Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Learning How To Knit Again

Y'ALL, I got the grant!!

My first grant-writing experience, and I got it! In a previous post, I detailed my journey in pursuing the grant and I'm pleased to inform you that my hard work paid off, and I danced alll the way back from my mailbox when I got the news. And I've got a looong driveway! You know, I had almost given up on receiving anything on my first try. This whole art career thing is full of rejections, and it makes things easier if you keep your expectations low. I'm not saying to always view the glass half-empty, but it helps to keep reality at hand in an attempt to protect your self-esteem. 

SO, I wrote the grant to ask for funds to buy a knitting machine. And now that I have one, I have to prove that it will further my career in the next year. In fact, that is part of the process. January 2016, I will be submitting a final review of how I spent my grant money and how it helped me. Not only is it a way to hold yourself accountable with others but a supreme kick-in-my-butt to learn how to use this machine as quickly as I can.

Above are some of my first test knittings, using the 2-color stranded pattern function on my machine. I designed the single-motif and repeat patterns in my computer, manually input them into the machine's primitive, electronic system, and then you're ready to knit!

My first time repeating a single motif -- toothbrushes, of course :)

My intimation quickly dissipated as I started working my way through the manual. I forget that I am capable at understanding basic machinery -- things like oiling generously and looking closely at what's moving where. With enough patience, you remind yourself that it's simple mechanics.

The machine, in a way, works backwards. You see the purl-side (or wrong side) from where you are sitting and you have to go around to the other side to see exactly what you are doing, hence the view in the picture above. 

It's hard to take good pictures of the machine but mine has found a cozy nook bumped up next to the record player. Over this past weekend, I executed my first real project with the machine. That meant using nice, wool yarn that I paid money for. Needless to say I was a little uptight at first but there's no better way to learn than to throw yourself in the ring. I decided to start with an intarsia design because I have a death wish and why would I start easy? I mean I already bought the finest gauge machine there is (aka- smallest, hardest-to-see, general feeling like your fingers are way too big when attempting to fix any mistakes, etc) so might as well add a dozen balls of yarn into the mix. 

DISCAIMER: For anyone who thinks that buying a knitting machine is cheating, making things easy or automatic in any way, I'd like to debunk your assumptions right now. 

Hand-knitting is WAY easier than this!! You can control everything much better since it is all in your hands or lap. With this machine you have up to 200 needles that you need to keep an eye on and god help you if you lose a stitch (or worse a dozen stitches),  those babies run faster than you can blink. Just because it says this machine is electronic doesn't mean that it's automatic. You push that carriage back and forth for every row of knitting. In fact, you don't ever plug it in unless you're wanting to use the electronic pattern functions, and in that case, all the machine is doing is moving your needles into the correct position for you. You're still pushing that carriage.

What the machine does well is allow you to knit larger, faster. It really feels much more like working on a loom rather than the hand-knitting I'm accustomed to. Especially doing intarsia color-work, it reminds me of tapestry weaving -- that's where you lay the yarn by hand into each needle, depending on what color goes where, and then push the carriage across, controlling the tension of each yarn ball with your free hand -- The machine is more physically enduring than I expected. The carriage requires more force to run across the bed of needles when doing intarsia. Also my tension was pretty tight which is something I need to troubleshoot. That requires the machine to work even harder.

And of course I was knitting for hours on end because I was so excited about it all. Doing any physical activity for 6 hours will leave something in your body aching.

 So what do you think?! It was fun not getting a chance to really see the work until I took it off the needles. It turned out even better than I imagined! There's a fair share of mistakes in there, but I left them in, allowing them to be badges of my learning process. Also probably didn't know how to fix them anyways, hehe. The toothbrushes are nothing new for me but it was smart to start with a design I was familiar with, that way I could focus more on the learning aspect.

