Update on that Art Yarn Scarf

Update on that Art Yarn Scarf

So, Last week I made a video showing you how to use a hairpin lace loom to make an art yarn scarf. If you missed that check it out here. Once the camera was off and as the video loaded, I started to mull over ideas for finishing this scarf. And of course as is the norm for my ambitious right brain….this project has mushroomed and is now threatening to become a shawl.

My latest color jam has been light warm neutrals(beige, cream, light warm grey) punctuated with hot pink and orange. So I pulled out some screaming hot sock yarn and crocheted an edge, putting a cluster of 3 double crochets into each of the loops. I almost left it as is, but decided that I needed to flesh out the color pop just a little more, maybe asymmetrically…

But first I decided to pull together some coordinating yarns to see if maybe I would prefer keeping the pops thin as I added some width to this piece. So far these are the yarns going into this project bag…

So some of the theories behind this selection. I added another hot pink yarn is a slightly different tone and texture. I am not sure if this will end up in the piece or not, but I think there needed to be a bridge between the stark contrast from the super bright and the neutrals. I don’t want there to be too much pink here, but it needed something else. I am also picking the variegated neutral with a little dark grey for depth and little blush pink as a nod to that hot pink. This I feel will be a big part of the shawl/scarf. But we will see. I also pulled together as much handspun using undyed fleece as I had. I needed to play up what was already in the piece, but find some smoother textures. I am also adding the tiny bit of beige-grey worsted that I have. This will draw out the grey Montedale in the art yarn. Not pictured, but I may add it in is an undyed skein of alpaca/merino/silk yarn to round out the creamy white neutrals.

I will keep you posted as to where this is going. But can I just say…OMG this is the first new fiber art piece I have felt compelled to dive into after a long hiatus to work on my new clay obsession. So what are you working on? leave me some comment love below, or shoot me an email. You guys inspire me more than you know.

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A Frugal Knitter’s Guide to Stash Revamp

A Frugal Knitter’s Guide to Stash Revamp

I know I am not alone here… It doesn’t matter how awesome your stash is, there comes a time when you fall completely out of love which what you have and the urge to buy more yarn is a strong, strong siren song.

Am I right?

Now granted I am certainly not one to discourage some good ole’ stash acquisition therapy. Hell, I used to sell yarn…so, yeah, I love it when knitters buy yarn. But, I also do not like to see good yarn go to waste. So, today, fiberista, I am sharing with you my top 6 tips that will help you love your stash again without spending a bunch of money on more yarn.

1. Take inventory of what you have. Okay, I am not neccessarily talking spreadsheets, although spreadsheets are not a bad idea. Break out your entire stash. Pull it out of hiding and the WIP basket. Have it all in one place where you can see it. The dining room table, the floor. Anywhere you can see it all at once and all together. Stand back and take a good long look at you entire stash. There are a couple of things that will happen here. Either you will confirm your worst fears, and decide your stash needs a revamp. Or you might see that you really love your stash (and my work here is done…). Sometimes it just takes really looking at the whole picture.

2. Getting real about what is not working. Chances are, there is yarn in your stash that you are not loving anymore. Wrong colors, wrong texture. Just wrong. Pull that yarn out and set it aside. While you are at it pull out your absolute favorites. Because, here is the thing, sometimes bad yarn can look insanely awesome next to really good yarn. Bad yarn can be knit with good yarn to stretch the yardage for a project. Sometimes bad colors are a great contrast for good colors and actually make the good colors seem more vibrant.

3. Adding yarn alternative to round out colrway sets. So, maybe after looking all the yarn combo possibilities, some of them are still just not right. Is there any old clothing, or remnant fabric, ribbons or scarves that you can tear into strips to make yarn? Do any of these fabrics or ribbons bring the colors together a bit more? I know this step is kind of a long shot, but sometimes thinking outside or what yarn is suppose to be can spark new ideas.

4. Check the fiber content of your bad stash. If it is any kind of animal fiber, plant fiber, silk or nylon, it can be overdyed. Set that aside. I will cover overdyeing yarn in my upcoming dyeing classes. Sign up to get notice when those go live here.

5. If you are a hand spinner, use bad yarn for core spinning or plying. This is one of my favorite ways to repurpose yarn I don’t love. Let it be the back bone for all those yummy fibers in your art yarn.

6. Swap it. One knitter’s trash is another knitter’s treasure. Gather your knitting buddies for a yarn swap. Or check Ravelry for swap groups. If that yarn is just not working, then do not feel like you have to hang on to it. It may work for someone else.

