Wednesday, February 10, 2016

All Is Lost

Your success came from God and from inside you - what God put inside you, how he gifted you, the opportunities he put in front of you, and what you have developed: your heart, your mind, your soul, your strength, your talents, your energy - all of which are still there.

The quote above is from Henry Cloud's book Never Go Back. It's full of practical, every day, common - but somehow uncommon - advice that makes life so much easier when we truly grasp it. In the quote above, he's talking to a client who is facing being downsized out of a job he'd worked particularly hard to get, was good at, and loved. The client sees everything as lost. Henry is explaining that all the reasons he got that job in the first place still exist and will move with him to whatever comes next. It resonated. I remember that all is lost feeling and how overwhelming it was when I lost a job I loved. It was as if I'd worked so hard, for so long, and all for nothing. Those overwhelming feelings made me reluctant to try again and yet there's another point in that paragraph, the phrase and what you have developed.  It reminds me to keep growing my skills and sharing them and to keep looking for the opportunities that will be put in front of me.

In our last coaching session, Diane asked me to take the best of the pendants I'd made, compare it to my (current) favourite necklace, and look at the differences. Right away, I can see that one is open and the other tightly closed, one is dull and the other reflective, one is more three dimensional and the other more two dimensional. It's interesting learning and leads to the question of is it possible for me to achieve with fabric what I like in jewelry and if so, how? Right now, I'm taking a break from jewelry and focusing on clothing but it's an interesting question to ponder.

I sewed a second version of Butterick 5925, this time focusing on the pockets and seam lines. I raised the hemline on the pocket 1 1/2" so that the double rows of stitching on the pocket hems and the t-shirt hem would create a design element. I top stitched the side seams for the same reason. Even though I had fused, turned, pressed, and pinned the hemline, it didn't lay flat. There are ripples, there and along the side seams. I'm not happy with the results but even if the t-shirt can't be rescued, the fabric can and can become something else. The "all is not lost" aspect of refashioning is a wonderful thing.


When I was at the thrift store the other day, I found a second sweater in the same color as the one I'd pulled apart the week before. Since this "new" sweater had the same small cable pattern that was so complicated, I knew for a fact that I wouldn't be unraveling it but I bought it anyway because I am working on learning how to successfully combine yardage and knitting into one garment. This is a fabulous starting point, especially for the $2.50 total. I've already spent 7 1/2 hours pulling the one sweater apart. That's $0.33 a hour in entertainment time and going down! ! ! LOVE THAT. There are so many ways to entertain ourselves with creativity that are energizing and inexpensive. Even if what I end up with is not at all wearable, this is cheap entertainment, less expensive than going out for coffee, to a movie, for dinner, to lunch with a friend, or even reading a book.

I'm working on a prototype of my daughter's favourite purse. I have the zipper and handles to add and the lining to tack inside and it's finished. The fabric I'm using has a some stretch and that's creating issues. I won't do that again. This version won't have all the bling of the original because I don't want to spend that much time - or money - until I know that she likes how it turned out. The two way zipper was $26 but luckily 40% off this past weekend and even that price is okay if she loves it so much that she wears it out like the one I'm copying. I stole the original away for fear she'd keep using it - VBG - since it is far more tattered than this picture shows.

I'm making progress on the vest. I'm using a purple merino wool and silk combination yarn that I bought YEARS ago when I'd just returned to knitting. I can't remember what I paid for it but I do remember it was significantly reduced and that I couldn't figure out how many balls to buy so I bought them all - 32 in total. Without the sleeves, I'll use about fifteen on this project and if I add the sleeves, even more. Suddenly thirty-two doesn't look so unreasonable even if it was a "panic" purchase.

I bought two other sweaters at the thrift store - both beige. I want to over-dye them a more Myrna color and then work forward into a refashioned garment. But not right now. I'm busy until the end of the month. I have a friend visiting this week and then I'm off to snuggle my grandbabies and their parents. YES YES.


Last night, I cut out a version of Butterick 6136. I really like the princess seams and flattering lines of this t-shirt. The fabric I chose had an abstract stripe on it. Yardage was tight so the stripe is vertical on center front and back and on the sleeve and horizontal on the side panels. Hopefully that works or I'll have another pajama top... which is fine. It'll all work out somehow.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - all is not lost

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Resistance & Reality

Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled. But it can be felt. We experience it as an energy field radiating from a work-in-potential. It's a repelling force. It's negative. Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work. If you believe in God (and I do) you must declare Resistance evil, for it prevents us from achieving the life God intended when He endowed each of us with our own unique genius. - Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

One of the ways that I pretest t-shirt patterns is by sewing pajama tops. The one is from Katherine Tilton's Butterick 5925. The dots are fun and I wouldn't mind a "real" top with them but this fabric didn't have quite enough stretch so it's somewhat tight in the bicep and I was a bit more careful choosing fabric this time.

The flair comes from a godet in the side seam. In the pattern, it also has a pocket which I did sew into the pajama top but left out of this version. Next time.

The fabric is a narrow black and grey stripe. I told my husband it might make me look like an aging jail bird! It's silky and has a fair amount of drape and looks better on me than the dress form. One of my dress forms is slightly too big and one is slightly too small and I'm reluctant to redial them because I have no idea where my weight is going at the moment. Right now, the small one works better for my upper body and the larger one works better for my lower body so the perfect scenario would be to take the top of one and add it to the bottom of the other and get a better representation of my actual figure. This is the top on the wrong dress form.