This piece ended up around 21" x 18". I used all but 4 needles on the bed. That means that this is about the widest I can go. If my tension was looser it could be a little wider. I'm surprised because when I decided I wanted to scale up, I was imagining a lot larger than this, and now I'm seeing the limitations of the machine. I think this means I'm going to need to work in sections and seam edges together to get the size I'm after.

Look at all those tiny stitches! By the time I cast off, my row counter was at 270. I had so much fun, I can't wait to start my next project.

Also this past month, I've been working on a new batch of "smalls". Mostly, tiny houses but also have some lil' toothbrushes. 

I'm hoping to put a series of pieces up for sale online in the near future. The good and bad of this idea is that I'm selling these little houses to my friends and neighbors faster than I can make them! Facebook has been a great platform where people have been reaching out to me about purchasing pieces (you can find me here). If you are ever interested in buying any of my work PLEASE let me know! We can work something out. I'm always open to trades and price negotiations. I need people to buy my work so it has a place to hang and I can continue making more. My house is too small to hang it all!

Quonset hut!! Wish I had one of these in real life.

SIDE NOTE: My beautiful, little niece turned 2 this past month and I can't fight the desire to make her beautiful things. This year I made her a lovely, knitted bunny that is the perfect snuggle size. I hope it brings her happiness!
Free knitting pattern for this bunny available here.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What I've Learned Since Last Year

My first art piece of 2015 -- a beaded portrait of Karen O (lead singer of Yeah Yeah Yeahs) titled They Don't Love You Like I Love You, part of a series I'm calling IDOL EYES.


What haven't I learned since last year?
2014 was a big year for me. I decided to prioritize my art career and it took me to some great places -- the most thrilling being that, for the first time in my life, I felt like I found a path in the right direction. I've got focus, motivation, excitement for what I am doing and deep down it feels right.

Can I get a  HELL YES  for that??!

As much as I avoid lingering in the past, I have found that a little self-reflection on where I used to be can be a great indicator on how far I've come. If you're familiar with me or this blog, you get the idea that I like to dabble in a variety of crafts and mediums. I've put on a lot of different shoes in my short adult life and a lot of them have already been tossed off or buried at this point. The ONE THING that I have been very dedicated to is journaling. I've been consistent with my writing since I graduated college in '08 and started this journey into figuring out a career path. In fact, my journal has been a continuing source of inspiration for my art -- it's where I tend to find the fragments of words and thoughts that turn into artworks. 

One rando thing I started doing, would be to open up my journal to today's date last year or years prior and see what I was doing then. (It's amazing the things we forget!) What I discovered in this little game is how powerfully it has shown me just how far I have come. It's easy to get wrapped up in your plans for today, this month, this year, and forget how hard you work just to simply be where you are today. There's an entry in 2009 where I announce to myself that I want to be a textile artist. I say I don't know what that looks like or what kind of work I want to make, I just know that that's the title I want. I was blown away when I saw that because  1). I had no memory of wishing for that and 2). I'm there now. That dream I wished for came true. Or maybe more like, I made it happen. It gets me thinking about what I can wish for today that consciously or subconsciously I can work towards in the years to come. Sometimes I get wrapped up in developing a business plan with clearly-stated goals (not easy) but sometimes if you take the first few steps, you can be led to beautiful possibilities that your mind hadn't even thought to go.

Moral I'm getting from all this? 

I should do now, worry less about defining the big picture, trust the process, appreciate how far I've come and look forward to the open doors that I didn't see coming.

Watch Him As He Goes (Dave Grohl), 2008. Back in my Foo Fighters phase (hey, can't say no to a good beard!) 

My year started out with one of those unknown doors swinging in my direction. When I built my website, I put all work I had on there that reflected my self-appointed title of textile artist. Not much at the time, but I did have these beaded portraits that I made in school and had always enjoyed. I hadn't thought much about getting back into beading, it was another one of those crafts that I had dabbled in at one point in my life and then hadn't picked back up. 

I Would Die 4 U (Prince), 2013. Bow down to him, children! (Still in my Prince phase :)

Then here comes the door a-swinging...

