Friday, October 20, 2017

The Two Year Mark

This past Sunday, I drove to Calgary to spend several days with my daughter and her family. Jessica was graduating with her degree in accounting and I wanted to attend the convocation and celebrate with her which meant...

... looking after my grandsons while Jessica and her husband went out for dinner together. The boys are two and four and it was so fun to watch them play together, to get woken up with snuggles and kisses, and to attend my oldest grandson's karate and swimming lessons. I also...

... spent a day with my friend Mary. While waiting for our table at lunch, we went to a nearby consignment shop that carries brand name clothing. I didn't buy this sweater even though I loved it but only because the colour just wasn't right and the content was mostly synthetic so I couldn't over-dye it. I did...

... get these pictures and will combine Drops 69-9 and Drops 56-21 to knit something similar. Mary and I shopped, had lunch, and then knit at a local yarn store where I bought a similar weight of yarn in purple. That's more my style.

The drive home was an adventure. Due to heavy traffic, it took me an hour to get from my daughter's to the highway. I stopped for breakfast and journal writing in Canmore and stopped again in Banff to visit some galleries and the Christmas store. The weather was great there but...

... further along the road there were wind gusts, heavy rain, water pooling, snow dust, and then slushy snow as well as LOTS of construction. In one 75 km period, I was stopped five times for over an hour and a half in total. It's a good thing...

... I had my knitting along. This is the second sleeve of the second child's size 18 month cardigan that I'm knitting from the yarn that I first knit into two shawls when I flew to Winnipeg and back last month. I didn't like the shawls. The knit was too loose. It's better here. I knit one cardigan using only the variegated yarn and one using a combination of the variegated and a grey yarn. There's one piece left to knit and then I can block the pieces and sew the cardigans together. Photos then. Knitting and sewing in children's sizes is something I find quite relaxing. It's a way to play and experiment with no expectations of fit or flatter. It's also a great way to use up scraps of fabric or yarn.

Last night, I helped my friend Wendy set up her new studio. I kept telling her it was something I'd love to help her with and that it wasn't an imposition at all - that it'd be something I'd really enjoy. I don't think she believed me at first but after we'd put the main furniture pieces in place and were talking organization and decor, she said she could see my enthusiasm. YES YES. She's an amazing decorator so I can hardly wait to see it with all her touches.

It was two years in September since I moved to Salmon Arm. Wendy was my realtor but I'd known her for quite a long time before that although we were more acquaintances than the good friends that we're becoming. It was nice to know someone when I moved especially as I had never moved anywhere as an adult before and had no idea what to expect. I realized other day that the two year mark is significant.

At two years, you're not new anymore nor are you completely integrated. While I've met lots of interesting people and some - like Wendy - are becoming better friends, there's no one I'd call at two in the morning in an emergency. Two years is long enough to develop some patterns that could become ruts if I'm not aware and it's long enough to have tested out some groups but not necessarily to have found the ones you want to belong to. I'm thrilled with my two knitting groups that meet weekly and now I'm looking for some once a month opportunities. Yesterday, I attended a trade fair for the Women In Business association to see whether I might like to join that. The monthly luncheon with discussion appeals to me and the members I talked to seemed quite impressed with the group so it looks good so far.

Two years is also long enough to see who is going to keep in touch and make the effort to come visit and who is not likely too. That can be sad and it's reality. One thing I am learning as I age is how to be more graceful about the relationships lost that I had hoped to keep and to realize that even though I may have multiple things in common with someone, it doesn't mean the relationship is going to work and apparently two years is also long enough to have tried a few groups that didn't work and to have discontinued Some relationships that weren't going anywhere good. AND...

... two years is about right for getting settled and finding a daily/weekly routine that feels comfortable. While I still have some work to do finishing up the renovations, I am looking forward to this stretch of time between now and Christmas when I can get into the studio and really enjoy being creative. I have a purse, a t-shirt, and a necklace pending along with a sweater for myself to finish knitting and another one to start, a dress to cut off, a skirt to copy and take-in, and LOTS of potential pending. Although I'm experiencing the ebb and flow of emotions around moving and the reality of this two year mark, it's more an awareness and hasn't changed how happy I am to be here and working in my studio.

Talk soon - Myrna

- helping Wendy with her studio

Friday, October 13, 2017

First Time Success

It's ten o'clock on Thursday night and I am only just now sitting down to write this post. Ideally, I'd have written it much earlier in the day and that's not the way things went. What I did write earlier was a five page letter to my youngest son. He asked if I could write down what we talked about in a discussion earlier this week and it was surprisingly intimidating for someone who likes to talk and give advice as much as I do. I wanted to make sure that he knew how proud I am of him, how amazing he is, and how - as annoying as it is to hear this phrase - it will all work out it the end, no matter what it may be.

