Tuesday, July 11, 2017


Roots Party
Acrylic/mixed media on canvas
4" x 12"
July, 2017

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Happy Birthday

This land may be yours and mine, but we've all come to look for America. Here's a sampling of what I've found so far.



Sunday, June 25, 2017

Thank You, Patty Jenkins

Dear Ms. Jenkins:

I have, this weekend, gone to the theater and viewed the Wonder Woman movie, in 3D no less (my first 3D movie experience). I am not one to write public letters to Hollywood directors (because, hey, who am I?), but I must thank you from the bottom of my feminine, mythology-loving heart for creating a superhero movie that finally speaks to me, on so many levels and in so many ways.

I am looking way beyond the obvious elements that many critics have cited: Gal Godot in the lead role, looking so comfortable in a Wonder Woman costume that she wears effortlessly, and not the other way around. Or to the natural chemistry between her character and that of Chris Pine. Or the lush world of Themyscira devoid of cliched Greek elements. Or the rounded, feminine edges to this movie, despite great fight scenes (and the first one on the island remains emblazoned in my mind's eye), or the fact that the movie has earned more than $600 million world-wide in the four weeks since its release - breaking so many box office records.

Here are the things that have stayed with me: an inspired casting choice of Robin Wright as Antiope (I had not looked up any cast information prior to my viewing, so I was thrilled to see her in the first scenes in the movie). The Queen of Themyscira relating a well-developed origin story to a young Diana, complete with the child's formation from clay (which taps into such a rich mythological creation tradition. My Ganesha comic book from India was instantly and happily invoked.) An early 20th century female clothes shopping scene that would make any fashion history major or sociologist happy. I hope that at least a few of my former design school students were invoking their own papers written in one of my several courses discussing fashion during the Victorian era as a limiting, feminist straight jacket. Or, finally, the battle scene where the Wonder Woman character fully comes into her own, and she is single-handedly deflecting bullets and bombs from all sides, while simultaneously absorbing the heat and hate of a war front and paving the way for her male companions to get out on the battle field and support her efforts. The metaphor is so incredibly timely it almost brought me to tears.

While I do wish the ending fight scenes would have been formulated differently, and the writing not quite so heavy-handed and obvious, you are forgiven those thirty film minutes, for they are supported by the first almost 111 minutes of stellar celluloid. Wonder Woman's hero journey has all the right elements - what a gift!

I cannot state with enough emphasis how this movie's female lead and message are timed perfectly. It is exactly what we all need to see and hear. As someone who grew up watching and totally enjoying the Lynda Carter-led Woman Woman television series, this movie is a must-see that will not disappoint. More importantly, given the events that have occurred since the beginning of this year, the future is feminine, and this movie speaks to that future so eloquently. I hope everyone will run, not walk, to view it. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Our Happiness Make A-long 2017 Update

My four Progress, Hope, and Happiness designs:
 Jewels of the NajadsStars Fell on Yellowstone Cowl,
A Force for Good Capelet, and Stone's Clutch. All of
them are available, along with all of my other single
patterns, for purchase during today's Solstice Flash sale.
Well, everyone, we are about half way through our Ravelry-hosted make a-long (MAL if you're into acronyms), and makers are working on and through the 14 designs in the collection. We celebrated Worldwide Knit in Public Day with some awesome photos and a little yarny give-away, and now we are at the height of summer - the solstice! If you haven't yet checked out our make a-long group, now would be a great time, as we are having all kinds of fun over there for the next 24 hours. Really. I won't spill all the beans, but the fun includes a huge flash sale for most of the 10 designers!!!! If you want some quick summer makes plus are into saving your precious cash, check the group out, hit the bundle with all of the participating designs, and link to each of the designers' individual Ravelry stores and get while the getting is good!

I am working on, or have completed, several of the designs and I am enjoying each making experience. I completed a quick Jewels of the Najads bracelet for my summer fun swap package recipient (and have heard from her that she likes it very much); I am almost done with a winter version of Stars Fell on Yellowstone Cowl (photo of which, just prior to starting the edging, you can see to the left); on Worldwide Knit in Public Day I started a mohair version of a Lilith Stole for myself, and I will be working on a few other things before this along is over and done. I have no idea if I will get everything completed prior to the deadline, but since two items are model thank-you's, I am hoping to speed through their projects in record time (at least record time for moi).

