Archive for the 'random' Category

Planting The Seeds

Teaching crochet to a group is hard. Not enough of me, too little time, and unrealistic expectations mean that some projects as I envision them can’t be completed. For our second crochet class, I had planned to teach my 12 students how to crochet circles. We would sew two stitches in the circles to transform them into perfect little fortune cookies.

By the end of class, I had not managed to work individually with each student, and my attempts to demonstrate the basics for the group had left most students mystified. One student who already knew how to crochet helped with fellow students’ questions, but our four hands weren’t enough for such a complex task. A few students doggedly improvised their way into circles, but some left the class with little more than they had before we started.

After class I lamented to a parent that I have difficulty differentiating from my students’ outcomes. This is the most difficult part of teaching. I forget how many countless hours I have spent working on process before creating a successful project.

She reminded me that I’m planting seeds. Some projects will resonate with some students and they will seek further instruction in a method. This class is an introduction to fiber materials and methods of manipulating them. My young grasshoppers have many years to learn, as do I.

Spiders Welcome Here

After working all day to assemble a large set of Feltilocks, I decided to take a break to photograph my gorgeous pile of roving. Nothing excites me like a mess of color. Reds, golds, greens and blues all thrown in together surprise me with their combinations. I set off with my camera and a length of bamboo stacked with roving, looking for the perfect location.

As the light wasn’t ideal in the backyard, I walked around to the front where I hoped to lean the bamboo in a corner of our boxwood hedge. Have you ever walked into something right in front of your face because you were looking into the distance? Watching the children across the street, I walked through one spiderweb, then speared a second, knocking a large spider into my roving in the process.

Isn’t she gorgeous? This is a European Cross, Araneus diadematus, an appropriate name considering the pattern along the abdomen.

I was expecting to have fun photographing the felt, but tracking this speedy little spider was an unexpected bonus.

When I dreamed up the name SpiderFelt, the idea of staging a photo shoot with a live spider escaped my imagination. Who would have thought it could be so much fun? If you are out there Carrie, I was thinking of you the whole time. There may be a job as a spider wrangler somewhere in my future.

Setting My House In Order

fall09_schedule_smThings that are hard for me:

making plans
changing plans once they are made
being late
giving up control
making mistakes

There. I’ve said it. In black and white. I sound like a real peach don’t I? Wouldn’t want to work for me, would you, or live with me when the stress starts to mount. Me neither.

In order to mitigate the eventual breakdown that occurs in mid-November as I start to realize just how little time is left before my first show, I grabbed the bull by the horns: I made a schedule. It seems like a simple thing, I know. But for me it was a major breakthrough. It meant I was making a commitment, even if it was only to myself. Let’s see how we can get from point A to point B with a minimum of casualties and debris left by the side of the road.

In theory, there are six working hours in my day, once the kids are off to school, a modicum of clean-up is done in the kitchen and I’m dressed. Not typically a morning person, my days need to start slowly, so the hours before lunch are devoted to photography, updating my etsy shop and business. In order to stay current in the Etsy listings, I have begun adding new items to my shop every day, with a few hiccups here and there. So far, so good. The sales have begun to pick up a smidge and new items are appearing in the treasuries.

The afternoons are for production. Monday: felt pebbles, Tuesday: felt soaps, Wednesday: felt scarves, Thursday: felt balls/ornaments/geodes, Friday: felt flowers.

While I would really love to make scarves all day every day, the reality is that I don’t have the energy to keep up that amount of intense felting and I sell far more soaps and pebbles than scarves. So, that means putting my energy where the sales are.

I have two new consignments in the works (a shoe store in our neighborhood and a gallery in Lake Forest Park), a potential spot in an Australian magazine holiday guide, and three holiday shows. If I pace myself, and resist the impulse to race off in too many new directions, I may make it through the holiday rush with my sanity and my family’s affections intact.

Brain Dump

In the last few days, I’ve come across an abundance of amazing events, letters and websites. Since my work at the moment is in a pure production phase, I’m going to share other people’s cool stuff instead.


Wet spring weather brings out the godzilla slugs in our garden. Before I go to bed, I walk out in the rain to peel them off my tender new lettuce. Despite my dislike of the creatures, I couldn’t resist this felt snail.

I can’t recall what chain led me here, but Gartenfilz von Frauke is only one of many fantastic pieces in the Filz Galerie, a German gallery of felt pieces created by participants in Feltalong. I really, really wish I read German because I want to know more about the other pieces in the blog.

