Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Transitional Phase

This time between Christmas and New Years is a transitional phase. Next year is going to look a lot different than this year with me working outside the studio. For now, the holiday is over and most everyone has returned to work although that looks rather strange and reversed at our house. Howard has the week off and I'm working afternoons at the salon. I was teasing him that I'd want to come home to dinner on the table. Not. We ordered Chinese food yesterday and there are leftovers which means dinner tonight is done too. This is good.

I've been shoveling a LOT of snow. The pile on top of the pot is just from one afternoon. It's pretty though. The trees look absolutely gorgeous and I'm enjoying watching how the light changes throughout the day and how it reflects off the snow.

Last week, I made a quick trip to visit my daughter for her 30th birthday. We all went to Starbucks in the morning and then Jessica and I went shopping and out for lunch. It's probably the first time in ten years I've been with her on the actual day and I really enjoyed that. Even though it was a quick trip, there still was time for fabric. Jessica and I picked out some for her purse on Wednesday and on Thursday, my friend Mary picked me up and we took the fiber tour to the airport stopping at the fabric store, the bead store, and the yarn store. YES YES! She said I was a mere shadow of my former self which makes her my new BFF and - LOL - makes me potentially invisible when I lose the next twenty-five pounds. Too fun.

This mannequin is getting as many haircuts as possible. I've cut the overall shape twice, one of which you can see in the back and yesterday, I cut asymmetrical bangs using a twist and cut method that is new from when I did hair before. And VERY effective. The right side head was already shaved so all my styles are working toward a final short one that will maximize that element.

I bought two balls of Bernat Sox yarn to make a pair in this fall color palette only to discover that the one ball and three joins. One join I'm okay with since thread does have to stop and start somewhere but three in one sock is frustrating. I'd much rather knit them end to end without any joins. Sigh. That I'm even complaining about sock yarn is...

... funny in itself because years ago I did an entire sock study trying every method only to conclude that not only did I hate knitting socks, I hated wearing knitted socks, only I knit eight pairs for Christmas presents including two pairs of sock slippers for my grandsons. They're made using a ribbed pattern that is supposed to prevent them from slipping off. Socks are as easy to knit as the triangular shawls I've spent so much time on over the past few years so they're perfect for knitting in public or in front of the TV.

No progress was made on the textile piece. In fact, you could say it has gone backward since I decided the background that I'd previous stitched wasn't working and I needed a new one. Yesterday, I picked up a heavy, white linen and I'm ready to move forward again.

I also printed out a portion of the design and folded it into grids to see how the colour distribution went. I like the way the printer blurred the design all together. Once again, that allows me to be inspired by without copying or cloning. And this is good.

I like to end the year without any unfinished projects and if that isn't possible, I prefer to end it with only one project in progress. This year, it will most likely end with one knitting project and one sewing project in progress and that's okay too.

How do you like to end the year?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - hair videos on YouTube

Friday, December 16, 2016

And Then I Let It Go

Next week is incredibly busy. I'll be working, travelling, celebrating both my friend's and my daughter's birthday, and getting ready for Christmas. There won't be much to share before the 25th so I'll wish you a Merry Christmas now and will - hopefully - post again that week with something new.

These two weeks of shadowing at the hair salon have gone well. I'm very hopeful that it's going to turn into an actual job. On Wednesday, I brought a mannequin home to cut and my boss said it was "excellent" which was especially wonderful to hear since I hadn't cut that style in thirty years. Last night, I cut another - slightly shorter - haircut. I'm hoping to get three or four done before I run out of hair on this mannequin. FUN!

 I cut the image above out of a magazine when I was doing my birthday collage in June and don't know who the artist is. I think it's fabulous and a great starting point for my red and white textile art piece for the gallery show in January.

To work from an inspiration source like this, I isolate different parts of the original that make up an interesting composition and then decide which of those I want to take forward. The goal is not to copy the original which - of course - isn't even possible since I'm working in fabric and not in paint - but to create my own interpretation of the inspiration.

When I've decided which section I prefer, I then look at the details that appeal to me and make a list of them such as asymmetrical balance, soft lines, scribbles, barbwire imagery, focal and secondary focal points, high contrast, soft edges, and flow from horizontal to vertical placement.

I study the inspiration source for as long as it takes me to feel ready to move forward and then I let it go and don't refer back to it again. Above is my starting point, You can see that right now it's very similar to the inspiration however, as I respond to the developing piece, it will begin to take on a life of its own. When I finish, sometimes a hint of the original remains; sometimes is vastly different.

A couple of months ago, I layered and stitched a linen tablecloth with thread circles. One thought I'm evaluating is to add in some smooth sections of a white cotton fabric to make the design stand out and to create contrast within the background.

