Friday, November 17, 2017

A Mysterious Journey Of Creativity.

Yesterday, my daughter received a package at work with her purse, two pairs of Grandma-knit socks for each of my grandsons with co-ordinating retractable measuring tapes, and two packages of the sourest sours ever for my son-in-law... who loves them... go figure. I have no pictures of these things. I wasn't getting to taking them and if I'd put it off any longer, the package wasn't going to get there any time soon and that purse had taken long enough already. So I sent it. Without pictures. Except for...

... this one of the bead I used for the tabs on each side of the zipper. The last time she was visiting, my friend Rosmarie brought some beads that a friend of hers was sending to a new home and she hoped I could use them. How fun to use two right away. They were in a partially constructed necklace that I took apart.

Refashioning my own creations - never mind someone else's - has become a regular part of my routine. Twenty years ago, this would never have occurred to me and if it had, I'd have viewed it more as a failure than as a mysterious journey of creativity. Now I casually deconstruct things because I know the next project is most likely going to be even more interesting.

The cardigan I talked about in the last posting was back in balls shortly after and I'm almost done re-knitting it into a different style, minus the dolmen sleeves, thus with less fabric under the arm, and therefore far more flattering. Every once in a while I'm tempted by a dolmen sleeve thinking that some other aspect of the garment will make up for that excess. It never does. In this case, the large collar and the underarm excess was overwhelming me. I need to remember that. Under the ball of yarn in the earlier image is the grey knit fabric that I'm sewing the dress to go with out of.

These are two more knitting projects that were found and finished. Both fit me but I'm not sure I'll keep either. Right now, they are in the to-be-gifted box for quick gifts when needed. Things I don't need, or have too much of, or made in a colour that's not me, or that I don't want or chose not to refashion for some reason go in that because because not everything gets refashioned although...

... just about anything is up for grabs. The bracelet above is one of Nicole Hanna's tutorials. I made it a few weeks ago when I was working through several tutorials to learn how she thought through the wire weaving process. One thing I learned is that we each have our own way of bending and curving the wire that feels and looks natural as opposed to feeling and looking like you're trying to copy someone by pulling it into their curve. I showed my daughter several of the tutorials I'd done and she said that she preferred my original pieces to any class sample or tutorial pieces. That's nice to hear.

Class samples are not something I'd wear, give away, or sell so I'm re-fashioning most of them by using them as the starting point for a new piece. It gives me something to respond to and build forward from. With the bracelet, I squashed it into a flatter shape and then added more details and a chain.

The finished piece looks nothing like the original which is fun. I wore it to an artist's talk at a local studio last week and the studio owner was admiring it and then said this is obviously one of Val's pieces to which I replied no, it's one of mine. She said she was impressed... which is nice... but the take-a-way for me was that I need to get my work out there more so I'm known for what I do. I'm just starting to develop an 18" x 18" textile wall piece for a member's exhibit at the art gallery in January. That's one way.

One of the interesting aspects of creating this pendant was balance the design visually as well as physically so that it would hang from the neck evenly. I seem to have figured it out because I haven't had to adjust it when I'm wearing it. I'm working on another piece now that will have the same issue. Practice helps.

I also finished up a green and two grey scarves that went in the to-be-gifted box. And I've been reading through the pattern for this Wakame Pullover from Berroco. It may be next on my knitting list. I really like the asymmetrical shaping, it's simplicity, and how it looks with those fabulous trousers. I'd like to sew some of those too. 

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a new and wonderful tenant, female, hilarious, well employed, YES YES

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Things To Thank Diane For

For obvious reasons, I wanted to talk to Diane before I posted this and I wasn't able to do that until Friday afternoon. My first session with her was in October 2014 and over the past three years, it has been a tremendously positive thing to have someone coach me in developing my creative potential. I had never worked so closely with a coach before and I would definitely do it again.


One of my earlier assignments was to make a collage of the woman I am becoming. In putting it together, I focused on the time between ages 50 and 69 and on what my most authentic self would look like. Gutsy, witty, slightly eccentric, and relaxed are all aspects of the woman I want to be.

In the last few weeks, I've had several people comment about how I dress, that it's unique and individual. In one instance, the general description of how my friend and I were dressed was pretty well the same. When I pointed that out, she said that I wore the clothes in a more expressive way.  Diane helped me to become far more comfortable in my skin and with my outward expression of my inner self and to be bolder in how I present myself.

As we age, we learn that the way we thought things would be is most likely not the way they are actually going to go. That has certainly been true in my life and that awareness led to significant changes like my move to this small, creative community and a redesign of how I am married. Letting go of "should" and embracing "what if" not only in terms of my creativity but in terms of my creative life has led to opportunities I never would have considered previously. Diane helped me make that shift.

Another collage assignment was to look at what I was inviting into my studio so that I didn't simply pack my boxes, move to another location, and continue to act in exactly the same manner. Both of these collages are displayed in my studio and I'm constantly making new discoveries within them. Collages have become one of my favourite ways to ask and answer a question.

