Saturday, December 5, 2009

A True Test of Passion

There is a test that cat owners know well. Whenever we are in the flow of a creative passion...a kitty will come along and lie right in the middle of it to test how much we love what we're doing. Here are two examples of this test captured in photos. The first, I was giving a wool sweater a new life by unraveling it to create a new knit item to felt. The kitty test was measuring how passionate I was about turning that sweater back into new yarn to play with. I failed the test. That sweater is still in the "to do" pile.

The next test caught on the "how much do you want to do research on your computer?" test. That one is a tough test as kitties are experts at making you not able to see what you're researching. Kitty tests are the new "pop ups" of the marketing world. I think kitties can teach us a ton about marketing. They certainly know how to grab our attention with cuteness.

Have you been tested by your pet for how passionate you are about what you're doing? Please share your story!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Inspiration hides in the most common everyday places

I love stories of how designers and creatives become inspired to try things. So here's mine.

I was minding my own business...knitting a pair of black and white striped socks to give to my sweety daughter....when one day in Walmart, I stumbled across a pair of socks that looked just like them! Okay...they did have a reindeer on them and were factory made...and not of bamboo and silk, but still....who wants to invest all that time and energy into knitting socks you can find cheaper in Walmart?

Going sock-otic ....I asked my inner Muse what to do. It took a long time to knit those socks and several glasses of wine to make it through weaving the multitude of ends in! The Muse told me to add some flowers since I always wanted to try knitting some. So, out came the flower picture books and playtime began.

I've only started this sock knitting addiction this year. There's a story about why I started knitting socks again after the last pair I tried was in 1967! But later for that. I must admit that back in 1967 we sure didn't have the cool templates to play around with or the cool yarn that survives foot usage like there is today. Sock knitting has become so creatively cool! Does anyone else have a confession about their sock knitting addiction to share ?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Booty (re)-Call

In school we study history. The point of studying history is to learn and honor and never forget where we came from. I can't forget the Ruth Benedicts, the Elizabeth Cady Stantons, the Elizabeth Blackwells who struggled to allow women to go to college. Before their efforts, women weren't allowed to have higher education...they had a uterus and that deemed them too hysterical to be in a learning environment!
I think of Elizabeth Zimmerman and how she used her passion for knitting to explain knitting techniques in such a knit-friendly way that it opened doors to future knitters and still does.
Besides honoring the pioneers who made things easier for us today....I have to also look back on my very first knit project. I learned to knit in a time when you had to stand up to change one of the 3-4 TV channels. TV was still only black and white then. And we had to walk miles in the deep snow to the local LYS to get the limited types of yarn to make whatever project we could find a pattern for.
My very first project was a pair of adult booties. I would never be caught wearing such a thing today. But that first project started my creativity on a knit journey for my whole life!
It's important to stop every once in a while and remember how things were when we first started...not only as a knitter. It's easy to forget how far we've come as an individual and as a world.
What was your first project? How old were you when you made it? How did the whole experience feel? Did it inspire the knitter you are today? Or was it a bumpier road than that?

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Passion Prescription

We all have our Heaven on Earth. Mine is to knit with some of my most favorite people in a Botanical Garden. This year when I went there, this guy was waiting for me with Denise needles and yarn in hand! Talk about a supportive environment!

There is something very recharging about spending a little time in a dream environment doing what you love most. It's one of the healthiest prescriptions to fill and most definitely deserves a refill. Do you have a Heaven on Earth place to be?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Finding yarn potential in the kitchen

Imagine the possibilities! Knit some snacks for a party. Knit outfits to take with you in case you get hungry. A college survival food reframed into yarn. Wonder what else we can find around the house or in the cupboard to knit with. Any ideas? Any experiments? Please let me know.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Knitting/Crocheting Ailments and Diseases

After you've been knitting/crocheting a while and it's pretty deeply incorporated into your will begin to notice that there are ailments and diseases you can be susceptible to that you may not have been aware of, had you not been a knitter/crocheter.
One of the most widespread diseases that we're still trying to find a cure the curse of the boyfriend sweater.

Many of you know about and may have even survived this disease. For those of you who haven't received your immunity shot against this disease yet because you've never heard of's the curse that happens when you invest in yarn and stitch by stitch, lovingly create a sweater (or other project) for your partner. The curse is that once you put out the energy to create and complete this sweater/project....he mysteriously disappears out of your relationship life. We are still taking donations to find the cure for this debilitating disease. Fortunately, I have only had inklings of wanting to knit a boyfriend sweater, but in all my years have thankfully never acted on it.

Another disease that's going around is "Second Sock Syndrome." You know it well....when you make that first sock and it even turns out beautifully, but somehow, you just can't get the energy up to want to live through creating the second one. Maybe it's the repetition factor. Maybe you just don't feel it for the project and want to break off the relationship. This, (and because of the other disease of washing machines magically making one of the pair disappear better than Houdini ever could-Laundered Sock Consumptitis) is probably what inspired the invention of the mismatched three sock set sold in hip clothing shops and gift stores today.

