Friday, June 24, 2016

The Knitting Bag

Grasp your dreams. Reach for them. Take appropriate risks. One of the worst things you can die with is potential. Die with failure before you die with potential. Potential is something to be realized, not guarded and protected. So, dig it up! Invest it! And you will find that it is true - life comes from the inside out. - 9 Things You Simply Must Do to Succeed in Love and Life, by Henry Cloud

The quote above was in yesterday's study. It made me laugh... especially since my current project is working through the Bits & Pieces of Potential Boxes (BaPoPBs). Although my boxes are not what the author was referring to, what I might create, or learn, from them is definitely along those lines. It's so fabulous to have started working with them that I definitely don't want to die with that potential unrealized.  There will be failures. Yesterday I kept cutting out out two of the same pattern piece instead of one right side up and one right side down... from limited fabric... which led to problem solving.

My second BaPoPBs project is the knitting bag I mentioned last week. Originally it was for me until I was working on it and thinking about how it didn't really "look" like me and the thought popped into my head that of course it didn't, because it wasn't for me, it was for a woman at knitting who is dealing with "stuff". It's so funny when my projects talk to me. At one time if I'd heard someone say that, I'd have wondered about their sanity and now I say things like that all the time.

The bag started with the strips cut off from squaring the sides of the twin quilts for the guest room and a pair of floral pants that I'd shrunk out of. Now that I see a picture of me in those pants, they were perhaps too big to begin with but OH SO FUN! I'll miss them... but not the weight. I can sew smaller pants.

The inside of the bag is a another pair of pants cut up and the binding on the straps is the left over from the two quilts. I used a light purple thread to topstitch pulling the color from the fabric's colorways. The floral and the stripe were actually companion prints although I bought them separately, in different cities, and months apart.

Because the strip cut from squaring the quilt wasn't wide enough, I cut it in half, zigzagged the two long sides together, and then used a strip of the floral fabric to cover the seam.

The pocket above left was shaped from the pleats at the side hem of the pants and the pocket above right came from part of the back pieces. The buttons are from my "button stash". I've always loved the look of little buttons so it was great to use seven of them along the one pocket. Seven purple ones. Even better.

A facing from the floral fabric finishes the top edge and secures the straps. The inside seams are wrapped in a fuchsia bias tape. I have LOTS of scraps of these fabrics left still so I'm using them test sew a little girl's coat pattern that I frankenpatterned from several others. I want to make sure there aren't any issues with the draft before I use it for the "real" project - a combination of knitting and yardage.

I'm getting ready to do an update on the blog so I'm reading books about designing blogs as well as ones about making videos and taking photographs. I took 120 pictures of this bag in a variety of settings. I doubt I'll ever get to using manual camera settings but I'd like to get better with automatic ones and with software like Photoshop for manipulating images. Right now, I'm concentrating on lighting, composition, and varying the settings which is why there are pictures of this bag on the bricks in the carport and on the orange chair by the yarn store.

And on the tile in front of the closet doors and on the porch in front of the rock siding.

And on the driveway leaning against the rocks and on the tile against the wicker chest of drawers.

And on the purple chair and on the orange chair at the knitting shop. I'd love some feedback  about what works and what doesn't. I think I see progress.

Thea is the wonderful young woman who owns our local yarn store - Intwined. She helped me do some photos in the shop and held the bag for that "with a real person" perspective. I learned from some of those photos what doesn't work which is always good learning. Thea also organizes the Monday night knitting group that I go to - a great group of women.

The yarn shop is right across the street from the art gallery where my Friday knitting group meets. The store carries a good supply of different yarns. It's always fun to visit and dream. When my grandson was here in May, I took him in to visit Thea's puppy and since he's always passing me my yarn and "helping" me knit, he wanted Grandma to buy some of the pretty yarn for herself and maybe a ball for him too. Such a sweetie. A yarn enabler. I can live with that - LOL.


It has been a BLISSFUL week since my "it's only an idea" epiphany. I haven't been battling any ideas - entrepreneurial or otherwise - at all. I let them flow and then choose what I want to work on and move forward with that. It's been a calm, more focused, settled and creative week. YES YES!

