Tag Archives: life

Yarn Love – Yarn Love Challenge

It took me a little bit about what to write about my ‘yarn love’ and then a Facebook memory popped up that told me exactly what makes me love yarn the most – it’s community. Yesterday I was reminded of a lost friend, Janice Rosema, She was this incredible fiber artist, a freeform crocheter who loved colour and interesting art in general. She had a way of getting to know other fibre artists sort of quietly and then when you would talk to her she would mention the different things that you had created or shared over the years, and it made you feel special because you were in the presence of this amazing fiber artist…who knew YOU. I have a lot more to say about this, but I will keep it short in order to honour her memory, and share the words of a great friend, and the talent of many others.

My friend Naomi, of Ryono Creations shared a beautiful little post on this day in 2013 that mentions a lot of us that have flown in the same circle for years, and it really warmed my heart.

on goodbyes and thank yous...
as my friend kimberly mcalindin said,

“The world is a bit less colorful today….fiber artist and friend Janice Rosema is gone.”

yes, the fiber community lost a creative force yesterday. she was not as visible recently as she had been in the past due to her poor health, but she was an inspiration to many. janice, her creations, and her creations to be, will be missed.

i only met up with janice a few times but she always had the nicest smile and a warm hug for me. i felt heavy throughout the day yesterday, but it also made me think of the wonderful artists i have met who inspired me when i first started playing with fiber back in 2007.

michelle snowdon told me today…

“It is a blessing how the passing of a dear person allows our hearts to open towards those who have touched our lives.”

so, as i say goodbye, i would also like to thank these artists who came before me and inspired me early on in my fiber pursuits (in no particular order)…

the yarn wench (lynn wigell)…may your dye pots never stop simmering…aaarrrrrrrr matey!

laura mayotte…your themed handspuns floor me every…single…time

tracy hudson…art yarns on a spindle anyone? and ambassador for the art yarn movement

stoneleafmoon (linda scharf)…she encouraged us to look within for inspiration to create our own unique yarns

studioloo (cindy cole bennett)…whose barbie doll yarn totally freaked me out but opened my eyes to endless possibilities

wooldancer (michelle snowdon)…your name perfectly fits your whimsical, free spirited creations

chef karen barnaby (kaybee)…who pushes boundaries and whips up playful spingredients into the coolest handspuns to answer any spin challenge

holly braddock…who encouraged me to grab a handful of locks and just spin, baby!   (Rest in peace, my beautiful friend)

lexi boeger…handspun revolution anyone?

natasha fialkov (luxe)…where my love for flower yarns came from

reenie hanlin (now peculiar ambitions, used to be material whirled)…how could i not be inspired by someone who spun troll dolls into her handspun?

yarnpunk (elizabeth o’ donnell)…talk about rad handspuns!!

hobbledehoy (elizabeth stottlemeyer)…she had me at her batts way back when…and still does

thank you for your inspiration and for your contributions to the fiber arts community.

“without you i would never be me

you are the leaves on my family tree”

– from “sing together” by train

Progress – Yarn Love Challenge

I always have a million projects in various stages of progress, but also I tend to get an awful lot done. I think we all do, but many of us feel like we don’t get enough done. I am one of those people – always feeling like I should have gotten more accomplished in a day, week, month, year…

But, certain things can remind you of just how much progress you make with things – I find keeping a notebook, or a photography account of all that you do, or all that you are working on, really helps as a reminder.

I often look at my Instagram and think WOW – that was a busy year! And then I look at all the different art projects that I have finished and it makes me feel great.

