Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Fun Little Suprise! (For Me)

Happy Sunday! I just got a fun notification that I thought I would share with you.

A while back, Bronwyn and I went to the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle and had a great time with My Mom and newly adopted sisters. I took lots of pictures and posted them on my Flickr Page and also blogged about our experience. About a month ago, I was contacted by Emma Williams, the Managing Editor for the online publication SCHMAP! asking for permission to use one of my photos for their Seattle guide. Of course I agreed, and the guide is now published. My photo is this one:

I like this picture, but you should see the others that were also chosen to feature the zoo! Mine is pretty shabby when I look at those. But still, my ego is a little puffy (I'm like a chickadee in winter right now) because someone liked my picture enough to publish it! Here's a link to the Woodland Park Zoo Shmap feature, where you can see my photo as well as the others:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fashion Magazines

VivaLaModa magazine

This morning we are feeling a wee bit better, but I have been more creative in my mind than with my hands. So this post will be a little different. I read a blog post yesterday by the fabulous Kristina of Inaluxe that got me thinking. She talked about how fashion and home magazines are always placing limitations on us rather than empowering us to express our true style. I almost never read fashion magazines for this very reason (plus they always make me feel fat), but I did a little research and came across a gem: Viva la Moda, a fashion magazine dedicated to personal style through the handmade movement and vintage items.

Viva la Moda is a bi-monthly magazine, and features fashion spots for adults and children. Additionally there are articles about green products and home decor. I was perusing the magazine and found a great article about Sicily and it was written by a good friend of mine, Judit Wild of Vadjuka! What a fun discovery. In short, this is a magazine that offers fashion inspiration, supports artists, helps the planet, and it is readable! WOW. I think my faith has been renewed.

Happy Wednesday, friends!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Autumn Inspiration

We are sick. Again. It feels like this happens every October, and I really dread it. But I'm trying to stay positive, so I'll focus on the things that October brings that I enjoy:


Sumptuous moss.

Jewel toned leaves.

Raindrops suspended in webs.


Flannel sheets.

Looking inward



Really it's a longer list than any reader would have the attention for. But it's good to remember a few of them when I'm feeling lonely from our quarantine.
Bronwyn and I went out for some air yesterday. There was a break in the rain and we really needed to breathe. We didn't go far, but even around our house we saw many of the lovely things that I love this time of year. I don't have the energy for creating right now, so I'll share with you some pictures that I took on our walk.

Friday, October 16, 2009

There is Warmth in Rain

It has been raining and winding for the past coulple of days; darkness is setting in, and I find myself feeling more groggy in the morning. At the same time, I find warmth and beauty in this weather. The trees are still turning, and the moss is greening up. A heavy comforter on my bed insulates me in the night. I am snug.

My neighbor commissioned this special scarf from me; it is made from vintage Japanese silk and an Italian silk twill. I think the colors of the Japanese silk are so perfect for this weather; it's grey, blue, rust, brown, yellow, and more. And even though the scarf weighs almost nothing, it is incredibly warm! If only silk weren't such a fussy sew, I would use it more often!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Walking on Sunshine

I have come down with a pretty bad sore throat, and can hardly speak! As a child I almost never got sick, but now that I have a child, I think I'm getting all of the ailments that I missed out on before.


I'll keep it short today, but I wanted to share with you this cheerful new wallet that I added to my Tomboy series. I made it for my good friend, Dianna, who wanted a sunny yellow, happy wallet. I liked it so much that I cut out another one for my artfire and etsy shops. I have to admit, it makes me feel better, just looking at it!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Sometimes you have to Suck it and See

Today I want to talk a little bit more about one of the things that I realized when I was immersed in my color workshop a few days ago. In that post, I said that I thought that the creation of art was a lot like life. Let me elaborate a little bit on this topic.

One of the first things that helped me with this realization was when Brandon (the workshop leader) showed me how different my piece looked from a distance, compared to how it looked in my lap. As I had been working on it, I really didn't like how it was turning out. Brandon emphasized that it was critical to hang your work up on the wall and stand back to get perspective. "When your work is 10 cm from your nose," he said, "You are blind to it."

Now I ask myself: how many times have I had an inter-personal struggle (at work, at home, with my child, with myself) that was basically solved when I stepped back to see another side of the story? How many times have I been overwhelmed by a difficult moment in my day, only to realize that it is only one piece of a complex puzzle which is composed of both joyous and hard pieces?

