Friday, August 29, 2014

It is Hard to Believe ...

See the Cascade 220 Aran, all lined up in a row ...
... that it is already the Labor Day weekend here in the U.S.! The unofficial (but somehow very official) end of summer. School starts next week (if it hasn't already started); the evening light doesn't last nearly as long, and soon the leaves will be turning.

Did you get everything you wanted to accomplish done this summer? Did you even think about things you wanted to accomplish before summer started? I did get things done this summer, although most of them I can't discuss just yet

For me, a confirmed autumn-loving gal, September is somehow the true beginning of my year. The next two months (September and October) are truly my favorites in terms of weather. And don't get me started on those great fall leaves we'll start to see very soon. The bounty in the fields and on our tables is something to which we'll definitely give thanks - in October in Canada; November in the U.S.

Yet, I want to take this moment to thank all those unseen persons who have made my summer of making (and making, and making and making) truly memorable: all the yarn dyers (both indie and corporate, assuming they're actual people and not machines), fiber farmers, yarn spinners, yarn shippers, yarn marketing and social media people, and all those yarny solopreneurs who get up every day and give it their very best so we can craft with such wonderfully beautiful yarn. What a treat you've all given me this summer. I hope every other yarnista feels the same way.

Now don't forget to head on over to Wisdom Begins in Wonder and check out just how Andrea is marking the end of her summer on the farm. And for those of you who want a sneak peek at some brand-spanking new crochet designs,'s October issue will go live on Monday. I've got a few things in this edition, which I'll be able to speak more about next week.

Do have a great holiday weekend if you're here in the U.S. - don't labor too much, alright? 

Unless it involves the barbeque - then labor away.

Friday, August 22, 2014

What A Life this Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday

Isn't this Cascade Venezia Sport just gorgeous?

"If you lay off the 'parallel lines on the canvas,' the 'balance of light and dark,' and other art history shibboleths, if you really look at the painting or sculpture or photography or installation work or video and pay close attention to the ways the images resonate with your own life, then the world of your experience and the world of the artist's experience have a chance to connect." (p. 161)

"My job was becoming increasingly difficult. The challenge was to maintain a very clear vision for the museum in terms of inquiry and scholarship while also attending to the real necessity of balancing the budget and raising money - and to create an organizational climate that was highly productive and efficient but was also fair, compassionate, and human." (p.148, emphasis in original)

As I wrote in this post, I'm reading (and have just completed) Marcia Tucker's memoir A Short Life of Trouble: 40 Years in the New York Art World. What an inspiration! Feminist (although she wouldn't use the moniker until later in her life), artist, curator, museum founder, mother, wife (twice), Marcia Tucker challenged conventional wisdom pretty much from the opening bell. Tucker's experiences are a perfect mirror of the social changes we've seen since the early 60s: she eschewed law school and became the first female curator at a major New York museum - The Whitney (she was in her mid-20s) even though her father wanted her to join him in his law practice; she dealt with ageism and sexism inside (as well as outside of) the workplace; she was the first woman to be fired from a curatorial position at a major New York museum, first woman to found her own major New York museum (The New Museum of Contemporary Art); Tucker faced head-on her own museum's institutional racism (much to the chagrin of her Board of Directors); her second marriage was to a man 17 years her junior, she didn't give birth to her daughter Ruby until after 40, and died of cancer in 2004. Phew! There may have been trouble, but it was surely a jam-packed life. 

As someone who, more times than not, finds myself going against the grain, Tucker was not only a breath of fresh air, but someone in whom I saw a kindred spirit (except for the marriages and kid parts). In every instance of egalitarian or inclusive thinking she exhibited, I kept saying yes! out loud to the page. It is no small feat to be in conflict with the social norms of one's day and still live a principled life. Tucker did it in fantastic fashion and left a legacy of artistic mentorship and vision that continues to meaningfully impact long after her death. 

We should all be lucky to have so much trouble.

As I continue to work on crochet designs (and some knitting ones as well!) set for future publication, I take heart in knowing that even though there are times when it feels like relevant crochet design gets undercut (for myriad reasons), persistence and a healthy dose of laughter can win the day. 