Remember how I made that piece for a poster competition? Welllll, one of the reasons I wanted to enter something was because the competition was being hosted by the best gallery in Greensboro, and probably one of the best in North Carolina. And I thought maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea to put my name in front of their faces. Really, I was going for the prize money but there was also a little voice in the back of my head that told me this was a good move. And I was right. The fabulous lady who runs the shop in front of the gallery saw my knitted piece, sought out my website, and found my beaded portraits. Turns out that Greenhill Gallery had an upcoming self-portrait exhibit and she thought these pieces would be perfect for the shop at that time.  !!!!!!!!!  

Those eyes, Frida! 

We met, she provided me with wonderful words of encouragement and gave me the idea to build shadow boxes for these lil' felt pieces, along with giving me motivation to build them, a place to hang them, and (painful but oh so helpful) a deadline. Like a 2-week one!! I also knew I needed to make one new beaded piece to give myself a good number. 3 small ones and 1 larger one. Frida actually was sewn to a dress for my senior fashion collection and I made the decision to cut her from the cloth. The dress proved to be impossible to hang in an art setting and it was so small and it had sat in a trunk for years collecting weird smells. She needed a new life.

 So this all added to the super speed of last month but I couldn't be happier with how these turned out. Thankfully, Adam was willing to build me some last minute frames and I slowly got better with sanding and finishing. Seriously, how are you supposed to get a good lacquer finish out of a spray can in 35 degree weather?? I scraped by.

OBSESSED with how this matte black turned out behind Frida. We added a block behind the felt to give them a floating look and have them hanging from a nail. That way they can still be removed and held. I couldn't bear the idea of making fiber art that can't be touched. And I winced every time someone mentioned velcro.

After all the hustle and bustle of getting these finished, I realized that I was fulfilling another unspoken dream: to get a chance to show at Greenhill.  Well, I really want to get in the gallery but the shop is still a very respectful place to be, and now it's only a matter of time before I'm in the big room :) Mind you, I wasn't just blowing on dandelions and sitting on my butt, I've worked consistently to put myself in the way of influential people and places. What I'm saying is, I think it's okay to not have supremely-defined goals but if you put yourself out there in ways, dreams can come to you. Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes..

"The harder I work, the better luck I have."

 SIDE NOTE: I jumped for joy when I found this single, wild daffodil blooming in the wreckage of what used to be my wooded backyard. I thought that their great shoveling machines would've all but destroyed their vast rooted network. They used to bloom all over the place. I know that this is a good sign for the coming year and all that was destroyed was not totally lost.
I can't wait for spring.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Super Speed

Finished up a commissioned watercolor painting while being responsible and watching Obama's address.

This year has started off behind the wheel of a Maserati pummeling down the road of expanding opportunities and diminishing down-time. My 2014 year-in-reflection blog post has been frugally attempted in between mouth-fulls of oatmeal while shoving extra pairs of socks on my feet on my way out the door.

The MOST EXCITING DECISION I've made for myself and my art career this year is to virtually remove work-for-hire from my plate. With the addition of an ideal part-time job, I've got enough supplemental income (for now) to turn down the projects I don't really want to do. Thus, creating even more space for me to make the things my creativity leads me to. Ironically, it can be hard for me to say "no" to people when they come to me for help. I want to help and share the skills I have but I need to devote more time to my own ideas. They deserve a whole-hearted try. And so I'm learning how to say "no"!

Having THAT said, there are clients and projects I have already committed to, coming into this year, that I can't bail on. Can you guess my strategy for January? Get all of the projects done as soon as possible! THEN I can go back to my own rainbows. So that's what I've been up to.

