Friday, July 31, 2020


I've heard of gratitude journals of course and have participated in online gratitude challenges but I'm not sure that in my past busy life I really ever internalized the importance.

This week has been a mix of emotions and I think to some degree the putting to pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard to write about them brings them more into focus.  My overwhelmed ness (spell check suggested the separate 'ness' so I'm going with it) was as real as my feelings about accomplishment.  Two very opposite ends of the spectrum.

In the middle was my figuring out why I was so stuck in one particular project I've undertaken.  I've got several sets of friends that I chat with during the course of the week and today while chatting I had the opportunity to explore what might be at the  root of the impass.  The insights shared were very helpful and I was able to view the project in a new light.  I have renewed energy for it and will be spending time exploring how to proceed.  What was missing was an idea that grabbed me with excitement.  So thank you dear friend, for providing that.

Which brings me back to gratitude.  I am so incredibly grateful for the friends who are walking this journey alongside one another.  Who can provide a bright spot of enlightement when you think  there isn't one.   I am grateful for the friends who feel vulnerable enough to share their struggles and are open to hearing whatever wisdom I might have to offer them.  I think when it's a two way street then trust becomes a permanent bond and love grows.

Which brings me to my Bead Museum tile.  On their website the museum of beadwork describes the beaded square project. 

As part of our core mission the Museum of Beadwork explores ways in which beads build relationships, and bond us together. To this end the Museum of Beadwork is mounting a new community project which grows out of a desire to commune on a joint project while safely sheltering; marking this very particular time we are going through together, apart. The end result, which will be exhibited at the Museum of Beadwork, will be a bead based ‘quilt’ visualizing the individual and communal experience of this distinct moment in history. 

Several of my  friends who I talk with on a regular basis during this time gave me words.  Given the core mission stated by the museum, these particular woman are all connected to me through beads.  I captured each of their words on Shrinket petals and decorated each one.  I surrounded them with a band of gold and added my 'LOVE' letters below. The words are Trust, Kindred Spirit, Similitude, Friendship, Love,  Tenacity, Embraced and Peace.

I wish for each of you to have something that you can be grateful for.  It's not an easy time for sure but for me the remembering to be grateful has been huge.  

I'm off to bead!  A third colorway for Amarissa, a cubic right angle weave tassel pendant. 

 It has a Bohemian feel because apparently starting with the Bohemian Collection three years ago and my love of all things Johnny Was I am not yet out of my Bohemian period!

Thursday, July 30, 2020

A brand new baby day

This Melanie song  has always been a favorite

We were meant to see the beginning of the day
I believe it was planned to lift us this way
Take you an apple and take you a song
Watch a baby day be born

I've always been a morning girl as far back as I can remember.  I suppose I had a few teenage years of 'sleeping in' until 9:00 or so, but my preferred hour is 5:00 a.m.  Mark being his own creature of habit gets out of bed these days at 7:00 and I've taken to mostly joining him, but my very favorite thing to do is get up with the sun.

Of course it's summer which in San Diego means marine layer, so it's not exactly a sunrise.  But there is a peacefulness to the new day that I adore.  I make a cup of coffee and settle into my favorite chair and pick up some knitting.  Knitting is the best activity for this time of day.  It's more meditative then my other endeavors, it's more portable and it has less of the creative anxiety that's been plaguing me.

My Ranunculus is growing and I'm beginning to love fabric the linen is creating.  I'm always a little disappointed at my stitch eveness at first and then I get into a rhythm and as the work grows I see the beauty in it more.  Linen is like that, it gets better in time.  I think at first it rebels at being twisted into stitches and then it relaxes into it's new shape and becomes beautiful.  While I still wish I had considered white for this sweater I am enjoying the oceany blue that I chose.

So what else will this baby day hold?  I pretty much frittered yesterday away, but sometimes you just need a good day of frittering, right?  I don't have a plan for today, do you?

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Owning it

I just took a scroll through my facebook posts for the last 4 months looking for a particular post (the search engine didn't turn up what I was looking for and neither did my scroll....sigh).

What it did turn up was a LOT of photos of things I've made, some in the last four months and some just memories I shared.   As it turns out I made a lot of beautiful things.  Many for beautiful people in my life.

I've made masks for family, a skirt and a sweater for a grand daughter, two shrink pendants for dear friends, a beautiful jacket in a watercolor print, a love note sweater for me, 2 pairs of socks, a couple of dozen pair or worded earrings, a linen pair of pants and top from a Tina Givens pattern, 3 or 4 project bags to contain projects,  and a new peace sign!  

That's a lot right?  

Here I've been lamenting my imperfectness, worrying about anxiety (is that redundant?) feeling less than, stressed and a tad overwhelmed about the 'in process' projects.  It seems it is a lesson I need to learn over and over.  Sometimes it just pays to look behind you at what's been accomplished and not in front of you at the 'list'.

When I was actively in my bead career and writing books, I hung bulletin boards and as projects were done they were hung up so that I could visually see the progress.  Not sure exactly how that would work with my current makes, but listing them here sure helped.  

So I am going to own, I am accomplished, I am vital, I am productive, I am creative, I am a maker and just because I'm in the throes of it, I am technically capable!

