Monday, June 24, 2013

Monday With Myrna

Edited on July 1st - In the week following, this post became totally irrelevant. It's your choice to read it or to move on to the next one instead. I debated deleting the post however, since it's part of the whole story, I didn't.

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By eleven on Thursday morning, the workshop was over and I was on my way home. Other than a stop for gas, I basically drove straight through to the hotel and even so I didn't get there until almost eight that night.

The first part of the drive from Sisters to Salem was great. At the gas station in Salem, some guy tried to pull a huge RV through a small station and around a tight turn and drove over the pump causing a BIG problem and a major safety concern. Since I was next in line, I left and went to another station.

Salem to Tacoma was crowded but doable. The drive between Tacoma and Everett - a distance of  98.3 kilometers - which should have taken about a hour - took an excruciating three hours, in the rain, with the windshield wipers running non stop.

Windshield wipers can drive me crazy at the best of times but when they are wagging away in my face like an angry finger - for three hours - while crawling along in bumper car traffic - it is all I can do not to mangle them up and throw them off the car. It was exhausting and it gave me plenty of time to think about Diane's final question of the closing circle - What do you want?

We're more used to thinking in the negative about what we don't want as opposed to thinking in the positive about what we do want. They are two sides of the same surface. If we turn over what we don't want, we'll discover what we do and then the question becomes how? How can I have more of what I want?

If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten. - Anthony Robbins

Even before leaving for the Design Outside The Lines workshop, I'd been considering what I wanted going forward and what would need to change in my routine and studio structures to have the new adventures in creativity that I've been craving. Each of us has a creative well that is deep and wide and extravagant. To bring forth our own riches requires permission, time and space to play, a commitment and desire to possibility, and a willingness to change. Without change, there can be no change - no transition from the old to the new.

Life is full of transitions some of which we choose, some of which are unplanned but welcomed joyfully, and some of which arrive unannounced accompanied by great pain. There's not much you can do but work your way through whatever transition appears before you and even so, we don't always greet them with acceptance. Three of my key relationships are currently going through transition and that seemed like enough relational change without adding a fourth so I've been resisting. And now I'm not.

Some artists complete three paintings and start exhibiting right away. I think this is a mistake. You need time to develop your craft. You need time to find your voice. These things should occur in the privacy of your studio, not in the public forum. It is easy to ruin a promising body of work by exposing it to public scrutiny; you will either gain so much praise you won't need to finish the work, or so much criticism you won't feel you can.
- page xviii, Taking The Leap, by Cay Lang

Some people look at me strangely when I say this but I think of the blog as one of my best friends, a friend that I talk to almost every day. Over the time that I've been blogging, this creative outlet has improved my writing skills, connected me with people who love to do what I do, made me more aware of details, and allowed me to share, teach, support, and encourage. It's good - and I don't want it to change - but it does need to evolve so I can evolve. I hope that you - the blog - as one of my best friends - will do what best friends do and support and encourage me in what I want to do.

Almost ten years ago, I took what I called The Year of Play. Over a one year period of focusing on my creative growth, my work evolved from traditional, pattern based quilting to independent, pattern free textile art built around the elements and principles of design. At the same time, my teaching evolved from technically based work to coaching others in the exploration of their own creativity.

There was an energy about that time period that I have long been wanting to get back to and one that I've touched on through the Design Outside The Lines workshop. When I think about the question what do I want? the answer is more "not knowing" creativity, more series work, more thematic studies, more interactive creativity, and more teaching opportunities. In a nutshell, I want more of the parts of me that I thoroughly enjoy.

I agree with the quote above that work of the unknowing nature is best developed away from public scrutiny. During The Year of Play, I didn't allow anyone - as in not one single person - to comment on my work. I wanted to listen to my own voice and to trust my own artist. It was a period of hugely powerful growth that I want to explore again only this time I have a better idea of the benefits and the outcome and of ways to share the process without feeling completely exposed and vulnerable.

SO... I'm making some changes to facilitate that growth.

Monday With Myrna - Starting today, I'll be blogging once a week on Mondays. If I find that's not enough, I'll add Thursdays and if I find I'm more productive with a daily routine, I'll re-instate it but for now blogging will simply be Mondays. Exactly how and what I share will become more clear with time. Right now, I see the postings including thoughts that occurred over the week, a piece I'm particularly pleased with, a new technical discovery, an ah ha moment, creative encouragement, and so on. I am confident enough with my creative abilities that I no longer feel the need for complete isolation so please know that I welcome your feedback and interaction. In fact...