Here's where I ended 2014: Melina Coogan, a most distinguished blogger and fiancĂ© to one of my BFFs, approached me for my very first knitted art commission (these are the commissions I wanna take!) to be a most-excellent Christmas gift for aforementioned BFF. I was THRILLED. She gave me full artistic license and I hope I didn't disappoint. This phrase has been rattling through my head for years after seeing it on a shirt from one of my quilt commissions baaack in the day. I just thought it was so eloquent and meaningful on multiple levels. When I was brainstorming ideas for this project, I started reading through Melina's blog and I knew this mantra would be great for her and David to reflect on each day. Maybe just the boost they needs that can help up hold their heads up a little higher for the day ahead. 

 David has always championed my artistic endeavors and for years has hoped to own one of my pieces. I don't think Melina knew that! It became a gift from both of us to brighten up his new home.


 Attempted our first juice cleanse at the start of the year. It was excellent excepting the cost of produce mid-Winter and the sheer frigidness of only drinking cold liquids. We'd like our second-go at it when the weather warms up. On a positive note, I now drink coffee black (no more cream and sugar) and I don't get migraine-ish headaches when I go longer than 3 hours without eating!

Last pair of commissioned jeans. I don't want to stop making jeans but might be more selective about who I make them for. Gravy being unhelpful, per usual.

 Super super exciting project in the works involving some old beading projects and a stellar art gallery!! Can't wait to share sooooon!

So maybe Adam and I just aren't in the right place to get a dog of our own. Whether that means blaming our lack of a fence or just our lack of desire for more responsibility, we can't say. But we sure do love playing with our friends' dogs!! Like we get way too excited about it. Maybe we're just meant to be a stellar Aunt and Uncle. Please come visit us out here in the beautiful, piedmont countryside and always bring your dog!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Conscious Thinking // Working on my Hippie

Have you ever had one of those moments where a thought pops into your head, then everything around you starts to fit into the theme of that thought, and you find yourself swept away into a ball of synergistic energy when your thought turns into an idea which turns into a game plan that turns into an action?

You follow me? You know what I'm talking about!

I had that happen to me this week, or has it been a month? It started with a sudden sinking feeling when I realized that I needed to make more money to sustain myself, and decided after 2 years of attempting to be a full-time freelancer, to look for a job. Something part-time, just to supplement the freelance work I've been fortunate enough to get. The universe shone their blessings on me that day because, literally, 30 seconds on Craigslist produced exactly what I was looking for. Gaia Conceptions, a business that I have greatly admired (and spoken-of on this blog here) was looking for a seamstress for 2 days-a-week. PERFECT! I started work the next Monday.

Check out my next desk!! Window and all. 

Now here's where the thought started. 

One of the reasons that I was really interested in working with Gaia Conceptions is their incredibly sustainable business practices, in regards to the environment. All the fabrics for their garments are organic and consciously manufactured, dyed in the studio using natural or low-impact dyes, and made-to-order, eliminating unwanted stock. With an emphasis on quality craftsmanship and made-in-America, Andrea basically built the business that I would want to build. It's still fashion, we're not saving lives here, but she's thinking responsibly about every aspect of doing what she loves doing, designing and making clothes. She's not compromising.

I feel like as I get older, I slowly become aware of ways I can apply my morals into every action I take. I think the Slow Food Movement has been great to bring awareness to food choices we make but we need to start bringing awareness to all aspects of our lives. Every thing we put on our body, in our mouths, in our environments, and what we choose to spend our money on. 

Some small knittings that are finally getting framed this week. I start by stapling them to plywood painted in a complimentary color. I learned the hard way that I don't like seeing plywood through my knittings, painting them first looks so much better!

SO, working at Gaia gets me thinking about the materials I use in my art and where they come from. And, as crunchy as I am already, I hate to admit that I haven't considered it much. My focus is color then price, and where the yarn comes from or who's making it hadn't even been a thought in my mind. God.....I'm a monster!! Not to mention, the tools I use. I do gather the wood I use for my frames in the off-cut bin at work (aka Skram Furniture), so that's good, but the plywood is usually Home Depot new. How do I rectify this situation??


-- listening to this podcast ----> Woolful episode 1  (if you are interested in brevity or not a total fiber nerd, I'd say pass on listening to this)

...which introduced me to...