Not every day will I remember that, but it helps to acknowledge it here.  I don't love every single thing, but really that would be crazy.  If you make every day there are going to be things that you love less than others.  In general this is a body of work that I am proud of.  For the moment I seem to be in a tad bit of a slump and I've decided I'm not going to try to figure it out.  I'm just going to be kind to myself and appreciate the gift of making that I've been given.


Own your greatness!  Look for your proud accomplishments and acknowledge them.  I have so many talented friends and I suspect we all suffer at one time or another from feeling 'not good enough'  That's my suspicion but at least for today 'I am good enough', and I wish that feeling for your as well.  If you're my facebook friend or instagram friend (beadknitsew) then shout it out!  I want to celebrate your greatness.

Here's my striped socks are adorable, my double craw unit has sublime colors, my kindness and gratitude earrings have whimsical drawings, my painted lady cabachon is very artistically finished. What are you proud of? 

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Letting go of perfection out of necessity

For some reason everything I touch in a creative sense is going less well than I would like. It seems my mind is just not totally in the game.

Well except for the ice cream, that came out exceptionally well!

But the Urth in process sock has an extra decrease row because I trusted my memory and thought I should end up with 18 stitches as the end of the decrease row instead of 20.  I've already picked up the gusset so I decided against ripping it back. Mind you this is about my tenth sock in this pattern and I also could have looked it up, I just didn't.

Then I knit the lace portion of the ranunculus a ridiculous amount of times because I kept making mistakes.  If the pattern called for pick up a loop, k3  I did just that the majority of the times, but I'd lose track and  occassionally pick up a loop and K2.  This of course makes the count and the whole pattern off. The last pattern repeat of picking up the loop is off, but the stitch count is right, I decided to live with it.

When I first worked with the shrink plastic I just sat down and colored and was happy with the results.  Now for some reason I am totally intimidated and nothing is quite as I would like it.  This one got a divot when I was shrinking it.  Also the left charm is heavy meaning that pendant won't center balance when I  use a chain or ribbon to suspend it.  How did I not see that coming?  The coloration is also not my best work.  I didn't like the initial result so I just kept adding color.

I find that I want to strike a balance somwhere between letting go of perfectionism and working at getting my head a little more in the game.  I'm not entirely sure what that looks like but I'm thinking a morning yoga practice might bring some focus.  At 67 I've never done  yoga (well except for a brief stint in my 30's) so I will start with a gentle yoga for beginners.

What about you?  Are you struggling more with getting it right?  Do you have techniques you're using to keep life in balance?

Monday, July 27, 2020

Focus on Food

I have my beads, fabric and fiber to keep me occupied while staying almost exclusively at home for four months.  I've completed quite a few projcts and have quite a few planned.  I've read a bit, watched netflix series, walked almost daily and have taken the occassional nap.

One other thing has come to the forefront quite a bit and that is food.  I've never considered myself a cook and a meal I can put on the table in under a half hour has always been my preferred style.  This of course was interspersed with dining at friends or dining out or dining while traveling.  All of which broke up the monotony of having to sort out what to eat for dinner EVERY SINGLE DAY.  In talking with friends I find this is not unique to me, many of us are struggling with what to make day in and day out.  Combine that with some limited supplies and certainly limited outings to replenish supplies and it is indeed challenging.

So yesterday I decided I wanted something fancy, like I would get if I were going out.  I remember  in my many trips to Seattle I would try to fit in a trip to Molly Moon's ice cream.  They always had the most sublime flavors.   

I happened to have an old Better Homes and Garden magazine summer issue, whose front cover was filled with scoops of ice cream in a myriad of flavors.  Yesterday I chose a Thyme and honey one and set out to make it.  I love thyme which I think would be a requirement for this particular ice cream.  I also have a Kitchen Aid ice cream maker that is used to churn the ice cream.

Likely any vanilla ice cream base recipe would work.  The key was to infuse the cream with thyme by simmering with ten thyme sprigs, removing the sprigs and then refrigerating for two hours.  You then used this as the cream in the recipe and in my case I added milk, cornstarch, powdered milk and sugar.  This was refrigerated until chilled for four hours or overnight.

Then a half cup of honey was whisked into the mix and poured into the ice cream machine to be churned.  I cheated on the chilling time so my result was slightly soupy, but still delicious.  Chilling overnight became the perfect consistency.  I feel so gourmet.  I may need to carry on and create some of the other flavors like strawberry shortcake or coffee and donuts (you put a whole cake donut in the mix!)

I can report that the Honey Thyme was amazing.  Sadly Mark does not like ice cream (I know that's crazy right?) so I'll need to work through this quart myself before I can try a second flavor.

Tonight we'll have home made pizza with some left over basil and mozzarella from last nights Caprese salad.  I try to make sure I can use up every bit of food, morphing one set of ingredients into a second or third meal.  The mushrooms from last nights steak will be combined with spinach and I'll make a quiche.  The nice thing about quiche is it can provide breakfast and/or lunch for three or so meals freeing me up from having to cook at least a little.  I'm also grateful that Mark is a very good sous chef and will eat anything I prepare without complaint.

