Saturday, April 30, 2011

I moved!

After some fiddling and fudging around I moved to my own domain (and announced a new feature!).

You'll find me there from now on! Onward and Upward!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Gaining and Keeping Creative Momentum

image via weheartit
Silencing my inner critic and moving toward creating is something I have a lot of trouble with. I'll draw something, write or simply have an idea of what I'd like to accomplish, and almost instantly I'm met with negative thoughts. Most of the time it's about whether it'll be good enough or not, whether I'm qualified to attempt something like that, whatever that is.

Making art is a challenge, and more often than not I find myself reading about making art more than actually creating something. Right now the book of choice, the book that has me procrastinating and simultaneously so inspired is The Artist's Way - specifically, the sequel to the Artist's Way, Walking in This World by Julia Cameron. I mentioned a quote of hers in my post about my grand plans to open my etsy shop in the near future. A couple of points she's made so far have really resonated with me - I added my own little notes beside.

  • "Cerebration is the enemy of art" - Thinking is good, overthinking is not. Sometimes you just have to go with an idea, without stopping to ponder the end result. Pull back the bowstring. Shoot the arrow. Don't vacillate and hesitate. Pull back the bowstring, shoot the arrow. Find your idea and execute it. 
  • "We are the 'block' we perceive" - The excuses you make about being unable to create are the reasons you're not creating. Not having a "studio space", not having the right or best materials, these reasons are not what keep you from working. Many a masterpiece of literature has begun on a napkin - many a gorgeous, worthy sketch has been scratched on the back of a receipt with a ballpoint pen. These excuses are the blocks that the fearful, destructive side of yourself put into place to keep you from even picking up the bow, let alone trying to shoot it.
  • "Art is a matter of commitment" - Whatever its form, art is a constant practice, a daily ritual of exhaling - be it a set number of rows on a knitted scarf you set out to complete, three pages of something, anything written out to clear your mind and give you some peace, a new chord progression you've not yet tried, a daily haiku or a batch of cookies - the act of creating with your hands keeps you in line with your artistic purpose. It keeps the juices flowing, so to speak. Few of us, if any, are blessed with an "élair de génie" (stroke of genius) without having chased and caught 'the muse'. Practice, practice, practice. 

Make your goal - develop your sketching style, find your poetic voice, write your book, whatever it may be. Don't think about how it will turn out, throw yourself wholly into making it happen, and commit some time daily to some part of the process. You won't get there if you don't start.

image via weheartit

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bloggy Overhaul

As you can see, I've been having way too much fun lately playing with my layout and decorating around here! I just finished the new header image, the little description to the left, and I even have a little blog button now. It's transparent, so it will work on anyone's background images or colours. If you're interested in linking, let me know, and we can swap buttons!

Next up, I'm going to work on some weekly features (!!!) and new About Me and Links pages! A la prochaine!

I'm listed at Top Baby Blogs (won't be long now until I'll be showing off a little baby instead of just a big bump! Eee!). I'm slowly climbing the ranks in the directory and would love a vote. Thank you!

Click To Vote For Us @ the Top Baby Blogs Directory! The most popular baby blogs

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Why I Love Knitting

Knitting. It seems to have made something of a comeback in recent years. We're no longer required to knit our clothes or go without, it's now a leisurely pass-time enjoyed by millions. Luxury commercial yarns made from interesting man-made fibres have flooded the market and new tools are coming out all the time.

Still, it's essentially the same as it has always been. Fibres, needles, and the same two stitches - knit and purl.

image via flickr
I love knitting history. It feels so good to be able to do something that’s so tied to the past it’s hardly changed over centuries in spite of all our modern technology. Gets me all giddy and excited - as someone who often feels like I have no roots, no origin, that is why I love knitting.

image via pinterest
I want to learn everything about knitting and spinning history. I'm fascinated by the dyes extracted from native plants and how the colours translated a garment through the traditional stitch patterns into functional, beautiful works of art. I'm so in love with the idea that a simple pair of mittens could be so meticulous and gorgeous and yet be just what the recipient needs to keep warm while doing the most mundane of tasks. I love that despite having so little in the way of material goods, such care was taken to bring beauty into the every day.

My mother first taught me to knit when I was around 11 years old. A pair of red plastic needles and a big ball of navy blue acrylic were my first tools. Mom knew a rudimentary cast-on and the knit stitch, and I set to work "making stitches" and knitting. I cast on as many stitches as I could fit on the length of the needle and knit what seemed like miles of yarn. Mom didn't know how to "take the yarn off the needles without it unraveling", but it didn't matter much to me. After knitting the entire skein, I scooched the stitches off the end of the needle, unraveled everything and began all over again. At 16, I picked up a book from the library, and taught myself. I devoured the basics and have not looked back.

Knitting with real wool for the first time was the most fabulous feeling. I instantly felt connected, like I was a part of something - a long line of people who, for the length of the yarn they were using, experienced time slow down and really felt the gorgeous drape, the strength and warmth of making something with their hands.

Learning to spin was another, more intense experience for me. Going to Olds College and taking the Master Spinner's classes added an extra layer to my love of the fibre arts. To actually put your energy into twisting fibres into useful, beautiful yarn gives you a new appreciation for the craft. Sitting and spinning surrounded by others who loved and understood it the way I did fed my heart, so to speak.

image via pinterest

So often handmade items go under appreciated. You can buy a sweater at Walmart for seven dollars, so why take fifty hours to make one? Socks come in packs of twenty, why bother learning to turn a heel?

