BY HAND

May Day is a good time to seek inspiration from Mother Nature

Posted April 30, 2013, at 10:19 a.m.

It’s May Day and that calls to mind many pleasant associations — from daffodils scenting the air and making yellow splashes of color in the garden to discovering patches of violets near a stand of pines where a breeze whispers in the treetops. But mostly, for me, it’s about wandering around my backyard, strolling a beach or tramping along a trail through the woods to collect stuff that might be of use in making crafts of one type or another. It’s also a day when I simply like to look around me and take photographs, or make drawings in a small sketchbook that might spur me to design an embroidery project, or take color cues for a knitted cap. It’s a day when the symbiosis of nature, art and craft are very much on my mind.

Putting down the yarn, the knitting needles and the crochet hook, the linen and the embroidery hoop, is a way to refresh my interest in the needlearts. Idle hands, I have found, generate ideas for projects for keeping those same hands occupied when spring and summer wane and the desire to stitch exerts its strongest pull of the year.

If I am in the backyard, I look for small flowers such as violets, field strawberries or pansies that can be pressed between sheets of waxed paper in the pages of a thick book. After they are dried, the flowers can be used in card making.

If I’m on a beach, I look for bits of flat pieces of driftwood that once might have been part of a plank, and beach glass. These can be fashioned into rustic mobiles, or the glass can be arranged in pleasing patterns on the wood, and glued in place to create a pretty object one can hang on the wall or prop beside a computer as a reminder that real life exists only beyond the four corners of the screen.

I also look for pretty pebbles. I like to line up these on a sunny windowsill or on the deck railing. Whenever I look at or touch them, my sense of being deeply connected to Maine, my home, with roots in the rock, is enhanced. Rocks are reminders that we don’t have to always be busy doing something to serve a purpose. Sometimes it’s wise and useful to just be a rock. I look for small, flat heart-shaped rocks, too, which can be lashed to fabric in an embroidery project or tucked into a birthday or other greeting card.

If I am walking along a path through the woods, I look for pine needles, evergreen cones and twigs of various sizes and shapes. I like how cones, with fans of pine needles tucked around them, look in a small basket or a fancy bowl set in the middle of the table. I also pick up twigs, acorn caps, seed pods, bits of dried weeds and the occasional bird feather — all of which can serve as craft materials.

I’m not greedy when I collect rocks, twigs and other materials when I am outdoors. I take only as much as I know I will use and leave the rest to be discovered by others, or for it to complete whatever journey the whims of Mother Nature may impose upon it.

The point of the collecting is not the collecting. The point is to touch, look, hold, sense and admire the collected objects, and to use them to spark a new spring of imagination.

Go outside. Look around. Free your imagination. Happy May Day.

Snippets

The Wednesday Spinners will host a Spring Spin-In, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday, May 8, at Schoodic Arts for All, Hammond Hall, Winter Harbor. Bring a wheel and fiber, a knitting project or other handwork. Bring a lunch. Tea, coffee and morning goodies will be provided. Donations of goodies would be appreciated. For information, call 785-2784 or 963-7771.

The New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival will be held 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, May 11, and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, May 12, at Deerfield Fair Grounds, 34 Stage Road, in Deerfield, N.H. The fair will feature more than 100 vendors of yarn and other wool and fiber products. Many workshops will be conducted, including spinning, knitting and raising sheep. The fair also will offer sheep shows, sheep shearing, activities for children and dog herding demonstrations. Admission is $5, $4 seniors and children, free to children under 12. Parking is free. For information, go to nhswga.org.

A Quilt Show and Craft Fair will be held 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, May 4, at the Cherryfield Academy Building, Main Street in Cherryfield. Admission is $3 and will benefit the academy building restoration. The event will include quilts — antique to contemporary — and a display of antique sewing machines. Visitors can help identify the names on an early 1900s signature quilt. For information, email Brenda Fickett at HiBrenda@maineline.net.

A Wet Felting Workshop for Beginners will be held 11 a.m.-2 p.m. May 4, at the Page Farm and Home Museum. Participants will learn to create nonwoven cloth, and design and create hats. Cost for instruction and materials is $39. To register, email pagefarm@umit.maine.edu or call 581-4100.

Call Ardeana Hamlin at 990-8153 or email ahamlin@bangordailynews.com. Don’t forget to visit her blog at byhand.bangordailynews.com.

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