Blog Participation - ... I am going to ask you to participate in my creativity. Responding to what is in front of you is a key element of creativity only we tend to pick creative ingredients with similarities. Having something to respond to that is not of your own choosing can take your creativity up another notch. I'm ready to notch it up. I need your help to do that.

As I decide on a theme to explore, I'll ask those of you who are willing to to send creative ingredients and to thank you I will periodically draw from the names of those who have donated for a give away. I can't say how often I'll have a giveaway or what I'll be giving away because I have no idea what I'm going to produce in what quantities but something will happen.

I'm about to post several themes in a side bar along with my address. I debated posting my address but there seemed little point in being secretive when it's on my business card which I give out freely and when it can be easily found with any basic Google search. Once I receive enough variety on a particular theme, I'll delete that theme from the request list and any excess materials will be donated to a local organization - such as a high school - to encourage further creativity.

Friday morning, I stopped at a second hand store to find the starts above. From top to bottom, these are a skirt, a cardigan, a sweater, and two more cardigans. I concentrated on choosing quality garments that intrigued me in some way. Two are far too small, one is way too big, one is completely the wrong color for me, and another is an unusual fabric. These are garments for refashioning that will lead me in unknown directions. The results may or may not fit me, may or may not be in my style, and may or may not be in my coloring which is why...

Items For Sale - ... I'll periodically be listing items for sale as a way of maintaining flow within the studio. Rather than worry about what am I going to do with all the things that I'm creating, I'll list them for sale. I want an un-congested studio and I want my creations to go to homes where they will be loved and appreciated and... to be completely honest... I want to generate some income to pay for future supplies and workshops. Prices will be moderate and selling low key.

Several people came to the workshop with things to give away. Marcy gave us all a piece of canvas. Paula brought a pile of feed sacks of which I brought home three. Several people gave away fabric scraps like this pink and white print and I'm not sure who brought the sample pack of upholstery pieces but it's a fabulous color mix. Like the pieces of used clothing, these are starts.

For many creative people, getting started is the hardest step. They worry about what to do, how to do it, and what if whatever decision they make is wrong. After The Year of Play, I began teaching creativity workshops around getting started, doing the work, and listening to your artist voice. Of the many shifts in my life over the past few years, the one aspect I miss the most is teaching so...

The Creative Start - ... in mid to late September, I'll be running a small on-line test class at a reduced rate and starting in 2014 will be teaching two or more on-line classes each year called The Creative Start. The class will focus on exercises to spark creativity and get started and on ways to help those who are interested to sew creative everyday wear. These will not be flashy classes that dance and entertain. They will be classes packed will solid information and encouragement designed to help you dance. 

The format will be old school - something like a Yahoo Group - not Facebook - unless I discover another method that I prefer better. I've used Yahoo and it worked fabulously in the past for the way my classes are structured. There will be pdf files, assignments, conversation, positive critique, and artistic interaction all of which are at the soul of creative collaboration and inspiration.

I've been teaching in one format or another for almost thirty years and taught on-line workshops for ten years with an international student base of up to 1,200 students per year. I love teaching and I'm a great teacher on-line and in-person. If that sounds too much like bragging, so be it. I have the testimonials to back it up.

I'm really excited to have made the decision to teach again and even as I say that, I'm being careful to set parameters that work for me. I strongly believe that the care and keeping of the artist - me - is of primary importance. I'm not willing to burn out or to sell my soul in any way so we'll see how it goes and - if it goes well - there is the possibility of a face-to-face retreat in the fall of 2014.

This Week In The Studio
- The number one task this week will be to get back in the flow of the studio and to evolve my studio structures to better achieve my goals. When I arrived home, there was a skirt sitting on the counter that I'd decided not to take with me. It's too long. Before, I was thinking of raising the waistband or cutting off the hem. Now, I'm going to use the inspiration from the garment I bought from Diane to take my skirt in a completely different direction and shorten it by creating tucks. Personalized copying is one way to get started and to move in new directions.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a pile of starts and the excitement to start

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Ongoing Inspiration

Yesterday, I encouraged you - me - all of us - to play more. One way to play is by working in series. Series work will push your creativity no matter what series you're working on because it takes an idea and builds on it one expression at a time. At a certain point, you push past the obvious and into new territory that stretches your creative abilities.

