Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Let Go And Let's See

Just as the angle of an airplane determines its altitude, so does the approach we take - to family, to work, to life in general - determine the attitude we present to the world. The way we solve a problem is often secondary to the approach we take in facing the problem, our outward expression every bit as critical as the inward struggle to stabilize the unstable. When the skies above appear stormy, how will you steer that internal plane we call attitude.

The quote is taken from the back cover of John Maxwell's book How High Will You Climb?  As you can tell from the blurb, it's about attitude. The inside cover reads: When our attitude crashes, we have two alternatives. We can either alter the difficulty or alter ourselves.... which is often easier said than done. Most of us recognize the impact that negativity has on our lives but recognition doesn't necessarily make it easier to climb out of that hole when your stable is greatly destabilized.

The past year has been a mixed bag of things to deal with, most of them not much fun. My Oregon holiday was exactly the break I needed and while I came back to much of the same in terms of the stress of the mess of the rest of my life, I am determined to get on with enjoying life because time certainly hasn't stood still and I don't want to waste what I have.

When I read Julia Cameron's quote... The answer is very simple. Pray for the person you resent ...  the thought that popped into my mind was that sometimes it is not a person you resent; sometimes it's a situation. Now, every time my mind turns to negativity, I pray into the situation and as corny as it sounds, that proactive approach truly is calming.

I've also been playing more. All these piece used fabric and paints and tools that have been stored for years in the laundry room. It was much more fun to actually paint with them, to let go of achieving FABULOUS results to achieve results of some kind and in the process to learn. This applies to much of life. Flow is so much better than control.

A friend and I were talking the other day about how have we changed as we've aged and we both agreed that we've come to realize that many of the things we used to worry about don't really matter in the bigger scheme of things AND how important relationships are, especially our relationship and the honesty we bring to it. A friend who tells you the truth is a valuable friend. I'm lucky to have several.

When I turned forty, someone said to me but just wait until you're fifty, fifty is so much better. And it is... which is saying a lot... because forty was pretty amazing. Fifty for me is much more relaxed; it has more let go and let's see in it. I play more - like with these paints - and experiment more - like with fashions that may or may not suit me -and I'm really enjoying that change - which is of course a different attitude from the one I had before.

Years and years ago, when I first went into business, I had some very rigid opinions on what I and other artists should be paid and  completely failed to understand the older artists who were less focused on what they were worth and more focused on creating, enjoying the process, and finding a way to afford the cost of more creating. And now I understand. More than anything, I just want to create.

Yesterday, I spent most of the afternoon working on a scarf prototype blending together different stitch patterns into one overall design. I'm not worried about how long it took or what the scarf could sell for or if this was a complete waste of my time. Instead, my primary concern is to use my artistic skills to design, write, and publish patterns as a viable business to get those deductions and if the patterns sell, what a delightful bonus that will be. I do - of course - want them to sell but that's not my main focus. I'm not thinking at all about what will "they" buy. I'm thinking about what do I want to try and that shift of focus is a lovely perspective.

Growing up, "they" said to follow your passion and the money will follow as if it was a sure thing, like a law of science or something. Well, I'm here to say that's not always true or at least not consistently true. My number one passion is fabric and I followed that route and some years I made money and more years I struggled and in the process I burnt out and wondered if I even liked fabric at all anymore. One aspect of the knitting business I'm thoroughly enjoying is that it's not fabric. I'm not saying that fabric will never be a part of any business life again but right now, no... and that's good.

The pieces above are the tricolor ones now that they've been dried, pressed, and taken outside to photograph. The colors look pretty consistent on my screen; hopefully they do on yours as well. Last night, I started adding more layers to two of them and WHAT FUN ! ! ! ! Right now what I'm ending up with looks a bit like a hot mess but I'm painting my way through this learning curve and we'll see where it takes me. At some point, I'll need to make a shift from creating all over fabric designs to pieces with more feature elements. It'll come. Eventually. Through painting.

The other day, I posted about starting with ugly. Above is the wardrobe I packed to go to Oregon in May. The polka dot and the pink sweaters were both new. When I washed the pink one, the front  - which was rayon - shrunk even in cold water while the back - which was a woven polyester - did not. I threw it away. When I washed the polka dot one...

... the color ran which was quite discouraging since I really loved that sweater BUT then... the thought... it's ugly... and why not take out the underarm seam, lay it flat, and see what I and my paints can do with it. I have that project sitting in the back of my mind as well as the coat I cut out to take to Oregon that need some spray painting before the weather gets too cold to do it outside and another brown/black check project that's jumping up and down demanding attention.

