Friday, December 20, 2013

A Line And A Question - Part 2

Almost every morning, I spend time studying and writing about creativity and spirituality. I trust God to provide me with both the information I need to hear and the direction I need to take. This past year has been an interesting journey. I've read more books than the ones quoted below and they've all had an impact but these are some highlights that stood out.

If most people don't do what you do, and you're passionately pursuing Jesus with your life, then it's probably not just a human plan. The heartbeat of God is probably somewhere within it. We need you, just you, to fulfill that purpose, complete that project, bring that gift to the world in a way that no one else can.
- You're Already Amazing by Holley Gerth

This book practically vibrated itself off the shelf and into my hands. It was back in February when my e-reader broke and I had to buy a print book. I was perusing the shelves without my reading glasses and could barely see the text and it didn't seem to matter. The book was VERY insistent about coming home with me.

I remember praying that God would show me why this book quite quickly because I felt rather silly "listening" to a book. The quote above was on page eighteen. The words were the beginning of a calm around creativity as a career. I no longer felt like I had to actively make something happen. Rather, I felt that I was moving in the right direction and needed to simply put one foot in front of the other, do the work, and wait for the timing to be right. That feeling that I will at some point in the future once again have a career in creativity has never left me nor has the calm around waiting. I'm enjoying the space; thankful for the peace.

You're only kidding yourself if you put creativity before craft. Craft is where our best efforts begin. You should never worry that rote exercises aimed at developing skills will suffocate creativity. At the same time, it's important to recognize that demonstrating great technique is not the same as being creative.
 - The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharpe

There are three things I love with sewing. The first if fit. There's a challenge and an achievement to manipulating a two dimensional form in such a way that it sits on and flatters a three dimensional form. Aside from what styles suit my figure and which attributes will flatter my fashion personality, I love getting the pattern to fit well. And after that, my second love is technique. I get a high degree of personal satisfaction from a job well done whether I'm executing a familiar skill or developing a new one. First learning how and then learning how to do better is the way I approach life. However...

... both fit and technique could be labeled paint-by-number-ish from the perspective of once you've achieved good fit with a pattern, and once you've sewn it a few times, no matter which fabric you choose, you are simply repeating yourself... OR... at least... that's how I feel and it's not a feeling I like which led me to ponder what was it that engaged me and provided energy and nurturing and enthusiasm. For me, that's an element of not knowing. When I looked at the line study that I talked about yesterday - and at the parameters I'd drawn - it was becoming more a prison and less a passion.

Look at Joseph. There is no indication that God explained to Joseph what he was doing through those many years of heartache, or how the pieces would eventually fall together. He was expected, like you and me, to live out his days one at a time in something less than complete understanding. What pleased God was Joseph's faithfulness when nothing made sense
. - When God Doesn't Make Sense by Dr. James Dobson

Life got really messy in October, overwhelmingly so. Right now, there are things going on that are so difficult and so devastating that I can only talk about the situation in any depth with a few carefully chosen friends. For those who know me, that's scary in itself for they know my history and what that says about this situation and they know my preference for talking things out. I am learning to sit quietly with myself, to think through a situation on my own, to live with less drama, to cry in solitude, to deal with disappointment and disillusionment on many fronts, and to find a way forward. It doesn't make sense to me. I have to trust. And that takes a lot of energy.

The idea of the line study came before the mess and then, as time went on, and in light of this situation - the line study seemed more of what I didn't need - expectations and rules - and less of what I did need - energy, nurturing, passion.

Twyla writes: planning has to be sufficiently thoughtful and solid to get the work up and standing straight but it cannot take over. There's a fine line between good planning and over-planning. Yes... and so I made the bag... because I didn't want to let go of the structure I'd developed... it seemed like an anchor in the storm only instead it became a millstone... but where did that leave me... with a question. If not this, what next?

Researchers have discovered that weaving, sewing, and even chopping vegetables can be useful for decreasing stress - - - In general, from a mental health perspective, what you do with what happened is far more important than what actually happened. - - - Process not product is what we need to feel alive and well. - - - Things are given, things are taken away. Fate is fickle, and the best defense against challenging times is self possession, inner resources for solace.
- The Creativity Cure by Carrie Barron and Alton Barron.

My faith is my most precious inner resource for solace. My creativity comes next. The morning after I finished reading The Creative Habit, while I was getting ready to go journal, I prayed about which book to study next and very clearly heard God say The Creativity Cure. I wondered why since I'd studied that book earlier this year, however, I'd asked, he'd answered, and it was on my shelf, available, and paid for. Those seemed good enough reasons. And then I read the quotes above and thought about where I was in life and the line study.