Another is to create some scribbled lines by using the thread ends saved while stitching the background. They could be stitched separately into thread lace and then applied or they could be stitched directly onto the developing piece. It all depends - LOL - on how it develops.

The fabrics are beautiful hand-dyed cottons that one of my students sent me. I'm really excited to be using them in a piece. I started by pressing all of them and then separating out a starting pile.

AND... some black. One artist I really admire says that all pieces should go from white to black. I agree. I find that having both black and white helps to add definition and light to the piece. This black is a binding that I removed from a quilt recycled earlier. The mottle reverse side is going to add an interesting visual texture as well. I don't know if the piece will be finished by the next posting but it definitely has to be finished by the middle of January. Which is good. Because some clothes ideas are also dancing in my head.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - positive feedback on the haircut

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Two Heads Under My Arms

Good morning. I'm actually writing this posting the morning of since yesterday was so busy. I got home late from work and then spent the evening with a friend helping her learn to knit. I spent Monday night the same way. Two friends learning to knit is even better than one. These kinds of addictions are fun to pass on.

Most of my knitting projects end up as gifts. I tend to knit easier things like scarves, socks, and gloves that I can do while somewhat distracted. As with fabric, I buy yarn for my stash when it's on sale and then knit from the stash. Occasionally, I have a project in mind. The linen coloured yarn is for socks for a friend's birthday. That's not a colour I'd normally have on hand.

I keep a box of knitted things for when I need a quick gift. I finished these gloves for my new bosses only when I blocked them, the cream pair developed a stain along one edge. I think it's either from the pins or the board which is disturbing. They're soaking in Oxiclean right now. I'll re-dry them today and hopefully they'll be okay. I need them dby Friday because I'm not working... OR BLOGGING... next week. I'm going to hug my daughter for her 30th birthday.

After pinning the side seams, I took them in from 1" at the underarm to 1 3/4" at the waist tapered into the original seamline at the hip. That's 4" on the bust and 7" at the waist. I also took out the back darts and will make them narrower.

The sleeve seam was narrowed 1" all the way down or 2" in total. One sleeve is sewn back in and I'll finish the other today. I really love this dress - Vogue 1410 - and since I'd only worn it once, it was worth altering... which I normally hate to do. Most of the clothes I'm shrinking out of  won't be altered. I've worn them for a while and I'm looking forward to an entirely new wardrobe. If I still love the fabric, I cut them up and putting it aside for something refashioned.

I walked out of the salon yesterday with two heads under my arms, a blow dryer, and several different curling irons so I can "play" hairdresser at home. My new boss is incredibly supportive and thinks things are going well only I haven't cut any hair yet so she's definitely waiting to see how good I am at that... or not... before saying for sure if I'll be staying. It does look good though. I'm glad.

I'm enjoying the energy of the salon and I think now is a good time for me to return to work. The last time I cleaned the studio was much deeper and more intense than ever before. In particular, I shredded research materials, photographs, class notes, and other creative career type items. It doesn't mean I'll never go that way again because no one knows for sure what the future holds but I remember thinking this part of my life is over and it's been great to explore creativity without that shadow.

Art must be felt and cannot be willed... it has to generate spontaneously in the artist's inner self.

... an artistic impression is only received when an author has, in a manner true to himself, experienced the feeling which he transmits and not when he passes on another man's feelings previously transmitted to him.

The two paragraphs above are from Brenda Ueland's book If You Want To Write. She's talking about authenticity in our work and how that's the only place we can work from where the art we create will have a true impact on others. I think that's also valid of having a true impact on ourselves. I've worked from a what do they want and what will sell perspective and I've worked from a what do I want to create and what would happen if I did this or that curiosity perspective and the later is definitely preferable. It's a far more interesting and energizing journey even if I end up selling that piece.

After I finish altering the dress, I'll be working on the textile art piece for the gallery show in January. I started it a while ago and then put it aside while I finished other things. I'm looking forward to finishing it and to introducing myself to the art community through the exhibition BUT... I'm enjoying sewing clothes much more. I love the bonus of wearing them.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a supportive boss, two heads

Friday, December 9, 2016

Make It Smaller

Last night, a friend dropped by with four bags of clothes for me. She used to work in a high end boutique and some of the brand names are ones I'm unlikely ever to buy. After she left, I tried everything on and put aside what didn't work for another friend, what was still too small for later, and the rest into the closet to bring into circulation. Our colour choices vary with hers more in the creams and browns so a few of the 100% cotton items may get overdyed - in black - but what a treat.

I spent yesterday morning putting thumbs in Howard's fingerless gloves. I tried two different methods so they are not quite a pair. I wonder if he'll notice. There is still LOTS of yarn left, probably enough for a half dozen pairs. I'm not sure he'll want that many but if not, perhaps my boys will want some.

I quickly looked through Vogue, Butterick, and McCall to see if there was a dress pattern I wanted to sew. The only one that had any potential was Vogue 9107. I'm debating it... and a dress my friend dropped off and...

