Monday, December 31, 2007

In 2008, Let's Reach For More!

(edited from a post at BlogHer)
This week everybody is writing about New Year's Resolutions this week; the crafty blogger is no exception. Like everyone else, the evaluations of last year's resolutions find us all lacking; and the list of resolutions for 2008 sound remarkably similar:

Finish projects that have been started and are idling;
Work more from our stash. (use what is on hand);
Limit our acquisitions in the new year;
Learn some new technique.

Yawn. No wonder people who make these resolutions fail.

What inspires about these points? What makes one anticipate New Year's Day because... Thank Goodness, I Get To Work On These Resolutions! How do these fire creativity? How do these inspire?

When I've found myself limited to writing crafty resolutions like these in the past, it's been because in reality I was so over that craft that I had to punish myself to keep working in the medium. To justify the time and money already invested in an activity that I just didn't have the heart for anymore. Or my taste and interests had outgrown the stash and projects from previous months or years, but my frugal nature wouldn't let me let these things go.

Because, really, is there anything about "finishing a project that I've given up on" that sounds positive?

BlogHer's word of the year is REACH. I am praying that each and every one of us can find some way to word our plans for 2008 to incorporate that spirit into our resolutions. Write hope and adventure; creativity and inspiration; learning and sharing.

Yes, if you must finish projects that keep your spirit tied to the earth, then finish them, by all means. But give yourself a time limit (say, finish projects by 3/30... or begin each month by working for one week on finishing a project). When you've hit your time limit, give yourself permission to enjoy!

Plan a play date with yourself. It needn't be long. Bring colored pencils and a sketch pad to work and spend one lunch hour playing with form and color. String a simple bead necklace to wear that afternoon. Grab a glue stick and make a collage from the oldest magazines in the office waiting room. Meet a friend for lunch and trip to a gallery, show or museum. Artists call it "filling the well" and it's the one sure way to insure that you'll be more happily working at the end of 2008 than you are now.

How I Hope to Reach Further in 2008:

1. I have been knitting the same pair of socks for over one year. I've had to tear them out and start over 3 times. And I'm doing no other knitting. I know it's because I only give myself permission to knit at night while watching TV and the light is not sufficient for me to comfortably work long with the fine sock yarn. In 2008, I promise that I push the laptop away for one hour at mid day, and spend my lunchtime knitting in the good light of day. I know I can knit a pair of socks in about 30 hours (I'm a very slow knitter); I have 1 pair to finish; and 2 pairs to start. Plus my first knit top. Should be starting that top about April 1st. You have permission to ask me about it then.

2. Not crafty, but crafty-like. Just built myself a sweet little photography rig (which I used for the painted shoes demo),and I'm working on doing video recording. I aim to publish one craft demonstration video, and one craft interview/tour/other video a month on my blog. Guess I better start learning how to do so.

3. I love my work in surface design. Just haven't wanted to then put it all into quilts (my background). In 2008, I will reach into new area. I will learn how to apply techniques to wearables and home design items. Then decide if I should teach these techniques, sell the products (on Etsy?) or some combination of the two.

4. Reach out to more of the great crafting bloggers. I still dream about a CraftCamp 2.0; I still imagine ways to meet, share, promote and enjoy all your exceptional work. Spend time face to face to face with you. Time to stop dreaming and start acting! Maybe find a way to tag along on the BlogHer Reach Out Tour?

5. Write. Sometimes I write these articles like my soul is on fire; sometimes like I'm sleep walking. Reaching for the fire isn't always easy... but the results always make me happier. I wonder if you can sense it, too? In 2008, I want to reach my soul's fire.

Now, don't these resolutions sound more inspiring than cleaning my studio and sewing off my stash??

Hah! Did you notice that I did not have the courage to place #2 in bold type. BlogHer astrologer, KT, says that Cancers like me must remember that not all change is painful! I'm not sure that learning to edit video and make good vlogs can really fall into that list.


I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

About that Blogging MoJo...

So I went and bragged that I'd gotten my MoJo back. Posts regularly... original posts, even! Then I got hit with this plague/cold that's running across the country and my mojo took the first bus to Mexico. Deserting me when I need it most.

I'm trying to wrap up work from 2007 so that the new year comes in with a clean, fresh pallate (as it were), but it's not quite working. Yesterday, in a bit of a blue mood, I vowed to fold and organize the fabrics that I'm keeping in my stash. Could not get my heart or head wrapped around that task, however. In a move to honor being present in the moment, or completely lost in my work, I pulled out paper and did some sketching instead.

It's nothing totally original. We'd gotten these great tattooes at the Oakland Museum for the Day of the Dead. I'd used one as the inspiration for a paper cut-out and wanted to make a line drawing I could keep and refer back to. The more times I draw this out, the further away from the original I'll get. Eventually I'm going to have a unique skull drawing with my own fancy embellishments.

Anyway, totally lost myself in the work for an hour and feel better about that than having the fabric folded and sorted by color/theme/size/ or whatever qualifier I chose for the moment. Today I'll spend a little time doing the necessary work. But I've got to remember to spend time lost in creation, too.

What did you choose to do today that kept you lost in the present moment?

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Everyone Just Back Away From The Holiday Madness

Packing It, Xmas 2007
Jake, packed up, walking through Briones.

Let's remember that outside of Britain (or is it merely England?) today is NOT a holiday. It's merely another ordinary Wednesday. And let's keep it that way.

Yesterday, afternoon was perfect for our traditional hike around one of the regional parks. We took the dogs out to Briones for a short-ish 3 mile walk. LOTS of hill involved. Hill that in the past would get me cursing about insurance policies and people trying to kill me and make it look like an accident.

Hill that was challenging but more than do-able. Tangible proof that hitting the cardio machines hard is making me healthier.

Other than a nice walk and fine roasted duck for dinner, the day was quiet. I spent some time in my studio and much of the evening visiting with friends online. It matched or exceeded my expectations, so the day was good.

Today: back to reality. I need to figure out what I'm blogging about Saturday; anyone have something to say about BurdaStyle Open Source Sewing? With all the heavy articles and holiday stuff lately, I need some fluffy fiber chatter. Or would you like to mention what you think was a key art/craft happenin for '07? My year end roundup would welcome your input.



I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Monday, December 24, 2007

One of my hardest posts ever.

Last October I got several writing assignments for BlogHer's Holiday special. Two I didn't mind too much, but the last assignment, published Monday? Hard. Just plain hard.

Me, the non-shopper, non-gift-giver person had to write the gift guide for Kwanzaa. Now if you know anything about this 6 day celebration you know that it emphasizes a principle each day that the celebrants should focus upon. Oh, and gifts? Kwanzaa gifts should be meaningful, symbolic, personalized, ideally hand-made, and promote growth in the recipient.

Isn't this a writing assignment you'd give your eye teeth for? Suggesting items for a general population where the gifts should be personal.

Yeah. I knocked my head against my laptop for a long time while trying to cope with this. But a lot of thought and some help from friends yielded a post that I am now proud to attach my name to. Unless you find typo!

Won't be crossposting that one here. You'll have to go to the source to read all it's wonderfulness. Thank goodness on Saturday I hope to return to all the fluffy fiber fun I can find!

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Slow Cloth/Slow Craft: Is This the Birth of a Movement?

(crossposted at BlogHer)

If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, you don't know what you're doing. W. Edwards Deming.