On Wednesday, I'm having another procedure done on my hip and then there's another two to three months of resting before I see the surgeon again. It's a good thing I'm getting the hang of this "active resting" and having so much fun in the studio. Having a long want-to-do list helps too. And friends. Yesterday, a friend came for the day and on Sunday, another is coming and staying until Monday afternoon. TOO FUN! If you haven't had the opportunity for studio play dates with creative friends, I highly recommend it.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - improving photography

Friday, June 17, 2016

It's Just An Idea

To use music as an example once again, suppose you are trying to learn to play a piece of music and you come from this new perspective. Your experience will be totally different than what people usually anticipate when they're learning to play a musical composition. In the old way, you'd feel sure that you would not be happy or "successful" until you could play the piece of music flawlessly. Every wrong note you hit, every moment you spent struggling with the piece, would be an affirmation that you had not reached your goal. If, however, your goal is learning to play the piece of music, then the feeling of struggle dissolves away. In each moment you spend putting effort into learning the piece, you are achieving your goal. An incorrect note is just part of learning to play the correct note; it is not a judgment of your playing ability, In each moment you spend with the instrument, you are learning information and gaining energy that will work for you in other pieces of music. Your comprehension of music and the experience of learning it are expanding. All this is happening with no sense of frustration or impatience. What more could you ask for from just a shift in perspective?

Experiencing impatience is one of the first symptoms of not being in the present moment, not doing what you are doing, and not staying process oriented. Staying in the present moment is one of the hardest lessons to learn. - The Practicing Mind, by Thomas M. Sterner


Some would say it's about time. I've been knitting triangular shaped scarves for almost three years now and - apparently - that romance is now over. For the last couple weeks, I've been working on fingerless gloves instead. These are small, easily knit projects that follow a repetitive formula and yet each pair is a blank canvas that can contain any combination of yarn and stitches that I care to put together. I love exploring blank canvasses.

For this pair, I'm using Sirdar Snuggly Baby Bamboo yarn that is 80% bamboo and 20% wool. I started with mock cables as the ribbing. They're pretty and a different start that traditional ribbing... even though ribbing, ribbed stitches, and seed stitch are my favourites.

I have a pair that is predominately seed stitch currently in progress as well. I've acknowledged that they cannot be knit in public or while watching television after spendig three days knitting and re-knitting the same six inches. Eventually, both pairs will be finished but the seed stitch ones definitely take more concentration.

I am often asked where I get my ideas from. They just appear - most often from a curious question like how to design fingerless gloves or from exploring all the methods of a particular technique such as knitting in the round or - as with my current sewing project - from challenges and projects with limits such as discovering how many and what variety of things could be created from the Bits & Pieces of Potential Boxes.

Ideas come in a continuous flow, far more than I could ever follow up in a lifetime. I don't worry about capturing them because I know that the ideas that are truly mine will stay with me and continue to tickle until it's their turn. That said, sometimes I'm frustrated by how long it takes for an idea to come into being but I'm never afraid I'll run out of them because, like fabric scraps, they seem to breed in the night. One idea leads to another and then another. Many are stepping stones. Their purpose is simply to bridge the gap between two others ideas, connecting the path in a way that's doable.


In my last coaching session, Diane and I discussed my frustration with the ideas that have - IMHO - been waiting too long. I think that increased frustration is a sign that it is that ideas's time.

Three years ago, I cut some tubular knit ribbing into one meter pieces and then ran each meter through the serger creating 78 yard balls of "yarn". Not all of the fabric was turned into yarn. Some is still in yardage. The idea I'm exploring - finally - is garments that are a combination of some knitted and some sewn components.

I've been sampling needles sizes and stitch patterns. From the cast on edge to the needle, I used a 6.5mm, a 8mm, and a 10mm needle. The larger size creates a nicer hand of knitted fabric. I explored garter stitch, stockinette stitch, lace, cables, and knit/purl combinations. The more defined the stitch, the better it shows. I'm almost done making stitch samples and ready to put together a garment. I may create something child sized first since that's such a wonderful playground.

AND... I grew some radishes. I think they're quite gorgeous and the taste is sharp and fresh and rather wonderful... and I still doubt I'll grow radishes again. The garden is turning out to be an interesting adventure. It's beautiful but I'm not evolving from a decorator to a maintainer. I enjoyed setting it up and now I want it to look after itself basically with the odd episode of weeding. I can see already that some things will need to be moved around particularly the patches that are slightly under the eaves of the house. It's been raining most of the last week but those sections are dry. When it's raining, I don't think to water them.