Here’s the thing, don’t feel you have to hang on to yarn you do not love. It is stuck energy that will alway add stops to your creative inspirations. I know that may sound a bit dramatic, but if you are not loving your yarn, you are not loving the core of your work. So either bless your stash with new ideas or even new color, or bless another knitter with something you once loved but have outgrown.

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5 Powerful Keys to Making Your Competition Irrelevant

5 Powerful Keys to Making Your Competition Irrelevant

Jealousy. We have all been there. It does not matter if it is amongst stay at home moms, corporate executives and yes, even artists. There is a time in EVERYONE’s life when you are green with envy over what someone else has. And while I think jealousy is just a fact on every life, I am going to focus today on jealousy in the art scene.

Jealousy can be a good thing in a way. It can fuel action, take your work to the next level, set that bar higher than you would without the challenge. But here is what I hate…the bitterness and even hate when artist become jealous. I don’t know about you but I want to live with as little hate as possible AND to advance and challenge myself to do better work. Jealousy means you are gauging your work against someone else. So today, Fiberista I give you my to 5 Keys to making your competition irrelevant.

Honor what is awesome in other’s work. Let them have their moment without interjecting ANYTHING about yourself. Yes you may have done this before, Yes you may have done it better. So what. This is not your moment, it is theirs. Share in their excitement. Ask questions and LISTEN to what they say. You are being given the gift of seeing something beautiful. Be in that moment of awe and be happy that it happened, even if it was not by your hand. It is just good Karma.

Blue Ocean Strategy. The theory being, rather than operate in an artistic shark tank, competing for the same customers (red oceans) you actually should follow your ideas out into unchartered waters(blue oceans). These ideas are formed by highlighting the differences between you and the competition, and build on those differences. For example, Steve Jobs did this when he designed Apple. He took those differences between his computer and others, amplified the differences, and built on those differences to form more unique ideas. Another example, thing of the differences between Cirque Du Soleil and a traditional circus. Cirque Du Soleil highlighted and built on what set them apart. I might also point out in both cases, these differences were not hamstring by cheaper prices. In fact, these companies are actually able to charge more for their unique offerings. This is all based on a marketing strategy book, called The Blue Ocean Strategy.

Turn down the noise. If you find yourself only looking for your inspirations in other’s work, it is often hard to listen to your own ideas. And especially if you hope to excel in your work, pinning your ideas to another’s pace will eventually limit your growth. Don’t hang faith in your own art on some one else’s path. Sometimes, you just need to detach from the hive mind and go make some stuff. Find inspirations in everyday life, and art journal like crazy.

Be okay with working through bad ideas. Ugly art happens to everyone. But I promise it always leads to better work. It does not make you a bad artist. And it is okay if you don’t want to show any of it. However, I find the most confident artist will show their most self deprecating work bravely. If you are at that point where you are confidently showing your mistakes, I think it is a strong indicator that you are not afraid of competition.

Show your work humbly. Remember when I said to honor other’s work? Eventually it is your turn to show your work. It will be your moment. Despite all the find-your-own-path talk I mentioned in the last three steps, there comes a time when you will have the opportunity inspire others to find their own path. That is where art communities happen. Welcome questions, share information freely and confidently, and encourage others to build their own path through any inspirations they might glean from you. It is okay. Those who copy will find the path short and frustrating. Encourage them past that dead end and into their own ideas. There is no finite resource of creative ideas, there is enough for all. Blue Oceans for everyone.

 

 

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Your Art is Not Your Technique

Your Art is Not Your Technique

Let me clear something up, your art is not your technique. Technique involve process of habit, muscle memory, physical skills of precision. Art involves right brain creative genius being brought into form through your technique. Techniques are just a way to express your art. Your art is your visual language. Technique is craft, visual language is art.

 

Craft vs Art

A quick google search will show you just how common the argument of craft versus art is. And it is true the line between art and craft can get awfully muddy. Some people will argue that art is strictly aesthetic and without function, craft being anything functional. But spend any time in a fine craft community (Like Asheville) and you will see the line is so very muddy. But dive deeper into the stories and ideas behind any fine craft piece and you will see a right brain expressing ideas. Suddenly even the fact a piece of weaving or ceramics, normally considered craft and you are even looking closer to see the art…indeed becomes a part of the visual language in and of itself. Fine craft is that line where craft crosses the line into art. It is art, despite being rooted in mastered craft skills.