As I sit here writing, in the background morning news anchors are gluing "little plastic fake gems" onto styrofoam with Elmer's glue as "fast holiday decorations." Excuse me while I tune to something less nauseating, like maybe a death-cage match. May I please hear it for some real, slower crap craft than that?

Have you heard of The Slow Movement: a cultural shift toward slowing down life's pace and maintaining local and regional distinctions? This idea started being discussed in fiber art as Slow Cloth.. and is expanding into a discussion of Slow Craft that has captivated me all week.

As Elaine Lipson describes it:

Slow Cloth, as I imagine it, is indeed a movement (and possibly even an organization) and isn't about hand vs. machine, or even the time it takes to complete a project or a piece of art. It has more to do with identifying, protecting, and sharing/teaching about the world's incredibly rich textile heritage, whether techniques are executed traditionally or by contemporary artists in new ways. The idea of craftsmanship and artisanship is absolutely part of this. . . .Similarly, for me, a Slow Cloth artist has a knowledge and skill base that respects traditional craft techniques, whether it's shibori dyeing or quilting or embroidery. But the results can be traditional or new. So in my mind, both a traditional quilt and an art quilt and even a fabric postcard can all be Slow Cloth. It's more about intention, approach, quality, and a sense of connection.

When Elaine Lipson began Red Thread Studio blog on December 2nd, one it's primary goals was to discuss and educate us all about Slow Cloth, which she defines this way:
Slow Cloth: Global textile traditions and techniques, and textiles, fabric, and clothing design with a story and a history and a cultural identity; Indian embroidery, Japanese kimono, indigo dyeing, American quilts, Indonesian batik, Western wear. You get the idea; the ethnography and community of cloth. Every culture and every region of the world has a textile identity, and before we're all wearing identical, dirt-cheap Old Navy clothes, we should preserve, protect and celebrate these arts.
This idea was picked up by Sharon B., working on two hand-pieced quilts:
I have been thinking much about this notion of slowing down in order to have quality rather than quantity in life. The idea of a slow cloth made me think that perhaps we need a slow craft movement too. A philosophy that celebrates the hand made and dare I say it the craft process. Not projects that are marketed and sold as a thrown together weekend quick recreational activity but objects that are made with care and with the expectation that we have a relationship to them in other words they have meaning.

At the risk of sounding totally idealistic do you think we need a craft philosophy that celebrates the hand crafted object made with care and meaning without regard to time. What do you think? Mull it over, go away think about it slowly … come back and leave a comment I would love to hear what you think.
She received 35 comments.. all worth reading. Compelled by these comments, Sharon went on to explain HER take on Slow Cloth/Slow Craft (emphasis is mine):
I want to make it very clear that the type of projects I am objecting to are those that promise things like “make last minute gift in 15 minutes”. ...This “thoughtful” project advocated buying particular materials and gluing on this and that to produce something that was simply awful.

I wondered what was the point and an even more serious question popped into my head. Where does this philosophy take craft?I am not talking about a machine embroidery/quilting versus hand embroidery. I am talking about a multi million hobby industry that promises skill, design sense and a meaningful project without you having to invest time or emotional commitment. Any skill takes time to develop and the thing about craft work is that it is skillful. No matter if its made using a sewing machine or by hand the item has taken time, skill and thought to make it! That is the opposite of what is being promised in these 15 minute gift problem solvers!
Sharon goes further to explain how she envisions a Slow Cloth/Slow Craft movement. Her definition suggests honoring the age-old tradition of mastering techniques and applying individual creativity to work. In the comments of this piece, Neki Rivera wrote:
i think it is not about the 15 minutes it takes or hand vs machine, but the lack of thought and content, in other words the banalisation of crafts.

i’d love to see some philosophy which vertebrates crafts, i mean other than i’ts women’s stuff.(having typed that i realize that there are crafts studies now being offered in some sociology departments in major universities.)i mean something more mainstream that involves crafters, a manifesto perhaps?
Is there a need for a Slow Craft movement? A Manifesto? Or does it already exist?

Ulla-Maaria wrote a draft Craft Manifesto last year on her Hobby Princess blog that sounds like the manifesto that Neki suggested. I wrote about in BlogHer's "Is 'Craft' Uncool?" article a year and a half ago (a surprising article to revisit, even for me!) and a final draft was eventually published in MAKE. Ulla-Maaria was the first person I read who equated the current Art/Indie/Craft 2.0 movement to the Arts and Crafts Movement from just over a century ago. William Morris and his associates called for a return to the spirit of CRAFT in design. These practitioners advocated simplicity, quality materials, respect for the environment and honoring the classic principles of design. It does sound familiar, doesn't it?

Tying these two recent "hot" discussions together in reacting to Handmade 2.0, Craft Research's Mike Press wrote:
Craft 2.0 is the true inheritor of the Morris legacy. Unlike the professionalised 'art school' educated craft makers it has an ideological position which, while largely ill-defined and diverse, represents a constructive reaction to the inequities and politics of the market economy. It is clearly using the market economy as a means of developing sustainable livelihoods, but is bringing economic and cultural innovation to it. Above all it is dealing with the politics of work and consumption in ways that the professionalised sector cannot.
I sense that we could be perched on the brink of a formalized movement, but I doubt it will happen. As Walker mentioned in his article last week, when the Craft Congress met in Pittsburg there was much talk but no driving interesting in defining roles and rules. Perhaps the Indie aspect of this movement applies even to the movement itself; how can one call them "indie artist" if they follow others' rules?

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Sublime Stitching Logo

Jenny Hart, the genius behind Sublime Stitching, is writing on Crafting a Business for VenusZine, a zine for emerging creativity. Jenny brings hip modern designs to hand embroidery reclaiming it from the bunnies, mushrooms and "cutesy" of the past.

Starting out in 2000, Sublime Stitching has grown. The website offers patterns, kits, tools and textiles for sale. You can also find easy instructions (titled Tattoo Your Towels, I love it!!) for the beginning embroiderer. There is also a Sublime Stitching forum on Craftster. Ofcourse there is a blog!!

But even if embroidery isn't your thing, you should read her article on beginning a crafty business. She honestly describes trying to a grow a DIY business in a way that both encourages me and still gives me that chill-in-the-pit-of-my-stomach feeling:
It still is scary. But the scary part is different now. Attempts at making bigger strides, having more demand than resources to meet those demands, managing money wisely, and trying to find financial backing and business people in the industry who get the DIY movement (psst … they don’t) to possibly partner with. I’ve often felt very much like running a successful business is discovering the emperor has no clothes. Only, you’re king at your own company, which means you’re the one feeling naked.
About encouraging others to take a similar risk:
I find myself struggling to come up with some snappy reply that is encouraging and informative without saying "Go for it! Work really hard and it will be everything you dreamed!" Unfortunately, that’s just not the whole story. But I will say this: If you don't do it, you'll never know. And once you start, you'll see the next step and take it. Then it will become easier, then harder again, then easier, then doubly harder, and you'll find you're on your way. Where are you headed? Well ...

It won't look like what you expected.

It won't go the way you planned.

If you can be OK with that, do it.
There's more in this article, the first of 5 on Crafting A Business. Part Two, from December 5th, is all about book deals.

(crossposted from BlogHer)

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

GoodMail Day!

I commented yesterday (somewhere) that I had gotten my old blogging mojo back! I had posted for a couple days straight on both of my personal blogs, and was well on the way to completing my assignments for this weekend for BlogHer (big fat lie!) I was smokin'!

Yeah. Then reality hit today.

