Stemming the Tide? or Riding the Wave?

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The above drawing illustrates how I’m experiencing my days lately. The reasons for this are many and varied, not the least of which is just trying to get back up to speed with normal everyday living in the aftermath of major surgery. Life as a pastor’s wife, a mother of three incredibly talented musical kids, and my own enjoyable work as an artist and knit & crochet teacher makes for a lot of variety, but also a very full plate. Oldest daughter is a junior in college, middle son will be graduating from high school in three months and then going off to college, while youngest daughter is in middle school. There are times I’m not sure I’m even stemming the tide, but rather staring blankly at the wall of water coming at me, looming on the horizon. I keep reaching for my knitting needles and my sketchbook. Perhaps they are a life raft, or an anchor, offering some stability in the onslaught of living.

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This (above) is probably a more realistic view of my life right now. Drawing in my sketchbook, knitting as I go, actually allows me to ride the wave of life without drowning. Sure, I may be holding the sketchbook up above the water as it encroaches up my shoulders, but still…these are the things I can hang onto as wave after wave of “Life” hits. Reframing how my life “looks” is helpful, if not crucial, to enduring the current days. Drawing affords us the ability to re-draw, re-make what our feelings may be screaming at us, and allows us to see the bigger picture, rather than succumb to the momentary drama. Knitting reminds us that it is in the stitch by stitch of everyday living that something beautiful is made. I came across this quote by Vincent Van Gogh on a knitting pattern I recently purchased!! How cool is that?

“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.”

Vincent Van Gogh

I’ll keep on riding the wave, surfboarding on my sketchbook, and paddling with my knitting needles and hook. Might not get me very far, but will assuredly keep me afloat. That’s all I need.:)

**NEW! Knitterly Cards and Prints!

Hip Hip Hooray!!

My Knitterly Arts ETSY Shop now has more than just patterns!

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I’m now offering cards and prints of my original watercolor artwork…drawings and paintings of all things yarn!

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Knitting Hands. 5″x5″ Matted Print. $12. Purchase here.

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Knitting Color. 5″x 5″ Matted Print. $12. Purchase here.

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Set of 6 Cards, 3 each of the above images. $14. Purchase here.

And a couple of Genevieve prints are also now available in my Knitterly Arts Shop…

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Drawn2Knit. 5″x7″ Matted Print. $15. Purchase here.

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Drawn2Crochet. 5″x7″ Matted Print. $15. Purchase here.

***More Cards & Prints with a Knitterly twist are coming soon!!

*****To celebrate this big day, I’m offering a discount code for 20% off any item in my Knitterly Arts ETSY shop: Just type in CELEBRATE, to receive your discount!

********Thanks to so many of you who are subscribing to my FREE monthly Knitterly Arts Newsletter!! Click here to sign up if you haven’t yet!

Gray Winter Days…

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We’ve been having a lot of these. So gray and cold that even trying to get a decent photo of artwork is quite difficult. This was the best I could do today. I’ll reshoot it another day soon!

But as I was walking yesterday, I kept thinking this:

Gray winter days are best enjoyed with COLOR in your hands.

‘Tis true, n’est-ce pas?

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I’ve had some “delight”ful color running through my hands lately and it has made me so happy, nearly forgetting the gray skies outside my window.

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Socks!

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My colorful, Crochet2Heal, blanket which I have renamed and will have a proper reveal very soon as I am only three colors away from being finished!

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And my Hitchhiker Shawl. Which I took out on the back deck to knit on one of the very few sunny days we had recently! It was glorious to knit in the sunshine and see the gorgeous colors of AndreSueKnits hand-dyed yarn.

I hope you also have some delicious color in your hands these days!

Delight :: 2015

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Happy New Year to One and All!

This is the word I’ve chosen for this New Year!! Actually, it feels a bit like the word was tugging at my sleeve, asking to be picked up and carried throughout 2015.

As I look down the corridor of 2015, I’m delighted that I don’t have surgery awaiting me! My husband and I both turn 50 this year! Our second child will graduate from high school and go off to college! And our youngest becomes a teenager, turning 13 in just a few days!

I realize there are a lot of unknowns. Whatever this year holds, I want to delight in the little things along the way. I want to find beauty in every moment, whether it be mundane or magical, pretty or painful.

I look forward to delighting in more knitting and crocheting, in teaching others these wonderful skills, in drawing and painting, in creating a book or maybe two.