While we all need to find our own way, whether you work on multiple projects or one at a time, I firmly believe that series work is vital to artistic growth. It could be a type of garment like a t-shirt or part of a garment like collars or a technique like making fabric from fabric or a theme like stripes and dots. Basically, it's anything you can make more than one of - more than a dozen of - make many of. To the uninitiated, it can sound boring and repetitive. It's not. It's an amusement park.

The dotted fabric above was the only one in the selection Marcy brought to sell that called my name. I bought two yards. Most of my fabric collection comes from the same sources - Fabricana in Richmond, Fabric Depot in Portland, Pacific Fabrics in Everett,, and - predominately - from the bargain center at the Fabricland in whatever Canadian city I happen to be in.

Unless I'm shopping for a souvenir - like this dotted fabric - or something unusual that I'm willing to pay more for, I am almost always a bargain center shopper. One of the reasons I became such an avid bargain shopper is limited finances. Like series work, having less to spend forces you to make do, use up, re-invent the wheel, look harder, find within your studio, and so on. Not being able to buy whatever you want helps you to use what you have in new ways. It also helps me shop with better focus. I make less wise decisions when I have more money to spend.

Tonight, I'm staying across the street from Pacific Fabrics. They have a large bargain center as well that I'm looking forward to scouring. On the drive home, I'll visit one - possibly two - Fabriclands. Last year, I shopped on the way to the retreat and then realized it would have been better to shop afterward - with the inspiration picked up at the retreat - so I'm doing it the "right" way around this year - LOL - only I have a LOT of inspiration at home already. I'm being picky.

I might also stop at some second hand stores. I like refashioning and have - once again - been inspired by the pieces Diane creates. She collects quality garments as she finds them and sometimes resells them with no or some work done. This linen dress was on her rack of garments for sale for $12.00. I couldn't resist such a ....

... fabulous bit of ongoing inspiration. It will be a reminder to play, have fun, experiment, see what happens, not hold precious, just do... you get the idea. Other than raising the shoulders slightly, it fits me fabulously although I'm debating evolving it into a skirt. I absolutely LOVE the hem detail.

Yesterday afternoon, I came back to my cabin for some quiet time and when I returned to the work space, the group was at the end of a discussion about running a business. I'm going to assume it was divine intervention that prevented me from taking part in the entire discussion although Gayle filled me in on the general gist which was along the lines of doing what you want to do to create the business you want to have and leaving the rest because we can't do everything. Yes.

Having been in business before - and having been totally burnt out - I think the number one aspect of any art related business absolutely has to be the care and keeping of the artist. That said, I'm not sure I want to have a business again but I do know that I want to create one of a kind, unqiue items whether they are clothing or accessories. I'm energized, inspired, focused, and ready to go home now. I'm looking forward to getting back to my studio and back to work. VBG - all that inspiration running around in my head needs an outlet. I'll post again next week.

Talk soon - Myrna

- I found it difficult to work in a group situation this trip and really missed - and am very grateful for - my studio, my stash, and the organization and flow of my workspace.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Just Play

Today is our last full day of inspiration and conversation. Not much tangible work is getting done on my part but there's a whole lot of thinking and processing going on. Perhaps it's part of the aging process or the maturing artist process or both but I no longer want to sew until midnight or even in a workroom situation. I prefer to absorb the inspiration, take it home, and work through the learning curve in my own space which means my mind is buzzing with ideas for later.

I had two goals this year. One was to learn about stamping and stenciling. Above, I've added blue and silver stencils to a strip of the hand dyed knit that I'll now turn into cording to use as a second "chain" along with the...

... knitted "chain" which I decided was too one-dimensional so I dabbed it with a  bit of black paint - and over dabbed - and had to rinse out - and am now waiting to dry - and have decided to finish at home - LOL - although I may knit another length today in case this one can't recover from my oops.

The other goal was to learn how to piece fabric from fabric in a flowing, more three dimensional way that's a step up from the flat piecing I've done in the past. I've made a start and again would prefer to work on this at home.

Diane has several large pieces of fabric made from fabric that she encouraged me to play with and drape over the mannequin. As you move the fabric this way and that, it begins to speak to you and images appear that are very exciting to work with and hard to describe. What I recognize is the energy. I call it not knowing. It's the one where I'm creating a mystery object that is slowly revealing itself choice by choice.