My answer? Because there's joy to be found in it. To engage the mind and hands, to take the time while everyone around you extols the virtues of the instant and the disposable gives you pride. How many things in your life can you point to and say "Hey, I made that."?

Friday, April 22, 2011

33 Week Update! Happy Earth Day!

33 weeks 33 weeks

33 weeks complete! Little Miss is head down, having loads of fun kicking my right rib over, and over, and over again. I'm tired, but feeling really good emotionally, over all. It's almost as if the more real this becomes, to me, the less unknowns there are for me to fret about and the more I can relax. I can't wait until it's time! My belly has grown a lot in the last two or three weeks, and my poor belly button is totally flat now. I can't see my feet anymore, and Alex, bless him, helps me put on my shoes with laces when we head out. Leaning forward while sitting, when most of my belly is already touching my lap only forces little heels further into my ribcage - ouch!

Prenatal class has run its course and I'm kind of sad about it. The last five weekly classes have been eye-opening, and brought to the table a lot of issues Mister and I hadn't yet discussed. It really helped us feel prepared, even if some topics such as natural birth and medical interventions were things that we already had a decent grasp of. By the end of our last class, we were basically ready to 'get this show on the road'! 

I'm still making things for baby, most recently I cut a piece of fabric to size for a wrap-style carrier Alex modeled on his fabulous, brand spankin' new daddying/art blog - King Corvid. Go check him out! When we first started dating he was quite fond of street art, stencils and the like, and I'm so glad he's resurrected his interest in it again - everyone needs a creative outlet and he's been without one for too long, I think! I'm super proud. Smattered with Daddyish musings and a few gaming reviews, to be sure, he's off to a great start.

image via weheartit

HAPPY EARTH DAY, by the way! As a kid I loved Earth Day. We'd always do something fun like plant beans, or visit nature centres in various parks on Earth Day. Planting seeds in paper cups was my always favourite project in school (until Middle School, when we put together self-sustaining aquarium environments with guppies and aquatic plants - that was the best!). It's still a little early and a little cold here to be gardening, but I'm going to get on it very soon. My little plot in the backyard is set to be turned up and after last year, I have a little better idea of what I can plant that will thrive. It looks as though our average date of final frost is May 22nd, so I'll be careful to keep delicate plants inside until then. 

Can I just say again how excited I am about everything?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Baking flans and making plans!

I didn't really know what a flan was until I googled it, but I knew it is baked and it rhymes better than the word muffin.

In reality, I'm baking oatmeal-flaxseed-chocolate chip muffins and sort of tentatively making plans.

I have a big project in the works.

I'm shaking and squealing a little as I type this.

-Albert Camus
image via weheartit

After a good long pep-talk in the truck from my handsome mister, with lots of you-can-do-its, and nothing-ventured-nothing-gaineds, I'm finally going for it. I'm going to start planning the concrete steps to open my etsy shop. It has been my dream for years to dye fibres and yarns with plant-based dyes to put up for sale and we finally have the space and I have the time to at least set this in motion. Logistically, this idea is still in its infancy but I have the drive and the support to finally tackle this. I have a spacious kitchen all to myself and a generous concrete courtyard perfect for setting out skeins for drying in the sunshine. I have a passion for picking and choosing colours that come straight from nature, and I truly love being so immersed and hands-on with my craft.

I'm going into this with the attitude that this is an creative outlet for me that I can fully throw myself into. I want to hone my techniques and make beautiful things that inspire others.

I've always been of the belief that anyone can learn to do just about anything. I've often tried to apply that kind of thinking to my own life when faced with a new 'thing' I've wanted to tackle. As of late, though, that attitude has simply fallen away, and been replaced by uncertainty, self-censorship and criticism, and a general lack of confidence. How can I do this? What makes me think that I can just start up and compete with this or that? What makes what I do worthwhile? You're either on the bus, or off the bus - and I've so been off the bus. Frankly, I've felt completely blocked. The following quote, from the Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, has been floating around in my head.

"The need to be a great artist makes it hard to be an artist.
The need to produce a great work of art makes it hard to produce any art at all."

I'm learning to move beyond that takes courage. It takes some bravery to turn off the booming negative voice that says NOT GOOD ENOUGH and tune into the tiny, soft voice whispering excitedly hey, look what i can do. 

image via weheartit

Much of what Alex was saying made so much sense to me. I've heard it all before, but maybe today was just the right time to hear it again, as if for the first time -

Whatever it is, people do it, and therefore it is possible. Everyone starts somewhere. 

I feel like I'm finally able to follow my dreams. My baby, who I've waited so long for, is coming and I'll be holding her so soon. I'm blessed with the wonderful opportunity to stay home with her and be just what she needs. I have so much love in my life, and so much to be thankful for. I'm so excited to have found my passion and to have the encouragement I need through my own small circle to really get this off the ground. 

Soon I'll be doing just what I've wanted to be doing - caring for my baby, and making art for others. 

Oh, my heart...

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Perfect Morning

IMG_1296 by Goldfinch&Anchor
Monday Muffins, a photo by Goldfinch&Anchor on Flickr.
Vegan Blueberry-Banana Muffins Alex and I made fresh yesterday, raspberry leaf tea and a cozy blanket on the needles for my sweet.
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