Brandon pointed out that at a distance, you can see what is working and what isn't. And one of the rules of the workshop was "No undoing what is already done." If something wasn't working, we were encouraged to change our method, change our color pallette, change what needed to be changed and move on. After the change was made and worked up for a while, then we were to step back again and compare our change to what came before; to examine improvements, and also see what could be changed yet again.
With every step of the workshop, the life analogies became more and more obvious; so much so that sometimes I'd let out a little giggle. "What's so funny, Blossom?" Brandon would ask. "Oh nothing, just enjoying myself," I'd reply. I mean, in life there's no backspace; there's no "delete" button. You have to either ignore your mistakes and keep on making them over and over again, or you recognize them and say, "let's not do that again if we can help it, okay?" The value of the "No undoing your work" policy in the workshop was that your "mistakes" served as a lesson that you could witness. You got to make an improvement, with your mistake being your guide. In this way, I realized that mistakes are actually my friend! WOW!
At one moment in the class, I was struggling with choosing another color and went to Brandon for help. I asked what additional color he thought my pallette needed, and he said, "well, let's go to our materials and find out." I was struck by this because, 1) He didn't have the answer in his head, and 2) his method was exactly what mine would have been, had I not had someone there to ask: he went to our yarns, laid my work down amongst them, and just picked through different colors to see what he thought would look good. In this way, I realized that I am trustworthy. I actually do know what to do. I have my own perspective, which is unique and interesting and worth expressing. Both in life and in art. I ask myself, "Will I like this flavor of candy?" and the answer is that I will just have to Suck it and See! Maybe it will be bitter, maybe it will be just right; I'll never know until I try.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Thoughtful Reprise

Good Day! I am still reeling from my intense workshop on color, and I have more to say about my experience and what I learned. But for today, I will keep it short. First, I'm excited to tell you that I did a brief interview about my fabric stash with the lovely Mary Beth of the amazing blog True Up: a blog devoted to fabric. You can read the interview here and see photos of my fabric stash here:

And I will leave you with one of the little card wallets that I made from fabric designed by Michelle Engel Bencsko of Cicada Studio. This fabric line is called, "Dogwood" and it is so lovely!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Ultimate Encourager

Yesterday it was my great privilege to attend a color workshop led by Brandon Mably, an artist, a colorist, and a sweet person with a vivacious personality. Brandon has been working in the studio of Kaffe Fassett, another brilliant designer and artist for more than ten years. Both men were in my home town yesterday to present their work and to inspire others to embrace color in their lives. The day began in the sewing loft of one of my favorite textile shops, Canvas Works, in downtown Olympia.

The primary medium for our work this day was knitting, and we all were instructed to bring a plethora of small windings and balls of yarn in an assortment of colors. Upon arrival and introduction, we were then instructed to share our yarn and to rob yarn from our neighbors freely. Very quickly, there came to be a large pile of assorted yarns in the middle of the room, something that I found quite exciting and stimulating! Then, we were instructed to choose six small lengths (about 1 yard each) of yarn in different dark-ish colors that pleased us, and to do the same with lighter yarns. These lengths were to be tied together to make two balls of yarn; one dark and one light. Here are my first two balls and my cast on row:
The idea was to create your own self-striping yarn in colors that you think you know and love. We proceeded to knit up a swatch of fabric in a pattern that was created by Kaffe many years ago called "Poppies." The pattern creates circles of color on a background of contrasting colors. It looks like this:

Before you begin, you decide if you want light colored poppies on a dark background, or the reverse. Brandon felt that I was a "Lighter Person" and so he encouraged me to make dark poppies on a light field. What the heck, I would knit myself a corset, if that's what he wanted me to do! And so we began to knit, and we listened to music, so as to discourage us from talking ("Don't ask your neighbor for help," Brandon declared, "She might be a trouble maker!" "If you have a question or need help, ask me instead.") This turned out to be a great strategy as we were able to accomplish so much more than we would have if we had been tempted to "help" our struggling neighbor.
Throughout our knitting, Brandon would drop little bits of inspiration and helpful insights and funny anecdotes. The first thing he said was, "I don't consider myself a teacher, I am an Encourager... I want you to be fabulous, but I can only do my part; you must do yours."

Brandon said that working with color was like working your muscles, you can't accomplish results by studying it, it must be practiced. Mistakes must be made in order to decide what works and what doesn't. In the words of Kaffe later on in the lecture, one must "Suck it and See." This was an expression that Kaffe fell in love with upon his arrival in London. The original reference was to trying a flavor of candy, he thinks, but it seemed applicable to color choice and also to life in general. He said that he overheard two politicians talking one afternoon and heard one say to the other, in his high British accent, "Is this a Suck it and see moment?"