It was mid-afternoon, I was vacuuming up dog fur and mud (the perfect combination of mess), and trying to figure out WHAT I was going to blog about today. Mojo my big toe!!

Fortunately, the spouser was home and perfectly positioned to notice the mailman ringing the doorbell (the spouser was upstairs contemplating a nap... like I said, perfect position). Now friendly Mr. Mailman does not come knockin at the door without a purpose; our mailbox is at a "group home" at the other end of our court. (those who know my court, stop giggling!). He has to move his truck and walk to get to our doorway. So this was something special!

Indeed it was! A Royal looking box was sitting under all the appeals for charitable donations. And I could guess what this box held:


A Royal Box Appeared on my doorstep


Cookies! From the Queen of Spain!!

I might share the klotchy's (bowties) with the spouse... and I will definitely share the candy canes and xmas trees. (I am told that that is what the green things are were.

Now I have some xmas cookies to get me in the holiday spirit.. and I MUST bake the Russian TeaCakes I promised her. Tonight! Let the powdered sugar fly!

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Social Networks: Weird and Wonderful

I spend a lot of time on Social network sites (Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, Ravelry, Twitter.) They are strange time sinkholes that occasionally become magic. Atleast that's why I say I keep coming back to them. For the magic.

Like Wednesday afternoon.

I'm researching an assigned article for BlogHer on top gifts for Kwanzaa (I know... I know.. they assigned THIS to the non-shopper, non-gift giver?? It is so unfair. SO PLEASE HELP ME!!). I'm online hitting my head against my laptop trying to think of gifts to match the principles. During these exercises, I always keep a tab open on Twitter. It's like the background office conversation for those of us who work at home. Or our coffee room. Or it is the internet's biggest not-so-secret-addiction. The concept is simple: you tell the world (or your friends and online associates) what you are doing or thinking RIGHT NOW. In 140 characters or less. Short, sweet and on to other things. Mobile friendly, many twitter from their phones. (I did during Bay to Breakers.)

While NOT finding inspiration for my article (gee, the description of celebration emphasizes the lack of presents or that presents should be personalized and hand made!), I also got to:

1. brag to all my friends that I'm now pressing my weight on the leg press machines. When I started 45# was a challenge;

2. tell someone to try nasal irrigation for his head cold.

and

3. have 2 people tell me they love me. That's more than I normally hear in a year. Often more than in a decade!!

See? Weird. And Wonderful.

Now what gift would perfectly symbolize Nia?


Purpose encourages us to look within ourselves and to set personal goals that are beneficial to the community. Can I suggest ComplaintFreeWorld bracelets?? (BTW, I just ordered a bunch of these that I will be sharing with all my friends! Friends, you are forewarned!)

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The NYTimes and Handmade 2.0

(edited from the article on BlogHer)
Last week, spurred on my too many holiday parties, I started trying to explain what my job is: I write about very hands-on activities (crafts and gardening) and how the people involved in these represent themselves and their work in a Web 2.0 world. Two seemingly opposite activities that in truth work together well. So I was immediately intrigued when Jill of Writes Like She Talks left a comment on BlogHer mentioning a NYT magazine article called Handmade 2.0. by Rob Walker. Walker regularly writes the Consumed column for the magazine, where he occasionally discusses craft. It was his research for those columns and his soon to be published book that gave him the access to research this article.

Handmade 2.0 is primarily a deep look into Etsy from its origins through its major support of the HandMade Pledge. In explaining Etsy, Walker says:
Browsing Etsy is both exhilarating and exhausting. There is enough here to mount an astonishing museum exhibition. There is also plenty of junk. Most of all there is a dizzying amount of stuff, and it is similarly difficult to figure out how to characterize what it all represents: an art movement, a craft phenomenon or shopping trend. Whatever this is, it’s not something that Etsy created but rather something that it is trying to make bigger, more visible and more accessible — partly by mixing high-minded ideas about consumer responsibility with the unsentimental notion of the profit motive.
Walker gives us a brief history of the indie-craft movement, pointing out such touch-points as GetCrafty, Craftster and the Church of Craft; places where the craft is a DIY mash-up of original thought and recycled goods. GetCrafty founder Jean Railla was used as the icon of "craft as a political movement" where handmade objects stand as political statements against the mass-produced, all-the-same big box store commodities that are dominating the American landscape.

Walker goes on to how this indie-craft-as-political-statement philosophy happened to give rise to Etsy. He profiles the websites creator, Robert Kalin, and gives an inside-the-box view of the business.
the luck or genius of the site is that Kalin and the other founders encountered in the D.I.Y./craft scene something that was already social, community-minded, supportive and aggressively using the Web.
In the third part of his story, Walker fit Etsy into the DIY-Indie Craft culture as a whole:
It’s still tempting to characterize anything that looks edgy and has an online component as somehow a function of youth culture. But the age of the average Etsy seller turns out to be 34. Many crafters no doubt feel passionately about the ideals suggested by the Handmade Pledge a horror of sweatshop labor and corporate conformity, concern about the environment and would be pleased to see the broader consumer culture embrace them too. Meanwhile there is also the more salient matter of how to make a rewarding, meaningful and satisfying living without having to give up on those ideals. The women who have led the craft movement don’t want to work for the Man. But many are also motivated by having reached adulthood at a time when the Man is slashing benefits, reneging on pensions, laying people off and, if hiring, is looking for customer-service reps and baristas. This is not a utopian alt-youth framework; it’s a very real-world, alt-grown-up framework.
Overall, I found the article informative and balanced. Initially, I sensed a lack skepticism by the author; however, after a deeper read I felt Walker was less unsure about the values and philosophies typically associated with the indie-craft movement, and more in tune with the real making-it-work-for-us ideas that I've witnessed by following indie-crafters on the web for these past 2 years. If you have any interest in craft, this is an article worth reading.

What are the bloggers saying?

First on his own blog, Rob Walker posts many of the links that the Times strips from article. Even better, he shares his del.icio.us links for Etsy, DIYism and reactions to this article! And shares with the reader:
[ PS: In answer to the question: Why does the online version of the story on the Times site not actually link to Etsy? Or to Getcrafty, or any of other things it might link to? My answer is: I have no idea. Please ask someone who works at the Times! ]
Experientia:
The author is particularly interested in the new technologically enabled “new craft movement” as a social commentary on consumer culture, but has not explored what the possibilities might be if these objects themselves would become carriers of information.
Ulla Maaria at Hobby Princess talking generally about the "new craft movement":
The emerging new craft movement is not about outspoken leaders or violent controversy. Instead, it’s about regular people following their passion and connecting with their friends.

Still, it’d be a mistake to shrug crafters off as clueless. Below the innocent appearance they are planting the seeds of change. Without making a big deal about boycotting big brands or saving the environment, crafting changes the way we consume. It exposes us to the original ideals of William Morris: the preference of creativity, sincerity, good materials and sound workmanship over wasteful mass-production. It’s just that this time the movement is not limited to a group of professional craftsmen. Instead, it’s spreading much further and broader than Morris could have imagined in his wildest dreams.

Shannon from knitgrrl reacted:
This article is the first one I’ve read in a long while about crafty topics in a major, non-craft publication that hasn’t completely squicked me out in some way. At least it didn’t go for either side of the usual “hipsters do crafts!” / “it’s not your grandma’s [x]” dichotomy most reporters choose.
Lainie of Red Thread Studio (parenthetical editing is mine):
(begins)Hot on the heels of our discussion of Slow Cloth, the New York Times Magazine offers Handmade 2.0, by author Rob Walker, deconstructing Etsy.com and the craft resurgence. (and later continues):Though Walker sounds a bit unconvinced in his article, it is revolutionary to make things, and if the whole world is built on buying things made anonymously far away, it may indeed be subversive.

