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There’s a big life change underway for me. It requires packing up home (again) and moving to a new city (again). But unlike the move two years ago, this one feels like I am moving towards the light. I am making life-altering decisions with a happier state of mind and relishing the fresh start.

But clarity does not come with the simple desire to know what the next steps should be. Clarity comes from sitting in muddy confusion, a willingness to be uncomfortable. There is no timeline, and this adds to the discomfort. For me, this is like being paralyzed at a 5-way intersection, not knowing which road to choose.

Out of the most mundane, repetitive tasks can come the clearest solutions. This article explains it perfectly, from a more scientific perspective. My eureka answer came to me while driving down a familiar and not particularly interesting stretch of highway. My mind wandered and … voilah!

joy lilies spring

The old adage, “hindsight is 20-20,” is true. Now that I am in this new mindspace, the emotional underpinnings of my relocation two years ago are clear. It’s not that I have regrets — I don’t. But I have fresh appreciation for the emotional healing that had yet to occur. I know now that the recovery from the painful disappointment of what I had hoped was my forever marriage was on its own timeline. That betrayal lays deep wounds and the rebuilding of tissue is a process that must not be rushed. In fact, I would say that scar tissue has a mind of its own!

So, as I buy (another) giant-sized roll of packing tape, face the tedious task of packing up my belongings (again), and say good-bye to new friends, I am embracing the unknown that lies ahead. In November I will become a grandmother for the first time. And in the meantime there’s a new neighborhood and town to explore, friends I haven’t yet met, and a baby layette to knit!



My 3 Words for 2017

I don’t know about you, but the internet’s plethora of how-to articles on new year goal setting sends me into a self-doubting panic. I want to keep moving forward in the direction of self-improvement, but what shiny new approach is the right fit? After consuming advice from various time management, lifestyle and entrepreneurial gurus, I settled on a new-for-me life-improvement approach for my 2017: the 3 words.

In business coach Chris Brogan‘s  weekly newsletter this past Sunday — which neatly coincided with New Year’s Day — he revealed his 3 words for the coming year, an annual practice he’s maintained for over ten years. The simple clarity of 3 words that can function like an internal calibrator over the span of the next twelve months really appealed to me. As someone who gets excited about too many projects than is humanly possible to execute, I thought a 3-word touchpoint might keep me in line. And so I committed to my own that feel like a good fit, that can function as a theme for my coming year:

HOME — Because redefining what home means to me is part of my reinvention.

EXPRESS — Speak up. Open that throat chakra! Do not let my silence be someone else’s comfort.

COMPLETE — Wrap up unfinished projects and follow through to the finish anything begun anew. This includes everything — from business-building to crafting and homemaking.

What about you? How do you like to freshen up your life for a new year?

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Home is Where the Garden Grows


I held on to the fantasy with a grip so tight nothing would separate us. My marriage may have been over but at least I had my home, which, in truth, was really the garden. My garden – that postage-stamp-sized patch that I’d cultivated into an urban oasis – was the true heart of my home.

Mornings began with a look at the garden space. From a second-floor window in the reading nook, I observed the seasons as they played out below. An empty nester, I’d turned to nurturing the soil as if it were a baby in need of my care. The Blueberry Muffin (Viburnum dentatum ‘Christom) and Fragrant Abelia (Abelia mosanensis) shrubs had grown into dense green fencing. Perennials, once the rare accent here and there amongst annuals, had been lovingly collected over the years and now dominated the beds. And the Mandarin Azalea bloomed by the back door each spring, her robust orange blossoms celebrating another successful winter’s rest. I’d planted Rosa rugosa and hydrangea along the front of the house, reminders of evening walks with my mother and her dog on Nantucket Island. Come each May, this was my outdoor living room.

I will hold on to this in the face of losing all else that represents stability to me, I thought.

However, the financial reality was soon unavoidable: the house would have to be sold. The definition of home was up for grabs. Without a garden to tend would I be home-less? Could container gardening successfully replace in-ground beds? I didn’t have an answer to these questions, but I did know that I could not entrust the care of my pampered greenspace to an anonymous house buyer. My plants were up for adoption!

I traded plants for hairdressing services and eventually gave away every ornamental rose bush and perennial, from the clematis to my beloved peonies. There’s something satisfying about sharing plants – it feels like a good deed. Joy sprinkling, I call it. I had discovered a sweet side of leaving home.