Makers from all over (U.S., Canada, Australia, and Germany, at minimum) are working on multiple projects. I hope you will join us and make some summer happiness for yourself!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Progress, Hope, and Happiness Collection Launch Day Has Arrived!

It felt like this day would never come, but here it is - the launch of the 2017 Summer Progress, Hope and Happiness Collection. Hold on to your making sticks and hooks, because this collection is a stunner, even if I do say so myself!

As I write this, I am just a wee bit teary-eyed. I started this collection's process on January 1 of this year with a world-wide indie dyer submission call. That was followed by a designer call. The 14 indie artists that responded (5 dyers and 9 designers) have absolutely gone above and beyond anything I could have imagined. From all corners of the globe, we huddled in an off-line forum at all hours of the day and night and hashed out myriad details. We commiserated with each other, overcame technology snafus, and (mostly) met self-imposed deadlines with grace and good humor. We gathered prizes, put together a Ravelry group for a world-wide #happinessmakealong2017 event, got makers to actually join the group without even seeing one design beforehand, and now are here at launch day. It feels like winning the Boston Marathon and the Tour de France at the same time.

And it fills me with joy to know that artists around the world came together with good will and some amazing ideas and never once threatened to take their respective toys and leave the sandbox. This collection is my heart - and I cannot be more proud to have designs shown alongside each of these nine fellow designers and made with these awesome indie-dyed custom colorways. Our #happinessmakealong2017 group can be found here on Ravelry. We will be making these designs, all of which can be purchased on Ravelry in each designer's respective pattern store, between June 1 - July 16. There will be surprises. There will be yarny (and other) prizes. Most importantly, there will be a shared, world-wide maker community. I hope you will join us!

Without further ado, here is the 2017 Progress, Hope, and Happiness Collection look-book:





Monday, April 24, 2017

More on Progress, Hope, and Happiness


When I conceived the underlying dyer and designer submission calls for the upcoming Progress, Hope, and Happiness collection and its corresponding worldwide happiness makealong (to commence June 1 on Ravelry!), I wanted it to be an artistic response to the political contraction happening globally. No matter how politically heavy and stifling Brexit and the U.S. election of Trump as president may feel, I firmly believed it is a mere momentary blip in a trend that has been occurring for hundreds (and some might argue) even thousands of year.

I am a designer and artist who has found her artistic stride later in life. My first love was (in case a few of you reading this might not be aware) books. Fiction and the written word has held immense power for me - if you want to understand human motivation, look no further than your nearest, best book of fiction. Good fiction has the power to show us the reality of life much more succinctly than the real thing. So it is no accident that listening to an NPR interview with the writer Mohsin Hamid provided just the right perspective on and put a voice to my feelings about our worldwide political climate. His take: look at the expansion of borders and mix of culture in the U.S. since its founding days, with the original colonies clustered on one coast, in just a little more than 200 years. This is what will continue to occur around the world in the next 200 years, no matter the momentary blips to the contrary.

Of course this moment in the U.S. is not without recent historical precedent - we need look only to 9/11 to see our first shot across the contraction bow. Remember all the promise of the new millenium? I remember how excited I was back in 2000 at all the social progress and potential I felt and saw all around me, and then 2001 happened. Both personally, and as a U.S. citizen, I felt my world get just a teeny bit smaller. At the time, though, all I could do was respond in the best way I knew how: create an environment of safety. 

As Hamid suggests, however, the answer lies in living lives of courage, which I see now means placing a priority on finding like-minded people who live lives of expansion. That is my act of courage. This upcoming collection and maker event is the outward manifestation of that courageous act. I cannot wait to present this collection. I cannot tell you how full this whole process has made me feel. Yes, it is a lot of work, but it has not ever felt like a burden, just a happy assignment. 

      ******************************************************************************************** 

And, so, speaking of fun things not at all burdensome, it is once again time for the 2nd annual Indie Dyer and Designer Summer Fun Swap. This year's name: Choose your Favorites, and the rules this year allow swap participants to choose what some of their package contents will be (in a general manner of speaking). All of the rules, as well as sign-up information, can be found in the D+D Summer Fun Swap Ravelry group. Indie dyers and designers who want to get in on the fun and swap with their professional buddies (and hopefully make some lasting social connections in a non-competitive environment) can sign up between now and Sunday, May 7th.

I hope to see all you indies there!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Turning Toward Happiness

I cannot believe it is already mid-April. Where, o where, has the time flown?