I haven't sewn since the beginning of September which is a really long break for me already and by the time I get back from looking after my grandson, it'll have been over a month. I'm getting itchy; it's good to have projects lined up and ready to go and it's been good to take this break to work on other things. It's good to be developing some confidence with paint so I can begin to think about adding surface design to those garments. That'll be a next step on the learning curve.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - thinking about working with the sweater BEFORE I threw it away

If you don't search for more, you'll never find it. 
- Galen Weston

Monday, September 29, 2014

Painting In My Pajamas

Isn't it strange how we can have a yearning that comes to nothing and then suddenly, click, it works. I started collecting dyes and paints, buying books, taking workshops, and trying really hard to get into dyeing fabric twenty-five years ago and it just didn't work for me. In the end, I concluded that I could buy hand-dyed fabric. Perhaps, I was too fearful, too much of a perfectionist.

Eight years ago, a friend came for the weekend and we spent three days dyeing fabrics following specific formulas to complete the assignment for a workshop we were taking.... which I didn't really enjoy... the formulas... not the friend. And then, a few years after that, I began dyeing pieces intuitively using the color knowledge I've gained over the years. That was WAY more fun. I used the resulting fabric in my textile art work. The pieces were meant to be cut up and worked into a design. Now, I want to make the switch to creating fabrics for fashion and to making more purposeful marks. HOWEVER...

... first I decided I needed to play. On Saturday night, I already had my pajamas on and was curled up on the couch when I got the urge to paint. Painting in my pajamas? Sure, why not? I decided that since the Setacolors needed to be watered down so much, I would use them to create backgrounds and in the process use them up and then, when they're dry, figure out how to take the backgrounds forward.

In the end, I emptied out ALL of the paint pots. There are no more Setacolor paints in my studio. For some of the semi-dried up ones, I added water to the jar and let it sit overnight and that helped to loosen some of the paint. Others were already too plastic-lumpish that they weren't breaking down much even with the water so I smeared them on the surface anyway and used...

... what is fast becoming my favourite tool - a pot scrubber with a handle from the dollar store - to spread the lumps around.

I started by laying the fabric on the painting surface and adding the first color. My lines were mostly horizontal at the beginning and then later on, when I realized I was only going in one direction, I started making them vertical, diagonal, and wavy. From piece to piece, I could feel myself loosening up.

Then I added a second color by splotching it down next to the first one and letting them bleed together. I mostly used a wide soft brush to apply the paint.

Each piece contains three colors, one of which was used up entirely on that piece and one or two of which moved to the next piece.

I kept using what I had and adding new colors to the pieces one-by-one until all the paints were gone. The pieces were painted from back to front in the image above plus the one below on Saturday night.

This one was quite wet and the paint was going through to the felt below and coming up in the next pieces so I let everything dry overnight and then painted with the neutral colors on Sunday.

These pieces were painted front, back, and then middle using white, metallic grey, copper, black, and pearlescent. One of the frustrating factors with Setacolors is that they dry much lighter than they look wet. I'll show you all the dried pieces in tomorrow's post before I start playing with stamps and stencils.

If you're getting tired of painting posts, this week will be all painting and knitting and next week will be either knitting or nothing since on Friday, I'm heading to Calgary to look after my adorable grandson for a week while his parents are on vacation. What happens on the blog depends on how exhausted I am after spending the day with an eighteen month old and on how much knitting actually happens. I may be a lump on the couch unable to even move my arms. I have no idea. It's been a LONG time since I looked after a toddler. Right now, I'm knitting samples for a scarf pattern that I want to make in a variety of yarn weights to achieve different looks. I figure if I keep it simple - same pattern, different yarn, different needles - this might work while grandparenting full time.

Talk soon- Myrna

Grateful - loosening up, some pretty painted pieces

She was unstoppable, not because she did not have failures or doubts, but because she continued on despite them.
- Beau Taplin

Friday, September 26, 2014

Designing And Publishing Versus Knitting And Selling

I learned to knit the way I do now in my early twenties while doing my hairdressing apprenticeship. The two women that I worked with knit all the time and they taught myself and the other apprentice to knit as well... or re-taught in my case. I'd previously done some knitting using the throw method and they taught us the continental method which is smoother, faster, and a lot better for elbows sitting side by side on a bench in a small staff room.

One of the great things about knitting is its portability both inside and outside the home. You can knit just about anywhere. Before I started writing and then running my own business, I did a lot of knitting and then as life got busier, knitting went by the wayside until about six years ago when I joined a group as a way of getting out of the house and meeting other women. I've enjoyed getting back to knitting.

AND... as is typical of me... I've been learning how to improve my skills, particularly with aspects like buttonholes and ways of sewing the garment together plus different methods such as top down or side to side or in all one piece or in sections. As with sewing, I've explored fit with knits and how to construct a garment that is more individualized and flattering. Knitting is much slower than sewing but equally satisfying.

