Project confusion

I’ve been having uncertain thoughts about my next projects. I whipped out the Xmas present knitted hat (although it may be too big, but then again, he can grow into it, so I’m not stressing about that one yet). I finished my Koigu socks (pictures later). I finished and sent away the charity hat (couldn’t find it when it was time to send it because I forgot that I washed it! Had to pray hard for God to remind me what I’d done with it). I need to check and see if Rachel H got it yet for her Soaring Eagles project. (Quick check, I think she got it.) Felting the boxes is still in process, but since those are simply experiments, no rush. Need to get a chenille needle and some thread to sew together the edges on the second one.

So what am I doing now? Well, continuing to work on Lochinvar, the sweater. Started a lace scarf with my own handspun yarn (first time ever!). Started another hat for charity with the Lamb’s Pride sale yarn; I think I’ll just use it up that way. Am working on starting the next pair of socks, but find myself less than thrilled with the pattern so far. It’s Lorna’s Laces sock yarn, and I love the feel of it and the thinness of the yarn, but the color patterning isn’t thrilling me at this point. I’ve frogged the little bit I did, and am contemplating what I want to do next in the quest for more socks. Frogged the third prayer shawl, because I decided I had made it too wide, then restarted, after having luckily found two more skeins of the yarn, because I also decided that it would need more depth. Doing a stole shape with feather and fan pattern longways. The afghan is an ongoing, longterm project, and I haven’t done anything on it recently. Probably wouldn’t hurt to add another square sometime soon. Maybe with the start of the new year? Goes good with the theme of this year, every little step is progress.

So what next? Or what else?

The Trekking yarn for some socks? Nice blues. Restart the LL sock with a toe-up pattern and mostly stockinette, which I think will work better for the black and grey colors? Start my sister’s socks? Need her measurements, even if we do wear the same size shoe! I really would like to do one of the patterns from Folk socks, but that means buying more yarn, because the pattern requires more solid colors. That may have to wait, since I try not to buy too far ahead of myself. I am averse to building up a large stash; a small one is acceptable, but it must stay within the limits I impose. Actually start something with the expensive purple handspun yarn? I would like to do something with it! Return to the cable scarf, although I’m no longer so sure that a scarf is a good place to practice cables? Start designing the Fair Isle scarf I want to do to learn Fair Isle work? (Once again, this means buying yarn!) That, at least, is definitely going to wait until next year. Still swatching and playing with the laceweight yarns to find out what needle size works best for them. It will definitely be small needles. I frogged the linen yarn for the hand towel, not because I didn’t like the idea, but because I didn’t really want to spend the money to finish it. One skein of linen is enough for me to know that I am not going to be a huge fan of linen yarn except under specific situations. I think I’ll redo that one skein up into dishcloths and see who they soften over time before I consider the after-dark robe in MD Knitting. I like the idea, but not the expensive of that much linen yarn without being sure that I would like how it softens up. Want to do some cotton hand towels for a guild exchange. Need to get some appropriate yarn for that? Or should I just withdraw from that particular exchange?

Definite things to buy in the near future, but not right away: KnitPicks dpn’s because I really want to try their 5″ length for sock knitting, plus some more of their Options needles and the pattern cover/carrier that they have, which will work perfectly for my larger patterns.

As you can see, my ideas are a muddle, and the visual journal isn’t necessarily helping me right now, because I keep thinking about the Fair Isle pattern, which I’m not ready to start on yet!

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Is it art?

Okay, this is me deciding that what I produce is art. I must respect myself and my work enough to label it as art, even if I don’t think it’s that good. (Some of it is good, but some of it is definitely NOT.)

Why do I think that? Well, at first I was thinking, no, I’m not an artist. I am a person with creative talents. But I do work on these skills steadily and persistently, if not as a career, so I am by definition an artist. (A part-time artist!) As one who believes that I should value and develop all the talents that God gives me, I am trying to work on these skills a little at a time. It’s not always easy, when I like so many different fiber arts! But oftentimes there are relationships among them, such as the fact that cross-stitch is a form of embroidery, and embroidery is used on crazy quilt blocks, and I’d like to learn more of embroidery, so I use them in those contexts, not as separated skills. I’d also like to put some embroidery on the curtains that I sewed and some of the clothes, etc. that I’m working on.

Interestingly, in connection with the post that Veridian Eyes had written, I realized that I had unthinkingly subscribed to the high art/low art dichotomy during my school years, but that over time my thoughts had undergone a major shift. Partly this was because I was now producing things, and in other areas (woodwork and pottery, for example) buying things. I had begun to appreciate the level of skill and artistry that goes into all these handmade items. And also understand how much they are really worth, in the sense of time spent making them.