Stencilling and stamping are not new to me. I've done them before. Neither is making fabric from fabric although this flowing way is a new twist to work through. The difference now is that I'm ready to add these elements to my work, to make time for them.

The common denominator in everything I've learned is play. I won't get better at stamping or stenciling or making fabric or draping until I spend a lot more time stamping, stenciling, making fabric, and draping. And I want to. Another important part of our maturing process - I believe - is giving ourselves the time, space, energy, and supplies needed to create and permission to simply go into the studio and play. You don't have to make anything. Just play.

Talk soon - Myrna

- a playground

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Only For You

I woke up at 4:00 this morning and after a half hour of trying to get back to sleep turned on the fire, opened the windows to the morning light, made a pot of coffee, and stayed in bed reading my study, journal writing, praying on paper, reflecting. Sometimes when we're travelling, our regular routines go by the wayside. I find I have a much better holiday if I maintain "me" time.

At lunch yesterday, one of the women shared that the first time she heard Diane speak, she just sobbed because she knew she'd never be that creative. It wasn't like that for me. After listening to Marcy and Diane share in the opening session, I felt weepy because I know I am that creative and because I want to bridge the gap between where I am now and what I'm capable of creating. 

Last night, I didn't feel like going out to eat or being part of a group and instead had a picnic on the porch. What you can't see in the picture above is the stream tucked into the long grass. Its lovely musical sound mixed with...

... the wind in the pines was soothing and peaceful. My gift to myself this holiday is space. I'm not sharing a room and I'm taking as much time as I need to be alone. I sat and reflected on the day and on my conversation earlier with my husband. You would think at my age that I'd have learned by now not to make plans. I still do but luckily, I have also learned the importance of flexibilty.

A message I received yesterday was only for you. The words were clear; the intent not so clear. It could mean I am to create only for me in the sense that the final product is to be mine or it could mean that I am to create only for me in the sense that I am to follow the tickles of my heart and ignore any other issues... like selling... or exhibiting... or pleasing others on any level... or making money or... Howard's take on it is for me to focus on what I want to learn and create and see where that leads and to let go of any other thoughts. It's so wonderful to have that support especially in light of the fact that his union is taking a strike vote on Wednesday.

My big ah ha of a few weeks ago - that I dislike clutter on my clothing - has clarified directions for me as have my thoughts around transferring the ways in which I worked with textile art to creative clothing. Things are clicking. That's exciting.

Above is a scrap of the very dull grey fabric used a few months ago to muslin blouses. I've added shades of black lines by stamping off the edge of a torn sheet of paper. Next, I'm going to learn about stenciling and then decide if more layers will be added. And then... after that... I'll learn how to piece fabric from fabric, a method Diane uses extensively and one that is reminiscent of my textile work. Hopefully - if all goes well - the end result will be a garment of some kind.

I've started to ask myself if this was one of my art pieces what would I do next? The answers are interesting. With this particular piece, I might keep the developing fabric monochromatic and then add punch to the seams - like lime green top stitching. It tickles. We'll see.

In between talks and demos, I started knitting the yarn made from cut up yardage. I'm creating a five stitch I-cord and the knitted length is firm and slightly spongy but not stretchy. It has possibilities for jewelry even as I am once again wondering what making jewelry will mean in my life.

A few people commented that they saw my purple lace dress on Marcy's blog only I was sitting down. Here's the full view. I had Gayle take some pictures Sunday night and she had me laughing so hard that my face is red. I didn't know I only colored from the neck up - the things you learn about yourself - LOL. You can also see my I'm mostly happy with it new hairstyle.

The dress feels wonderful on and received a lot of compliments. This is the pattern I brought along in case I feel like sewing another dress. It's a lengthened version of Katherine Tilton's Vogue 8691. I added 21".

Talk soon - Myrna

- even though I don't know the destination, I know that God is with me every step of the journey and that I can move forward with confidence. I'm intrigued just as I'm unsure what only for you means but I know that it is both healing and empowering.

