Tales from the hummbleBee Hive

You might have noticed our absence these last few years.  Then again, maybe you didn’t.  It’s been a very weird world and life for many of us has been many things… but “typical” and “predictable” don’t really make the list.  If you haven’t wondered whatever became of your friendly neighborhood patchwork vendors, it is understandable.

We might not know where life may lead us,

but we know where we’ve been

A few years ago, we found ourselves making a lot less.  We didn’t have the time; we were out of energy; our inspiration had run dry.  We needed a change.  We needed a break from depending on our creative skills for economic stability, and we still needed to pay our bills.  Ian has always kept a day-job, but mine have come and gone as my focus for so long remained on our dream of a small artistic business.  At long last, sometime in my mid-to-late-30s and with a child in elementary school (remember school!? Here in Portland it hasn’t started again yet) I did some deep soul-searching and learned what I want to be when I grow up: a counselor and a helper. 

Image of Linnea's tired face on the day of her graduation from PSU.  She is wearing black robes, a green sash, gold cords and a smile.
I was relieved to finish my B.S. degree at PSU. My hard work paid off and I finished Summa Cum Laude with a 4.0!

I returned to school!  Since we live in Portland and it is near to us, I decided to attend Portland State University.  I was lucky enough to have picked up an associate’s degree my first time around through college as a youth/very young adult (back when art was my whole world).  I was able to use that as my jumping-off point and finish my bachelor’s degree in two years.  By the time I was wrapping that up, I knew I wanted to return once more for graduate school.  But since my entire adulthood has been spent working for myself – and on creative endeavors, no less – I decided to take another “break” from academia and look for a day-job to show prospective school programs and admissions counselors that I’m serious about the work I want to do.

Image of a toddler's hands working at a table with paints on a white sheet of paper on a white tray.  The child is wearing a blue and green sweater and resting his left hand on the table in front of him while he uses a paintbrush and experiments with yellow and red pigment.
Little hands working with paint and color. I’m so grateful for having had the opportunity to spend this time nourishing my roots and working directly with young people.

For a brief and blissful few months in 2019-2020, I worked as an infant & toddler teacher at a sweet little RIE-based school before the COVID19 pandemic shut it, and our own kiddo’s school, down.  After that, I spent a few months facilitating distance learning for our third-grader, a summer “off” to begin searching for work again in earnest, and a whole school-year of distanced learning, this time for a fourth-grade Jubilee.  Like a lot of y’all, we just kept our heads down, put our shoulders into it and tried to get through the strange time that has been 2020-2021. 

Hopes and Plans

Let me rewind for a quick moment and explain the work I want to do, that has me so inspired to return to school for a master’s degree.  I want to help families figure out and navigate transitional moments in their lives: the adding or passing of family members; the blending together of families or separating into multiple households; changing jobs, habits, routines.  I want to help struggling families as they navigate the obstacles and hurtles that are in their way of achieving goals.  I want to help families understand, navigate and dismantle systems of oppression and subordination.  I also want to help them get past moments of crisis, of escalation and of upset.  Working and growing with our own family has taught me a lot about what I have to offer the world.

A few years back, before thinking about school, when I hadn’t been making much patchwork for a while and was immersed in full-time parenting a young child, I felt… “called” is the only word that fits here… to develop a meditation aid to help me teach body relaxation to young people. I wrote a little bit about it here before I was quite so verbose as now.  Jubilee was going through one of those little-kid phases when they had a hard time making their body still to go to sleep.  I wanted to help them channel all their movement into one body part.  I also wanted to hand them something soft and snuggly and vaguely pleasant-smelling that they could hold and love. 

Image of one of the first labyrinth embroideries we created on our machine, in progress.  Ocean-blue, satin fabric is stretched over the grey embroidery hoop.  The machine needle is blurred as it moves through the clear plastic foot and applies deep purple thread to the fiber.
One of my first labyrinths, in-process on the machine.

I ended up embroidering a traditional or “classic” 7-circuit labyrinth on a piece of fabric and using it to create a little beanbag-sized aromatherapy pillow.  The result was a highly portable, snuggly and relaxing little finger labyrinth.  I’d previously encountered a few finger labyrinths that were made of carved wood or stone, but I wanted something friendlier… and it was really exciting to create something as soft, warm and inviting to small hands as I did.  I wasted no time and gave that first labyrinth pillow to (then four-year-old) Jubilee and utilized it as an important teaching tool.  Before I knew it, I had made more to give as gifts to friends and to sell online and at the rare in-person events where we were still vending. 