-- Ton Of Wool, a new company based out of Australia that is providing to the commercial market an ethically and sustainably produced yarn.

They only sell their yarn in the natural color of the sheep's hair (white, grey, black) so this got me thinking about the possibility of buying their yarn and dying it myself. This would change my color palette significantly. I would say that a signature of my work is bright color and there's limitations if you're not using powerful chemicals or synthetic fibers. Am I willing to make that change? Well, if you think about all aspects of the modern American life, there's very little of our habits that are ultimately sustainable. That means to create real change, we have to either use our amazing brains to figure out how to have it all in a sustainable way, or learn to reduce. Live with less. There's no time like the present for me to start to adapt more environmental practices into my art and, who knows, maybe it could push to an even cooler place with my work. The greatest place I could find would be to create the product I want and maintain the sustainable habits. No compromises. But, I'll never know until I start.

The studio table this week. My figure skating poster competition entry got mounted (left) and my first art commission in progress (right). Can't wait to share the finished project soon! I do love those bright colors...

The second episode of Woolful brought even more ideas for converting to a sustainable art practice. In this podcast, Ashley discusses methods for recycling yarn from unwanted garments with Jerome Sevilla, aka Grid Junky. What a fabulous idea!! I love recycling!! I'm totally in love with this idea. There's a possibility here to find more color options outside of what is dyeable in the domestic studio if you're good for the hunt. I'm certainly willing to try.

I was so amused by this giant mall in town (Greensboro), titled Destiny, accompanied by an empty parking lot. What is this? I almost don't want to know. I love living in the weirdness of a run-down city, lacking in revitalization. They just have so much character.

So what's your destiny?

Are you hoping it will find you or are you willing to cultivate it? To mold it into exactly the person that you want to be. I want my destiny to be an environmentally-conscious one, a destiny that can fulfill my creative dreams and stand by my ethical morals, and I'm starting now to make that happen. And maybe it will lead me to something that I never even knew was possible. I can't wait to find out.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Art as Therapy

This past month has put me through the ringer in ways that have led me to feel very out-of-control of my own life. The worst kind of unhinged that I just can't handle. The first being total annihilation of my backyard. Where once there was secluded woods, filled with wild daffodils and fox families, now sits a most aesthetically-jarring solar panel farm.  You can find a good before shot here.

That means there's been loud noises, construction, and workers crawling all over since the end of August and, even though the work seems to be finished, they have yet to completely depart.

It's led to me avoiding my studio in favor of hiding in my house, and become a general distraction to all else.

On the plus side, it did inspire this art piece. I made it before construction started as a way for me to face the inevitable and force acceptance. The worst part of all of it is, when things happen so close to you, you feel like there may be some way to have some power over it, and when you can't change it or prevent it, you partially blame yourself for not trying harder. And the fact that I'm only renting really provided a feeling of helplessness.


- chain myself to trees (obviously)
- pour malicious ingredients into the gas tanks of their construction equipment
- go over to their office (hideous trailer parked in front yard) and scream every evil comment I know
- slash tires
- bitch to my landlady incessantly (actually did that) truth is, I think she lost her control over the project as well, at least she acted like that was the case

And moving still is an option, even though at one point we seriously were considering buying the house. For now, we're still here. I put a decent chunk of money into building out my home studio and I'm just not ready to walk away from that investment yet. BUT I digress.

The greatest ending, at least the one I'd like to focus on, is that the art piece (filled with all my hatred and frustration) was donated to the Carrack's annual fundraiser and this amazing guy bought it. He and his family will enjoy it for what it is and not the negative feelings I've attached to it. I can't help but think that this is a good ending to my self-applied therapy session.

OK so that's just the first part...

Several different types of meltdowns have followed as a result of the backyard changes. Second being the crisis over what I call "home". Suddenly this house that I had described regularly as being "magical" became a place of hostility. The desire to own a home prioritized itself in my thoughts, and I used the fuel to work on building my "dream home". Therapy Session Round 2.

