Showing posts with label creativity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label creativity. Show all posts

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Makin' Stuff

When I started blogging three years ago, the only craft I was involved with was knitting. My plan for this blog was to share simple, original knitting patterns, but it didn't take long before I was inspired by other people's blogs to start making mixed media collages, handmade books, and artist trading cards. It was exciting to learn how to work with new mediums and to express the creative energy that had been bottled up inside of me for so long.

Miniature Mixed Media Collage ~ 2009

 And then, about a year and a half ago, I pretty much stopped doing all crafts except knitting. I don't know why. I have drawers and bags and boxes full of supplies, plenty of space and time, but I just stopped. It didn't take long to start believing that I'd forgotten how to make all those things and to lose confidence in my ability to collage and stamp and paint and invent.
Artist Trading Card ~ 2009
Lately I've missed those crafts. Knitting is still my number one love, but I feel ready to expand my creative world once again. I'm not making any official resolutions this year, but I am hoping to be more open to learning and experimenting and revisiting different types of crafts. 

 Domino pendant with resin finish ~ 2013
In that spirit, earlier this week I took a class at the Work of Heart art studio, which is located a few miles from where I live. I was the only student in the class, which was nice because I'm not very comfortable in group situations. Within an hour the instructor Lexi led me through the steps of making three projects: a domino pendant, greeting card, and embossed travel journal.
Handmade greeting card ~ 2013
I learned new skills and refreshed old ones, but most importantly, it reminded me how fun it is to just sit and make stuff. Especially stuff you can finish in one sitting.
Hopefully I'll  keep my non-resolution and take more classes throughout the year and open up those drawers and bags and boxes of art supplies and put them to use. I recently started using Pinterest and it seems like a good way to find ideas and inspiration ... if I can stop pinning stuff!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Owl song

Snowy Owl by Geninne at Geninne's Art Blog .

you are
a treasure
made of sparkling
diamonds and hollyhock
you are
the lingering
scent of pine needles
and salty air
you are
sweet like
tumbling water and
smooth grey stones
you are
brave like
stepping off the shore
you are
to be celebrated
like owl song.

a poem from me to you

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Celebrating Pride & Prejudice Appreciation Day

I read somewhere on the Internet that today is Pride & Prejudice Appreciation Day. (And as you know, it is a universal truth that everything on the Internet is factually accurate.) So, as a huge P&P fan, I decided to have a celebration here on my blog. mmmmm mm mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm m m m m And now for that age old question ... which actor is your favorite Mr. Darcy?mmmmm mm mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

I must confess I'm partial to Matthew McFayden. It has something to do with his voice, the misty meadow scene, and the line, "You have bewitched me, body and soul ..." Yum. But Colin Firth is definitely a fan favorite, especially in his wet white shirt.

However, I prefer him as Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones. mmmmm mm mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

The last Pride & Prejudice remake was the Keira Knightley version in 2005. I dare say it's time for a new one, and I flatter myself that the producers will seriously consider my suggestions for casting some of the major roles. mmmmm mm mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Edward Cullen Robert Pattinson as Mr. Darcy. mmmmm mm mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Emma Watson as Elizabeth Bennet. Her fine eyes and light, pleasing figure make her a natural for the part. mmmmm mm mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Andrew Garfield as Mr. Bingley. I liked him so much in The Social Network that I had to have him in my movie. mmmmm mm mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Alan Rickman as Mr. Bennet. I have been violently in love with his unusually deep voice for many years now. mmmmm mm mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Sienna Miller as Jane Bennet, basically because I couldn't think of any other pretty blonde British actresses (although I'm sure there are plenty). mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm mmmm mm mm mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm mm mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Have a happy Pride & Prejudice Appreciation Day! ♥ ♥ ♥

NOTE: I am having major problems with Blogger and had to delete the original version of this post. Thank you to everyone who left such wonderful comments and I'm so sorry they were lost. I did read them all before they disappeared.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A winged awakening

When you start bird watching, there is a type of awakening that occurs, an awareness that wasn't present beforehand.

First, you begin to see more birds than you ever noticed before. A robin bouncing across the lawn. A phoebe perched on a fence post. You ask yourself if there were always this many birds in the neighborhood.

Second, you hear the birdsong. The chirp of a hummingbird outside the kitchen window. The melody of a warbler in a magnolia tree. A purple finch singing her nest song.

