Creative Pursuits

Inspiration You Can Eat

You never know when inspiration will strike.

It could be . . . a pattern of leaves. Or the light falling across the landscape. Maybe it's a shadow. Or the way colors work together. A particular texture, even.

Or . . . it could be a simple colander full of fresh blueberries that gets the inspiration flowing!

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That happened to me yesterday. I didn't wake up planning to go on a bit of a baking binge, but it happened all the same . . . as soon as I saw those blueberries. (And smelled the fresh nectarines on my counter.) (And maybe it could even be the latest season of The Great British Baking Show. Who knows?)

But, suddenly, I was all in!

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First up, pie crust. Then, while that cooled in the fridge, I was on to blueberry muffins. (Which were quite fine, warm from the oven with a glass of Chardonnay out on the patio, I might add.)

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But then. . . the pièce de résistance! 

A blueberry nectarine galette. (Kinda like a pie, but more rustic and a little less fussy.)

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And that, folks? 
That was dinner!

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Inspiration . . . you can eat!


In Progress

We're having "work days" here at our cottage this week. Deep cleaning. Household tasks. Putting in the docks. "Lumberjacking." (Taking care of felled trees and clearning out some space at our "beach" -- now non-existent due to rising lake levels.)

Not much time for fun and games. 

Or knitting.

But my watercolor class still meets via Zoom on Tuesday nights! We're working on still life compositions right now. Mine . . . has a definite up north feel . . . 

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In progress. . . coming along.
(Bonus points if you can tell what it is.)

What are you working on these days?

 

 


My New (ab)Normal

I haven't picked up my paintbrushes since the pandemic canceled my watercolor classes in early March.

I've wanted to.
I think about painting quite a lot.
I even organized all my painting stuff.

I just . . . haven't.

So I was really excited when my watercolor instructor contacted me two weeks ago and explained she was going to do a "pilot" watercolor class on Zoom . . . and she asked me if I'd like to participate. 

Hell YES!  

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Last night was our first class. (Bonus about Zoom classes: I can even do this from our cabin up north . . . where we are this week.)  It wasn't without its technical glitches, that's for sure.  But I think she'll work things out as we go.  (After all, this is a "pilot" class.)  I don't know that this format would work for a beginning class, but for this group . . . well, we all know each other because we've been painting together for years, and we've got the watercolor basics down already.  So that helps in this new format.

It felt really good to get everything set up before class.

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And to just work through lesson elements in my little sketchbook.

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It felt nice.
Almost (but not quite) . . . normal.
I guess you could say it was my new (ab)normal.

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Reminder:  If you haven't already joined the discussion of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, please do check out the discussion questions posted yesterday here (Bonny's blog), here (Carole's blog), and here (my post yesterday).


Counterbalance

Knitting on my gray cardigan continues.  
(I'm deep into the second sleeve.) (Knitting flat.)  
(It is a big gray blob.)  
(Nothing to see here.)  
(Move along.)

So I'll show you something else.

When I had the flu a couple of weeks ago, my brain was in a deep fog.  I couldn't manage much.  I couldn't knit.  I couldn't read. My eyes hurt too much to watch tv.  But I could sit on the couch and doodle!  I grabbed a piece of illustration board and a black pen and I started drawing . . . grid shapes.  Then I got out my watercolor pencils and a paintbrush.  And I started doing this. . . 

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It got me through those long, sick days.

There was not much to it.  Just grids.  Color.  And some shading.

I had so much fun with it, I kept going.  Even after I was feeling better.  Now it looks like this.

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I think it's finished.  (Although I keep messing with it.)

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Adding little details here and there.

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Messing with the color.

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It's a good . . . counterbalance . . . to knitting a big blob of gray cardigan!

How about YOU?  What are you making today?

 

 


Fiber-y Goodness

Many years ago (thanks to the "search" feature here on the blog, I see it was 2013), I went to a workshop and learned needle felting.  I made a sorta-cute-but-also-sorta-creepy ornament thing.  And then I put away my newly-acquired needle felting tools, intending to try it again sometime, but . . . well . . . not trying it again.

Fast forward to the Michigan Fiber Festival last August.  I was shopping the vendors with my friend Karen, and we stumbled into one of the most lovely, inviting, and charming booth set-ups I have ever seen . . . for an Ann Arbor company called Felted Sky.  It was ALL needle felting stuff:  kits, supplies, wool.  And the kits were super cute!

Before I knew it, I had a couple of kits in my hand (this one and this one) . . . and I was checking out!  Totally ready to go home and retrieve my plastic bin of needle felting supplies from the depths of my "craft closet."

