Thursday, March 16, 2017

Finding my Inner Artist

One of the things I've always wanted to do is paint. I've done craft painting in the past, and I've enjoyed a couple of evenings at Painting with a Twist. (That's a super fun way to spend a couple of hours! I highly recommend it!) But I've never really explored painting much. I didn't even take an art class in high school.




So, after my first Painting with a Twist experience just after Christmas, I went to Craftsy and purchased a couple of painting classes. And didn't watch them until about three weeks ago. Because I'm a weirdo like that. So I went to the craft store and picked up a table-top easel, some paints, and a couple of canvases.





This is my little work space in my bedroom. The table was purchased by my grandparents when they got married in 1940! I love it, and it gets covered with a vinyl tablecloth when I'm crafting.


I also checked out a bunch of books from the library. In one of them, the author mentioned her "art journal." I wondered what that was, so I Googled it.

Holy crap.

How have I not heard of art journaling until now?! This is some seriously inspiring, creative, amazing stuff! So back to the library's website I go and find a bunch of e-books about art journaling. Then, back to the craft store for more supplies.





I actually made two more trips after this one because I kept reading about things I wanted to try!

Saturday, I spent a good portion of the day painting and working on my first art journal page. I painted one canvas, and my mom instantly claimed it, saying it would look great in her bedroom. Moms are supposed to do that, right?





I thought it seemed sort of childish, but I had fun doing it, and it loosened me up. I also spent this time learning how to tell my inner critic/fear to shut the hell up. It didn't really matter what I made. I just wanted to follow my heart and keep my brain out of it. I showed it to an acquaintance and she said it reminded her of Matisse. That made me feel pretty good. Not gonna lie.

Once that was completed, I turned my attention to my new art journal. I had already covered one page with gesso to prepare it for acrylics. (It's a watercolor pad.) I had an idea in my head of what I wanted it to look like. I knew I wanted to make the earth in the center using the same painting technique I had learned when painting the background of the dandelion painting (above) at Painting With a Twist.





It gives the feeling of "the world" without having to be too exact. I was pretty pleased with it. My daughter later suggested that I could have used a large round stencil to have a more even edge around the circle. But, I like the unevenness of it.

Then I used red and yellow to paint the rest of the background and walked away for a while to allow it to dry.  My intention was to use a black pen to draw and write the words, but when I saw the fully dried background I changed my mind. Enter: metallic gold paint pen.




It was so much fun, and I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. I'm looking forward to spending some more time with my art supplies. This weekend, I'll be experimenting with watercolors. I've also decided to take a couple of art classes at our local community center starting in April. I'm really excited about all the possibilities that are laid out before me!




Friday, February 10, 2017

Mosaic

Have I ever mentioned how much I love mosaic knitting? It's freaking brilliant. You create this amazing colorwork, but only use one color at a time, slipping the stitches you want to be in the opposite color. It can be done on garter or stockinette stitch, so the possibilities are endless. It just so happens I'm wearing mosaic socks today.



Pattern: Masonry by Kate Gilbert. Yarn: Cascade Yarns Heritage in Marine and Crystal Palace Yarns Sausalito in Big Sur.

I also have a mosaic cowl on the needles.



Pattern: Earth Weave Cowl by Kim Sequeira. Yarn: Cascade 220 in various colors.


Now I'm eyeing the Optimist Shawl by Lisa Hannes.  Here are the colors (Cascade Heritage again) I'm planning to use. Don't they just scream "OPTIMISM!!!"  I love light, bright, happy colors.


I'll very likely start that one this weekend.

What knitting techniques are you particularly fond of? What techniques would you like to learn?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Resolutions

Hi Everyone!  (Ha! See how I said that like someone is actually reading this?)

So, here's what's going on in my life right now: a week before Christmas, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. It sucks. I was shocked. My A1C levels had never been elevated before. Now, suddenly, they were high enough to make me diabetic. I tried not to think about it too much because it was Christmas! But, I knew that as soon as the holidays were over, I needed to make some major changes.