 The Tiny House series started with the Love Signs show, all original 5 sold, which obviously meant that I should make more! So now became the pertinent time to continue with them. As you can see, I've been having fun getting creative with my architecture.

The final stressor, that I'm most currently in the process of coping with, is feelings of general offense towards modern society. I abhor construction, I feel like everyone's priorities conflict with my own, the world is backwards, and we're destroying the earth, and no one is smart enough to make a change because everyone only cares about money, and it all compounds into a deep hopelessness towards mankind and the world around me. How did I get here? It hurts so bad, how do I come out of this hole?

For starters, I'm working on fixing my thought patterns to at least keep from destroying myself but I don't know yet how successful I will be. It looks like I need to think of a new art project.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Looking Ahead (aka Grant-writing)

The continuing saga entitled my art career has once again found its heroine entering new territory: grant-writing
also know as,
There's certain artists out there that, with great success, follow a path of residencies, competitions and grants. This means countless hours devoted to research, writing and filling out applications. I've been of the belief that if you spend all your time pursuing these opportunities, you find yourself making less art and more persuasive essays. Why would I want to waste my time?

BUT, like all good ideas, this Regional Artist Grant for Guilford County (+ 5 neighboring counties) was placed in my inbox. All the details presented at just the right time and a far-enough-away deadline for me to think "I could do this". But grant-writing isn't me, right?

Then my next push from the universe: I went to a fundraising gala where a one-hour grant writing session, with a seasoned vet in the field, was up for auction. I took it as a sign, knowing how little I knew about grant-writing and being smart enough to see a chance to get valuable help. I made sure I won it, and I'm awfully glad I did. Sometimes, my biggest hurdle can be simply understanding the prompt. This grant proposal was no exception. The prompt was simple really; it asked "What do you want to do next year with your art?"

What am I doing? Where do I want to go?

I was stumped. I have worked so hard to get where I am this year, I hadn't even begun to think about plans for next year. I thought so hard about it I swear my head hurt for a week. I was awash in emotional instability, lost at sea on the 20-something raft of life that I had fooled myself into thinking was in the right direction. Well, not even the right direction, any direction really. I found that I didn't didn't have any pie-in-the-sky dreams for my art or art career. How can I follow a direction if I don't even have a goal? More instability, more drifting. 

With the help of grant-queen Margaret, I was able to eventually wrap my brain around what was being asked of me. We improvised our one-hour into a series of emails where I would throw all my ideas at her (I mean all of them) and she gently nudged me in the right direction. I really did a lot of soul-searching over the month leading up to the deadline, including some intensive brain-storming sessions with my bff, where we wrote down as many big dreams as we could think of in 10 minutes. And then organized them into groups and talked about it.  Lots of talking.

In the end, I went for something clear and definable, easily monetized into their mandatory budget proposal and simple to write about its benefits: I asked for funds to purchase a knitting machine. It was an idea I hadn't given more than a passing fancy but, as I reflected on my art, I realized how much I desired to scale up my work and how this machine would allow me to do it. The real reason I hadn't looked into buying a machine before was because I was WHOLLY INTIMIDATED. Where do I buy a machine? Which one do I buy? How do I learn how to use it? What if I can't figure it out and I wasted all this time and money?? But then, there was the magic of the grant. If I sit down and actually do research on them -- persuade others into why this would be great for me -- then maybe I'll gain some more confidence. AND if they actually give me the money, then I HAVE TO figure it out!