Are you enjoying meal planning and cooking or has it become a chore?  I think shaking up your repetoire a little bit with something like a gourmet ice cream helps keep things interesting.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Finding peace in knitting

Well after all my categorizations, and criteria, what I am finding today is I need to do something really calming.  So I will be sitting in the family room with my Ranunculus and quietly knitting.  I think I may look for some music but I don't think I'll be turning the tv on.  

There is just too much stimulation and what I need is peace and quiet.  

I think this color is really soothing and if I knit with intention I hope I will not repeat the mistake that required the after thought life line and the ripping of 8 rows.  Once I get past this bit the rest goes really fast.  It would be nice to have a new piece of clothing.  

My other projects are all coming along a little bit at a time.  I started the compass rose on Wednesday with Franklin.  I'm working really had to get good tension as that has eluded me in past structural pieces.  It's a bit hard on my hands though, so I'm pacing myself.  

I also worked on the bead museum tile yesterday and that is also coming along in a direction I'm happy with.  Not too much more until I can call that one done.

I have a couple of masks to make for someone who requested them.  I actually find mask making very satisfying.  It's a small project with pretty fabric and easy stitching.

When I began blogging at the beginning of this month, I talked about how much I miss travel and that remains so very true.  If I had to describe two things at the very core of my being, it would be making and traveling, and making while traveling is even better.  I have many shawls that were done on planes and trains in foreign lands.  I have many fibers and beads acquired in those travels and I have a treasure trove of inspiration photos from those places. 

A train to Venice, 2003 

We're hoping we'll do this again one day.  I absolutely adore train travel!  

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Distratction and Procrastination

My engineer husband in listening to my 'focus and finish' dilemma came up with the two opposite words....Distraction and Procrastination.  

I can definitely see where both words fit as opposites and I am clear that distraction is a big part of why I let myself plan 28 different projects before I woke up and put the brakes on.  I'm not sure where procrastination fits exactly.  Maybe starting a new project is a way of procrastinating from finishing a current one.  Maybe I was just looking for the magic one that would bring creative joy and make all this worry recede.

At any rate I've been thinking a lot about how to implement criteria for starting something new.  

GGMadeit wrote a blog post on  how one plans for their next make and it made me realize I am one for becoming totally enamored by the photo.  It might be the mood, the color, or the setting that makes me fall in love, but is less often the practicality.  I live in San Diego, I don't need a full length knitted wool coat!  ok, that was an extreme example, but you get the idea.  

Wearabilty should at least be one consideration when becoming enamored with the next project.  I have three really long rectangular shawls.  They don't actually wear that well.  One of them is a dk weight and so it can be doubled and worn as a scarf, but the other two are bulky and heavy and don't stay put.  They were fun to knit at the time, but had I thought it through there could have been better uses of my time.

I think color should be an other consideration.  For some inexplicable reason I don't have a nice neutral, wearable grey scarf.  A cozy neckwarmer type that takes the chill off a cool evening.  I also inexplicably do not have a nice white summer sweater which is always fresh and bright and welcome in a California summer.

So, new projects are going to go through some kind of thoughtful filter to see if they are a fit.  Unless of course I fall head over  heels in love, like with this sweater, Syrinx by Stephanie Earp

Given my starting something new rules I can't buy the pattern or source the yarn for this quite yet, there are other things that are in the queue, and I must finish Ranunculus and His vest first, but isn't it dreamy?

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Zoom Classes

So zoom classes are a definite trend during the pandemic.  I have to say it's a positive.  Today I took a class with Franklin Martion for his compass rose.  I've been enamored with each of his star shapes since I did my first spinner.  I remember stopping for a visit at Creative Castle and Franklin was there.  He showed me  his spinner and I was totally enamored.  I'd not worked on any of the geometrics yet, but this inspired me! There may have been begging for a pattern involved.

The way it's taught there is a marble in the middle and the piece becomes a giant spinner, spun like a top.  Which is very very cool, but I wanted to wear mine, so I put some loops on the back of it and made it into a shawl pin.

There is a series of shapes and today's compass rose is in that series.  I am totally enamored with it.  Franklin is a great teacher with a very calm nature and a great way of explaining the details and adding untold tips to make you successful.  I have my issues with tension and he had lots of different ways of improving it so that perhaps I will end up with the correct form to make a self supporting, unstuffed version of the compass rose.  Mine will be gold spines with two colors of teal.  I can't wait to show a few weeks.  Thanks Franklin, today was brilliant.  Hosted by the lovely Carole Tripp from Creative Castle.  

Things I like about zoom classes - comfort of my own home, connecting with other beaders, the ability to see close up demos, the versatililty of offerings that I may not otherwise have been able to attend.  Have you done a zoom class yet?

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Craft management strategy

Do I actually have one?  Well I did start with a spreadsheet of each project that is either in process or planned (meaning pattern and/or supplies have been bought)

I categorized them by craft bead/knit/sew and  then color coded for deadline projects, ongoing projects, in process projects, and planned projects.

There are 28!  