Monday, June 17, 2013

A God Thing

Driving down the I5, over the bridge, and into Portland, I noticed the turn-off to the airport. Last year, I stayed in a hotel near the airport and drove from there to Fabric Depot four times. I have a really good sense of direction and from my spot on the bridge, I knew how to get to Fabric Depot and that it was less than a ten minute drive. If you're as addicted to fabric as I am, you know the supreme self-control and discipline that was required to keep driving. Luckily, I did not give into my jumping, dancing, frenzied, demanding brain that attempted to rationalize by saying I would "just look". Yes. Right. And pigs fly ! ! !

Including the border, the detour for the bridge collapse, the detour on the detour, an accident, and road work, it took nine and three quarter hours to make it from home to the hotel in Oregon City. I was totally shocked to wait half an hour at the border at eight in the morning. Those people were supposed to be in bed and I was supposed to drive straight through. Apparently, I'm not the only early bird - LOL.

Detours are interesting things. They both take you out of your way and into new adventures, places you've never been before and may never go again but you'll have learned something from the experience. Like making a mistake... with your art... or otherwise.

A few weeks ago, when I cleaned the kitchen, I put a cup of my son's in the donation box. IMHO it was an incredibly ugly cup, he hadn't used it recently, I doubted he'd even miss it, and I didn't want it taking up space in the cupboard any longer. The box sat in a visible location for weeks and he never said anything. On the 6th, Howard and I dropped it off at Value Village. On the 14th, my son went looking through the cupboards for his cup and when I said it was gone, I could tell he was upset even though he said it was okay. It wasn't. When I followed him to his room, he was trying not to be angry with me but was obviously having a difficult time. It turned out that the cup had significant sentimental value I hadn't known about.

It was 100% my fault. I was completely in the wrong and did not have the right to donate something of his simply because I did not like it. I would not have appreciated that happening to me. I knew better. I did bad. It all makes sense in retrospect and at the same time it was one of those horrible learning curves we benefit from greatly.

He was so upset that I ended up an emotional mess. I had to do something to make it right so I called a woman I know - Connie - who works at the store and asked her what could be done. Since it had only been a week, she said the cup may or may not be on the floor yet but wouldn't have left the building unless it was discarded. I know Connie from church so I asked her to pray that I found the cup... and I called my husband and asked him to pray... and my son... and my daughter... and then I went down to the store and looked in the kitchen wares... and looked again... and looked again... and I didn't see it. I was getting more and more upset until I realized that I didn't see any of the cups we'd donated.

Walking up to one of the clerks, I told her I had a problem and she turned to me with such caring and concern that I promptly burst into tears at which point she went to find Connie who then said she'd need permission from the manager to allow me into the back. I was standing at the no unauthorized personnel beyond this point doorway waiting for the manager when I looked over at the stacks of items. My heart sunk.

The donations are boxed and placed in large rolling carts at least six feet deep, by eight feet wide, by six feet high. There were six or seven rows of carts, five or six carts deep. Knowing it was 100% my fault and not being able to fix the pain I'd caused was making me so emotional that I barely managing not to break out in huge sobs in the middle of the store and then I noticed one row, with only one cart, with a white box in the bottom row, facing toward me, that looked like it had a plastic container in it. My box had a plastic container in it and that box looked exactly like MY box.

When the manager arrived, I explained the problem, pointed to the cart, and said but I think that's my box. She walked over, felt the top of the box to confirm it was a plastic container, and allowed me to come into the room to identify the box. It had my husband's writing on the side so she moved all the other boxes from on top so I could look inside. With a hopeful heart, I reached down, lifted up the plastic container, moved some pot holders, and there was my son's cup, intact, not broken, retrievable. This is a God thing.

The pictures above were taken on the drive between Salem and Sisters, Oregon. The scenery varies greatly from lush growth, to lava rock from a long ago eruption, to the remnants of a forest fire, and finally to dust and dry pines. There's history, change, choices, growth, and evolution along the route. It reminded me of how we move through life, the experiences we have, and how they change us.

In the past several months, I've been experiencing tremendous amounts of synchronicity and divine intervention. It's exciting. It's scary. Even though I found the cup, I was extremely emotional for the rest of the day which tells me that I'm not totally healed yet even though I am MILES beyond where I was before. I can tell that God is leading in new directions. I'm curious to see what this retreat has to do with that leading - anything, something, something significant. I don't know. I do know that I have continued to learn all year from those five day last June and that I'm anticipating a similar - but not identical - experience.

And now... on a totally different topic.

