Friday, March 31, 2017

The Interval Between Open And Closed

We need to find the courage to say NO to the things and people that are not serving us if we want to rediscover ourselves and live our lives with authenticity - Barbara De Angelis - - - To gain that which is worth having, it may be necessary to lose everything else. - Bernadette Devlin - - - If you play it safe in life, you've decided that you don't want to grow anymore. - Shirley Hufstedler

Several days ago, I started rereading The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women by Gail McMeekin which I always find inspirational.  One aspect of the book I especially enjoy are the quotes in the margins. Words work for me. I love the way quotes connect me to another person who, on some level, shares the experience that I am going through. In a strange way, it's both comforting and encouraging.

As a student, I naively believed that all I had to do was pick a path, walk it for life, and end up happily ever after. What I've learned with experience is that life is a journey and along its path are many doors, some of which are open and some of which are closed. And I've learned that the interval between doors opening and doors closing varies. It's not an immediate action that one door closes and another one opens although it is - I believe - an inevitable action. In between is patience and preparation.

In December, a door opened and I went back to work as a hairstylist. Yesterday, a door closed and I am no longer working. The match was perfect in every way but one and that one way turned out to be critical. I couldn't work the hours they'd hired me for and still maintain my top priority of my relationship with my husband and family.  Since the other employees were getting increasingly upset about my "preferential treatment" and since I wasn't looking for a career, it seemed best to take the stress off my employer, quit, close that door, and start walking toward whatever is next. For not having been there very long, it was more sad than I expected however, through the experience I learned that I am far more comfortable with myself, confident of my abilities, and outgoing than I once was. This is good.

On Tuesday night, a friend was over for coffee and we talked about the way I create. She sees it as intuitive and flowing, a kind of dance with the developing piece. And she believes she can't dance. I can relate because at one time I felt exactly the same way. I wanted a printed pattern with step-by-step instructions and a guaranteed outcome in the form of a successfully completed project.

My friend thinks I have some kind of magical talent that allows me to see possibilities in mundane, boring items and, again, I can relate to how she feels. While it's true that I can see possibilities, at one time I couldn't and while the skill has improved, I have several friends whose ability far exceeds mine. It's a treat for me to spend time shopping with them so I continue to learn to see potential and possibility.  It's a skill that grows with repetition.

The ebb and flow of my dance and the ability to see possibilities and potential is an ability I've been developing for the past twelve years since my Year of Play from September 2004 to September 2005. During that year, I worked every day in the studio and limited myself to what I already had. If there wasn't an immediate answer to the problem, I had to brainstorm until I found one. It was a year of concentrated and tremendous growth that taught me so much and even so, I still have to push myself in that direction. It's so much easier to hop in the car, run to the store, and buy a solution. 

Sometimes, the solution is not one I'd have chosen. The 100% cotton that is not actually one hundred percent cotton so the dye doesn't cover completely and the flecks of colour I'm left with are not my favourite colour and the only buttons that will go with are in that colour. And yet they work perfectly. Learning to embrace what I think I don't like has taught me tremendous lessons that extend far outside the studio and into every corner of life.

The purple buttons I preferred didn't work. The yellow buttons that worked were not in a colour I liked. Oh well. The cardigan wanted them. BUT... they didn't have a shank and the fabric is thick. A smaller button makes a shank. It a dance between problem and solution, between design and technique. It's so simple and yet, like all forms of dance, takes practice. The only way to learn how to do the work is by doing the work. Go into the studio. Work. Regularly.

I don't know when the next open door will appear along the path. I do know that while I'm waiting for it I'll be focusing on the priorities that I do know, one of which is preparing for possibilities by continuing to work with my coach - Diane - on the assignments she's given me and on my "dance steps".

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - winning a $40 gift certificate at Fabricland

Friday, March 24, 2017

Parts & Pieces

The gas company is coming this morning to change the meter. They wanted a four hour window which I find annoying since they must have some kind of schedule and could provide a tighter time-frame... however... it is what it is. I left writing the blog for this morning when I had to be home... waiting.... which is not my favourite thing. This helps.

My work schedule has shifted. Working Friday nights and Sundays was having a negative impact on Howard and my time together. I thought when I told my boss that that would be the end of doing hair only it wasn't. For now, I'm working only on Mondays but once tourist season comes I'll have more hours. It's difficult for building a clientele but perfect for getting out of the house and spending money so I'm willing to see what happens. Good things I hope.