I am, however, really pleased that we are just about six short weeks away from the #happinessmakealong2017 - you know, the world-wide making event associated with the Progress, Hope and Happiness Summer Collection that I have been curating/organizing. All of the designers finally have received their yarn (our designer located on the Asian sub-continent was the last to receive her yarn, but it has finally made the long, successful trek to her).

As you will see below, I am working with some wonderfully dyed, original-to-this-collection colorways. Two from a U.S.-based dyer, A Hundred Ravens (which I blogged about here), and a third from an indie dyer in Switzerland, Mulberry Cottage Yarns. I think Franzi did a fantastic job, and on two bases, this vivid, summery blue, entitled "naiads," pops with hints of green. I will let Franzi tell you about the colorway in her own words, from her original colorway submission: "The blue ... is named after a group of water(well) nymphs and is mostly turquoise with specks of yellow-green and some more blueish parts - like a deep, clear pool with some waterplants in it." 

While the collection's release will officially kick off June 1st (and definitely look for more information on that in about a month), the 8 brand new colorways will be available for worldwide purchase by mid-May, so that makers wanting to use them during the along will have time to receive their yarny packages in time for the collection's release. If you are curious about the remaining colorways, as well as sneak peeks of some of the designs in process, definitely check out the hashtag #happinessmakealong2017 on Instagram and Facebook. Don't be shy about reposting any of the colorways and designs that are striking your fancy. The participating dyers and designers will be so thrilled you showed them some reposting love. Independent artists and designers all put their respective heart and soul into their creations (myself very much included!), so receiving positive feedback, in whatever form, really means a lot.

For myself, it is more than merely positive design feedback. Everyone's willingness to participate in the making of this collection and event is a turn toward happiness, and cultural and social expansion. It absolutely takes effort and dedication to willingly seek out worldwide artistic and maker connections - but I think it is more than worth it. Thus far, the dyers and designers have been engaged behind the scenes, working with a lot of mindfulness to create something of which we can all be proud. My heart just swells with the knowledge of this combined effort. Of course, great color and summer design thrown into the mix also doesn't hurt. 

I hope everyone will join us on June 1st. The worldwide maker along (being hosted on Ravelry) will last for six weeks, and you know there will be prizes, surprises, and loads of maker community across many continents and both hemispheres. I pinch myself just thinking about all the awesome possibility.

Monday, March 27, 2017

A Wee Crochet Tour Stop

It is coming to the end of National Crochet month, and today I am one of the featured designers over at Crochetville. Big thanks to Amy and Donna for coordinating this month-long crochet party for the fifth consecutive year.

I thought I would take this time during NatCroMo to self-release a spring-into-summer poncho design that was initially published by a third party e-zine last August.

I am totally thrilled to share with you my 
Seasonal Mist Poncho. Worked in Neighborhood Fiber Co.'s Rustic Fingering, just two skeins is all it takes to make this lovely adjustable-sized poncho. Not only does this design celebrate two of my favorite crochet techniques: lace and tunisian ribbing, but the construction is easy yet fun.

Also, don't ever let it rain on your photography parade. It rains a lot here in spring, so waiting for sun could be a futile effort. Instead, we leaned into the rain, used an umbrella, and got some awesome shots. Take that, Mother Nature.

To celebrate NatCroMo, The Seasonal Mist Poncho will be 50% off the regular price of $5.00 between now and the end of the month. Feel free to drop it into your Ravelry shopping cart, and the discount will be automatic - no coupon code required.

Also, make certain to check out Crochetville's daily give-away today, since yours truly is sponsoring it!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

March Has Come In Like a Lion


So, my crafty friends, it is already March. There is just so much going on everywhere! My Cozy Chic CAL is in full swing, and in fact I have extended the deadline to the end of March because ... you know ... there is just so much going on. To the left, you will see my progress. I am almost done with that first front side + sleeve. I am enjoying the Drops Flora - what a nice colorway to be working with in this winter that just doesn't seem to want to end. The Flora is, as expected, not as supple and drape-y as the Baby Alpaca Silk I used in the original, but I am looking forward to blocking this cardigan. And, of course, I am getting ahead of myself. Must finish the actual crocheting first.