Here are the rompers that my daughter sewed for her son. I'll admit that I am totally biased but I'm also experienced in teaching sewing and being around sewists of all levels. When Jessica suggested doing the top stitching in another color and said stitching it evenly around the edge was no big deal, I shouldn't have discouraged her because she literally sat down, stitched it evenly, and that was that - something simply accomplished that I know many long term sewists are still fearful of. I sent her home with corduroy for another pair of rompers and a pattern for a bunting bag since grandbaby is tired of being swaddled and needs new covers.

This was the first time my daughter had sewn in twelve years. It's an experience I've been waiting for for a really long time and one that I'm glad came at a time when I am a much more accomplished and patient teacher. That could only have helped. I loved sewing together. I hope she continues. She's a natural.

Talk soon - Myrna

- cups found

Friday, June 14, 2013

Potential & Possibility

One more sleep and I'll be on my way to the workshop. The longest drive is tomorrow. I'm spending Saturday night in Oregon City and having coffee with a blog reader - Brenda. Sunday will be leisurely. It's a three hour drive from the hotel to the retreat center and I don't need to be there until mid afternoon.

Unfortunately, my daughter and grandson both have a cold so I'm taking vitamins like crazy and praying hard that I don't get sick. After waiting a whole year to attend again, sick seems like a waste but something will work out. Prayers appreciated.

While packing, I came across this pendant that I made last June using a heat gun and Fosshape. It has great potential as the focal point in a necklace. I'll work with it more when I get back. While I'm at the workshop, my focus will be on....

... dyeing, stamping, stenciling, and painting possibilities. I've packed three different batches of scraps to explore. The idea is to try surface design techniques on the scraps and then turn them into binding, piping, or cording or into bits & pieces scarves where the flaws and learning curve will be less visible. I've also packed the dress length version of Vogue 8691 and some knit yardage to make it with.

Along with the design board, I'm taking this necklace bought several years ago. The components are cheap and cheaply strung but the design intrigues me. I've decided to begin developing textile necklaces by working in series because I like the way series work allows you to build one idea on another. The starting inspiration is this necklace and the starting point is a circle. I want to look at the different ways to create, join, and break up a circle made from textiles.

This image is of the four boxes and three bags of zero waste scraps I've saved over the past year since the last workshop. It's to remind myself of the potential and possibility that exists within my own stash and to illustrate that even though this has been a rough year financially and I'm travelling with limited funds, I am coming home to plenty of opportunities. YES YES

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - zero waste and stash possibilities

Thursday, June 13, 2013


This is not the week for sewing in the studio. At least not for me sewing. It is however...

... absolutely delightful to be sharing it with my daughter. We've been working on the overalls in small increments. Yesterday...

... she measured up the hems and sewed, finished, and pressed the side seams. Today, we'll stitch the hems and sew on the bias tape for the snaps. I keep telling her she's a natural at sewing - it can't be helped after all the hours she spent on my lap "helping me" - and I'm not sure she believes me but...

... I've watched a lot of people sew and I've taught a lot of students and... she's a natural. Isn't this decal just the cutest thing for...

... the cutest baby in the world. YES YES ! ! ! !

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - sewing with my daughter

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Part Two - Screaming Baby - The Sequel

Recently, I read an interesting statistic, the kind that makes you think about priorities, choices, and the shape of your to do list. It was that 85% of what we do, anyone could do - 10% of what we do, we could train someone else to do - and only 5% of what we do can be done by us alone. Those are the things most likely to get pushed aside when they are the most important for each of us to accomplish.

What are those things? They would differ in the details but otherwise they're probably similar for many of us. Only I can care for my holisitic health meaning the spiritual, emotional, physical, financial, and relational aspects of my life. Only I can care for my relationship with God, myself, family, and friends. And only I can do that thing that I'm passionate about - the thing (s) that nurtures the inner me. The statistic was in my study which went on to say that God doesn't care how busy we are, he cares if we did the things that he asked us to do - the 5%.

What discovery have you made about yourself recently that you found surprising? Why it took me so long to make the connection between the lack of clutter in my house and a dislike of clutter on my clothes, I don't know. That was surprising. And I've started to think differently about the length of time between when I first start to talk about doing some task and when I actually - hands on - get started. I used to want to do and then do right away and it doesn't work like that anymore. Perhaps because what I'm wanting to do creatively is more subjective than it used to be. There's no pattern or clearly defined path. What I've realized recently is that wanting to, talking it over, evolving it in my mind, making room for it in the schedule, and preparing to begin the hands on phase ARE part of the process which was somewhat of a relief to discover since...