And once I began to comprehend that, I realized that the decorative arts, the ones that we live with daily, are actually more important than the paintings of “high art”. At least they are to me! I see my sewing every day. I see paintings — rarely. I think that I went to the museum once this year. Not many people I know have real paintings in their houses, although some do. Sculpture is even more rare. But the dress I made is in my closet and I see it every day, even when I don’t wear it. My lace shawl lies on the chair near the door, and I consider every day whether or not it will be appropriate to wear with that day’s clothes. I like having useful items that are also beautiful. (It’s even affected my regular shopping. I hate having to buy plastic things that are functional, but oh-so-not-beautiful. In fact, I’ll put off getting whatever it is until I can get something that also looks good and is well-made, because why waste my time with ugly junk?)

With that realization, I now understand that visual journals are more important than I had realized. Up until now, I had kept all my ideas for future projects and artistic musings confined to text, a list of ideas that served me fairly well. The list captured the idea until I was ready to actually do it. But now I think that I need something more illustrated than that.

Now, I can’t really draw, in the sense of accurately reproducing something. I’m not that kind of artist! But I can do a rough shape and describe what I have in mind, plus include fabrics and colors that give me ideas. I don’t think that I will go all out with paint and other elaborations of a visual journal. To me, that makes it too much like work and not a place to store ideas and work out projects.

I’m not even going to feel obligated to do it every day. More when I have a thought that won’t go away or an elaboration that needs to be recorded before I lose the thought. It’ll work in conjunction with my past work record, so that I’ll know what I’ve done and how it connects to what I’m thinking of next.

I must say, I’m glad I discovered blogs so many months ago — they have really stimulated me to work hard on these things, and what’s more important, think hard.

NaNoBloMo

Well, I don’t think I succeeded in living up to this, but that just makes it clearer than ever that NaNoWriMo is going to have to wait a while longer as a commitment.

On the other hand, I’ve posted more in November, and am continuing to do so in December. So in that sense, it is a success. Once a habit is established, it becomes easier to maintain, and I’m trying to maintain, even if it means doing short little posts while I’m at work, which is something I wouldn’t let myself do before (ethics and privacy issues). After all, when one is on the computer all day at work, the last thing one wants to do at home is boot up the computer just to write on the blog. But short little posts at work are okay, I think. Just don’t get bogged down in the big, reflective posts that take way too much time.

What’s an artist?

I’ve got another post simmering around in my head on why I don’t really consider myself an artist, but I’ve realized that I don’t yet have a definition for what makes an artist yet. The actual definition:

2 a : one who professes and practices an imaginative art b : a person skilled in one of the fine arts
3 : a skilled performer; especially : ARTISTE
4 : one who is adept at something
(taken from http://www.webster.com)

doesn’t have the connotations and nuances that I want to express because, especially by those definitions, I am an artist.

Maybe…
no, I think…
clearly, I’m confused. I may have to rethink my opinion of myself. That other post is one I’m still working on.

Space for creativity

Now, following the previous post on how I schedule my creativity, I also want to reflect a little on how I set aside the space for that same creativity when I’m at home.

Now, let’s start with a basic fact: I don’t have to consider other people’s preferences. This affects a lot of my decisions about how I organize myself. For example, my shoes are in my front closet near to the door, because that’s where I take them off and put them on. If someone else lived here, that might not work so well, but with just me, it works beautifully.

So where do I work? I don’t need to shut myself off into a different room because I’m the only one in the room, and shutting my stuff off from myself and the room I do most of my living in means that I wouldn’t drag it out near so often. Convenience and accessibility play a major factor here for me.

Downside? Well, yes, because that space is also my living room, where I visit with my guests. I want that space to look nice and welcoming yet at the same time have all my crafting supplies ready to hand. To convert it entirely to a workroom is not really what I want. But there are limitations to that choice. Because of the size, I can’t really have it set up with a sewing table and my current projects always spread out; there’s not enough room, plus that would look really messy. But NOT having it out means I’m much less likely to work on it. It’s one of the reasons that I’ve been doing so much knitting at home — it is much easier to take out and put back with minimal effort, whereas the sewing takes a lot more work to unpack for work to progress.

So I’ve gotten things a little more organized over time, but I’m still not satisfied with what I’ve got. I need a nicer cabinet-type piece of furniture that can be closed off or left open (doors that slide into the sides would be good), and can take baskets and other kinds of organizer boxes for all the supplies that would otherwise need to be left out. That will make it easier both to pull out and put up. Currently they are in a small chest of drawers that doesn’t welcome the boxes/basket options, nor is it really big enough.

I’m working on it.