One of the things I talked about was that my highest priority is relationships. I believe that life is about relationships and I work on my relationship with God, with myself, with my family, and with friends in that order. After that, everything else is stuff. This past weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving as well as Howard's birthday and our entire family was home which I really enjoyed. My oldest grandson told his parents that he likes Grandma's house best. It's because everything is on one level and he doesn't have to go upstairs to go to bed but I'm choosing to interpret that as Grandma's the best - VBG.

I love this picture of my youngest son and my oldest grandson playing in the dirt of my unfinished walkway. Huge amounts of time and energy in my life have been spent attempting to recapture the childlike play that used to come so naturally. One way I play is by realizing that no matter what I'm creating, it's not earth shattering, it's not a life and death event. It's entertainment. An experiment. A learning process. This thing that I am making can succeed, it can fail, or it can evolve and I will still be warm, safe, loved, clothed, and fed. Some of my most favourite projects are the secondary ones that came after the primary failure. I've found that by letting go of expectations, I've been not only more successful but I'm having far more fun.

In May, I started renovating the house... and then the yard... and then the suite... and life has had some ups and downs that I'm still navigating. I have definitely not had nearly enough time in the studio. And it shows. I'm somewhat itchy, anxious, crabby BUT... this was the week to get back in the flow. As a warm-up, I'm working on pajamas for my grandson's Christmas presents. I have both pairs of pants finished and one top minus the buttons, buttonholes, and slip stitching. I hope to finish the second top this morning and the handwork at knitting this afternoon.

I'm visiting my daughter next week and I want to take their Christmas presents with me. She is graduating with her degree in accounting and has invited me to the convocation. As my friend Barb said, it's a huge accomplishment especially as she's done it through correspondence and night school, while maintaining a home and a marriage, working full time, and having two children. YES YES! I'm so proud of her.

One of the women who works at Starbucks is having a baby boy in the next few weeks. Her nursery is painted yellow and turquoise. I don't own any yellow yarn so I used left over yardage of grey, green, and turquoise yarns to knit this size two cardigan. The buttons look brighter in this image than they do in real life. They actually match the stripe which means...

... I can use this image in the photo editing course that I am taking on Craftsy. I signed up for four different photography courses to improve the quality of my images. I took these sweater photos outdoors in "open shade" which means in an area that is shaded by an obstacle nearby but has open sky above.

I took the images of this pendant I just made for my friend Wendy outside with a white piece of paper as a background and an overcast sky. So far, I am getting better results with outside versus inside images so I'm researching lighting and a photo set-up for the studio to improve the indoor images and I'm working to develop the skills to edit the pictures.

THANK YOU for the feedback on last posting's questions. I've done a lot of thinking about what I want to do going forward. While I want to maintain my tone and style, I definitely want to improve my writing skills and the photos on my blog. I'd like to update the format so it's somewhat more glossy and just have fun putting every post together. One of the photography workshops I'm taking is about narrative photo essays and that's basically what each post is. My primary objectives are to share what I know to support and encourage others and to connect with the community that loves what I love. That's not going to change.

Some other things might. I've realized I do not want to teach interactive on-line workshops. I've done that before and when I'm completely honest with myself, I don't want to be that "on" anymore. I want my focus to be on developing my skills and abilities and sharing what I'm working on... which is more than I can keep for myself... so I may start offering pieces for sale. And I'd like to do more writing which may also take the form of something to sell. We'll see as time goes on. As far as formal teaching goes, I would like to teach two or three times a year at a retreat, weekend workshop, or event of that kind so I'm quietly setting that intention in the background as I continue to do my best in the present.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - the delight of changing thread in the serger with first time success

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

I Need Your Help Please

Right now, I'm working in the garden. Last Thursday, I spent three and a half hours pulling weeds out of the walkway that I started building in the spring. The path is cleaner and ready for the sand, gravel, and bricks that come next only that will have to wait until spring. Friday, I spent another three and half hours cutting down plants and moving them around and on Saturday, I trimmed the edges, mowed the lawn, and moved more plants.

Yesterday, a friend came over to give me advice on designing and fine tuning the layout. She used to own a nursery and I'm new to gardening which makes me very lucky to have her input. Tomorrow, I'll move a few more things around and decide what to do next. There are large piles or rocks that need to be moved.. yet.. still.. again. I am giving myself until Canadian Thanksgiving on October 8th to work outside and after that I am absolutely going back to work in the studio where...