... I thought it might be procrastination or fear and maybe it is on some level although it doesn't really matter what we label it because whatever it is, it's part of the process of getting from here to there. I know that I have been talking about creating textile jewelry for at least eighteen months. It was my goal for January 2012 and yet I seemed to be going nowhere until I realized that I am doing the work because even though I haven't physically been producing pieces, I have been noting jewelry shapes, gathering materials, formulating ideas, reading books, finding ways to merge textiles and jewelry, and evolving designs in my head. These are theory stages, the prep stages, the ones before you sit down and actually do the making work because...

... that's the stage where self control and discipline and determination come in. You have to keep your butt in the chair day after day, ugly piece after ugly piece, until your skills and abilities begin to develop. This too is part of the process - any process of creation. It's the learning stage. It's itchy, anxious just as it's exciting, challenging. We experience it whenever we move in new directions. It's a stage we work through until the tasks become more easily accomplished. What have you done recently that's itchy anxious?

My coat is finished. I'm pleased with how it turned out and how it fits. Making it was the other side of itchy anxious - flow - when your hands move with ease while your mind bubbles with creativity. It's a reminder to me that the learning stage is worth working through. The piece feels like me and has some of those moments that show up in my textile art - in particular the buttons and lining. I definitely want to do more of this kind of work.

This frog-like shape may not look like much but it's the two fronts and the back of the baby sweater seamed together at the shoulders. Not only is that a major accomplishment of Day Two - Screaming Baby - The Sequel but I knit the right front three times. The first time, I noticed that not only were the buttonholes not evenly spaced, there weren't enough rows. The second time, I'd knit the entire side only to note that I hadn't cast on enough stitches and had knit the right front one size smaller than all the other pieces. The third time, it was correct. Thankfully. Today... perhaps.. sewing on the sleeves and maybe a collar. It depends...

... on screaming baby. Isn't he cute... at the end of the day... in a rare moment of silence. For this too, we give thanks.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - one completely and correctly knit right front

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Photographic Evidence

The most adorable baby in the world has spent a good portion of the last twenty-four hours screaming his head off... with style of course... and volume. I attribute this not to a lack of co-operation on his part but entirely to the double serving of espresso crème brulee and the two hazelnut lattes his mother has consumed and shared - LOL.

My son-in-law left for home yesterday morning, the car loaded down with shower gifts and this Janome G1212 sewing machine that I bought to replace the heavier, older model I'd previously given my daughter. It's a simple, easy, mechanical machine, great for a beginner and part of the Janome Shop At Home program that allows you to buy a machine at substantially reduced prices and have it delivered to your home or local dealer.

Yesterday, Jessica cut out the front and back pieces of McCall's 6494 in a light weight denim. If his little highness allows, this morning we'll look for fabric with a suitable applique subject - like a monkey or tiger - that could also be used for trim and/or a hat. I'm trying not to be too gushy but WHAT FUN! This is the first time my daughter has sewn since her high school sewing class. It's been a long wait. Her mind was already thinking in creative details. Loved that. And I have photographic evidence that it happened and is not merely a figment of my imagination.

Half of the right front is finished on my friend's grandbaby's sweater. This is the last piece to knit, then sew shoulder seams, add sleeves, add collar, block, sew up side seams, and finish with buttons. Hmm... there's a LONG way to go. I'll attempt to finish this piece today and we'll see what really happens.

This is something that hasn't happened in the studio for a long time - an order from my wholesaler. The white boxes are thread, the grey ones are Clover Silk Pins (the best), the bolt is of soluble stabilizer, the white package is of a sticky soluble stabilizer I want to sample to see if it's worth the extra expense, and the black package is a fusible knit interfacing to trial before ordering a bolt.


I'm enjoying visiting with my daughter and grandson and at the same time I'm looking forward to leaving for the Design Outside The Lines workshop. Four more sleeps. There's something amazing about getting together with other creative people that sparks ideas and gets "things" going. My creativity grew so much during last year's workshop and a HUGE AMOUNT in-between. Last year, I went searching for a sense of direction and this year, I have greater clarity and an awareness of the work to be done when I get back to the studio. That alone is enough, absolutely fabulous, because life has looked a lot like this graph for the past long - long - way too long - time. HOWEVER ...