Enter New Year's Resolutions. I didn't resolve to lose weight. I didn't resolve to exercise. I didn't resolve to overhaul my life. I resolved to do just one thing: DO WHAT'S RIGHT FOR ME. In ALL things. Not just for my physical health, but for all of me. My mental and emotional health. My need to be creative. My life. I'm not setting specific resolutions. Instead, I am making decisions as I go using that one resolution as a guiding light: do what's right for me.

So far, it's working for me. I'm spending more time with friends. I've started painting a bit. I've drastically reduced the amount of time I spend on social media. I've started seeking out unbiased news sources. I've almost entirely eliminated excess sugar from my diet. (Seriously: I used to eat Apple Jacks for breakfast. Every day. There's a damn lot of sugar there, which resulted in me wanting sugar the rest of the day. Switching breakfasts to a protein-packed, delicious breakfast sandwich drastically reduced my sugar cravings.) I've started loving my body exactly as it is. I'm not worried about losing weight. I'm done focusing on that. DONE. (It's really quite liberating to say that.) If it happens, great. If not, that's fine too. As long as I know I'm doing what's right for me, that's all that matters.

So here I am, determined to live my best life. Determined to do what's right for me in all things. You should watch and see what happens. Part of my plan is to write more here. I'll still talk a lot about knitting and my other creative endeavors, but there might be some more personal stuff too. Stick around. Let's see what I do.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Reinventions

Wow....I can't believe it's been nearly a year since I last wrote. I mean, I knew it had been a long time....

But, do you smell that? Take a deep breath. Let it fill your being. It's change. Change is in the air, and that means it's time for reinvention.

I turned 42 a few days ago. My daughter is heading to college in less than a week. My son starts high school next week. My life is about to change a lot. That makes this the perfect time to reexamine my life and what I want from it. Who am I? (A creative being who wants to spend all of her time making things.) What do I want to be when I grow up? (Well, I don't want to grow up....and I'm not sure what I want to be, but I don't see myself staying where I am forever.) What do I want out of life? (Happiness, joy, surprise, wonder, a little bit of comfort, love.) How do I get that? (By working toward it every day.) But how?

That's the big question, isn't it? HOW?

About a month ago, I started a pretty amazing journey toward self-discovery, self-acceptance, and self-love. I was feeling down a lot. I was so overwhelmed with this feeling of inadequacy and a lack of desire to really DO anything. I felt like there was an enormous amount of negativity coming at me from every direction.....so many words and so much energy that wasn't positive. And it reflected in me. I was wearing a lot of black, not making a lot of effort to look nice, and not really caring about any of it. I wasn't knitting or really creating at all. I'd come home from work, put in my earbuds to listen to an audiobook and play Yahtzee with Buddies or puzzle games on my iPhone or iPad. It wasn't good. (Note: I'm not saying these are bad things to do. They just weren't good FOR ME.)

So, a month or so ago, I decided I needed to do something to get myself out of this funk. I went with a bit of advice from Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. In her book, she says that you need to be attractive for creativity. You can't lay around in pajamas you've had on for 3 days and hair that hasn't been washed in longer and expect the magic to come. You have to make an effort.

I remembered seeing a link to something called Dressing Your Truth on Pinterest. So, I went digging. Turns out I pinned that link more than a year ago. LOL! I read more about it and thought, "Well, this sounds like fun, so I'll just do it and see where it goes." (Please know that this is not a commercial for DYT. I'm just sharing my experience.)

I started watching the Energy Profiling videos and knew right away that I'm a Type 1. I mean, it's not even possible I could be anything else. It describes everything about me when I'm not trying to be someone I'm not: optimistic, happy, bright, bubbly, positive, expressive, outgoing, youthful. Even so, I watched the rest of the videos.... I felt a slight connection with all of the Types, but I'm so obviously a Type 1. Then I read Dressing Your Truth; Discover Your Type of Beauty by Carol Tuttle (creator of DYT).  Yep! Definitely a Type 1.

