Doll 3: Craft as care

Hello. How has the start of April found you? We’ve had snow in Chicago (just 2 days ago), but today the light and birds are back.

I’ve sewn another felt doe. I decided, after the last one, to put a pause on the doll-making in order to focus on my other project, but I couldn’t resist stitching this one, very much driven by a vision and a feeling. So, I did my best to make time for her in the interstices of other goings on (Easter, a new academic quarter, and so on). Now the doll is done! As you’ll see, this one is a little under the weather, a little blue, and in need of general proximity to a blanket. It was only after I finished that I saw the doll as a kind of mashup between Eeyore of Winnie the Pooh and Linus of Peanuts (they share an emotional kinship, don’t they?). But, not to worry: this doe is in good company.

It’s been my habit, after completing projects, to write up a ‘process post’ and unpack some of the working-up from my (maker) point of view. This time, I thought I’d tell the hand-crafting story from a slightly different perspective and, in the process, create a short visual narrative about care — or, how I’ve come to understand the caring space that crafting creates for me. Craft is a space of openness, patience, generosity, and exploration; it’s a very good place to find one’s feet, heal from whatever is ailing, and support renewal and new directions. This supportive aspect of making leads me to believe that making is kind of like a second immune system (and one nurtured by continuous practice). 🙂 In this way, I’m coming to discover how the things we make quite powerfully (re)make us in turn.

Enjoy. And deer hugs!

2nd deer final.JPG

Have you ever felt “crafted” by a project you were working on? In what ways?

1st week of Spring: thinking about process and play

I hope you’ve enjoyed a great week.

This week has been a bit busy on my end: there have been a few unexpected (time-consuming) things to attend to at home and, of course, the larger academic project I’m working on. But, it hasn’t been so busy that I did not find time to play with my doll patterns, felt, and flosses.

Beyond all language and metrics of productivity, the time I spend making dolls / making things for the dolls is essentially that: play. In contrast to my recent knitting projects (where I had a clear pattern to work, directions to follow), a lot of my doll-crafting time feels a bit like a state of suspension – with the work being invented as I go, I feel my grip on goal-direction loosen and lose its unilinear quality: many solutions to problems or dilemmas crop up, or work themselves out over a week or two after playing with and testing out different alternatives. In this state, crafting feels both hazy and focused. On the one hand, working feels like walking through dreams – like being given license to wander and explore, precisely because so many things are possible. At the same time, my usual sensitivities become a bit more acute, acuity sharpens (mostly for the better!). I’d like to write a longer post on my thoughts on this process, but for the time being, I’ll say that recovering a space and sense of play and open-endedness (design!) is becoming a major route to enabling my creativity and well-being (no big surprise there, perhaps!).

I’ve also taken, recently, to using notebooks as little homes to organize ideas for different crafting media. It’s nice to have separate, offline spaces for collecting, gathering, sketching, diarizing, and jotting down. For me, it’s otherwise easy for various projects to get jumbled up (and meld into an overwhelming mega-project), or for me to forget that perfect idea that came in the shower. I’m not a multi-tasker, but more of a serial single-tasker (and I very much struggle with making the transitions in between). Hence, the need for little homes where the different ideas can find kinship, cross-pollinate, and lead a happy existence until I’m able to properly attend to them. Taking out one of these books and putting it on my one-and-only work desk also signals to me that I’m entering the zone for that particular project. When space is limited, these books help me to set the tone and intention for a work session.

play.jpg
Let’s not let the best ideas get tangled up like that floss: the orange book is for doll-making & blogging, the white one for knitting, and the black one for drawings.

And, on the doll front…

Last week, I bought some extra skeins of floss and, having learned some lessons from the previous project, a set of doll needles (just saying that brings me a flicker of excitement).

floss - needle.jpg

The bigger doll needles in the set measure 3 inches (compare with the regular hand-sewing needle above). Doll needles are long, ample-eyed, and are super for stitching through multiple doll parts and fabric-layers with thick, heavier-duty thread. They make the sewing of classic doll button joints, for instance, 1000 times easier.