... I have spent not nearly enough time this spring and summer. This pendant is the fourth "designed by me" piece that I've made. It's inspired by the work of - and tutorials that I did by - Nicole Hanna. Her primary method of working uses long wires that weave and bend throughout the entire piece. There are only four base wires in this piece that started at 40" each.

When I began the pendant what is now the right side was - I thought - the bottom and then it shifted and what is now the left side was - I thought - the bottom and then, when I was done, it shifted again to the orientation you see. That's such an important aspect of free form creativity - to remain fluid and open to change. If you allow a piece to evolve, rather than attempt to control it, it will become the best expression possible.

Being fluid is something I learned starting in 2004 with my year of play. It's not something that came naturally to me. I was quite controlling and overly planned before that and yet now, after years of practice, being fluid has become my best way to work. Now, I get quite itchy, anxious, or bored working in any "paint by number" kind of way.

The chain on my pendant is a failed Viking knit weave which, now that I've researched it further, was not nearly as failed as I thought. I made a three loop weave and drew it down to the narrow width shown only the sharp end of each new wire was sticking through. I trimmed the ends and wrapped two more wires around the outside of the entire chain, redrew it, and then used liver of sulfur to add a patina. I've since learned that the ends will poke out and to turn them inward with round nose pliers. I'm ready to try again with a wider chain similar to the one in this bracelet also by Nicole Hanna.

Because her layered, textured, flowing style is similar to mine, I've been working through several of Nicole's tutorials to learn how she thinks in wire. I've also been talking to her via email and she has been TREMENDOUSLY giving. It's so amazing when we can connect with someone helpful, encouraging, and inspiring like her online. That's the best of the Internet.

I made the pendant to wear with the outfit that I sewed for my older brother's wedding on the 16th. I have one younger (left) and one older (right) brother and this was the first time the three of us were in the same room in possibly twenty years. We're not actually sure how long it has been. They were making fun of me since I don't drink and I'm "so tiny" as they say. I'll take that. I do plan to get pictures of the outfit at some point soon... when I get back to regular blogging... which will be after Thanksgiving... since I'm gardening until then. It was a comfortable combination of my favourite t-shirt and my favourite pant patterns.

Going back to work last year as a hairstylist answered a question for me. Although it was wonderful from a creative perspective, it was not so great from the being in control of my own time perspective and that's something I've come to really value so hairstyling isn't an option anymore. Putting it aside had me thinking about what I want from any job I might take on which turned my thoughts back to teaching. I've been described as an innate teacher. It's something I really enjoy. I love supporting and encouraging the creativity of others and teaching new skills and abilities that allow them to express their own unique creativity. It's not the only thing I can do but it is something that resonates. This fall I'm teaching a  friend how to alter ready-to-wear garments to be more creative and flattering to her larger frame. That kind of teaching energizes me especially because it grows the creativity of my students.

I'm doing debating my options and WOULD REALLY APPRECIATE your feedback. Feel free to email me privately if you don't want to comment below at I am debating writing and illustrating online workshops that teach the skills and abilities students need to put together creative everyday clothing and accessories. Having taught before, and become quite burned out in the process, I want to take a sensible approach that maintains work life balance and solid financial management. SO...

... my plan is to start with non-interactive, downloadable workshops that would be offered year round and if that goes well to move on to interactive workshops that would be offered two to three times a year and if that works well to look at in real life workshops that would be offered once or twice a year. Here are some of the questions I'm debating...

1. Is there even a need?

This is the most vital question. Each teacher has their style and way of presenting material. Different teachers will present the same material differently and it can be valuable to study with a variety of teachers HOWEVER... that doesn't necessarily mean there's a need. Perhaps this is an area that is already well serviced. I want your honest answer around this question because I can invest my time, money, and energy in several directions that I would enjoy equally and I want to invest them wisely. Be honest, even if you think it's not the answer I might want to hear.

2. If there is a need, what workshop(s) would you like to see me teach?
3. What is your favourite length of workshop - such as 3 or 5 lessons?
4. How much is too much information? Some workshops are overwhelming.
5. How much is too little information? Some workshops feel like a money grab.
6. What is a good price range?
7. Which are you more inclined toward - non-interactive or interactive workshops? Why?
8. How important to your learning style are photos?
9. How important to your learning style are videos?
10. Would you travel to take a real life workshop or would you sponsor one?