Along with working with Margaret and getting my friends' advice, I reached out to Instagram friends who I knew owned knitting machines and asked for their input. 
----(Lemme tell you, I have been blown away with the network of artists and crafters I've met through Instagram! It's been quite the valuable tool for advancing my art career)----
 Of course, they were great help and eventually led me to learning about a local machine knitters guild in my area. With fabulous luck, they were meeting the next day and 2 days before my grant was due. THAT was the ticket! They sat down with me and literally walked me through my budget proposal, telling me exactly what I needed to buy and how much it would cost. They even offered to help me shop. Not to mention, they will be a valuable support system once I actually get a machine and need to learn. That's right, now that I've done all the research, I have to get a machine, whether or not this grant comes through. I'll figure it out.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON GRANT-WRITING: I have to say, I think I might be a big fan of grants now. You still have to accept the fact that you have no control over how many other people with great ideas apply, who the judges are, and what their personal tastes may be. But I've already gained so much just in the process of writing it. It forced me to think ahead and dream big. I'm thinking that I should apply for a grant every year, simply for those benefits. It's so amazing that we have programs in place specifically for encouraging artists to keep doing what they're doing, why not try your luck at some of that funding. Even if you don't get it, you'll be amazed at where it can take you.

What are you doing next year?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Alex's Quilt

Alex's Quilt
85" x 70"

It's been long overdue that I share these pictures of my last quilt commission. Alex was a vibrant young boy who died before his time from bone cancer. His family gave me the responsibility of honoring their son by repurposing his clothing into a quilt for his bed. As difficult as this sounds, I have always been thrilled to take on projects like this. To me, this is what quilt-making is all about and I love the fact that I can help people create new from the old, beauty from pain. 

Here's Alex in his element, playing sports! This isn't the first time I have seen this shirt, I also made a quilt for his aunt, out of her boys' clothing, and we featured Alex there as well. Same shirts have popped up in multiple projects I've done over the years. Because I get all my business through word-of-mouth, it means that clients recommend me to their friends and family and I like getting a chance to learn their overlapping stories.

For starters, I wanted to infuse as much happiness into the project as I could. That's where the idea for the sun came in. I also had a very strict palette of red, white, blue, and gray that I couldn't help, so I knew I wanted to bring in a third color, and you can't go wrong with primaries. Oh, and one neon green was I going to balance that? The best way I found to organize the color of his shirts was to group all the red around the middle, buffer the blue with the white and grey in between and go darker to black as I worked my way out. Then my solution for the green was to make sure there was a little pop in each section. This way it wouldn't look so out of place to have just the one green shirt. In the end, I love all the green everywhere. Something that came from constraints that I would've never done otherwise. Love when that happens.

When I made my preliminary sketches for this quilt top, I played with the idea of some kind of animal anchoring the middle. When I approached Alex's mother with the idea, she brought me to Alex's memorial garden out back - full of turtles. Apparently, he loved turtles and it became a symbol for his memory. I was thrilled to learn this because I love turtles too, so there was my next idea. I documented the making of the turtle here, including the zippered pouch along the bottom of his shell. 

This was definitely my most ambitious t-shirt quilt to date. Crazy quilting with stretch knits?? I utilized freezer paper to help me construct each wedge between the sun's rays. And I made a tape layout of the entire quilt on the floor before I even started, and I barely had a floor big enough in my house to amply design this piece. See proof below.

I realized that my new studio is just not set up for making quilts anymore. In my last space, I had 2 large design walls that were fabulous! But when I tried to work on projects other than quilts (ie-sewing clothes) I found it much more difficult. My passion for making quilts had been waining and I was craving sewing projects that I could turn around faster. Not to mention, in the 4-years that I had been making quilts-for-hire, I had yet to really make enough money to call it a sustainable business practice. Let's be honest, it is a labor-of-love business that I was falling out of love with. And in the months since I finished this quilt, I have discovered the lightness of living without a long-term project in my life. As painful as it can be to turn your back on something you have loved so deeply, it's important to allow yourself to change, and reassess your true feelings in the now. Especially for an artist. To be able to find inspiration, get an idea, and act on it promptly is a dream I always lust after. For now, this is my last quilt. On to new, exciting adventures!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Basketball Moons

A new piece I zipped through this past week.  "Basketball Moons"
I've always loved drawing basketballs, their undulating design just appeals to me. Nothing to do with the actual sport, just the shape of the ball. But it's safe to assume that, growing up across the street from Duke, in the heart of ACC country, the game has gotten into my blood. I can never bring myself to touch the color baby blue (the signature color of UNC-Chape Hill), it just feels wrong!! 

