A Tale of 2 Scarves

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A month or so ago I started knitting this scarf. I really wasn’t feeling well. My defenses were down. I was seduced by this blog post. Honestly, if I’d been feeling better I would have resisted the urge to make a really big scarf with really tiny yarn. Really. But the scarf on the blog was sooooo pretty and I felt sooooo yucky and I went right out and bought this pretty lavender Patons lace weight yarn and some size 3 needles and I started knitting this scarf.

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Maybe a week later, I showed one of my dear people this ridiculous knitting project. She promptly reminded me that one of my other dear people is going through chemotherapy and could really use a nice soft scarf to help her stay warm. Clearly the ridiculous project would not work because it will take 5 years to finish. But I knew what would work so I went right out and bought some big chunky soft Lion Brand Homespun Thick and Quick yarn in Granite Stripe and some size 13 needles and started knitting this scarf.

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These scarves are total opposites. One is really thick and chunky (I knit it with two strands) and came together very quickly. The chunkiness of the yarn hides all my mistakes. The other is fine and delicate and shows every mistake. I can knit for an hour and not make any visible progress. When I picked it up again after finishing the other one it felt so tiny in my hands. One is 15 stitches wide and the other is 100 stitches wide. And yet both scarves will be lovely and functional and made for the love of creating something beautiful with my own two hands.

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Tutorial: Festive Chalkboards

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I had fun earlier this month making festive little chalkboards for the holiday season. This project is super easy and makes a great gift or a fun addition to your holiday decor.

Please note that the chalkboard paint takes a couple of days to cure so you need to plan ahead a little to make these.

The main thing you need is clear chalkboard paint. The one i used is Clear Chalkboard Coating by Americana and I found it at Joann in the craft paint section.

You’ll also need some craft paint, some embellishments and a substrate to turn into your chalkboard. I used 8″ x 10″ mat board but chipboard, wood or a heavy Bristol paper would also work. Use whatever you have!

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Paint a couple of coats of color on your substrate.

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Add some subtle pattern with stencils and/or stamps. I found it’s best to keep it monotone and fairly simple. A busy background makes it hard to see your chalk message.

Paint a coat of the chalkboard coating and let it dry for 24 hours. Paint a second coat of chalkboard coating and let it dry another 24 hours. Season your new chalkboard by rubbing chalk over the whole thing and then wiping it off with an eraser or a soft cloth.

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Now you can embellish your chalkboard any way you want and write your chalk message. I just added a border of washi tape and popped mine in a dollar store frame. I think it would be fun to add ribbons and jingle bells too. If you make one, send me a picture!

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Awesome Adventure Weekend!

Last Friday I got up at 4:30 am so that I could be here by 1:00 pm:

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Looking at this:

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With these gorgeous people:

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I am so blessed to be able to spend time being completely real with these women. More than I can ever express.

I finished up this little stitched fox collage in amongst the wine drinking, beach walking and deep analysis of People’s sexiest man alive issue:

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Saturday afternoon I hopped back on the ferry to Seattle. It was another spectacular day:

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My usual partner in crime stayed home this time so I went to the game with my Husky roomie Amanda:

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Our Dawgs could have played better but we had a great time catching up and cheering for our team.

It was back home for me on Sunday morning but not before a quick trip to Ikea where I finally joined the art club and bought the Raskog cart to hold my art supplies:

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Installation is not complete until you put your paint bottles in.

It was a charmed adventure weekend, truly a last hurrah for 2014 as I came home to suddenly bitter cold temperatures:

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Winter is here. Now it’s time to cuddle up inside and make lots of art while I dream about the adventures I’m already planning for next year!

Posted in blessings, celebrations, friends, inspiration, life, simple pleasures, small adventures, stitched collage | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fall color?

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I took these pictures NOVEMBER FIRST! Yes, I’m shouting because it’s freaking weird to still have tender flowers blooming this late in the year in these parts. I just had to capture the oddness of the bright fall leaves mixed in with the bright summer flowers. It’s been so warm that some of the trees aren’t quite sure what to do and are still holding on to their green. Also, gratuitous cute cat photos. Enjoy.