Having taught on-line before, I am absolutely confident of my ability to write and illustrate an informative workshop that is well worth the cost. I have worked with textiles for over forty years and I am very good at what I do. I love learning new skills and sharing them. That said, I'm not well known in the area of creative clothing and it's been almost ten years since I taught textile art meaning that I'm not so well known there anymore either. Whatever I do, I would want to start small and to have the support of and positive word of mouth advertising that would come from working with all of you.While opinions will differ and while ultimately I will have to decide what works best for the direction I believe I'm heading in, I certainly want to invest my time wisely and need your help to do that... please. Based on the responses, I'll decide what direction to head in - teaching or something else - and so all responses are welcome and wanted.

THANK YOU - talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - direction.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

FAQs & Other Topics

Today - the first day of school - is still one of my favourite days even though I no longer have children in school. It's the day that I sit down, assess the past year, evaluate my goals going forward, and look at what I want to add, subtract, or change in my life.

One thing I learned this summer is to take on less at a time. There were too many things on the go, mess everywhere, a lot of starts with not enough finishes, and definitely not enough time in the studio. It wore me out. Thankfully, I am now finished the suite and my new tenant is in and the kitchen is mostly done. I still need to paint the lower corner cabinet doors and touch up a few things but it's functional. YES YES!

When I bought the house two years ago, this is what the kitchen looked like. It was closed in, tight and tiny, with a huge dining area. Although it obviously functioned for the past thirty-some years, it's functioning a whole lot better now and I'm grateful for more openness and better flow.

This is my less than elegant version of Nicole Hanna's The Elegant Charm. It's a tutorial she offers on her website although it's about to be retired so if you like it, buy it now. My version is not nearly as curvy and flowing as hers, perhaps in part because I didn't have the correct gauge of wire, however... what I'm finding helpful about following tutorials is learning to think through a project and how to carry and shape wires. I'm developing technical ability. Every instructor has a different way of working with wire. By following their instructions, I am learning how to create in a combination of ways that will result in developing my own style and voice in wire although it'll always have the layered textures, curving lines, and boldness that I love.


This piece above left is by Daryl Adams of Adams Handcrafted Jewelry and was part of a contest that Nicole had on her site. Its FABULOUS and definitely the type of statement piece I'm working toward. It incorporates some of the individual flowing wires I see in Sarah Thompson's work. I took her Wire Weaving Bracelet Basics course  in April and made the class sample shown. It's obvious why - but still interesting that - we are attracted to the work of artists whose lines are similar to our own. I've seen that in my own life with garments, knitting, decor, textile art, and so much more.

SO... as I look at the year ahead, learning more about wire weaving and making wire jewelry and exploring the possibility of combining wire and fabric in jewelry pieces is on my agenda. So is sewing more creative clothing. I made a blouse a few weeks ago that I haven't blogged about yet and I'm spending this week working in the studio which means that I will have things to share when I get back to regular postings sometime in October.

AND... I really need to alter the blog format. I'm the type of person who likes to sift and sort, change, create, eliminate and add to the flow of things so they feel like the current me. The blog does not and I think that's making it harder for me to post. One thing I'm thinking of adding is some pages so I'm wondering what would be of interest to readers. Do you have any questions for an FAQ page? What would you want to know about me on an About page? What topics are worth of an individual page? I can't promise to incorporate all your suggestions but I'd appreciate them as a starting point. Thanks.

Talk soon - Myrna

grateful - a closet organizer in the closet in my bedroom and my clothes hanging in place, accessible, available, where they are supposed to be - such a lovely thing.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Sometime In October

It's not that I have nothing to say. In fact, all kinds of  topic ideas are jumping around in my head. And it's not that I have nothing to show. In fact, I have several projects ready to photograph, post, and talk about. BUT...

... what I seem to lack is the energy to actually sit down, organize text and pictures, and put it all together. In my head, it's doable. In reality, by the end of the day I just don't have what it takes. It feels like the last few weeks have been hair straight back trying to get the suite ready to rent and the house inhabitable and this week, we're looking after our two grandsons so it'll be all about the boys and not much more.

I have found bits and pieces of inspiration like the pieces shown here and I've been thinking about my coaching assignment of combining a simple neckline on a garment with a statement necklace - both made by me - however, that's as far as it has gotten AND... much to my annoyance...

... my daughter's purse is no further along that the last time we talked. The pieces are ready to sew together. The lining is complete. The straps need studding and the buckles buckling and it's sitting on work island. I really want to finish it next and I don't know if that'll happen. I'll have to see how things go after this next week of grandson-sitting.

Speaking realistically - it's most likely to be sometime in October before I get back to a regular routine so if there are postings before then, consider them a bonus and if there are none, I am coming back.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - several major projects are nearing the end