Since my persistence and laugh are still present and accounted for, I'm feeling pretty darn good.

Now head on over to Andrea's blog - the Wonder Why Gal and see what's present and accounted for on the farm this week.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Knitting vs. Crochet Speed

Fiber for a quick and pretty upcoming design
Hello everyone on this Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday - how are you? I hope you've had a good week filled with fibery fun.

I have - with both knit and crochet designs. I do love to knit, but I am not as quick with the sticks as I am with my hooks. Assuming you are poly-craftual (and actually work up projects in both disciplines with some regularity), in which does your fiber fly the most? Do you whip up crochet projects like dry lightening, or do your needles produce completed finished objects in record speeds? 

I'm not certain why crochet projects hum along faster than their knitting counterparts; I do know that I enjoy the quicker gratification ... or perhaps not? Maybe the slow project burn will yield equally enjoyable results. 

Just a shot of lovely summer color
I'll let you know ... once I'm done.

In the meantime, do head on over to Andrea's at Wisdom Begins in Wonder and check out photos of her awesome booth at the Michigan Fiber Festival, being held this weekend. If you're anywhere near the Allegan County Fairgrounds in Allegan, Michigan, do head on over to the fiber festival and check out our gal Andrea's booth, as well as the rest of the yarny fun this weekend. And stay cool out there.

Monday, August 11, 2014

(Just Another) Melange Monday

Since I haven't written a Monday melange post in a little bit, I thought I'd tackle one this week.



I'm always a little behind in movie-watching: I've just recently seen (on DVD) Steven Spielberg's Lincoln. If you haven't seen it, I'd highly recommend it. Being a rather huge Doris Kearns Goodwin fan (the screenplay is based on her Lincoln biography), I was amazed at the issues that Lincoln faced in the last months of his life and how relevant they still are, even with the minor historical license Spielberg took in the film. Getting Congress to act on ratifying the 13th Amendment, concluding the Civil War (which went on far longer than anyone had anticipated), dealing with his wife and children (at times Lincoln almost seemed as if he were a single parent) - I found all of this had a present currency with some amazement. There is no doubt Daniel Day-Lewis and Sally Field were impeccable; I found myself riveted to the screen the entire time. It's been just shy of 150 years since the end of the Civil War, and we're still dealing with voting rights issues in the South, not to mention the rest of the related post-slavery social issues. Lincoln was a flawed, brilliant man of immense patience. Definitely rent the movie.


I have just started reading A Short Life of Trouble: 40 Years In the New York Art Scene. It's Marcia Tucker's memoir, the first woman to be hired as curator of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, as well as founding The New Museum of Contemporary Art, also located in New York. I am still in the first chapter and already she is setting herself up as a curious, purposeful woman with a strong will. I like her already. And I really like the book's title.


Finally, there's a Ravelry conversation happening about self-publishing vs. publishing by others that always seems relevant to me. While I absolutely love the complete freedom of self-publishing, I also am in no way giving up on third party publishing, the recent yarny gatekeeper incident notwithstanding. I have always maintained that for me, one process feeds off of the other. Having my designs be part of other's publications, and interacting with their respective processes, allows not only for some (albeit limited) structure, but for those decision makers with whom I share the same aesthetic sensibilities, a place to interact with sympathetic people in my profession. It doesn't mean that we always agree, and I think that's a good thing. Getting outside of my own designing head leads me to see other possibilities. What I cannot abide is a whole lot of heavy-handed top-down structure which, I fully realize, is somewhat unavoidable. I am definitely still working out within myself the right balance between doing things for myself and working on projects within existing structures. 

The good thing? I have plenty of time to figure it out.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Exactly What I Needed This Fiber Arts Friday

Remnants of the ongoing creative design production
Hello everyone - it's Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday - boy, where oh where is the summer disappearing to? It's the second Friday in August for crying out loud.

This Friday's post comes to you courtesy of toil (not a big fan of that word, but) and trouble and great guest blog posts. (Note: there's a wonderful indie yarn dyer/producer that blogs at Toil and Trouble Yarn, and the yarn is nice fiber eye candy too, if you're interested ...).