So what's your take on this? IS the current DIY Craft movement subversive?

It reminds me of when my generation was in their 20s and early 30s. Energy was expensive, don't even talk about interest rates (hello? The spouser's first house had an 18% interest rate, I think!). So we all purchased olders houses and remodeled them. This gave rise to This Old House on PBS.. and a tons of other shows and gadgets and an entirely new industry for the power tool folks.

It was about Doing It Ourselves and Doing It Our Way. It was a bit anti-consumerism even before Big-Box-Nation.

I think we taught our children our values and they are simply carrying on in their own best way. But that's just me.

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Kept Man



Occasionally I'm sent books from Penguin just as they are being released to the public. This video is inspired by the beginning of Jami Attenberg's new book: The Kept Man. After hearing the intro, I can't wait to read the book.


I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Reading Handmade 2.0...

Let me just say that print media corporations that place articles on line and strip out all the links?? Just plain rude.

The New York Times does it; HoffPo did it with my post there last year, and I've noticed others doing it too. RUDE big media corps. RUDE.

Which is my way of pointing you to the article that appeared this week past weekend: Handmade 2.0. I'm working up a post for BlogHer to publish today; so it will repost here tomorrow. In the meantime, what's your reaction?

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Not Missing This!


It's photos like this from Sunday's Brown's game that remind me why I don't miss living in Cleveland. I'll bet my old house in Chesterland has about 2' of lake effect snow!

(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I Live at the Intersection of Craft and Web 2.0


I've been hitting a number of holiday parties with the spouser this week. Explaining to people that I'm a blogger (and a paid, therefore professional, blogger) and explaining what that means is a challenge.

I've come upon a workable explanation in a way. Imagine that everything that exists on the web were placed along one line (websites, bulletin boards, groups, blogs, social network sites like Ravelry, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube. Then imagine that everything to do with handmade crafts and gardening existed along the other line.

You can slide the intersection up and down the Web stuff... or all along the craft stuff... from scrapbooking, through crochet and sewing and quilting and knitting. But wherever the two intersect, that's where I'm writing. The intersection of Web 2.0 and Craft.

While thinking about this, I found an old Gaping Void post that also explains the whole "web 2.0" thing. Where Web 1.0 was about taking (go, take information or buy something, then leave), Web 2.0 is about sharing... developing relationships.

Hey, if I perfected that drawing a bit, I could make it a t-shirt!!
\
I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

An Invitation To Stop Leaking

This fall several creative-type friends and I have been working together on a small project: plugging some of the energy leaks in our lives. It's not a new idea; it's not a new exercise. It was a slightly new approach for us for several reasons:

  • It wasn't just a job list. We can all make to-do lists and work our way through them alone or with support of friends. We were determined to list those things in our lives that were standing in the way of our growing, in the way of our being more successful, in the way of our being more of who we really are.
  • We were banishing some of excuses that hold us back.
  • We were doing this in a group with encouragement and support.

There were interesting discoveries along the way:
  • we all began to notice those little "chores" that in the past we would put off, then add to a "to do" list. And we began addressing them before they made a list.
  • many of us found places of resistance: spots where the action we did not want to take was the block that held us back from taking a risk. If we removed the block, would we have no excuse for moving forward? Would we create another block?
  • we began discovering that we deserved more than we'd been settling for. We deserve to return home from a long day of work to an uncluttered house, not a home where we then have to spend time clearing it up. We deserve to have fun, to pursue dreams, to grow as individuals.
Everything that we leave undone, incomplete or unresolved distract us from living our lives today and drains our energy:
  • Doing what we've always done even if it isn't working;
  • Not being honest with ourself;
  • Avoiding conflict;
  • Imaging a better life, yet not acting on it.

Every action you take uses energy, and every action you don't take uses energy. Yet you are left with nothing to show for your inaction.

Our exercise was designed to last for 3 months and those months are almost over. Several of us are extending the exercise. In the meantime, I would like to offer you an invitation:

Would you like to participate in a similar group? I would act as the "group encourager"(pushing for weekly check ins, making some observations, sometimes asking the hard question...) to the small extent one would be needed. If you think you would like this here are the guidelines:

First, go read one of these life coach posts on Energy Drains:
this post by Christine Kane. She asked if We Were Leaking. This started the first group.
A 43Folders interview with GTD founder David Allen where they discuss leaks. It's all based upon the GTD plan, so if you're familiar with it this might help.
A general self-help overview on Energy Drains
A great list of Time Drains and Energy Drains. Any feel familiar to you?

For some additional comments check out this older video from zefrank (warning, he sings a song with an obscenity in it. ) He talks about "brain crack"... getting a great idea and how not executing it can be addictive. (OK, I'm guilty).

We would begin on Saturday, January 5th.

I would ask that you create a "leak list" as a Google Document that will be shared with everyone in the group. (yes, you need to create a Google ID if you don't have one already. But doesn't everyone already have one??)

You have to commit to checking in weekly. Even if all you say is that Life got in the way of your plans.

Your list is more than a work list. IF there are growth opportunities, fun, and social activities that you've been putting off, make sure they make the list! Curious what this looks like? Email me and I'll send you the link to the current Energy Leak lis.

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Revisiting the Past

Have you ever gone back and re-read your blog from the beginning?? I have.

It's interesting that many comments, thoughts, ideas, complaints, plans and weaknesses get repeated over and over in my blog. A quick read through sounds like a broken record.

But when slow down a little, the voice changes... the thoughts seem similar but move to a deeper level of understanding. The complaints become smaller. The plans move into new directions. I just didn't realize that I was moving in different ways...

And there are small gems to be found here and there. Friends and activities mentioned that I'd forgotten. One sad observation: I've lost many of my early links. (I wonder why??)

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Disruptions are Good??

This week my home is being invaded by workmen. They will be fixing the hole in our ceiling created when we moved our cold air return from over the steps to over a level surface. They will be painting our living room and adjoining open spaces (stairs, hall, dining room). Those who think they could do this themselves are braver than I when it comes to facing a 30' high ceiling, the minimal walls that attach to it, and the wide open spaces and curving lines of our staircase.

It's necessary, it's anticipated. And I hate it.

There is the disruption of my routine. The workmen will appear early each day. The dogs must be fed and in their cages before that happens. I must presentable, well, atleast dressed with my hair combed.

There will be different noises (and different music?) in the environment.

There will require different planning of activities. The dogs will need long escape times during the day, riding around in the back of my car. (atleast there it will be quieter for them).

There will be different smells and as the paint finally get applied to the walls the rooms will take on a different appearance. We are going a bit darker, from a very slightly off-white to a bone, a light taupy color that given the huge expanses will darken the spaces.

It will be OK. Challenges to our routines gives us opportunities to see where change could occur. I might finally be able to give up that before-I-go-to-the-gym-workout-and-shower bath! So wasteful of resources!

And when the week is over, I shall a home that looks even less like the cookie-cutter house we moved into 10 years ago, and more like an individual's home. Atleast I hope so.