Shortly after relocating I found a small local nursery (I almost never buy plants at big box stores). Filling one garden urn and a second porch pot proved to be just right for me this year. Could I call these container gardens home with the same heartfelt passion as the old place? No. But they certainly made the porch feel like it was mine, an important horticultural extension of this new life chapter.

asparagus-fern-fuschia-2016_web summer-garden-urn-2016_web

Writing with Images

Ansel Adams garden quote


Last week I participated in a workshop titled “Writing Vertically.” The facilitators are both dream analysts, one a non-fiction writer and the other a poet. Each workshop participant was asked to bring a scene from a current work and/or a dream.

I am four years out from completing the rough draft of my teen memoir about how drawing and other creative pursuits served as a life preserver, and only recently have I begun the revision process. Getting down the bones of the story (thank you, Natalie Goldberg) required reliving those years, awakening every cell of my being. Channeling my younger self, this first draft was written in present tense. The time has come to revise, to deepen the story with the reflections and perspective of an older, wiser voice.

I wish someone could have photographed my face as I watched my scene of a 1960s music festival come to life as others in the group took on roles of the cannonballing swimmers, festival revelers, my companion, Sheldon, and me. Twined with a re-enactment of a childhood nightmare, the effect was stunning. 3-D. Big. Awe-some.

So what does this have to do with the garden photo here and Ansel Adams quote? The fastest way for me to find my way in to the emotions of a scene, a memory, is with a visual. For this project, it might be one of my father’s carefully crafted black-and-white portraits or a Kodak Instamatic print from my mother’s photo albums. Although I have no photos from the Strawberry Fields music festival, I now have that marvelous episode of the workshop’s live theater on which to focus. The journey back to those emotions is like rappelling down into a dark unknown. Here I go!


Slow Crawl Out of Winter

Knitting Adventure with Kristin Nicholas collage 1000x1000

Click photo collage to view larger.

While trying to figure out when and how — and even, if — I would haul myself back into a regular blogging practice, I have also been re-prioritizing my interior life, purging all kinds of stuff that is no longer of use.  The great thing about decluttering is that fresh space appears. A predictable scenario, but thrilling, nonetheless. I’m not sure which came first: the decluttering or turning sixty, but the combination has been sobering; the view forward is way shorter than the view looking back. What to keep, what to toss into the memory files of stuff I used to like to do? It is now clearer than ever that the joy of playing with images and color and typefaces is a keeper, it is most definitely where I find my flow. As psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi explains in his book, flow – the psychology of optimal experience, “flow [is the] state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter …”

I may have fallen off the blogging wagon but in the interim I stayed current with my favorite creatives. My online friends, I call them. Knit and yarn designer, textile artist, kindred lover of brilliant colors, and sheep farmer Kristin Nicholas is in that crowd.  This collage is an homage to her, my first steps out of hibernation and back into my flow. All patterns are available from her web site, except for the mittens, which can be found in the Fall 2008 Vogue Knitting magazine. However, the Heart to Heart mitten pattern on Kristin’s site is delicious, isn’t it?! … Enjoy!


Thursdays are the new Saturday

embroidered mittens process UFOLately I am drawn to Julia Cameron‘s facebook posts, single-line emissions  dense with wisdom, as if they hold the The Ultimate Solution. Of course, every single one is fodder for reflection, a catalyst for assessing and reframing, but it was Wendy Thomas’s post about a recent Writers’ Retreat at a Buddhist center that really rocked me out of my rut. My takeaway from Wendy’s weekend of silence is the incredibly simple but profound, “when I stopped hearing other people’s voices, I started hearing my own.” As someone who has a long history of getting into trouble for chatting in school and on the job, this struck home.

I could whine about the time-hogging aspects that are my very own jumble of responsibilities, I could tell you all about how they leave me feeling drained and perfectly uninspired, but who doesn’t have those, right? Boring. A waste of good energy, frankly.

So what to do with this new-found notion of taking time out for silence? Hello, Thursday! Saturdays have always felt bright and full of possibility, so a reframe of an ordinary weekday into a Saturday feels fresh.

I have spent the morning with yarn and thread, embroidering these mittens, and feel ever so energized. It meant staying put and not running out to the gym. That’s a trade-off, for sure. It would be so much easier to stay in motion on my day off; sitting still takes effort. But if being uncomfortable is the gateway to discovery, I’m willing. No one to talk to here, except for the pets, so the lid on chatter has been easy. But, should this cone of silence include answering messages on facebook? Probably. There’s always room for refinement, isn’t there?!