I am so happy I finally managed to knit a b-ball. To be honest, I didn't even know what I meant when I decided to mix a ball with a moon. Their 2 shapes just fit well together -- moons being something that frequently appear in my work. After it was finished, and people started telling me they liked it, instead of "are you crazy?" I realized it made sense somehow. Those of us who base our lives around the cycle of basketball. The general acceptance of a society who treats "sports as life". Or maybe the way a game can push and pull us like the way the moon controls the tides.

I use the term "us" loosely cause you know I don't give a shit!

An inside shot of how I manage to pull back the ends of my knitting and get them to lie flat on the back of a frame. After this point, I glue a piece of fitted kraft paper to the back to make it look nice and clean. And sign the paper once more. This stitching may seem crazy tedious but I gain a lot of pleasure in doing it and it really doesn't take that much time.

I was inspired to knit up the basketballs after local Chapel Hill store, Thrill City, invited me to show some work on their Franklin Street walls. I went in and hung "Tig Ol' Bitties", surveyed their empty spots, and came back with "Dead, Dead, Dead" and the freshly-framed "Basketball Moons"

Their store is very sports-centered so, needless to say, you can see where the inspiration came from. Really thrilled to have some pieces out in the public and not shut up in my studio. Big thanks to the Thrill City guys for giving me a chance to get my art out to Chapel Hill! Just don't make we wear Carolina blue!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

I'm really excited to share that I will be teaching some classes this fall at the Sawtooth School for Visual Art in Winston-Salem, NC. This school is situated in the Arts Council building in the heart of downtown, full of inspiring art and crafts and some seriously lust-worth studio spaces. They have brought me in in an effort to revitalize their fiber programs, and I couldn't be more pumped to offer two new classes this fall:


Color Knitting Techniques will be a 4-part class and you KNOW I'm confident about teaching that. As for Wardrobe Rehab, this is a spin-off of one of my favorite classes that I have taught over the years, where I help people repair and alter their existing wardrobe, teaching fundamental skills that will allow people to do-for-themselves and use-it-up/wear-it-out instead of buy-trash-buy. It's also a great introduction to the sewing machine for those looking to build their confidence with this amazingly practical tool.

In preparation for my new class, I decided to turn towards my own wardrobe. I'm usually pretty good about doing a periodical purge, but lately I've been feeling my style start to change, and my closet has not been reflecting that. In the past, donated items meant things that didn't fit anymore. But now, I wanted to get rid of all the things that didn't represent the direction I want to be going in and really start to dress everyday in a style that inspires me!

The whole project started with me taking every lil' thing out of my lil' closet and piling them up in Adam's band room (hehe) I wanted to take my time really curating what I was going to put back in there so moving it all into a room that I could leave messy for a while was a great luxury. Then I started with the obvious, the pieces that I absolutely love and wear to death. They went right back in. Next were some pretty easy choices ready for the giveaway pile. Now what was left is all the hard stuff. Things that used to be my favorites, things that fit but aren't exactly the style I'm cultivating, treasured vintage pieces, and, of course, piles and piles of t-shirts.

I'm gonna be honest, this stuff sat around for a while.

Ugg, decisions! I knew that things needed to be tried on and examined: does it fit in a way that is flattering? Do I feel comfortable? Do I look the way I want to look in this? Do I have complimentary garments that can make an outfit?

Day by day I would find the time to try an article of clothing on and run it through the ringer. Second opinions helped a lot when I could get them ("you say my butt doesn't look good in this? Bye bye!") Soon I discovered a third pile of "needs-alterations/needs-repairs" that would become my launching pad for coming up with some great ideas to share with my class.

As soon as I get a chance to snap some photos, I will share what kind of updates I've made to my existing wardrobe! I'm having a lot of fun with this!!