This is a snapshot into a month of my life. 🙂

 

Minimize to Maximize Life

This month has been an interesting project on living within my means deeply, as well as living with minimums. It started with money – we decided we would spend very meagrely after embarking on home ownership to be able to replenish some savings, setup the emergency fund, and have a security blanket in case of any disasters. That has been okay actually. I find that I don’t do a lot of shopping anyhow. I haven’t been to a mall for anything other than banking in longer than I can remember. I am just no longer the mall type. Most of my shopping is thrifting, online and now yard saling. It’s just more challenging and fun…actually feels like an activity instead of a zombification of consumerism.  I like old stuff, stuff that needs work, stuff that meant something to someone at some time and will eventually mean a lot to me.  Beyond just money, I have been living meagrely in terms of creation, creativity and hobbies. That has been the biggest challenge. I have left myself only the basics for everyday living – 2 knitting projects, 1 basket of fibre …I spin a little bit of it into the same yarn in progress every day….a couple of books, 1 book of word puzzles.  I have only about 10-12 outfits which are not currently packed. I think that not having a vast studio to pull inspiration from is the most challenging part of all of this. I have been drawing a lot of mental pictures for what my new house will become and I scare myself a little when I think about the big projects I want to take on.  But, I do have a sense of ‘all things come in time’ and you make little improvements as you are able to.

This has been a whirlwind few years for me which I don’t see stopping any time soon…and that feels great. I have so many personal goals to achieve for myself, my body, my business and my family. Things are going to just get more amazing.

If I am a little quiet over the next month or so, it’s because I am getting situated in a new home, and a new life to prepare to make this space, and myself, the best version it can be.

Where the Time Goes – of Raku and Coffee

I am not going to write one of those posts about all the stuff I should be doing next year, beginning right this minute. There isn’t much of a point for me. I have really adopted a life of living every second how I want to, need to. I don’t ever feel much like ‘oh, where does the time go?’ these days. It’s been a very big year filled with a lot of new things – completing an immigration sponsorship, learning to be married, raising a new dog, a brand new job, and a lot of new responsibilities and life changes.  I have about a million plans for next year but the biggest one being about me and my incessant worry about getting things done. Hence the reason I don’t need to write about it. I will do it. That’s just what I do.

Something I am starting to find a lot more important is letting myself be an artist, not a crafter or a maker. I will do more art for art’s sake, not for sale.  I will still be spinning yarn, dyeing, doing ceramics and all the other fun stuff I do, but the items I sell will likely be ever so slightly more limited, or at least created when the mood hits and not ‘oh my gosh, show time’ mode.

The holidays were a lot of fun and I was spoiled to bits – I received a little getaway for February to a hotel I quite like, a yearly membership to Toronto zoo where I like to take pictures and make high-pitched cooing sounds at animals, and many other things…including a Raku kiln built by my husband and father. I am too excited to start making pieces to prepare for a firing.

I went to a Raku workshop in November with the members of my pottery guild and my heart was stolen. What a process! It’s amazing to take something dull and white, get to handpaint it (my favourite way to glaze), and then set it on fire, watch it burn and smoke and then wait only a few minutes until you are left with a shiny, blackened, cooked, smoky, amazing piece of work transformed from chalky, gritty clay. My favourite piece of the day was one I will never give up likely- this bowl.

It was a risky piece as my lack of knowledge of Raku at the time didn’t account for someone having to handle it with tongs, so the lacy bit at the top was worrisome for the instructor, and me. However, what a worthwhile risk! The colour is hard to capture – it’s like an oil spill on cement…with a auburn’ish overtone.

Needless to say, I will be chasing more knowledge about this in the coming year and really taking my time to expand my horizons in sculpture/decorative work.

From the same day, this is one of my favourite shots – my husband unveiling his work with our instructor, Denise.  She is the most amazingly kind, and skilled potter.

Mike is relatively new to ceramics. He has been working with clay for about a year and a half. I decided on a holiday once to send him to pottery classes at my guild and his interest was sparked in a lot of different ways. I have always felt like my husband is drawn to being more of a patron of the arts, willing to support anyone who is doing anything, helping them finance equipment, giving of his time, etc. But, what he may not always realize is that he has a really amazing way of putting a unique touch on anything that he makes. A lot of math and planning flow from him….and interesting fingerprints follow in everything he makes. In this photo, Denise was really interested by the geometric forms, staircase and construction technique in this sculptural vase. It turned out so amazingly and luckily it hangs out in my house.

