September 3, 2014

Around the World Blog Hop! Tag! I'm it.

My incredibly intelligent friend with the curious mind and infectious giggle named Heidi, who also happens to write an inspiring blog of her own (DIY-- check it out!) has invited me to the hop. The Blog Hop, that is! To explain, I am going to re-blog Cora's Quilts definition in her August 20th post:

What is the Around the World Blog Hop?

There's a super fun linky party, of sorts, going around blog land called the Around the World Blog Hop!  I was invited to join by Cheryl, the Texas Quilting Gal - a new blogging pal I've really enjoyed getting to know over the past few months.  In turn, I'm inviting some friends to join in sharing their responses.  Next Wednesday, Shauna at Shauna's World, Heidi at DIY and Live to Tell, and Rene (Hi Mom!) at Quilting Nona will be answering the same questions about their creative processes.  

Just about to enter the magical land of Disney!

I received this wonderful invitation while on vacation with my family in Anaheim, California at Disneyland a week or so ago. I was having a world of trouble with my smart phone--I couldn't even get it to navigate from the airport to the hotel, but I did manage to get this exciting message! (After I got home, I took my phone to the Verizon store to see if it was broken and the young man at the counter gently let me know that my two-year-old phone was a dinosaur ... but I digress from a potential middle-aged story about patheticism. And yes, I just made that word up. I'm entitled. I'm middle-aged.)

So I am joining! Here we go!

About me

Okay, so you poor guys always have to hear tons and tons (and tons) about me, all the time. I am a blabberer, even on my own blog. In fact, my whole life can be outlined in blabbering:

  • Talked early and to the chagrin of my parents, who wished they could turn me off.
  • Spent most of my grade school career in the hall in time-out for talking out of turn.
  • Sub-story: 2nd grade teacher moved me from the girls table to the boys, hoping to curb my talking, but only increased it; thus the transition to the start of a long hall-dwelling career. You know the "bad egg," Maisy, in the movie Uncle Buck? That's me.
  • In junior high, distracted and impressed kids at my table by showing them my "double-jointed elbow." More hall dwelling.
  • My high school career included speech team (stand up comedy was my area, and I even won a few tournaments,  if you can believe that) and class time was punctuated by outbursts with certain best friends (you know who you are). We knew each other too well; so well, in fact, that we could execute private jokes from far across the room after being placed at very separate desks. 
  • Had a 12-year career as a fitness instructor and loved it; loved most of all the fact that I got to wear a mic headset in front of a group of 10-80 participants and only I was heard. 
  • Went to college (finally) at 31 years old to be a dental hygienist. This career has been the most enabling of all for me. While my hands are actually in my patient's mouth, I get to talk for an hour straight. I must say here that while I usually win in these situations, it is good to remember that there is always someone better than you are in any skill and I am occasionally beaten in the blabbering department by patients who can accomplish speaking over me, even though the circumstances should be to my best advantage. 
Now I am working on knitwear design and teaching knitting to spread the cozy, the love and the joy it has brought to my life. To read the story of how knitting came into my life, click here. It has everything to do with a little German lady and a church Christmas bazaar. Knitting as a career is truly the end game for my retirement and I work at it all the time. I figure if I stand in front of a class, my blabbing can be continued into oblivion. I believe me, I want to enter into oblivion while knitting or talking about it.

What are you working on?

Right now, I am working on some socks. Big surprise, I know, but I do love them so. I have a mental bucket list of things I want to knit and these are on the list. They are called, simply, Knee Socks, from Ann Budd's book Getting Started Knitting Socks. They are on page 128. I love this book in its simplicity and I go to it again and again. I can't wait to wear these! Fall is on its way!!!!!

In addition to knitting, I am also working on some patterns. I am revamping some oldies (really, firsties who desperately need facelifts) and writing some new ones. My goal has become to read or make another's pattern, take away something I have learned (e.g., a technique) and try it myself in an original way. I will be posting about these new additions in future posts this week.

How does your work differ from others in your genre?

These types of soul searching questions always stump me. The first thought that pops into my head is this: I don't know what I am doing ... and everyone else does. I must admit that I have felt pretty good at writing (that may come from the constant verbal practice that blabbering brings) but writing knitting patterns, that's another matter. 

I was so excited when I started knitting. The sights, sounds (even the smells) and endless possibilities in the world of knitting! I wanted it all and I wanted it right now. This included the actual skill of knitting and all the hundreds of techniques and styles therein, group joining, event attending, garment design, pattern writing, blogging ... there have been more than a few times I have put the cart before the horse. And, while I don't expect my excitement to die down anytime soon (it has, after all, been nearly 6 years), I do believe that I have learned to control my urges to go too, too many steps ahead of myself. 

