they are. More
coffee filters. In the
raw, straight from the pile
and into the bucket.
if the original
cup of coffee or frothy
cappuccino was as compelling
to look at and as sumptuous to smell as
these filters getting their
these strange pieces of
paper. When we have coffee at our
house, which is rare, we use a French Press. So
for me, these are an entirely new material which have, until
recently, just been part of my decomposing compost.
Now, though, with my sister's inspiration,
they have become yet another
invitation to explore
take them out
of the 5-gallon compost
collection bucket and move them
into the rinsing tub in our sink, these dirty
filters become precious materials
filled with creative
are soft between my
fingers when I pull them out
of the tub and hang them up to dry.
Once on the rack, all I notice
is the play of light on
want to do
is move in closer to
explore these materials about
which I know so little. Once again, my
compost invites me to consider more than meets
the eye. While I have an idea of what my sister, Sarah C.
Swett, might create out of these filters, their
back story, like so many back
stories, remains a
is unfolding as I write,
Sarah's imagination leading her
and my investigations taking me where
they go. But here we are, unfiltered, making it
up along the way. It does seem, however, that ours is
a circular narrative, filled with the ebbs
and flows of our lives and
Stay tuned for more...
my sister and I
pledged to not give each
other presents on birthdays and at
holidays. We are allowed, however, to give
each other this or that when the mood feels right. In late
2018, she sent me this bracelet she had woven with, among other
fibers, coffee filters. Who knew that coffee filters would become one of
her muses throughout 2019 and into 2020? It made sense, then,
that when I went to visit her a few weeks ago, I would
bring more filters from my compost collection
collaboration with Umpleby's Cafe
in Hanover, NH.
when I came to
her studio a few days
after arriving and found that
she had already begun transforming
those filters into fiber, testing the differences
between the Umpleby's filters and
others she receives from
friends near and far.
It was also
no surprise that
within a few days, she
had given me a copy of her
design for A Sweater Somewhat Slanted
and had taken me to The Yarn
Underground in Moscow,
ID to find just the
all the beautiful
wool at the yarn store,
I kept returning to this particular
pinky, reddy, orangy shade with a hint
of yellow mixed in. When I started knitting the
first few rows, I realized that this was uncannily similar
to the colors of two childhood sweaters -
one made by my grandmother in
1972 and another by my
mother in 1974.
It's a bit
neither my mother
nor my grandmother was
a big knitter. It's also odd that
with all my purges and clean-outs,
I had saved these two sweaters and had
actually just taken them out of
storage a few days before
going to Idaho. Clearly
I was not in charge
of my color
a week, we
knit, together and
apart. I discovered that my
hands remembered how to create
a sweater out of wool and that I could
even read and knit at the same time. I had seen
Sarah doing this and thought it was one of
her superpowers, but it turns out it's
not so hard when you're working
with a simple yet elegant
pattern like the ones
I love that
our relationship is no
longer about who's thinner or
prettier or more accomplished. Both in
our 50's (for a few more months), we now explore
our creative lives and the world in general
together. We can finally admire our
differences and celebrate
all that we share.
allowed her superpowers
to evolve over the past decades.
It's taken me a bit longer to discover mine,
and to let them flourish. I love that I embroidered my
first stitch at the same time she sent me that coffee filter bracelet.
It was like a subversive invitation to just go for it, whatever
'it' might be. And here we are, more than a year
later, and I've embroidered an entire dress
and she is working on her second
knitted coffee filter bag.
neither one of us
knows where our respective
superpowers will take us. We do know,
however, that when the shit hits the fan and life
throws us curve balls, we will harness our
gifts & create beauty out of
are at hand.
“Whatever our gift,
we are called to give it and
to dance for the renewal of the world.
In return for the privilege
- Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass
home & am thrilled
to snuggle with my dog and
to hang out with my beautiful compost.
That said, nothing can replace how I feel when
I am with Sarah. I wonder what gifts we will unwittingly
exchange next? You can be sure, though, that
salvaged coffee filters will be part of
the mix and that we will be
making it all up
as we go.
Evelyn R. Swett celebrates
how creativity and climate action converge to inspire transformation and joy.
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