Crocheting this in March leads me to the next thing that is currently happening: March is Inter/National Crochet Month! Hosted in a big way for the fifth year by Crochetville, I am really thrilled to be a participating designer this year. I would urge you to check out the Crochetville site each day this month as multiple, different designers are featured each day, along with a smattering of crochet-friendly local yarn shops, and - you guessed it - almost daily giveaways. I will be featured on March 27th, so I will have a coordinating blog post here, and you know I have donated for the cause, so look for a lovely giveaway sponsored by yours truly. I am also sponsoring the Ravelry group dedicated to this crochet party month (as I do each year), so feel free to check out the general crochet goings-on over there.

In case anyone may have forgotten in the stitching mayhem, March is also U.S. National Women's History Month, into which fell the recent International Women's Day this past Wednesday. This is definitely the time for women everywhere to #beboldforchange, as this past January's Women's and Sister Marches underscored. 


While all this has been taking place I have, since January 1, been quietly organizing my own way to respond in a meaningful way to the events of late last year. Between Brexit and the outcome of the U.S. presidential elections, it has been a time of worldwide contraction and division. In response, I sent out a worldwide call to independent yarn dyers to dream up brand new colorways that would represent progress, hope, and happiness. Five different dyers from around the globe (I am so thrilled to report!) answered the call and we now have 9 different, brand spanking new colorways on various yarn fiber bases that will be available for purchase later in early summer. 

Then I sent out a worldwide call to independent designers to create designs using the brand new colorways and yarn bases. Again, the call was answered by designers around the globe (including yours truly), and I am super thrilled to announce that nine designers from both hemispheres and several continents, chosen by the individual dyers, will be creating a collection of knit and crochet designs ready for makers to dig into in early summer! There will be a worldwide maker a-long commencing June 1, and once the artwork is complete, I will make a formal announcement of the event here on the blog. 


I can, however, share with you two of the brand new colorways I will be working with for the collection. Since they are both inspired by and named for women of some historical distinction, I thought it appropriate to share them with you right here, right now. Both created from the New England-based A Hundred Ravens, they celebrate trailblazing women (and I personally thank A Hundred Ravens for the lovely historical background included with their call submission, portions of which I have excerpted here).

To the right you will see the Claire Marie Hodges colorway on their Tyche fingering weight base.This dip-dyed skein, which fades from deep sea green at one end through shades of teal and spring green to dark olive at the other end, is named for the first female National Park Ranger. During WWI, Yosemite National Park was struggling to find enough young men to serve as rangers. Hodges, who first fell in love with Yosemite at age 14 during a 4-day solo horseback ride, answered the call. The park superintendent hired her on the spot. She rode in the park while on duty wearing the same Stetson and badge as her male counterparts.  


To the left is colorway Lucy Stone on their Aesir dk-weight 8 ply base. This colorway has depths of color in hues from berry and rose to chestnut and almond, for an almost brick-like color effect. The hand-glazed and overdyed method used produces gentle variegation that I am certain will play nicely with many stitch patterns. The colorway is named for the first Massachusetts woman to earn a college degree, which has some personal significance for me, since I am the first in my immediate family to earn a college degree, and one of my alma maters is indeed in Massachusetts. 

Lucy Stone (1818 – 1893) lived in a time when women were discouraged from any public speaking; yet, she defied expectations and social norms to speak out on behalf of women, becoming a prominent abolitionist and suffragist. Among many other accomplishments, she is credited with forming the American Woman Suffrage Association and influencing Susan B. Anthony to take up the cause of women’s suffrage.

How cool for me that I get to introduce these two new awesome colorways, with their oh-so-relevant historical ties, during this National Women's History month. Oh yeah for women who have been and will continue to #beboldforchange. 

Do also feel free to check out a quick blog post about another of the new colorways from one of the other participating designers ... all the way in Germany!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Color Play

Happy Friday, everyone! I hope this week (with its U.S. holiday) has allowed you to play with those fibers and colors you love most.

As for me, it's been about deadlines, current personal projects, and ... yes ... color, glorious color. After taking care of a project with a publishing deadline (oh, yeah - I am super thrilled about that project!), I have an update on my Cozy Chic cardi:


As you can see, I am making progress on the lower fabric of this bottom-up design. I am getting about ready to start the split for the armhole/sleeve sections. I am enjoying this yarn and colorway a lot. The crochet lace stitch pattern is also easily memorizable, so I have been able to take this project pretty much everywhere I go and work on it a little bit at a time, all the time. Definitely my kind of project.