That first bag - the first step in the line study - was boring. It led to a lot of questions not the least of which were should I be making bags and should I even be doing a line study? Was this sudden discontent when I'd previously been so excited a warning sign to pay attention to or was it resistance - the critic - popping up her ugly head, daring me to back down. Those are difficult decisions on a good day never mind when you're feeling a little battered by life. When I mentioned them to a friend, she said make a second bag and see how that feels. I have no energy to begin and there's the answer.

I know how hard it can be in today's world to envision a future that is successful, purposeful, prosperous, stable, meaningful, and creative. You may think today is not the time to imagine. Life is too hard. Dreams are too unrealistic. Too impossible. The truth is you cannot allow what is happening in the natural - no matter how bad your circumstances look - to dictate what you imagine and more importantly, what God can imagine for you.
- Imagine Big by Terri Savelle Foy

On Monday, I began a new spiritual study. Like the other book, it was insistent except this one didn't seem like the right book. Sometimes God has the weirdest sense of humor and timing. In the middle of this mess, he gives me a book about dreaming, about trusting that whatever it is that God has called you to do, he is going to give you a pathway to get there. The exercises ask you to pray about, think about, detail, and build a plan around your God given dreams. And that's okay. Except, I couldn't dream which - added to the dwindling enthusiasm for the line study and the lack of direction around any other options - became a huge road block so I went back to what I know for sure...

... which is that while now is not the time, I have a strong feeling that I will eventually teach creativity again. If this is so, now is the prep time. And if I am prepping for what I hope to teach, that begs the question what do I hope to teach because only by answering that question can I determine where I should be investing. And by asking the question, I am dreaming again... just a little... perhaps it will grow.

I don't know the details but I do know that if I were to have a career in creativity again, it would be around the work that I personally find exciting and around writing about and teaching others to explore their own individual creativity and unique style with clothing. About exploring not knowing. About being brave and stepping out and trying things to see what happens. About not being prisoners to our own creative fears. Prepping means more not knowing, more experimenting, more learning, more being brave, more trying things to see what happens, and more exploring my own individual creativity and unique style WITH CLOTHING.

I'm not looking forward to the new year. 2012 was such a horrendous year that I eagerly anticipated the start of 2013 with the expectation that things would improve. They didn't. They are significantly harder. From that perspective, I'd much rather stay in 2013 with the devil I know than risk that things can't get worse. They can. Only life's not like that. We can't stop time. It just keeps rolling along.

My goal for 2013 was do the work. That seems entirely appropriate for 2014 as well. To do that thing that I do and most people don't, to utilize discipline and habit to perfect my craft and encourage my creativity, to trust and realize that not all is within my understanding nor will it ever be, to engage in process and let go of product in order to feel alive and well, and to realize that no matter how hard and impossible today's situation may seem, there are still dreams to be dreamed and goals to be achieved and God will provide the pathway for getting there if I keep walking in that direction. This is a peaceful conclusion, one I can move forward with.

The pieces in today's posting are not new. They are ones that I particularly enjoyed creating or wearing for reasons of fit, technique, not knowing, or individuality and are shown here to remind me of the engagement and energy that they provided and to encourage me toward my goal. While I am prepping and learning and growing my skills, I would be happy to just make nice things and get enough sleep. That seems a big enough goal for the next year - however - over the next few weeks, I'll be working through Imagine Big and praying about where God is leading. It's not like me to be quiet - LOL - so some of those thoughts and directions are likely to come up. I'm pretty sure - VBG - they include paint, stamps, and stenciling because that's a topic that's really been dancing.

Until then, I wish you a wonderful holiday with family and friends and all the best in 2014. I'll post again in the new year.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - faith

P.S. In the comments section of The Perfect Goldilock Thread, Kristin wrote... This one seems more like your textile art than a piece of clothing - a trend I've noticed in your work lately. And I see the ribbon as a metaphor for paths crossing and the length of life as a journey. What a fabulous sentiment for the next year. Thanks Kristin. I've used that image in the new header to remind myself every day.

P.P.S - There is currently a problem between Microsoft and Blogger. I can't reply to comments and when I tried to load the new header, it was blurry and distorted as was the previous one when I reloaded it. The new header will appear asap once those two start playing nicely again.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Line And A Question - Part 1

Way back in September, I started talking about a curvy line up center front. At that time, I was thinking about t-shirts and about how to cut apart and put back together a seam. Over the next while, my thought patterns evolved from a curvy line to a line to why does it have to be up center front to why does it have to be cut apart and sewn back together because there are many ways to make a line beyond cutting and stitching.