While some of my initial tries in pattern writing were total, stupid flops (Fountains of Portland was un-knittable at first), I really like my latest few and feel they are more in line with what I had in mind when I first thought I wanted to try designing patterns.

Since I don't have a large body of work yet, let me share what I hope to be. For starters, the name of my design studio will be "earthtogs," and my tagline is "cozy knitwear designs for people living on earth." Those words mean it all for me.

I love practical knitwear that fits well and is timeless and classic. I want to create designs that are not going out of style any time soon, for it takes too long to knit something to justify wearing it for only a year or even two. I love rustic earthiness: tweed and heather fibers; cables and fairisles; and houndstooth, glen or tartan plaids are favorites of mine. 

I also have a playful and mischievous streak and love the idea of expressing things like my love of microbiology or 80's video games in knitwear.  Being a lover of things random and tangential, unusual and quirky ideas will surely find their way into my repertoire. After all, this is art and anything goes ... sometimes.

In some ways, I do not wish to be different from others in my genre. Why reinvent the wheel? When we have such wonderful examples such as Ann Budd, Hunter Hammersen, Wendy Johnson, Alice Starmore (have such a girl crush on that Scottish lass) and EZ, it is my opinion that we should learn from them, not necessarily make a conscious attempt to be more original. That comes naturally in one's individual expression and interpretation of those solid ideas.

As for writing, I adore Erma Bombeck and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, for who could not adore them? I will just say that I hope to aspire even part of the way to their great writing. That would be reward enough for me, to reach even half-way. 

Why do you write/create what you do?

I suppose I have leaked the answer to this question into my last answers a bit. Why do I knit and then write about knitting? Photograph my knitting? Catalogue it? Smell it? 

Because I can't help myself. Since that fateful day with Mona Polanski, my own personal Yoda, I will never ever be the same. And I don't care why. 

It just feels so good. 

How does your writing/creative process work?

Well, sometimes it doesn't. But when it does, it usually is in an off moment. I was looking (again--it
I will photograph anything knit-worthy... even my bff Tina
with suggestively dangerous dpn's. And aren't they?
relaxes me) at one of my stitch dictionaries recently and came across one stitch pattern in particular. Suddenly, my mind was flooded with ideas for cowls, mitts, hats, sweaters (which to pick? pullover or cardi?), all containing a single stitch pattern. My problems usually lie in good ideas vs. skills not-yet-learned. But the drive to see the end product seems to be winning lately. Maybe I'm making some progress.

For me, and so many others, I think, photography is the same way. For example, you might be incidentally outside on the front porch and suddenly the light is perfect and your child, who has been playing in the yard, is suddenly more beautiful than ever in that moment and suddenly you must--you absolutely must--get the camera. As it relates to knitting photography, I think I am learning when those rare light moments are more likely to occur (and where) and I try to use them accordingly.

As for writing, it is one of those things you sometimes need to be in the right frame of mind for. Taking a walk/run or being alone with my thoughts helps that.  Sometimes I return from a walk and am practically pushing my family out of the way, "Move! I have to write it down!" I mean a blog story, but they are like, "What.....?" They usually shrug. I am pretty impulsive and they are used to it. 

I think.

As for the blogs that inspire me, I would put at the top of the list The Sampler Girl's blog by Tanya. She is a cross-stitch designer, a lover of Jane Austen, a mom of two boys and she lives near a former home of mine in Virginia. Her blog makes you feel homey and cozy. Once I open it up, I always want to stay. 

My lovely Jo. I LOVE to take her photo!
My second blog tag goes to Hunter Hammersen, knitwear designer and blogger extraordinaire. Her books, the series starting with The Knitter's Curiosity Cabinet, draw me in. I love the themes, the art, the imagery and the writing--the fabulous writing.  In other words, you may buy her books for the patterns, but you will keep buying them for the writing. She seems like a gal I would to hang out with--I might be agape and staring at her, but before the restraining order came, it would be fun.

My third blog tag goes Jona Giammalva, sewist and designer whom I worship. She is not only a sewing designer who has a popular blog and has written a great book called The Essential A-line, she is also a personal friend. She attended high school with my husband and now lives in Arizona with all her five kids and hubby. I feel close to celebrity whenever she is around.

I am adding a 4th blog tag for my daughter, Jo Winner, because I couldn't choose only three. And not just because she is my kid. A new blogger and is only 26 years old, Jo has always been described by those who know her as an "old soul," and she is an artist through and through. She has been creating her whole life and has inspired me over and over again with her fearlessness to take on new adventures. Her blog is called Pilates for the People. Check it out.

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