Monday, December 1, 2014

If We Were Born To...

Do you have kids? Then you know that not one of them popped out as tabula rasa, a blank slate. Each came into this world with a distinct and unique personality, an identity so set that you can fling stardust and great balls of fire at it and not morph it by one micro-dot. Each kid was who he was. Even identical twins, constituted of the exact same genetic material, were radically different from Day One and always would be. Personally I'm with Woodsworth:

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:The soul that rises with us, our life's star,Hath had elsewhere its setting, And cometh from afar:Not in entire forgetfulness,And not in utter nakedness,But trailing clouds of glory do we come, From God who is our home. 

In other words, none of us was born as passive generic blobs waiting for the world to stamp its imprint on us. Instead we show up possessing already a highly refined and individuated soul. Another way of thinking of it is this: We're not born with unlimited choices. We can't be anything we want to be. We came into this world with a specific, personal destiny. We have a job to do, a calling to enact, a self to become. We are who we are from the cradle, and we're stuck with it. Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it. If we were born to paint, it's our job to become a painter. If we were born to raise and nurture children, it's our job to become a mother. If we were born to overthrow the order of ignorance and injustice of the world, it's our job to realize it and get down to business.
- Steven Pressfiled, The War of Art

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Human beings have an unlimited learning capacity. You've been designed by God to learn. Now it doesn't mean you can learn everything that is out there, but it means you can learn everything you need to know to properly inform your dreams. Curiosity is essential for life. Curiosity is essential for learning. Curiosity keeps you exploring. To live the life God created you to live, you must continue to explore. It's part of the way God designed you. That why when we're children, we have an insatiable curiosity, a need to discover and drive to explore. It's a part of the way God made us. - Erwin Raphael McManus, Wide Awake

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When Louisa of Damselfly's Delights invited me to participate in the Around The World Blog Hop, she noted that my every-day posts have a lot of introspection and process in them anyway - meaning that I've kind of answered all the questions before - BUT... she thought it would be lovely to have all the answers in one place. It was so sweet or her to ask me to participate. While it may seem to some like a child-ish game, I think this blog hop shows how connecting creativity can be and how we are all the same and yet uniquely different and how creativity is understood across many mediums. From what I can tell, the hop has evolved  from roots in quilt making.


There are four questions to answer. One of them - how does my work differ from others of its genre? - really made me think. Both with the textile art I created before and with the creative wearables I'm making now, my objectives has been to discover my voice and to create in my own distinctive style and yet, I don't think that's particularly unique in any way although fewer people may articulate it as I do.

What I think is different about how I create is that I'm very intentional. As my daughter once said, for someone who sews as much as you do, you don't have a lot of clothes. Most of what I sew never makes it to my closet. I'm curious. I like to follow up questions like how can I sew jeans that look like jeans or could I sew a better than RTW bra or what will it take for me to achieve good fit that flatters or what is the best way to stitch these pattern pieces together. I love questions to explore and when the exploration is finished - although I may have spent weeks and days on the journey - I'll be lucky to have one garment to show for it. And I'll still have had a lot of fun.

I recently explored with Marcy Tilton's Vogue 9060 skirt pattern. I started with the paisley skirt above left changing the stitching order so I could add the waistband differently. On that particular day, I just wanted to sew, not measure, so I cut out the medium with no changes and didn't even try the skirt on until it was finished at which point I discovered it wanted to crawl up my body because the 4" waistband reaches from my waist to my hips which are significantly wider.

I gave the paisley skirt to a friend and followed the curious thought of what kind of waistband would I need to stop the skirt from crawling. My next version is from a much softer fabric. The waistband is still 4" long but much wider - the width of my hips - with an elastic casing. Now I can pull it on and wear it without the skirt crawling.

The waistband is doubled. I thought that added extra bulk where I don't need it so I tried again, this time making the skirt several sizes smaller for the lesser person I'm on my way to being. This time, the waistband is the 4" width plus a seam allowance to sew to the main body of the skirt plus a casing to fold down for elastic. No doubling. It works! Curiosity drives many of my sewing decisions.

The question what am I working on? made me laugh. I think of my life as a big canvas. Creativity is everywhere. I've spent the past ten days working on my kitchen, painting the tile turquoise with a lime stripe, the counter tops black, the island white, the island counter top metallic blue, and the walls grey. I hated the brown that was there from the minute I moved in and recently came across a paint that would allow me to change the color. I may appear stalled on a project for a long time - in this case almost three years - but when I find an answer, I'm full steam ahead.



In the studio, I'm piecing together a dress using fabric from Susan's on-line store The Smuggler's Daughter. Again, I'm curious about the questions can I mix two fabrics, add sleeves, and use piecing to create a winter version of Lynn Mizono's Vogue 1410 that will look vastly different from both the pattern envelope and from my previous attempt.

AND... I'm working on a challenge project with a friend creating a garment using one fabric in one color. I chose a brown ponte knit because I don't normally work with brown and I wondered if I could sew something I would actually wear and because I bought ten meters of this fabric inexpensively which gives me plenty of play room. I'm working hard at - LOL - learning to play.

AND... I'm working on a series of scarves using easy, I could knit that while watching TV, stitches both for the fun of developing the patterns and for the meditative nature of knitting.

