Sunday, February 22, 2015

Knitting in Lucerne Valley, CA

 Spring has arrived at my home in Lucerne Valley. In spite of the chickens trying to eat these daffodils when they first sprouted, they've managed to bloom.

Moonrise in Lucerne Valley CA
 I'm enjoying the perfect weather before the blasting heat of summer arrives. We have a very short spring here. And it is still winter according to the calendar. I bought a red pear tree to plant as well as 2 olive trees. The olive trees are different varieties and will cross-pollinate each other. The label promises more and better fruit if you do it that way.

I think this photo will be a good reference for a future painting.

The sunsets here are often spectacular.

Northern Lights Cowl folded in half.
 A nice knitted cowl to stave off the cold.  With much of the U.S. still covered in snow, I'm sure someone out there needs this so it is going in my Etsy shop.

Pretty cowl (neck scarf loop) to keep the chill off.
 The cowl in it's normal width.  Hand knitted in acrylic yarn. The name of the yarn is Northern Lights.
A view of Lucerne Valley, CA at sunset.

The view from my front yard.
I hope some of the Joshua trees bloom this year but I don't see any buds yet. They have huge white flowers.  They don't bloom every year and we didn't get much rain this year.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Making a Gelatin Printing Plate

I just poured my first Gelli plate for printmaking. The directions should have been simple, but there is a discrepancy between how many packets of gelatin to add to the mix. It says '7 1 oz packets' but the whole box weighs 1 oz and has 4 packets. So as per the directions I have to let it set overnight. I wanted it to be twice as thick so I will double the recipe next time. I don't have enough glycerin right now to do another batch. I made my best guess and we'll see how it turns out. Also, the new clear acrylic frame I'm using as a mold wasn't really flat on top when I opened it. It was slightly convex. So I hope it all comes out. I think that is why I've been procrastinating. The instructions are a bit ambiguous.

Friday, February 06, 2015

One Inch Square (Inchie) Art

Today I figured I was well enough to get back to the business of being an artist. I was dying to get started on several projects. The first one is making an Inchie Art Embroidery Piece. I'm doing my best to stick to a natural color scheme (white, brown, tan, muted tones). So I pre-washed and ironed some thin muslin. Part of this I dyed in a coffee bath. Part of it I left natural and hung to dry. Then I ironed it and drew a grid of 1" squares on it.  If this was going to be my final piece, I would just embroider every square. But since I rarely do things the easy way, I'm going to cut out and hem each piece, so in reality, only some of the squares will have embroidery or embellishments on them. The rest of the squares will be part of the seam allowances. This muslin was very thin so I doubled it to make a better foundation for the embroidery.

My first square is a little brown sheep. The second one is a bit of pink ribbon. The third one is a button sunflower. Some of the squares will be set on the diagonal, and some will be horizontal.

My kitten thought it was playtime and he really interfered with me getting much done.  Then we both took a nap.  The coffee dyed fabric should be dry now so I'll go bring that in and iron it.

Ready for embroidery and embellishing.

One inch grid on muslin.
Brown sheep with button head. I tried to hold the button on with French knots but it just popped right off.
I think I can do better.

Button sunflower, brown sheep, and pink ribbon.  I'm looking for just the right thing to put on the ribbon inchie.

Button sunflower on the diagonal.

The 2nd project is a primitive doll or prim. That was why I bought the coffee in the first place. So I also threw the doll's face into the boiling coffee.  She's hanging out on the line too.
Polly Pyewacket before coffee bath.
After being boiled in coffee. I thought it would be much darker. I may have to bake it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

My View On Multiple Projects For Knitters & Crocheters

Multiple Projects

When I am in my pottery workshop it is impractical to make just one pot from start to finish.
If I throw a pot today, it will be wet for at least a week. It has to be covered in plastic and dried slowly so it doesn't crack. Then it has to be trimmed, then left to dry, then fired, then glazed, then fired again at least once. The whole process might take a month or more. So during the rest of the workshop I’m not just going to sit there twiddling my thumbs. I’m going to throw another pot.