The final neckline uses the selvage of the fabric. I sewed the strip on, turned it to the inside, and used a twin needle to stitch it place allowing the edge of the fabric to curve over the seam. It's very simple although...

... deciding on it wasn't. I explored different neckline options and tried this and that without too much success. I kept thinking things like too fluffy or too much contrast or too frou-frou for me which had me thinking about resistance... and reality.

Was I resisting change or was I truly tuning in to my preferred style?

The thing is, I know my style. While I want to shake it up, I'm not trying to eliminate my preference for simple, architectural shapes with clean lines. Nor do I want to stop adding colorful accessories and in particular statement necklaces. High contrast and frou-frou necklines are the statement; no necklace necessary. I am good at what I'm good at because I enjoy those things. If I want to continue enjoying them with new energy, that means creating with a version of reality that pushes the edges but doesn't burst the cage.

I'm currently knitting the blue vest above left. It's a basic rectangular shape with slits for the armholes and optional sleeves that turn it into the red coat. That rectangle is a blank canvas that could be filled in a myriad of ways both with knitting and with knit or woven fabrics. As soon as I saw the diagram, my mind was off and running with ideas for vests and at the same time still stuttering around the jewelry. It may be that making textile jewelry is not the thing for me. I'm not quite ready to say that yet but if I do, it certainly won't be from lack of trying only right now, I'm going back to sewing clothes for a while. Not only do I need some, but those ideas are tickling really Really REALLY loud. YES YES and fabric and yarn are definitely my thing.

The sweater unraveled into yarn has been knit into a triangle scarf. This scarf seems to be my fall back pattern because it's so easy for knitting in public, or while talking to a friend, or while watching TV. Right now, I'm also working on a larger scarf from black cotton that I hope to wear with some of my architectural clothes. I badly - BADLY - need some pants but that's not what's next. First I'm working on another version of the t-shirt and then it'll be the prototype of my daughter's purse.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - freedom

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Procrastination & Experimentation

Two words that describe this past week are procrastination and experimentation. It is beyond amazing how many different ways I can find to avoid the studio but... when I finally did get there... I managed to play and explore ideas, most of which aren't going anywhere but that's okay. It's all learning and one thing builds on another and it all leads to somewhere. This is good.


The work with the watercolor paintings is stuttering. I traced the shapes and then adhered the paper to balsam wood using a gel medium. As an adherent, it works really well and the resulting shapes are interesting however... they have a craft overtone that isn't the look I'm going for.

This white linen over batting over a shaped piece of plastic also has a craft overtone. I tried drawing on the fabric with pigment pens to see how the lines would look - not good - and then I covered the pen with the gel medium and although the pen is supposed to be waterproof, the ink ran slightly. The resulting piece was too hard to stitch through with a thread a needle which is a critical point for going forward so I painted over it with black paint to see how that would work and then...

... secured one of the watercolor bits on top of that. It's not as craft-ish as before but it's definitely not approaching elegant or sophisticated yet. I'll experiment with this technique some more because I love the way I can shape the plastic with steam and I love the colors and possibilities of the paintings.

One of my avoidance methods was to go to the post office which is across the street from the thrift store which is down the street from another thrift store. I bought this 100% cotton sweater for $1.00 because a friend of mine often buys and takes apart sweaters and then re-knits the yarn. It seemed like a fabulous way to buy good yarn cheap. In theory.

A dollar for an entire sweater of cotton yarn IS a really good deal except it took me an hour and a half to take the sweater apart and then another two hours to unravel just the sleeves. Because I'd occasionally cut the wrong thread, there are lots of stops and starts in these balls which means there will be a lot of stops and starts in the knitting. Was it worth it? I'm not sure. I definitely have more time than money but I'd rather spend my time doing something more exciting. I'll try unraveling another sweater just in case this one was more difficult than normal but otherwise, I prefer finding a good bargain on yarn.


I experimented with pendant shapes to go with the black and white necklace I am - still - working on. Diane - my coach - wanted me to work looser and to leave spaces in-between instead of wrapping the cords too tightly. I think all of these ideas have potential but especially the bottom two where more detail can be added to the white background in-between the black cording. The black shape is a piece of painted wood.

Here I experimented with the size of the pendant as well as different ideas for layouts. I opted away from using wood because I think it would be taking the easy way out instead of pushing through to figure out how to make a pendant I really like with fabric.

Way back in spring, I made a series of covered cords for knots that sat untied for months. This week, I told myself that I had to at least finish forming the knots... which I did... and now I need to tuck the ends in. The black ones should be quite useful - they're classic - but I think the batik ones are walking that craft/elegant line. I'm going to experiment with painting  them.

With necklaces, there are pendants, chains, and closures. Each is a "scary" element if I allow it to be although my daughter asked what could I possibly be afraid of. Hmm... let me count the ways - LOL.

Also in spring, I bought a tie-dye rayon blouse to cut up for tying knots. It's predominately blue and since blue goes with the dress I'm working on, I - again - told myself that I needed to finish the knots and create a chain of some kind that will fit over my head. That eliminates the closure and makes a pendant optional. It seemed a way to move forward and that's the most important part.

Yesterday, I finished all the tie-dye knots so I'm ready to start putting together the elements. I want to finish the piece before the weekend so I can send pictures of it along with my report and discuss it in my next coaching session - on Tuesday. And maybe a picture of the dress. It's almost finished too. I need to hem the skirt, sew it to the bodice, and add the sleeves. It certainly takes longer to make one thing when you working on multiple things at a time... and procrastinating... and experimenting.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a tenant that seems quite wonderful, moving in on the 6th