In that arena, it looks like last week’s deer-friend is anticipating some company.

2nd deer1-2

You know, after all, what they say about March: it comes in like a lion, and goes out like a… doe (that’s the saying, right?).

Looking forward to catching up with your creative goings on, and wishing you a great Easter / weekend!

How do you organize your work on multiple media and/or projects? (notebooks, schedules, workspaces, other methods?). And, do you distinguish between work on patterns designed and generated by others, and those you design yourself?

Back in the blogosphere

Hello, friends. It’s been a month-long, inadvertent hiatus from WordPress. It’s good to be back in the blogopshere! I admire those of you who can blog on the go. This seems not to have been my forte this year: October was spent in Toronto on much-needed (on my end) visits to friends, family, and in a general state of distracted flurry. Being away from my needles and stash was also trying. Crafters think in, through and with their materials; being away from the bulk of my materials, strangely, left me a little bereft of the bulk of my words as well.

BUT. I managed to get some good winter-knitting into the mix during my stay. Toronto temperatures stayed unseasonably well above the 20s (70s in the US) up until the end of the month, but Canadians know that the arrival of winter is inevitable (it will always come down hard at some point, even if a little late). I started a pair of Sydänmaa cable mittens in mid-October and found them an excellent TV-knitting project (though, I managed to flub the cable on the hand decreases while watching Ghostbusters).

sydanmaa back-front.jpg
Sydänmaa mitts: can you spot the mistake in the cable?

With temperatures steadily falling, I’ve yet to complete the thumb (whose stitches are sitting tight on scrap yarn for now) and the full left mitt. Maybe, though, there’s a logic for the ‘thumbless mitt,’ close cousin of the fingerless mitt? Maybe I won’t need to do those thumbs after all?). Well, I’ll see how much I can tackle in the coming week. Chicago is cold, and new mittens would be nice.

And, in other very happy crafty news…!

I have been a huge fan and follower of blogger, crafter, and quilter extraordinaire, Tierney Hogan, of Tierney Creates: A Fusion of Textiles & Smiles. Tierney’s awesome blog has been on my steady blog-reading list for nearly a year; her beautiful quilts, blocks and sewing projects, her great eye for interior design and workspace organizing, her intriguing library hauls, and her inspired (and inspiring) writing on the crafter’s life have kept me coming back to her blog time and time again. Last month, she hosted a giveaway in celebration of her 4th Blogiversary (yay!). It turns out that luck was with me on Blogiversary drawing day: a little while ago, I received a lovely, handmade ‘little wallet’ from Tierney in the mail, along with a custom greeting, made from recycled business cards, revealing her great gift for card-craft!

giveaway1.jpg

This wonderful purple wallet is part of a series of little wallets Tierney has made from scraps (see more of these handmade beauties and read about their making here, here, and here. Aren’t they scraptastic?!). The last time I checked, she had made over 58 of these beautiful purses. I am so impressed by her prolific sewing and incredible productivity and her eye for textiles — each wallet is a unique combination of colour- and pattern-coordinated fabrics. Each wallet creates a “feel” and a coherent theme with colour and design. At the same time, the wallets are playful and improvisational with the colours and patterns, combining them in fun, unusual, and unexpected ways.  These wallets are works of art, and they are so awesome!

The detail and handiwork that went into making the wallet I received (and its lovely inside pockets!) is also amazing. In a previous life, I owned a working sewing machine and was trying to learn how to make my own clothes. My dreams of fashion-designerdom were thwarted, however, by my chronic inability to get the machine to make straight lines of stitching. A year or two — and several awkwardly worn garments later — my Singer and I decided on a moratorium that has yet to be lifted. When it comes to good sewing, then, there is definitely more than meets the eye. This wallet is exquisitely made, and I am marveling at the world of skill and mastery Tierney put into making it!

If you haven’t yet, do visit her excellent blog for more quilting and crafting fun (and Tierney, thank you so much, again, for this splendid little wallet. I love it!)

Happy Crafting! (now, where were those DPNs I never unpacked?…)