 

Copying the Masters

When you master a craft skill that as an artist you find room to focus on where you can add creative genius. A popular exercise for a student learning how to paint is to copy master works of art. It is an exercise designed to learn the literal strokes of paint that will yield a specific visual effect. But of course the student can not call it quits once they copy a painting. They go on to learn how to apply the painting skill to their own ideas.

And there is nothing wrong with just being content to master a craft skill. In fact not all knitters want to go further into fiber art. I can’t blame them, knitting on a master level is crazy hard and an accomplishment itself. But if you find yourself filled with new creative directions as you work, then you are crossing over into fiber artist.

 

Sharing Your Techniques Helps You Stand Out

I have been guilty of this myself. There was a time when I did not want to share my craft process thinking that I would be giving my work away. But honestly, I had to learn my process from someone else as well. And I have even modified that process to accommodate a different look for my work. So like the student painter copying the masters, by doing a process over and over again, with the small tweaks and creative curiosity I moved that technique into expressing my own visual language.

When you share your techniques, you are inviting others to step into a community. It is in community that one can get feedback and challenges to stretch you own creative genius. It is actually in community sharing techniques that you can actually STRENGTHEN your own visual language as you see how it contrasts with others doing similar work. I find in community a drive to explore my own ideas deeper for new directions.

So master your techniques. Be in your craft and observe. You will find your visual voice while you work. Share your ideas, and you will find strength in your voice and inspiration for more ideas.

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Using Mercury Retrograde to Make Better Art

Using Mercury Retrograde to Make Better Art

Mercury Retrograde is real y’all.  And it went into effect Sunday. I am not gonna lie…I actually LOVE Mercury Retrograde these days. But that was not always the case.

What the retrograde is, as Mercury is winding its way around the sun the view of this on earth puts that orbit askew. For about 3 weeks Mercury looks as if it is moving backwards around the sun. When Mercury goes into retrograde it will feel like nothing is going right. From glitchy to maddening communication and travel, computers are particularly wonky during the MercRX. Just today I have 2 notices of newly broken links on two different posts.

 

Oh and the art frustration– miss read patterns, calculations and general mishaps are bound to happen here. Projects will feel like you are spinning your wheels. UGH!! NOTHING is moving forward without 3 steps back.

 

What is one to do? Hide in the corner with wine and chocolate(although I am not saying that is a bad thing…) turn off the computer for 3 weeks? How can one push through the ass-backwards energy that is totally throwing it all into a spiral. This IS my circus, and damn it, these ARE my monkeys!!!

Fiberista, there absolutely is a way to master the retrograde energy and I promise it is going to make your creative work explode.

I learned this the hard way after scheduling a solo trip to desert for a new teaching gig right as Mercury Retrograde was rearing it’s ugly head. I felt for certain I would have lost luggage, bumped flights, bad classes and an awful time. What I realized was the retrograde is not much about moving backwards, as it is turning inward. It is an invitation to do the inner work, healing, self care, taking inventory and shedding what no longer serves you. What I found during my trip was an invitation to make that trip into a pilgrimage and inner journey finding deep inspirations and so many personal a-ha moments I was not expecting at all. I had so much creative and personal inspirations, found new creative paths and gratitude that had me in tears every nigh of that trip. Put it this way, that was the trip where Debra Lambert sold me my tiny loom and started me art weaving. Those seeds were cultivated doing the inward work during the powerful inward energy of Mercury Retrograde.

So today I am sharing with you 5 critical steps you should take not just to weather this Mercury Retrograde, but to totally rock it for your art.

Step One: Get out the calendar, check the dates
I usually check the farmer’s almanac for the dates. This retrograde runs from April 9 to May 3, 2017. Note any big events, particularly ones relating to travel and communications. Big meeting? teaching gig? Be particularly especially aware of any major contracts to be signed during this time.

Step Two: Get your self care supplies into place.
What are you go-to methods for when the shit hits the fan. Do you have a yoga tape? Do you journal? On second though, grab a journal regardless, we will need this in step four. Mediations are good (here is one I made for you). Into energy clearing? Grab a partner and do clearing trades during the retrograde. That is one of my big supports and it helps to clear the energetic junk as I shed what no longer serves me. Maybe it is just a routine to take a meditative walk, or even a nap. I just want you to have something soothing in place in case aggravations rise and you need to ground yourself until it passed.

