Jenny A. recently stopped in to see me at the yarn shop where I work 2 days a week. She had purchased a skein of yarn from my Etsy shop, a single hank of hand dyed silk noil/wool blend in a marbled green. She picked out a yummy ball of Juniper Moon’s Findley in Crocodile for the weft and warped up her Rigid Heddle loom.
The scarf she wove turned out lovely and it was such a boost to see one of my yarns in action! I think she may have added some solid green to the warp as well to give her more width but I can’t remember what it was. This 50% silk/50% wool scarf is light and airy enough for spring and fall but warm enough for winter. The perfect 3-season scarf – great job!
Winter is for cuddling up with hot tea (or coffee), a great book, or some fun knitting – it’s for hibernating. This winter particularly, as most of the world has had a go of it with the cold weather. But somehow it’s also always very busy. Lots of things to do and lots of projects to work on. Sometimes to the exclusion of keeping up with other things (like posting).
One of the things I neglected to post an update on was the saga of Mom’s Sweater. Since I have been asked, I thought I’d better put up a post to share the challenging and circuitous path of a (finally) successful venture. Hallelujah!
For those who have been following along, I posted last April that I was attempting a sweater for my Mom, a new pattern, a new technique. About a week later I posted that I was ripping it out and reviewed my favorite pattern book for top-down sweaters that would be the new pattern I followed. I actually put it in time-out for a bit and posted last in October about it’s progress and some more ripping (my fault this time).
I finally made it a priority and finished it for her birthday in early January of this year. It looked fabulous after being washed and blocked and fit me beautifully (we are very close to the same size). So, I was confident that it would work this time. I sent it off with a silent plea to the Lord of the Cosmic Jest and waited for her to try it on.
Success! She says it fits and she loves it. I’d like to show you a picture of her wearing it but she’s on the other coast from me. I must find an elf who can snap a shot.
The yarn is Kathmandu Aran (sadly, discontinued) in a lovely tweedy beige and it is wonderful. I loved working with it, over and over again. 😉
Don’t let the title fool you, this book is so much more than some great printing techniques.
I have a long history of surface design dabbling. I’ve tired most techniques at one time or another. As things shake-out it’s screen printing, painting & dyeing that still remain my favorites. But, I’m always eager to learn something new if it will result in an effect I want. I’m not really a learn-a-new-technique-for-the-sake-of-it kinda girl (although; been there, done that, printed the T-shirt). A new technique is only worth my time to explore if it will solve a problem for me or give me a result I’ve found elusive up until now.
So, when Lynn Krawczyk’s new book was announced, I hesitated. Could there really be anything new in there for me? I have 30 years worth of books on my shelves that I’ve been collecting since college (and before). Do I need another?
I waffled. I love Lynn’s artwork and style. I’m an avid reader of her blog. She writes wonderfully and her blog is full of tidbits of wisdom and insights as well as art and humor. I love her “Where I Stand Sunday” series that she has done off and on for years. She is also an incredibly generous and sharing soul. OK, enough of the ❊fan-girl❀ stuff, this just explains why I bought the book, hesitations and all.
The print version arrived and I read it from cover to cover. I’m a hi-lighter by nature. Books I use for educational purposes or reference tend to get pretty yellow (pink, green, blue & purple) very quickly. I’ve resisted the urge with my print copy but the digital version has not been so lucky. Hint: if I open it in GoodReader on my iPad I can highlight and annotate it – Adobe Reader wouldn’t let me do that.
The Introduction and Chapter 1 was worth the price of admission. Lynn talks frankly about her journey as an artist and her challenges in getting to where she is now. It really resonated with me. Don’t panic, it’s not a long-winded explanation of a torturous path (unlike this review). Lynn’s writing is succinct and to-the-point, yet clear. If she wrote it, it’s worth reading.
As I have mentioned before, I am a Multipod: many, many interests and directions. Some call it attention splatter (apt). Lynn’s intro helped me see how reigning that in a bit was helpful, not squashing. A little more thoughtful and a little less go-with-the-moment could be a good thing. I’ve always been afraid I would kill the creative muse if I tried this.
Chapter One – Exploring Intentional Printing
Intentions and looking inward. Identifying my own art-making habits was illuminating. Taking stock of what I like was an exercise that was long overdue.
