Saturday, November 21, 2015

Fall Activities

Gravy once again finding my work table, and all the projects I'm currently working on, a pleasing place to nap.

Hey everybody! 

I have been up to a ton of stuff this fall and am very pleased to say that not much of it has been freelance work-for-hire crap. I am whittling it out of my life and it feels great! Still got a couple loose ends I have to finish up before I can state that I am completely free. And I'm serious when I say free. Doing work for others comes with a level of stress -- knowing that someone else is holding you to a deadline, the need to live up to others' expectations, etc -- and those things had a way of weighing heavily on one's shoulders. I think that's why school wasn't such a great fit for me. I work a lot better holding myself to deadlines rather than to be pressured by others, which I have recently realized about myself. AND it is a very crucial thing to have some insight on when you are attempting to work for yourself.

See how much the original lining had disintegrated?

I recently finished up a project that I was somewhat stressing about, so much so, that I put it away and promptly forgot about it (psst for a whole freaking year!). Ok, ok, lemme explain. It was for a friend, someone who had done favors for me in the past and I was wanting to do it for free for him. What happens when you lack financial compensation? You put it off.

Of course, that all seems so silly now because was it not nearly as difficult or time consuming as I had dreaded it to be ---- re-lining a leather jacket including all the pockets. It actually was kinda fun! Well, after the tedium of seam-ripping the whole thing, and trying to do a clean job of it so I could use the original pieces as guides to cut the new fabric.

And what I was dreading the most was if my sewing machine could handle all that leather. It worked so well it blew me away. I do have an industrial machine but I don't have a walking foot. Sweet relief! And I'm now thinking that I have some room to ask him for another favor... 

I met a herd of knitters in Greensboro, working on a large yarn-bomb intended to cover the whole Walker St bridge. They were very relieved when I showed up with my bulky hobby knit machine (did I mention someone gave me one? As in fo free??). I let them borrow it to help with the boring stuff. We met in the back of Shelf Life, a new, independent art supply store in town, and how great is the atmosphere? I just thought these pictures were fun and colorful.

I was able to donate some practice knits that I didn't want to throw away. Those green-and-white swatches forming the "H" were from when I was just learning how to use my fabulous standard gauge knit machine.

Speaking of knitting machines...

Did I tell y'all I got picked to be a pop-up artist-in-residence at the Greenhill Center?? 10 days in their ArtQuest space, to set up whatever work I wanted to do and to interact and engage with the kids and families that came through the space.

I attempted to try and get the kids to draw their own knitting designs on graph paper, with an emphasis on drawing houses, since I've been making a lot of houses this year. It failed miserably but I had a back-up plan consisting of using those pot holder loops to teach finger knitting and a bag-full of pom-pom makers. Isabella did draw her guinea pig and I was thrilled to use the machine to knit it for her.

So maybe I wasn't able to get the kids to directly interact with a project that I was working on, but I at least promoted the name of fiber arts. And who doesn't like pom-poms?? 
If you can see in the earlier picture of my knitting set-up, I had that bulky hobby machine out (bottom right) for anyone interested and during my time there I had 2 groups of kids that got really into knitting on the machine. As in, one group (consisting of 2 brothers and a grandpa) came back the next day just to work on the machine! It surprised me, I wasn't sure how they would take to it but the older brother especially (probably 9 or so) could use it with minimal help from me. And they were able to knit an entire scarf to take home with them!

At the end of my time, I had done more socializing, networking, and playing with the kids, rather than making any art. It still felt like a success though. It's always exciting to share activities with kids that engage them. As in...

 ...this one little girl that came to family night was finger-knitting, and I was basically putting the loops on her fingers for her. .. and doing the knitting part ... she was pretty much just holding her hand there. Then slowly she started taking over for me, one step at a time, to the point that she didn't need me anymore. And every time that she would finish a "row" of fingers, she would hold it up for me to see and just beam with joy and satisfaction. I got a lot of enjoyment out of watching her.

Family time out in the backyard.
This photograph is titled "How to keep the 2.5-yr old entertained and outta trouble". I am jealous of that full-split, Susan! Talk about open hips! She must be made of playdoh :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Don't. Give. Up.

Working for yourself can be a daunting excursion into a dark and unknown place. There are reasons to give up at every corner. I have been working for myself in some form or fashion for the last 6 years, that business has encompassed making t-shirt quilts, hand-tooling leather stools, developing prototypes for other peoples' ideas, custom clothing, trying to make and sell my own art (and don't even get me started on my attempt to get into the upholstery business) .... it's been a lot of eggs in a lot of baskets. And my brain and heart have likewise felt equally split. Some days are harder than others, and it's tough to keep the bad thoughts out...

...when you are reminded that doing what you love probably won't get you rich. Or even just financially comfortable.

...when you learn that your Affordable Health Care is going up another $100 because you have a job that doesn't come with benefits.

...when you pour your heart into your ideas and projects and some people just don't get it (especially if said people are your friends and family).

...when you tearfully search job listings on Craigslist in a fit of desperation.

...when your perceive others as having more success than you.

...when the uncertainty of your future bears down on you with the weight of the world.

All I know to do in these times is remind myself to just not give up. Not today, at least.

Don't give up.



Think about it. What else would you rather do with your time on earth? Work an unfulfilling job just for the financial security, always putting your dreams on the back burner.

But it would be so easy to give up...

Ok, ok we can't listen to that voice.

Ann's Top 5 Reasons NOT To Give Up

1) ...because there are too many things in the world I haven't done yet. And I want to make everything at least once (yes, one day I will make a bra!)

2) ...because I know I am capable of something great and not proving that to myself would be the biggest disappoint of my life.

3) ...because fear of failure is the dumbest reason EVER. It's the unknown, so why fear something that has not even been written yet?

4) ...because at the end of it all, money is not important. Study after study tells us that ultimately happiness does not come from our bank accounts (that is, once you're out of poverty. If you are reading this, then you're probably doing okay).

5) ...because I wouldn't want to be doing anything else.
Remember when you worked for other people and it felt like treading water? Like you were waiting for your life to start? Yeah, you don't want to go back there. You're going to figure out how to make this work, and it's going to happen!

And because there are cotton fields out there to sit in!