Goodness, slightly darker colors. I'm going to need more light.
I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Painted Shoes

(crossposted at BlogHer)
For me, it began when I was gobsmacked by the cover of Belle Armoire (Art to Wear) in the spring of 2003. There on the cover were Mary Sue Fenner's Hot and Wow Docs. Dr. Marten boots painted and shiny and wonderful!

Shortly after receiving that issue, I broke down and painted my first pair of shoes: leather boots I'd picked up at GoodWill just for this purpose. Using Lumiere and Halo-style jacquard paints I spent one afternoon gleefully painting.

Last weekend, I had fun again; this time painting a pair of Keds! Let me show you how:

My Keds were a bit stained but still had some wear in them, but they were the most boring beige. I decided to use a pair of knitted socks as my inspiration, chose simple acrylic paints and a perfect roll of ribbon trim to match.
Painted Shoes, Supplies
The Keds were first painted with 3 coats of white paint to create a clean base.

First step was to paint the channel stitched spaces orange:
Painted Shoes, Orange Trim

Then one set of side panels was painted in a check to echo the design on the ribbon trim:
Painted Shoes, Step two, checks

Contact paper stencilled stars were added to the other side panel:
Painted Shoes, Step three, Stencilling stars

A feathered cable, plus a speckled background completed the painting. I let the paint dry for an hour, then used Fabric-Tac to glue a row of the ribbon trim around the base of the shoes. Three light coats of a silicone shoe waterproofer (CampDry), and they are ready to wear!
Painted Shoes,  trimmed and finished

Links:

My leather painted boots.

Howard Rheingold not only gives great directions for painting Doc martens, he has a wonderful gallery of painted shoes.


I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Friday, December 07, 2007

If you (like me) feel blue and lost and unloved and marginalized this time of year, go read Laurie's post at Crazy Aunt Purl. It's not going to drive away the blues completely, but it will give you perspective about life as a journey.

This past week I realized that my two best holiday memories as an adult occurred in the company of strangers:

One Christmas, as a Red Cross Disaster Volunteer, I spent the entire day helping about 300 families whose apartments were damaged in a fire. (note to all apartment dwellers: keep fire doors closed in your hallways even if it makes it harder to carry packages in or out. Losing everything when the lobby xmas tree catches fire is a lot harder.)

The second was the year that my parents died; we went on a Hawaiian cruise over Christmas. On Christmas Eve anyone who cared to met in a bar in the center of the ship and sange Christmas Carols. There were about 150 of us sitting or standing around, joined in song. During the quiet moments, I still might feel the overwhelming sense of isolation; but, during the actual singing I was a part of a whole something.

Sounds like this year I need to find a soup kitchen or something...
I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Getting the Groove On??

I've spent this week pulling everything out of my workroom, carefully sorting through everything and deciding if I want to keep it, need to part with it, or must toss it in the trash.

I've also added two more lights to the room.

And an amazing thing is happening: I'm getting anxious to get this straightening over with so I can get in there and work!

Small things for now: a journal is decorated, but needs my pencil/pen holder for the spine; a couple t-shirts are asking to be dyed; a couple tops are ready for quilting.

But it's a start. And a sense that I haven't felt in months!

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

This is another week where I'm living in the real world, but not in such a way that it translates well to blogworld. It translates OK to Twitter-world, with it's short format and constant updating better than a format that seems to require more format.

Like a beginning, middle and end. Maybe a point.

The spouser is out of the country this week. I've pulled almost everything out of my messy, overwhelming work room. The first day I slowly pulled empty pieces of furniture in, arranging them in several ways to find this iteration of the perfect arrangement. I assessed lighting and lighting possibilities.

Day two I started sorting through all the STUFF I had in there. Was I going to use it? Really? Or have I merely been holding on to it because...

Because I spent money to get it;
Because it's pretty;
Because I've had for "x" years;
Because I might want to use something similar some day.

I have 11 boxes of stuff that I was holding onto for all the wrong reasons. (deep breathes there. I know many of you cannot imagine parting with perfectly good fabric or supplies that you've had for 10 years without using. Because you still think that someday you will. ) There probably still is stuff in there that I'm holding onto for the wrong reasons. But I'm making progress.

Today I hang the additional lights and continue putting away the things I'm choosing to keep. I hope to call a woman who will take these boxes and sell their content to raise money for charity.

Hopefully by tomorrow I will have a work space that I WANT to walk into. How long that lasts is the test of the design. We shall see. Photos will follow.

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

My Better Angels

My mind has been a bit of everywhere this week, and as a result the blogposts have been too. Here, there or non-existant. Take your pick. Choose all. It's true.

I've been thinking about one of my great characteristic flaws. I see it in other people and it used to make me angry. But I recognize it in myself, so now I'm moving toward understanding and guidance.

Understanding that I'm flawed and others share the same flaw.

Understanding that I don't truly WANT to behave this way, but it's comforting and bit safe.

Understanding that others with the same flaw may feel the same way but not know how to change and still feel safe.

My flaw? I can see dreams and hopes and changes and better things for me. I truly can. And when I see them, I get scared. I procrastinate; I perfectionize (I don't know if this is a real word, but I LOVE it.) I wait until everything is in place and perfect before I contemplate acting. (How many things can be perfect before you do them?? yeah...) I make excuses.

I stand in my way of getting to the things I want because then I will have no excuses.

This week, I've decided that I can't really do this all on my own. So I've enlisted a couple angels. People who understand what's behind the procrastination (possibly because they have the same flaw?? Possibly. Possibly not). People who can imagine the things I see. People who don't want me to quit.

When I mentally opened myself up to the idea of accepting encouragement from people, I found it flying toward me from every directions. Amazing. Keep it up, y'all, because I need it.

And my angels? I'm giving them a thread tied around my soul and asking them to hold on. To ask me if I've accomplished tasks, and to call me on my excuses. To catch me when I'm stumbling blind with uncertainty, and pull me back when my imaginings get to far ahead of my happenings.

In this season of angels, mine are a shiny special troupe bound with colorful threads.

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Value of Organized Mess

It's ironic I know that while I've been trying to de-clutter parts of my house (and yes, I know I've created apparent clutter in other spots), I've been reading The Perfect Mess, by Eric Abrahamson and David Freedman. Subtitle: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder, how crammed closets, cluttered offices, and on-the-fly planning make the world a better place.

Just finished the book, and I don't believe they would have disapproved of the work I've been doing. Probably won't disapprove next week of my pulling everything out of my studio and only putting those items back in that I believe I will use.

The book admits that there are dangers of too much clutter or mess in the our lives; when we lose important items because of disorder it's a problem. They argue, however, that some messiness, some randomness, some "clutter" tends to make people more creative, businesses more adaptable, and life easier to live.

I think that's what I'm aiming for. I don't want to exist in a sterile environment (anyone's whose seen my bathroom on a normal day could attest to the fact that I don't). I just want some of the horizontal surfaces in my house to remain visible, without various random items being placed on them. Items that should be temporary and moved within 12 hours. Items that when left longer become invisible and stay for month.

I have a pile of these items on the kitchen counter. They will be dealt with today.

So I enjoyed the book and recommend it to others. The authors ridicule the "professional organizer's society" fiercely, which I love. They talk about the happy accidents that have made great things possible. And how adding a random item into brainstorming or websearches for example can yield unusual but successful results. But just as I was thinking that all this organizing was being done to keep me from being distracted by clutter from my creative purposes, the authors write about things that were invented by accident and end that sections with this:

Clearly our minds are prepared to do some of their best work when they're diverted, one way or another, from what we intend to focus them on. Think about that - but only for a minute. pg. 250.
Now this either validates my argument that I solve my problems best when I'm doing something else (thus diverted). I'm OK with that. OR they are suggesting that I "build in" some diversion in my organization. Hmm...

