Category Archives: 2011

DIY Thank You Cards

See that book title, “WordPress 3″? Now that I’ve invested in some new real estate — virtual, that is — I’m putting my DIY inclinations to work. Learning how to maneuver in the backend of a privately hosted WordPress site is a little trickier than expected, but I’m making progress. As soon as the floors are swept and the pillows are fluffed I’ll let you know the address so that you can come on over and have a look-see.

On a more immediate front, I played with some older photography in my favorite-but-about-to-disappear-forever online photo application, picnik, and made a stack of cards for my Thank You Project.

It’s been fun sending them out.

It’s a wrap – 2011

2011 in pictures
1. zig zags and dots, 2. Anthony Hat, 3. knitting dots , 4. hope, 5. Pedigree Pooch, 6. wkshp_shawlette, 7. Blanket Squares, 8. Oceanic Hotel, Star Island, NH, 9. Windowsill in Bloom, 10. Benefits of Worm Castings as Fertilizer, 11. Photo Award Button 200×157, 12. Spring, 13. I made it within the deadline!, 14. Creamsicle Smoothie, 15. February Lady FRONT, 16. Friday afternoon, 17. Miniature Holiday Art display, 18. snowflakes in my window, 19. Miss Marple, 20. Snow flakes

Everyone’s talking about it: acknowledge the past year’s accomplishments before looking forward.  Prevailing wisdom advises that writing ideas down facilitates bringing them to fruition. But for a look back, I began with a visual list. Nothing like a bit of photo fun with the mosaic tool over on BigHugeLabs. Here are a few crafty highlights from my year:

  • an afternoon spent under the tutelage of professional photographer, Gale Zucker, during which she taught knitters about photographing fiber objects  (photo #6)
  • a winning entry in Southern New Hampshire’s 24-hour A Day in the Life photography contest (#11)
  • a roaring good time as online voting took my quilted Spring Runner into the top tier (#13) of the sew-along challenge
  • the inclusion of a brief memory narrative and accompanying photo in an upcoming book by friend and entrepreneur (#14)
  • a terrifically successful birthday gift for my mother, a knitted dog (#5). Jacqueline Russell, as I named her, was delivered to the birthday girl with an authentic birth certificate, and I don’t think my mother has ever been so enthusiastic about one of my gifts. That feels like an accomplishment worth noting!
  • Handmade Holiday gift-giving (#1-3) dominated my list this year, with hats, felted bags, and homemade cocoa mix with marshmallows; sadly, I never got around to photo’ing the Cocoa Kits.

My blog host, Word Press, surprised me with a summary of the year’s activity on “My Artful Life.” Thank you – for reading, subscribing, taking the time to comment, and being on the other end of my keyboard every time I click the ‘publish’ button. Here’s to another year — !

One collage closer to work-life balance

Nary a photo or word written in weeks. As rewarding as teaching is, I have yet to master the balance between work-work and personal work.

The holiday season drew me into a handmade mood, though. Thoughts of a holiday greeting had me scouting the internet for a mac- and pocketbook-friendly alternative to Photoshop or Illustrator, with layers, for image and text combining. The free option at Picnik gives generous — but limited — tools. I’ve been using this site for a while and have found it easy to navigate with enough font variety to keep me happy. (Yes, I am like a kid in a penny candy store when it comes to a list of font choices, and forget all the rules of design simplicity.) And who wouldn’t love Picnik’s little messages that accompany a page or image upload? “Mowing the grass” or “picking blueberries,” to name two.

Picnik’s upgrade ($24.95/year) gives access to all sorts of fun tools and effects. I had a ball making the collage above. With a vintage cherub from the Graphics Fairy as my base, I was off and running. Do you remember the thrill of a new box of Crayola crayons? All those colors to choose from? The smell of the wax? I can’t say digital collage is a tactile experience, but I like the immediacy of sharing the results online. And it feels like play. Here’s a short article on the stress-relieving benefits of play for adults.  In fact, I had so much fun I decided to give the blog a new look with a fresh banner.

What are your strategies for work-life balance?

Friday Flickr Favorites

Friday Flickr Favorites - 11/25/11
1. Sibsey, 2. [workinprogress], 3. My embroidered headband., 4. Denver 30: 23, 5. Sheep heid baby cardigan, 6. Socks Patchwork, 7. Alivia, 8. alpine conditions, 9. Children’s Day in Brazil…, 10. Southern light, 11. Fabric of the Week winner: The Dinner Thief by kayajoy, 12. Untitled, 13. Liberty mug rugs, 14. Strings Attached – pot holders, 15. Linda’s Vintage Baby Hats, 16. Luxury

Every time Sibsey’s mum posts a photo of her, I click the ‘favorite’ button. So who better to lead today’s mosaic than the fluffy beauty herself?!

Meanwhile Corabelle spent the week parked on my lap, purring.  Without a doubt, her companionship contributed to my quick recovery from Tuesday’s surgery.

This year’s handmade Christmas gifts are a bit closer to the finish line after purchasing a delicious assortment of Julia, the yarn Kristin Nicholas designed for Westminster Fibers. Sadly, this wool/mohair/alpaca blend has been discontinued, which really amped up the pressure as I labored over jewel-toned colors most certainly inspired by Kristin’s own zinnia beds and field of sunflowers .  Continuing to gather project supplies, I hopped on over to Kristin’s online store for the Knit-It-Felt-It-Zip-It bags and Quarters Cap patterns. There is something exceedingly satisfying about shopping in a way that contributes to the livelihood of a kindred creative.