Then I worked on establishing some rules.  
  • 1/2 day must be spent on deadline projects.  
  • No new projects can have work started until a deadline project is complete.  
  • 1/2 day can be spent on an on -going project of my choice.   
  • You can see 4  on-going here but when I begin my beaded object class and then my compass rose class, there will be 6.  
  • 2 knitting, 1 sewing and 2 beading.  
  • Knitting will be reserved for early morning or evenings because they are comfort projects and also reasonably mindless.  Note the reasonably, we'll come back to that.
  • A planned project may be added but no supplies can be bought until 1 on-going project is complete.

It's beginning to sound like too many rules and in the end what it comes back to is focus and finish, so that's what I'll be working towards.  So maybe the bottom line, is work on these in order of need for 1/2 day and desire for 1/2 day and don't add anything new until the list is reduced.  

Of all the projects I've only put one on time out so I guess that means I have the desire to complete the rest.

Do I need to be more discerning in future project selection?  What should the criteria be?  Gift knitting (there's at least a little here) home decor?  I do want to have a more artistic home.  Learned skill?  I'm not sure I want to learn anything new right now.  I think I will contemplate that next time I think about adding something to this list.  

Now for just a minute let's talk technical knitting talk.  Because I thought Ranunculus was mostly mindless.  There's a little bit of lace work in the  yoke and I've already made it once.  Who needs lifelines?  But it turns out I missed one little yarn over and then I proceeded to carry on with the next row and of course the entire row was off and I failed to see it.  I tinked one row back and picked up a yarn over and tried to convince myself it looked ok and carried on but then I was somehow 3 stitches short and so the next pattern row was off.  I decided to take it back 7 rows before the first mistake by using an after  thought lifeline.  I'm never any good at those, I can't seem to consistently pick up the stitches in the same row, but  it's done now, very fiddly at the end.  So that project is back in rotation ready to carry on.  I can't leave a mistake in a project or I find it very hard to go back to.  

This does bring up the consideration that my concentration is not what it used to be and I am more prone to making mistakes.  Another reason to work on my craft management strategy.

I'll let you know how it's going.    Right now I'm off to work on a couple of deadline projects while the day is young.

Monday, July 20, 2020

The opposite of focus and finish

Yes focus and finish is something that I have found useful to help me reset and reduce the franticness that comes with having a million works in progress. (that is a slight exaggeration, but not too much)

It seems however that I am unable to focus or finish well at the moment.  Last night I announced that I would not start anything new until I finished 4 of my current works in progress.

That lasted exactly 12 hours when I realized that my on-line beaded object class is now going to happen on Friday which left Wednesday open for Franklin's Compass Rose class which I am in love with!  I'll be taking it online with Creative Castle.  She has a full roster of zoom classes and it appears people are very much enjoying this approach to beading classes.

You can see why I was weak in the face of this becoming available to me.  Now to pick colors.

First though I think it's time for me to get real about what I have in progress and pick some things that can be finished, and put some sort of priority to them.  Perhaps make some notes about what it will take to finish and also what kind of time we're talking about, if there are any deadlines involved, and if any just need to be abandoned.  I'm not usually a to do list kind of gal on my personal time, but I'm finding that this tendency to just continually start something new is getting out of hand.

I'm also not usually a rules kind of gal, but I think a few may be in order, like no supplies beyond anything that is currently on the list.  Tomorrow I will share with you how long the list is.  

I'd like to see if cataloguing it is helpful and if it is in what ways.  This should be interesting.  I am not entirely sure if I've ever had this many works in progress before.  If I did they were work related as in beadwork for classes with maybe a side of a shawl.  Then two years ago I added the sewing of garments and then last year the sewing of bags and this year the sewing of quilts and then the medium of shrink plastic, all while upping the amount of sweaters/socks/vests in progress and planning for even more.  So I do think it's a time for a reckoning of how I spend my time.  I suspect I am filling time to run away from the stress of a pandemic and the unknown of the future.  But I want to be doing it wisely so that it serves me well and doesn't cause more stress than it relieves.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Teeny Tiny Stitches, my first EPP project

One of my ongoing makes is the Tula Pink sunrise quilt which is my first foray into English Paper Piecing or EPP.  The acccuracy required for machine piecing a quilt top escapes me.  Somehow I never seem to be able to get pieces cut and stitched well.  But in English Paper Piecing the process is done by hand and I have much more control.  It of course also takes much more time! 

In EPP  you cut your fabric to the correct shape adding 1/4 inch border and then you secure it around paper the same shape using either basting stitches or glue.  I've done both, my hexi pillow was basted but for this one with bigger shapes I am using the glue method.

I blogged in more detail about it here.

Today I just want to share with you my proud accomplishment.

Those teeny tiny little stitches, each one by hand, each medallion having 24 seams between triangles and one large seam for the center.  That is a lot of stitching and with each one I am improving my technique. I suppose it helps that needle and thread of some sort have been in my hands since I can remember. Sometimes it's knitting needles and yarn, or a crochet hook, or the twine of macrame plant holders in the 80's, but always I've used my hands bringing thread into a new form.

I'm just completing the 7th of 12 medallions, each one it's own little masterpiece.  I'm enjoying it and am trying hard not to suffer from the hurry up and finish that is my usual mantra.

I started this pre-pandemic (which is still something very weird to be saying in a sentence) but I suspect it will always have the connection to covid time.