As most of you know who regularly read this blog, I've been designing crochet and knit items for a little while now. It is an ever-increasing portion of how I make my livelihood, and for that I couldn't be happier. Of course, as all of you who regularly read this blog also know, there have been hiccups along the way. C'est la vie, eh? Well, last week I had another of those minor hiccups with a yarn company gatekeeper-type (all names/identities kept secret to protect the guilty). Now, this yarn company and I have had a multi-year, rather rocky relationship. It culminated in an email exchange last week that I still find baffling. Yarn company gatekeeper asks specifics about yarn support request for upcoming publication design, I respond with information after receiving feedback from publication on what can be successfully revealed which I tell to yarn company gatekeeper; yarn company gatekeeper (almost instantly) then informs me that I need to provide more information and only then will said yarn support request be honored (although, of course, yarn company gatekeeper-type has unilaterally moved the gatepost over the course of the email exchange): I let yarn company gatekeeper know general information about the project, but that clearly wasn't enough. 

Between a rock and a hard place, I did the best thing I could - I declined the yarn support. As someone with several decades of work history under my belt, I'm pretty much done with corporate gatekeepers and double speak. I will not apologize for that stance because I have come by it the hard way.

Ok. That was the toil and trouble part.

Then, just today, I open an email from Cloth, Paper, Scissors (one of the many email newletter/blog updates I receive from a suite of Interweave Press publications), and read some of the most inspiring words from a mixed media artist turned guest blogger Ken T. Youngstrom. Here's a snippet:

"You know it now and you can feel it—so do it. Do what you love—now. Do it at night. Wake up two hours early. Make it your second job. Replace your television schedule with a making stuff schedule. Whatever you have to do. Do it. Now.

Don’t figure it out—because you won’t. I still haven’t; no one has. Don’t wait for clients, don't wait to be debt free, don’t wait for the right situation, for things to settle down; ... Don’t wait for fewer hours at work, don’t wait for summer, don’t wait for winter ...—don’t wait." 
(linky here to entire blog post)

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. This man is clearly living in my head. How does he know I've been getting up and working on designs for a couple of hours each morning? How does he know that my television schedule is, in fact, my making stuff schedule. How does he know that I don't have it all figured out, but I'm forging ahead anyway? 

How, how, how?

One of the few things I do know is that I love my creative output (in all its forms), and no yarn company gatekeeper is going to hold me back. I respect that yarn company gatekeeper has a job to do. So do I. 

And I'll do it the best way I know how. The way that works for me, and that I firmly believe will ultimately benefit the crafty public. If that doesn't fit in with this particular yarn gatekeeper's plans for genuflection and complete yarny revelation well ... then ... alright. 

Now definitely make certain you get on over to Andrea's blog at Wisdom Begins in Wonder to see what's firing up everybody else this week. And thank you, Ken T. Youngstrom. You are so speaking my language.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Feeling the Seams This Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday

Isn't this colorway just divine????
 Hello everyone - yes, it's another Friday in the wonderful world of fiber arts. While I'm working away on projects, it has recently dawned on me that one should never underestimate the design power of a well-placed seam. 

The trend in knitting and crochet over the last several years has been to eliminate seams whenever possible because crafters would rather knit and crochet than seam. I admit, I have absolutely been one of those crafters in the past.

However, I've got several designs in the fire, as well as previously published designs, that incorporate some well-placed seams. I can state unequivocally they enhance the design tremendously (and for a really large dose of seam love, definitely check out my La Peinture Blanket - the seams make the blanket, literally and figuratively). 

There are ways to take some of the sting away from seaming - most notably how one seams. I'm curious (and your answers will in no way affect any designs in the hopper) - what kinds of seaming techniques are your favorites? Which ones do you avoid like the plague?

Alright, everyone - do make certain you head on over to Andrea's - you know, that Wonder Why Gal - to see all the final write-ups for the spinning awesomeness that was the Tour de Fleece.

We had some rain at the end of last week,
and the flowers just loved it.

And have a great weekend, one and all!