Small miracles begin to occur. You step out on the porch one night in time to see a barn owl glide silently over the roof top. In March, when the cedar waxwings should be long gone, you spot a flock in your neighbor’s tree, and the miracle isn't that they are still hanging around, it’s that earlier in the day you wished you could see them one more time before the arrival of spring. And there they were.

You open to the possibility of miracles in other areas of your life, catching more and more glimpses of beauty throughout the day.

Life becomes less ordinary, less habitual. Possibilities exist everywhere. Little winged jewels emerge.

You wonder, what else have I not been seeing?

And you begin to look with new eyes.

And you begin to see.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How to have a knitting retreat

I wasn't able to knit at all last week due to an intense work schedule filled with meetings, lunches, a scavenger hunt, and a cocktail party. By Friday night I was desperately in need of a quiet day all to myself in which I wasn't expected to make small talk, wear high heels and make-up, or sit in a room all day listening to strategic goals.

I needed my knitting.

So I scheduled my very own private knitting retreat in order to recover from the busy week and get reacquainted with my needles. It went something like this:

9am: Start the day with a donut with chocolate icing and multicolored sprinkles.

9:15: Fire up the laptop and check out the discussions in my Ravelry group.

9:25: Search Ravelry patterns for a blanket knit with Sprout organic cotton.

9:35: Tell self several times to turn off the computer and start knitting.

9:45: Gape at birds at feeder on patio. Inform the cats they are finches (the birds at the feeder, not the cats).

10:15: Start knitting a Modern Cabled Baby Bib in purple cotton while watching the movie Love Actually.

10:30: Decide that Colin Firth movies are an important part of any knitting retreat.

11:00: Eat second donut with chocolate icing and multicolored sprinkles.

11:15: Set aside baby bib and finish up a neck cozy.

12:30: Have lunch at the taqueria down the street while reveling in the bliss of a whole day dedicated to knitting, knitting-related activities, and donuts.

1:00: Go to LYS and purchase five skeins of Sprout for blanket pattern found earlier on Ravelry.

2:00: Return home and resume knitting baby bib.

2:55: Eat half of a maple bar.

3:00: Blog about knitting.

3:45: Switch over to knitting the neck cozy.

4:00: Eat other half of maple bar.

4:20: Force self to put knitting down and go outside for a walk.

5:00: Pick up Thai food for dinner on the way home from walk.

6:00 to 10:00: Eat dinner, watch multiple reruns of Sex in the City episodes, continue to knit while balancing two cats on lap.

11:00: Eat last donut in box and go to bed.

So there you have it. Knitting. Shopping for yarn. Ravelry. Donuts. Colin Firth. More donuts.

Why can't every day be a knitting retreat day?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Knitter's Guide to Hand Dyed and Variegated Yarn

Last weekend I attended an author event at my local yarn shop. Lorna Miser, founder of Lorna's Laces, gave a talk about her book, The Knitter's Guide to Hand Dyed and Variegated Yarn .

Lorna Miser

The book is filled with techniques and projects for multicolored yarn, including many new stitches I have never run across before. I probably wouldn't have paid much attention to this book if I hadn't attended the talk because I didn't realize how much there is to know on the subject of working with variegated yarn. It was fascinating to hear about the different methods for making certain colors pop, preventing pooling, and selecting the best lace patterns for specific types of colorways.

Lorna talked about each chapter in the book and showed us the gorgeous knit samples used in the photographs. (I wanted to tuck more than one item in my purse and quietly walk out the door with it.) She gave us tips on patterns, stitches, and techniques that make the best use of variegated colors. I was completely inspired and couldn't wait to get home and start knitting.

Here are some of the highlights from Lorna's talk:

-She founded Lorna's Laces and raised it like a child until it grew to the point that it needed more than she could give. She sold it in 2003 and went to Scotland to recover from exhaustion.

-She now designs knitting patterns for many companies, such as Fiesta, Red Heart, Lorna's Laces, and more, and says you can support yourself doing that.

-On a skein of variegated yarn, the longer the section of color, the more opportunity for pooling. She recommends untwisting a skein before you buy it to look at the dominate color and check out the length of the sections of color.

-Adding bobbles to an item (like the cute mittens in her book) can help prevent color pooling.

-When knitting Fair Isle, to prevent puckering, first drink a glass of wine.

-Seed stitch can add weight to lighter yarns.