After several months of being super busy, this quieter week was the perfect one for catching up on coffee with friends. I feel back on track even though it meant little time in the studio... which... with spring slowly creeping across the yard... will become more contained to mornings and evenings once yard work begins. The path I started cutting last year is emerging and I'm looking forward to finishing it.

And the cardigan. To wear with my spring wardrobe. I finished the neckline using bias strips of the purple taffeta and have the collar parts ready to finish. I'm going to tuck the neck edges under and secure them with edge stitching so they'll lie better against the neckline with less bulk. I still haven't decided on the closure. I'll work it around the collar.

Yesterday, my friend gave me these handwoven tea towels that I'd admired on her loom. As someone recently said to me, it's wonderful not only to be given a hand made gift but to be given one that you couldn't make for yourself but can totally appreciate. I'm almost afraid to use them but I will. They're my favourite colours and look fabulous in my kitchen.

This carpetbag pattern is from Marchwerke. The image shows how clean and crisp the look is and how big the bag is opened. Last weekend, Craftsy had a sale so I signed up for Lisa Lam's course Sewing Structured Bags: Purse Frames and Beyond which is VERY well done. So well done that I'm waiting for the next sale to take her other workshop. The carpetbag is one of my favourite purse shapes and can be made in handbag to weekender bag sizes. I'd like to make some as gifts using hand painted fabric.

Last week, I went to the thrift store to find parts and pieces to use in jewelry and handbags. It turned out to be bag day so I bought the three purses above and all the items below left for $2.00. YES YES. I've separated all the parts and tucked them into supplies.

The bracelets above right are from a local dress shop. They're a woven band with a magnetic or turn clasp at the end and were discounted to $6.60 each which is far less than just a clasp.  I don't even need to take them apart. I can build my design on top.

These pieces were in the "quality" section of the thrift store which is excluded from the bag sale. They were individually priced at $2.50 each. The chains are all part of one necklace and can be separated as can the wooden parts of the wo bracelets. I can't decide if I'm going to cut up the wooden bracelet with beads. It's gorgeous and brand new only I'm unlikely to ever wear it.

One of the assignments I'm working on with Diane - my creativity coach - is taking a starting point for a jewelry piece and working on it for one hour and then setting it aside as a part that may or may not be taken forward into a piece. I'm supposed to see it as a part and not as an unfinished project. We'll see - LOL. For the first starting point, I used this metal disc that I picked up a few years ago on a clearance table in a bag of ten. It's been tickling and because I have more than one, it can be a "blank canvas" that I fill in several ways. Always fun.

When I was looking through some files the other day, I found this image. One of the coffee conversations I had was with the director of our local gallery about the changing world of art and where I fit into it. One thing I really appreciate about her is how honest, straight forward, practical, and pragmatic she is and I came away from our talk feeling focused for the spring and for this season of new growth and possibilities in my life. Some choices are past. While at one time they seemed absolutely perfect, that perfection is in the past and now, in the present, they are no longer the right choice and other opportunities are appearing. That's quite wonderful really. Change is what keeps life interesting.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - time to catch up with friends

Friday, March 17, 2017

Beige And Boring Before

Today, I spent the morning hour finishing knitting the last piece of a cardigan that refused to co-operate yesterday. It seems I can't read instructions because I kept zigging instead of zagging but did finally get back on the correct path and ended exactly right - with 4" of yarn to spare. I love when things like that happen. You pull the seam out of the machine and the bobbin thread ends just exactly when and where you'd prefer it to end. Thinking to mention these lovely coincidences on the blog prompted my memory - the blog - what blog - LOL ! ! ! ! I hadn't written today's post yet.

The cardigan refashion is making progress. It was beige and boring before and is evolving step-by-step into something I'll enjoy wearing. Originally, I intended to open the side and underarm seams, remove the sleeves, lift the shoulder point, and sew it all back together only....

... and thankfully... I realized that a faster and more creative way to do that would be to take out the excess shoulder width by sewing a pleat at the back.

I started by serging off the edging hoping to use it again later and then sewed and pressed the pleat. I also fused knit interfacing to the sleeves and shortened them to three-quarter length. Both of these choices created a more flattering and better fitting cardigan but...


... it still had a frumpy overtone from the front so I spent several days shifting the hemline and neckline shapes every time I walked into the studio. After choosing the asymmetrical hemline...