Color is an area where I feel comfortable, it does not scare me and I approach color in my work with confidence. The section on color was a little bit of a wake-up though. have I become complacent in my color choices? Maybe I should stretch my boundaries a little.
Imagery is my weak spot – her fresh perspective was very helpful. More intention, less random.
My sketch-book – it’s OK if it’s not a work of art in itself. Mine is a working tool, not a finished product. Pressure off (yea)!
But the crux of the book is best said by Lynn, herself.
“I can teach you technique until the cows come home, but I’m doing you a disservice if I don’t help nudge you toward assimilating these new skills into your personal vision.” – Lynn Krawczyk
Every time through the book I viewed it from a broader perspective (like a camera pulling back to give you a larger area to view). My insights were new and fresh and useful because I kept opening up my mind.
“Open your eyes. Then, open your eyes again.” – Miss Tick from Sir Terry Pratchett’s Wee Free Men.
The first time I read through it I was focused on printing fabric, paper, or glass. The second time, I pulled back. This is about how to approach making all of your components for art making, what ever the medium. Anything that goes into an art project.
The third time I pulled back more; this is about any creative endeavor – striking that balance – in any project. I realized that what she talked about had a lot more to do with all art forms and media than just fabric printing or surface design.
I found we had quite a conversation (yes, I had an entire conversation with her. In my head. She was no where around). And she gave me some great advice…
I’m a combo of The Flower Child Artist and The Worrier Artist with rare but occasional attacks of the PH.D Artist (but that usually applies to business habits more than art habits). The fix? Narrow my focus (for just a while). Make art for me – what I like. Stop worrying about what the experts will think.
And that’s just the first 17 pages.
The rest of the book.
All that said. I did learn actually some new techniques as well and I loved seeing what other artists had done with printed fabrics made with them (and their styles) in mind.
Chapter 2 covered Tools & Materials. Many were familiar but some were a delightful surprise.
In Chapter 3 she shows how to apply paint to fabric and presents some in-depth sub-techniques (?). Many were new or refreshed from what I had previously learned and I had a few new ideas – yea!
Chapter Four was really new for me, I’m not much of hand stitcher but I have to admit, I’m eager to try some now.
Chapter Five; Layered Printing. I read about layered printing with great interest and care. For me, layers are the power behind surface design. I found a lot of insights in these sections.
The last chapter has the projects. They are some fun and easy ways to practice the concepts and techniques presented in the book. They also will make great gifts for people on my giving list! The first thing I need is some desk weights – yes, I need them 😉 and some Petite Stacked Collages – off to have fun!
I found it to be a brilliant and insightful book. It was soooooo worth picking up and I honestly believe that any experience level will benefit as I have. Thanks, Lynn!
Exactly how do you define your long-term goals? Experts say the best way is to form a vivid picture in your mind (a moving picture, lots of action) of where you want to be in ten years. Then five years. Then one year. The five-year and one year pictures must include milestones that will help you get to the ten-year picture (or goal). But what if you have no freaking idea where you want to be in ten years? Worse, what if the very idea of picking something makes you feel like you’ve just cut off all other options that might pop up? What if the whole idea of picking a long-term goal means the only picture you can frame in your mind is a cage… with very tiny air holes?
At this point I want to take a photo break with a lovely photo of something totally unrelated to today’s post. Just because its my Blog and I can. 😉
DH won this delightful glass and peacock feather pin by Sara Sally LaGrand at the silent auction held during our recent weekend in Kalamazoo, Michigan for the Glass Act Winter Retreat. Thank you Sweetie – it’s lovely!
