July 12, 2018

Powerful, Poderosa

You've probably had enough of me banging on about how much I love O-Wool, everything from the yarns, the humane and ecological sourcing practices, the ecological dyeing practices to the low-impact packaging and reusable, recyclable shipping materials. And I may have mentioned just once or twice that O-Wool is located practically in my back yard. Well. I had such a treat today. Jocelyn, the woman that is everything O-Wool, graciously allowed me to come to her office/warehouse to pick out yarn in person.
Photo credit: © Jen Lucas
Image source: https://o-wool.com/collections/patterns-cowls-scarves-shawls/products/poderosa
It all started with the monthly O-Wool email in my inbox, headed by the gorgeous shawl Poderosa designed by Jen Lucas. My thinking runaway brain went something like this:
Oh wow! That's beautiful.
Oooh. Look at all those beautiful suggested colorways of O-Wash fingering.
What's it called? Ponderosa? No. It's Poderosa. What's poderosa?
is a Spanish feminine adjective meaning POWERFUL.
Really!?!?!?! I HAVE to make this. NOW. Have to.
It's light and airy lace. Surely that wouldn't be too hot to knit in the heat of summer.
Oh man, what colors do I want to use?
I wonder if O-Wool offers local pick-up to save on packaging and transportation?

So I asked. Not only did Jocelyn readily agree, she suggested I pick out my colors in person. It was great to meet her and ask how she got into the business and get a behind-the-scenes tour of O-Wool, a place that before now only existed for me in cyberspace. Thank you, Jocelyn!

P.S. The colors I chose are pictured at the top. Two skeins of Green Ash for the main color, and one skein each of Feldspar and Hemlock for the accent stripes.

June 14, 2018


Spinning, spinning, spinning. Spinning my wheels without traction. Unlike spinning car tires in snow or mud, I don't feel like I'm uselessly digging myself in deeper, making a rut into which the wheels will be hopelessly stuck. Rather, it's akin to spinning on oil. Ceaseless spinning, no purchase, no hook. That's the obstacle to my art making of late. But, much like turning in circles, the view keeps repeating. The repeating ideas, the ones I keep circling back to, just might provide a little sand under the slick tires. Perhaps just enough to gain traction, traction that will build into momentum, momentum that will blossom into movement. 
In the meantime, I did buckle down and begin a muslin of Shirt No. 1. I'm very proud of my bias binding. It doesn't make for a dynamic photo, but it makes me feel good to look at it. I've never made nor sewn with bias binding before now. Every set of instructions I've read over the years about how to make it left me flummoxed. The words just didn't add up to pictures of it in my head. Same this time round, but I leapt in anyway, hopeful that the actual physicality of following the directions would pan out. So far, so good. I have yet to sew my binding to the neckline of the shirt - those instructions make even less sense in my head than making the binding itself - but once it cools down enough that I can handle the fabric without sweating all over it, I'm ready to try.
Not intentional, but now that I noticed I have to mention this. Spinning my wheels as a metaphor for my inability to settle down and focus on making new art? Couldn't be more appropriate. I rode the train into Center City last week for the first time in ages. Gave myself the day off to wander, follow my curiosities as they arose. Regardless, on the 20 minute train ride - literally moving along on spinning wheels - I worked through some of those ideas I keep circling back to. I couldn't move my hand over the sketchbook pages fast enough to keep up with my brain.

With one fully-developed idea in place, but uncertain how to execute it, I headed to my creative reuse center (Resource Exchange) to hunt for a specific, discontinued yarn that I'd like to continue to use. (My dwindling stockpile dates to the early 90's. Anyone have a source for natural/unbleached 100% crochet cotton, size 10, that is NOT mercerized? The only stuff I can find has that mercerized sheen. I'm looking for something without sheen, thin and strong enough to use as embroidery floss.) I didn't find what I went in search of, but I did snap up 3 yards of surplus fabric that very well could be just the thing I need to execute one of the train riding brainwaves, spinning wheels and all. 

With that perspective, perhaps spinning my wheels isn't so bad. Perhaps spinning my wheels is where I need to be right now. And perhaps the way to get traction isn't to beat myself up for spinning, but to spin faster and take lots of notes. (And then, of course, JUST GET STARTED, my perpetual sticking point.)