Then, I ponied up and bought the DYT course. (I'm going to tell you about it, but this isn't really the important part of what's happening in my life...it just supports it.)  I wasn't thrilled with the color pallet for a Type 1. Bright, sunshiny yellow is the signature color....I had literally never worn yellow in my life because I had been told it would be a terrible color for me. Tints were the name of the game (which means any pure color that has had white added to it). I always thought I preferred rich, deep, dark colors. Then I started cleaning out my closet. Ruthlessly.

Here's the before:



Really awful, right? So many clothes, many which weren't being worn ever. What a mess. (Also, yes, I realize I'm blessed with a giant walk-in closet. In this picture, you are seeing a bit less than half of it. Hubby uses the other half.)

Here are the after pics:
 

































Pretty amazing, right? (I need to recover my chair with a Type 1 fabric...) And there is NO BLACK. (Items that look black in the picture are actually either navy blue or dark chocolate brown.)

Anyway, I was really really ruthless. I took out 3 trash bags full of clothes for Goodwill, along with several pairs of shoes. I will admit that I kept a laundry basket of clothes I wasn't quite ready to part with yet...but it's now been a couple of weeks, and I don't miss those clothes at all. They will likely be on their way out of the house soon. (If you've done DYT and you are a Type 4 who wears a 14/16 top and 18/20 bottom, I probably have some great black stuff for you.)

After cleaning out my closet, I went shopping. End of season clearance is the bomb. I had so much fun!! I don't remember ever having this much fun shopping for clothes! I was able to quickly pick things that followed the Type 1 guidelines. And guess what! They all looked great on me!! I even tried on YELLOW and LOVED IT!!!  

Here's the really amazing thing: DYT has a "5 compliment guarantee." They promise that you will receive at least 5 compliments in the first 30 days of dressing your truth. I had that many on the first day. Seriously. And even the way complete strangers responded to me changed (possibly because my way of responding to them changed).  I don't even know how to describe how wonderful it was/is.  I smile at people, and they smile back. I feel like before, I would smile but no one would respond, and I was just invisible. But maybe it's hard not to smile back at someone who is wearing a bright, sunshiny yellow blouse and turquoise jewelry. :) 

So, while changing the way I dress and present myself to the world physically was a wonderful and much-needed step in my life, it was just the tip of the iceberg. I've been immersing myself in the Living Your Truth way of living. I'm currently trying to figure out my secondary Energy Type. I thought it was Type 4, but I'm not so sure.... But, I'm also learning more about my dominant Type 1 Energy. I'm learning that so much of what I've seen as my weaknesses are really my strengths. Yes, I'm optimistic and maybe a little naively so, but I bring hope and joy. Yes, I'm chatty and bubbly, but I bring people together and try to include everyone. I look in the mirror now and I see beauty and light and joy, not flaws that I used to see. I literally look in the mirror and see hearts and stars and circles in my features and think, "Wow! I am beautiful!" It's a really nice change.

My husband (in classic Type 2 fashion) didn't really say anything until I said, "So, you may have noticed that I've been dressing differently." Then he opened up and said that yes, he'd noticed and that he'd also noticed that I seem more present than I have in a while. I told him I was tired of looking and feeling like a schlump. He said, "Well, first, you never looked like a schlump." Bless his heart. I think that's what we call unconditional love. Why don't we love ourselves unconditionally? Why is that so hard?? I believe that by living my truth, I'm finally figuring out how to give myself some of that good stuff!



That's probably the last time you'll hear me rave about DYT. Henceforth, you get to witness my reinvention. Don't worry, there will still be knitting and sewing....but I might add some other things as inspiration strikes. I'm becoming more confident every day. Stay tuned!!!






Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Catching up and Planning

Howdy, y'all!!

Seriously, where did that come from? I guess I'm just so happy to be blogging again, I couldn't help but let a little country girl exclamation escape.

2015 has been C.R.A.Z.Y. Work has been super busy, kids have been doing all kinds of stuff, hubby and I have been trying (pretty successfully) to do more things we enjoy together (like going to concerts!). Life has kind of gotten in the way of the blog. And that's okay!

But, through it all, I was definitely still knitting. During the winter, I couldn't get enough of Lea Viktoria's designs that feature fun directional knitting using short rows. Below, you'll see
Steilk├╝ste cowl,Waterkant socks, and the Strandwanderer scarf.  Yes, I knit the socks twice (once as the pattern is written and once toe-up). This technique is so fun, I couldn't stop doing it!