Back to goals. Start with a snapshot of your life now. What would you like to change, or wish was different? *Soapbox Alert* I’ve long been a believer that our lives are what we have made them. If there is something I don’t like about my life I can’t blame someone or something else – it all boils down to the decisions and actions I have made, or not made. I am responsible even if I had serious obstacles that were not my doing (dread decease, two heads, alien possession), how I handle them is totally up to me. This has a good side and bad side. On the bad side, I am responsible for my life and how it’s going. I cannot play the victim card and lay blame elsewhere. The good side is this realization/mindset gives me power, the power to change my life for the better. Power a victim thinker doesn’t have. That said, even if someone has the right attitude it won’t make their life a breeze overnight. Making the right decisions and always being responsible is work. They also have to figure out the how’s or we would all be Warren Buffet (sigh). *Jumping off soapbox.* So, start with the things in your current picture you’d like to change, we’ll stick with art career things for this post. Do you want to improve our art so you can sell more? Do you want a polished website? Do you want a large and naturally lit studio? Do you want your art hanging in Galleries or Museums? To you want to make enough money to take an awesome trip once a year? Do you want something as simple as more time to make art? See how one thing leads to another? Make a list of between 30 and 50 things you want to change or achieve. Yes, that’s a lot but it will grease the wheels and things will start popping into your head. Sort your list into six categories; Easy & Fast, Easy & Slow, Hard & Fast, Hard & Slow, Not Bloody Likely, and No Way In Hell. Things like “becoming invisible at will” would fall into the No Way In Hell category. Winning the Lottery would fall in the Not Bloody Likely category. Being represented by six Galleries nation-wide would fall in the Hard & Slow category, it’s hard work and it will take some time.
Next, take all the items you have listed and break them down into steps. The Hard & Slow goals may take hundreds of steps where the Easy & Fast goals may only take one or two. Organize the steps in the order they need to be executed to move forward. Don’t forget about the Not Bloody Likely category. If you want to win the lottery, your steps would be to pick numbers and buy tickets – it could happen! It’s probably safe to say you can dump the No Way In Hell category.
Say you want to organize your disaster of a studio. First, decide on the reason and your own fortitude for this project. If you decide it’s because you should and you can only tackle this for ½ hour a week over the next two years it goes in the Easy & Slow category. Easy because you don’t have to get a degree or build a new studio first, just clean up a mess that’s already there. Let’s face it, we all know how to clean up a mess, it’s the motivation and the ability to part with things that’s hard – and ½ hour a week is pretty easy. If it’s because you can’t work in there with all the mess and you have a deadline coming up you may decide the four day marathon is a better approach. Now it goes in the Hard & Fast category. Hard, because you have to clear the calendar and force your self to put on blinders and focus only on this one task for the next four days and, hardest of all, finish it!
Get the idea? A picture should be emerging, the majority of the Hard and Slow items will be your long term goals, the ten year picture. the Easy & Slow and some of the Hard & Fast items will naturally fall in the five-year goal plan. BTW, these timelines are flexible, you can make this a one-year/six-months/one-month plan if you prefer.
But what about that cage with the tiny air holes? What about the missed opportunities that a locked-in goal is going to cause? Instead of pulling on your hair and wailing “I’m a creative, I can’t cope with a long term goal commitment or a rigid plan”! Chill, baby – here’s the secret. “Things change, always do” (that’s a quote from The Last Star Fighter, btw). Make the farthest out goal(s) deliberately lacking in minutia. Maybe even a little vague. Make it a general target. The key to a creative’s long term planning is Reviews. Review your goals and game plan at least every year or even every six months. If you are really panicky you can review every month or even every day – but I don’t recommend too often or you will spend all your time planning and none doing. During your review, be willing to let the path wander if an opportunity has come up that you think is worth chasing. If you find your wants or needs zinging off in another direction, be willing to let the plan bend or change. Abandon a smaller goal if it no longer suits the revised long term goal. Be Flexible. Nothing is carved in stone, no one will hunt you down if you deviate. The important part here is that you make progress to somewhere. You can’t move forward without a target. The target can change, as long as you are moving towards something you are on track.
What goal setting/long term planning strategies work well for you? I’m always eager to learn more ways to accomplish… everything!
Happy New Year to everyone who celebrates it today! For those of us who do, it’s traditionally a time for reflection on the past year (or 3 or 4) and thoughts of what the next year will bring. The later always has overtones of hope and anticipation, at least for me. I love to dream about what might be (if I’m super woman and well-organized). My dreams always exceed reality and the realm of physical possibilities but, that aside, I enjoy the dreaming. In dreaming, magic is possible.
I’m a pursuer of organizational magic. I’m always searching for ways to make me more organized, and therefore more productive. I have lists galore, I’ve tested every possible way to organize my “stuff”. I’ve learned a lot, but I’m not an organized guru (sigh).