If you want to participate in the Crafster Feltalong challenges, search for ‘feltalong‘ discussions on the Craftster felting discussion boards.

feltunitedGet on board for the International Day of Felt, October 3.  2009 is the International Year of Natural Fibers, as declared by the United Nations. Sign up, spread the word, plan, organize and participate. More details at FeltUnited.

Future Craft Collective is a very creative group of energetic folks working to make something beautiful in community. Two things melt my heart: seeing people make art together and watching a child bring an idea to life. Some lucky folks in Austin may get to work with them in person; I’ll have to settle for admiring from a distance and then continuing to build art in my community.


The yummy felt bead necklaces made by  Kleas and company for Mother’s Day gifts look good enough to eat. These remind me of the world’s best salt water taffy, but made of wool. What more could a mother want?

Not sure how to describe the next bit, except to say watching this video and getting into the mind of this woman led me to dimensions I had never imagined. See and watch crochet coral as examples of hyperbolic geometry.

paper_boatTime for a slight fiber detour to the world of paper craft. Make some crazy collage, paint some paper, sew some paper together, fold a boat and then mail it to Joanne Kaar. Each piece will  be auctioned in support of Mary-Ann’s Cottage, a living history museum in Scotland. Submission deadline is August 10, 2009.

Stating my intention here,  in the hopes that will make it happen (thank you Future Craft Collective), I plan to embellish paper with the parents and children of Seattle API at the next monthly gathering of the Handcraft Group. Look on theirblog for photos of the oustanding pieces they have received so far.

Hot Rocks

This summer we spent two weeks at my parents’ cabin on Keats Island, a rocky paradise in Howe Sound between Vancouver and Sechelt BC. We played with the children of old friends, made new friends when the old left, discovered hidden paths through the forest, hiked to beaches we’d never seen, jumped off the floating dock, swam off the rocky beaches, and played hours of games.


Many mornings we spent around the cabin reading, writing, and playing cards waiting for the tides to be just right for swimming. One morning when every game failed to entertain, we decided to try an activity I’d read on someone’s blog in the last year: coloring on smooth beach rocks.


Collecting the rocks was half the fun. We had to find just the right buckets, skip down to the beach and scour the entire expanse for rocks that were large enough and smooth enough to become a canvas.

At home we washed off the seaweed grit and marine residue. Next we spread them out on an aluminum tray and put them in the convection oven to heat for ten minutes. While they were warming, we gathered all the small bits of broken crayon we could find behind the futon, on the bookshelf, and under the table. When they were hot enough, we carefully extracted the tray and carried it outside to the patio where we could safely spread out the hot rocks without damaging any surfaces.

Before long, it became clear that there was a magic moment in the lifespan of a hot rock, when it was hot enough to melt the crayon, but not so hot that it turned into wax soup. Letting the rocks cool for a minute or two was key, but we were forced to make several trips back to the oven for reheating as our imaginations churned away.


It was a wonderfully idyllic time spent in a place that holds many fond memories. Thanks Mom and Dad for making it all possible.

SpiderFelt Production Party

Saturday night, a great group of women converged at Space to Create, a wonderful art studio in Ballard for a night of good food, great company and felting. Many, many hands helped build my inventory of felt soaps and pebbles for the upcoming PNA Winter Craft Fair on December 6 & 7 and learn a skill at the same time.


With soaps and pebbles pre-wrapped in wool, friends began felting at 6:30, stopping to greet newcomers and enjoy the great food. It was a party atmosphere all night, with seats shuffling and tables rearranging as people arrived and departed.

We turned out the lights at 10:15 with a stack of wet towels, 7 dozen felt pebbles, 90 soaps and lots of good cheer.

Thank you to everyone who came to work with sore backs, plates of food and wine, and many other events on their calendar. Thank you for sharing your time and helpful hands.

For those who missed out on the great time, but would like to learn some simple felting basics and take home a souvenir of the evening, we’ll be meeting again on Thursday, November 20th and Saturday, November 29th from 6:30-9:30ish. Come late or leave early, we’ll have the lights on for you, a warm seat and a glass poured. Cheers!

Wordless Music

And now for something completely different. No shop promotion. Just a little music.

Atmospheric, innovative, music expanding, wordless pop music paired with classical chamber music. Wordless Music. On WNYC. Insightful commentary by Jad Abumrad, host of RadioLab and David Lang, winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Music. While you are at WNYC, download the archive of past RadioLab shows. Your mind will grow.

Flickr Photos