We're back from our airstream outing.  It was a nice change of scenery, beautiful bay breezes, lot's of nice meals, long walks and lot's of time for stitching.  

I suspect going into next week I want to  'organize' my in process projects and pick at least a couple to focus and finish.  That goal was not helped by beginning a crocheted mandala today.  It's all Maggie's fault, she made me do it and now I have one more thing to focus and finish!

What are you working on?  Something short term or long term?  Multiple somethings? Something that excites you, challenges you, comforts you?  I think that may be a column of my 'project organization' spreadsheet.  It may help guide me on which one to turn to when I'm looking for the next thing to do.  The list is long......

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Double CRAW my new favorite stitch!

Wait is that a trick question.  If you know my work you’re likely to get the correct answer of CRAW, but now there is Double CRAW and it’s my new favorite.

My friend  Sabine graciously calls me the Godmother of Double Craw but it all came from her brain.  I just had the good fortune to witness the excitement as the stitch got developed.  We were at an event in Florida together when we stole a few minutes of beading time together and she introduced me to her new stitch.  I was enamored immediately and began stitching my first sampler rope changing up the colors and coupling the dcraw units with craw between.
Best of all, the concept was easy to grasp and lent itself to many design options.  So what is it about the anatomy of this stitch that I love.  Well first up it’s very structurally sound.  With a minimum of tension you can create a very sturdy self supporting element.  Next up is the color play.  I like to think of it as color complexity.  In a very small space I can include 3 colors easily and even more given it’s next attribute.  Each of the walls of the cube is made up of 4 core beads and 4 corner beads.  The core beads are not shared, only the corner beads.  This means each face of the cube could conceivably be a different color. So if the floor and ceiling core beads are one color (pink here), the corner beads are a second color (bronze here) and the core beads are each a different color (here I used one color the turquoise) that would potentially be 6 colors in one little cube. Besides the color play possibilities the stitch also lends itself to moving between DCRAW, CRAW and PRAW seamlessly.  Here I’ve taken a craw rope in 11’s and added a DCRAW unit done all in 8’s.  I love the way it differentiates from the rope and adds such a fun element.

Sadly I have to be a bit of a tease as my next design is made using all of the attributes of DCRAW I’ve just described, but it’s not quite ready for it’s beauty shot or it’s unveiling, for that you’ll have to wait.

What’s your favorite stitch and what attributes would describe that make it your favorite.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Showing Up

As is likely evident from my various social media posts, I split my time  between many different crafts.  So far my sewing both in quilting and garments, and my knitting are based on other peoples designs. I am slowly learning to bring a little of my own voice to those endeavors with color choice or modifications.  But mostly the design work is done for me.

With beading it’s necessary to be the designer, at least for projects that you will document and teach other’s to bead.  Since I’ve significantly cut back on the number of teaching engagements I accept, I no longer have the deadlines to drive me which of course can be good and bad.  That coupled with the amount of time I spend on other crafts means I am not beading as much.  So when the call to design comes, there can be some fear that I will be out of all design ideas.
What I learned though, was if you just show up, if you just spill out a pile of beads and start beading, even if it’s only the merest start of an idea, a design will show up.  It may not be even close to the one you started to bead but it will evolve.  I’m in the process now and I’m enjoying what is revealing itself with just a pile of beads and needle and thread.  I didn’t look to books for inspiration, I didn’t sketch out any ideas, I just started beading.  This of course is not everyone’s design process and there are times I’ve done it differently, but in this time when I was sure I had forgotten how to bead, I just showed up and it’s working.

Of course I am in my happy place, tucked into my airstream with just a few beads, next to some water, and little else that needs doing.  So I’ll be beading today.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Ranunculus, Tula Pink and a mini outing

I started last week listing the makes in progress and now I've added one  Last year while summer traveling in the airstream I made a Ranunculus out of Kestrel linen from Quince and Co.  It turnsout to be one of my favorite sweaters to wear, so......I bought some more in a pale aqua and last night I cast it on!  Added to the pile of makes in progress.

It's shown here with a shawl over it, so you can't see the beautiful yoke detail, but you can see the beautiful color and drape of the linen.

Since I've become enamored with everything Tula Pink I pre-orderd 1/2 yard cuts of her new true colors collection and they've arrived.  I cut up a few pieces of  yardage to make some masks for the grandkids and matching masks for her mom but I am going to savor the rest until I settle on a quilt top.  This one I will make on the machine and I am leaning towards Tabby Mountain which is a free pattern on Tula's site.

We're off on a mini vacation, self contained in our airstream.  I cooked quite a bit and stocked the fridge with ready made meals so the time spent will be on optimum relaxing.  I'll share some photos of our week!  I love to create mini vignettes in the airstream and relax surrounded by some of my favorite things, while working on knitting, beading (there's a new design coming into being, more about that this week) and stitching on my Tula Pink English Paper Piecing quilt top.  I believe the change of scenery will serve me well!

Travel is my passion

Since I was little I had wanderlust.  I always wanted to go on a grand adventure, but my growing up family didn't do that.  We had the occasional outing to a summer cottage or maybe a road trip to see fall foliage, but mostly we stayed home and I dreamed about faraway places.