At the same time, there is also a small challenge currently getting underway in the Ravelry Vogue Knitting Group, since this year VK will celebrate its 35th publishing anniversary (at least the modern version of the magazine). One of the group regulars decided she would celebrate such a publishing milestone by working a project from any issue published in 2017 ... as well as 2007, 1997, and 1987. Now that is some kind of way to celebrate. 

Since my own personal Vogue Knitting magazine library only dates back as far as 1991, I am a little behind the curve on 1987 (so to the public library I go). However, looking through my 1997 editions, I found a fair isle project that struck my fancy, and purchased the yarn pictured at the right for it. However, once I received it and mulled it over, I was not super thrilled with the light blue. As I have blogged about in the past, color and context are intricately linked. The blue lacks depth (and probably is a litttle too bland) for what I had in mind.

So, I went stash diving to find something to replace the blue (which will stay in my stash for use in some as-yet-known future project), and landed upon my always awesome skeins of Neighborhood Fiber Co. To the left, you will see what I eventually replaced the blue with: two skeins of NFC (one graffiti and one a color test) that, held together, will provide depth and a bridge between the dark blue and the solid green. 

You can, of course, also see the boxy fair isle pullover that this wonderfully colored yarn will become. I cannot believe how fresh the design still is today - remember, this was originally published in 1997. It is fun to see and hear participants not only talk about these designs from the Vogue Knitting archives, but to also see some of them in finished form pulled out and proudly displayed. 

Oh, the staying power of good design.


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Anyone for a Little Weaving With Their Crochet?

Last summer, Jackie Daugherty, the editor at Crochet World Magazine, and I were having a discussion about ways to incorporate different types of fabric with crochet. That conversation led to my playing with a new-to-me, cool tool - a Schacht Zoom Loom - which led to my latest third-party-published design, the Spring Madras Shawl. I am super thrilled to show it off to everyone. While I had no idea this would occur, its publication in the April edition of Crochet World Magazine also just happens to coincide with my 100th published design! Another small pinch-me moment - and I am pleased to have it occur with this light and gorgeously-colored stole.

As you will see at the top left of this post, I snapped and am sharing one of many process photos of me warping and wefting my Zoom Loom. It is very easy, and this design is the perfect introduction to the weaving process. Once you work a few of the woven squares, it becomes an easy primer on successfully manipulating this portable pin loom. Additionally, construction on this stole (woven blocks first, then airy crochet motifs worked later in a form of join-as-you), makes it a great travel project.

I also need to say just a thing or two about the yarn used - Berroco Folio and Folio Color. Initially, it is an oh-so-soft alpaca blend with dreamy colorways. I cannot tell you how much this color combination screams spring to me. Folio comes in 27 solid colors (I used #4545 cove for the crochet joining motifs); Folio Color comes in five self-striping colorways. I used #4595 harpswell for the woven blocks and the colorway takes on added shading and light with this loom treatment.

Berroco Folio colorway cove on the left; Folio Color in harpswell
used for the woven blocks.
I am also really pleased with this design for a second reason: the woven block joining treatment. I truly think this little pin loom has all kinds of design possibilities because the joining method is still, virtually, a blank slate. There are many designs out there in the crafty wild that seam the blocks together, but, broadly speaking, very little else. I have chosen one (in my estimation) obvious crochet treatment that creates a lightweight stole with loads of drape and movement. I think there's a whole world of possibilities - and, of course, I am in the process of continuing to explore that whole, new world!


I want to thank Jackie for having that conversation with me last summer. Everyone can check out this design digitally in the April edition of Crochet World Magazine; it also can be viewed on my Ravelry Design page, along with my 99 other designs. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Anyone for a Slouchy Cardi?

Now that A La Maison 2 is finally published, we can get on with the lovely business of making. First up, for me and several others, is The Cozy Chic Cardi. I am hosting a CAL in my Ravelry group, and there are others who are just starting to pick yarn for this project. 

At right is my original sample for this design, worked in Drops Baby Alpaca Silk. I am an unabashed fan of Drops yarns, and Baby Alpaca silk in particular. I could make almost everything in this lovely silky mix, which has really wonderful drape and softness. However, the color range is a little on the uninspiring side. I really wanted this cardi in teal, so I opted for Plan B, Drops Flora. Shown on the left in the awesome petrol colorway, it was exactly what I wanted. Technically lighter in weight than the Baby Alpaca Silk, I am confident I will easily achieve gauge with the Flora and, perhaps, a hook adjustment. While I am losing a little bit of softness (but not much, the Flora is a wool/alpaca blend, so still high up there on the softness register), the wool will help in this garment, since I plan on getting loads of wear out of it.