AND... I just received some buckles and snaps in the mail that will allow me to go forward with copying a purse that my daughter loved. Hers was synthetic leather. Mine is painted fabric. It's a slouchy fun bag. I can't wait to see how it turns out.

Painting fabric is something new for me. I've wondered and wanted for years and then, in September, took a workshop with Diane Ericson that provided the click I needed. Since then, I've painted a bunch of fabric samples, the fabric for the purse, and some canvas for a coat. I'm having fun. I'm starting to find my distinctive voice.

On Friday, when I was cleaning up the kitchen from the painting project, I hung a canvas on the dining room wall and rolled off the black paint intending it as a joke, a temporary piece to replace the painting that was there before until I found a new one except - as I rolled - I was struck by the overwhelming feeling of I can do this. I've thought about painting canvasses for a long time and suddenly it seems possible. I think things seem possible when the time is right, when we've let that thought gestate long enough and both it and we are ready. I plan to hang another canvas on the wall in my laundry room where all my paints are and add a bit to it every day. Organic painting. I'm curious to see where that will take me and what I might learn from the process.

A friend and I were talking about the question why do I create what I do? when we got together to knit last Thursday. She was struggling with spending a lot of time knitting a sweater only to have it not fit. The fear that it might not fit was preventing her from starting. If I knit a sweater that doesn't fit, I take it apart and knit another one. That bothers many people but it doesn't bother me - at least not any more. I've become far more process oriented than product driven. I want to learn. I'm curious. I'm exploring to see what happens.

With the size three, little girl's coat above, I wanted to play and I wanted to use up some scraps from previous projects. Years ago, I was all about the end product and if it didn't fit or look like I thought it should look, the project was a failure and the journey discounted. Now, I'm all about the process, about enjoying the learning along the way, about having as much fun as possible getting there. If the end product also fits and looks fabulous, what a happy bonus. I'm so thankful for that shift. It has allowed for continuous success from a process point of view and a higher success rate from a product point of view. Shifting was hard work but worth it.


How does my creative process work?
In short, the idea that tickles the loudest goes to the front of the line. It starts with a thought or a question and follows along step-by-step, doing one thing and then another, until the piece says its finished. Even when I'm following a pattern. Because I rarely follow the pattern exactly.

I recently sewed a coat for my dog because I couldn't find one of quality in the stores that was worth what they were charging - even though I knew this would have my family rolling over with laughter. It started with the question can I make Chloe a coat that will fit better, function better, and be of higher quality? The fabric is a felted wool. I felted it last year when I was following up the question can I turn this sweater I never wear into some fabric I could use? The answer to both questions - YES I CAN. Miss Chloe loves her coat.

Since becoming a woman of a certain age - VBG - the driving force in my studio has been fun and play. Because I'm a great bargain shopper, I can sew clothing less expensively than I can buy it RTW but even if I couldn't, I'd still sew because I like clothes that fit and flatter, because I like clothes that are different from what is in the stores and from what everyone else is wearing, because I breath in fabric and am addicted to potential, and because this is the way God made me. It's who I am, the way I was created, my voice in the world. What I love about this blog hop is how we can support and encourage others to be their best through creativity. It's a wonderful thing - this creative connection.

Thanks again Louisa for asking me to participate. I hope you'll check out her blog as well as Wendy's - West Zen Studio. This past May, I was standing in the lobby of the Ashland Springs Hotel when Wendy stepped out of the elevator. We both looked at each other with that I know you but I don't know how I know you kind of look until I asked her what blog do you write? Again - the connections - how fabulous they are - and the support. Wendy let me try on the sweater above to sew how I liked it and now it's on my knitting to do list.

When you visit her site, you'll enjoy her unique mix. We are all a combination of our experiences. Wendy has a Masters of Architecture that shows up in the style of her pieces and in her construction process. Her understanding of color, texture, and line is uniquely her own, owing in part to her years of owning a retail store carrying handmade items - a store that prompted her to explore her own creativity further with a Master of Fine Arts degree. I love learning and that's one of the things I enjoy about talking to Wendy... her curiosity... plus she's confident, fun loving, great fun to be around, and wonderfully creative. Her playground includes sculpture, sewing, knitting, wood working, and metal smithing. YES YES. A warning - you might need coffee and a chunk of time to visit her blog. I think you'll be checking out the older postings. LOTS of inspiration.

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I set this posting to auto post. By the time it shows up, I'll be miles down the road, curled up in my friend's studio, knitting. I left bright and early yesterday morning on a ten day holiday, spending time with two friends, knitting and sewing in their studio, and enjoying creative conversations and the connecting power of creativity.

An apology - I promised to show the finished Lynn Mizono dress today only it's not finished. I was running out of time getting ready to leave and had to prioritize. To get everything done by when it needed to be done, I opted to ignore the housekeeping - LOL - and to finish the dress this week. I've packed it and the sewing machine and Millicent the dressform and you WILL get a picture asap.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - creative friends

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. 
- Walt Disney


  1. Thanks so much for continuing the hop with such a great post, Myrna! And thanks also for introducing me to Wendy's work. I love that sweater!

    Have a safe, fun and productive trip!

  2. It's been great to learn more about your process, Myrna. Each of us is so unique in her approach to creative work/play. I love reading how others do it!

    1. Thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I love how we're all the same and yet so different and what we can learn from each other.


Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.