When I met Mark, my travel adventures could finally begin.  He also loved travel and our first vacation together was to Hawaii.  I'd been almost no place until this time.  I had driven cross country with all my possessions and my daughter to start a new life in California, but discretionary travel had not been attainable.  So Hawaii was a really really big deal. I was thrity one.  We've not stopped traveling since.

Family vacations to Mexico and Hawaii and ski resorts.  Couple vactations to tropical paradises, sail boat vacations and a lot of corporate travel, mostly to Europe.  Then I quit my corporate job and I became a full time bead teacher and I continued to travel, to Germany, Australia, Japan, England, the  Czech Republic and more.  Last year we went to South America and visited Machu Picchu, Peru, Chile, Uruguay and Argentina!  

And just stopped.  I think it's at the root of some of my grief about this  pandemic.  I loved travel and it's been taken away for the forseeable future.

This is all to say that I'm going to explore my travel photos and include them scattered throughout what I've come to think of as my makers blog.  Now though it needs to serve double duty, it has to enable me to relive the memories of faraway places and record all my various makes.

I wish I could bring you photos of that first Hawaiin vacation but that was pre-digital, pre-cellphone, pre-sdcard so they are not so accessible.

Since I love angels I'll start here.  I have to warn you though, I have a faulty memory.  I would have said this was an angel from Copenhagen, but the time slot of photos it belonged to suggests it is either in Amsterdam or Haarlem.  

I know there are people who make digitial travel books of each of their trips, and I sure wish I had done that while my memory was still fresh on many of the images.    I didn't and so my memory will have to suffice.  I suspect I could do a reverse google image search, but for now this will have to do.

I spent the weekend packing up my various projects that I want to work on.  So far I've packed, Mark's vest, the Tula Pink epp, the museum of beadwork tile, some yarn for a gauge swatch and some beads for a new bracelet idea.  Is that too much for 3 days?  

Friday, July 10, 2020

Multi-tiered beading - multi tiered worry

Some days the studio and the creative process mask the anxiety, some days the studio and the creative process increase the anxiety.

Given how new this scenario is, I am finding it difficult to sort through my feelings and understand the best way to cope.  I get up in the morning and I'm never entirely clear on which kind of day I'm getting, the 'everythings ok, I'm safe at home with a loving partner and plenty to do and supplies to do it' or the 'the world is out of control and there's no end in site, I can't see my family and I'm not sure how I can create'.

Strangely this isn't the blogpost I meant to write.  Sometimes I can write the blogpost about my creative process and it's sincere and what I'm choosing to share on that day because it's one of the 'good days'.  It's not that today is terribly bad, I'm just unsettled.  You'd think with long stretches of time that really doesn't need to be accounted for much in the way of real work, that I'd welcome the endless hours to just create.  But instead I flit from one project to the next.

Here's an example and this is just my bead world, yarn and fabric have similar looking stacks of  in process projects.

I'm trying to examine why I even consider this a problem, but I am not having much success.  I've tried giving myself permission to pick up whichever thing speaks to me in the moment, I've tried the focus and finish method of picking one thing to work on, I've tried talking it through with other creatives, and using time blocks for one project vs another, but still I find I'm unsettled.  What I haven't tried is taking a complete break from making.  Maybe a book, a jigsaw puzzle or a nap might be in order.

I think that a contributing factor is that the choice to mostly retire from my bead teaching career of the last 20 years was already a time of change.  It's one we embarked on so that we'd have more time for grand babies and travel, balanced with homelife and being creative.  Having had half that equation removed makes for complicated feelings.

I have the exceptional good fortune to be planning an airstream outing that will have us self contained sitting on the bay with just a couple of projects that I'll take a long.  I have always found the small space of the airstream and the forced selection of fewer projects to be soothing and  I usually become my most productive self.  

In the meantime I do need to do some work on the museum of beadwork tile.  6 of the 8 'word petals' are done.   The shrink plastic that allows the permanence of words does not lends itself to the detail prisma pencil drawings that I prefer for coloring, so theres been some adapting of technique required.  Since I don't want to compromise there, two of them need to be redone with hopefully better results.

I know and appreciate that many of you still have pre-retirement lives requiring new ways of working and that long days of freedom to create would seem ideal.  I don't want to trivialize anyone's struggle to arrive at workable scenarios no matter what their situation is.  These are just my musings on my particular situation.  May you and  your loved ones be well and may you find some routines that work for your peace of mind.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

What's your best creative environment?

What brings this question to mind is that today is house cleaning day.  I am fortunate to have a 50% partner in the effort, I do all the surfaces, kitchen, bathroom, tables such and he does all the floors, vacuumed and mopped.  I have black hardwood floors and a black tile kitchen, so the clean lasts about two days!

I really need a fairly neat and clean environment to allow the peace of mind necessary for me to create.  Clutter makes me crazy and so I tend to have to stop every few days and clear the mess I've left in the wake of previous projects.

I've been traipsing from one type of project to the next which also contributes to the chaos.  For most things I end up auditioning supplies so at any given time there is yarn, fabric, beads and now shrink plastic all over the place!  Somehow the concept of putting things away as I go never works for me and then I have to do a serious amount of effort to clear the decks.  