The more I thought about the line concept, the more excited I got about the possibilities of this study and then I heard about a painting exercise called 30 in 30. The goal is to paint thirty small paintings in thirty days. It seemed I could apply that concept to the line study and make thirty lines in thirty days only I didn't want to the study to take over the studio - I still wanted to sew garments - so I opted for thirty lines in thirty weeks.

And then... I started to think utilizing those lines in some kind of article and opted for a simple flat fold bag. The long rectangular shape would allow me to create a line using remnants and other supplies from around the studio and would produce a specific product. The bag shape became the blank canvas I would fill.

Right about that time, my friend was in a craft show and asked me to come and look around. I remember writing how jaded I am on craft shows and how glad I was not to be doing that and about a week later I called her suggesting that we share a booth in the next show. Not because I wanted to make bags to sell but because I wanted the push and deadline of having a show. My agreement with myself was if I could not manage the critic and my thoughts strayed away from ways in which to make lines and focused increasingly on what would people buy and how much can I make from this, I'd back out of the plan. Well... those questions did come up but that's not what's derailing me.

I started with a basic line - black and white for contrast. There was a long narrow strip of the black with white plaid left from the Koos skirt so that became the first piece. I paired it with a wider section of a white linen and stitched each section with channels to a base of thin batting and asked myself that great question - What do I think of that?

The black section is half the size of the white section and yet it visually dominates not only because of the black color but because of the heavier tactile and visual texture. I lay strips of black pearl cotton in between the channel stitching and decided that running stitches could help to create more weight on the white side. My critic is at this point jumping up and down telling me this is boring, too basic, who would buy this, and all those other typical starting statements. I ignored her.

My handwork skills are extremely limited. As soon as I started the second row of stitching, I made the decision not to try to make each row identical. I knew if I tried to do that, I'd go crazy and quit. Only by making each row to the best of my ability would I develop skills. And that was okay. And my critic reminded me how boring this was so...

... I added a row of pink in the channel right at center front. In the detail image above, you can see it much clearer however, as you can see below, it's easily lost in the overall bag. None of this bothered me because making this bag was exactly the step-by-step, start and not know the end, way of working that I enjoy. I constantly asked myself what do I think of that? and then pondered what if I ______? as a next step.

There is better balance with the hand stitching on the white portion of the bag. It creates some texture and visual interest but not enough for any real excitement. It definitely isn't done.

On Tuesday, I went over to my friend Patti's thinking we would work together on adding some interest to the bag with stenciling only she decided to send the supplies home with me and make me do it myself. LOL - I'm supposed to have this finished for tomorrow. It's not going to happen but I do recognize that painting and talk of stamping and stenciling are coming up with great regularity. I know it's "the next frontier" that I need to spend time developing skills within. That's good information and so is...

... how bored out of my mind I was making this bag and how disinclined I am to make another one. It made me think about what do I actually want to accomplish, what work engages me, what do I want to be known for, and what do I need at this point in my life. I'm pondering those questions and I have some answers. Maybe not the whole answer. But a start. More tomorrow.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - friends that give concrete, useable, "Myrna" advice and provide push and caring

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Few Starts

Back in September, I started thinking about my creative goals for 2014 and rather than share them right away, chose to let them sit and develop and all was going well until last week when my thoughts suddenly took an unexpected turn. And now... I'm once again letting the goals sit and develop while debating whether I should share the not quite developed concept in order to get feedback however... while I'm thinking about that... here are a few starts I went back to the second hand store for.

When thinking about what I might want to do, one thing I know for sure is how much I enjoy the challenge of refashioning garments and of not knowing the end at the beginning. That not knowing is something I want more of and when I couldn't stop thinking about the dress at the end of this posting, I went back to the store for it... and a few more garments followed me home - LOL.

Not all of these are in my size and that's okay. I let go of "it" fitting me a few months ago to enjoy the creative journey and that seems to have been a wise decision. It allows me to instead concentrate on choosing garments of a higher quality with refashioning potential and on the process of refashioning them with the sometimes happy bonus of a garment to wear. That may not last but it works for now.

This is a 100% cotton sweater in a rather dull taupe color. It's neat, crisp, and well constructed and has no flaws, stains, or areas where it's pulled out of shape. I'm contemplating overdyeing to begin with. This was the least expensive piece at $3.98. The buttons alone would cost that.

I mentioned this skirt in Friday's posting. When I went back to the store, it was $4.98 rather than the $7.98 I'd remembered which was slightly more reasonable. I cut it apart and washed the fabric. It's a wool/silk blend that even on a cold setting, felted somewhat. It'll need to become part of another piece.

This piece is a cashmere silk blend which is a lovely combination of fibers only the garment has not been well maintained and has a hole center front near the hem and another on the right collar near the ribbing. It was $4.98 which made me angry. Many people shop second hand not because they have the skills to refashion something but because that's all they can afford. $4.98 for what is basically a rag is ridiculous.

