Crafting Cycles

I’m not talking about trends, but personal crafting cycles: switching from projects and mediums as passions arise, working on some during stressful times, and working on others just for fun. Does anyone else jump from craft to craft throughout the year? For over a month now I’ve been working with yarn, and I have a number of knit and crochet projects going at once.

One of these projects included figuring out how to get this Pink Camo yarn to form an argyle pattern that I’d seen on Instagram. I’m used to sock yarns working into intricate patterns, but not Red Heart Super Saver multi-colored yarn, this was really surprising! I finally got it to work after many, many, evenings of crochet:

Tamdoll tries Planned Pooling with crochet and Red Heart Yarn in Pink Camo.

Variegated yarns often “pool”, but some creative folks have come up with methods to get designs like this to develop with “planned pooling”. I finally saw a pattern emerge once I used a formula provided by someone in the Facebook group “Planned Pooling with Crochet”. Here’s a link with how-to help, and a list of yarns that “work” – not every variegated yarn does.

Above, I used Pink Camo and Clover Soft Touch Crochet Hook Size H (5.0mm).

My first attempts, below, didn’t go so well until I realized that maybe the color patterning was too subtle for a beginner to attempt this with. It is interesting to see in the two pieces, that with just a few tweaks of my initial chain count – the results were very different.

Tamdoll's first try at Planned Pooling with crochet and Red Heart Yarn.

I’ve seen the argyle patterning worked into blankets, hats, scarves, vests and more. Right now I’m not going to continue with the color pooling experiment, I’m just satisfied that I was able to learn the technique -it’s sort of been like working on a puzzle and since I’ve figured it out I’m done with it for now.

Next – I have gift knit and crochet projects to work on, with Christmas and Chanukah only being a month away, I have to devote most of my free time to working on those. This time of year it’s not unusual to focus on gift crafting – but crafting cycles is something that I experience all the time.

I don’t know what it is, and I know I’m not the only one – but it may be weeks, months, or even years where I’ll focus on mostly one type of craft – then, for no reason that I can figure out – I’m off in another direction. I don’t want to give up any of my hobbies, so here I am, shifting from one to another.

Half my workspace is covered in magazine clippings and paint – the result of paper and color passions fueled by The Artstronauts Club and Ever After 2016 that occupied my spring and summer. I haven’t touched any of this in weeks. This place is a mess. And now with all my yarn projects going on, I have an urge to sew some project bags with zippers and little grommets to thread yarn through. But I can’t see a spot on my desk where to put the sewing machine at the moment. I definitely see a sewing cycle coming up. After a cleaning cycle…

Are you multi-craftual? Ever experience crafting cycles?

 

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Teach and Learn Something New

When you teach any subject, it can open your eyes to new perspectives and experiences. For years I taught knit and crochet classes at my local yarn shop, meeting hundreds of wonderful people of all ages, teaching them the basics and exploring lots of yarn projects. Sadly, the yarn shop closed earlier this summer … things haven’t been the same since then. It’s made me think a lot about the experience of teaching and what I’ve learned along the way.

A Good Teacher is Always Learning

In crafts, there will always be new skills, techniques, methods, etc… but there are people skills, and teaching skills to be cultivated also. There is always something new to learn, no matter how much of an “expert” you are. Sometimes what you learn from students has nothing to do with the topic you’re trying to instruct them in. Things that I’ve learned in classes –

  • patience,
  • to listen,
  • new perspectives,
  • and renewed excitement.

Being patient, not rushing, and knowing that every student has their own way of learning is pretty important, too.

Teach

In a knit or crochet setting, I use a lot of  verbal directions – I’ve found that often, if a student sees my hands, they get stuck on wanting to hold things exactly the same way. But in my opinion, how the needles or yarn is held is a personal preference, and honed over time. When a natural inclination lends itself, I do encourage continental knitting with left-hand yarn & holding crochet hooks overhand… but it’s ultimately not up to me.