This is not good...
And it's the way it is...

... my mind is much more intrigued with the possibilities in the studio than the ones in the garden. I'd hoped to show pictures of my grandson's coat this week only - with the rain - I haven't taken them yet and I want him to receive it before I post the pictures so, definitely at some point and hopefully soon.

Right now, I'm working on a new knitting bag that combines the left-over strips from the twin quilts and a pair of pants I love but have shrunk out of. I'm part way through the sewing process and...

... mega scraps are piling up on the work table. I started with a long quilted strip and a pair of pants and - as I mentioned with my grandson's coat - the scraps have grown to fill an entire box. I doubt it would ever be possible to literally use up every scrap of any project. I remember attempting that in the past and eventually giving the "remnants" to a friend saying it was her turn to play with them. The "ridiculous scraps" picture above is from my grandson's coat. I scooped this little pile off the countertop intending to throw it away and then thought wait... I could... Thank God I did actually manage to throw them out. Can you imagine if I kept everything?

This last week I had a HUGE epiphany, one that I hope will allow me to put down a topic that I've been doing endless battle with for about six years now and am really, Really, REALLY sick of dealing with. I am entrepreneurial oriented and - as with ideas - that ability grew over time as I took on one project after another. When I closed my business, the ideas didn't stop which is probably why I typically say I'm on a sabbatical. I don't want them to stop but I do want them to calm down. I have felt a tremendous amount of pressure to pursue some "make money" kind of venture even though that's not where I'm at right now and I'd rather be playing.

And then...
An epiphany...

It is just an idea.

The idea to write a book is no different than the idea to sew a t-shirt. Both ask to be evaluated and - based on what intrigues me the most - I can choose which idea to take forward. One idea is no more special than another. They are equal. They are both ideas. Just because I can perform that entrepreneurial objective, doesn't mean I have to just as just because I can sew a tailored jacket doesn't mean I have to. I'm not obligated to any particular entrepreneurial idea nor to any particular creative idea. I can simply choose the idea that matters most in this moment and move on. YES YES - there's a lot of calm in that thought.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - it's just an idea

Friday, June 10, 2016

Three Years And Giving Up

When you focus on the process, the desired product takes care of itself with fluid ease. When you focus on the product, you immediately begin to fight yourself and experience boredom, restlessness, frustration, and impatience with the process. When you focus your mind on the present moment, on the process of what you are doing right now, you are always where you want to be and where you should be. - The Practicing Mind, Thomas M. Sterner.

It took me three years and giving up to finally put together a necklace, predominately from textiles, that looks half decent and is wearable. YES YES! It's a major accomplishment simply because it exists. And I like it too. A nice bonus. I wore it out in public the other day and received some lovely compliments which were also a nice bonus.

At one point, I was so frustrated that I decided making jewelry was not for me and I was giving up. And then a few weeks later, I started playing with the knot beads and the necklace came together. 

I wasn't focused on the end result of a wearable, attractive piece of jewelry. I was simply moving this and that piece around and seeing how they related to each other and then I started stringing the beads together and figuring out how to connect the parts, how to finish the ends and add a closure, and suddenly it - the necklace - "just" happened.


In The Practicing Mind, the author talks about how if we make the end product the measure of our success and happiness, then we can only achieve success and happiness if that end product happens and has a positive outcome. However, if we find our happiness and success in the process of creating the product, then we are always happy and always successful with the potential bonus of a positive end product. I know this; I sometimes forget. I also know that when the end product is less than best, it can be refashioned into something new through another success and happiness journey. And this is good and enough.

I started knitting this teal sweater by knitting a gauge swatch and then casting on some stitches to equal the size chart for a child's size three. From there, I developed the pattern as I went along. The body is knit in one piece, split for the armholes, and joined at the shoulders with the sleeves and collar added.

It took several tries to get the button band and collar right. At first, there were too many stitches and the band was floppy and the neck far too wide. Now, it's just right. When I was product oriented, if something wasn't working I'd just abandon the project. Now that I'm process oriented, I keep at it until I figure out how to make it work. That's a wonderful change.