Dressing conservatively and dressing creatively both have stereotypes. One may have a lack of detail while the other may have every detail possible thrown at it. Neither is comfortable to me and one of the things I wanted to discover through coaching was my "Myrna" way of dressing and how to present that more creatively and more authentically. Diane helped me with that. Having someone you respect that has the authority to speak into your life and sees in you something you've always hoped to find there is vastly different than having someone admire you for something you do and they don't. It's truth. It's warm, cozy, comforting, settling, energizing, exciting, filled with potential and possibility, and so much more.

Through her questions, comments, and the assignments, I discovered that I am most comfortable in garments that are simple with architectural structure and surprising details. When I look at magazines and patterns or clothing in a boutique, these are the things that call me and they are the things that I look to include in the clothing that I will sew and wear... which is rarely...

... the projects that are the most fun to create. It bothered me that I'd spend weeks painting and exploring ideas like this patchwork denim coat from scraps with a macrame, serger strip, collar and then never wear it. It felt like I had a split personality or was wasting time or wasn't focused enough and what I realized from coaching is that these are simply two different aspects of my creativity - how I explore what I can make and how I express myself to those around me. Just because I want to make it doesn't mean I have to wear it - creativity is enough all by itself. The journey is in the making and not in the wearing. That's an entirely different journey.


This is a place of peace. Few people I know have reached that stage and it's a hard thing to describe - that the possibilities of serger scraps can be completely engaging and that even though it's labour intensive beyond your wildest dreams you still have no intention of wearing it nor of selling it. And I don't have to. That's not the point.

Selling is another thing that comes up all the time and when you make something, especially if you do it well, you get a lot of pressure to sell. Most people see that as the ultimate compliment and yet there is a vast difference between making things to sell and selling things you've made. Diane helped me to become comfortable with the point of why I create. For me. Everything else is a bonus.

Diane makes the absolutely most gorgeous jewelry. The first time I saw her pieces, I had an immediate attack of heavy green envy because - as you know - I adore statement necklaces. It took me almost four years to make the piece above - one that I felt was sophisticated enough to wear in public. I am thankful that she held my hand through all the trial and error and whining and complaining and stopping and starting to get to this point and I am confident that it influenced...

... this year's success with learning wire weaving. I'll talk more about this recent piece in a later posting but here - as in creating wire jewelry - is not a place I expected myself to be and it's a place that I am loving not only for the labour intensive joy of weaving wire but for the endless creative expressions wire presents and for the fact that statement jewelry is exactly what I like to wear with my architectural clothing. It feels like two parts of my self have connected - labour intensive and simple structure. Diane pushed me to be more open minded and to explore more than just fabric. I'm so grateful.

When I went back to knitting years ago, I focused on public knitting with simple things like scarves that I could complete in a group because I sewed at home and knit in groups. And I still knit simple when I'm out but at home I'm beginning to work on garments for me like this cardigan above that I'm just about finished. When I thought about what to pair it with, Kathryn Brenne's Vogue 9268 came to mind. Do you see the architectural structure in both these garments PLUS the opportunity to wear them with a statement necklace? Recognizing myself in my choices is a comfortable starting point for creating a garment and an outfit.

If you're familiar with Diane's work, you're familiar with her incredible skill with surface design and painted details. I love her work. I'd like to be able to use those sorts of details and it's an area that I am still becoming comfortable with. When I was looking for a fabric to co-ordinate with the cardigan yarn, I did think about painting lighter grey details on a darker grey knit. And then I bought a lighter fabric. Although I use my walking purse frequently, I'm not there yet with painting and I don't wear any of the clothing I have painted. One day I will. Right now, what I paint I typically recycle. These pants were recycled into the coat I showed you earlier which sits in my closet decorating the hanger. I have a feeling it may become a carpet bag at some point soon. And that's okay. Continued learning, continued growth, development, and exploration are a huge part of our creative journey AND...

... we can't do everything at once while discovering who we are...  HOWEVER... discovering and becoming comfortable with who I am has allowed me to create with more joy and confidence. If I were to create a simply structured top like the one above left and then paint on, or stitch on, the dots, I would be exploring in a direction that I am most likely to wear. If I were to create a coat like the one above right, I would alter it to have a closure at the neck so it wouldn't feel like it was falling off the shoulders and pair it with a dress like Kathryn's or some funky pants and a simple top with a longer, pendant style, statement necklace and I would wear it. I am thankful to Diane for helping me to hone in on what is me, what is wearable, and where to invest my creative energies.

I first met Diane in 2012 at a Design Outside the Lines retreat that she was co-teaching with Marcy Tilton. Both of these women have inspired my creativity tremendously and it has been a wonderful gift to learn from them and to be able to work one-on-one with Diane. At that retreat, one of the students told me that the first time she heard Diane speak, she cried and cried because she just knew she'd never be that creative. That wasn't my response. I knew I was that creative and I wanted to be "that woman" and find a way to pull out of myself the creativity I felt was bubbling below the surface. As I told Diane when we spoke on Friday, I have become that woman - not in what I create but in how I create - and for that I am eternally grateful. Thank you Diane.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - for Diane

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Similar But Not Identical

The purse is finished. I'm ignoring it for a few days so right now, it's perched on my mannequin's shoulder waiting to be photographed although this style of bag is similar to the dress that looks better on the body than on the hanger. It's a scrunchy bag and needs some filling out. That'll be a new learning curve for the photography to see how I can style it to make it look its best. Learning new skills bit by bit with each product is making learning photography a little less overwhelming. I hope you're seeing progress.