One of the practices I’ve participated in over the years has been the habit of New Years Resolutions. Not so effective I found, to make a list of things to accomplish. When I didn’t finish them I felt like a looser. So I tried picking goals instead – closer, but my goals were too lofty or vague and not attained. There was also the feeling that I had to “finish” my goal or it didn’t count. My next effort was to choose a Word for the year. This is a popular practice amongst my Art Quilt cohorts. Ah, a much better approach!
But last year I started thinking of my word for the year as my Theme for the year. It’s pretty much the same thing but feels like a more accurate description of the process. No pressure to finish a list or goal, just the commitment to work on improving or making progress on a theme. A theme is not just a word, but a concept; a word with a little more focus.
Last year my Theme was Progress. With a sign on my wall, mirror, cupboard, and door, where I’d see it several times every day, I did make Progress. I made more progress than ever before in reaching one of my goals (I built a real website, I took my fused glass buttons wholesale, I finished several personal projects, and I got (and kept) more “stuff” organized). I should probably interject that I limited my goals to a very short list. Another thing I’ve learned the hard way is that a long list of goals is certain death – at least to reaching any of them. Also, everything takes at least ten times longer to accomplish than I honestly thought it would :-0 But, Progress was made, and a lot of it (for me). So, the whole theme thing worked!
This year’s theme is Systems. I need to get some Systems and routines in place for taking care of production, order processing and accounting practices. All of these Systems will help the work-flow go more smoothly, efficiently, and accurately. Leaving more time for creativity. Well, that’s the plan.
What do you hope to accomplish in 2014? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
One of the benefits of offering a wholesale line of my fused glass buttons to independent yarn and fabric shops is that it gives me a great excuse to visit them and peruse their goods. I am a yarn, fabric, button, and bead junkie, I confess my weakness to all the world.
So my latest trip to Seattle was loaded up with stops at a variety of shops designed to cater to my weaknesses. One of the shops I visited – and now has a selection of my fused glass buttons for sale in their fabulous store – was Tricoter. This is an “ultimate” knitter’s shop. They carry the most luscious yarns I’ve seen in one place, as can be verified with the yummy skeins that came home with me, including a to-die-for skein of Alchemy’s “Tweedy”. Can I just say “ahhhhhhhhhh’?
If you are in the Seattle area, you must stop in and see what they have to offer – and ogle some really fine glass buttons too 😉
As most of you know, I’m a button junkie. But I’m also a button snob. Yes, just add it to my list; button snob, yarn snob, fabric snob, bead snob Sigh. I guess I’m just a hopeless snob.
Back to my button obsession. I had been frustrated by the buttons available in stores for decades. When I put tons of work and expensive fabric or yarn in a garment or accessory, I want buttons to be the crowning finish, not just a plastic afterthought to hold it closed (I told you I was a snob). I would comb through trade shows and specialty shops for the right buttons, just to come back, too often, disappointed. I decided to make my own when polymer clay became a big thing, way back when – but alas, my results were not to my satisfaction. Then my DH started playing with hot glass. Wow! The colors, the contrast of glass on fiber…
I nagged him to make me fused glass buttons, he did. I loved them! I begged for more. Then more. And more. He generously offered to show me how to make them myself (a survival tactic I suspect). But after my first batch, I. Was. Hooked. The magic that happens when glass is exposed to heat is, well, magic! Sometimes the results are a complete surprise, changing color in the kiln. It’s as exciting as pulling yarn from a dye pot.
Yes, it’s been said I’m easily entertained.
So, the result is that I make a lot of buttons. I sell them on Etsy and at a few shows, and now in some great Independent shops. The latest to join my list is the wonderful bead shop in Ypsilanti, Michigan ~ Stoney Creek Beads. If you are in the greater Detroit or Ann Arbor area, and have a penchant for sparkly things, you should check them out. They have some of the most wonderful beads, along with glass lamp-worked beads by local artists, ever. And the owners are a delight to visit with!
Why a bead shop, you wondered? Glad you asked, have you noticed the trend to use buttons to clasp bead necklaces and bracelets instead of boring ol’ toggles? Glass buttons are perfect for it 🙂
So, thank you Jenn & Sue for carrying my fused glass buttons.