I started the sweater in December 2015 making it a VERY long knitting project. It's for my youngest grandson who is only ten months old so, thankfully, he hasn't outgrown it yet. My daughter said she didn't need any more knitted sweaters only I started it for him and thought about him the whole time I was knitting it so I can't imagine giving it to anyone else. He can snuggle it like a blanket if he wants - LOL. I really don't care although as you can see it'll look fabulous on him. I'll send it soon along with his Welcome To The World coat - with his name and birth date embroidered to the lining - that I'm currently working on and should be done soon. These are very late for me and that's the way it is. All sorts of interesting things have happened in the time since he was born to delay the gifts.

These fingerless gloves are another free form knitting project where I started and developed the pattern as I went. Several of the stitches I auditioned didn't show up with the tweed of the yarn and I wasn't going to invest a lot of time in a complicated pattern that would barely be visible so I chose similar stitches to the sweater. My favourite stitches are ribbing and ribbed patterns and variations of seed stitch. The gloves are made from the left over yarn from the capelet I knit at the end of May. There is enough yarn for one more adult pair and a child's pair... which changed that from an expensive ball of yarn to an economical choice. Love when that happens.

Thank you for all the birthday wishes. I had a wonderful day. I wore the Vogue 9112 dress which felt a lot better on than I think it looks in this picture. I am definitely not busty so if you are, and you were thinking of sewing this pattern, you may want to reconsider.  Perhaps when I lose a bit more weight, it'll change the look in more flattering directions or perhaps I need to adjust my thinking away from things that are always fitted, through the waist. We'll see. Probably not. It's not always about what looks good; it's more often about what feels good.

On Monday, I have an appointment with the surgeon to review the progress on my hip. I've been "actively resting" for the past month and it's been fabulously productive so - LOL - I am almost hopeful that she'll say I need to rest for another month.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a textile necklace

Friday, June 3, 2016

Exploring Potential: The New Year

Today's posting is long winded... and it could have been longer... there was more to tell. One of the objectives from my last coaching session with Diane a few weeks ago was to re-instate the morning hour and I have gotten up, made coffee, and spent the first hour working in the studio every day since with the exception of one morning when I was just too tired from not sleeping the night before. It's been a shot of energy. I can't believe how much I've accomplished and how much fun I'm having. WHY hadn't I remembered that. It's amazing how we can wander away from what works and then - thankfully - find our way back.

Isn't this flower gorgeous? It's been about to bloom for weeks and then Wednesday, when I looked out the front window, it was open. The yellow center was a total surprise. So pretty. And easy. Plant. Water. Wait. Not like vegetables. I've decided that I am - generally speaking - not a vegetable gardener. I don't mind the larger and take longer things like the squash and tomatoes but I'm not too thrilled with the lettuce, radishes, green onions types of things that require more ongoing work. Those spaces may get planted with shrubs next year.

Howard and I have been talking about are we going to commit to this house and if we are, how can we minimize the amount of maintenance required ongoing?  It's an interesting question as you age... which I'm doing today... it's my 54th birthday.  It's a wonderful age with time to explore who I am, what I want, and my skills and abilities. I'm grateful.

I finished the purple throw for the couch. It's longer and narrower than I'd have made it if I'd planned things only I didn't. I just picked up the needles, cast on a bunch of stitches, and knit until I ran out of yarn. It does cover me cozily on the couch though and that's good. LOVE the color.

AND... the two twin quilts for the guest room are channel quilted, trimmed, bound, and on the beds. The quilts were the next major step in decorating this room. Next, I want to do something with the pillows to brighten the space like overdyeing the grey ones and sewing some brighter cases. And then, I have two crib ends in a Jinny Lind style to refinish and refashion for the headboards. When I sized the quilts, I cut off about six inches from the width of each which is the equivalent of about three hours work... so I kept the strips... because they have potential... which is....

... a good sort of problem. I see potential in almost everything, so I keep it, and the more I create, the more I keep. The boxes and containers are piling up and it's becoming increasingly important to take time to explore these possibilities. The caps at left are from water bottles, plus the top of my hair mousse, plus the inside of a scotch tape role. These are all great mark making tools. I want to glue the caps to some cardboard to make a stamp.

The black knit strips are the leftovers from binding the neck and armholes on the under-dress to my Vogue 9112 eyelet dress. The tighter pieces are the cut off arm binding. When I sewed them on, the edges wobbled and I didn't like the way they looked so the plan was to stabilize the armhole and then re-do the binding... last night... so I could wear the dress today. Hopefully I am. I did audition other colors under the dress only the eyelet is dense so a person has to peer quite closely to see the color and I didn't want them peering that closely at my chest. That meant black.