Another ailment is Mohair Manic Depression. This is where you find a mistake earlier in your work and have to frog your mohair project down to the mistake to fix it. Give up now! Put a felted heart over the imperfection because mohair is clingier than the worst case of codependency! Another similar type disorder, known as Novelty Yarn Neurotic Disorder, has similar symptoms to Mohair Manic Depression, as it can wreak havoc on your emotional state, but often people will deal with it by saying, "Novelty yarns? They're so last decade. Nobody's using them anymore." Then they throw the project in the UFO closet never to look at it again...or find a new use for it as a cat toy.

I know there are many many more ailments and diseases to warn you about in the needle arts and if you know of any more... please tell us about them. So, please give consideration to these ailments before investing your time, money and energy into a project. This has been a public service blog entry announcement and I approve this message.

Before I sign off for the month...please check out this very entertaining (and abandoned) blog that explores afflictions of the designer's sense of taste...starting with this entry that alludes to the aforementioned disease we've discussed...the curse of the boyfriend sweater....

Keep knitting(crocheting, etc) matter what afflictions lurk!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Living my Knitta Please Dream and Lessons of Isness Along the Way

Photographs by Jonathan Hokklo and Jake Dobkin

I've always admired the knit group Knitta Please ABOUT , so you can imagine how excited I was when my sweety daughter sent me an article from the leader of Knitta Please, .Magda Sayeg, KnittaPlease - Gothamist: New York City News, Food, Arts & Events... calling for volunteers to knit a parking meter cozy to knitafy parking meters on Montague St in Brooklyn. Brooklyn Heights Blog » Be Part of Knitting Art

We were given a pattern and allowed to make it our own using the colors, green, blue, pink and yellow. I love guidelines/rules because my inner lawyer hungers to find loopholes (and hopefully not stitch holes) that stick close enough to rules, yet stray enough to satifsy the "bad girl" within. Being a huge Eckhart Tolle fan, I chose to make a blossoming flower cozy to represent stillness and the study of how flowers accept the 'isness' of life. (Ever see a flower worry about anything?)

I love that an artistic knit vision can be created within a group. I loved seeing the generous and joyful volunteers who put the cozies up on all those parking meters...such angels! I love that Magda Sayeg and Chelsea Mauldin did such an excellent and thorough job in organizing such a fun and exciting project. Leading several minds in one direction is not an easy thing to do. Everyone involved did a lot of work to make this project materialize. I love being a knitting cog in the wheel of public knit creation! Send me more of that, please! Pretty please. Pretty Knitta Please!

The huge lesson learned from this experience came from the commentary posted about the project. Knitta Please Hits Brooklyn Heights - Gothamist: New York City News, Food, Arts & Events Such a cool project, yet I've never seen so many anonymous readers be so judgmental about such a creative project! It's no wonder many artistic types fear putting their work out there! There's a breed of people who crave attention so much that they don't care how they get it and often the way they get it is through tearing anothers' efforts to shreds. There's a ton of safety in anonymity! Anyone expressing their creativity has to earn the Teflon Heart Award if they ever put their creative expressions out there. What a twist to donate a cozy that represents 'isness' and witness how there are still humans who don't accept 'isness.'

There were kind things said in the commentaries as well and I so appreciate those encouraging souls who understand the intent of the project and the loving care that was put into every bit of that project. (You can see it on the faces of the people who put the projects on the meters.) According to the critical things said, public knitters who express their creativity are all bored housewives who are using their knitting to get attention and should be spending their time knitting for charity instead. One critic even threatened to pee on all the projects...even tho we were warned by our group leader to make the base of the project of darker shades because dogs already will do that.

So to all you brave souls who are expressing your creativity...whether it be through starting your own business, changing your career, starting any new kind of relationship...or just putting yourself and what you do out there....I hope you keep this lesson in mind that when you live your dreams, part of the experience is to know there will be critics, but because you love what you're doing so much that will weigh more than any criticism. So whatever it is you put out there you'll earn your Teflon Heart Award by just staying on the path. Much support to those who are using their gifts to make the world a better place!

Any "bypassing the critic stories" to share? Please do!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The book that changed my life forever...

In the 70s, my Mom gave me this book. It was hers. But I think she decided I should have it because of how it hypnotized me full of dreams. Looking through it made me drool and made my pulse raise. The textures...the colors....the surreal designs! Knitters, crocheters, designers really took traditional skills and came up with designs that grabbed our attention. It's because of this book I got a fashion design degree.( Barbie played a role in inspiring that as well.)
I am still amazed at how 70s designers took their materials as far as they could go without the incredible tools and yarn we have today.And it seems their lifestyles followed suit with their designs.
I've been knitting for 45 years and I have watched knitting go from Phentex and Columbia Minerva yarn and straight needles to limitless innovative tools and yarn fibers. I love to follow the activist and innovative needle workers who are endlessly evolving knitting from traditional craft to innovative art form.
I even wondered if Chris from Project Runway must've also been moved by this book because his pre- finale designs had the flavor of some of the designers in this book.
Do you have a book that changed your life forever? Tell us about it.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Messy Part

Here is a "before" and "during" example of how art journaling....or any passion gets messy. The creative process is a messy one. Whether it's in making art journal pages, designing a knit project, putting a speech together, starting a business or any endeavor.
Often the messy stage of a project isn't publicized and we only get to see the successful result. This gives us the impression that everyone else knows exactly how to do everything perfectly.
I know when I design knits, art, speeches, classes or even business concepts....they certainly don't all work out in neat little journeys from point A to point B! There is that process between idea and manifestation that requires messy trial, error, play, work, not knowing, letting go of ideas, holding onto ideas and changing ideas. (This includes all the emotions that go with those messes.) Sometimes we can forget how many steps it takes to do anything...including getting out of bed in the morning or getting out of the house! Want to make a friend for life? Make friends with messy and accept it as a part of the process to turn ideas into reality. 