This piece is petite sizing so it's short and tight on me but it's that fabulous viscose, polyamide, spandex blend that has never ending longevity and a great weight. I love this shade of lime especially with black. For $4.98, I'll see if I can get it to fit me somehow.

This is the dress I actually went back for. It's $5.98, a Naomi brand, 40% silk, 20% acrylic, 15% ramie, and 15% angora dress which has no angora left after I washed it in the machine. The good news is that the stain on the back came out. The bad news is that a hole showed up but I think it's reasonably positioned so that I can work around it and - if not - as I told my friend today - a "mistake" presents a wonderful challenge to come up with answers. Sometimes, a mistake is exactly what we need.

One thing I really needed was to do something. It's been a rough week, the paralyzing kind where starting is difficult so I - finally - made myself go into the studio yesterday and trace the top from the Vogue 2971 pattern. With the skirt, I went down four sizes based on the amount of ease and could have gone down more. With the top, I went down two sizes based on the fabric's stretch factor. I'm treating this version as a wearable muslin as I'm not sure about tying it around the waist like that however...

... I was intrigued to note that the sleeve has a high cap and that the back is narrow and the back armhole is more L than J shaped. All of these work well for my figure. The only changes I had to make were a 5/16" narrow chest adjustment and 3/8" length adjustment above the waist. That was it. Now to sew. I'm busy most of today so it's a good thing I have until Friday to finish. I want to wear it with the skirt to my creativity group's get together.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - the highs in life's highs and lows

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Tangible Idea

Yesterday, I went to journal and then had coffee with a friend and then had a long - from mid morning to mid afternoon - lunch with another friend and then read a book. The closest I got to sewing was pulling out the pattern and the tissue paper and contemplating the size. Some days are like this. It's okay. Meandering is good for us too.

My lunch friend and I went to four different thrift stores and we were surprised by how much the prices have jumped. A couple months ago we'd been at thrift stores in another city and thought their prices were high due to location but now - in our own thrift stores - with prices we used to recognize - we could see a significant increase in the price and...

... a significant decrease in the quality. In her book Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, author Elizabeth Cline talked about how as the quality of our clothing goes down, it won't last as long, won't look as good, and won't be as desirable second hand. In all my searching yesterday, I found a cream, raw silk dress for $5.00 that was stained and a brown, pleated, paisley printed, fine wool skirt for $7.98 that was very frumpy looking. Both would have been a start however, those are expensive starts because there are better, less expensive deals in my stash like the blue and green houndstooth fabric, wool, regularly $45.00 a meter piece and bought for $2.00 a meter in the bargain center. It made me think...

... about what I love about thrift stores. It's not to buy and wear a garment. It's to buy and refashion a garment. I may go back for the dress because it had great refashioning potential. Not the skirt. For me it was only a source of fabric. The sweater above is lambswool. I bought it in June on my way back from Design Outside The Lines when I was full to the brim of Diane's refashioning inspiration. It is not the sweater below. This one is...

... from Blue Mermaid Designs on Etsy. It gave me an idea for going forward because my sweater has been sitting in stash since I cut up the back in a drastic attempt to get the refashioning thoughts flowing and instead, they stopped short. When I saw Shelley's sweater... click. Two thoughts connected. Sweater + squares across the cut.

On page 94 of The Creative Habit, author Twyla Tharp writes - You can't just dance or paint or write or sculpt. Those are just verbs. You need a tangible idea to get you going. The idea, however minuscule, is what turns the verb into a noun - paint into painting, sculpt into sculpture, write into writing, dance into a dance.

Idea gathering is one of the reasons I search through second hand stores or snoop shop in high end boutiques. It's also why I look at images on-line. When I was out shopping on Wednesday, I noticed the newest issue of a refashioning magazine, flipped through the pages, and returned it to the stand. Every once in a while I'm tempted to buy this magazine and almost immediately regret it because it's an expensive, glossy product that doesn't really offer much in the way of tangible how-to and has a limited amount of inspiration that applies to me. High end, second hand, and on-line snoop shopping and a good conversation with a creative friend will generate far more ideas for me.

How do you idea generate?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - some slow days

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Koos On Millicent

It snowed... and snowed... and snowed... and snowed all day yesterday. There is white fluffy stuff everywhere which makes for really interesting parking lots and up and down hill driving. Luckily, all of my shopping was along a circular route within a couple kilometers of my home and I was finished by one in the afternoon.. which was perfect... because fluffy days are better spent in the studio.