In the last posting, I wrote about the tingling feeling of something about to happen and that it might possibly be writing a book, developing a workshop, or putting together an exhibit. Those things are familiar and I come back to them easily because they are safe only safe is not what I'm looking for. I'm looking for new, creative, authentic, stretching, growing, learning, and so on. I was thinking about safe and new when I went to journal last Friday morning and here's what came up in my study...

Ask God what is next. It may be something new that stretches you into a flow experience or it may mean getting engaged in what is right before you.
- The Law of Happiness by Henry Cloud

I realized that THIS - working through the Bits & Pieces of Potential Boxes - is the major project I've been thinking about and that it is both something that will stretch me and something that will engage me with what is right in front of me. As that journey unfolds, it may lead to other new journeys. That's a mystery left to be discovered, however...

... either way, the potential boxes are calling to be explored. They've been waiting long enough and there is so much in them to learn, discover, and grow through. As you can see, it's a huge pile and could represent years of work going forward never mind the years of collecting going backward. The white figure resting on the chair is my oldest project - twelve years - and it remains intriguing. I've been putting it off because I'm not sure I can do what I want to do and although I'm still not sure, I won't know unless I try. I will learn to do by doing. It's time.

One of the assignments from my last coaching session was to make a collage illustrating what I am inviting into my studio with the idea that I don't want to have moved these boxes from my previous studio to this new space only to then behave exactly the same. I am ready for new experiences. I worked on the collage yesterday as a way of ending one year and beginning the next and of setting intentions going forward. These intentions are not for just the next year but for this journey of possibility and for life in my new studio.


The images aren't glued down yet but I doubt they'll change much from the set-up as it took a while to work this out. I started by going through a stack of magazines and cutting out any images or phrases that appealed and then I printed out other images and words on the computer that were important to include. There were too many and...

... that's one of the great things about making collages. The defined space forces you to choose carefully which images and words are included and to be sure that they are exactly what you desire to have. I chose the size for the wall right by the door to the studio so I'll see the collage every time I go in or out and watch as my intentions develop. Collages are a powerful tool.

Some but not all of the images are self explanatory. The garments are not ones I want to sew, they are ones that contain elements of the style I'm developing. Overall, I wanted a warm, friendly, comfortable, colorful, authentic, stretching, and texture filled playground of a collage to represent those elements in the studio. I want the studio to be a happy place that nurtures and supports me, that encourages the development of the work that is calling to me, and that welcomes others to share the journey.

The picture of Audrey is top right on the collage. Her black and white look continues to inspire me. In fact, this past week I worked on three jewelry pieces and I'm currently adding seed beads to a necklace that is wearable. It has a clasp. It's virtually complete. I like it. And it's predominately made from fabric. Who knew?

Hopefully I'll have pictures of the necklace next week but apparently I needed to give up on textile jewelry in order to move forward. I call it the "find a man" syndrome where someone is so desperate that they're putting out desperate energy and scaring them away and then, when they give up, everything changes... only my "desperate energy" wasn't about a man... it was about too much pressure and too high of expectations around textile jewelry. Moving forward was part of the ah ha from reading Elizabeth Gilbert's book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.

Today, I'm having breakfast with a friend, and then my afternoon knitting group is coming for a potluck, and then Howard and I are planning to order in pizza and watch a movie together. The "boys" and my youngest son's girlfriend are coming for birthday lunch (with a very yummy chocolate cake) on Sunday and on Monday, Howard and I are celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary with a leisurely road trip and a fun day together. He goes back on Tuesday and I'll be heading into the studio to start the "new year".

For the past few years, I've celebrated my birthday in Ashland while at the Design Outside the Lines Retreat. I'm looking forward to spending the day here with family and friends and at the same time I'm missing my friends in Ashland and the energy of the retreat. This year, it was held earlier in April and wasn't possible but... HOPEFULLY... something wonderful happens financially and with the exchange rate so that I can either go for a visit and/or go to the fall retreat. I'd enjoy that... but... if not... I am really going to enjoy exploring the bits & pieces of potential in my studio. I've lost 12.5 pounds so far, hopefully fifteen the next time I weigh myself, and at some point the potential will start taking the shape of a new wardrobe. YES YES.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - renewed creative energy and intentions