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Fine Art of Play

I have wanted to attend Teesha and Tracy Moore's Play Art Journal Retreat for years. This was the year I finally attended! And what a life and art altering experience it was! For 5 days you are submerged into a world of creative skills, sparky and fun fellow artists, surreal creations, brilliant teachers, and exploration. Teesha and Tracy are the most generous instructors on the planet! They teach you new techniques and their latest finds in skills and materials as well as help you get the coordination of using the tools while you experiment with them. There is a table of the journals that Teesha and Tracy created in the back of the room that is worth the whole price of the retreat to study and get inspiration from. I have to mention also, that many of the students remarked how they admired Teesha and Tracy's relationship. Two artists supporting and encouraging each other while sharing that same support and encouragement with fellow artists to keep them blossoming. These two work and play hard to keep artists sparked both during and after the retreat. I am guilty of enjoying a workshop or retreat long after it's over as my mind takes 'feeling photos' and I re-live them every time I go practice what I've learned. I left that retreat with enough new skills to try out and play with for years! THIS WORKSHOP NEVER ENDS EVEN THOUGH YOU LEFT IT LONG AGO!
I loved the skills they taught us using paper, but my inner fabric soul was hungry to try out what they taught us on a pair of pants I own that I rarely wear. They are now journal pants, which has been done before by artists, so it's nothing new. I love to try a new skill or different journal entry on them daily. I'm having many favorite parts on these pants most favorite being the autographs of Teesha, Tracy, their awesomely talented daughter Tiphoni, and brilliant detail drawing phenomenon, Theo Ellsworth. I also have autographs of a few of the very gifted artists that were at my table on the front of my pants. I just love how artists sign autographs....why do it in just writing?
Another thing I want to mention about this retreat. I've met my tribe! They do not care how much clutter you have in your space. Every item in existence is art journal fodder. You are not a're an artist gathering materials for your creations. I get tired of being judged in every day life for saving items that may be considered trash or useless clutter. That rule that professional organizers use...if you don't use it within a year, pitch it....DOES NOT WORK FOR A COLLAGE ARTIST. I've had items I've saved for 20 years and only found the right use for them recently.
I see that both life coaches and journal artists see the potential in everything. Just go to the grocery store with a collage artist. Witness the perspective with which they see grocery items....potential art projects. One man's trash is a collage artist's treasure. 
I highly recommend any retreat Teesha and Tracy give to anyone needing a sparky kick in the art journal pants.
I have more to say about this retreat, but I have to finish tax receipts, so I'll continue next entry.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Make it Yourself!!!

I grew up with the same affliction many Baby Boomers had.
 When we didn't eat all of our dinner, we'd hear about people starving in China. When we didn't like walking to school we'd hear about walking 5 miles in the snow, uphill, to school. I was raised in an upscale suburb of Chicago, but because my parents had to work hard to keep the bills paid, my clothes came from the thrift shop. The high point was having to wear some other girl's hand-me-down underpants!!!! It was challenging being around classmates who had the latest this and that. When I asked if I could get the latest, I'd hear the response/mantra, "make it yourself."

As a child, I got so upset hearing "make it yourself." Living by that mantra through her own childhood experience, Mom taught me to sew, Mom and I learned to knit at the local yarn shop, and if I wanted to send a greeting card I'd have to design it, often with Mom's help. Oh...did I mention Mom used to be an art teacher in a Jr High School? I need to blog about that some time.

Now that we're in a recession, I hear thrift shops are thriving! Shabby-chic is the way to survive the recession. Did you know "recessionista" is a word defining the people who can find creative ways to dress stylishly while surviving the current tough economy? I much admire the creative knitters who are buying sweaters at the thrift shop, unraveling them, and reconstructing them into new sweaters. What a creative way to get classy yarn! Not to mention the recycling kindess to the Earth they are engaged in.

That make-it-yourself mantra and upbringing led me to get a fashion design degree because I love that space between idea and manifestation called process! Today I teach/coach others how to express through creativity and run a shop/studio with creative supplies and workshops. My hugest pleasure is uninterrupted creativity time in the studio. It never ceases to amaze me that the very things we didn't want to hear or do as a child are the very things that molded our lives today. Isn't it always the things that upset us most that bring the hugest gifts and lessons in time? How else would the lessons get our attention than to be challenging or upsetting? I thank my Mom for teaching me to defy what goes on 'out there' by making it myself.