I finished the skirt with a band of the brown plaid and 3/4" elastic. It feels firm enough on my body although it does look like the weight of the skirt is pulling it down on Millicent - my dress form. I think that's just because her black cover is quite slippery. I hope to get some pictures of the skirt on my body a week from Friday when my creativity group has its Christmas luncheon. Seems like the appropriate skirt to wear. Between now and then, I want to sew a top to go with. Black. Like the strings.

Here's the back. It is strange in that rather fascinating do I or don't I like it kind of way. I do and even so I have some ideas for altering it next time so that it still has a bustle effect without looking like a pointed tail.  I shortened the length by 4" through the lower skirt. Next time I might take less off there and a bit off the yoke and go down at least one size, possibly two, as I said yesterday.

LOVE the front. The strings aren't hugely visible unless you're up close - there's that short focus thing again - but they do echo the white lines in the black plaid. The knit fabric used for the applique brings all the elements together. I debated which color to use for the waistband and in retrospect, I think the black plaid would have been better however, the waist will either be covered by ties if I sew the cover t-shirt or a belt or a shorter length t-shirt so it doesn't really matter.

This is my winter version. I'm debating a summer version, possibly in one fabric or in one fabric painted three ways. It's an idea that's tickling. Linen perhaps. But before I do that, I'll wear this one around and see what I thin - especially of the back. It's a FUN piece. I definitely plan to wear it to church when I visit my daughter in January because IMHO parents should take every opportunity to embarrass their children and she is so going to hate this one - LOL - however... before that... I'll get a dressed up with a top and heels picture next week and post it asap. For now, it's Koos on Millicent.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - becoming more daring

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Architectural Elements

My lunch yesterday was with the friend I mentioned a couple weeks ago, the one I needed to apologize to for overreacting to a comment she'd made. It was WONDERFUL. First I showed her around our new home and we spent some time looking at projects in the studio and talking possibilities and then we went for a long leisurely lunch and great conversation. Not all apologies go so well. I'm very grateful to have reconnected.

In the afternoon, I worked on the out of print Vogue 2971 Koos skirt, including the pockets, even though I rarely include pockets. I did this time because I was absolutely positive that Shams had said in her posting that the pocket was an integral part of the design only when I went to link the comment, it's not there. I must have read it somewhere else and it doesn't really matter. What matters is the skirt. If you haven't seen her version yet, go take a look. It's a gorgeous piece.

I did check the instructions to see what the pocket did and it looked like it might be included in the seam allowance - which would have helped to give that seam rigidity - only it's not. The edge of the pocket lays right beside the seam. I could see that from the instructions and inserted the pocket anyway just to see what it might do. I am lucky to have excellent three dimensional vision which I know is not the norm for everyone so I often hesitate to mention it in case I sound like I'm bragging - except it's true. I can easily see how these pieces go together and what they will become and that's part of the reason why I love patterns with architectural elements. They're a great mind game.

Here's the pocket in the seam. It's not necessary and I don't like the extra bulk it creates so I'll remove it and sew the seam shut before going on to the next step - the waistband. The pattern calls for a center back zipper and an elastic waistband. With all that ease, I doubted the zipper was necessary so I left it off until after all the pieces were together and then I pinned the center back seam closed and tried it on. Even though I went down from a size twenty to a twelve, I can still ease this over my bountiful hips. If I were to sew it again, I'd make a ten, possibly an eight. SO... no zipper, a narrow elastic waistband, the hem, and then I'm done. It's a very unusual skirt and my color combination is somewhat strange but I think I like it. I'm hoping to finish it today if I get all my shopping done first.

One of the things I did yesterday morning was hang this painting in the entryway. The side of it is actually fuchsia not red like it looks. The piece is a Christmas present from my friend, the painter. She said that she thought about me the whole time she was painting it which I find quite fascinating because she said the same thing about the one over the fireplace and they are vastly different. So intriguing. Apparently I'm changing or she sees the different sides of me. Too fun.

I've received two early Christmas presents this year and both are spoil me rotten gifts, far more than we normally exchange. The first is this painting which I know the value of from buying that one over the fireplace and the second is a trip to Sew Expo at the end of February. All I have to do is buy my own fabric and drive and that makes sense plus I love to drive. And yesterday, my friend bought me lunch. I know everyone is fluttering around taking extra care of me right now and how nice. It's such a wonderful gift to have friends. Be sure to give yours a big hug and a huge thank you for their support and encouragement.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - three dimensional vision

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

My Possibility Eyes Are Bigger Than My Actually Get It Done Tummy

A few days ago, Barbara posted this thought that she'd recently read - only do what only you can do. What a FABULOUS concept to fully grasp for all year round but especially at this time of year when women tend to do the work of an entire tribe while the tribe sits on the couch in expectation. I have opinions on that especially when the tribe is all adult. I delegate and if no one wants "it" bad enough to do the work, than I guess "it" isn't important - whatever it may be. I refuse to have no holiday while everyone else is having theirs. However... this is a hot button topic for me so before I climb up on that soap box and start lecturing, let's move on to...