I so wish I could train myself to be a put away as I go type of gal but it appears that discipline escapes me.

I'll leave you with yesterdays make.  I haven't sewed much of anything since having to give up my  weekly sewing class, but the inspiration  of a facebook group focused on the designs of Tina Givens had me wanting to make something new to  wear.  I had some lovely softened pale pink linen and a new pattern called Elope.  The pattern included a top and pants so I set out to make both.

It appears that I have a significantly reduced attention span these days so it took me a while to cut and sew with a fair amount of dilly dallying between.  The lack of attention span also contributes to my not being attentive to directions and I sewed the bottom of the pant leg to the waistband instead of the bottom of the pant leg.....sigh.  After a short temper tantrum and the questioning of my skills I sat down with the seam ripper and remedied the error.  By late afternoon I was rewarded with new pants to go with last weeks top. It's due to get really hot here this week, so pale pink linen and a comfy cut are going to be perfect. I suspect my quest to up my blog game a little means I should learn to take a selfie without a mirror and an iPhone!  

Today after a little deck clearing I will get back to my 6 x 6 tile for the Museum of Beadwork entry.  I've printed and cut my words and today I will color them with alchohol inks and draw with my pencils and shrink.  Then I'll be ready to assemble and bead embroider.  

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Creative Anxiety

I find that almost always somewhere in the creative process I suffer from creative anxiety.  Maybe it's picking out colors for a third colorway of a familiar design, maybe it's assessing my skillset for the ability to create the shape or feeling I envisioned.  It may be that I doubt my ability to find the right scale and balance for the finished piece to be pleasing.

Sometimes of course it goes right and a piece I love is born.  I find this most often with a focal that speaks to me and a small vignette like Bell Mabel.  There were of course still design decisions but one of the things in favor of smaller work is that the investment of time in things that didn't work is much less.

I imagine that other artists in the medium of beads or other artistic expressions have a better ability to envision the final result so their time is not invested in failure.  I'm pretty sure except for a rare few this is probably not the case. I suspect thaf failed design decisions along the way have led up to better decision making that inform the design process.  If I look back my design work has certainly improved from my early days of beading.

I'm not sure why I insist that it is failure for me to go along a path that doesn't result in finished work that I love.  I've certainly watched my husband make three and four prototypes on his quest for the best outcome.  Perhaps that box of beaded bits and bobs that didn't work out should be considered my prototype box.  Every once in awhile something emerges from that box that has found it's time to be successful.

Sometimes a piece that I started out thinking was trite becomes a favorite, which just goes to show that my thought process about a piece's lovabililty is not always spot on.

As my time becomes more available for the exploration of different artistic endeavors I think my creative anxiety is being triggered because I am starting out at the bottom of several learning curves.  I'd like to try to manage this feeling so as not to be overwhelmed by it.   

Many of the things I am trying,  I am using other peoples design sensibilities and engineering skills so in that case my job is to just be the best technician that I can be.  I think this is true of the English paper piecing I am doing from a kit, but not true of shrink plastic designs I have been making.  Perhaps keeping a mix of the two will keep the feelings manageable.

Do you suffer from creative anxiety and if so, what tools have you found useful in managing it? 

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

English Paper Piecing with Tula Pink

Yes, today my new found love of EPP rose to the top of the list, it's like I am not in charge.  But first.......

I decided to see if I could improve my ipad blogging experience by uploading my photos to the cloud.  I've avoided this step previously because I have a LOT of photos and unfortunately through some error of my ways I managed to upload many duplicates as well.   When I first uploaded my documents to the cloud the effort brought my home network to it's knees and so I am hoping to avoid that.

So this morning efforts I manually managed to remove unwanted and duplicate photos for almost two years, which means about 12 or so more years to go.  I'm going to take it on though because my digital life needs a clean up and it's silly to upload a bunch of  duplicate and in some cases triplicate photos.  I an only guessing it happened when I uploaded photos from the phone and somehow incorrectly answered a prompt.

But back to making.  I got up this morning and stitched a few of my tula pink paper pieces together. They are a part of the Sunrise Quilt I started back in February.

I am learning a lot about my workflow here.  Given the shape of the larger triangle, it is entirely possible to stitch the wrong sides together.  At 16 stitches per inch and about a 3 1/2 inch side, that is a lot of stitches in vain, so it is best avoided.  I've done it more times than I care to count, so now I have a process.  (I was a system analyst in my corporate life, there is always a way to finetune the process for efficiency!)

I love my makes in progress to be pretty so I made myself some cute see through zipped pouches to carry all the various parts. There is a video on you tube by  Erica Arndt. This is the one I used but there are many others.

I've taken the time to learn about the tools which help paper piecing be successful.  Tula Pink has 3 great videos she did with the Fat Quarter Shop.  The thread is dyed to match Tula fabrics and is from Aurfil.  Changing to that from the bobbin threads I was using made a huge difference in the tangulation factor.  Next was needles.  These are a number 10 big eye from Tulip.  In beading I don't care for a short needle, but in paper piecing it's perfect for pushing through the edge of the fabrics and catching just the tiniest bit of threads.  Since as I said I like pretty tools, I have a pair of Tula pink scissors.  

The last little thing you see is the magnet holding the two pieces to be sewn together.