I'm currently knitting this neck cozy from Lorna's book using a stitch called Webbed Float Stitch with alternating strands of variegated and solid colored yarn. Next I want to knit a pair of lacy silk fingerless gloves.

Next month is Stitches West! I'm attending a class on designing with lace and can't wait.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Why you should start blogging

I noticed that the beginning of a new year is when many people start blogging. With 2011 right around the corner, I want to offer encouragement to anyone who might be thinking about creating a blog but is still on the fence.

There are plenty of reasons to start blogging:

-To connect with other people who share your interests and passions.
-To establish an electronic journal of your daily life.
-To keep family and friends informed of what is happening with you.
-To promote your products or services.

But the best reason of all is that you don’t need a reason.

Your blog is like a blank canvas that you can fill any way you want. Write about your kids, your cats, your garden. Post pictures of your travels, your neighborhood or an ordinary day in your life. Focus on your favorite crafts or recipes. It’s up to you. Your blog can have a central theme or be a hodge-podge of thoughts, photos, and ideas … a little of this and a little of that.

It’s okay not to have reason for blogging, and it’s okay not to know where blogging will take you. You can just start and see what happens. Like some bloggers, you might end up being published in a magazine, becoming a long distance runner, or swapping houses for an Italian holiday. Or you might simply discover a sense of quiet enjoyment that has been missing from your life.

One of the wonderful things about blogging is connecting with a network of people who appreciate your art, encourage you to pursue your dreams and offer support during your life journey. Bloggers are the kindest and most generous people around.

Your blog will touch others and can change their lives without you ever knowing it. Your words matter, your thoughts matter, your art matters. So come and join us.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Simply Knitting

When I started this blog almost two years ago, I had a vision, albeit a blurry one, of what it would be about. I wanted to design original knitting patterns, share them on Ravelry and improve my skills by knitting larger and more complex items.

I did end up designing a few things. Nothing terribly complicated, just some easy scarves, bags, booties and fingerless gloves. My mesh bamboo scarf is the most viewed page on my blog, and with the arrival of cold weather the gloves are getting a little bit of attention. It's gratifying when someone knits one of my patterns and posts the project on Ravelry.

But it's been a while since I designed a pattern. And I've not attempted to knit anything too big or complicated since I started this blog other than a lace shawl (which turned out to be rather small and easy). At this point in time, I'm knitting garter stitch scarves.

Garter stitch scarves. The kind that are your very first knitting project, the kind that are supposed to get monotonous after you've made one for each member of your family. I've read enough knitting books to understand that garter stitch scarves are kindergarten knitting; they are the finger painting of the fiber world.

But the truth is, I like how they look and enjoy knitting them. I don't have to remember to use my row counter or glance at a pattern every few minutes. It's like being transported back to a simpler time before you knew about tricky techniques like a Turkish cast-on or three-needle bind off, when you had no idea how to use circular needles and didn't care, when terms like K2TOG and YO made your eyes glaze over. In those days, knitting with acrylic yarn was perfectly acceptable and the smallest needle size in your collection was maybe a US 6 (but you never used it).

So here I am, finger painting scarves while forgetting how to do a proper wrap and turn. Simply knitting. While I do plan to return to the world of purl stitches, yarn overs and short rows, for now the basic act of creating something with two sticks and some pretty string is enough.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The art of being slow

I'm a terrible cook and seem to be getting worse every year. There was a time in my late 20's when I knew how to cook well enough to get by, but my tastes have changed since then (hot dogs for lunch don't cut it anymore). Enter my new favorite book:

Cooking Basics for Dummies! This book is great because it is really basic. If the recipe tells you to thinly slice an onion, you can turn to an illustrated page that shows you how to slice an onion. Really basic.

Last night I made a simple dinner of a salad and an entree using recipes from the book. It was one of the best meals I've cooked in recent memory. Nothing got burned and it wasn't too salty or oily. But it took a looooong time to make it.

I wanted to follow the recipe exactly because I have a tendency to miss important steps like adding essential ingredients or reducing the oven temperature. So I chopped and sliced at a snail's pace, reading and re-reading every word, without wandering off to watch television or play with the cats while my food cooked in the oven. At first I felt ridiculous taking so much time to make a simple meal and told myself repeatedly that I should be able to do it faster. But eventually I relaxed and let myself enjoy the process of cooking a careful meal for myself, and that might have contributed to it tasting so good.