In oil painting, a painting may be too wet to do anything else that day. It must be left to dry another week or so. In the meantime, I will start another painting. In a week or two I may have a dozen paintings in various stages of being finished. Sometimes I won’t know what to do next. Or I might have a commission to finish. Or a birthday deadline. Or maybe that painting just wasn't working out to begin with and needs to be painted over. Or I may not have the skill level to finish it at this time.
But for some reason when it comes to knitting and crocheting, the artist often feels they must finish one thing at a time from start to finish. They punish themselves by not allowing themselves to start anything new. Often their current project begins to bore them and grinds to a halt. Or they can’t go on because they broke or lost a needle or a hook.  Or the project has so many mistakes they can’t bear to pick it up again. Or maybe they realize they didn't charge enough and have lost their motivation. Or they don’t have the skills yet to finish.

No matter the reason it is always good to have another project on stand-by. I like to keep one mindless project I can grab if I am going to be stuck at an auto mechanic or a doctor’s office or a train ride. I switch off between knitting and crocheting because each uses different muscles and my hands don’t get so many repetitive injuries. I like to keep a hard project handy so I can improve my skills and not get stuck in a rut. And I like to keep something super fun handy, like crocheting teddy bears, so that when I just want to relax and have fun that’s my go-to project. And I have seasonal projects going, like hearts for Valentine’s Day or potholders for wedding presents. And now I’ve learned the hard way to always have a prayer shawl in the works long before its needed. Oh, and a charity project. I think I’d kill my creativity if I stuck to one thing from beginning to end. I’d go bonkers! I’m not saying you should start 100 projects and not finish anything.  I’m saying it is not unreasonable to have 5 or 6 going at any one time. 

I had to stop working on this because my cat always used to pounce me and then we lost the cat so it made me too sad to work on it. I just started working on it again this week.

My current favorite project is this Hitchhiker Scarf from Ravelry

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Crocheted Magenta Hat

It is rare that I start and finish a project in the same day, much less the same evening.  But I just whipped up a magenta hat.  It started as a beanie, then wanted to be a slouch cap, but that didn't really happen so now it's a rather long beanie. I rather like the way it came out, or maybe I'm just tired and delusional!  It is now just past midnight so I think I'll wrap things up and go to bed.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Overcoming Creative Block

First, you immediately stop doing anything creative. If possible do something the complete opposite of whatever has you blocked. Since a lot of creativity is mental, it might be helpful to take up something physical. Perhaps a daily walk, or going bowling with friends or taking your tennis racket out of mothballs. 

If you have health issues that are causing you pain, that can also kill your creativity, so deal with those if possible. 

If you are grieving, making things can be an escape, but if you escape too much you aren't dealing with the thing causing you the grief. Allow yourself to experience that fully so you can perhaps gain some balance. Repressing things isn't healthy in the long run. 

Focus on any beauty you can find around you: The sunrise, the local zoo, photos on Pinterest or Flickr, your favorite happy movie. 

I find writing in a journal helpful. You can backtrack to when you first felt like you were losing your mojo. Was it when someone died? Was it when you felt like you weren't selling enough on Etsy? Was it when you gave up something you loved to focus on something that would sell? If you can figure out what went wrong, you can fix it. Sometimes it is just the doldrums, and this too shall pass. 

Also I find if I clean a table completely off, or clean my sewing area or clean my kitchen, I suddenly find myself ready to create something new in that space. Clutter can freeze up all your creative energy. Sweep out any corners with dead energy. I hope something I said helps.

Lastly, be kind to yourself. You are not a robot or a sweatshop. If you had a lot of deadlines before Christmas or a custom order, you probably have burn-out and should rest and do simple things that make you happy. Don't rush it. Sooner or later your creativity will come rushing back.
Hobby Lobby in Victorville, CA 

Monday, January 05, 2015

Crochet Projects on the Hook

Good morning. Since I don't want my new Mood Afghan 2015 project to take over my entire craft blog, I've made it it's very own page. Just click on the link.

I'm also working on the project I've come to think of as the Accidental Hat.  It was supposed to be a circular afghan.  But it was sitting next to my desk yelling at me "I want to be a hat." So guess what? Now I'm making it into a tam or a slouch cap or something. We'll see.

The Accidental Hat by Fayme Harper ©2015