... Vogue 1410. I call this the magic dress because I have seen it look good on all body types and sizes. I made this black version in February. Almost twenty-five pounds later, it's way too big but I only wore it once so I'm not tired of it and it would be easy to make smaller especially if I eliminated the sleeves and made a shrug to go with. That's the direction I'm mostly leaning in.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - friends who share their clothes

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Work & Knitting

Just as I was climbing into bed last night, it dawned on me that it was Tuesday and I hadn't written and auto-posted this morning's blog. That would have been fine if I had gotten up at my usual time instead of rolling over for another hour of warm snuggly sleep... which I did... so it's late but it's here.

Yesterday was my first day shadowing my new boss - Anita. She's been a hairstylist since the 50's and is current, up to date, and extremely knowledgeable. Two of the other women have been stylists for over forty years. That's perfect. I'm going to learn so much.

Watching Anita, the movements were familiar and I'm comfortable the skills will return quite quickly. I've been watching YouTube videos on the popular styles and visualizing the movements and it feels quite doable. We'll see what happens when it's my turn to actually cut some hair - LOL.

Yesterday was also weigh day. I'm wearing my twenty-pound necklace that I got last week. In April, I lost ten pounds and so far this year I've lost 22 pounds in total with clothes on and 24.8 without clothing. I'm aiming for 25 by the end of the year. YES YES


The weather has turned incredibly cold. Howard asked if I could knit him some fingerless gloves for working out in the yard at the shop. I'll add thumbs to this pair and give them to him on the weekend and then knit the remainder of the ball into more gloves that I'll tuck into his Christmas present. There should be at least three pairs, possibly four. The yarn is a subtly variegated black-brown-grey which is both masculine and perfect for his working environment.

For myself, I'm knitting this Simple Shrug by Marni Reecer. The pattern is free on Ravelry. It's a tapered rectangle that starts narrower at one sleeve hem, widens up to the shoulders and across the back, and then tapers back down to the opposite sleeve hem. As long as you know your sleeve length and back width measurements, you can adapt the pattern to fit you really well.

The yarn is Berroco Vintage in a dark denim colour. This is a hardworking combination of acrylic, wool, and nylon. I added a mock cable to give the look a bit more texture. To make the stitch, on the first row you knit into the second stitch and then back into the first one and then slide both off the needle. On the second row, you knit all the stitches. Alternating these two rows makes the spiral you can see in my piece. It's gentle, simple, and quite pretty.

I'm still organizing Christmas. This is the latest I've ever been getting it all together but I do know what needs to be done and will finish up on the weekend. Other than that, it's a week of work and knitting. I went to one of my knitting groups on Monday night and will go to the other one on Friday afternoon and I had a friend over to knit last night. I'm working Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoon and Friday morning shadowing... which isn't really work but what else do I call it - VBG.

AND... I've been invited to the staff party on the 17th and will need a new outfit that fits. Too fun. I'm debating what to sew and hopefully will have something to share on Friday. I'd like it to be good for the party and also good for the next ten pounds.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - knitting camaraderie

Friday, December 2, 2016

Tart Day

Yesterday was tart day. I bake once a year, on the first of December, and just butter tarts. Some years, I've baked as many as 500. This year, it was fourteen dozen. Quite a few are to give away... which is good... because I calculated the Weight Watcher's points and of my 30 point daily allotment, a single tart is fifteen. Hmm...


This week's sewing was all Christmas gifts so I can't show any pictures until after the holidays. It'll have to be eye candy for today's posting. I checked with my new boss (that's so strange to type) to see if there's a dress code at the salon and the only requirement is to "dress nice" which she says I have been every time she's seen me so it's highly probable that anything I would feel comfortable wearing to work would be appropriate. I plan to have fun.

What to wear to work is an interesting thought. It's been over twenty years since I last worked outside the home. Now, not only am I considering the types of clothing I want for my smaller sized wardrobe but also the types of clothing I want to work in. I love the curved piecing in the dress above and I typically wear a lot of skirts and dresses only right now...

... the only pants I have that fit are two pairs of jeans so I find myself craving funky pants. The trouser style jeans above left look very comfortable and would be easy to sew - and wearable - on the tighter side first and then looser. The happy polka dots of the black and white ensemble are fabulous but the style looks frumpy to me. Perhaps it's because they look like clothes from my youth which...


... makes me laugh. I'm not going there again with the sweatsuit style but I am in all likelihood going there again with these pants above. They're from Oska and remind me of the Marcy Tilton pant patterns I have in stash. The OOP Vogue 8397 above is one of my favourites. Diane and I talked about that in my last coaching session - the garments I don't want to let go of and why. I think they are the perfect starting point for my new wardrobe.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - tarts and options