I have no illusions to how incredibly fortunate I am. I love my work. I love my home. I work from my home. I love to sit by my window with the piece that I am knitting or stitching or hooking, an audio or podcast burbling in the background, a batch of cookies in the oven. That’s the fun part. The more tedious bit, that bit that reminds me that it is a job, is when it comes time to marketing all the new wonderful things I’ve created. The photography, the editing, the social media, etc, etc, etc. Not my favorite part. But a funny thing happened the other day: the weather finally warmed, the grass and trees were turning green, and I had a number of things that needed to be photographed. Never has a photo session been so inspired. I threw open the doors and hauled a favorite chair out under the apple trees. My dogs padded behind me befuddled, but delighted with the diversion. And never was I happier to be taking care of the business end of business.
Knitters, quilters, hookers, and other hand-workers of all sorts and skill levels–come gather in the bucolic setting of Dandelion Spring and Straw Farm in Newcastle, Maine. Join us for an afternoon of companionship, laughter, and progress on all your UFO’s surrounded by the fields, animals, busy farmers, and an abundant farm stand. While this is not a class, I’m happy to answer questions to the best of my ability—dabbler as I am in many things… And truly the best thing about a bee is the community and shared creativity. It is a time to be inspired by and to both learn from and teach each other.
The Vintage Bazaar is in a mere two weeks, we’ve had family graduations up the wazoo, special orders, commissions, etc., etc. We’ve been delightfully busy. Today I’ve hooked, picked up a Craigslist find, shopped for fabric, and am now tea staying the almost perfect fabric I found to upholster the magnificent bench that Dave’s been building from an antique bed frame. And the day is still young…
I live where I live by accident. Other than being with the guy I fell in love with, there was no intent. And it shows. I have no love for this place, though that is no surprise. From the moment I set foot over the threshold, I knew this place was not for me, even if the man was. Quite the conundrum. Worse yet, it was a fixer upper, an emotional and financial strain. But I’ve tried to work with it. We’ve repaired and improved, coaxed and cajoled, and now that it is just about done—I still hate it. It is beautiful. I have no right to complain. But still, I despair when I think of this as my footprint in the world.
Recently, I took a road trip with some girlfriends. Expanding horizons, open land. It was an exploration of time and place and people. “Home” was either the unwitting theme or my subconscious quest. The women I met on the road were driven by the concept. Home inspired them, rejuvenated them, and was an integral part of who they were. Their homes were part of their description and self identification. Blonde or Brunette? Liberal or Conservative? Contemporary or Arts and Crafts? I’ve come to feel that a home that doesn’t suit you is a disfigurement, complete with embarrassment and downward glances. Eye contact avoided just like in the halls of junior high.
I’m old enough now to have lived in a few places, and I’m chagrined to say that most of my life has been spent in places that don’t suit me. I suppose it is classically female to always tend to others’ needs before your own, but this girl is tired of bearing the weight of everyone else’s happiness. This holiday season that we are in always seems to underline Home and Hearth, yet it is never a concept that can be clearly defined. As the halls are decked this year, I will be nesting into the fibers that give me the comfort and inspiration that Home fails to. There will be some rearranging of the emotional furniture, that’s for sure.
The rug hooking class we traveled to attend was entitled Big Lessons, Small Canvas. It seems apt, don’t you think? And as with all lessons and study, the trick is in figuring out exactly what questions to ask and to attempt to answer. A house is the sum of its parts; walls, roof, square footage, lot size. It is a mathematical equation. Home is a piece of art. It is layers of color and texture and process that encompass your emotion. It brings out the best in you and reflects an image of the person you want to be. My question is if any house become a home? More specifically, can this house I’m in become one?
Are these concepts that you have personal experience with? Have you ever struggled to make a place a home? Were you able to turn the corner of how you feel about the place? What did it take? And the artist in me wants to know if you ever created any artwork around the theme of Home, and if you’d like to share.
Craigslist: Love. It. How was the grammar there? Never mind.
Flea market junkies, bargain hunters, cheapskates–ahem, Frugal Yankees—that we are, CL is a haven. We’ve found sofas and antiques and cars, but it is also just the ripest picking ground for fiber lovers. I’ve bought and sold yarn, found rug hooking tools and supplies, and discovered vintage books of technique and design to die for. And my latest discovery?? Vintage Indonesian batik sarongs. Gorgeous. The design wheels are turning… What to do? What to do?
Like many you, I have stash. And, as my husband is an artist, he has stash, too. It is very convenient. As my projects and creations come together, sometimes they are missing that je ne sais quoi. I go shopping at his studio. The only worrisome bit, is that more and more of his stash seems to be moving into my studio lately. Poses a bit of a storage issue, but it is good for the creative juices– and it’s mutual. Lately, I have had some extremely successful foraging expeditions. My recently completed Paisley Purse is the perfect marriage of new and old elements. A beautiful Kravet wool/cotton paisley, luxurious creamy dupioni silk, a gorgeous purse frame with old world charm, and the piece de resistance, a thick vintage silver necklace I absconded with from hubby’s digs. It positively sings as the re-purposed purse chain for this bag. Satisfying through and through.
It seems my bag and purse making projects guiltily hoard the other creative juices and resources at our address. Previously, another favorite purse project was equally successful due to not only my boy’s stash, but his eye as well. My needle felted swirled bag spirals to perfection with a handle created from a spring the sweet guy contributed. I doubt I could have come up with that on my own. But having stuff, yes stash, around you opens up your eyes. That and another’s set of eyes and perspective can allow you to see your work and its artistic need from a whole new point of view.
All this is well and good. Really. But sometimes, yes sometimes, your stash overwhelms, overtakes, and overall seems like such a discordant dust collecting mishmash that you feel no good could ever come from it. Inspiration and projects are failing to matriculate from your head to reality and nothing — nothing! — is of any use. (At these times you are probably also finding that your overstuffed closet offers nothing for you to wear, either.) Due to forces beyond your control, frustration builds and you feel there is no choice but to rid yourself of it all in one big house cleaning swoop with the intent of a clean slate. Yet, I beg you. Please reconsider. There are steps you can take to reach mutually agreeable accord within your artistic self, your stash, and your sanity. Creative block can be overcome. Simple steps. Easy steps. Deep breathes. And (insert favorite relaxing beverage here—coffee, tea, hot cocoa, wine) consumed by a fire.
First: Stop! Walk away. Take a break. If you are like me, you work constantly anyway. No one is going reprimand you for going for a walk or out to lunch or whatever on a Wednesday afternoon. Clear your head. New ideas don’t happen in a pressure cooker.
Second: This is the “working part” of “taking a break” (because after your brief reprieve your little workaholic self is panicking that you aren’t being productive): go reproduce a tried and true pattern or product you already have in your collection. Do paperwork, social media, whatever. Catch up on all the not so much fun stuff that goes along with this crazy business, so at least you feel like you did something. And, honestly, it will probably really help your business anyway. It’s castor oil, baby.
Third: This, I kid you not. GET MORE STASH. Being fiscally responsible is all well and good. Frankly, I encourage it. But stash can be derived from so many things and places. Make it work. Old stash meets new stash and all kinds of illicit liaisons can happen.
Fourth: When all else fails. Go make cookies. It soothes a myriad of creative ills, and as I’ve said before, frankly, I think cookies could save the world.