How about you? Do you have a word for this year? I’d love to hear about it! I plan on posting here much more often, so plan on stopping by as much as you can.

May your New Year be bright and delightful as you take delight and relish each day that is given to you!

**If you’re interested in reading about a couple of other ways I’m approaching this New Year, check here and here on my Drawn2Life blog.

Fear Not

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Tomorrow is Halloween. And I’m thinking about spectres. Spooks of a different kind that do not just come out to haunt at Halloween, but which tend to hover and linger all year round.

We are a Harry Potter loving family. Would that there was something like chocolate I could eat or do to banish the dementors. Something that I could ingest that would stop the life-sucking fear and drive it away. Oh to be able to conjure a patronus– some ethereal line that becomes a stag or a doe, or a bunny…to ward off the looming spectres.

As I’ve been ruminating this morning, it occurred to me that I do have something like chocolate. Ancient words, true and trustworthy, written for me to ingest into my being and let them work through my mind and spirit: “Fear not, for I am with you.-Is. 41:10”.  “Perfect love drives out fear.-1 Jn. 4:18”. Each time I read them, say them, ingest them, my pulse slows to normal and I’m restored, if only for the moment, to a less fear-ridden state.

I even have a wand with which to conjure a line into a deer, bunny, or a vase of flowers. Drawing acts like a force-field that keeps the spectres of fear from penetrating the boundaries of my heart. Like a patronus charm, drawing repels the threatening spooks as if they were rag dolls, keeping them at bay while I happily draw  my world.

Truth and drawing…that’s what I need this Halloween and beyond!

A chocolate frog and a mug of butter beer wouldn’t hurt either!

Adventure

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I’m headed off on an adventure tomorrow. Not exactly the kind of adventure either you or I would want to go on, but adventure nonetheless:

*There is travel involved.

*I’m packing a suitcase.

*There will be new experiences.

*I will meet new people.

*I will return different than I was before.

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This kind of adventure feels like jumping off a high precipice into a world of unknown. No, I’m not going to Paris. 🙁 Though, with the  money that this adventure will require, I could probably take several trips to Paris. But I digress.

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I do not plan on blogging about this adventure, but I have planned a couple of yarny posts for you along the way. I will show you, however, my Paris Box, filled with goodies I’m taking on this trip:

1. Current sock knitting. I’m loving this Red Heart Sock Yarn with Aloe!!

2. Perfect, easy summer knitting: Another Magic Cake Ruffle Shawl yet without the fingering weight yarns wound together. I’m using Noro’s Silk Garden Sock Yarn, which is a DK weight yarn. (Remember this “one” lonely ball of yarn?) I’m knitting Paula Emons-Fuessle’s shawl with size 8 needles and the yummy lime Silky Wool cake is for the ruffle.

3. A new, recycled sketch journal given to me by the wonderful faculty and staff at the school where I’ve been teaching art.

4. A few comforting reminders for the stay. (Thank you Kay and Sheri!)

5. Macy. Who always cheers me. And cheers me on in creating the very best out of any situation. If you’d like to get to know Macy a bit better, check out these posts here, here, here and here. Thank you Ellen!

Thank you all, for your continued presence with me here in blogland. This adventure will continue knitting together a new life for me, and I look forward to all that will come of it in the future!

My Box

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“This is my box, this is my box… I never travel without my box.
In the first drawer I keep my magic stones.
One carnelian against all evil and envy.
One moonstone to make you sleep.
One red coral to heal your wounds.
One lapis lazuli against quartern fever.
One small jasper to help you find water.
One small topaz to soothe your eyes.
One red ruby to protect you from lightning”
“This is my box. this is my box I never travel without my box
In the second drawer, I keep all my beads. Oh! How I love to play with beads …all kinds of beads!
This is my box… this is my box… I never travel without my box.”

from the opera- Amahl and the Night Visitors

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Well, my box doesn’t hold beads, but it will hold jeweled balls of yarn.

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I was given this awesome vintage box as a special present from a friend with a special purpose…to save my pennies for a some-day trip to France.

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I am saving my pennies. But while I’m doing that, I want to use my box to tote yarn.

So I gave it an interior makeover.

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Every blue French box needs a touch of red, nest-ce pas?

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I wanted to use what I already had. A bit of red quilted fabric here, a spot of colorful toile-ish fabric there, leftover bits of binding in a variety of colors everywhere!