A glimpse into my studio: Fabric, fiber, and handwoven finished objects.

A Thanksgiving Table

I am thankful for the beautiful artistry of my friend Beth.

Her table settings always feature a seasonal centerpiece …

… and a holiday theme party bag at each lucky guest’s place.

Tis the Season to Keep Life Simple, or the Benefit of Unifocus

Mrs. R was a patient woman who coached me through five years of adult piano lessons. Sage quips rolled off her tongue,  salve for my frustration and disappointment. It was her notion that “there is a season for everything” that had the strongest stick-value, and I hope she would be flattered to know that I have since passed it on many times over.

Julia Cameron talks about the benefit of repetitive, mindless activity, in that it seems to invite creative percolation. Without effort, ideas just show up. It’s like a brainstorming party — for 1. My notable moments of cerebral luminescence seem to come while I am either driving (alone) or working out at the gym.

Last week’s commute was 200 miles’ worth of ruminations over the loss of my muse. If this is a game of hide-and-seek, she’s won. But how to explain the abyss? There can be no other explanation than this is the season of teaching; I have yet to learn how to parcel out some, but not all, of my self. Sad, but true.

As I recuperated from three wisdom tooth extractions today, and followed doctor’s orders to rest, the luxury of unstructured time came to my rescue. An shop reminded me how much I love vintage fashion, which led me back to the photo above: a corner of my craft room. Although I haven’t left the sofa in hours, I’m enjoying that ‘home at last’ feeling.

Anyone else out there have trouble managing their ‘best’ energy?

Yes, Virginia, Halloween is cancelled


Dream Time

Pregnant Pause

Finding Joy in a Verb

Friday Flickr Favorites 10.14.11

Gems from the Flickr-sphere

1. Daisy Chain Quilt, 2. Fish Baby Log Cabin class sample, 3. NYC Mod Bee: For Me, 4. Sawtooth Star Quilt, 5. Green Afternoon, 6. WIP Wednesday 9/27/2011, 7. keyboard playing meerkat, 8. Linda’s Vintage Baby Hats, 9. Pink Layer Cake, 10. Viva!, 11. autumn country picnic, 12. Chai Latte Cupcakes, 13. You’re never alone with a dog, 14. Old Home Place 1985, 15. 2011 10 10 Moonrise over Lowell, 16. Beach BIrds

Favorite is an action word in flickr-speak and one which I exercise with great frequency. At this moment in my flickr Favorites there are 1,761 photos of fabric, quilts, knitting, crochet, food & beverages, pets in adorable poses, and sumptuous outdoor scenes from around the globe. My passport expired a couple of years ago but that hasn’t stopped me from armchair touring. Browse the entire collection here. Do you have a flickr account? If so, I hope you’ll drop by and say hello.

This little video transported me to a charming world filled with birdsong. Dare you to watch just once!

For the past 24 hours I have been bursting with excitement — Jacqueline-the-Jack-Russell’s portrait was accepted over on craftgawker. Remember when I was being philosophical about my other photo rejections from craft- and I guess persistence does pay. And if persist is your mantra right now, this article about Kathryn Stockett’s 60 manuscript rejections for The Help just might inspire. I hope so — it worked for me. I’ve got some manuscript rework that’s calling me right now.

There’s a new dog in the neighborhood

woofer portrait
but she’s not staying long. She’s a little Jack Russell that I fell in love with in Knit Your Own Dog.

Pedigree Pooch
She is sweet-tempered, does not require late-night walks, and won’t bark at the mailman. I think her new owner will be very pleased to receive such an agreeable new companion for her birthday. If you think you might want to join the canine knitting fun, there are more particulars on my Ravelry page, here. Woof-woof!

3 Lessons from My Etsy Journey

The pictures on the Etsy home page are sumptuous, the success stories of featured artisan sellers guarantee pure inspiration. “Dreamers Into Doers,” another of Martha Stewart’s ventures, has been a virtual cheerleader. And at the root of my own dream are the expensive lessons from my experience with an old-fashioned brick-and-mortar store front.

When I first registered as a seller on etsy, my vision was for an emporium of the kinds of things I love to make or collect: handsewn, vintage, and photography treasures. In general Etsy seller categories are: handmade, vintage and supplies.
Lesson #1: Keep the shop offering focused and singular in theme. Do you have any idea how challenging this is? Yes, you probably do. {I finally narrowed my handmade goods to “photo treats” in this initial etsy store front; you can open additional stores, as the themes of items for sale require.}

the new etsy shop banner

Lesson #2:  The shop description should read as though you are engaged in a private, one-on-one conversation with each and every visitor — in spite of the reality that these very personal words are being shared with a universe of strangers. {I have yet to master this and consider my store description a work in progress.}

The latest evolution of my photography.

Lesson #3: Become a student of the marketplace! Like my store description, this is an ongoing part of the process. Study what kinds of items are getting attention, the artisans behind the successful shops. Consider price points and shipping. Notice appealing product photos and take notes — maybe you can bring in some of the same elements (lighting? props?) into your own presentation.

There is so much to learn about how to run a successful Etsy shop. I’ll keep you posted as I have more to add to this.