As a teacher, being calm and reassuring is crucial, as is not being afraid to repeat yourself.

Some knit or crochet teaching methods:

  • verbally explain step-by-step instructions,
  • sing stitching rhymes,
  • use mnemonic strategies,
  • demonstrate the skill,
  • write out and draw instructions,
  • teach in groups, or one-on-one.

If a student doesn’t specifically request a particular learning style, it’s important to try many ways with them until you find what “clicks”. When you think you’re done – ask them to show you what they’ve learned – reinforcing your efforts.

There is something to learn from every person you meet.

Learn

For the most part, our daily lives don’t involve our fingers doing precise, coordinated work for extended periods … look at this from the perspective of the newcomer. Learning to knit or crochet involves using their hands in ways they’re probably not used to. Getting comfortable holding a hook or two needles, AND controlling yarn at the same time isn’t that easy, especially when combining it with memorizing the steps necessary to create various stitches.

Both teachers and students need Patience and Practice.

Keep in Mind

“Mistakes” when beginning are simply learning experiences – you don’t have to rip them out. Save your trial pieces as mementos to show how far you’ve come when you look back at them in a few weeks; use them as bookmarks; or toss them in the trash and forget about them – it doesn’t really matter. Don’t take things so seriously.

Earlier, in the springtime I started photographing / documenting the hands of the folks I’d been working with, I wish I had started sooner!

teach and learn something new tamdoll student hands see tamdollsmo on Instagram

Picture collages from tamdollsmo on Instagram.

teach and learn something new tamdoll student hands see tamdollsmo on Instagram

I thought it would be beautiful to see all these hands in different ways learning the same things. Maybe I’ll continue… we’ll see. Locals interested in a class should email [email protected].

At the end of a session, the most important thing I tell everyone is – to Practice. There’s no other way to become proficient at something, or to have your muscles learn a new skill. It works.

What have you taught? What have you learned?

 

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Postcard Swap

Who doesn’t love a colorful snail mail postcard?

Tamdoll's 10 Postcards for iHanna Postcard Swap Spring 2016

For the longest time I’ve followed iHanna’s Blog & always wanted to participate in one of her postcard swaps… so finally, this past month, I signed up at the last-minute, made 10 cards, and sent them out into the world.

Creating a Postcard

I started out by finger painting on top of a set of postcard-sized bike tour maps. I got mine at a yard sale, but you can find them on amazon.com*, too. A base like this creates an instant layer of depth when the lines of the trails and geography can show through layers of paint. I built up the background by adding translucent paint washes, collaged bits of poetry from an old book, and spray stenciling with one of my favorite Finnabair Stencils – Dots and Stripes*.

Next, wanting a focal image, I drew and then painted on my birds. They were definitely inspired by Tamara Laporte’s Quirky Birds – particularly the outline and “scrubbing” style of paint that she teaches, along with the small format of the project. This style of birds are something that I’ve been drawing for a while (and I actually have a small collection of decorative birds that look similar).

Some of the finger painting and paint wash techniques were things I learned from my recent art classes at ArtFest Rising. While I was making these I definitely met my goal of having fun while not being too serious. The good thing about waiting until the last-minute with these was that I couldn’t obsess over them for too long, or worry about making them all perfect.

postage stamp for postcards usps 2016Sending the Postcards Into the World

I thought it was serendipitous when I got to the post office to mail them & found the postage stamps for domestic mail were bird images.

Where Are They Now?

I hope everyone who receives one of my postcards enjoys them – I had fun, and am adding “make more bird pictures” to my to-do list.

I scanned them all in (or so I thought), to have a memory of these… but it turns out that I only scanned 7 out of the 10, and I didn’t realize until they’d already been sent on their way. I decided to make them available at Society6, where anyone can order these images as prints, cards, or iPhone cases.

Have you ever done a mail art swap? If so, what did you think of the experience?

 

 

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