... simplification. I've always been one for simplifying and organizing occasions mainly so that I will enjoy them more. That works for me along with moving deadlines forward to avoid rushing only this year I'm behind on Christmas by about six weeks and I don't like the feeling. Tomorrow, I hope to catch up and be done although that is entirely dependent on if I can find what I'm looking for when I go shopping. I do recognize that to be done shopping one has to go shopping - LOL - and I've been avoiding that. I hate crowds even more this year.

One short cut I've taken this year is these boxes from the dollar store. They were $1.00, $1.50, and $2.00 respectively. Open lid, insert present for friend, pad with tissue if necessary, tie with bow using ribbon from studio, and ta da done - AND they are less expensive than wrapping paper or gift bags and are completely reusable and well made. I'll definitely do this again.

A friend is coming to visit this morning who hasn't been to our new home yet. That's a very good push to get a few of those niggling things done... like replacing the bed skirt that tore in the move. All I can say for this one is that it's on the bed and the dust bunnies are covered because IMHO that straight piece of fabric with no gathers is really ugly. The bed skirts I sew are so much nicer but after twenty-one months of living here, a skirt is not happening fast. Partly, that's because I want to get rid of the country look and move in new directions and partly it's because sewing bed skirts is nowhere on the list of things I'd like to do and... apparently... neither is...

... sewing 1950's stoles. I cut out this pattern for the friend I had breakfast with yesterday. She has since left town and returned home. This stole seemed like the perfect curl up, cuddle, slightly more elegant than a blanket, garment for her cool and snowy new location - and it might be - but I ended up buying her a gift. I refused to rush and rushing the sewing or not sewing at all were the only options. Well... actually...

... I did contemplate this version briefly. I borrowed this prototype from another friend. It's a long rectangle much like the technical drawing from Butterick 5993 shown below only I think it needs the side that drapes to be longer that the other side so the drape will hang over the shoulder better. Once that idea got in my head, it stuck and I just didn't feel like drafting a pattern no matter how basic it was plus I wanted to work with a fabric other than fleece - something like a beautiful wool. And I will. Later. Maybe in the summer. I bought five meters of wool suiting in the bargain center for cheap because I think this shape would be a wonderful blank canvas for playing with line and paint and stamps. The fabric is a boring tan so there's a challenge right from the beginning as in can I make it more exciting. We'll see what actually happens. My possibility eyes are bigger than my actually get it done tummy.

When I pulled the cardboard core from the yarn out of my purse yesterday to show my friend, her eyes lit up and she said that's a bracelet before I even mentioned my idea. I had the feeling she was barely resisting ripping it out of my hands. Ideas were already brewing in her head and in mine. Painted bracelets are another possibility. One with great potential now that I've learned from her how to prep and paint and finish the surface.

Today, after lunch with my friend, I have hopes of working on the Koos skirt. YES YES - it's time to sew something for me.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - boundaries, limitations, and the ability to say no

Monday, December 9, 2013

That's Annoying

Yarn comes in a wide range of prices as does fabric so it's impossible to say which is the less expensive medium however, the question did pop into my mind yesterday as I added the fifth ball of yarn to my current project.... a scarf.

Finished, it'll be 12" x 72" or 864 square inches. A meter of 45" wide fabric is 1,800 square inches. The yarn is from my stash. I bought it years ago and can't remember exactly what I paid but an online price of $6.95 per skein sounds like something I would pay. For five skeins, that's $34.75 in total. If I divide the total size of the fabric by the total size of the scarf, the fabric is 2.083 times larger. Multiply that amount by the price of the yarn and a knitted piece of equivalent size to the fabric would be $72.95 - a price I would never pay for a meter of fabric which means I'm knitting REALLY expensive fabric with an average priced yarn. Gulp for the really expensive yarn.

Every skein of this yarn has had a knot in it. The last one had two knots with one close to the beginning but not close enough to start over and one about two thirds of the way through. That's annoying. And these aren't tiny knots. The squares in the picture above are an inch by an inch. That knot is HUGE. Each time, I've had to cut the ends and blend which means there will be way more than five sets of ends to weave in when I'm done. That's annoying. It would make me think twice about buying this yarn again even though it is incredibly soft and knits up beautifully. 