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Monday, November 26, 2007



The slightly sinister amongst us are celebrating. Nearly 2 weeks ahead of it's official publication date, Amazon is shipping it's first copies of AntiCraft (the book)! The creation of Zabet Stewart and Renee Rigdon, this book is an extension of the twisted creativity always found at The AntiCraft website. I first introduced you to these women last year just as they were soliciting works for this 160 page crafty work.

If you know a knitter, crocheter, sewer or beader with slightly dark and twisted sense of humor add this book to your gift list! What do we know about the book already? Sadly there are not many details yet about the projects; checking through the archives of their quarterly zine hints at the quality, humor and style that will be found. I'm certain I'll find some pirate-y gear, spiders, and skulls. I'm certain there will be great humor. But specifics aren't abundant.

We have some hints:

Andi shares a photo of one of the beaded pieces she had accepted for the book. We must wait for the second piece

Alice from futuregirl.com shares the three projects she has in the book:

First there was The Three Owls. Originally designed in a sweeter way, they took on a more gothic appearance simply by changing the coloring

Second came The Bad Eggs! Such a wonderfully perverse take on Easter eggs!!
I thought subversive Easter eggs (traditionally-colored eggs with non-traditional imagery) would be hilarious, and I got my chance to make some when they were accepted for the Anticraft book. Look at that squirting arterial blood! I can't tell you how much I love that decapitated bunny. It warms my heart. I couldn't be happier about how it turned out.

Third is a crocheted bag with a variety of embellishment options. While I like the "I (skull) Trouble" bag.. the apocathary bag is really speaking to me...

Other projects mentioned in the book a duct-tape corset that I just may have to make before year's Renaissance Faire season 'cause nothing says 16th century Grand Dame like having my torso bound in plumber's tape!

BLESS the gals that are the Anti-Craft, though! Some of the greatness written for the book just couldn't fit! They are not lost to us though. Contained at the website are The Lost Pages:

Bones by Marie Gross. Skull-and-Crossbones socks to knit.

Zabet's charming Chainmail Story.

Robyn's DIY Niddy Noddy. What IS a Niddy Noddy? According to World Knit.com:
A niddy noddy is a simple
tool that is used to make a skein of your hand spun yarn straight off the
wheel. The yarn can then be washed, dyed and the twist set. Setting the twist
is very important if you want balanced, professional looking yarn. The unusual
name comes from the action of the skeiner. The faster you wind, the more the
skeiner develops a niddy noddy action! Niddy Noddies can be made of wood, PVC or even a coat hanger! A niddy noddy is basically a shaft with a crossbar at each end. One crossbar is rotated 90 degrees from the other
The Story of Duct Tape. They cut this from the book?

(crossposted at BlogHer.com)
I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Way too much fun! I found this site from Gabrielle.. who wisely chose to display one of her art pieces in a museum. Anyway, Dump'r lets you upload one of your digital photos, then apply one of their alterations to it. So a photo could be displayed/altered to:

a museum
a line sketch
an egg
a Rubki's cube,
other cool things.

If you give them permission, they will even access your Flickr account and post the image to your Facebook account! I took a photo from Flickr and turned it into the line drawing above. And, yes, it's on my Facebook Profile page.

It's nearing the end of a long holiday weekend. Why don't you go play?

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays. Today I've written about The AntiCraft's new book being published.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Painted Shoes, Supplies
Today I will be carving out some creative time. I promise. I have a fun little project that I'm working on (yes, painting shoes tutorial based on the supplies above) and I will spend time today working on this. I will also take the dogs for a nice walk down to the local coffee shop; no driving if we can avoid it today!

I'm still organizing my laundry room. I'm to the point where I need to runthrough my dye chemicals and supplies and getting them in order. This will bring me to the point where I can easily get some creative work done again! (and I've got ideas! Do I have the supplies? I shall find out!))

In my spare time, I have a small Moleskine sketch book that needs one of my custom covers. Sounds like a full day to me!

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Catching Up with Craft Bloggers...

This past week end I caught up on all the wonderful things happening in the blogs. I'll admit that way too often a blog will take me to another blog or YouTube; one thing would lead to another and I'm lost for an hour or more. The next thing you know, the family is begging for supper or clean clothes and I'm wondering where My weekend went!

Before I hit you with the crafters, this video by Daft Hands is just mind boggling! And a total time sink! See? Too. Much. Time. On. YouTube.

Let's see...

Scrapbooking

Mad Croppers pointed us to a huge scandal: Cheating! As reported by Newsweek, one of the 2007 Hall of Fame recipients for Creating Keepsakes was caught cheating. Two women were replaced. The rest of the story reads like Mean Girls...

Scraps of Mind argues that Quick Pages mean pages can finally be done. She pointed to a YouTube video tutorial by Ro Paxman for using Quick Pages.

Crafting


Ali Edwards's beautiful photos documented creating a button tree. Want directions to make your own? (sigh...) The designer, Tia Bennett, published them at Two Peas.

Quilting/Sewing

The start of Project Runway has brought a new Project Runway challenge from AmyB. There's still time to play!!

Beate Knappe shared her handmade cards for this holiday season. Makes me want to grab some fabric, embroidery threads, buttons and beads and make cards my own.

I just found Thread Banger on YouTube. This network is dedicated to people who make their own fashion. Every Friday the twosome uploads a new episode of Thread Heads! Their website includes a blog and forum. Killed at least an hour catching up with pair and will be visiting again regularly.

Knitting/Crochet
If you're a fast knitter, there is just enough time to whip up a Felted Thanksgiving Oven Mitt! Whitney and the Purl Bee provide the directions, you add feltable yarn (the Farmhouse Yarn used in the sample is fabulous!) and a little time.

Drew, The Crochet Dude, suggested we check out Vickie Howell's lates podcast. She scored an interview with SNL regular Will Forte, a knitter, talking about craft and "dudes", including Drew!

And finally.. because it's just fun to watch:

This YouTube video shows a knitting machine built entirely of LEGO's!

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Writing Exercise: The Mis-Translation

This is a really fun exercise if you give yourself permission to go there. We used poems written in the original Swedish by Tomas Transtromer (there should be an umlaut in over the "o" in his last name.. but...). Transtromer is one of Sweden's greatest poets, who writes (I've read) with interesting metaphors.

The exercise is to read the words, then imagine you are translating word-for-word. Don't edit, don't complain about non-sequitors. Just see what happens.

I'll admit it. Some of the Swedish reminded me of my high school/college German classes, so I went there. I also went back and neatened the draft up a bit. I can tell you that translating a poem from an unknown language into a known language? Interesting:

The MisTranslation:

Along the main street stand a variety of very high doorways that mingle noise and light,
most of it echoed,

some of it lost by the entryways.
We have all things but peace.

Stranded at the intersection stand I with the bread for supper.
Day old in the blink of an eye.

A bus stops and I continue
Transported in an instant to that doorway call HOME.
It is so unlike anything I normally write, I can't tell what's good, bad or indifferent about it. But at least it's interesting! I haven't found any of his poems online untranslated or I'd share a couple with you to play with yourself.