This is the correct orientation of the two triangles,  the flat on the smaller one is the interior of the circle formed by the triangles.  It is super easy though to get turned arouond and sew the two sides together with the points in the same direction.  With practice I'm getting more attentive, but also you want to be stitching in a direction so you end up ready to stitch your next seam.  If I stitched from the top down I would end up at the bottom and to stitch my next pink triangle (we have to assume to the left of these has already been stitched) then I would have the bottom of the purple triangle between the needle and the next seam.  

So to avoid all this, I've developed a habit.  

When I'm done stitching a seam, I position the next one to be sewn, triple checking the orientation and also flipping it so I will be stitching right to left ending up a the correct point.  I always position my Sew Tite magnet with the silver side facing me (the flip side is purple plastic) and then even if I put the work down, when I come back I know if I pick it up silver side facing me and I stitch right to left I will be correct.  I've stitched 7 of the 12 medallions and I am hoping that the next 5 will require no ripped seams!

I've always dived deep into any new artform by buying the best tools I can.  In this case I resisted both thread and needles, opting for a less expensive thread and my beading needles. I decided after watching Tula and understanding that I was undertaking probably a years worth of this activity, I should invest in the correct tools.  I know own the aurfil thread and the Tulip needles.  While I certainly could have used my Gingher dress shears for cutting, these Tula Pink ones were too cute to pass up plus which they are always in the pouch with all the other tools.  No having to go look for the  Ginghers.

Do you have an Engish Paper piecing tool you can't live without? Please share, it may be that I need it too!

Monday, July 6, 2020

Consistency Challenge Month of July

There was a time I posted almost all days.  I love to go back to that point in time and review the posts because it's my history....a little bit at a time and many memorable moments.

I read about this challenge on Gaye Gillespies blog and was introduced to Mattie James.  

I have no desire to be an influencer but I do admire the people who do it well and do it to bring attention to their art and/or life philsophy around subjects that interest me.  I certainly appreciate both.  Creative pursuits get most of my attention but I also love cooking blogs, home decor or diy blogs and travel blogs.

For years this blog served as details from my life experiences and my career as a bead artist.

Now I am mostly retired from the bead world with a very few engagements, which also means less design and pattern writing.

As this life transition moved more into me exploring different artistic mediums I have used this space to record my makers life.

I have been busy improving my knitting, learning to sew garments, hand piecing my first quilt, exploring shrink plastic as a medium and still beading a bit.

You've seen lots of photos of my makes, but not too much in depth about any of them, so during this month I'm going to be diving a little deeper as I work on some of my current projects.

One of the things I've been enjoying is the marriage of beads and shrink plastic.  Recently the call for entries from the Museum of Beadwork caught my interest.  The idea is to create a community project to explore the ways beads build relationships.  The received 6 x 6 beaded tiles will be wall mounted at the museum.  This spoke to me because my connections over the past many years have all been the result of my work with beads.  I have friends around the world that I am in touch with on a regular basis, many of whom I've had the good fortune to work with, travel with and create some of my best memories with.

I've decided on submitting a tile to hopefully be included in this community wall.  This is the start.  I debated on documenting the process but since it's not a challenge with no voting and no need to be kept secret, I decided to update you as I work on it.  

I didn't want to hand stamp or hand print my words to I settled on using the inkjet printer to print out the chosen words.  That provided my first challenge to overcome, since I didn't realize the inkjet ink was water soluble.  This I discovered after finding the word Kindness had disappeared from my earring after putting them on with wet hair!  There is an after shrinking fixative I could use, but I don't want to count on having to spray each piece so I remembered an older package of shrink plastic that was specially treated to be printed on with the inkjet.  I've tested and thankfully it is permanent!    So with that problem solved I will have to replace my kindness earring and remake a few more of my favorites.

This is how my journey with words and shrink plastic started.  I regret that I didn't understand the impermanence of my words, but as with any new medium I experienced learning curve!

This project will take up a good portion of my art time this week.  Although there are a lot of other projects that will get bits of attention as I move through the month

In no particular order

I have started a Sabine Lippert Double RAW Dimensions Dodecahedron from her master class.  
I am making Mark a vest 'His Vest' by churchmouse in a beautiful blue/grey malabrigio DK yarn.
I just finished my third pair of Urth yarns Uneek socks and have a new colorway.
I made a pale pink linen Elope top by Tina Givens and have cut out pants to match.
I ordered yarn to crochet some mandalas, possibly as airstream decor.
I have Kestral linen  yarn in a pale aqua to make my second ranunculus sweater. I have a lavender one and it's one of my favorite to wear.
I signed up for the Heidi Kummli Beaded Object class which begins July 22nd.
Oh, and I continue work on my hand pieced Tula Pink Sunrise quilt.

Whew!  that was a lot of links.  As I work through these and share photos I will link again, or I will link back to this list of all of July's projects!  

What's on your July list of projects?

iPad blogging

iPad blogging can be a challenge. Since I will be traveling soon with just an iPad, I am testing the limitations here. Yes...traveling, in the airstream near the bay for a change of scenery. I look forward to long days of relaxation, cooking, knitting, and beading.

Uneek socks by Urth Yarns