I've changed existing patterns and I've developed patterns of my own. At first, when I decided to set up a knitting business, my intent was to knit items to sell. That idea quickly changed. On my drive down and back through Washington and Oregon, I stopped at a lot of galleries, showed them my scarves, and asked what could you sell this for? The answer was often far less than the yarn to say nothing of the twenty-one hours it took to knit the scarf below. Selling at prices like that would not only be discouraging personally but would not create a viable business and therefore not qualify for the deductions.

Even though  my objective is to legally meet the requirements for the in-home business deductions - which I have to say is a fabulous perspective from the perspective of doing whatever you want to do and not worrying about what "they" would buy - the idea I'm working on has to make sense SO...

...plan B is to knit prototypes and develop patterns and then publish and sell the patterns. Both the blue and the teal scarf are my adaptations. I'd say original design although I do have to wonder with all the years and years and years of knitting that's been going on if there are actually any original designs left. The pink is the center of a scarf I designed last year. Each end is lacy and the scarf is knit in two sections with a seam in the middle - the fatal flaw. I'll redo the design and change that aspect which will mean learning a new skill. And this is good. And so is designing and publishing versus knitting and selling.

Above is yesterday's painted piece. Again, it started with a sample from the workshop that was rather blah. See below.

With knitting, my focus is on having fun while meeting those in-home business requirements to legally qualify for the deductions. With painting, my focus is on having fun making marks on the fabric and seeing where they lead me. Having fun is a good focus. Play is good for us. We should all play far more often.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a new knitting direction

Life is a mirror and will reflect back to the thinker what he thinks into it. 
- Ernest Holmes

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Start With Ugly

Owning an entire row of jacket patterns does not mean I have a yearning to sew jackets - cause I tried that and it didn't work, I don't wear jackets - but - even so - I have to wonder if having four cupboards of dyeing and painting supplies hides an inner yearning. Up until last fall, I also had a stack of canvasses. I gave most of those to my friend Francine who does actually paint... but I kept one... and you never know... however...

... right now, I'm working on painting on fabric and gathering some kind of skill that will allow me to add individualized details to my work. In cupboard one, the top shelf is tole paints, the second shelf is Tulip brand paints to the left and painting tools to the right, and the third shelf is Setacolor fabric paints to the left and Lumiere fabric paints to the right. Basically, the quality improves as you move downward and that's the path I'm following - using up the less desirable paints first while I'm building up my skills and betting that if I can work with the tough stuff, it'll be easier working with the good stuff.

Cupboard two is dyes on the top shelf, fabric pens, dye powders, paint sticks and transfer paints on the second shelf and professional grade acrylic paints on the third shelf. This is basically a cupboard that never gets opened. That's something to think about too - how could these supplies be worked in to what I'm already doing. Those four purple containers on the bottom left were bought to paint a couch and then I didn't. I could find a piece of furniture that I actually paint - LOL - even just for the fun of it and to use those paints.

AND... this cupboard is mess preventing supplies and tools. These do get used frequently. Below - not shown - is another cupboard of tubs and quart sized plastic containers for dyeing fabric gradations.

To make sure I paint on a regular basis - like hopefully daily - I set up a table between the work island and my computer desk. The trays from the paint cupboard are easily portable. Yesterday, after painting, I cleaned all the supplies and refilled the water glass and rinse tub ready for the today. In her book The Creative Woman's Getting It All Together At Home Handbook, author Jean Ray Laury mentions that her then mother-in-law advised her to never leave the loom unstrung. I don't weave, but that's good and transferable advice. If you're set up to do the work, you're more likely to do the work.

Start with ugly is an assignment from my Self Expressions workshop on creating pattern free textile art in your style. The basic concept of the assignment is that we're not afraid of ruining something we already think is ugly so we're more willing to risk and risking can take you places you never thought you'd go. This starting piece is from the workshop with Diane. It's the first one I made and a mish-mash of trials and ideas. In the end, I crumpled it up with some green paint which explains that blotching.

To start, I took a fat felt pen and meandered it over the surface. I don't usually work to music but on my trip I discovered Praise 106.5 and I was listening on-line which mean my pen bobbed along to the music.

Then I filled in spaces with the Setacolor paints which work best when mixed with substantial water. These paints are REALLY old - ten to fifteen years at least if not more - and a lot of them have turned lumpy and dried up. I'll use up what I can but I won't replace them since there are better products for what I want to do. With the sample, I tried putting the paint on thick and then watering it down with a wet brush and pulling it around as well as putting it on already watered down. From there...