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Step One: Do Step Two: Own It Proudly

Yesterday I wrote about some of the negative messages I spend too much time listening to. I call them "my demons." They seem to believe that I like to hear them, or I believe them, or something. They're wrong.

Truth is, I am over them but they refuse to leave. I had gone years without a peep out of these demons; this year they won't do me the kindness of getting some psychic laryngitis. I'm threatening to grow beyond them, to disobey them, to dismiss them. They don't want to go without a fight.

When people stood between the demons and myself, I truly enjoyed them not rolling around my head. It was quiet in there; there was room to day dream a future and to enjoy the present. Those are two of the very best actions to stifle, subdue and eventually silence negative messages you don't need anymore. If I'm fully present in the moment, there's less space for them to be yammering in the background.

I'm (finally) learning how to deal with them when they're here. I thought action, any action, would work, but it won't. I can jump on a treadmill and walk 10 miles; I can walk the dogs until they're curling up under the shade of the nearest bush and begging for a rest. This is one instance where merely moving ain't cutting it.

I have to accomplish something. It barely matters what I accomplish (one weekend I shut them up by scrubbing the bath tub) as long as it's something. However, when it is working toward a goal of mine.. all the better.

It also helps if I acknowledge to myself that I accomplished something. Brag about it a little. Show a little pride to myself. I may have scrubbed the bath tub, but I did mighty fine job of it. Maybe the best job of scrubbing a bath tub that's ever been done. If I let myself think "I just scrubbed the bath tub."... the work would be naught. I diminish myself when I diminish my accomplishments. And, lo, the demons like that.

I'm going to set up an accomplishment list just for me.

At the moment there is a whiteboard in my work room with a list of things to do on it, catagorized by the part of my life: "home", "writing", "creative", etc. I've not changed the list in about 8 months, and I do not look at the board. It's probably one of the things keeping me from walking into my workroom. The unrecognized plans, the unaccomplishments, the energy leak, the path not taken.

I will take down that guilty white board and clean it clean until it shines in all it's shiny whiteness. Then I will grab a bunch of colored markers and start writing down my accomplishments. Uncatagorized. Messy. Proud. Maybe with crowns and stars and exclamation points.
Step one: Do.
Step two: Own It Proudly.

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.
A Writing Exercise: Lists and Blending

Part One:

Quick, don't think just list the first five things that come to you in each list:

THINGS YOU'VE LOST
ANIMALS (SOME COMMON, ONE EXOTIC)
COLORS (BE SPECIFIC)
SPECIFIC SOUNDS.

Now check one item from each list.

I ended up with: harmony, hummingbird, red oxide, the gentle rumble of my dog Katy's snoring.

Now combine these items into a paragraph:

There exists in time and nature strange co-minglings of accidental harmonies. Like the gentle rythmic rumble of my dog Katy's snore as she lay on the oxide-red clay tile, warmed by the sun mixed with the steady undercurrent of drip-drip-drip from the neighbors fountain. The entire calm is syncopated by the fah-loop TWEET of a hummingbird angry because it's feeder is empty.

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Learning From An Expert

While working on an article about ETSY I wandered here and there on the website, eventually finding myself reading this wonderful article in the VenusZine on Crafting a Business by Jenny Hart.

Jenny is an Etsy seller and the genius behind Sublime Stitching. She has a nice blog and more at the website, so if you like embroidery, go check her out!

But even if embroidery isn't your thing, you should read her article. She honestly describes trying to a grow a DIY business in a way that both encourages me and still gives me that chill-in-the-pit-of-my-stomach feeling:
It still is scary. But the scary part is different now. Attempts at making bigger strides, having more demand than resources to meet those demands, managing money wisely, and trying to find financial backing and business people in the industry who get the DIY movement (psst … they don’t) to possibly partner with. I’ve often felt very much like running a successful business is discovering the emperor has no clothes. Only, you’re king at your own company, which means you’re the one feeling naked.
About encouraging others to take a similar risk:
I find myself struggling to come up with some snappy reply that is encouraging and informative without saying "Go for it! Work really hard and it will be everything you dreamed!" Unfortunately, that’s just not the whole story. But I will say this: If you don't do it, you'll never know. And once you start, you'll see the next step and take it. Then it will become easier, then harder again, then easier, then doubly harder, and you'll find you're on your way. Where are you headed? Well ...

It won't look like what you expected.

It won't go the way you planned.

If you can be OK with that, do it.
There's more in this article, the first of 5 on Crafting A Business. Personally, I can't wait until December 5th for part two.

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.


,,,

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Growth Matters, Clearing the Path

After reading an older post from Christine Kane last September, I invited a small group of friends to join me in plugging some of our energy drains. Most of us are working hard at organizing and decluttering our lives. There are a few reasons why I shouldn't bother about this as much (aren't there better ways to spend my time?) but one BIG reason why I should.

Let me explain:

I'll be working on something, having serious creative thoughts, when I need to move through the house. Maybe a trip to let a dog out, to the bathroom, or to answer the phone (yes, I do sometime!). I spot something that stops my important thought:
  • that plant really needs watering,
  • there is dog fur everywhere,
  • I wonder if that misplaced thing is in that pile there,
  • that needs to be worked on...
You know, the distracting thought. The "leak". My attention is drawn away from the important creative stuff for just that second, and suddenly the whole flow is gone. Maybe I get sucked back into the left-brain side, I don't know. But I know that the leaks are stopping me from moving forward.

You'd think I'd be enthusiastically moving forward on this step, since I've actually noticed the negative effects on me. I've been reading back through my archives and I'm ALWAYS saying that I need to get organized.

Instead, I've been encountering some resistance. Like Mack Truck-sized resistance.

Today I realized why.

If I take away my excuses for not working, for not getting things done, what happens if I'm STILL not productive? I often get stuck in a place of fear: afraid to go off the beaten path, afraid to risk myself, afraid more to succeed than to fail.

If I clear the path, there will be nothing to stop me except myself.

Funny thing is, I've learned this year that moving and taking action are the rights steps for me to change. After years of (also) saying "I want to lose these 10 pounds ...20 pounds ...30 pounds, ...40 pounds... I want to get strong so I can end this constant back pain, constant neck pain, constant pain... " this year I've done it.

I've learned how to be successful.

For the first time in my life.

So I'm giving myself some goals, some permission and some time limits. It's November. I will work on clearing the path for the rest of this year; I will deal with disorder and learn some of the skills I want to learn (like actually learning PhotoShop!) Action statements both. I won't beat myself up if I've don't tackle everything all at once. I've got almost 2 months. Baby steps, grrll, baby steps.

Where my major goal this year was to lose... my goal next year will be to grow. Kinda scary.. but I know I'm up to the challenge.

Now anyone have thoughts/solutions for the fellow housemates that don't "jump on the bus" of a decluttered environment?

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Bug-Of-The-Week

I think I've got the bug-of-the-week. It doesn't feel like a cold, which was confusing me into thinking it was just some simple food allergy. Now I'm not so sure. I'm not too uncomfortable for the moment, but I'll be good to myself and stay out of the gym until I feel 100%. Hmm... should I run into stores and spread the germy goodness, though? Or would that be mean just weeks before the holidays?

Symptoms: below average body temp., sense of chills, runny nose, chest congestion and slight nausea (though that could be from the darn running nose). I've heard so many people complaining of this with much more dramatic symptoms that I'm willing to accept that this is a bug and try to cut it short.

Fortunately, I know I have a whole chicken in the freezer. I see chicken soup in a bowl in about 4 hours. In the meantime. Zicam save me!