With one of my families, we do a ‘handmade xmas’ each year and with each year, the spectrum of what to makes feels a little tighter but I take it as a challenge. This year, I was watching a documentary called ‘Bitter Coffee’ about the issues surrounding fair trade and coffee and thought to myself …’hmm…I wonder if people roast coffee, in their own homes? I wonder if that is something people do?’ so I started doing research and found indeed that people do it. It led me to a website called Sweet Maria’s where there is information, tutorials, advice on tips on literally everything relating to coffee. What appeared to be the quickest, and cheapest way to roast our own coffee was the purchase of a popcorn popper – you can actually roast your own beans in an air popper. Although it was intriguing, I started to feel like it was a bit more dangerous and tedious than I desired. Over time, the lid of the popper will melt, and it’s plastic. So, I was sort of steered toward a higher end option. Then I found a Behmor coffee roaster and found it was the mid-range model that would work best for this.  I went to Green Beanery in Toronto. The staff there were really nice and spent time answering our questions and showing us different kinds of coffee and flavour profiles. So, we got started with the suggested Guatemalan Antigua – a good medium roast. I also picked up a package of different coffees from around the globe and some Choco espresso.

We brought the machine home, and did some more reading, and prepared that very night to roast some coffee. It was exciting to have cut out that whole ugly coffee seller market from this process and just do it ourselves from beans acquired in a friendly, fair way. We roasted the Guatemalan first – some for everyone, and then some Decaf for the dad-folk, and some Mexican for the spicy wee sister-kid. Each roast was a new experience, new smells from grassy to nutty, to chocolately…..to that deep roasted coffee smell after the beans settled for 24 hours.

The brains and braun behind the operation was totally the husband. He did most of the roasting, watching and waiting. Coffee roasting is sort of based on a few things..

Pick your roasting profile – the length of time you roast, and how hot. There are a lot of suggestions online and in the documentation you get with the roaster.

First crack – this is when the coffee bean first splits and starts to shed it’s ‘chaff’ – which is sort of like the outer kernel of popcorn. This stuff is what makes roasting coffee slightly dangerous as it can catch fire in the high heat environment of the roaster. It is louder, popcorn like pops.

Second crack – this happens within 30 – 90 seconds after first crack usually and sounds like ‘Rice Krispies’ …little crackles…when the rest of the chaff starts to blow off of the beans. This is the fine line between well roasted coffee and burnt! So, you need to be mindful at this point.

Cooling – the roaster has a COOL button that will blow cold air on the beans. They still roast for a few seconds after this so you have to consider this in the time you are roasting.

Let em sit – for about 24 hours.

Smellllllll…..them….mmmmmm! They smell so amazing after they sit. I even ate a few…and they tasted so fresh and popped in my mouth. But I’m kinda weird.

We are keeping a roaster’s journal of our times, experiences and the smells and tastes of each roast…in an effort to better our roasting. The morning after the roast I setup a tasting. The tasting consisted of 3 small bowls of coffee. The first was just black, the second with milk froth/crema on top. And, the final was good ole milk n’ sugar like a lot of people drink their coffee. We were overall really happy with the first roast and felt like pros to begin with. It was a nice no-curve way to learn something new and cool. Although we aren’t actually pros, we have not burned anything or tasted anything we didn’t like – so I would say overall this is a pretty tame hobby to get in to.

24 hours after roasting…

Time to make some New Year’s eve lasagna with the boy.  More blogging soonish…

Don’t Stress, Figure it out, Make Lists, Do..There is no Try!

 

It is a somewhat busy day in the office, but more busy with anticipation of what is to come later this afternoon than burdnened with early morning tasks. There are things I could be working on but I am mostly just trying to plan out my day without feeling panicked I won’t get everything done. Lately I have been feeling bothered by the empty office, false lighting and buzzing ….the random buzzing. There is something about the office environment that involves many things making buzzing noises. I can often drown them out and I am today listening to the latest ‘Cast On’.  It is relaxing me and helping me stay somewhat on task. I am also thinking about the fact it has been ages since I last recorded an episode of Muststashyo. The next episode is basically ready to go, just needs an agenda and to be recorded. I think this whirr of feelings has more to do with so much change coming in my life, but also summer and the want to just be outside.