It's my preference to start a new year with no unfinished projects and most of the time that's exactly what happens because I start organizing things in that direction about this time. This year looks good. There are no knitting, sewing, or wire weaving projects waiting in the wings right now and if I make sure to finish what I work on next before starting something new, I will start 2018 with open flow and a sense of direction.

The local art gallery is having an on-line fundraising auction. I didn't get these two cardigans finished in time to be photographed and on the website but it still worked out. I sold them to a friend who has twin great-grandsons and donated that money to the gallery. This is my style of volunteering.

Two is not exactly a series but it was fun to use the same yarn in different configurations and to make two similar but not identical cardigans that go together. Their Mom is not dressing them identical so these are perfect.

I have found that using the same theme or component and working in series really stretches my creative capabilities. I have used this simple pattern numerous times in various sizes and stitch combinations. It's a small blank canvas that lets me explore possibilities. These two cardigans are size 12-18 months.

Something else I really need to explore is new photography software. I haven't managed to figure out how to crop with the one I'm using right now and I'm not sure I want to stay with it. Since my previous product is now non-functioning and I have to make a change, I'm debating going with a product that is more mainstream where I could find a lot of help on-line.

These photos were taken indoors by the window with natural light coming from the side. What do you think? They seem slightly overexposed to me but I can see that I am making progress and over exposed can be corrected with software... when I learn how... when I pick some software.

On Monday, I started on the necklace to fit the simple neckline. YES YES! It seems like I've been waiting forever to get to this project. I'm hoping to explore several ideas which would make it a series of simple neckline necklaces and would teach me a lot about working with wire in that formation. It's exciting to be moving in new directions. There are so many ways to work with copper. I've ordered some books on etching, enameling, and colouring on copper.  A year ago, I had no idea that my creativity was going to go in this direction. It reminds me to keep exploring and to remain open to possibility.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - the purse is finished

Friday, November 3, 2017

A Warm & Cozy Studio

Apparently, I wasn't really paying attention to all the talk about snow this week since it was quite a shock to wake up to a white world yesterday morning. The snow has been....

... coming down so steady that I'm likely to be curled up in the studio for several days. First snow falls are never fun to drive in. Last night was the first of five "every Thursday in November" artist talks at a local studio. I opted not to attempt to attend. Warm and cozy in the studio seemed a much better - and safer - option.

When my friend from up north called on Wednesday, I answered the phone but only because it was her. When I told her I was vetting my calls, she responded with you must be finishing up a major project. Yes, the purse, I said. THE purse, she replied.

This purse of my daughter's has taken on a personality of its own. Thank God - literally - that it's mostly together. Yesterday, I worked on the sparkle and today I'm hoping to put the pieces together. Above are the straps that run from the bottom of the bag up to the zipper and hold the buckle. There are two on each side as you can see on the original below. There will be more bling on those straps and less on the handle... or not... depending on how I resolve the handle issues. Jessica said the more bling the better which gives me lots of latitude.

Originally, I intended to use studs like the original purse has except that the task of inserting them was going to be monumental so I gave Jessica some "bling choices" and she chose the rhinestone ribbon. The stones are on a black webbed background. I sewed the ribbon on by first spray basting it to the fabric and then using a darning foot to hover the presser foot above the surface and stitch in-between the rows of rhinestones. It's very secure. And now it feels like I'm making progress. And I have to. Because I have disallowed myself to start anything new until I finish this project.

And because, I've done all the procrastinating I can do. There is nothing left in the studio to finish although I thought that once before and then found another basket of knitted projects that needed blocking and finishing. But that's it and new ideas are demanding attention. The purse needs a happy ending and a new home.

The simple neckline on this black t-shirt is the one I'm using to design the necklace in my last assignment from Diane. I finished the binding differently. It occurred to me that because I'm already stabilizing the neck edge with interfacing, it's not going to stretch, so the binding is not going to stretch, which means it doesn't need double needle stretchy stitching. Instead, I serged the binding in place, turned it to the wrong side, top stitched the edge, and then stitched in the ditch for extra security. The neckline looks neat and clean without trying to aim those two needles to both hit where they are supposed to and it's stable and not going to stretch or pop any stitches. I know. I yanked!

For indoor garment and product photography, I am working on setting up a booth - of sorts - in the studio. Right now, I'm exploring threading backdrops onto doweling that could be hung over hooks on top of the fabric cabinets. It seems like a good solution and would allow me to have several different backgrounds although I may need to shuffle the cabinets so there's an open space in front of them for the tripod and I still need to get the correct lights. Slowly progress is being made here too.

I was "talking" with Nicole Hanna in an email the other day and mentioned that I had made some really bad drawings of my necklace to fit the simple neckline ideas. Here they are - my bad drawings. They make sense to me and I guess that's all that matters since I'm the intended audience. They will definitely look better in copper.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a warm and cozy studio