Step Three: Move slowly and carefully
I am not saying put down that sweater/weaving/painting. Just don’t feel compelled to push through any frustrations right now. Technical difficulties will happen. Do what you can. Give yourself extra time for travel. Engage in communications at a slower more thoughtful place. Merc RX is notorious for mucking about in these areas. Think of as going with the natural flow. Don’t try to swim against a rip current. You may actually be called to look at a different perspective, be open to a new path or idea. THIS is where Mercury Retrograde can be a powerful ally.

Step Four: Journal the heck out of everything.
You know how I am all about journaling… now is a the best time to do all that inner contemplative work. Write down your dreams, art journal as just play time with your supplies, do morning pages to shake loose anything deep in your subconscious. Paste in inspirations you see from your day…no pressure to do anything with them, this is not the best time to push forward, but absolutely the best time to uncover deep seated ideas.

Step Five: Prepare the ground work for when Mercury goes direct.
Now is a great time to make plans, but not necessarily an awesome time to act on new directions. That is ok, dive deeper into the details, gather materials and schedule time to begin your new ideas. I promise all the inner prep work you do with now during the retrograde energy will explode your work once Mercury goes direct again.

So my question for you Fiberista, do you have any tips for surviving the Mercury Retrograde to share? Leave me a comment below.

 

 

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My Creative Emergency Toolkit

My Creative Emergency Toolkit

I have been avoiding my weaving. Really. I have scheduled so many weaving days in the last month and just don’t do them. It is not that I am losing the weaving love…in fact I am really excited about the stuff I have made so far. It is really more like I am feeling a lot of self induced pressure to make something even more awesome. So I just avoid it all.

Here is the crazy thing…I think my new obsession with clay has totally saved my weaving log jam. Here’s how it all went down:

After months of searching for a much more attractive solution to for hanging my wall weavings, I created a series of wall tile headers to sew them onto. Once glazed and fired, I pulled out all my old weavings to match them up to my new tiles. I was surprised to find myself noticing how subtly my work has evolved. I also found so old techniques I am wanting to go back to. But new/old ideas aside… I found it most amazing to realize that my work has progressed without my even noticing it. And it did so because I was not in a place of pressure to innovate innovate innovate. The evolution happened through the steady work of being in the moment of turning my favorite colors and textures, inch by inch, into fabric.

Art is still happening when you work from exactly where you are in the moment of using your visual language doing what you love.

All those daily inspirations happen far easier when you just don’t overthink it… and I am living proof that it is much easier to say than do.

Because this is not the first time I have experience this particular creative log jam, I decided it was time to build an emergency plan to have on hand when this particular creative/motivational block comes up. Here it what mine looks like:

 

Take some self care time to check in and see if there is some underlying issue I am just not seeing. Sometimes it is burnout, sometimes it is another unrelated stress I am avoiding. Sometimes I just am physically not feeling well. Most of the time I am just overthinking it. But it does not hurt to really check in to make sure I am not missing an all together different concern to be addressed. Often it is as simple as taking a walk on my neighborhood greenway. Or even taking a nap.

Using my essential oils. Y’all know I love my oils. My diffuser runs 24/7. I only use Young Living Essential Oils because I love the purity and they work so well for me. My favorite way to use my oils is to help me through this very kind of emotional issue. My go to oils when I am feeling motivationally/creatively blocked are Present Time, Envision, Motivation, and Clarity. I will sometimes add Valor II if I am feeling insecure, and Stress Away if I am fighting some everyday crazy outside of the studio.

Set up my space. When the motivation is iffy, damn straight my space needs to be über inviting with snacks and beverages, a good movie or music, and my favorite tools in place. Sometimes I might add some of my favorite non tool items, like my favorite rocks and crystals, a plant. It is almost like arranging my living room…or better yet creating an sacred space with tiny alters.

Journaling time. It also helps me to flip through my art journal, add a little bit of work even start a new page.

Schedule my studio time. Sometimes I need a day or so to mentally clear time to focus. That studio time does not have to be very long either. Sometimes an hour or two is just fine.

Plan on working on more of the same. This part is huge… when I am feeling overwhelmed, to keep moving with my work, sometimes I just need to take baby steps. AND there is absolutely no shame in making more of what was awesome. Many many  famous artist spent lots of time painting the same thing over and over allowing the tiny innovations to surface naturally as they work. So, when I am feeling overwhelmed, I am going to just pick one simple look to recreate. Keep it simple.

I am even going to make myself a paper reminder to hang on my notes board. My creative block cheat sheet. So, what kinds of things would you put on your creative block emergency plan? Would you use some of the same steps? Do you have some favorite creative self care tips? Leave me some comment love below or share them in the Fiber Art Collective. Not in the Collective? Sign up below.

 

 

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