One of my favorite YouTube channels is the Art Assignment. It’s a PBS show that features a different artist(s) each episode, and they talk about their art and give an assignment to make some art yourself. There’s also a brief but really useful overview of the history of art in that artist’s genre.
I’ve been watching the Art Assignment for months but this is the first time I’ve actually made the effort to do the assignment right away. Partially because I like photography and have been trying to practice my skills already, and partially because it was pretty easy – I already had the materials/tools on hand and it wasn’t difficult to reach out to a friend who was happy to participate as my subject. I also felt inspired by the artist, Tanja Hollander. Making the time (I do wonder how she funds her life when working on such a grand, time-consuming project!) to travel to see and photograph each of her Facebook friends is a massive undertaking! I also appreciate the care with which she photographs each of her subjects. I think that choosing to photograph them in an environment in which they feel at home creates the opportunity to capture more of who they are than if the picture was taking in a more formal way.
The gist of this assignment is to take a photograph of a friend in an environment in which they feel at ease. I asked my pal Sam, who agreed and suggested that we go to the woods near where she grew up. It was an amazingly beautiful day and she happened to pick a spot that had great light, so all the factors were in my favor to take a great photo. I actually took, like, 100 photos, but I was playing with different settings on the camera so I could learn more about what works for me and how, which seems like a relatively good excuse for taking so many. A number of the manual ones came out unfocused, so it wasn’t hard to weed them with minimal effort.
The assignment also asked us to write a little something about what a friend is. I thought this was a really interesting question to ask in the age of Facebook and social networks where we can form bonds of friendship without ever having met the other person face to face. I have plenty of people I call friends who I mostly communicate with via Twitter, and I don’t feel any less their friend because we either haven’t met or don’t often see one another. When I think of it, though, this isn’t all that different from the pen-pals I had while growing up – a number of them lived overseas and the chances of us getting to meet each other or spend any significant amount of time together was slim or nil. Yet we corresponded for years sometimes, sharing the details of our lives and rooting for each other to be happy and satisfied in our lives. So, I guess, to me, that’s what a friend is: someone with whom you have a mutual rooting-for-each-other.
Last weekend my pal Sam invited me to go to an Alpaca Fun Day event at a local alpaca farm. I didn’t even know that there WAS a local alpaca farm! It’s called Isabella Alpacas (no web presence that I could find). I was pretty excited to see what it was like.
The alpacas were SUPER CUTE, of course. They had some who were young and had just been sheared for the first time this year, and others who were older.
One of the folks there handed Sam a bowl and the nearby alpaca was VERY enthusiastic about eating the kibble. He also made some really cute snorting noises that reminded me of Coraline.
This weekend I also made a beeline for CraftyTown and worked on my current quilt project. Hooray! I haven’t been making enough time for it lately so I was really happy to have several consecutive hours to give to it this weekend.
I’m working on the background of the quilt in quadrants which are six squares (each 3.25″ square) square. I find that I have a neater result when I do it this way, though in the case of an art quilt like this I’m not 100% upset if things aren’t perfect. I have my sketch drawn out on graph paper (you can see it on the left side of the photo above) and this helps me to know what fabric I want to put where.
Having the 36 squares laid out, I then match them up so I can do smaller sections and then attach them to each other to make the whole 6×6-square quadrant.
I’m using a non-traditional seam allowance on this quilt. I’m not entirely sure why I decided to do this – it’s been ages since I started this project – but when I picked it back up, it was obvious that’s the seam allowance I chose, I’m going with it.
Not too long ago, Susan hipped me to these Wonder Clips, which I now adore. They make piecing SO EASY! I love that they’re red on one side and clear on the other, so I can use that to remind me which was is up, if I happen to jumble my clipped squares. They’re also a lot easier to put on and take off than pins are – though I will often use pins along with the clips to designate the position of various sections so that I remember which way it goes throughout the transport from the cutting table to the sewing machine and back.
I’ve also started to use chain piecing, which for a project like this is saving me all kinds of time. Thanks to the Wonder Clips and my pin “labeling” system, I can sew a bunch of bits together in one go and not worry about forgetting which piece goes which way.
I was pretty excited when ArtReach announced a yarnbomb project to take place in downtown Mount Pleasant this summer. (Did this have anything to do with the fact that a yarnbomb was an idea I proposed at the For the Love of Mount Pleasant workshop last fall?)
Regardless, I was happy to participate. I signed up to create one 24×27″ piece that will be wrapped around a light pole downtown. I felt super lucky that my pal Sam very generously volunteered to share her sizable stash of acrylic yarn, too! I picked out some bold colors somewhat at random and started plotting what I wanted to do.
There are some projects for which I prefer to use paper and pencil rather than plotting online – this sort of thing is definitely one of them. I grabbed the good old-fashioned graph paper and got to work! I looked at a bunch of free knitting font alphabets online but in the end none of them suited me so I just made it up myself. I wanted the letters to be a little stylized and I knew that the way that knitting stitches aren’t square would work in my favor. I graphed the letters out so I knew they’d end up looking the way I wanted after being knit up.
I even made a gauge swatch, something I am usually far too lazy and impatient to do. I was really glad I did, though, as my initial gauge wasn’t exactly what the yarn suggested it might be, so I was able to adjust my plans for the whole so that it would come out at the needed dimensions.
For the center column, I wanted to spell out DFTBA (Don’t Forget To Be Awesome, for anyone unfamiliar) and then have some bright colors on the sides to grab attention. For those sides I just went with the colors I had grabbed from Sam and added in a sixth color (white) from my own stash so that I would have easy color-carrying on the stripes. My idea with the stripes is that one side is roughly Hufflepuff (not really, but it’s close-ish) and the other Slytherin, in honor of my love for Harry Potter.
I am pretty pleased with how it turned out! It’s a lot bigger than I pictured at first, but it is the correct dimensions according to the brief we were given – I just hadn’t really looked at the measurements to see how large it would be. I dropped it off at ArtReach earlier this week and they will be installing them at the end of the month. I’m really looking forward to seeing my piece and all the others decorating our downtown!
Cables! I am so hooked on cables! I blame Sam. Thanks a lot, Sam! I mean, really, THANK YOU! I’d forgotten how much fun cables are, and how much I love the look of cabled knits.
This yarn is fun because it has a little bit of sparkle in it. Given Susan‘s love of glitter and all things sparkly, I thought this would be a perfect addition to her newly-needed winter wardrobe.
She mentioned recently that she had forgotten what 14F feels like, and I have the feeling that in the days since she has experienced even colder temperatures or at least windchills. Hopefully this will keep her ears warm while helping her feel sparkly!
In honor of being selfish once in awhile, I made a stash-buster project for myself earlier this week.
These wristlets are made from some really luxurious yarn and I adore the colorway. I was also inspired by Sam to make something with cables, since it’s been quite some time since I had done.
The pattern originally called for five cables total, but I added an extra so they’d be just a wee bit longer. I made the small size, which is just about perfect for me. I would cast on a few extra stitches the next time, or use a slightly (but not a whole lot) looser cast-on. My bind-off is always on the loose side, so that was just fine. The pattern has separate instructions for each side (cables in one direction for the left, and in the other direction for the right) but I forgot and made two identical cuffs. I didn’t care enough to frog the one cable I’d already completed when I realized it, though, and I’m fine with them being the same.
Look at that beautiful color pattern! This yarn, it’s just gorgeous.
This last photo comes closest to capturing this really beautiful colorway.