The yarn is wound around cardboard cores. They're big enough to slip over my wrist, firm enough to withstand wearing, and wide enough to be used as is or cut down to narrower widths. Naturally, my mind is pondering bracelet ideas... perhaps painted bracelets. It seems like an interesting challenge to successfully paint cardboard. I'm having breakfast with a friend this morning. She's a painter so I'll ask her for suggestions. It might be fun to paint lines on bracelets.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - large skeins of yarn, long enough for a complete scarf, without knots

Friday, December 6, 2013

No Idea

My daughter asked me what I was going to write about today and I said I had no idea. I've been knitting all week and making tremendous progress on several projects but no sewing although I think today we're going to make curtains for my grandson's new bedroom. Jessica and I have spent a lot of time looking at paint chips and fabric samples for their new home. At first glance, our styles seem vastly different so I'm always intrigued when we like the same thing - like the image below - and yet, when you look closer, you can see the parts of me mixed with the parts of her. How fun ! ! !

I love the bold color, the contrast, and the shade of pink in this image. After that, there's too much clutter on the end tables and I'd want the lamps to not sit right in front of the pictures. The furniture has the clean lines I prefer and I have a chair like the one at the desk. I like pop of the throw cushion in the beige chair but I'd nix a few pillows on the bed and most likely get rid of the bench at the end. And I'm not really the chandelier type although with those higher ceilings it works well. We don't have curtains in our house and that's quite normal for a lot of my friends although I see that both curtains and wall paper are making a come-back. Hmm...

I think I mentioned this the other day - my brain is baby mushed - but one thing I've found interesting lately is my need for even less clutter. I'm not sure if it's aging or stress but too much stuff just about turns me inside out. However, less stuff means that each item has to work supremely well in that simple is hard kind of way and it also means that you get tired of those objects sooner. After talking decorating with Jessica, I have the urge - VBG - but not the energy, to redecorate some spaces. Later... maybe... LOL.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - inspiration and information

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Welcome To The World Coat - Finally

After a prototype and two tries in leather that didn't go so well, I have - finally - finished my grandson's welcome to the world coat. It's sewn in a size three frankenpatterned from Simplicity 2526 and Burda 9792 with a few extra seam lines thrown in for fun.

It's way too big and that's okay because he was...

... far more fascinated with the shag carpet than the coat. Hopefully when he's big enough to wear it, he'll love how soft it is and having his name embroidered on the inside lining. Since I have no idea how many grandchildren I will eventually have, I decided that I would make each of them something with their name on it - a personalized touch, just for them, not to be shared with a sibling.

The coat is sewn from black melton cloth with teal top stitching. The zipper matches wonderfully at the top...

... and is the barest of smidgeons off at the bottom. Naturally, we would focus on the bottom but I'm not going to. I'm going to focus on the wonderful play dates this coat will go on and the fun my grandson is going to have while wearing it. I told my daughter to not...

... hold precious. Let him wear it. Let him be a little boy and crawl and climb and tumble and if it gets so worn out as to be un-wearable, feel free to cut the lining out and save it... or not. The older I get and the more often I see a lifetime of held precious possessions sent to the second hand store, the more I think "use the good china" now. Wear it. Wear it out. Have fun. Make memories. Take a picture... or not. Good and enough.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - my e-reader broke in February and Howard thinks he now has it fixed - a feat Kobo couldn't accomplish - so I'm just deleting the preloaded books and closing every single book in my library which loaded unread as opposed to finished and then I'll sync it again and we'll see. I'm VERY hopeful.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Cooking, Cute Suits, And Slobbering Grandsons

Monday's turkey was seventeen pounds plus stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, and vegetables. Yesterday, we ate left-overs all day and then...

... I made two turkey pot pies and cut up the rest of the turkey meat to freeze. We also froze the carcass for making soup at some point in the future. I love the way one meal makes many meals. Turkey pot pie is not something I grew up with. A friend shared her tradition and it makes wonderful sense of left overs. The pie shell is purchased. I have no idea how to make pie crust and I'm not sure I'll ever learn although I intend to work on my cooking skills in the next year.

Margy has talked so much about these two cookbooks - Jerusalem and Plenty - that I wanted to give them a try as part of another goal within a bigger goal. Right now, I need to focus even more strongly on meeting my own emotional needs (self-care) and on making my world bigger only not everything I would like to do is doable because money is an issue however... we do need to eat... and since we're already eating... and already cooking... it seemed to me that learning how to cook a wider, more interesting variety of dishes was an attainable goal.

