and dish cloths.  But wait!  Zwitsa spots the perfect loom on craigslist in New Hampshire!!!  And such a deal!!!  She grabs her shot gun partner in crime Kelly and off they go in Kelly's truck to get the loom.  Zwitsa is all set!   "Ok this is it now!" Ken says.  Zwitsa smiles and nods in agreement. She doesn't need another thing.  By now summer is here and she is happily weaving dish cloths on her new loom.  Too bad she doesn't have a loom in Maine where she spends most weekends to weave on.... 

Then one day, the nice lady from North Carolina private messages Zwitsa about a loom on craigslist in Rhode Island that's FREE!!!  Imagine that!!!  Zwitsa emails and learns that she's third in line.  This is never going to happen.  The owner says he'll let her know if her turn comes up.  Two days later the phone call finally arrives.  The loom is hers if she wants it but she has to take it now!  So in the pouring rain she convinces Ken to go with her to Rhode Island to get the free loom.  The loom finally finds its new home in Maine and Zwitsa is happy.  "This time this is it!" Ken says and Zwitsa smiles and nods in agreement.

Suddenly one day she's just breezing through craigslist and spots a Baby Wolf Loom.  Oh what a dream!!!  The most  coveted portable loom of all and half the cost of any others she has seen!!!  And it's in New Hampshire!!!  Right in the same town as one of Ken's coworkers home!  It was meant to be!  She wouldn't even have to drive up and get it!  She couldn't sleep at night thinking of it!  She could do demos on it at fairs, teach on, take it to work shops, etc!    She doesn't even want to mention it to Ken because he's going to blow a gasket!   Finally after three days she can't take it any more and says "Ken, how would you like to invest in my weaving business."  After 36 years of marriage Ken knows this is problably going to happen anyways so without even looking up says "Just go ahead and buy the thing."  Zwitsa is so happy!  She quickly calls on the loom and makes the necessary arrangements.  It will be arriving by the end of the week.  Ken knows these words mean nothing even as he speaks them to her.  "Listen!  I'm very serious this time!  This is it!  No more!"  Zwitsa smiles and nods in agreement while awaits the arrival of her new to her Baby Wolf.

She now has a herd of looms, miles of cotton and wool yarn to weave anything she wants and shuttles galore.   There isn't a thing left out there that she could possible need!  A weavers paradise she has! 

But wait!!!!  As she sits waiting for the days to pass and her new loom to arrive what's this on craigslist she sees?!?!   An inkle loom!  Zwitsa doesn't have one of these!  And it's in Hampton!   Practitically next door!  No time like the present to learn something new!  Oh boy.....

If you give Zwitsa a loom, she's going to want another to go with it!   

 

It's not always about the money!

When i started this business, Meraki Handwoven, I thought it would be awesome to do something I love and make money at it as well.  I'm happy to say that I have sold a few pieces and was overjoyed when those orders came in.  I thought "Hey, I'm doing something I love and making money!  Doesn't get better than that!  Very cool!"  

Well, about a month ago I was invited to do a spinning presentation at a memory loss facility for the elderly.  At first I was over joyed thinking that I was going to help make the day of the residents a little more pleasant.  And then I got very very nervous!   I thought, what am I going to say to these people?  Are they even going to listen to me or be the least bit interested?  What if they don't like me at all and walk out!!!

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My new friend helping me ball a skein of yarn.

Spinning at the wheel. 

Spinning at the wheel. 

After I was introduced to the residents that came,  I nervously began to talk about myself and explain about all the fibers I had brought.  I demonstrated my wheel and showed them items I've knit from my own handspun yarn.  Ok this was going well, they seemed interested!  When we passed around my mittens and shawls, they tried the mittens on and wrapped themselves up in the shawls softly caressing the soft yarn on their cheeks.  They smiled as they shared memories of their own projects and the people they lovingly knit and crocheted for.     

Lovely memories coming back. 

Lovely memories coming back. 

They listened and asked questions.   We laughed at all the funny memories from long ago that were shared.  It was so moving to me that such beautiful memories were stirred.  Before I knew it it was time for me to pack up and go.  The presentation that was supposed to be one hour at the most went to over two hours. 

My worries about being able to engage these wonderful new friends of mine had very quickly gone away.  I enjoyed them and I believe they enjoyed me as well.  They clapped and said how much they loved having me.  I thought I was going to this facility to help make their day a little more pleasant but as it turned out they that made my day ALOT more pleasant!!  My new friends made my heart sing!  They truly touched my soul.  They thanked me and invited me to come visit again next month which I'm thrilled to do!  We'll be weaving together next time!!

So, yesit is wonderful to make money doing something you love.  On this particular afternoon however, no amount of money could have given me the joy these wonderful new friends of mine gave me.  Doesn't get better than that!!  Very cool!

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Enjoying the feel of soft handspun yarn. 

Hindsight is 20/20

When my sister and I were young, my parents would take us to Greece every few years to see my grandparents.  My Yiayia Lambro took me aside one afternoon and wanted to teach me how to spin yarn on a drop spindle.   I was 13 then and all I wanted to do was go hang out with the other young people in the village.  Not sit and learn how to use a drop spindle.  Who does that anyways?!  I told my yiayia I was all set.  She said I would need this skill so that when I needed new socks I would have the yarn ready to knit new ones for myself.  I very boldly informed her that in America we don't need to make our own socks.  We buy them. 

Fast forward 45 years and I have my grandmothers drop spindle with yarn that she actually spun still on it.  I decide I'd like to spin my own yarn and knit my own socks.  Yiayia isn't here anymore.  Now I have to find someone and pay them to teach me how to spin my own yarn on a drop spindle.  Well, I did and I learned.  Even though I didn't pay attention when I was 13, I learned how to spin and now spin on a wheel as well.   I smile everytime I spin when I remember my yiayia.  I bet she's smiling too.

P.S.   Everytime my children see me spinning sock yarn they comment:   "You know you can buy socks in America right ma?!"  Yup...I know...  Love you Yiayia Lambro

Everything happens for a reason

                             Mega Pappou Dimitri the Weaver

                             Mega Pappou Dimitri the Weaver

I've always believed everything happens for a reason.  Everyone that was part of your history and everyone that comes into your life has a role.  I believed my weaving story began a few years ago when I took a couple of weaving workshops in Maine.  It wasn't until recently that I learned that my great grandfather was a weaver.  I never met him and I never even knew what he looked like until a picture of him surfaced recently.  I have his picture hanging over my loom.  Mega Pappou Dimitri is my muse.  He supported and raised all his children on money that he made weaving and selling rag rugs.  I look at his picture every day when I sit at my loom and say good morning.  I don't have to support my family with my weavings but I'm hoping to continue his legacy and make him proud.

Fast forward to the year 2016.  I go to the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, New York.  I meet an amazing young woman named Kelly.  I love her yarn and buy a sweaters worth, which by the way I haven't finished yet....maybe by Wool Festival 2017.  I learn that Kelly lives in Rowley and we become fast friends.  Funny how I had to come to New York to meet this amazing woman.    I told Kelly about my dream of having my own rug weaving business at which point she jumped right in with encouragement and selfless help.  I never imagined a person who was a complete stranger up until October would become such an amazing friend and important person in my life.

Everything happens for a reason and everyone in my life is there for a reason.