I have a major sense of overinspiration lately that leaves me somewhat unable to accomplish anything. Every time I think about doing one thing, I think of how many more ‘one things’ I have on my list.  I have been trying to attack this by bringing to my Monday night knitting group, a project that nears completion. Then I work on it and try to finish it while I am there. I got quite a bit done on a piece of altered art I am making but realized I need tiny nails to finish the rim.  So, tonight, the hardware store is on the list.

I need to spend some real time on my big giant priority – aka THE BUSINESS PLAN. There is so much more to tell about this but I am not there yet. Rest assured, dear blog readers, I will share my exciting news once I have it tacked town, tied up and smiling. I’m nothing if not kinky right?

The Farmer’s market is finally open. I am heading there this Sunday. It is open Fridays and Sundays in this city. I can’t wait to stock up on all things fresh, green and local. I have these visions of doing so much more once I have my feet firmly planted on the ground I want them to be on. Canning, pickling, preserving…galore! A bit part of me would love to be a domestic goddess/artist and I think soon I will have some sort of taste of that…even if I will have to be on overdrive to ensure success. I can do that. I’m no stranger to that.

Lastnight I cleaned my bedroom and I have purged thus far 2.5 big blue recycling bags of clothing. It’s amazing how much clothing I have. I used to be a crazy clothes shopper. Nowadays I don’t shop too much at all, unless it is something art related. I have also found myself in a situation where I have art supplies until the end of time. I often get these ideas that require me to run to the store, buy all the materials and set everything up. But then as time goes by and I still have had no time to make things come to fruition, I put these things away, into the studio. My studio needs to really be attacked – but not with purging, with finishing. So, that’s that.

I was thinking of doing a 101 in 1001 kind of arrangement. I might try to do 101 things in 1001 days. Make a counter and such…but I think first I will just try to list things I need to do. It’s healthy.

1. Business Plan
2. Find good accountant
3. Talk to a bank
4. Discuss much with L and S relating to TBL.
5. Renovate basement
6. Get M here
7. Update resume
8. Finish Doll Feet dyework
9. Podcast Episode 10
10. Prepare fiber palettes
11. Muststashyo page on Studioloo website
12. Update non-fibery pages of Studioloo
13. Make plush and birds
14. Whale painting
15. Take sewing classes
16. Guitar lesssons
17. Find a voice coach
18. Raw food diet planning
19. Dog training
20. Set weight loss goals and achieve with a plan
21. Research urban farming and what is allowed in PH
22. Organize Spin in Public Day in PH
23. Raise money for Sea Shepherd
24. Work on book
25. Design workshops
26. Wake up Yarn a Day
27. Set spinning goals
28. Etsy destash
29. Gnome
30. Altered art
31. Clean house
32. More hooks added to window in kitchen
33. Finish enough pottery for another bisque
24. CofC application
25. Foot therapy
26. Publish Muststashyo pattern
27. Yarn club
28. Fiber club
20. Tea order
21. Cashmere and Bamboo order
22. Contests
23. Clean out garage
24. Garage sale
25. Recipe database
26. Master Spinning Course
27. Find local fleece
28. Monthly Projects for Artists Project
29. Curriculum design
30. K for M
31. M Painting
32. Type up kiln instructions and save
33. Keep food blogging
34. Organize beads
35. Finish knitting WIPs
36. Finish blue skirt appliques
37. Finish mending things that need mending
38. Find blue paint, mix and paint bedroom
39.

Wow, really, I am out of things to do already? Brain block…I will add to this later, maybe..or maybe not. I know there is much more than that. Although most of these are BIG things. Photos throughout this post were used because they make me happy, and I have taken no recent and relevant photos to add to this post. And, my blog needs photos. It just does. 🙂