On the idea of staying quiet, there’s a young man from Nashua, NH, who has committed to a year of silence and walking as a form of performance art! This video interview explains Greg Hindy’s story behind his endeavor. If you want to know more, his father has set up a group facebook page that follows Greg’s trek as he walks cross-country. Greg is journaling the experience with black-and-white film photography; a post-performance reveal promises to be fascinating.

Corabelle crochet studio afghan UFO


I’ll leave you with a quick snap of Corabelle, getting cozy with the as-yet-unfinished African Flower crochet afghan.


Thank you, Live to Write – Write to Live

desk writing bloggingI am honored to be a guest blogger today, over on Live to Write – Write to Live. Wendy Thomas and I first met at the annual Friends of the Nashua Public Library book sale, or maybe it was one of our Beyond the Book author soirees. In any case, she was covering the event for a newspaper article. Hang with your tribe and the possibilities are limitless. Thank you, Wendy!

“A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.”
― Seth GodinTribes: We Need You to Lead Us


Rockefeller shawl LisaAllenLambert

You know my love for geometric, modular, architectural-like knitting, right?

We were in the middle of an early summer heat wave when I swooned over the dramatic-looking shawl project on several pairs of needles at my local yarn shop. Thus my introduction to knitwear designer Stephen West and, before I’d taken another breath, I’d committed to knitting a tri-color Rockefeller shawl in Madeline Tosh Vintage yarn! I now understand the frenzy for Tosh yarns that I witnessed in the Vogue Knitting LIVE marketplace last January — this merino wool feels like silk and is delicious to knit with. West’s other creative aspect as a dancer makes sense of the Rockefeller’s extreme wing span. Doesn’t my model look as though she’s about to take flight?!

Rockefeller shawl LisaAllenLambert bonsai This is definitely a distinctive wardrobe addition for the fall.

Rockefeller knitting shawl process signed

Divided into four sections, the pattern is super-fun to knit, with interesting use of short rows, i-cord edging, and two-color work. … Looks like Corabelle’s interested in the Rockefeller shawl, too!


How to Create a Modern Crafting Bee

beading bracelets

I haven’t read the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House on the Prairie books in decades, but a happy memory that lives on is the image of women crafting, their hands busy with making things both beautiful and useful. The women are seated around a table, enjoying a break from regular routines as they engage in easy conversation and sip tea from pretty cups. Now, I have no idea if this is an actual scene in one of Wilder’s books (probably not!), but a desire to experience that sense of togetherness and purpose amongst makers has inspired me to host the occasional crafting bee in my home.

My “Party on a Wrist” bracelet has been such a conversation starter, and so many have expressed an interest in making their own, that I decided to host a how-to gathering, visions of a modern-day Little House on the Prairie in my mind.

1. Email invites were sent out with a caution to RSVP quickly, as seating would be limited. Final number of crafters reflected 20% last-minute cancellations.

Lisa Allen Lambert Spiny Knotted Bracelet demo2. It’s been four years (eek!) since I made my first Spiny Knotted Bracelet, so a little practice of Stephanie Sersich‘s technique was in order. Her book‘s step-by-step illustrations are user-friendly and before I knew it, I was stringing and knotting with ease.

3. Set out the tea cups and light snacks and let the fun begin.

spiny knotted bracelet how-toLynn measures for her button closure placement.

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An infusion of chocolate was necessary mid-afternoon.

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Bonita knots her way to the finish.web_kathleen nears finish signed DSCN0623.jpg

A symphony of metallics with black.

web_Johannas bracelet DSCN0629.jpgMy sister was the first to finish, her wrist rejoicing in chunky aqua tones.

circle of finished Party on a Wrist bracelets

Woo-hoo! Everyone completed their Party on a Wrist bracelet! Aren’t they beautiful?!

The crafting bee was everything I hoped for. We laughed, we shared stories, we admired each other’s beads and bracelets. Some confronted a desire for perfection, whatever that might look like, and found a new way to think about pattern, balance and visual texture. There was no calico in sight — we’re a modern bunch — but I like to imagine that the extra tea cup was for Laura Ingalls Wilder, our spectral crafter.

p.s. If you’re teaching a new technique to your crafting friends, don’t count on finishing your own project. That will have to wait until later.