May 31, 2018

Stacking and Unstacking

I'm a stacker. Give me a surface, I create a stack. Fabric, bills, papers to be filed, books to read, you name it. I do not particularly like this habit of mine. I'd prefer that I file the papers instead of merely stacking them. I guess for me stacking is the first step in the process. It requires sorting like with like, making each group into it's own like minded stack. The issue for me is then the stacks sit, neglected. Sometimes they continue to grow, or, more often, I forget what the unifying theme of the stack was at the time I created it. So I unstack it, resort it into new stacks. Sometimes this sort and stack activity gives me illusion of accomplishment. Most times I see through it as rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. And yet, I still do it.

With the completion of Year of Yoni, this is where I find myself. Without the structure, the expectation, the commitment to produce one piece a week, I am spinning my wheels. Creating stacks of potential projects to "get to at some point," rather than actually working on a project. Sure, I've been using the sewing machine now that it is accessible, but I'm not making art. And while it is satisfying to whip up a pillow cover for the couch or curtains for the kitchen, it's not the same gratification, engagement, challenge, problem solving, experimentation, self expression, curiosity and energy boost that I experience when making art.
I am truly puzzled at this resistance in myself to begin new work. Am I avoiding it for a particular reason? Does the reason even matter? Why not just P-U-S-H and get started? I don't know. Art's not happening, but movement is inching along with the house. This movement could be due to art avoidance, but I'll take it. Movement is good. And how fun is this? The fabric on the pillow cover pictured above is called "Laurie's Leaf." I've had this upholstery scrap for at least 8 years and never once noticed the name. 
After writing recently about choosing a soft color for the now super brightly lit studio, I reconsidered my dark and dramatic color choices for the living room. While I love the dark aqua blue and believe the room would look fantastic painted that color, it's not a room I want to live in. It's a room I would admire in an architectural magazine, much like I love the minimal, crisp and clean atmosphere of Scandinavian rooms in all white and blond wood. I love that look, but it's not something I want to live with. Regardless, the color choice for the living room is now the soft green pictured in the center above. Behr color lemon mint.
And speaking of green, I decided to salvage the chalky, too yellowy, somewhat fluorescent green I ill-advisedly purchased for the kitchen. I mixed in much of the two dark aqua samples from the living room. I like the result. It may just get used in the kitchen after all. The yellowy green on the left is the original paint color, the cactus painted over it is the new mix.
And while I continue to change my mind about paint, I have settled on one thing. Shirt No. 1 by Sonya Philip of 100 Acts of Sewing is the first garment I am going to attempt to make for myself from scratch. The pattern arrived in the mail just now. (Hah! I thought I would turn off the computer, pull out some muslin, iron, and get started on the shirt, but then I linked to Sonya Philip's website and looked what I found there: the felt cervix project! Perhaps with this inspiration art will happen today in Laurie Land after all.)

May 24, 2018


Collar frayed to the point to disintegration, armpit holes you could drive a truck through, even the patched bleach-spot holes have holes. But I love this shirt. I don't know why, but I find the dinosaur chasing the fleeing vegetables stupidly hilarious. So, we have project #1 to get reacquainted with the ol' sewing machine.
First, I turned the kelly green dino shirt inside-out, taped it to a sunny window, and traced around the image with a chalk pencil (you can just make out the yellow chalk lines in the pic above). Then I cut out the front of the kelly green shirt, including the arm seams and collar. After ironing and turning the dark green shirt inside-out, I sprayed the front with washable adhesive. Then, carefully, I matched the kelly green shirt's collar and arm seams with the dark green shirt's and smoothed it onto the tacky adhesive.
Using a ballpoint needle and wide zigzag stitch, I ever-so-slowly stitched around the chalk line.
Then turned everything right-side-out and, breath held, snipped into the dark green shirt and peeled it away from the adhesive. I trimmed as close to the stitch line as I comfortably could, and then made a second pass with the zigzag stitch, all the way around the cut edge, this time from the front. Oh, yeah, I also trimmed the kelly green shirt to within about a half-inch of the stitches.
Ta-dah! New shirt that can comfortably be worn in public. In polite company, even. 
One last move. Instead of my usual jotting down of stitch length and gauge and whatever else I think might be helpful on whatever tiny scrap of paper or envelope or bill that might be handy (which history proves will disappear as soon as I go looking for it), I actually wrote down what I did in a notebook. Imagine. Having all my sewing notes and ideas for improvement in one place. Something that can be located and referred to later. Crazy, I know. With 3 more t-shirt revivals on deck, these notes will be useful. I mean, I am pretty good at this point in my life at reinventing the wheel every. single. time. I make something. But I'm thinking that maybe, just maybe, there might be a more efficient and less maddening way to proceed. The jury is out.