Isn't it funny how we value speed? I'm beginning to think it's highly overrated. I am constantly trying to figure out how to knit more quickly, but maybe the trick is to learn to enjoy doing it slowly, to savor each stitch, each row, each little chunk of time dedicated to creating something with your hands. The instructor who taught my first sock class told us that whether we knit tight or loose, we should make adjustments to the pattern rather than trying to change the way we knit. I thought that was great advice for life in general. Acceptance. Not trying to change yourself. Being present to who you are and how you do things and not judging whether you should be faster or slower or tighter or looser.

Tonight I'm going to attempt to cook another meal, so I'll see if I can put that in to practice.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Ever since I started my blog I've wanted to spend the day taking photographs of one color. Yesterday I was inspired to finally do it after reading the latest issue of Somerset Life . (Nothing gets my creative juices flowing like a Somerset magazine. It's crack for my muse.)

The color I chose is red.

Focusing on one color heightens your awareness. You see things that were previously invisible.

I selected red because it is a color I have shied away from most of my life. Lately I've been adding touches of red to my home and feeling more comfortable with it.

I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way ... things I had no words for. ~Georgia O'Keeffe

My sister Lisa, aka Feltypants, is selling off some of the yarn in her stash at discounted prices. Among her offerings are Crystal Palace Panda Wool, Berroco Ultra Lite Alpaca, and Classic Elite Beatrice, some in large quantities. If you are interested, please check it out here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Painting & knitting

Okay, I admit up front, I don't know how to paint. I've never taken a class or made a serious attempt to learn how to do it correctly from a book or any other resource. But I love how it feels to paint, to dip the brush in a mixture of gooey colors and sweep it across the canvas. I love being totally immersed in the process of painting; it is so soothing and satisfying.

Last weekend I was feeling that melancholy that comes when the days get shorter and colder. I got out my paint and a blank canvas and let myself just play without worrying about making something pretty. It made me so happy.

I want to decorate my bedroom in blue and white with a beachy theme, but because I'm on a tight budget I have to do it little by little. I painted this picture to hang over my dresser and feel pretty good about how it turned out. It would be nice if I knew how to draw and could add a sailboat or a bird, but I'm afraid I might wreck it.

With the holidays just around the corner, I'm starting to think about handmade gifts. This is an attempt to knit a slipper. The pattern is so simple, but I've never had good results. I'm hoping my skills have improved and it will work this time. I'll keep you posted.

Well, there's a little black cat peeking over the computer screen, his eyes begging me to play with him, so I better get going. Hope you're having a good week.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My art studio is coming along ...

I've been working on my art studio (also known as my bedroom), trying to set up a more organized, inviting space. It's not finished, but it's coming along.

I'm enjoying having a dedicated place to do my crafts. I just wish I had more time to spend there.

These clear plastic containers work well for odds and ends. It's nice being able to see what's inside.

And I finally hung this wooden frame with a wire grid I bought at Pier One ages ago. It's been in my closet so long I almost got rid of it. I'm so glad I didn't.

While working in my art studio the other night, cutting out words from book pages for an artist trading card, I discovered I'd accidentally created this tiny collage in the lid of a container. It reminded me that I don't always have to work on paper or canvas.

I hope you're having a good week. I've been in a great mood this week, feeling extra happy about my job and apartment and life in general. It's nice to wake up smiling :-)


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Art Studio

I've been giving a lot of thought to studio space lately. I mainly use my bedroom as an art studio, and it was fun at first, but now it's becoming messy and crowded. I want to organize it with more shelves and an additional table, and actually start hanging my artwork on the walls.

But this is my *dream* studio. It belongs to an artist named Ingrid in Mendocino.

When I was in Mendocino a few weeks ago, I stopped by to purchase one of Ingrid's small stoneware birds.

A flock of her birds was lined up on a wooden post outside her studio. I picked the one I wanted to buy and went inside to pay, but Ingrid wasn't there. Instead, there was a sign that read, "Out in the garden."

This is the garden.

Ingrid had set up a little self-pay station in a corner of the studio. There was a tin can to put your money in, a tax table, small bags, bubble wrap and a roll of tape.
I paid for my purchase and carefully wrapped it up.

My bird made it safely home, where it now sits on a bamboo shelf, a symbol of my love for birds and a reminder of Ingrid's dreamy little studio.