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From inspiration to artwork

I had just started playing around with my stitched collages again when I popped in to a craft store on the way to the lake last August and saw this:

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“Ah ha!” I thought, “I could collage an owl and stitch all those great feathers!” I snapped a picture for future reference.

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I made a background and sketched out this little guy. I really loved that diamondy-shieldy shape of the feathers. I wanted them to have a watercolor look that the stitching would really accentuate.

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At some point the owl was sitting next to the mariner’s compass stamp and I decided the stamp would make cool eyes. This type of discovery is one of the benefits of the Messy Desk School of Creativity.

Inspiration isn’t always this straightforward. Next up I’m planning a piece that is a funny idea I had while working on this piece. In the meantime, I need to paint something Christmasy in a hurry and I’m a little stumped. I may just hit the craft store for some new ideas.

Posted in collage, color, creativity, design, drawing, embroidery, inspiration, mixed media, painting, stitched collage | 1 Comment

I’m practicing my penmanship

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I’ve been practicing my penmanship lately. I was pretty crappy at cursive in school (I was crappy at art too). It was a huge relief in high school to give up cursive and just print everything. Even though my printing was also crappy.

But now I’m so in love with letters and words and quotes and I want to make make make them. So I’m brushing the dust off my poor little skills and practicing. Perhaps if I’d had a fountain pen all those years ago I would have liked cursive better.

In other news, the weather has been impossibly beautiful. Every time I get hot and sweaty it feels like a special bonus!

Posted in art journaling, blessings, mixed media, practice, simple pleasures | 1 Comment

Spending my days creatively

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. -Annie Dillard

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Several weeks ago I made a change to how I spend my days. I always had great intentions for working on my art projects but somehow things never worked out the way I planned. I would look ahead in my schedule and find big blocks of time when I could work on projects, evenings after work or sometimes as much as a whole weekend day. And the time would come and I would be too tired after working all day or I would have chores I needed to do for the week or I would get distracted and play around with a new idea and my projects would languish.

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This past summer I started getting messages from the universe about frequency. It seemed everywhere I looked there was a message about doing your creative work daily, even just for a few minutes. In my explorations for Selina Barker’s Project You class I stumbled upon this book, particularly the essays by Mark McGuiness and Gretchen Rubin. McGuiness writes that when we spend our time on “reactive” work, doing all the tasks we think we have to do before we start out creative work, we never get quality time for our creative work. Sound familiar? McGuiness argues we should do our creative work first, at the time of day when we are at our best, every day, even if just for a short period of time. Those steady small doses will add up to something of value far sooner than all the good intentions in the world.

a small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules. – Anthony Trollope

This essay, along with one by Gretchen Rubin on the benefits of frequency from the same book led me to examine my creative work habits. And to see that they weren’t working.

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After reading the Annie Dillard quote above, I realized I wasn’t spending my days as an artist and I wanted that to change.

The young cats like to wake me up early. Instead of arguing with them about how much more sleep I’m allowed to have, I started just getting up and working on my art projects. And I love it! Quiet, uninterrupted time every morning, sometimes as little as 15 minutes, is leading to significant progress. I’m never ready to stop when it’s time to get ready for work, which means I’m excited to come back the next morning. And it’s easier to focus on a project when I’m always excited to get back to it. Working on art every day means I think about art every day so inspiration is constant. And suddenly I have time (and mental energy!) to work out new ideas as well as plug along completing things I’ve already started.

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This small piece is an offshoot idea from a larger piece I’m working on, a series really, of folk-art inspired stitched collages. Working frequently means pieces like this actually get made, rather than just floating around in my mind waiting for me to find the right time to make them.

Of course I don’t manage to get creative work done every single day. I’m struggling with my weekend habit of getting the chores and errands done before I’m “allowed” to play. But I’m creating first enough days that it’s becoming a routine. And it’s changing how I spend my life.

Posted in creativity, life, mixed media, painting, practice | 2 Comments