After the first two hours, I had a tiny swatch of poppies that I felt loathsome towards! The colors hadn't come together in the way that I had expected, and I was dissapointed with it compared to what I had imagined, and especially compared to other people's in the room. It was time to break for lunch, and I resolved to eat quickly so that I could begin again and hopefully come up with something "presentable" for our show and tell after lunch. I covered my knitting with a piece of paper and was getting ready to go wolf down my sustenance. Brandon, like a predator looking for weakness in his prey, walked directly over to my knitting, uncovered it, and held it up in front of the class. "Oh NO!" I thought. He held the small swatch against his thigh and looked at me and asked me what I thought of it. Well, actually, from that distance it wasn't as hideous as I first believed. I said that I wasn't overjoyed with it, but from a distance, it wasn't too horrible. He said, "AHA! Lesson number one: we are blind to our work until we step away from it and view it from afar." He proceeded to say how much he liked the swatch and pointed out areas that worked particularly well and areas that probably didn't so much. "But," he said, "No ripping out, and NO re-doing anything. We will pick up where we left off after lunch and keep knitting." And so I was able to eat a thoughtful lunch and plan for modifying my color pallete in the next go 'round, something that Brandon showed us how to do. Here are some of the swatches from the first two hours of work: a rather unremarkable group, really. Mine is the one with yellows, second from the left on the top.

After we spent the afternoon knitting some more, here is what we came up with:

Aren't these GORGEOUS?? Every single one of them had some amazing elements of beauty, and parts that hadn't worked and that the artist was able to learn from and correct in later knitting. I felt so proud and inspired seeing our work up on the wall. Kaffe came in throughout the workshop and at the end he said that he hadn't seen such great work come out of one of Brandon's workshops in a long long time. High praise!

The take home message had to do with context: "Even a color, which seems vicious and dreadful on it's own, can shine when it is used in the right amount, and in the proper context," Brandon said. He brought out a scarf that Kaffe had knitted, using the poppy pattern. It was gorgeous and filled with every color imaginable. He had each of us try it on, and it looked beautiful on everyone, but looked totally different, depending on the color that the woman was wearing. Here I am, proudly wearing it:
It was such an amazing day, and was followed by a lecture by Kaffe that evening, which was also very inspiring. I found myself thinking about how the decision process used in creating art is very applicable to life in general. Life creates art and art creates life; at least for me! I also learned that the most important encourager is myself!
Thank-You to Brandon and Kaffe for sharing their passion, and Thank-You to Linda and Gary of Canvas Works for hosting this workshop; it was such a fabulous time. If you are interested, you can go to my Flickr photo page to see all of the pictures from this fun day

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The form of Inspiration

Hello my friends! Today I want to show you one of the things that I find inspiring: The shape and texture of the simple dill weed umbel. This is the part of the dill that forms flowers and then seeds. Each flower and seed is tiny, but so detailed and beautiful.

Yesterday I began the process of putting my garden to bed. It is getting chilly at night, and I feared a killing frost would take my tomatoes, so Brian and I picked what remained (two laundry baskets full) and we will let them ripen in the warmth of our kitchen, where they will then be converted to sauce for our winter feasts! The dill weed also was culled, along with various other veggies and plants, which had given their all.

And I also need to thank Stephanie, of kitschicagoan, who generously nominated me for a blog award. I feel totally undeserving, but I am honored nonetheless. Part of the requirement of being a nominee is to list seven things about myself that others might not know. So here's my list:
1.) I spent several months in Pategonia, Chile, on 12,000 acres of wilderness studying misteltoe, Beech trees, and their understory. I was the only woman on this expedition of 4 others, and I slept in a tent every night.
2.) I rode my bicycle several hundred miles, all around Costa Rica just for fun.
3.)As a child, I lived in a hut on the beach in Mazatlan, Mexico. There was only one hotel there at the time.
4.) Among my childhood pets, I have had a skunk, a pigeon, a crow, and a squirrel.
5.) I have never been to Disneyland, nor to the Grand Canyon.
6.) I have a special fondness for all birds, but my favorite is a special woodpecker called a Flicker.
7.) As a child, I lived in a school bus on an exotic bird farm. I awoke to the calls of peacocks, gunie hens, parrots, cockatiels, and chickens. There were also ostriches, all kinds of water fowl, turkeys, and parrots of all colors and styles. I thought everyone lived like this.
The last obligation of this nomination is to nominate 7 others for the award. This is difficult because there are SO many fabulous blogs that I enjoy. So here are the seven that I have chosen:
1.)Victoria of The Silly Boo Dilly. Victoria is a fabulous quilter and designer and I'm inspired by her in so many ways.
2.) Judit, of Nemistom'..vagy igen? a blog written by an amazing and inspiring hungarian artist.
3.) Elsita of The Hidden Seed, a blogger devoted to personal style.
4.) Sam of Flow and Grow, a blogger devoted to personal growth, yoga, and running.
5.) Kristina of Inaluxe, a blogger who was among the first to welcome me to Etsy, and who I admire greatly for her artistic vision.
6.) Pam of the Business of Crafts; Pam is a mentor, friend, and fellow artist that I admire greatly!, and last, but not least,
7.) my good friend Jenni of Write the Journey: a blog devoted to The art of Motherhood, activism, and writing.
Tomorrow I have something VERY exciting that I will be doing. On Tuesday, I will come back and tell you all about it!