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I want to carry this box with me on some knitting adventures.

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Perhaps, one day, it will go to France with me.

One day, I will knit in France.

One day.

P.S. In case you are new to my blog(s), (and WELCOME to ALL the new followers here on Knitterly Arts!!), the character you see in the above drawing is Genevieve. She is my creation, a character who showed up in my sketchbooks many years ago and who now is the main character in a children’s book titled Genevieve and the Kite. Click here for information about this book and how to purchase it if you wish. I have the next Genevieve book written and will be working on illustrations in the fall. So keep checking back to see more of Genevieve’s adventures!

Oh. And there are also cards and prints of her in my Etsy Shop! 🙂

Somewhere Between Dreams & Reality

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I’m reading a book titled Live What You Love by Bob and Melinda Blanchard. It sat on a friend’s coffee table, I picked it up with interest and have enjoyed reading it thus far. I like topics like this…dreams. People who pursue them. Stories of how they achieve them. What I like about this book, is the heavy dose of Reality peppered throughout their “notes from an unusual life” (subtitle).

I keep thinking, however, of an alternate title. Not for this book. For a different book. Maybe one I’m supposed to write one day. Instead of Live What You Love…the phrase, Love What You Live keeps popping up.  I don’t think of these as polar opposites. But somewhere in there, between the stuff of dreams and reality lies a subtle shift in focus that has helped me for many years. And still helps me today.

I would say, fairly confidently, that I’m a dreamer. My mind has always preoccupied itself with dreams and daydreams, the small ones and tall ones. As a little girl, I dreamed via my dolls and their house, much of which was handmade. I dreamed of driving a VW bug one day and so made them a cardboard version. In college and early marriage years I drove a 1968ish red VW bug. Today, I still want to drive a VW bug, lime green or robin’s egg blue would be fun. Red again, would also be lovely. This is not a materialistic dream. (I recognize the oh-so-typicalness of the late 40’s woman wanting to drive a bug! Oi!) There’s something bigger caught up in that Lime Green Bug. The girl who drives it is artsy and fun, if a bit eccentric. She goes on picnics and drives it around the French countryside. She pulls her art materials out of it to draw in a field. She knits up beautiful things to wear and to give away. She writes stories and illustrates them. She has tea in the afternoon with whomever will join her. This same girl drives her VW bug up to a small cottage where she lives with her family and has a few chickens and goats. Maybe she even has a sheep or 2 or 3, whose wool she spins and dyes to later knit up into fun stuff. Her cottage is painted cheery colors and it’s always just a smidge disheveled looking. There are old things here and there, furniture with stories, and handcrafted items everywhere. Her art, as well as her kid’s art, is on the walls.

Her VW bug is perfect for getting around the small, quaint town in which she lives. Everywhere she looks, she sees thing to draw and paint, colors to knit or crochet. And when she can’t see something beautiful, she draws it anyway, and in-so-doing she finds the beauty she wasn’t able to see before.

It was all there in that dollhouse I spent hours and hours making years ago. Dolls I had made, with clothes for them to wear, knitted blankets on their beds, pillows I had sewn. I didn’t actually set out to make my life that of the doll house. It’s a bit uncanny how my life now resembles this childhood dreamworld I and my friend Linda created. So much of it is my life now, with heavy doses of reality thrown in here and there.

There are some dreams still “out there”. I still want a VW bug. I’m still waiting to travel to France. I do not have any chickens or goats or sheep. Our HOA would kick us out of our suburban neighborhood.

There have been times, however, between the doll house and now, when I have pined for a life other than the one I was living.  When I was 32 and began to draw and paint, I started to see that the life I was living was the one I loved. Through creating drawings and paintings of the flowers in my yard, of my children growing up– playing on playgrounds, licking a lollipop– I could see the sparkling beauty of the life I was living.

It was also around this time that I began to knit in earnest: a vest for Catherine, a hat for William, mittens and gloves for Maddie, sweaters for myself and Randy, gifts for friends. Seeing a life take shape in yarn and in a sketchbook, allowed me to see and love the little life I was living.

I didn’t need a VW bug or a trip to France to make my life beautiful or worth living. That beauty was there all along. I just needed a lens through which to see it and celebrate it.