Image of a table at an event where we vended in the fall of 2014, where we began selling labyrinth pillows for the first time.  A table is covered with black velvet, and red and green penne fabric.  Trays of lampwork glass pendants and art, jewelry and scarves are also spread out on the table.  A rack of children's clothing stands behind the table and a chalkboard sign is propped in front.
A table where we vended in the fall of 2014, where we debuted our offering of finger labyrinth meditation pillows.

Another year or two after I’d designed the first idea for a labyrinth, using the traditional 7-circuit design pictured at the top, I created my own unique puzzle-piece design.  This was partly done as an intellectual and artistic challenge to myself, and partly as a statement of my own belief in the completeness of us all.  I had been approached be several parents of autistic young people who shared that my finger labyrinths had become a helpful tool in their homes, and I wanted to make something specially to honor those individuals.  I chose to create a design that depicts four interlocking puzzle pieces and a “maze” that one’s finger can follow all the way through (“in one door and out the other”, which differentiates this design from the 7-circuit traditional labyrinth that one travels to the center of and back out). 

Image of a variety of colors of puzzle labyrinth meditation pillows spread out together on a table.
A selection of thread options displayed on puzzle finger labyrinth designs.

Over these last few years, I’ve continued to create and occasionally sell my finger labyrinth meditation pillows even as the rest of our creative endeavors have fallen to the wayside.  It’s been a while since I sat down and worked on a big batch but I want y’all to know I’m doing that now. 

Image of an embroidery machine turned on with a hoop loaded with a deep plum-purple fabric.  a green labyrinth design is embroidered at the top of the hoop and a yellow/golden one is beneath it, and more purple fabric is rolled up with embroideries already completed.
A recent shot of a “sheet” of 7-circuit labyrinths in process July 2021

Our sewing space smells heavenly and I’m excited to share this latest batch with you all.  After I restock the two designs I’ve shown you before, I will try to do something different as my wheels have been spinning and creativity has been flowing in fits and bursts.  I’m excited to share with y’all!

Image of two labyrinth pillows shown in-process.  A black pillow with teal thread and purple liner sits on top of a black pillow with purple embroidery and purple liner.  Both have a small opening on the side and are resting in a bin filled with flax seed, lavender and herbs.  A black funnel and bright red measuring cup are at the ready to fill the pillows with their fragrant mix.
Some labyrinth pillows in the process of getting filled with their fragrant filling.

Recently, after an awfully long search for the right fit, I found myself a day-job.  I have been working part-time in a family homeless shelter located right here in our neighborhood of SE Portland.  It seems like a terrific organization with a gentle, thoughtful, trauma-informed approach to service and I am hopeful that this is the beginning of a long professional relationship.  I hope eventually to work there full-time and continue to do so even as I (hopefully) return to school.  I think this is an organization that I can really grow in, which excites me more than I can say.

Image filled with a mixture of whole flax seeds, lavender and chamomile flowers,
A deep bin filled with whole flax seeds, mixed with lavender and chamomile flowers, and some small chunks of copal resin.

As I get comfortable in this position and find my life in a new rhythm, I have decided to once again prioritize sewing time as well. I hope to return a little to our roots, imagining and creating freely even if it’s in fits and bursts.  To begin with, I will be sharing the labyrinth pillows that are my first project “back” in a while!  These are such a joyful item for me to make – and I hope that by putting them into the universe I’m sharing a little bit of calm and mindfulness.

Have you tried out one of our labyrinth pillows yet?  Please tell us about your experience with them!

I hope to be in touch with the world more often through this website. We’ve kept it all these years – there’s no reason it can’t continue to grow and change with us. Maybe I will use it to share my thoughts about the things I’m learning. Maybe Ian and Jubilee will use it to post about what they’re up to, also. As with all things, we will be flexible and see where it goes. Tell us what you think. We aren’t taking custom work, but we are open to suggestions and perpetually curious!

Well. Like I said, I’ve gotten verbose in my old age. I guess I’ll just say how much I love you for reading this far and leave it there.

2 thoughts on “Tales from the hummbleBee Hive”

  1. So lonely to read the things you’ve been up to. Parenting a small child is no easy task. I’m happy to hear about your journey to helping folks and your creative times. Best of luck ❤️


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