I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Email and Wine Don't Mix

The Princess LazyBones
Katy Sleeping. About the only thing I should do after a glass of wine.

The other evening I made what could have been a major faux pas: I worked on several email projects after having a glass a wine. Hmm... drunk emailing! What an adventure.

I was writing notes to different groups of online friends. One small group was getting my rundown of Jen Lemon's post on BlogHer about online artist's galleries. These are just a couple folks that I figure won't just click through if I send the link and say THIS is something you want to check out and they don't regularly read the website. If you have any interest in places online to start your own art gallery, check her post. She recommends several interesting sites. the one that intrigues me the most is DripBook.

A second very small group was yammering about a potential weekend some-kind-of-camp. Kind of a crafty-vlogging pajama party. Since we're not talking local folk, this is mostly fantasy. But it was light-hearted fun.

I was keeping things straight (I think) when I received a notice that BlogHer had uploaded the first of four holiday food videos. Back in the end of September, I helped out on these shoots. I knew there were a couple people interested in just seeing these videos, so I opened another "conversation" in gmail and add these names (even though I'm not in them. They had to suffer hearing about the day. About that time, there were too many bouncing balls.

I was cutting and pasting notes from one place to another, checking online links and watching something on tv. (note to self: multi-tasking just means I'm doing several things poorly.) I wasn't paying close attention. I ended up sending folks more than I intended. So a person who I only intended to send the link to the video got the information on the online galleries; one of the fantasy-campers got the video link. A couple of the creative folk got some camp stuff, I think. It was a general unintended mash-up.

This is normally a big No-No. But something interesting happened: nobody complained about getting MORE than they expected. Nobody asked me why I thought they would care about subject x. In fact, I got a couple thank yous for sending information that was totally unexpected.

I want to hope that these folks were charmed that I thought more of them than the "in the box discussion" that we were having. Because the other explanation is that either they didn't read my email (oh, the vanity!) or they were totally intrigued by the thought of cooking a turkey upside.

Ya think??

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Inordinately Pleased.

Princess Parallel
Katy is also pleased with my weekend insight and demonstrates the appropriate level of enthusiasm!

Today I am inordinately pleased with myself.

For the last two or more years, I have been writing these occasional how-tos. (I'm working my way through my archives, listing them on my side bar.) While these are not very difficult to do, I often find myself having just done an important step when I realize I've forgotten to take a picture of the process. (sigh).

That leaves me the choice. Sometimes I can undo what I've just done, repeat it, and take the durned picture. Often it means I must either accept the missing photo space or start the process all over just to get that shot. The odds that I'll forget another important shot in that process, too? High! Very frustrating!

This past week I realized that life would be easier if I'd actually write down the steps involved in a task and plan for when to take a photograph.

Think about it. In an amazing blash of frilliance, I just invented:

#1. The Outline. and

#2. The Story Board.

Decades after they were adopted by the general working populace! Excuse me while I chortle with glee.

I am so giddily pleased with this idea that I've noted several things I'd like to demonstrate and started writing their plans! Outlines and Storyboards Be Me! I've discovered this means I can:
  • take time to search for the appropriate internet links;
  • expand ideas by offering different alternatives;
  • make sure I have thought through all the tricky steps.
Like I said: I'm inordinately pleased!

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

How to Turn Last Year's Old Navy Sweater Into This Winter's Felted Purse

(edited from a post at BlogHer)
Purse, done
Felted wool items are still HOT accessories this winter, and they are so much nicer to use when you've made them yourself. A visit to a local GoodWill when they were trying to reduce inventory, gave me a nice supply of wool Old Navy sweaters to felt. If you have a wool sweater that's not quite up to being worn this year, this project may be for you.

Let's turn these into cute felted purses you can happily use all winter!
OldNavy Stripe
I began with this striped sweater and two others. At home, I placed them in my washing machine, set the temperature to HOT and the length to fairly long. I want the heat to swell up these fibers and the agitation to knock the individual wool fibers together. This can also be done by hand in a sink. Use enough HOT water and dish detergent to let you work the pieces and massage the wool rigorously in it's bath. Rinse the items in cold water to encourage shrinking. Dry them in a hot dryer to pull the fibers together even more. I did this process two times to get nicely felted wool pieces. They were reduced in size by about 50%.

Then I cut the sleeves, hem and neck off this sweater. Following the existing seam lines, this was easy! I cut strips from one of the sleeves which will eventually become the straps for the purse. Having stripes running one direction and ribbing running the other insured regularly.

At this point I have a bunch of bits and pieces:
purse, pieces parts

I wanted to line this purse to give it a bit more body and make it easier to finish. So I laid the purse down over some plain white paper and traced just outside the edge of this purse. Here's where I prove that I am not a "great" sewer. I know that in this one-off instance, I can trace just outside the shape, use a 5/8" seam on the lining, fudge a bit in the next step and I'll end up with an adequate bag for me. If I were making several of these, or planning on selling these on Etsy? I'd draw my pattern first and cut both the lining and the felted wool material to the exact same sizes. I would insure a good fit. If you're making this as a present, take that extra step.
Purse,This be the Lining
Now I have to choose a lining fabric. I found four that were possibilities but finally decided upon the light print above with the grays and tans already in the sweater. A light lining gives me a chance to find things in the bottom of this bag, but a darker lining would hide any stains that might occur. The lining is cut from the quick-draw pattern piece and seamed together along the straight sides and the bottom. A good press, a gentle trimming of excess fabric from the corner and these two pieces are ready to join together.

Here's where it gets a little tricky. But just a little.

Take your sweater-bag right side facing out, and slip into the lining. Check that the right sides (lining and sweater) are facing each other. Line up the top and angled sides of the both. These should all be unfinished (unsewn) edges. Pin both pieces together at the side seams. Smooth and check your lining and bag to see that the edges match nicely. If they don't trim one piece or the other to match.

When you are happy with the way these two pieces fit, it's time to slide the straps in place. Take one of the two pieces cut from a sleeve (do make sure they are the same length... ) and place the edges along the top edge of the bag. Slide the strap down between the bag and lining making sure that it's not twisted. To make sure that the straps are caught in the seam, have the edges extend just a little beyond the edge of the bag and lining. Slip the lining back up in place and pin through all three pieces.
Purse, insert straps

Starting at a side seam, sew all around the top of the bag. Press these seams and trim them back to 1/4".

Did you notice that I haven't mentioned sewing up the bottom of your sweater yet? Here's why: Turn your purse right-side out through the bottom of the sweater bag. Push out all points and corners smoothing the edges between the sweater and lining as you go. I like to top-stitch the open part of the purse about 1/4" away from the seamline to give a nice finished edge and to strengthen this part of the bag. Then give the whole purse a final good press.

Did you notice that your straps came out perfect? Another option I've used is to completely finish the bag, then added purchsed straps from a big box craft/fabric store. I sewed these to the from the bag with an extra square of felted wool for support. This bag was made from a vest, so there was no option of using the sleeves as the straps.

Purse, alternate straps

Last, but not least, stitch the bottom of the sweater piece closed. I did this from the outside, making sure that I did not catch the lining in this seam. The felted material will roll itself into a tighter decorative edge as I use it.

Now throw your essentials in and head out to enjoy autumn goodness. If you choose to make this purse, please upload a photo and leave me a link in the comments. (or add the photo to my Flicker HandMade Bags group. I'm getting lonely there.

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.