... if you could climb down into that hole (which we'll fondly refer to as last year's year from hell) you'd see that the arrow is finally pointing upward. Last week, I proposed an exhibit to the local gallery called Around The Neck to be comprised of scarves, wraps, and necklaces primary made from textiles and embellishment. If they go for it, it'll be the push I need and if they don't, I'll look for another opportunity. Although it'll mean changes to how things operate in the studio, it's time. I'm - finally - ready to do the work and that's a really exciting energy.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - that sleeping babies are so adorable it makes up for screaming babies

Monday, June 10, 2013

Pull Out The Materials And Start

Last night, everyone was home for dinner to celebrate my birthday. The guys had steak. My daughter cooked salmon in a special sauce for the two of us and she and my son-in-law made espresso crème brulee for dessert. YUMMY. The kids said I broke my own rule when I asked for gifts of money. LOL - not really. I just saved them the shipping fees by picking up my own gifts at the workshop.

Saturday was the baby shower. It went really well. Fourteen of our friends came, took turns holding Daimon, and brought wonderful spoil me silly gifts.

 I... of course... was perfectly happy to show him off and to agree that yes, he is the cutest baby.

Here are the two sweaters you got peeks of last week. They are whatever size they are when they fit him but somewhere around eighteen months I'd guess.

One of Jessica's friends said that I must do a lot of knitting. No. I've just been knitting a long time although today and tomorrow I need to get my needles to the grindstone and finish the sweater for my friend's grandson as we'll both be leaving soon and I want to send it with her.  Her grandbaby lives in another province just like mine does and he's due June 20th so she'll probably leave before I get back from my trip.

Yesterday, I worked on the assignment for the workshop. Any form of scrapbooking is not really my thing. I journal in that I write down my thoughts and shred the page and find it both cathartic and a form of praying on paper. I don't keep a sketchbook or visual journals nor create pretty pages of photographs although I have made a few vision boards in the past to answer specific questions.

With this assignment, I decided to simply to do the work, gather some images, arrange them in a way that tells my story, secure them in a viewable manner, and let them either tell that story however someone chooses to interpret it or to encourage them to ask questions. Either way is fine.

I used what I had - a spiral bound black journal from years ago, regular scissors, and the wrong kind of glue. It's working. There are two pages to go. Good. Enough.

I've started reading The Art Of Jewellery Design by Liz Olver. It took me forever - and a highly circuitous route - to find this book. I wanted to learn about the elements of design applied to jewelry although the elements listed are different than the ones I've studied previously. They are shape, form, texture, colour, the 5 senses, emotion, function, materials, and process. The last two I see more as technical than design based but perhaps once I've read the broader description they'll make more sense. So far, it's exactly the material I was looking for although...

... the author is English, a senior lecturer at an art school, and most likely trained through a City & Guilds format that is labour intensive in terms of pre-development. Certainly the format of the book is similar to what I know about City & Guilds. I stopped counting the number of before steps that she thought were "very important" from writing a design brief, to a statement of intent, to a description of the process, to gathering of inspiration, to making samples, to....

Way back when, I began studying textile art through the City & Guilds format and, after a few modules, withdrew from the program. At one time, that format would have worked for me but in-between wanting to and finally taking the program, I had learned to create in a more relaxed, free flowing, let's see what happens, just do the work and let it develop how it wants to develop, kind of way. I'd changed.

Now, by the time I've thoroughly detailed a piece on paper and analyzed the objective from every angle, I no longer want to make it. It's done. There's not enough mystery and discovery left to entice me. Now, what's "very important" for me is to start, to respond to the developing piece, and to stay with it until it says it's done.

I'm reading this book because I want to make jewelry from fabric incorporating the textures and techniques learned in textile art inspired by the world around me which is the same world that inspires my textile art and the same world that inspires my (getting more) creative clothing. That's all the design brief, objective, process information that I need to begin. Beginning is the critical point. To get from thought to finished product, I need to start and then to develop better and better designed pieces, I need to first make a lot of ugly pieces and then step by step, piece by piece, I'll learn and improve.

This is going to sound incredibly funny coming from me but there is a danger in overthinking. Sometimes, we just need to pull out the materials and start.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a fun family weekend