... I just kept adding more layers and forgot to take a picture at each stage. The finished piece is significantly different than the starting point although I haven't decided if I like it. Not that it matters. I learned a lot AND... I painted another piece and this is good.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a paint place, a painted piece

The answer is very simple. Pray for the person you resent. 
- Julia Cameron

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What I Bought On My September Vacation

Although I dragged my behind and put it off as long as possible - by procrastinating for several days and then by going for coffee with a friend yesterday morning - the studio is now clean. To be honest, I wasn't sure that I could actually get all the fabric I'd bought into the stash closet... which would mean dealing with my escalating fabric buying habits... which I really didn't want to look at too closely right now... so you can imagine how...

... delighted I was to move everything around and free up four and a half feet of shelving. YES YES - room for more fabric. When I phoned my friend to tell her what I'd managed to accomplish, she was stunned. Really? How did I do that? Apparently, it's a magic stash closet, every expanding, oh so accommodating, and now adorned with the logo from the brochure I picked up in Portland.

I had a carefully detailed shopping plan before I left that completely went out the window. One yummy ball of yarn became eleven black, six blue, and seven green - on sale - but still more than one. And one souvenir piece of fabric became...

... eleven - also on sale - plus the striped linen (bottom of the first picture) that was a remnant from MarcyTilton.com and arrived in the mail while I was gone. The fabrics are a mix of linen, cotton, and knits. The olive-lime-ish piece is net with black velvet dots that are scattered somewhat randomly. It's for an overlay but on what; I have no idea.

Shape Shape 2 contains a pattern for a combo A-line Skirt/Harem Pants that I've been admiring for a while. Sheri had sewn it and seeing it sewn was all it took to absolutely NEED to have the book. I bought Knit Your Socks On Straight not because I love knitting, or even wearing, hand knit socks but because I've tried every other sock knitting method and I wanted to try this one too. Just because. I was on the look out for Essentially Feminine Knits after seeing it at knit night just before I left. Not only is there an elegant and sophisticated poncho pattern but many of the sweaters have unusual lines and details and surprise backs.

The pattern is the Modern Silhouette Vest by Crossroads, part of Indygo Junction, Inc. I saw a model made up at Fabric of Vision and it was far more interesting in person than on the pattern cover. The rayon fabric is also from Fabric of Vision. One of my assignments from Diane in the coaching session was to find items that represented fluid to me. This fabric was one as...

... was this dress from the thrift store. Considering the size of the shoulder pads, it's most likely from the eighties. There was no label. I have no idea what size the garment is or the fabric content but it's a somewhat see-through knit with a flocked design. The bottom portion is long enough that I can cut it off and make a skirt from it and by adjusting the length from the top, the waist should work out.

Fluid to me was not just a movement, it's a flowing attitude of adjusting around the rocks and boulders of our lives and keeping on keeping on. This "charm" symbolized that for me.

And fluid is also about the evolution of our style which seems to be slightly behind the evolution of our personality and preferences. These three shrug pictures are from Sublime knitting books. The one above is more "prissy" like and conservative. This next one...

...is somewhat sassier with more flow and movement. It's less conservative and would be far more flattering on my figure. The third one...

... isn't necessarily the most flattering one but it represents the attitude I'm developing into of something just a little bit more unusual, less main stream, more individualized. Since the knot and the curved hemline would do great things for my bust, they might also minimize my tummy... or... sigh... I could exercise. SO much easier to knit.

I seem to have developed a fondness for thrift store furniture. This time it's not a chair, it's an end table. I bought this at Farmhouse Funk in Astoria which is on 10th and my car was parked on 14th. Luckily, it's quite light. The basket underneath was 40% off at Michaels. It has a lid which made it just perfect for...

... my yarn stash. I threw the black skeins on top, closed the lid, and pushed it under the end table. Together, the table and basket add warmth to the living room without adding visual clutter. That's another thing I learned on my vacation - that my house is perhaps a little too open and could use some warmer, more personal, and visually interesting things to look at. I'm working on that.

I picked up this doorknob at Vintage Hardware in Astoria. It's not vintage. You can order more. They only had one in stock so I brought it home to see what I think. The cupboards above my computer desk have six doorknobs. This adds personality so I may order five more.

The wind chime is currently hanging over the door to the studio and tinkles every time I walk by. I want to replace the purple net hanging cord with a silver chain and hang the chimes from the ceiling but not until I get wheels put on my work island and decide if I'm going to move the studio around. I don't want them to end up hanging in my face.

SO... that about covers it. I've talked about where I went, what I painted, what I learned and what I bought on my September vacation and now it's probably about time to move on to a new topic. Like getting to work in the studio. Thanks for sharing my holiday with me.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - invitations to a friend's home and the example of others

Change, even when it's for the good, can be frightening. But if you are going to transform your life through a journey to prosperity, you must try to learn to welcome change. 
- Edwene Gaines