... I tried it on to make sure the hem ended at a flattering point on my body. In the picture above, I'm wearing the skirt I sewed a couple weeks ago. The skirt and the cardigan go together well. Now that I've decided on the hemline, I'm working on how to finish the cardigan. The only fabric I had in stash that went with is a polyester taffeta. It has possibilities.

When I'm working on a refashion, I keep all the parts and pieces until the project is complete. In the picture above right, I'm playing with the idea of using the cut off cuffs as collar parts. They meet at the back which adds another interesting design element although I haven't decided yet if I like the collared look. And I'm debating closures.

Did you see the grommets Diane used as closures in her latest linen remake?  They are fabulous. Learning to think like this is one of the reasons why I continue to take coaching sessions with Diane and - in fact - closures is one of the things we discussed this past Tuesday. I'm also working on a series of purses from hand painted fabric and want to create the straps and closures from supplies I don't normally use so I'm challenging myself to find them in non-fabric store environments like a hardware or a kitchen store. It's fun to move in new directions.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a supportive, encouraging, energizing coach

Friday, March 10, 2017

We Don't Really Need It

This week, I'm feeling ahead of the curve. All the "extra" projects are finished and I have only one sewing and one knitting project on the go with some ideas tickling from the sidelines. And that's exactly the way I like it. YES YES!

The capelet I was knitting didn't work out. Even though the gauge was correct, the drape of the fabric was completely different from the one I made myself. When I tried on the first version, it was too tight. For the second version, I used larger needles and a few inches into the body (measuring from the neck down) I decided the neckline was too big and started over using less stitches. About mid chest  I tried it that version on and decided it pulled just a little too much across the shoulder so I ripped it apart and started over... and finished the fourth version... and tried it on... and it looked like a limp dishrag. And that was enough. The yarn went back in balls and...

... became a triangular shawl knit in seed stitch starting with one stitch and increasing one at each end of every row until finishing with an inch of ribbing. I've made what feels like a "million" of these shawls in the last several years. They are easy, attractive, stress reducing, and comfy to wear. Good and enough.

When I told that story to a friend, she felt bad on my behalf only it wasn't necessary since I wasn't feeling bad for myself. While I can't speak for absolutely everyone, as I explained to her, for most of us we don't really need it, whatever it may be that we are making. We are already warm, dry, safe, fed, clothed, loved and this thing that we are making is more for the satisfaction and fun of making it with the potential bonus of wearing it... or not... it really doesn't matter. That's why I'm far more interested in the journey than the outcome. Anyone can buy things. I enjoy making them.

The triangular shawl is a combination of a purple tweed yarn in a wool blend and a black, nylon-acrylic yarn. The Snowland sweater (below) is knit with a combination of a pink, nylon-acrylic yarn and a hand-dyed cotton yarn. I mentioned a couple weeks ago, how disappointing it was that the hand-dyed yarn went from the pinkish-orange that I loved at the outside of the skein into a greenish-beige that I do not love further into the skein.

Since I wasn't going to separate the yarns, pulling it apart wasn't an option so I finished knitting the sweater to see how it looked. I liked the pattern and not the colours. It's been a long time since I've knit myself a cardigan... that I actually finished... and intended to wear... and....

... I knew I wouldn't wear this one ugly as it was so I pinned it together along the underarm seams and tired it on to make sure it fit and then over-dyed it with iDye in a crimson red which turned out great.

The resulting colour is more raspberry than red. I threw a piece of white linen into the dye bath at the same time and it's now a co-ordinating tone. I plan to use the linen to make a garment to go with since this is a cropped cardigan and those look better on me unbuttoned and with a dress or longer top underneath rather than buttoned and ending at my waist... which is also the beginning of my hips.

After dyeing the yarn, I blocked the piece, finished the seams, and sewed on the buttons. I'm quite pleased with how the cardigan turned out and as soon as I sew something to go with, I'll wear it.

Switching from talking about yarn to talking about jewelry.... even though I think I've put the idea down... when I see jewelry around town, I'm constantly evaluating how I could interpret that inspiration with some element of textiles. The tickle hasn't left me so I'm allowing myself more freedom to pursue making jewelry beyond "just use fabric". I think that'll be a key factor.

I've ordered some wire wrapping books, have started researching organic jewelry and jewelry made from rocks, have started working on an inspirational collage, and will talk with Diane about how to go forward with this tickle during our coaching session next week. In the past, the tickles have always been the foreshadowing of some level of change so I'll be interested to see where this leads.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - tickle time