Of course, I would still love to travel to France. Yes, it is still good for me to dream about that and make plans toward it. But to pine for what one does not have and can not have at the moment is a way of living I no longer want. I want to enjoy where I am right now, who I’m with, and what I’m doing at the moment. Drawing and knitting are two ways that allow and foster this love for the life I have.

I will still dream. Dreams are delicious. But I want to spend my days living out the dreams that are happening right under my feet. I want to savor the life I have, drink it to the dregs, leaving few stones unturned.

And if my feet get to step into a VW bug once again, or if they carry me to France, or out back to feed some chickens one day, fine! Wonderful! Magnifique! But if not, life will have been no less lovely, because I have learned to love what I live.

**I’d love to hear what ways you have found to Love What You Live.

Nurture Your Creative Spark

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So. After writing the last post about my papier mache birds with shawls, I had an image in my head to work out on paper. It started with writing that bit about having a tendency to make lots of smaller projects when life goes on full tilt.  I looked back at last year around this time, and yep, I was doing it then as well. The six weeks prior to the Art Show at my school is packed with sorting through stacks of artwork, backing them with colored construction paper, labeling them, coordinating volunteers for all aspects of the evening from hanging the show, to the reception, to taking the show down a few days later. Holidays are often “full” like this, as is May-early June, the end of the school year. I had an image of Genevieve holding one of these birds gently, protecting it, with a whirlwind going on around her.

But when I sat down to draw, the thing kinda got away from me…I was drawing flowers and rain and clouds and collaging words and a poem. Huh? (above drawing)

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So then, I decided to have a go at the image I originally had in my head. I found myself pulling out oil pastels with this one. Funny how sometimes the image dictates what supplies you need. Or how an image has a mind of its own and goes off in directions you had no clue it would go. Still I like them both. They’re quite different in many ways even though the central image of Genevieve and the bird is the same.

So. How to nurture your creative spark when life is so very full? Here are some ideas:

*Make use of the little bits of time you have here and there. You’d be surprised how much you can accomplish while waiting at the doctor’s office, or in the car pick up line, or over lunch, or any margin you can find in your day.

*Find a mini-version of what it is you’d really like to be making.  So you might not have time for throwing clay on your wheel…perhaps you could make some small jewelry out of Sculpey Clay. Maybe you can’t begin illustrating your next children’s book…but you could sketch out little thumbnails, playing with placement. And if there isn’t time for composing your next symphony, pull out a toy piano or a piano app on your iPad and play around with chords, harmonies, and tunes. You never know when these seemingly insignificant things might lead to larger works when you have more time.

*Stay connected to your creative love. Even if you only have a minute or two to crack open a book on sketch journaling, or read an inspiring blog post about mosaics, or look up a favorite artist in your particular creative genre, try to stay connected with the creativity you would love to be doing. It might feed ideas and allow you to mull over what you’ll do when your time allows.

*Jot down ideas. Write down somewhere the ideas/inspirations that come to you. This way you won’t forget them, AND you won’t fret about possibly forgetting them. 🙂

*Use the little bits of time you have to try NEW things you might not otherwise try. So if you can’t work on your novel, maybe you can try your hand at calligraphy. If you don’t have any time for weaving on the loom, maybe a bit of origami would be fun to try. Mix it up, choose something small, play!

I’d LOVE to hear your ideas! What do you do when time is precious and scarce? How do YOU nurture your creative spark?

My 18″ Doll Crochet Designs

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If Genevieve was an 18″ doll (how fun would THAT be?), she would probably wear a couple of cool crocheted outfits when she isn’t wearing her blue polka-dotted dress!

You may not know about this, but I have two crochet design patterns for 18″ Dolls that are available through Maggie’s Crochet!  This one (pictured above in the drawing of Genevieve), called French Girl Ensemble, includes the beanie hat, bell-bottom pants, cool shrug, over the shoulder purse, and Mary Jane’s. Click here to read more info about this pattern and to purchase.

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And this one (photographed on my daughter’s American Girl Doll), called Ready For Spring, features a pretty dress and shoes, headband for her hair, basket for market or Easter eggs, and her very own bunny. I have fond memories of designing both of these sets as my girls were into American Girl Dolls at the time. Click here to read more info about this pattern and to purchase.

Maggie’s Crochet is based right here in Kernersville, NC! There are many other 18″ Doll patterns as well as a huge inventory of patterns for anything and everything you might want to crochet! Enjoy browsing around her website, complete with instructional videos too! If you love to crochet, this site is for you!