My daughter likes to watch cooking shows, read cookbooks, and try new recipes. I find this interesting from two perspectives - the first being that a fascination with cooking is a foreign concept to me and the second being that cooking as a creative outlet wasn't how she was raised. In our house it wasn't thank you God for the food, it was thank God for food. LOL - actually I'm a really good cook but my repertoire is quite traditional and I'm typically detoured by fabric possibilities only I want to work at cooking and when I hear what Jessica is making for dinner or the recipes she's trying this week, it's inspiring. This is good.

Switching subjects - you would not believe how hard it was to buy my grandson a Christmas sleeper. He's almost eight months old now and it seemed like either there weren't any in that store (Wal-Mart - not a single Christmas sleeper after I'd braved the hoards...) or they were either in smaller or bigger sizes. This striped suit with Santa feet was one of the only 9 month sleepers I could find. Luckily, it's cute but not as cute as...

... the little boy wearing it. Yesterday morning, he and his Mom came to Starbucks with me. Although I didn't journal, Starbucks in the morning is part of my regular routine so my daughter and I spent an hour drinking coffee and chatting while my grandson chewed and slobbered all over my necklace, pulled on my hair, and yanked off my glasses. Naturally... I loved it. Today... we'll do it again and then I think we're looking for curtain fabric for his new room - FUN ! ! ! ! - although it's starting to snow so it might be more of a curl up by the fire and read kind of day. We'll see after coffee.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - cute suits and slobbering grandsons

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Watch Those Clicking Fingers

In her book The Creative Habit, author Twyla Tharp talks about the strands of creative code that are hard-wired into our imaginations. Just as our genetic code determines our height and eye color, she believes that our creative code governs our creative impulses and determines the forms we work in and how we tell our stories. That's intriguing.

Twyla goes on to talk about her work in terms of focal length and notes that all of us find comfort in seeing the world either from a great distance, at arm's length, or in close up. We don't consciously make that choice. Our DNA does, and we generally don't waver from it. Rare is the painter who is equally adept at miniatures and epic series, or the writer who is at home in both historical sagas and finally observed short stores. - page 37

And that makes sense to me because...

... my work has never screamed across a room. While there is contrast and defined shapes, my color range is primarily medium to dark which means my work is always better viewed close up where you can appreciate the workmanship and the details. Other strands in my creative DNA are curved forms, defined lines, texture, open spaces, simplicity, and gentle embellishment.

I put this sweater of Marcy's on my Christmas list. Since it's still on her website, it doesn't appear to be coming my way however... if it does... I can hardly wait to look at the details in person. Do you see the commonality of elements that I am drawn to? Do you see how I could create a look I enjoy with a higher degree of contrast? AND... see... it has a line down center back that appears to be made by either sewing down the center of a strip of fabric or by creating a seam on the right side of the garment. Two ideas. Both wonderful. As soon as I began to ponder ideas for lines, more and more ideas for lines began to appear. This is the magical thing about engaging our creative brains.

See the simple embellishment on the sleeve? It's gently done. Just the perfect touch to add a little texture and interest to the piece without taking over or causing a disturbance. I'm refining that ability and making progress - in my opinion - on my goal of transferring the elements of my wall art to my clothing. And now that I've discussed it in detail, what I really want to do is click through and buy it myself only... LOL... I have to watch those clicking fingers. Tis the season.

This picture of a woman on Madison Avenue was in my August file which means you'll find it in the August entries of Ari Seth Cohen's Advanced Style blog. I'm drawn to the clean lines, the continuity of her look, the fullness of the pants, the addition of interest with the tie belt, the contrast of texture with her bag, and the clean compliment of simple jewelry. This is not a color I'd wear but the color is irrelevant to appreciating the styling which is chock full of my creative DNA. 

This skirt is labeled Vogue-3 in my files which - most likely - means I took a series of pictures from a Vogue magazine but I'm guessing although I'm pretty sure this was an article about Marfy patterns sewn by readers. What I liked was the added interest of the buttons above the pleats however, for me, I would need to simplify it further by matching the buttonhole thread to the skirt. That's just me.

In the same file is this sleeveless blouse. It's high contrast which is unusual for me but I like the way the black outlines the style lines, almost like a line drawing. It adds enough interest to be intriguing without overwhelming as does...

... this even more subtle blazer with zippers at the waist. I've never been one for throwing every technique I know at a piece. I prefer simplicity and - as I've said before - simple is hard to do because all of the elements have to work well together and in balance BUT... it's a lot of fun to pull together.

What are the strands of your creative DNA?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - that after a five hour delay my daughter and grandson arrived safely and just in time for the dinner I'd spent the day putting together. Everything was still juicy and yummy. YEAH. My daughter's birthday is on the 21st and she asked for turkey stuffing for her "birthday" meal and since this was the only time this month that most of us - except for my son-in-law unfortunately - would be together, we had turkey for birthday.