I also may have become a little obsessed with the Polos Headband, which appeared in the 2014 issue of KnitScene Accessories.  It's a perfect accessory for covering up those nasty roots when you desperately need a dye job! It's also darn cute.


I've also knit or finished a fair number of shawls and scarves this year. From the top, Diamenten (which I actually finished, even though this is an in-progress photo), Tibetan Clouds, Endsleigh, Sprig of Hope and Tubularity. I actually started several more than this, but these are the ones that I've actually finished this year.


So, yeah, I've been knitting a lot.

Right now, I'm planning travel knitting. We're going on another Disney Cruise in October. I can't even tell you how excited I am! The trip is less than 2 months away, and I am beginning to plan the knitting I will take along. It's a 7-night eastern Caribbean itinerary. 2 days at sea, 1 day in St. Maarten, 1 day in St. Thomas/St. John, another day at sea, then a day at Castaway Cay. We have port adventures (shore excursions) planned for port days, so I don't envision getting much knitting in on those days. BUT, the days at sea!!  Three days of relaxing, knitting, and reading. Maybe catching a movie or two at the on-board theater. Absolute heaven!

So, what kind of knitting do you take with you when you travel? I think I'll definitely need a mindless project for knitting during movies and stage shows. Something I don't have to look at.... On our last cruise, my mindless project was a moebius scarf. It was perfect, but I want something different this time.  I also want a more complicated project--like a lace shawl or fancy socks or something like that--for times when I want to be challenged. And, of course, I'll need in-between projects, right? Like some basic socks to put in my bag when we are on our port adventures because you never know when you'll have to wait on something.... Is it weird that I'm thinking more about my travel knitting than I am about what clothes I'll pack?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Gifts: how to get what you want

Yeah, I know that title sounds really selfish. But, let's face it, knitters are super generous this time of year. We love knitting for the people we love. We spend more money on yarn to make gifts than we would spend on just purchasing a gift at a store.  On top of that, we spend tons of time and energy making the gift. Every knitting thing we give away takes a little piece of our heart with it.

So, here's how you help those who love you to get you something you love.

My kids and hubby know I really like yarn, but they really don't know anything about yarn. Fortunately, River Knits allows people to put together a wish list on a little note card.

This is great! However, it still requires my socially anxious husband (bless his heart) to interact with people. So, I decided to make it really easy for him this year.

One day, I went into River Knits and just started snapping pictures of the stuff I like. Then, I took those pictures and used Insta Picframes to create collages and add text. Yeah, I even played around with the colors and fonts and stuff. Like this:



I even did this:

See the "NO" on top of the one little cubbie there in the bottom left corner. There's nothing wrong with that yarn, I just don't enjoy it as much as the others.

If I had taken more time, I would have put together a little map of the shop to show exactly where everything could be found. But, I didn't have time, so he still had to experience a little human interaction.

I know this looks really...um.....presumptuous? Entitled? Demanding?  But, hubby said he actually really appreciated it. His reasoning: "If my wish list involved a vacuum tube store, you'd be just as clueless as I am walking into the yarn shop." Truth. Although, honestly, I don't think pictures would even help me in a vacuum tube store. They all look like weird lightbulbs to me.

Please also note that I have absolutely no expectation to receive all of these things. I just like to give him a lot of variety to choose from.

On that note, Happy Holidays to all of you wonderful fibery folks out there! May your stockings be filled with everything you need to knit your next fabulous project!




Thursday, November 13, 2014

Getting there...

I'm still way ahead of schedule--just over 8 days at this point. I also surpassed the 50,000 stitch mark yesterday. I've completely 53,008 sts, which is 68.82% of the total. Not too shabby!  No picture today. It just looks like a bigger pile of yarn. I'm still hoping to be able to start the edging by the end of the week--which is tomorrow. I completed 5 rows this morning, and have 9 more rows to go before starting the edging. Maybe I'll get an edging repeat done before the end of the day tomorrow. If not, definitely Saturday.