The CAL goes through March 11, so everyone has plenty of time to join us and make one of these lovely cardigans. Your wardrobe will thank you. 



Saturday, January 28, 2017

Finally - My First New Publication of 2017!

Well folks, this publication has been 6 months in the making, and finally I can announce that the entire A La Maison 2 collection is finally released! I am beyond breathing a sigh of relief; there is definitely a wee bit of champagne in my immediate future.

I wanted to get all of these designs out in early fall 2016, but then real life intervened, first in late summer/early fall with a series of work issues that required immediate and full attention, to be quickly followed by the 2016 Indie Gift-a-long event, which really does just devour all free time. Throw in a living space move, and you have a recipe for design self-publishing interrupted.

However, this e-book is done now, and I am mighty darn pleased with my publishing self. Fourteen accessory designs for home and self for the modern maker in both knit and crochet (although predominantly crochet, in the interests of full disclosure). All of the designs are available for individual purchase, or one can immediately download the entire collection via e-book at the link above. The e-book has a few additions that one won't have access to from any individual design purchase: I have included a bag lining technique section which was, in pertinent part, published initially by ILikeCrochet.com in June, 2015. Additionally, to reflect and underscore the interconnected nature of this collection, I have also included a significant materials list at the beginning of the e-book. Much like a grocery shopping list, makers can simply take the materials list with them when they make their various supply runs if they should decide to make one or several of these designs for themselves or their spaces.

Finally, this is the first publication of mine that has charts for almost all of the designs (with the notable exception of those few designs originally published by third-party publishers that did not require an initial chart). I have been creating charts for many of my published patterns over the last few years, but it has, admittedly, been hit and miss. Not anymore! Since crochet has very limited charting software resources (there is one product out there, but with rather crappy functionality), many crochet designers develop their own symbols and methods of manipulating those symbols. I am no different, and I am feeling fairly comfortable with the system I have devised, so my days of not working up a chart for any design are officially numbered at zero.

Do feel free to click on the look-book below for a view of A La Maison 2. I hope you enjoy. I am off to pop that champagne cork.


Saturday, January 21, 2017


Just #pussyhat solid. I'm doing it my way (cause hey, I can sing that tune too). 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

It Is Again Another New Year

"True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of
justice.
"  Q
uoted in Let the Trumpet Sound : A Life of Martin Luther
King, Jr
 (1982) by Stephen B. Oates
The beginning of every year is usually a time of contemplation for me, so it doesn't feel all that late that my first post of 2017 comes two weeks into January. This is also a holiday weekend in the United States, when we mark the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. What does amaze me is that I have only managed to previously mark this date only once here on the blog. I have been a U.S. VISTA member (twice), and for all CNCS members (Corporation for National and Community Service, which incorporates all of the various U.S. service programs, including Americorps) this weekend is a fairly big deal. During my last VISTA year I participated in a community service project on the actual holiday that was different from the site at which I was stationed. I remember it being not only personally fulfilling, but generally a lot of fun, as I was alongside all of my VISTA mates as well as other active members of the CNCS community in my area. Many past presidents, as well as policy wonks and other pundits, have each advocated for some sort of term of public service for all Americans, whether volunteer or mandatory (gasp!), as a way to create a common cultural experience. As someone who has voluntarily given up almost two years of my adult life in just such pursuit, I can wholeheartedly speak to the cultural learning curve involved and the cultural understanding gained since, in many instances, volunteers serve in communities removed from where they grew up or lived at time of enrollment. It is a difficult financial challenge (especially for someone of modest means), but the rewards are many. 

Of course, I came to MLK, Jr. initially through his writings and speeches. No student of literature and liberal arts can escape reading the "I Have a Dream" speech. During my instructor stint in the classroom, I taught the speech both from the page as well as the screen. (NB: For an absolutely amazing treatment of the speech, check out Ho Che Anderson's graphic rendition, written about rather extensively here, which includes some of the comic graphics). King's Letter From Birmingham Jail is a primer on non-violent protest (as well as a slice of political history). I can hear King's voice and cadence when I read many of his writings; he was that powerful an orator. 

I cannot help but be inspired by MLK, Jr.'s ultimate message of hope.