Yesterday afternoon, I fiber-sculpted some pumpkins!  Beginning with wool . . . 

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and moving on to shaping and felting with a needle.

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Needle felting is really fun -- and very forgiving.  There are always chances to add a bit more shape, whittle it down here and there, poke it to get just what you're looking for.

And adding the roving makes it kind of magical!

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After a couple of hours, I had one finished pumpkin, one ready-for-the-details pumpkin, and one shaped blob that will become a pumpkin.

Very satisfying.  Kind of addictive.  (Like any craft in the fiber "line!") (And I only stabbed myself once.)  Plus . . . charming little nuggets of fiber-y goodness when you're done!

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Have you ever tried needle felting?  If you've got any little niggling desire to give it a try, I highly recommend the kits from Felted Sky.  They include everything you need to get started (except the foam mat; you'd need to buy one of those separately) - including needles.  The kits come with complete and detailed step-by-step written instructions including color photos --- and links to video demonstrations, should you need them.

I'm hooked!  (Maybe this time I won't just shove my needle felting bin to the depths of the "craft closet" . . . )

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Read With Us

I thank you all for your thoughtful and insightful comments so far for our first Read With Us book discussion I truly wish we could all be together, talking about this book in my living room!  I can see that . . . there are true limitations to replying to comments IN the comments section, at least when it comes to my Typepad blog, so my apologies for the cumbersome nature of this discussion.  Please continue to comment and discuss the book on yesterday's post --- while I figure out the settings to make replying to comments IN the comments work.  (Because I've run into an issue.  But I'm working on it!)

 


Something Different

Big news here.

Each spring, one of our local art galleries sponsors a show for students of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, where I take my art classes.  The instructors get to pick student work to put in the show, and this year . . . my instructor chose two of my watercolor paintings.

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So, that's my cow on top (the final version, sans eye patch).  And the one on the bottom is my egret.

It really is a thrill . . . to walk into a gallery and know your pieces are in there somewhere.  (Also unnerving.  Because what if everyone else's work is so much better than yours and you just look stupid by comparison.)  (Inner critic = super loud and obnoxious.)

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Whatever.  At some point, I just have to get over it!
There it is.  My work on the wall.

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Definitely something different!

(And if you're in the area and you want to see the show, it'll be up through the end of May at Life Story Network/Ignertia Gallery on North Street - near Bells! - in Kalamazoo.)

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Want to see the pieces closer up?

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So Many Ways To . . . Unravel

I have plenty of hobbies in my life.

(PLENTY)

I read.  I knit.  I sew.  I paint.  I draw.  I garden.  I stitch.  I yoga.

I DO NOT NEED another hobby.

I DO NOT.

NOT.

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But there I was, sitting in an all-day workshop last Saturday.  
Learning about Shibori dyeing.

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Gleefully painting a gradient.  
Joyously wrapping and scrunching.

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Totally amazed.

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And, well. . .
completely charmed.

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So much mess.  
So much fun.  

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I think I might have a new hobby.

(Oops.)

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Be sure to visit Kat today to see more Unraveled posts!

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And be sure to come back here on Friday . . . when I'll be ASKING QUESTIONS!


Merry and Bright

. . . and SHINY!

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Yesterday, I spent the afternoon with a friend in her studio making glitter balls.  Fabulously fun and super simple!

(And, yeah.  I don't have a Christmas tree at my house.  But I do have a lighted birch tree.  And these will look very fine hanging from the branches.)

We also tried some ornaments with alcohol inks.  Our results were decidedly mixed.  While this one looks quite pretty. . .

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I think there's a learning curve.  (Because not all of them worked quite as well.)

It was a fun afternoon, filled with mess, laughter, and creativity.  Merry and bright, indeed!

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It's kind of amazing how many "unraveled" posts I can come up with that have absolutely nothing to do with knitting.  I've been knitting a LOT, but can't show you any of it quite yet.  (Because Christmas.)  Stay tuned!

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Be sure to head over to Kat's today for more Unraveled posts.


Sparkle

Stitching Alabama Chanin-style can become rather obsessive.

Once you actually get over the intimidation factor and just make something . . . Well.  You discover it's really fun to stitch by hand.  And the garments you stitch are super comfortable to wear.  And the creative opportunities are just endless.

Earlier this summer I decided I wanted a simple, black tunic.  Nothing fancy.  No stenciling.  No appliqué.

But then . . . I decided to add some beads.

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(the front . . . finished)

And then . . . more beads.
(Because it really is an obsession.)

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(the back. . . finished)

I think I'm done with the beads now.  
(But maybe not.)
(You never know.)

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In the end, I got my simple, black tunic.  

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(Now with bonus sparkle!)