May 22, 2018

Have Machine, Need Surface

With a week of rain (and lack of ambition) thwarting work in the yard, this past weekend I refocused on my studio. Namely, putting an end to my number one excuse for not starting the process of teaching myself to make my own clothes: no permanent work space to set-up the sewing machine and hold works-in-progess. That was my only goal. To create a work surface for my sewing machine. 

Before I blather more, explain something to me. How is it that the utter chaos of the mess engendered by any big rearrange of space does not look nearly as disruptive and crazy making in photos as it is being in the actual space? I just don't get that. I'm sitting in the space pictured above, right now, typing this. The chaos has rearranged and changed since taking the photos, but it's still uncomfortable to be in here amidst the clutter-y mess. Being in the space makes me nuts. While, oddly to me, looking at the photos of the space doesn't make me feel nuts. Weird.

Anyway, that's the studio pictured above, as of Saturday morning. The table I was using as a desk is flipped over in the foreground, waiting for me to remove the legs so as to fit it out the door to stack elsewhere until we figure out what to do with it. It was both too short lengthwise and too long depthwise to be useful in this room. 
Removing the table/desk, and moving the computer out of the way freed up the eggplant wall. I took advantage and patched, caulked, sanded, and primed with stain blocker. And the Hubs kindly replaced the dim, inadequate, ugly boob light ceiling fixture with an inexpensive, yet impressively bright, fixture.
Covering up that dark, light-sucking wall combined with replacing the ceiling light COMPLETELY changed the room. Oh yeah, the sun also came out Sunday for the first time in a week.
Here's where I am sitting now. Eight feet of uninterrupted work surface. A permanent work surface for the sewing machine. And did I mention BRIGHT? The quality of the light changed so much in here that the 3 super bright paint colors I was considering - that all looked pretty good in the previous murk - are now presenting way too intense. This is now the only room in the house that wants a soft color on the walls. I can roll with that.

May 17, 2018

Paint, Again

Here I am again, paint quandary land*. Yet again, the challenge is to find paint that brightens a dim room. Except, unlike the hallway in Ohio, our living room light changes wildly throughout the day and season to season. That apple green (take my word for it) on the left is what I chose for the living room and upper part of the adjoining eat-in-kitchen. The green on the right was intended for the majority of the kitchen. What looked super vibrant on the paint chips, no matter their location in the rooms, no matter the time of day, (I was so confident of these color choices that I bought 2 gallons of the light green, 1 gallon of the dark) looks BLAH with actual paint. So washed out and chalky bland. Pfffffffffffffffffttttt.
Step 2. Cover the light green square on the living room wall with the darker green. Still a no go. This photo is a little over brightened. The green looks completely washed out on the wall in reality.
Step 3. Embrace the dimness. Rather than attempt to brighten the dark room, I decided to create a rich, cozy space with a dark turquoise or dark blue. The 8 oz sample of blue #1 is above. A little too bright for what I picture in my mind. Hence the chips of blue taped to the wall. I selected so many sample chips at the store that the shop clerk gave me a full swatch book to keep. More options to choose from isn't necessarily helpful.
Step 4. Got another 8 oz sample. Blue #2 is on the left. Blue # 1 is on the right. Something between the two is what I am after. At least I think that's what I'm after. It's really hard to predict what colors will do given the location in the room and the time of day. I do think I'm inching ever closer to THE ONE, though. 

Light green = Behr paint, Eggshell finish; Olympic color Lettuce Alone OL623.3
Dark green = Behr paint, Eggshell finish; Olympic color Lime Green OL623.4
Blue # 1 = Behr paint, Eggshell finish; Behr color Precious Stone M470-6
Blue # 2 = Behr paint, Matte finish; Sherwin-Williams color Loch Blue SW6502

*Here's the color that busted open the Ohio paint quandary. An awesome orange that, unfortunately, looks too pink or too washed out everywhere in our new house.

May 15, 2018

Year of Yoni: Week 52

Year of Yoni is a self-assigned studio practice with which I have committed to make a new yoni once a week for at least one year. A broad explanation of yoni and this project can be found here.