On November 2nd, 2013, just in time for Holiday gift shopping, comes the best Arts & Craft show. Glass Act! A group of highly talented hot glass workers, puts on a fabulous gift show called Winter Wonders. It’s got some seriously high quality hand-made items of glass, jewelry, and more (you know me, fiber is involved 😉 by some of the best glass talent in Michigan. Well attended and worth the drive to Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. It is a great place to find unique gifts for everyone on your list! There is also a great treat table – yum!
We’ll be vendors so join us for glass art and goodies!
Remember this? It’s a sweater for my Mom. She wanted a simple, v-neck, belted, wrap sweater (similar to one I knit for myself in the 70’s) to wear in the fall and spring. “Sure, easy!”
Did those words ever come true? For any one? Sigh.
The saga so far;
In this post, I talked about trying to knit it with an unknown pattern and a knitting machine – both were a disaster. After ripping it out multiple times, I sent the finished sweater to Mom, knowing it was too small across the front. The pattern had a few issues, it had pencil wide fronts, for a wrap sweater. Oy.
When I got it back I ripped it completely out and started over with an Ann Budd top-down pattern and knit it by hand (posted here). All went well, it was all done except for the final sleeve and hem length. Wanting to make sure of them before I finished it, I took it with me to Seattle last month and tried it on her. It was a bit snug around the middle and needed to wrap more. OK, I ripped back to the under arm and did the math to add about 4″.
Apparently, I can’t do math. Having reached the hem (again), I had managed to add 10 inches to the waist. It was a friggin’ tent.
Sulk. Rip, rip, rip…
You’ll get it eventually Mom, really you will.
It. Will. Not. Beat. Me.
To be clear, I was just disgusted with my own lack of knitting savoir-faire. It’s still lovely yarn to knit with and I’m still knitting (which is what I really like doing) so no harm done – other than putting off my next project a little longer 😉
Every once in a while you make a sweater that just turns out awesome. The yarn is delicious, the pattern is cute and easy and the fit is perfect – knitting nirvana!
While on vacation last year, I wandered into Seattle Yarn in West Seattle and fell in love with a cute capped sleeve cardi they had made-up in the window. The pattern was Moussaillon by Cléonis (Little Cropped Cardigan) which I found examples of on Ravelry (my iPad is always so handy in these situations). I then zoomed in on the hand dyed yarns. I mean, a girl has to shop while on vacation, right?
Not too surprising, I ended up with a lovely Malabrigo Rios in colorway #870 Candombe. Stunning deep purples with a touch of bright gold. I saw the colors, fell in love, then touched the yarn – no going back, it was MINE!
Some of the details I loved about the sweater were the side to side knitting-all in garter stitch, the shaping is accomplished by short rows, and it has an adorable picot edge on the sleeves and hem. The only thing I was not wild about was the way it hung open at the hem in front. I solved that problem by adding a few more short rows under the arms to add more swing at the bottom hem. My experiment worked and I didn’t even rip this puppy out once in its making – that will come as quite a shock to those who know my knitting habits well. Let’s just say I really get my money’s worth out of my yarns as a rule. BTW, the additional rows brought my leftover yarn from the finished project to a 3″ piece, I kid you not!
I added four, 3/4″ round fused glass buttons (by me, of course) 🙂 The buttons are a round Wasser black with a rosy gold dichroic square and a light amber glass “gem” in the middle. I call them “Crown Jewel” but sadly the Wasser glass (which I love because it has a lovely soft-melt quality) has been discontinued so I don’t know how many more I can make. 😦
I used The Knitmore Girls method of sewing on my buttons with grosgrain ribbon button band and backing buttons (links are to the two videos on how to do this). The only place I went astray from Gigi’s method was by adding a narrow (3/8″) grosgrain ribbon to the button side to stabilize the button edge and to add that same narrow grosgrain ribbon around the neck. The sideways knit garter stitch just did not make for a cooperative neck edge – way too stretchy! The hand stitched ribbon just along the inside edge stitch of the neck was the perfect solution.
The final touch was being able to wear it into Seattle Yarn on my most recent visit, two weeks ago. I was stylin’ 😉